It's up and running if you want to come and join me : )
Hope to see you over at Just North of the Woods.
The mist rolled in last night and by this morning had turned to our first frost of the season. Today is all sunshine and golden leaves and conkers. I expected to want to be outside soaking it in but instead, for the first time in an age, I want to write. I want to sit at my desk and splurge words.
I could tell you about our trip to Australia and how wonderfully other it was, leaving me with a piece of my heart claimed and yearning. I could tell you how coming home didn't feel comfortable and how I felt excommunicated by the spirits of this place, realising only now that in fact it was me who had disconnected and that nature spirits are not sentimental the way we animals are - they simply carry on wherever we are. I could tell you I am obsessed with wombats. I could tell you that my perceived need and then opportunity to be alone resulted in my understanding that I have changed on a cellular level into someone who is now so interwoven with the other members of my little family of six that it pains me to be separated from them. It took me 50 years to become this person and it feels good but oh so strange. Oh look...I just told you all that.
Mostly I want to say that I am closing this blog after three years as The Art of Wildness. I am reading about the rebirth of blogging and although, for me, it has never died, I feel inspired and excited by this micro-movement back towards my first internet love.
Three recent posts have reminded me what blogging can mean when it touches your own experience:
This post about the passing of the much-loved Chuck, by the Queen of Bloggers.
This one from Michelle Gardella whose creativity and perspective inspire me (also: "I do not care about being desired'. Me neither.).
This one from Mel because yet again we share thoughts and feelings and that makes me feel better.
And that's what it is: when we can read a really good blog post and admire it, then make the short leap to recognising the feelings and experiences it describes, perhaps some of that regard is transferred to ourselves. Perhaps we understand that if one person's feelings - which match our own - are valid and valuable, then maybe ours are too.
My personal preference for Instagram these days is absolutely driven by the ability to pick up my phone and plug in, whether I'm in a queue at the shops, in the car wash, waiting for the kettle to boil...you are all just there in my hand and I can quickly join in with a photograph, an emoji and a hashtag. Writing a blog post means sitting down, taking a breath, applying myself and spending dedicated time.
I want that back. I'm re-creating that space in my life and it will be a new space. I'll let you know.
You know when you haven't been in touch with an old friend for ever and the longer you leave it the more daunting becomes the idea of The Catch-Up? That. So I decided not to catch-up properly because really, it doesn't matter. I've been reading everyone else's blogs and checking Instagram because otherwise I would miss you all too much but it's been good to be relatively quiet. Endless dog photos aside.
Life is good.
Evie and I are off to Australia for two weeks next Wednesday and when we return I will be turning my focus to my work. I'm doing some already but many and various summer projects around the house and for Evie have taken precedence.
The season change (I'm almost sorry to be going away right now because it's one of my favourite times right here) brings me to the fire, the darker mornings and evenings, the books and the listening. And always, the woods and fields.
I have been conversing with the spirits of this place, assuring them of my commitment. They've made it clear to me that I can't be dabbling. No half measures. No trying to be cool or worrying about what other people think. They need me to be all in. And so, with a natural amount of trepidation, I am all in.
Things will shift a little here at my blog. Not much, but a little. If you read but roll your eyes now, you will probably want to just go elsewhere but either way, I'm not holding back.
It's going to be lovely. I do hope you'll stay.
Summer. This summer. So much to do and so much of it involving attention to detail (my nemesis, as a Big Picture person). We are drawing near to the end of the school term for Evie - all three of us are more than ready for that - and of course I have only 12 more days in the office, finishing my job on the 31st. The house is tidy but badly needs painting. The garden is a jungle. I have a ton and half of handover notes to write because I have 13 years of everything only in my head (see comment on detail, above). Amongst all this, an hour here and there with a cup of tea and a screen comes as a blessed relief so I thought I'd share just a few of the things I've enjoyed recently. Because why not?
The work of Marina de Luis.
DLP on conscious optimism and feminism. All the yesses.
Tindog (All three of mine have been banned from using it.)
The Robcast: Rob Bell talks with Elizabeth Gilbert. I absolutely think that Liz and I could/should be BFFs.
My biggest Instagram crush is #StoneColdMarshall and this video made me love him even more. I think that, to #runlikePhoebe we can now add #swimlikeMarshall. He's the best. Don't tell Dooley.
I'm all about the plant power these days so naturally I had to have a set of Lisa McLoughlin's Plant Ally cards. So beautiful. And I'm looking forward to incorporating them in my work and studies.
This guy's work.
And finally, you can have your Elizabeth and Darcy, your Romeo and Juliet, your Ross and Rachel; all I want is MonRosalee. Forever. And Blutbad - Fuchsbau babies are going to be the cutest.
|Nellie Bean. Just because.|
The woods are full of deer beds and wild asparagus (actually Star of Bethlehem but round these parts it's always been wild asparagus and only Lenny Tinker [and my stepfather] knew where it grew and would sell it for charity in the pub). Finally, summer weather is here. I always forget that June is technically spring because by this point, like most people, we just want it to. stop. raining.
This seasonal changeover hasn't really been one I've ever struggled with SAD-wise but this year, with its weird weather and All The Flowers seeming to bloom at the same time, has had my natural season-markers rolling around like lost marbles.
But it's all good.
Last week I told my manager that I'll be leaving at the end of July, just as Evie's school year ends. So August will be school holidays, and getting the house and garden sorted out, and actually having a break for the first time in, er, ever.
That's the plan. September will be back to school for Evie, year 5. She has her first school trip away from home for a week at the end of the month and then, on October 2nd, she and I fly to Australia for a 10th birthday reunion with her twin sister and family. She'll be staying with them for all but the last 48 hours and I will be nearby but having a little solo retreat time. At a beach. In a nice hotel. I know, it's going to be hell. Then for our last night, we'll nip back down to Brisbane for a reunion with my beloved Leoniewise who will be just arriving in Aus from NZ for her own reasons.
Charlie is staying home and will be In Charge Of The Dogs. I'm not dwelling on that though. Because panic.
I'll also be starting my studies. I have my Reiki Master course to complete, the Bach Centre Level 1 ready and waiting for me to get stuck in to, and Kathleen Prasad's Animal Reiki Core Curriculum course which kicks off next month. When we're back, I'll start on the animal aromatics course I'm doing (again, three levels to practitioner status), and hopefully start thinking about booking my Bach Centre Level 2. Level 3 will come in 2016, I hope. Along the way I hope to be boosting the coffers with some ad hoc animal care and dog-walking gigs.
Then there's the online part of it all... that makes me gasp in anticipation. Such a geek.
Fifty-two is somewhat late in the day to be realising your dreams but I say it doesn't matter. My main inspiration is being able to do this work: helping to pass the wisdom and healing of plants on to animals. But I'm also discovering that I am excited by the possibility of being good at something after years of being pretty mediocre at a job that didn't stretch or motivate me. While my current employment (and don't get me wrong, I have loved it) would've seen me ageing out of the role before too many years passed by, I am now relishing the idea of being an expert at animal healing by the time I'm 80. I have a whole career ahead of me. Now. For the first time. It's an utterly thrilling prospect!
Also, it can come close to overwhelming so I'm steadfastly moving at an easy pace and spreading all the good stuff out across the coming 12-18 months. My instinct right now is to prep for finishing work so that I handover my role efficiently, while at home I am de-cluttering and making space for new life.
Here's a thing: given my way of being it would be nice to be able to say that this has all happened because I finally started believing in myself. I did 'the work', the meditations and the journeys; had the conversations with spirits and raised my vibration to a level from where I could jump and fly. All those things are true, but they are not the reason for this happening now. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually I have been where I am now for a long, long time.
No, the magic behind this is far more mundane. We got some money. We can afford for me to take 12 months to do this and pay for the tuition etc. Just about.
Of course I've always known this was what was holding us back, and it's true that when you have very little money to play with it's extremely difficult to turn it into more money. And in our case, very little money meant no disposable income. Which meant no monetary investment in ourselves beyond keeping the three of us going. We did - and do - plenty of the other kind.
It's amazing how often you can find people who aren't in that position who talk about 'choices' and 'will' and 'courage'. Well bullshit. I know people who are brave and motivated and talented beyond measure. Who have a vision, a dream and a calling. But simply cannot afford to go further than a certain point in pursuing them.
But rather than this getting spoken about, it gets swept under the carpet. Or ignored because dude...it's not spiritual. You don't get a party bag full of £100s from a yoga retreat. Crystals won't clear your credit rating or buy school uniform. Maybe there are people out there who address this and I just haven't seen them. If so, more power to them. They are needed. For SO many of us, what stands between us and our dreams is not low self-esteem, the fear of failure or lack of a decent business plan. It's an empty bank account.
Don't get me wrong...if we'd come into this money ten, even five years ago, I'm not certain I'd've known what to do with it or, if I'd had a plan, that I'd've had the ovaries to follow it through. The spiritual and emotional work I've done and the path I follow have without doubt also enabled me to be here, now. They will continue to inspire me as I move forward. Because of them, I know what to do with this money and I know that this is how I am best fulfilled and best embodying who I am.
It just interests me that what finally made me leap was a combination of two things: financial ability and, after a particularly frustrating day at the office, anger! The combination of a big, pissed-off push in my back and the knowledge there was both a safety net for my family and funds for training gave me a level of clarity that has remained. I found that a decision I made in that hacked-off, 'oh fuck it, why not?' moment was one of the truest things I ever did. The vision is not one I've had before - not in this form - and suddenly it makes perfect sense. But without the financial freedom to think, 'Right, I can book this course, do that course, train here and over there...take a year...' I'd've been back at my desk scanning Pinterest. No doubt about it.
I spent years feeling like a loser, a wuss, a coward because despite all my conversations with spirit guides and creature teachers and inspiring people I still stayed put. But I can say hand on heart that I was none of those things. I was just a 40 something woman with responsibilities and demands and no budget. And as I got closer to 50 the chances of ever being able to do anything about it seemed to melt away. So I put less time into dreaming and thinking about it.
What am I trying to say? Never give up. We have been fortunate (and to be fair, Charlie paid a shitload of money into a pension at a job he hated for 20 years) and this doesn't happen for everyone. But, if you're still waiting, there may be other ways and other magic available to you.
What was needed for me to unleash a new vision and new courage was a bright flash of possibility. Maybe, as western astrology would have us believe, as a Taurus I am rooted in the earth, practicalities and a connection to money. Maybe that is where I needed to see my possibility. Maybe yours is somewhere else and will come in a dream, a meditation, a conversation, a novel, a smile, an asana or a prayer.
Just don't let anyone tell you that you're not making the correct, 'brave' choices. Or you're not sufficiently 'fearless'. While those things can be truths, more often the answers are duller and heavier. And they are not your fault.
Y'know when it feels as if talking about something will jinx it? That. And also a little bit of sensible self-protection. Which I am - perhaps foolishly - now ignoring. I've had so much to say but couldn't say any of it. But I'm gonna.
We jokingly refer to it as Operation Change Your Life except it's not a joke. Because. We've gone back and forth with how this news will actually manifest and what that will mean for us, and there have been many hours of soul-searching and decision-making. Teensy bit of arguing (I was wrong, he was right and no you won't often hear me say that).
Then I had a bad day. I got angry or more accurately, supremely pissed off. And it transpires that anger is a really good motivator for me. The fire, it burns bright and fast. I didn't spend any more days/weeks/months/years trying to decide on a solution because in truth I've already put in decades on that work. I did take everything I've ever mused on, written about, journeyed with, hoped for, offered up, buried down, and cried over and bam...I'm jumping.
I'll be taking 12 months to study, and start up an animal therapy business. I'll start with Reiki because I'm already qualified to practise; add in flower remedies, aromatics and maybe eventually some zoopharmacognosy. A bit of our windfall will part-finance this and I'll top it up with animal care and dog-walking. Because good health means physical activity for them and me.
That's a very simple explanation of a fairly intricate plan (which is many years long and has a lot of variables built in) but yes...animals and plants and healing. Operation Change Your Life. It's on.