Something that you are

In this space I am always honest. I love many styles of blogging but when it comes to writing about my own life I'm not comfortable with anything other than what is. I'm certain that no one wants to read about the minutiae of my domestic life so I don't write about that but, hand on heart, I promise that what I do write here is real. True. I have no agenda to promote so there's no point in anything else.

Sometimes I'll write about an emotional situation and maybe some will think I'm over-sharing. I write because it helps me put things in order in my head and maybe someone reading will relate and feel better for some company (hello to my fellow 'terror gal', Lis). What it's not about is point-scoring, territory-marking or creating a persona. 

I was touched by sweet thoughts from Alison and Sarah when I wrote about my struggles with letting something go - they wished me healing too. Thanks, both of you, I'm on it - the path I'm taking to ease these final steps in that story were chosen to make sure I was included. Healing, like charity, begins at home.

Recently Susannah asked me if I'd like to take part in her gorgeous April Love event (sign up here). Once I saw who else was contributing I got a major case of imposter syndrome. Ha! I must be the only person there who doesn't have an impressive mailing list. Because I don't have a mailing list at all. I imagined people nodding their heads in recognition and then thinking,'WHO? ' and, to quote Evie, it gave me LOLz. 

Here's the slightly uncomfortable honesty...I also started thinking,'Crap, what can I do? How do I define myself? What is it that I do on my blog?  What is the point of it? I need to have that old elevator pitch ready.

Only no, I don't. I am much relieved to report that the knee-jerk reaction fell away within the hour. It seems I am learning. I'm not entirely free from vanity, I submitted a 'somewhat filtered' image of myself to go on the promotional materials (btw, is anyone else irritated by the way Photoshop has become a verb? Just me then. Okay.). Then this morning while clearing some images from my phone I realised that I like this one better.

My hair was typically unbrushed, I'd had a tiring day at work, just done the washing-up, taken the dogs out, and the light wasn't great. But I was happy because these days I am, to my bones. And if this is what I look like when I'm happy, then I give that an almighty #fuckyeah. That person there is what I am. And, with a little more respect, I also rather like this quote from the real Mr T:

Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have but you cannot lose something that you are.   

~ Eckhart Tolle 

Plant medicine

Spring is happening and that means plants. And plants - intrinsic value and beauty honoured and blessed - mean nourishment, health, flavour and stepping up to take our place in the cycle. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is a way for us to help support and sustain life - without getting into the nitty gritty too much it's all about recycling, yes? You know what I'm saying. Whereas when I think about eating animal products for me it feels like simply ending life. Full stop. I know not everyone feels this way and I know not all animal products are the same. These are just my feelings on it.

Through winter I've slid back into some not-so-good habits. I'm one of those people who feels the cold and whinges about it endlessly so hot food is a must for me. My raw-til-4 eating stopped. I still ate raw fruit and veg every day but it was likely to be accompanied by something hot and carb-y. Then there's my chocolate cravings. I'm thinking part of that is a magnesium issue as I also crave spinach and almonds, natural sources of this essential mineral.

I know how good I feel when I respect what my body knows and asks for and I'm not going to lie, it's much easier to listen when the sun is shining and the markets are full of every plant you can imagine. As for what to do with them, beyond juice, smoothies and a frickin' salad, I'm not exactly a culinary genius. Thank you internet for saving me from my own incompetence and making it enjoyable. I'm looking forward to making some plant magic. Here we go:

The First Mess
My New Roots
Post Punk Kitchen
The Plantpower Way
Gluten Free Vegan Girl
The Vegan Stoner
Oh She Glows
Thug Kitchen
Oh My Veggies
Garden of Vegan
Straight Up Food

Late addition: Peaceful Cuisine on YouTube. It does me good just watching. Thanks to Anthony and Mel for the link.

I'm also toying with the idea of growing some food again but this might be because I've yet to be confronted this year with the Chalfield Slug Army* that always strikes and wipes out All The Plants. I'm not sure I'm ready for that early morning heartbreak again. But I discovered recently that Diggers The New Dog is just like my old terrier boy, Jackson, who really loved me working in the garden. While Nell would sunbathe, Jackson would be nose to fingers with me while I dug, planted and weeded. He was especially fond of stashing old plant pots behind the sofa. As I began clearing out a flower bed a few days ago I found a similar tan and white head joining in. He even carried a few sticks I'd dropped up to the compost heap with me.

There's a holiday weekend coming up and we're promised good weather. Time spent with my hands back in the dirt, then whipping up a tasty bowl of whole plant food for us all sounds like good medicine to me.


* What do you do about slugs that doesn't involve killing or throwing them?

May you be safe

I advise Evie not to pick at the scabs on her knees and she does it anyway because we all do, don't we? This week I've been picking at an emotional scab that was sooo verrrry neeeearly healed that I can't believe I've done it.

Relationships, friendships, acquaintances... I've had a good number and as is natural, a percentage of them have been short but sweet. Despite me being the kind of introvert who has sub-optimal people skillz, only a couple turned sour. But I'm not good at walking away from that.

Like a terrier with an old sock, I shake and chew and worry at it, trying to work out why things happened the way they did. What does it say about me? What does it say about them? What is real and what are we each reflecting? How can we do better? My prime directive is always to heal and to do that I feel driven to understand the bones of something.

But sometimes, ya just can't. Sometimes partings can't be explained by words; sometimes it's just about a gut feeling that says I don't feel good here anymore. Sometimes I see white and gold and they see blue and black and there is absolutely nothing that can change that for either of us. And yet walking away - really away - is so effing hard to do. The scab is irresistible. I need to get 'LEAVE IT' tattoo-ed inside my eyelids because ultimately, opening a wound over and over is just self-harm.

I beat myself up for my part in a goodbye. I feel antipathy towards another for their refusal to see they had an equal part to play. I feel shame for not being endlessly compassionate towards every living being despite knowing that no one truly is. Even the Dalai Lama gets pissed off at people. His wisdom is in being able to recognise that and not attach to it. I recognise it and then fuck it up. Guess I won't be leading any Tibetan Buddhists any time soon (reincarnation issues not withstanding). I know... cancel your mala orders now, people. Maybe next time around.

The worst thing is that the toxic nature of something like this can poison the good stuff. It's hard to focus on your good work, your good life, when you have an infected emotional wound that means you get crabby, tired and distracted. However, I think I've found a way through.

I am trying to send the very best healing prayer that I can honestly muster for a person I need to fully move away from. I'll be truthful here, full disclosure, I cannot authentically send love. Not yet. On a good day I can send a genuine prayer for happiness. On a bad day I can still commit to 'may you be safe' with all of my heart. That way it feels to me as if maybe we both get a bit of healing and I can focus on where I want to be and where I am needed.



In the March sun, after days without rain, the fresh carpet of grass in the little woodland looked so soft and welcoming that I just had to lie down on it and look up to the trees above. I didn't do so with a question in mind. I hadn't called them, they rang me so to speak, so I just listened.

'Be a home,' they said. 'That's how we serve. Be a home.'

That's quite a concept and one it'll take a while to define for myself. But I like it.

Never forget

Here's a thing. I had a couple of hours to myself on Friday night so, after the moment I had last week, I decided to go for some good ol' divination. I cleaned and smudged the living room, lit a fire, brought out some crystals to amplify the vibe (shut up, I'm using that word) and chose my favourite card decks to play with.

I had questions. Questions I worded very carefully and wrote out before pulling cards (see new stationery, above). Using both recommended texts and my own intuition to read the responses, I found a strong theme through them all.

I need to attend to the feminine, feel the power that lives there, utilise it, create with it.

This is not an easy thing for me. My old stories have me reject and withdraw from an early interpretation of 'feminine' based purely on a mother who is chalk to my non-dairy cheese. She is charm and voluptuousness, flirtation and 'Oh don't ask me I'm not very bright', all about the old school 'girlishness'. I was androgyny and three brothers, a life in jeans and trees, and a flat out refusal to take part in anything old school 'girlish'. I went to dance classes but dreamed of being Fred Astaire, not Margot Fonteyn.


Here I am now, living a life that is soaked in and rich with the feminine principles of nurturing, motherhood, creativity, connection with Mother Earth, home-making and my maverick hedgewitchery. Journeys and dreams filled with antler-bearing hinds wearing crowns, and the silent, black she-wolf who whispers,'You are like me. Never forget.' through her amber-eyed stare.

I haven't forgotten. Now it seems it's time to bring that memory into the light.


Biggest, most beautiful dream

I've learned now that when I have a few days of feeling out of sorts, slightly crabby(er) and as if my brain has just thrown in the towel on trying to 'work it all out', I'm generally due 'a moment'.

Last time this happened was just before my conversation with Sister Moon. Yesterday morning was different and I'm not quite ready to explain it yet, I may never be. But it was a moment and a half. Several moments woven together. A Pile O'Moments.

There are reports of astrological, celestial, temporal, personal shifts all around us as we see tonight/tomorrow's new moon and solar eclipse occur, and while I do try to resist (why was that again?), I have to admit I'm definitely feeling it. 

The message I was left to think on after my encounter yesterday was, 'What is your biggest, most beautiful dream? Because with our help there is no reason you can't make it happen.'

This is what happens when I go back to the woods. It's not just about stillness and quiet and stepping away from the treadmill; it's about facing the truth of things and hearing that truth without filters. It can be joyous or unsettling. Frightening even. This time I'm just going to let it swirl around me for a while and see what happens. 

In the meantime, do you have a 'biggest, most beautiful dream'? I think mine may be hiding. It's been a while since I paid it any attention.


Stop the world I need to get off

For goodness sake. Full disclosure: I have been/am in full on spinning mode. And I'm not talking about SoulCycle (unfortunately).

I'm putting it down to a goodly dose of seasonal change and a failure to maintain self-nourishment in the face of external demands on my time and attention. Which is a posh way of saying I've been really slack and eating lots of chocolate to get me through a Bit Of A Bumpy Ride. 2015 has been 'interesting' so far, has it not?

Whatever the reason, in the brief breathing spaces between spins I'm thinking about what it means to have too many choices. What having many choices does to our ability to see what we really need. What many platforms for sharing our thoughts and work does to our ability to see the best, most natural way of shining our light.

I am a born eclectic who struggles to maintain a focus on any one idea or topic without being drawn to others. I really truly LOVE a whole lot of things and ideas and people. That's not a problem - if it were, I bet 50% of the human population would be 'afflicted' - but when I forget (see also: can't remember because of the sugar hangovers) that without proper nourishment my brain does weird and not-so-wonderful things that lead me up and down many garden paths, I tend towards self-inflicted ADHD.

So. Now that Digby has been integrated into the pack (total success story so far with full-on bromance between him and Dooley) and new extended family routines are almost second nature, I need to help myself step back onto the path. Or is it back off the path? I think perhaps it is.

The path is lined with billboards and neon and all sorts of pretties to grab my eye. There are too many things masquerading as signs to what matters. Off the path is where I can focus on what's really important to me. So yes...back to the woods for this woman. Back where I belong.


Follow your heart

So we're settling into a new normal, slowly but surely. The recognised wisdom is that a rescue dog can take nine months to find themselves. Zoey took longer - perhaps because she was so sick for the first 18 months - and Dooley is still relaxing (new big brothers not withstanding #KingofSulk) almost two years down the line. You would have been forgiven for thinking they were both pretty chilled out within a week or so of arriving but - just like us - dependent on the length of time they were unloved, their history and their personality it can take a long time for a dog to be as settled as they can be.

Digby is happiness on four legs. He has Doo's 'I love everything and everybody' personality but none of his anxiety. My heart tells me that the best support I can give him is routine, good food and lots of love.

And so it is for many of us. If I did not know for sure that each day I have the option to be outside among my non-human, often-time non-animal family, I would be less happy. If I did not feed my physical self with whole, plant foods that truly nourish all that I am, I would be less happy. If I was not as surrounded by love as I am, I would be less happy. These things are my foundation. With them in my life I can truly face anything. Without them I am less than myself.

The best bonding exercise for dogs is, in my opinion, running together. I took the last four days, with some blessedly fine weather, to spend as much time as possible exploring in the fields and woods with the three amigos. Creating and reinforcing my own bonds within my funny little pack. On Sunday we found this stump, a relatively young Ash I think. I don't know why she was cut down and it makes me sad that she was, but the message was a good one.

Room for a small one

I've been a bit distracted. You may have witnessed this on Twitter or Instagram.

It all started when a dog called Zeus popped up in my Twitter feed, an elderly Staffie looking for a home. For a while I've harboured a desire to foster or adopt an elderly dog - a Staffie because I love their vibe (I am now a person who uses the word 'vibe' without irony and I seem to be okay with that) and because there are just so damn many of them needing a home. I made some half-joking reference to it in a tweet and surprisingly, Charlie said,'Go for it'.

I say 'surprisingly' because while he is very fond of Zoey and Dooley, he's not an obsessive dog person like me. If he lived alone he would not have a dog. But he loves that I love dogs and, lucky woman that I am, he loves me. It is entirely mutual.

Zeus already had a home waiting for him but by then I'd been given the green light and I was 'on the trail'. It's a tricky business finding the right dog and even trickier when there are others already present. As ever, the four-leggeds were here to revisit an old lesson with me.

When I was contacted by someone who lives near us to say she was looking for a home for her elderly Staffie X, Evie and I went to meet him - sans our dogs - right away. He was (is) half Whippet and reminded me of my old girl Nell. He was gorgeous, sweet and in dire need of a new home.

We decided we'd get the dogs together a couple of days later, shook hands and paws and Evie and I drove home. She was excited and so was I but I said to her,'The annoying thing is...I've got a bad feeling. My intuition is saying no.' Her reply was,'Oh MUM you're just worrying, he's lovely, it'll be fine, I love him!' and I showed my intuition the palm of my hand. I bought ID discs. I bought a new bowl. I planned.

Wrong, wrong, a thousand times wrong.

It didn't work out. The (genuinely lovely) dog concerned hated Dooley on sight and just kept trying to get him to fight. Doo doesn't fight. Nor would I ever expect him (or his wannabe attacker) to live with that. We quickly parted ways.

I've done this before with four-leggeds and two-leggeds. Over-ridden my intuition even when it was flat out yelling at me, because its argument seemed illogical Captain (oh don't, I'll start ugly crying again). It has only EVER ended badly. Not once has that intuition been wrong.

So...despite the fact that he is not old and doddery, I kept returning to pictures of a little Staffie in rescue in South Wales. I decided to let my intuition lead and his foster carer offered to let us come and meet him - with our dogs - on Saturday. We went, we saw, we melted. This little boy has great body language, very fluent, and my years of experience mean that I can read a little of it. I asked for some time to think things over. I didn't need it but after recent events I wanted to be sure I was listening to the right voices. Over the hour long drive home Evie and I chatted, Zoey snored and Dooley howled (he feels about cars the way I feel about roller coasters). I tuned into my intuition and helpers and asked for an opinion. Instead of words I got a picture of this currently scrappy, skinny, hyper little dog who has a big bald patch on his back (I think his previous owners, who let him run stray and never claimed him, had him wear a harness and it rubbed away his fur) in two months time. Snoring on the sofa curled up with Zoey, a few pounds heavier, fur grown back, relaxed and happy. Home.

I parked up the car, rang the foster carer and said yes please. Fortunately, he was happy to recommend us and so we're in the admin stage. A dear friend (and tireless rescue worker herself) has provided a reference for us that made me a bit weepy when I read it. We will need to be home-checked. If all goes well then I hope to go and get our new boy on Wednesday evening.

My surface anxiety over the bit where the dogs are indoors together is firmly intact. I can use that to be sensible, cautious and supportive of them as they adjust. Zoey and Dooley are wonderful beings with peaceful personalities, especially Doo, so I know they will help the new boy settle in. Most importantly, my inner voice is calm and confident which means that I will be too. Dogs like that. Dogs need that.


P.S. If this all bites me on the arse faster than a speeding Jack Russell feel free to laugh : ) But it won't.