Friday 4 March 2016

February and March 2016

February's been a month of blurry hibernation for me this year, mainly curled up in bed, hoping to sleep away this winter's cocktail of viruses that have invaded and taken up their temporary residence. Sleeping for hours with increasing gratitude for time away from feeling ill, occasionally emerging to check the weather, walk Bella if even mildly bright and to make very simple vegetable soup. I lost all appetite for protein, dairy and anything at all sweet and made my way day by day through an extraordinary detoxification process on many levels. 

Still not through the woods yet but no longer being buffeted along without choice, instead I welcome this new me that feels lighter on so many levels. I always see myself as someone who does not get ill and yet I've had my share of serious enough illnesses over the years but in my deep self I'm strong and filled with my own version of joie de vivre apart from the times when I'm filled with anxiety and fear that is a part of all our earthly lives. But those states of mind can be great teachers and I've eventually learnt to calmly look and listen to them more and more. Self examination, a life long and difficult process, mixed with gratitude and joy. 
Now is the time to look forward to new beginnings.

I've become more patient and am now allowing myself the time I need to convalesce, whilst interspersing working from home when I have the energy and ability to concentrate. It's such a pity that the historical practice of viewing convalescence as a distinctly separate and very important stage of recovery has become diminished by the expected goals of our society and it's work ethic. 

I'm all for the work ethic and it's very strong within me but because I've chosen the path of the creative self employed, with all of it's inherent risks and as one who has experienced both wealth and poverty, I'm used to the vagaries, the ups and downs and have learnt to trust and relax more than I used to, so perhaps that helps my equanimity at these times. I usually hunker down at this time of the year and work all the time, knowing that I'll have more than enough work to send to galleries when the spring returns and then I can allow myself the time to be outside more often. Not so this year but I now have a little courtyard garden that is perfect for setting up a worktable outside. It is sheltered by old stone and brick walls and trees of just the right size to create space for birds and dappled
shade for me. It might look something like this -
There is a pergola with a rambling grape vine passing over it on it's way to scramble over the wall that runs along the road, making a safe place to the blackbirds that have been visiting every day and fighting over their territory. I've been putting out bird seed mixed with meal worms every day and it will I hope pay off in the weeks to come when they return. So far there are daily visits from a pair of turtle doves -
a pair of collar doves, robins, various tits - blue, great and coal, wrens, sparrows plus starlings, pigeons and crows. So far no cats. This new garden seems to have had very little done to it since Georgian days when the house was built. Georgian sounds quite grand, it isn't but it is perfect for me as it's reminiscent of my favourite homes - wooden floors, an enormous red Aga, white walls, beams, open fireplace, beautiful windows of just the right proportions and cosy bedrooms. Also a very large square shaped bathroom that is perfect for yoga (an exercise that I vow to restart) and a huge self contained attic that's perfect for guests. And best of all it's a long let so I can relax. 

The stress of the last year did not reveal itself to me until I moved in last winter and then I began to be nervous and experience a string of hard to ignore miseries. I didn't even know that I was stressed until I began to relax. Constant nausea and an acid stomach, constant and inexplicable pains around my rib cage, tiredness, waking up every few minutes through the night, very strange dreams, backache, headaches, aching joints and fear and anxiety. Fortunately the flu seems to have speeded up my recovery. It's acted like a catalyst. I believe that excess body fat is created through nutritionally ill considered diets and too much stress. Fat stores toxins that the daily circadian rhythms have no time to eliminate. It's also believed by some, including me, by my experience, to store emotional trauma. I've never carried much too much body weight but like most women, there was always more of me than I would have liked. I have always had an image of my self as feeling much younger than I look, vitality wise. 

I don't mind getting older at all by the way, in fact I'm rather enjoying the journey and see it as a welcome adventure after that extended and suspended period of time of motherhood when from the moment of my first child's birth, one day seamlessly merged into the next ad infinitum until they eventually flew the nest. I absolutely love being a mother and actually consider it to be by far the best thing that's ever happened to me. I planned for the empty nest time by arranging to travel and base more of my work on those experiences. But the absence of the 'nest' even as a base during my homeless period has I now realise been a huge stress in itself, even though I tried to meet the challenge by gritting my teeth, girding my loins and by sheer determination. 

My original plan was to stay in various places in Europe, adding I imagined an element of adventure but like many phases in life, circumstances dictated that I remained in England. I adapted to being a lodger, simply because it has been impossible to find the right kind of house that will accept a dog and Bella is a member of the family and will not be rehomed. Having my belongings in storage, or various storage places also involved a lot of back breaking energy and stress in actually moving them from A to B - I have a lot of books, again something that I don't envision living without. But eventually I needed to have a place to call home, a place of safety and security, a place to have my things around me, little memories of my family's journey so far. 

I simply cannot imagine a better place to call home than the house that I have now found. It has everything that I need and the town of Topsham is perfect with all amenities close by.
It's also a very beautiful old estuary town that has a fascinating and a very interesting history. It also has it's own railway station, Exeter airport nearby, a mainline railway a few stops away, good parking, lovely walks and is very dog friendly. It is not as alternative as Totnes and it's not yet embraced organic but there are two Waitrose supermarkets within striking distance that will deliver as will Riverford so I am perfectly situated to concentrate on invigorating my business and my health. Not a bad outcome afterall.
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