Category Archives: Life

I never wanted to be a Bishop anyway ….

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Well it’s a good job, isn’t it? Although I did have a few weeks of considering being a) a Missionary and b) a Nun in my teenage religious phase. And I do think I would make quite a good vicar. I would probably be more in the mould of ‘A Vicar of Dibley’ than the Anthony Trollope variety, but in my book that is no bad thing.

Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley

Dawn French as The Vicar of Dibley

This week the Church of England decided that it would be ok for gay male clerics to become Bishops. The proviso is that they must be celibate. In this country the law of the land allows gay and lesbian people to have civil partnerships and legislation may soon be in force allowing us to marry. However the Church is prepared to state that even gay clerics already in Civil Partnerships must be willing to state they are both celibate AND willing to repent of any ‘homosexual acts’. This week comments have been made that the church is obsessed with sex.

As a woman the door clanged firmly shut on the possibility of becoming a Bishop within said church some months ago.

I don’t know where to start but I have to start somewhere and for now what I am going to do is write about it.

My partner and I had our Civil Partnership celebration almost 4 years ago surrounded by over 100 of our closest family and friends. We had the most wonderful day of poetry, promises and music. Singing and dancing, food and friends. Yes it was a civil ceremony. But it was as deep and meaningful as it is possible to be. If you stand up in front of your friends and family and make promises and declare your love to another human being and you have an ounce of soul I defy you to experience that without a spiritual connection. Love itself is a spiritual connection. Sex is a spiritual connection, or should be.Why would anyone want to limit that and insist it be celibate?

I don’t care for myself whether we can be ‘married’ or not. I couldn’t be more married, and another ceremony or piece of paper won’t change the feelings, the committment, the ‘for better or worse-ness’ of our relationship. But I will defend your right to that and honour your wish for it whoever you are. Together we have supported each other through life and death situations, illness and recovery, we are proud of our complex extended family. On Christmas Day this year 13 of us sat down to dinner together. The missus and I, my 4 sons and 2 partners, their Dad ( Mr W) and his wife, her son, daughter ( with bump)and partner and his ( Mr W) mother. And 2 dogs. We alternate who hosts Christmas and have done for years. In previous years my mother, his mother and my mother’s gentleman friend have all also been there. I don’t tell you this to make you gasp, although many do. We have worked this out between us with a lot of love, tolerance and good will. And the success of it all is a tribute to everyone involved. Today we all sat round the table to have a birthday tea for son 3. It works. It’s love.

Most of all it sums up to me that of the two emotions Love and Fear, Love will always drive out Fear. Right now it seems to me that the Church is caught up in Fear. And they are not the only one. It is the Church I know. The one I was baptised and confirmed into. The church my parents were both buried through. I love that church in some ways. I love the language and the music and many of the people. I am not a member of that church any longer and that is for more than one reason. But from time to time I go back, or I have done. On Christmas Eve we went to a Carols by Candlelight service and it was beautiful and festive and yes, spiritual.

But I am not going again. I’m sorry. I love you, bless you and let you go. I will no longer behave as if it is ok by me that you dismiss, disrespect or just ignore the heartbreak you cause. It is not love. It may be religion but it is not even Christianity as I understand it.

One day maybe this will change. But not until you are willing to listen to love.

For me personally I have another spiritual home. I haven’t made a formal committment to it yet, although I probably will. But it is a home that is willing to listen to the voice of love. I am not there just because I am welcome as I am, but it helps. I am not there just because I can be there with my missus and be acknowledged as a couple, but it helps.

Me and My Girl

Me and My Girl

 

The sound of water

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Hope

Hope

It’s over. Christmas is gone for another year and there is that piece of me that heaves a guilty sigh of relief. Time to get back to ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends. And I love spending time with them. But I love to be alone too. I like to take a walk all by myself even on a rainy day like today. Seeing buds appearing on the brown twigs.

The sound of water

The sound of water

Not many people are out today. It is a day for getting back to work, but the schools and colleges are still on holiday so the town is quiet. A group of teens play football in the park and some lone dog walkers go by. Not many people just walk to town for the sake of it nowadays.The shops are quiet. Trying to find a birthday banner is hard, the card shops are full of half price Christmas wrapping paper and cards.
I have a coffee ( decaf and Americano as I’m trying to give up the cappuccino/latte habit!) in the cafe and hang my coat on the back of the chair opposite to dry. It is a secret pleasure to pull out my book ( The Snow Child) and read for half an hour with no-one to talk to and no need to be anywhere. As I walk back through the town I am almost tempted by the buses or the taxis in the taxi rank but I am trying to walk more so I carry on. Birthday banner and cake are in my bag for son 3 whose birthday it is today.

On the walk home the brook that runs through the Lyme Valley is high with all the rain there has been the last few days. It runs fast so you can hear the sound as you walk by. One of the joys of walking is noticing what is around you. I am not an iPod walker, not plugged in to sound. I like the sounds around me, the sensation of being present. Mindfulness in walking.
Coming back down our little street I am grateful for the sight of home. It is nice to be grateful for the sight of my own front door and the prospect of a rest and a cup of tea.

One Day …

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http://http://www.romanoriginals.co.uk/invt/20605?colour=Brown

Just before Christmas we went shopping for a coat . I’ve been having lustful thoughts about the fake fur jackets that are all the rage this year. It channels my inner slut most beautifully. Over the last year and only with the help of a 12 step programme, I have lost 117 lbs taking me from over 315 to a relatively slender 198. Although I still have some way to go to be at a healthy body weight, it appears actually within the realm of possibility. I am starting to like what I see in the mirror. Shopping for clothes is becoming a joy rather than a traumatic exercise. For a while I didn’t buy much. As the weight dropped off clothes got looser and I moved through the sizes in my wardrobe, in the loft and hidden in drawers. Now I am finally having to buy new. Sometimes I hit the charity shops where recently I have acquired some bargains along with a sense of excitement.
But today was special. The coat was going to be my Christmas present from my nearest and dearest. I tried a couple on. I landed on a gorgeous silky mink brown and was thrilled when I put it on. First I went straight for the Large. XXL was the biggest size. It was, well, roomy. I picked up the medium. I was a bit nervous. I didn’t want to try something that was too small, I’ve had too many experiences of feeling humiliated and hot and bothered in dressing rooms. It fitted. I had to try it on twice to be sure.
This feels like a miracle.
When you lose a lot of weight it’s hard to trust the process. It feels quite dangerous to believe that you will stay this slim.

Only one day at a time will see me through.

A Breath of Fresh Air

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Driving through the rain on Boxing Day with Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention playing on the CD. The world is sepia toned today, the trees have lost their leaves and water lies on the fields and roads.
The beach at Prestatyn in North Wales is alive with seagulls and white capped waves. Children on scooters from Santa go ahead of familes as we shake of the excesses of yesterday. A couple jog up the promenade and a boy is completely absorbed as he digs in the sand as we walk past.
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If you go down to the woods today …..

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Feeling a bit down this morning but the sun was out and the dog and I needed walking so we set off for the lake. I am doing Race for Life this year which is a 5k for Cancer Research. I am doing it in honour of friends who are in treatment right now, and friends who have lost the battle. And in memory of my dad who had prostate cancer but died in 2006 pretty much from old age thanks to treatment.

The route for the run/walk is round the lake with some extra bits added to make it up to the full amount. This is the half way point round the lake. Conveniently there is a little cafe where you can sit and watch the herons swoop across looking for a fishy snack. It also has a doggy diner ( water) and a skinny cappucino. I realise these benefits won’t be part of the 5k but I am in training.

The second half of the walk takes you through the woods. On our way we saw:

dragonflies

a frog

a teacup

and something mysterious in the treetops.

The goslings followed daddy goose into the water, one, two, three, four ….

Spring Forward

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It feels almost like summer, a day for throwing open the windows and revelling in the sun on your skin. I wore pale blue cotton trousers and a summer top and sat drinking a skinny cappuccino and reading my book feeling like a pampered princess. Bare feet and arms and the sun on my skin is enough to raise my happiness levels from 0 to 10 in the space of opening my eyes. Hearing the birds singing outside the window and the light filtering through the blinds as I wake is good for my soul.

Throwing off the blanket of winter and feeling myself begin to emerge from a long phase of being cocooned has been happening over the last months. Healing from any injury or illness is a slow process. As I am shedding some layers of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually it seems they are all tied together. No big revelation there, but the process is something to be treasured as well as the outcome. For after all, we are all in the process of becoming. The thing is, how to learn to just stay in the process whatever and wherever it takes me? That being in the moment thing.

The curse of depression is a dreadful sense of isolation and disconnection which comes with it. Some days it seems like a deep dark place that you just want to hide in for ever. Add to that any addiction and the sense of isolation and despair increases. Being grateful is a simple skill in theory and one to practice for the sense of hope it can give.

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.


Change of Seasons

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Well my blogging has been sadly lacking hasn’t it since September. In fact I just came to a full stop and couldn’t do it. So I let it go for a while. But I’ve missed it, and felt like I’d lost a little piece of me in the process.

Of course feeling a sense of loss was what brought me to a halt. Losing Mum has left a gap in all our lives here. The gap reveals itself in many ways and moments. Mum had been such a big part of our lives, and I had written about her here and shared our journey through the last year of her life. I am so glad i did that. But it was hard to write after she had gone.

Now I imagine she will pop in now and again for tea and a cake just to make sure we are getting along ok, so forgive me if she pops in here too.

I am not going for a post a day for now. It’s too much and I would like to be able to start sharing and writing again without that pressure.

The picture above is from my walk yesterday. It is truly Autumn here now, there is a smoky feel to the air and the trees are losing their leaves. It is good to walk through them whilst they are still crisp and not yet slippy. This is a new season, they go so fast don’t they and I have new ideas to share and a new journey of recovery to begin on.

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I love Freecycle. It’s a great way to pass on stuff you don’t need any more or aquire stuff you do. A quick email to the liast and a flood of responses usually means its pretty quick too. Last night I put on several items and most of them have gone today. An Asian gentleman took a swivel office chair. He wasnt keen on the monopod for a video camera, just didnt get why it didnt have 3 legs. His English wasn’t too good and he was sure something had fallen off it. I wanted to say “It’s free, just take it and leave”. He left it. A woman whose face I recognised came and took away a homemade blanket box. We worked out she had worked at the supermarket I use for 12 years, no wonder I knew her face – she was just out of context. Next a squaddie home from Afghanistan and now setting up his first home with two mates. He took a pile of 1970’s cook books as he is learning to cook and make food from scratch, it was fun talking about which books would be good for hime and he took a dinner party menus one for his more pretentious flatmate. A lovely woman with ME and Fybromyailgia took away an over-bed table and a digibox with no remote. We had a great chat about f=dogs as she met Geordie. She has two Rotweilers, a boy of 7 who has always been ‘her baby’ and an eighteen month old girl who has turned the old boy into a complete love smitten older man and protector. She told me how, on her bad days, the dogs come upstairs and keep her company and give her cuddles and it helps her get through. Tonight a set of bedroom furniture that there is just no room for went. I specified they would need a van and 2 strong people. This was 1930’s solid wooden furniture. They came in a small Pugeoet van, a little woman with a supervisors manner and her Dad who liked a chat but couldnt lift due to his arthiritis. Is it me? Luckily sons 1 and 2 have been my muscle all day and they ended up being the muscle to dismantle, carry downstaors and put in the van all the furniture. It took two trips.

As I said, I love Freecycle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but the concept is awesome in a materialist world and you get some great stories!

The Storyteller

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The Cochiti Pueblo are located in north central New Mexico near the city of Albuquerque. One of the more famous Cochiti artists is Helen Cordero. She was born in 1915 in New Mexico. In the late 1950s, she and her cousin, an accomplished potter, began making pottery as an alternative to leather and beadwork. Cordero was never satisfied with her bowls and pitchers, but then her cousin suggested that she try figures instead. In Cordero’s words, it was “like a flower blooming.” Countless tiny birds and animals and eventually, people came to life. Helen Cordero, of Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, created her first storyteller figure when she was 49 years old.  She modeled it after her grandfather who told stories about their Native American culture. One of the traditional figurine forms was a seated female figure holding a child, known as the Singing Mother. When Cordero tried her hand at this form, she “kept seeing my grandfather [Santiago Quintana]. That one, he was a really good storyteller, and there was always lots of us grandchildren around him.”  When she shaped the first portrait of her paternal grandfather, she used the traditional design but made the figure male and placed more than a realistic number of children on him. She called him Storyteller.  Between five and thirty figures cling to her sculptures.  Following the tradition begun by Helen Cordero, many other artists in Cochiti Pueblo began to create storyteller figures and developed their own styles. Seferina Ortiz created drummers and animals. Other artists created cowboy or acrobatic figures.   The Cochiti Pueblo Indians did not record their stories as we do but passed them orally to their children and grandchildren. Many of the storyteller figures are created with their mouth open and eyes closed as the Native Americans will sing or chant their stories aloud. Native Americans tell stories about creation, how certain plants and animals came to be and stories of legends, history, ceremonies or rituals. Many stories and dances or rituals are ways to honor the earth and nature’s way. Other stories tell about family, love, friendship, hunting, and so on. Some songs are performed to aid the deceased in his journey to the next world. There are reputed to be over 500 songs just for this purpose.  Helen Cordero was the first Native American to create storytellers and has sold many of her sculptures. Helen Cordero’s storytellers have been exhibited in museums in Canada and the United States and have won many awards including the Governor’s award in 1982.

This is a wonderful site that teaches you how to make one for yourself New Mexico Storyteller sculptures

Some years ago whilst in Albuquerque I bought three small storytellers. I gave one to Mum and Dad and it was always on their fireplace. Now I have the three on my desk at work. They remind me every day of how important stories are. The life story we create, the ones we tell our children, grandchildren and friends. The way in which we experience the world is made up of the stories we believe about ourselves and other people.

today I was looking at my little storytellers all over again. I had been talking to someone about Mum and her death. I realised it was like giving birth. The story we tell needs telling, sometimes over and over until somehow we make sense of it and understand it. We tell the story in our families and in our heads. If we are lucky we have people who will share the story with us or just let us tell it how we see it without trying to alter it or make it better or make it theirs. When I read again about the storytellers I heard about the songs that are sung to help the dead person go on their journey and I thought of how I sang to her “The Skye Boat Song” when I sat with her when she had gone. And the songs we sing whether hymns or not that mean something. These rituals are so important.    

I look at the storytellers I have and see how they are all the grandparents, the people who pass on the traditions. Is that me now?

 

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Up

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Looking up at the Segrada Familia, Barcelona

The Vatican, Rome

Is there something about churches that makes me want to look up? The decoration of each tiny part reflecting the worship of hundreds of hands and hearts. A special sort of stillness, the sense of decades of prayerful meditation. I like the simple in everyday spirituality. The branches of a tree reaching into a winter’s sky , the touch of a hand, the beauty of the earth. Sometimes the words of the Psalm, “Mine eyes look up to the hills, from whence cometh my help”  resonate. I don’t know that I fully understand their meaning but sometimes words convey a hidden depth that comforts without it being necessary to take them apart.

Today I am looking up and seeing grey skies, but inside it is warm with the scent of homemade rhubarb crumble baking in the oven. The sound of music coming from upstairs. Papers on the kitchen table I have sorted for tomorrow. A mug of tea. Blessings in the ordinary.