can we talk about this?

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Last year I wrote a lot of noise. It felt like I was writing from an undigested, frustrated place, a very shouty place. No doubt some of what I was writing valid, however it was often fuelled by emotion that was unrelated to the subject matter.

Often what I was really pissed off about was to do with a conversation I wasn’t having or a situation I wasn’t facing from beyond the kingdom of my browser window.

And when I properly examined it, I wasn’t having the conversation because I lacked the courage, feared the consequences and maybe had even forgotten how to.

I see this everywhere. Somehow social media platforms have become a space for the most incredible streams of vitriol to be unleashed on the world, a plague of so called ‘trolls’. Not to mention the full on word-wars occurring below the line on pretty much every medium from YouTube to The Guardian.

Opinion is a great thing, freedom of speech an incredible privilege to be able to wield, healthy debate is what drives progress. And sometimes we just need to throw our heads back and let rip an unbound howl into the night.

But this is a far cry (hah!) from the strange snarled up rant-culture I feel surrounded by and part of.
I wonder if it is simply a way to avoid actually having face-to-face conversations off line.

For example Trip Advisor. I used to see this as a useful resource to allow individuals to give honest unbiased personal views on places that they had visited. In fact it was one of the earliest platforms that allowed individuals considerable power over organisations and made many establishment sort their shit out rather than just paying for better PR.

It certainly has its place, but like many other platforms it is often used as way for cross people to shout about negative experiences. Nothing wrong with that per se (aside from the instances when experiences are fabricated) but often the place that is being criticised isn’t made aware of what they have done wrong at the time. I’ve done it myself, smiled and told a member of staff everything was fine, when it really wasn’t. Not wanted to make a scene, cause a fuss. But then afterwards felt cross, ripped off, and moaned about it.

Having worked in restaurants and helped run one, I now recognise how vital it is for customers to speak out, to say if something isn’t right (hopefully with tact and understanding of course, and hopefully met with openness and genuine apology from the place in question). This allows for conversation, apology, learning and improvement on the restaurant end, an opportunity to put things right there and then. Strangely quite often in these cases a particular bond forms between the customer and restaurant that brings them closer, a complaint handled well can make a customer into a regular. I have never heard of this happening on Trip Advisor.

As I feel my way back into writing, and at the same time explore the conversations in my work and my relationships, I’m struck by how easy it is to have an opinion online, to draw clear strong divisions, shout about something, even shout at someone, when they are not physically there.

I have to remind myself of the basic online etiquette of not texting, tweeting, posting anything that you wouldn’t be prepared to say face-to-face (and I would add, take the consequence of saying).

I am by no way advocating a path of shrinking violets (which in truth shine and sing from the hedgerows right now). Quite the opposite, I feel so strongly, that we need to have the difficult conversations, we need to question and debate and explore. And we need to listen. Bloody hell, we really, really need to listen.

Real conversations about important things can be hard work and take a good deal of courage. Conversations where both parties come from different points of view, conversations that are not going come to a clean resolution, conversations that are frankly messy, painful and very human. But by having these honest, courageous, vulnerable exchanges extraordinary things can happen.

They bring closeness, they bring understanding, they build a useful appreciation of how we are all in constant flux, they bring light and humour to the darkest places.

So I am actively practicing having the conversations that make me feel uncomfortable rather than using my bottled up emotions as fuel for my writing. I often feel like a beginner speaking a foreign language with someone else’s tongue, it doesn’t always go to plan. Occasionally it’s so easy it knocks me off balance. Often as I go to talk about something I realise it is not as important as I thought it was and I am released from its grasp.

Maybe I am laughably naïve but one small step I feel could transform our lives as individuals, communities and maybe on a wider scale, might simply be to have the conversations, face to face if possible. To speak, to listen, to feel the discomfort and vulnerability, to be honest, to be human.

I’m certainly going to give it a go.

Amidst all your philosophy, be still a (wo)man
David Hume (my parenthesis obvs.)

 

Something more…
Have a look at these extraordinary films from Yann Arthaus-Betrand, I found them profound and moving, they got me thinking and talking. http://www.human-themovie.org

 

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baking and breaking

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Conscious Eating Experiment

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I have been doing a couple of yoga practices lately that encourage you to play, to follow what feels right for you today and engage in self practice. I have been surprised by how uncomfortable and difficult they have felt. Surprised, as I consider myself someone who loves being playful, being able to dance and move freely, I’ve always thought of my self as intuitive. Why was I finding this space to do my own thing so difficult, even in a room where no one was watching and no one would was going judge?

Mulling it over, I realised I felt vulnerable. I wanted the safety net of what I was supposed to do to support me. I’d associated intuition with a surety and confident inner knowledge, whereas what I was feeling was a fragile uncertainty, a sensation of edging into something unknown and uncomfortable, yet very real. I am starting to see that actually it is harder, sometimes much harder, to shift into a place where we can really listen to intuition, particularly when we get out of the habit.

And yet it is so valuable.

I think part of its value is because everything changes. We are all (and maybe women in particular) engaged in a continual process of birthing and dying. As I look around me, everything is, from the plants in my windowsill to the fruit in the fruit bowl. Right now every single day feels different, and I feel different in that different day. This may seem a nonsensically obvious thing to say, but it seems rather revelatory for my daily life at the moment.

Whilst form and structure is vastly important, my sense right now is that it needs to be balanced by this sometimes-vulnerable, intuitive sensitivity, this wholehearted openness to what the present moment is offering. And like the postures in a yoga class, this inward openness takes practice and work. However it’s a very different kind of work, it feels like a unique sensitivity to the alchemical combination of the self and each single moment.

Arrrghhhh, what a lot of words; in the end it is something we experience when we shut up and really listen.

Today I am making bread. I am a total novice, it’s the second loaf I have made in four years and a wonderful new practice, although hard and pretty sweaty work.

Andy gave me a list of ingredients and the basic process and let me get on with it. He is an advocate of using recipes as inspiration but not following them to wrote. I started to experience what he was talking about today.

Bread is alive, this is obvious each time I come into contact yeast or culture. The dough stretches and resists under my palms, the smell of the yeast, the way it moves and changes, there is nothing inert and regimented here. I get the sense we are two living beings interacting in this ancient sacred dance of bread; rising, breaking, nourishing life!

I start experiencing that feeling of vulnerability again. The dough feels different than the last batch, and rightly so, I am using a new bag of flour, the kitchen is a little cooler maybe, my hands are stiffer. So I try to feel into what is going on, what the dough requires, how we can work together. I realise with a small jolt that this is simply what my mother and grandmother would do when cooking, combining their knowledge and experience with a finely honed intuition.

I found this maddening when trying to learn things from them.
(‘Mum, how much salt?’ ‘Enough’…)
Until I discovered the best way to learn was to do something with them, ‘trust your taste, what does it need?’ And although they often referred to recipe books, the familiar page scrawled, stained and a little sticky, they would collaborate with the ingredients, adding more or less, modifying and shifting to taste.

Moving (yoga) and making bread are time consuming, somewhat sweaty but ultimately very satisfying practices that I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment. They both feel like an invitation to make use of this deep resource of intuition, which is waiting patiently for me to jump in and explore.

An invitation to explore  – ancient grain bread 

This is a recipe Andy adapted from the mighty Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cooks Companion’. It has 3 proves, but will happily sit and rise while you do other things.

We’ve been making it with rye and Khorasan flour, an ancient and very tasty grain originally from Iran. I’m sure it would be ace with spelt, whole wheat or brown. These rich dark flours give it a beautiful taste, particularly combined with the honey and seeds

  • 400 g khorasan flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 7g yeast (I’ve been using Dove Farm quick yeast)
  • ½ tablespoon of pouring salt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of runny honey
  • 300 ml of warm water – about body temperature
  • If you like, a handful of seeds
  • A large baking bowl or proving basket
  • Some grease proof paper
  • A good flat baking tray
  • A cooling rack
     
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a big baking bowl
  2. Add in the honey
  3. Pour in the water bit by bit with your non-writing hand and whilst you combine the ingredients with your writing hand until everything comes together as a firm dough. You may not need all the water, you may need a little more. Add in the olive oil and see what it feels like before you add any more water.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface (put the baking bowl aside) and knead for a good 10 minutes using the balls of your palms to fold and knead over and again. It’s a good old workout, I tend to end up bouncing from hip to hip to keep my body from being overly stiff. Do it to music if you like.
  5. Form the dough into a smooth ball, tuck and smooth the edges and cracks under the base of it to avoid it splitting when it rises.
  6. Scrape any bits of flour from the baking bowl and wipe a small lug of olive oil around the curves of the bowl.
  7. Put the dough in the bowl, cover with a clean, dry tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for about 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  8. Take the dough out and knock it back – knead for about 2 minutes on a floured surface then reshape as before and put it back in the bowl or basket for the 2nd Leave for another 30 minutes to an hour.
  9. Turn the oven to 220 degrees and put your baking tray in. If you like you can put a shallow dish of water in the oven to help the crust form.
  10. Shape your loaf if needs be – a like a fat baguette style or a pointy batard (yep you did read that right) there is some great online tutorials, but once again you want the whole thing to be as crack free as possible. You can brush a little more oil over and press some seeds on the top, You can score the top which lets some steam out when the loaf cooks – this seems to work quite well.
  11. Leave the beautifully shaped loaf on its grease-proof paper another 30 minutes so the oven can get roaring hot.
  12. Carefully place onto the hot tray and shut the door immediately to keep the heat in.
  13. Bake for 15 mins and then take out and do the tap test – the bread when cooked should make a satisfying hollow knock and should be golden brown in colour. Give it another 5 minutes and another 5 again if needs be.
  14. Once your happy with it, leave to cool on a rack and exercise patience for 20 mins or so before cutting and devouring…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stop buying. start doing.

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Conscious Eating Experiment

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Today is International Women’s Day and despite the small cynical voice somewhere in my head going ‘we only get a day?! I think we might warrant a bit longer than that…’ it is a lovely celebratory occasion. This combined with Mother’s Day on Sunday means my inbox and newsfeed is awash with great female focussed news, thoughts and statements. So far. So affirmative.

However so much of it is actually asking me to buy things, all sorts of things, in the name of celebrating women. Some sites are even suggesting I panic-buy a meaningful gift for my mother and then thoughtfully choose a handcrafted piece made from a member of the sisterhood for IWD.

Nope. No, back off bitches, I am not going to celebrate the wonderful women in my life by going shopping.

A rather positive result of needing to live very leanly is distinguishing buying from doing (and for the record I am writing this from a point of huge privilege, I have absolutely everything I need and more right now). It may seem an obvious thing to realise, but it has made me notice how constantly we are told that we cannot do one without first needing to buy. I catch myself believing that to practice yoga one needs a mat, blocks, a variety of matching outfits, apps, towels, water bottles, a gym membership…etc. Buying these thing can feel like a productive step closer to being more flexible and breathing better. But it is not. And although all these things definitely help make regular practice easier, all you really need to do yoga is: time, your body and maybe a flat surface.

The saddest thing that I have experienced through habits of procrastination and purchasing over just plain doing, is that the action, be it exercise, cooking, creative practice, meditation, even socialising, becomes an increasingly remote and difficult possibility. The less you do, the more frightening the idea of doing becomes.

I have to confess, I love buying things, I really enjoy the thrill of a new purchase. On a more serious note I’m very interested in supporting good causes, independent businesses and for example, enterprising women, through our spending power. (Top on my list right now are online bookstore Hive and the no sweatshop, no Photoshop collective Birdsong). However there is so much we can just get on and do without having to buy something specific first. Sprout seeds (jam jar, seeds, water, tea towel – done), bake bread, go for a run (granted you need trainers and some stretchy clothes, but that is really it), do some stretches, write a story, call up that friend you keep meaning to see and haven’t done cos, well, it’s been so long.

For me the satisfaction that comes from doing all of these things feels much deeper and more sustained than the short, if sometimes guilt tinged, joyful rush of buying something.

This satisfaction continues as I keep doing, as I realise I am learning, developing, stretching into new skills, finding new edges and challenges, getting it wrong, getting it right, understanding more about the world and more about myself.

So where is the rub? Why have I only really learnt this now when I am time rich and a little financially constrained?

I think it is because doing is messy in a way that buying is neat. Literally in the sense that a transaction is a simple process of give and take, but also in terms of satisfaction; I hand over the money (or tap my plastic rectangle on the machine) and I get a shiny new thing. End of.

Doing – cooking, gardening, yoga, running, (relationships!), or anything creative, involves work, mess, getting things wrong, falling over (if you’ve seen me cook you’ll know this is true), getting frustrated, having to start again. But it also involves reward that as far as I can tell is greater than anything we can buy. And maybe that feeling of reward is to do with the mess, the effort, the work.

I often feel bombarded with messages that, with the right purchases, I can overcome all the work and mess and just get the reward, and the thrill of having a shiny new thing often seems to confirm this idea. It sometimes even seems that by buying something I am becoming part of the solution, whatever that means.

But right now I am pretty convinced that the satisfaction I have been missing in my life is one that comes through doing. During recent travels I spent time with people who in various ways and for various reasons are highly engaged in doing over buying. Their lives were in no means idyllic, they were juggling children and veggie gardens and making a living and cooking from scratch and bees and composting toilets (yeah, try get that image out of your head). But they had a quality that was to me incredibly attractive, in fact, something I yearned for the moment I encountered it, in a way that took me by surprise.

So, I am signing off now as I’m off to make a curry, and believe you me, there is likely to be mess. Here’s the recipe (stolen and adapted from Jamie Oliver) so if you feel like inviting that old friend over for dinner or maybe doing some doing to celebrate, well being alive – go do it. You won’t look back.

 

Coconut and Squash Curry

  • 1 small squash – de-seeded and cut into small chunks (remove the peel if you like, leave on and roast with salt, oil and garlic for 30 mins before adding)
  • 1 small onion rough chopped
  • A couple of gloves of garlic sliced not to fine
  • A thumb sizes red chilli cut fine
  • A thumb sized chunk of ginger cut into matchsticks
  • 8 or so curry leaves
  • A teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1 good handful of coriander – cut of the stalks and keep
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 hand full of torn up kale or cavolo nero or maybe spinach
  • A good splosh of olive or groundnut oil
  • If you are feeling like you need more protein grab a tin of chickpeas too.
  1. Take a large heavy bottomed pan and heat the oil on a medium heat
  2. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook until the onion starts to become soft, keep stirring now and then and don’t let the garlic burn
  3. Chop up the coriander stalks and add along with the curry leaves and mustard seeds and cook in the oil until the curry leaves start to go crispy
  4. If you aren’t roasting the squash add it now and cook with the oil and ingredients for 5 minutes or so
  5. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and the turmeric. If you have roasted the squash, add it now, along with chickpeas if you are using them too.
  6. Give it all a good old stir and the let cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally to stop it getting too stuck to the bottom (don’t worry if it does a little, it will add to the flavour)
  7. Leave it to cook for around 45 mins or until the squash is good and tender and the sauce is thickening and fragrant. If you like, add a bit more turmeric, a pinch of salt, even some cayenne pepper to taste.
  8. Once the squash is cooked to your liking add the greens and cook a little longer until they are tender. Then leave to cool for a couple of minutes
  9. Rough chop the coriander leaf and sprinkle over the top.

Serve it up with brown rice, a good dollop of yoghurt or some coconut yoghurt, leftovers will keep for 3 days and taste even better!

from a quiet place

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Conscious Eating Experiment

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I have been asked a couple of times if I am still writing, and looking at my blog I realise that I haven’t posted anything since February 2017.

In fact I wrote a huge amount last year, but I couldn’t finish many of the pieces partly as they all felt like noise, noise in a noisy year.

16/17 on the global, national and individual stages felt to me emotional, unbelievable, shouty; full of fire and fury…quite what it all signified we are just starting to find out.

Personally it was a year that was marked by things not quite working out. The restaurant that I had poured love, time and energy to rebrand and try to bring to life, didn’t survive. People lost their jobs, a business of 8.5 years closed down and my partner and his business partner lost everything they’d invested. My loss in comparison was small, but it cut deep.

It’s a strange thing talking about things that fail, and being in that space when things fall apart. I started to realise how conditioned we are to immediately try to ‘make the best of the situation’, ‘draw life lessons’, ‘move upwards and onwards’. Which of course, in time are all valid, in fact crucial activities.

But as I discovered, I needed a period to be undone, to be bruised and sad, to digest and to be quiet. And I found this a hard and very unfamiliar place to be and 6 months on I am still learning.

That said, I have been truly lucky to have the opportunity to be pretty quiet for these last 6 months, although it hasn’t all been by choice (job hunting, still job hunting…), looking back it is a lesson in trusting the unfolding process and also being grateful for what is in front of you, for this empty time has eventually taught me to be quiet. To stop and take stock.

We have been away on an incredible adventure for a month to New Zealand and Australia (I know, I know, I am actually a bit jealous of myself in this regard). This proved a wonderful swathe of time to read, journal, occasionally do yoga, sit, talk and listen. Listen to each other, listen to the native Tui and Kererū and the million Blackbirds that brought every Antipodean dawn to life (a beautiful reminder of an un-thought ecological disaster). Just be still, be conscious, be alive and listen.

Back in the UK I am trying to keep that spirit of listening and consciousness as I embark once again on job hunting, grocery shopping, emailing, hoovering, getting on with the stuff of life. I am trying to gently hold back the tide of life that could easily engulf and flood this quiet receptive space with the multi-coloured, beeping, flashing, pounding busy-ness I am accustomed to sucking into my world.

Even with all this incredibly luxurious if alarming free time I have, this is a challenge.

So I am engaging in some practices that feel a bit like a rib cage, a structure protecting a space to breathe. Simple things, which so many people already incorporate into their everyday lives, these are new things for me that right now are forming the basis of my movement forward.

I am going to bed when I am tired even if this means it’s 9pm and I am getting up early. I no longer keep my phone by my bed at night and not checking it until I am properly awake and have greeted the day. I am doing a short yoga practice every day, currently loving the 31-Day Yoga Revolution vids from the lovely Adriene. I am keeping a journal on each day, thoughts, patterns, the flow of life.

Andy and I are also doing a 10-day experiment in conscious eating, which I hope to document a bit more. We have cut out meat, milk, fish, dairy, processed food, booze, snacks between meals, sweeties…

It is inspired by a book called by Julian Baggini called ‘The Virtues of the Table’ (which I am yet to read) and also by Michael Pollan’s extremely compelling film (and book, although I am also yet to read that…) ‘In Defense of Food.’ It is certainly not a diet but rather a way to be grateful for all we have by living without for a while. It is also a way for us explore different ways of cooking using seasonal and where possible local produce. So far I’ve found cooking with creative constraints is challenging but really exciting – searching for different products, researching different grains, seeds and methods of preparation has brought back an engagement with cooking that I had sadly lost last year.

I hope this 10-day process will provide a basis to consume (both in terms of buying and eating) in a different way. Over the last month we have watched, read and discussed a huge amount about the food industry, and although I feel like I know only the tiniest amount and probably only one side of the story, it feels time to act and embody this knowledge. Quite literally, but also quietly.

I want to share part of this process as I am aware that a lot of other people are engaged with various elements of what feels like a desire for connectedness with our world through food (and if you are interested, I cannot recommend enough the work of Charlotte Maberly on Food Connects, who has inspired so much of this exploration and happens to be my best friend, for full disclosure).

I hope to share some recipes, musings, experiences and experiments. I hope to have conversations if anyone is interested. Eventually, and this maybe years from now, I hope this area might form the basis of what I do for a living.

So I am here again, quietly, gently, listening and moving forward, seeing what the first gentle signs of Spring have to offer, starting to move from stillness.

 

 

to my goddaughter ~ your name is mud

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IMG_3406{I recently became a Godmother to one of my dearest friend’s baby girl, Mya, whose initials spell MUD. Having been through a period of time which has brought to focus the idea of growing up and being responsible I have been thinking a lot about what being a Godmother might mean. I was struck by how strong my feelings for this little being that I have not yet met are, how in her I understand something of the future and the desire to keep the future safe. This is of course for her, and for her beloved mother.}

Little One, born of love and circumstance,
An apple seed swelling and dancing quietly in your own ocean,
A perfect moment in time; captured in peach soft skin, furzed, downy, sweet as milk.
Your name is Mud, we shall call you Mya, but really you’re from the earth, from the skies, a child of the sweet spring rain, the first gently opening crocus,
A gift of sudden sunshine after a squalling shower.

This is your world. Your tiny fingers, your nails the shells from some distant beach, the bow of your lips, the arch of each elegant foot, describes the Universe in its entirety; nothing is more true and eloquent than your expression.
You are, Mya, love written in flesh. Surprise and the lines of the future are caught in sweep of your lashes.
One day I shall know you, Little Being, we shall figure the world together,
I shall spin stories of experience and all the while stifle my gasps when I discover that I am learning more from you than I thought possible.
One day we shall stomp the cliff tops together watching the wielding birds far below riding the crests of the sunlit sea.
We shall let the wind blow back our hair and shout with joy at the scudding sky.
One day you will fall asleep with your tearstained head on my shoulder, your rebellious dreams tangling in my hair as I sigh and reach to phone your mother.
One day, God forbid it, we shall we be parted.

But for now, little Mud, Mya Una, sleep your milky sleep and dream your growing dreams.
You are loved, bound by love, held by love, free in love.
The spring will pass, and pass again. You and the flowers will bloom and grow leggy in the sunshine.
Washing will dry in the garden, the blackbirds will sing. Time will wheel ever onwards. Everything will change, and change again.
All, except love, Little One, that remains constant, the gentle web that binds us all in freedom, the unbreakable ties that allow us to grow.

 

 

raw mind unfurling #3: kali’s shadow

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{This piece came out of an extraordinary workshop I was part of on women’s leadership called Coming Into Your Own. It came from the brave, deep, honest explorations of the women present and it belongs to them. 
Kali is free from the illusory covering, for she is beyond the all maya or “false consciousness.” Who is Kali: Subhamoy Das}

Kali’s Shadow (For SJM)

Kali’s shadow followed me here.
Over the green and pleasant lands, over the streets and straight lines, over the neat fields and fallow fields and fields where lovers lay entwined before the harvest and blood soaked poppies.

Kali’s shadow did not creep, or stealthily steal. She blocked the sun, stood hands on hips, chewed gum. Laughed with head back, watched.
Kali’s shadow did not apologise for the blood, brazenness, low-cut top. She put on lipstick in a wing mirror and disembowelled those who dared to look at her without respect. Right there. Right there on the pavement. In front of the bus stop.
I am a fucking goddess after all.
Kali’s shadow howled. Danced. Strode and then decided she was tired and went home and read Jane Austen in the lamp light with a pot of herbal tea and Jaffa Cakes.

She took men home and then firmly and politely told them no. Actually no. For no reason. She took home men and fucked them until she’d had enough. And made it very clear that was all it was. She decided, and let them know and closed the door very firmly and smiled.

Kali’s shadow followed me here.
I didn’t mean to let her know where I was going. I changed the password on my phone, didn’t update my status. I did not want her voice in the room, in my head, in my voice. I can’t contain her within me I am the wrong shape. Too pale, too quiet, too, eurghhhhhh, flat.

Kali’s shadow needs a bit more sass, strength, fight, come on girl, ferocity! There is not enough here to eat, to embody, to shout and scream and stamp. If you apologise once more I will destroy you. I swear it.

I want to dance with Kali’s shadow, in the darkness with my eyes closed. I want to feel into this power with tentative talons, self-conscious of my raw unbound body.
Kali’s shadow sighs.
Not quite ready yet? You’ll never be fucking ready. You have to jump. You have to do, fight, act, be. Find your edge and leap.

As the light changes and shifts I see Kali’s shadow everywhere, growing longer with the hours. Following each and every one of us. Forgotten, ignored, cut away, waxed off, tamed, pushed out, covered over.
Yet she awaits us, omnivorous, omnipotent, devouring time and tides and the tawdry notion of her darkness (a shadow is born of light after all).
She waits smouldering until we can reach a hand and she can touch it with hers saying: Fear not, we all have to start somewhere.

When it is darkest, just before the dawn breaks, Kali’s shadow is nowhere to be seen. And suddenly, the sword we are wielding is weightless, cutting with clean conviction through the depth of the night.

 

raw mind unfurling #2: water meadow

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{Words came easier the second time I wrote, it was gentler, I had come back from a morning run and my thoughts were already writing themselves}

Water Meadow (for A)

We rise, the magpie and I, in a swirl of damp feathers. Look no further than the river edge, oozed mud between our toes. The tenderness of the tide taking everything under.

Nothing is left to chance, nothing is ever still. The briars and berries and dew new grass and dank salt-slow smell of the boat’s demise and the jacks on the cliffs and the rise and fall of breath on the water meadows.

The rough chaff of the strimmed path, itchy bashed weed seed heads smashed open amongst the washed-out crisp packets and the wind. Charming. Charms of goldfinches, Christ birds grace the skies without realising it.

The depth of morning shadow, the ancient murmur of trees growing, compassionate, rotting, compassionate, unknowing, compassionate.

All the while a blackbird and a mower sing rusty high-low duets.

The morning growing outward. The gulls chase the shadows and shadow birds and bones of the Downs and down. Down. Soft fleece of the rosebay flight.

Your hand that fits mine leaves a memory mark when I run this land. Briars, brambles, the dark stain of stolen fruit, a smile, evening sun on the slow, slow eloquent river. A gentle stare from a dusty beast, no one is fenced in, robin song from the river edge. The gentle fall of leaves, scales, scars.

Pennies dropping to the murky depths, bubbles rising, singing, sighing.

Drop. Stone. Story. Walls crumbling in the rain, rebuilt from the chalk. A thousand years of stories, faces in the wind. Blown away. Away, loping into the distance.

Thought given flight. Can’t fight it anymore. Heaven knows (really knows). Only stories. Running words, swallowing stones, writing, swallowing sobs, writing, the last swallow. Writing. Only words.

Home, breathless. Beginning. Again.