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.