Monday, October 31, 2011

Unravelling: a picture of me

This is the collage I made as part of the unravelling course I am taking. The brief was to use words, photos, and images to create something that I feel represents me. I really enjoyed doing it, and I am really pleased with the result.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

unravelling: memories

Last week on the unravelling course was memories week. Or maybe it was the week before. I am a little behind, and the task of digging though the box of unsorted photographs that represents my life so far was daunting. I decided not to do it, and went for recent memories instead, plus a couple of older photos that I had on my computer already.

The first pair are both school photographs. In the class photograph I am the tallest child in the class, a full head above the other children. I hated being tall and standing out. By the time I was eleven I was over 5 feet six inches in height. As I grew older I started to quite like being tall -  then I stopped growing not long after that and was left at 5 feet 8, which I still am - on the tall side, but not particularly so.

The next pair of photographs are of me and my friend Debbie. We were best friends from the first day of Infant School aged 4, though sadly this seems to be the only photograph of us from that time. The second photograph was from my wedding this past April.

The next photos are the first pictures the Prof and I ever saw of each other. We met on a dating website and I thought his personality just shone out of his face. he looked friendly, funny, kind - and he is all of those things. He loved my smile and says he knew right away he would like me. The rest is history!

More photos of our wedding. I love both of these, we look so happy.

I have a huge box of photographs to go through, it's a job that has been hanging over me for years, and that I never get around to. Truthfully, I don't really want to do it. Although I take quite a lot of photos, I don't tend to look back at them, certainly not one from years ago. When I do, I find endless shots of landscapes and zoo/farm animals that it must have seemed like a good idea to photograph at the time but now I don't even remember where and when they were taken. I also find photographs of people and relationships that are no longer in my life, some I don't particularly want to remember. In amongst them though, are the gems - all the photographs I have of my son as a baby and growing up, photos of family occasions and holidays, pictures of friends I don't see often these days. I know there are photos in there that I would like to have on display, too. Maybe it is about time I waded through all those memories, threw out the ones I don't want and did something with the ones I do.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

unravelling: favourite things

Last week was the third week of the Unravelling e-course, and we have been thinking about and taking some photographs of our favourite things. One of the questions asked was, what would we save if there was a fire? This question really pulled me up short, or rather my answer did.There are lot of things I am fond of and that I couldn't really replace. In the photos above are my childhood books, our wedding rings and handfasting ribbons, and a garden bench which belonged to my Auntie. I have hundreds of photographs in a big storage box, but so rarely look at them I can't even recall what most of them are of. I've been planning since forever to sort them out and put them in albums.  I have ornaments I love, and notes and cards I have kept....but really, is any of it that important? 

Buddhism teaches non attachment. You can love a beautiful or precious item but when it breaks, or is lost, you can be philosophical about it. It came along, you had pleasure from it, its time is past, let it go. I think there is something to be said for that. When I thought about my possessions, the accumulation of objects I have acquired over the years, that fill this house,  I realised that none of it is that important to me. In the case of that hypothetical fire, if my son, husband and dog were safe, I really don't think it would occur to me to try to save anything else. So then that begs the question, why do I have a house full of stuff? 

Maybe we are so attached to things because they anchor us. Who would we be, without the photos and ornaments, the books and CDs, the accumulated stuff of a lifetime. Maybe we would be freer without it all, perhaps it would be easier to move on, try new things. It would certainly be easier to do the housework, and to find things, if there were a lot less of them. 

The exercise was valuable for me. I realised both how many lovely treasured items I possess, but equally that none of them is of great importance really.  I am reminded of this quote from Art Buchwald:

Image from stevey

Monday, October 17, 2011

I will say that you're my favourite one in town

My little boy was twenty in July. Somehow, I never imagined this time. I thought vaguely sometimes of  'when he is grown up' but mostly I just got on with the present. It wasn't always easy being a single parent, there was never much money, but being everything to someone, is in my mind, a very precious thing, and we were very close.  Life has become simpler as he has got older and also more complicated. As the mother of my grown up little boy, I watch while he lives his life and makes decisions I don't necessarily agree with. My advice isn't always welcome, I am learning to wait until it's asked for, and to step back and let him find his path. He has grown up into a bright, caring wonderful man - I still want to write boy, but he is twenty, so I will write man and try to convince my heart.

The other day I came across this song by My Brightest Diamond. The singer wrote it for her son and I think it's beautiful.

'If you grow up to be king, or clown or pauper, I will say you are my favourite one in town...'

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

unravelling: reflections

Those of you who get these posts by email have probably already had an incomplete version of this...apologies! I hit publish instead of save to draft yesterday.... blame the fact that it was two in the morning.

I read somewhere that you should think about how you want to feel in your life, then work out what things make you feel that way, and those should be the things you are doing, or working toward.

Interesting. I like to feel:

Content I feel those things most of the time? Uh...probably not. I'm not sure I want to! If I was comfortable all the time, it would be yoga pants and fluffy socks all the way, not the best look for all occasions. Peaceful - well, that's nice but but I wouldn't want to venture into zen territory really, certainly not permanently. Joy, what a wonderful feeling, but every day? And much as I look to look nice, it would just be too much effort to keep it up all the time. Back to the yoga pants and fluffy socks, at least in the house. Contentment, though, now that's something I would like to have all the time.

So many people seem to me to be putting off contentment to some elusive future place and time. When they retire, when they lose weight, when they can buy that bigger house, or get a better job.  Of course I am not content with having CFS, or the fact that I can't do so much that I would like to, but I do get a lot of contentment from other things. For me right now, it would be milk in the fridge and bread in the bread bin, as we have run out of both, there's nothing for lunch and I don't feel well enough to go to the shop! But seriously, a cup of tea and the crossword, a drive in the country, an evening spent with family or friends, a nap on the sofa, and yes, wearing my yoga pants and fluffy slippers - these things spell contentment to me just as much as the bigger things.

Friday, October 07, 2011

unravelling: finding my feet

This week as part of the Unravelling course I have been thinking about my feet.  Not something I do very often, though I do  treat my feet to a home pedicure quite regularly, finishing off with nail polish. I always like to have my nails polished, even in the winter it gives me a lift to have pretty feet, despite the fact that they are usually hidden in socks and boots.  I also use cream on my feet, my current favourite being Mango Body Butter from the Body Shop, and slather it on before bed, or in the mornings if I am going to be wearing socks that day.

Generally, though, I don't give much thought to my feet.  I certainly don't look down very often as I am out and about., so this week I have noticed things I wouldn't normally.  Like the flagstone in the picture which has a quote on it from the library at Thebes, in Ancient Egypt, 'The medicine chest of the soul'. Isn't that lovely? Funny, too that often you don't notice something in real life and it becomes obvious when you look at a photograph. My doorstep (in the bottom pic) has now been painted, thanks to the picture. I  have sorted out my sock drawer, and I have also thrown out all my shoes that were uncomfortable or past their best.

This is all tying in quite well with my ongoing Simplifying project (more on that to follow quite soon...)

Find out more about Susannah Conways's Unravelling e-course.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Don't just sit there

Were you once a girl? I was, and chances are you were too. If not, then you are the son of someone who was once a girl. Girls matter, and you know what? They can change the world, and we can help them do it. One girl at a time.  It's called the Girl Effect.

What can you do?

Learn more about the Girl Effect

Just don't do nothing.