First published at Able at Heart on 21 September 2013

Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness;
I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome
that one cannot walk away from it.
Soren Kierkegaard, letter, 1847
I was wondering how to start this first post of my new blog, but nothing came...
Then this quote appeared in my email. I subscribe to several daily emails including Gretchen Rubin's Moment of Happiness, as I love collecting quotes, and I'm always open to synchronicity :)
Now, I cannot physically walk far since the stroke, but I can walk in my mind...

In my mind, as in my dreams, I am able-bodied. I walk, I run, I skip, I dance. My body is strong and flexible - I have a dancer's body, at her physical peak!

The reality couldn't be more different...

Yes, I have regained my speech well enough, maybe, for strangers to not know it was lost for a year after the stroke, and when it did return, it was that of a Scandinavian learning English. (My speech therapist was soooo excited, as she'd read of this phenomenon, but not seen it!)
My 'normal, pre-stroke' voice returned a couple of years ago, but when I'm tired or under stress, I struggle to find words, to form sounds, especially r's.

My right side is still paralyzed, and my balance is poor. I drag my right leg, and tire very easily...

But, as the quote says, I can 'walk myself into a state of well-being'. This is a conscious choice, day by day, moment by moment...

On good days, the fact I'm 'Able at Heart' translates into my physical capacity...

I can type.
I can write left-handed.
I can draw left-handed (my profile pic was drawn last year for an art swap).
I can paint left-handed,
I have opened an Etsy shop.
I have sold a painting.
I can contribute.

And today is a good day.
First published at Able at Heart on 22 September 2013

Today is a grey, overcast, autumn day...

And I feel like this leaf, dropped by its tree.

I don't want to be morose, but the reality is that the stroke removed me from the workforce. I was a freelance proofreader and editor with several academic publishers, so not a great shaker and mover, I admit, but I was a tax-paying, useful member of society. I was connected to the great tree of society, albeit at the end of a rather obscure, little branch.

Also, I was connected to friends - we would meet up for coffee or a drink in a pub. I would give folk lifts to book group or a local craft fair...

But the reality is, these friends - many of whom I've known for decades - have just disappeared in the past 6 years, and that is sad. Many did visit me in hospital in those 3 months after the stroke, and some did visit me at home in the first year.

But now, 6 years on, the phone doesn't ring, and yes, I'm sad, and I miss them.

The faithful few do keep in touch, and for them I am grateful. But everyone is busy with jobs, with family, with ageing parents; and meeting up with me is time-consuming - they have to drive, pack up the wheelchair, then push me around...
And so, I lie on the ground like this leaf disconnected from my former-life network, but unlike this leaf, I'm not passively waiting to be turned into mulch...

I am actively creating new connections, online connections with real people. Only this week, Eileen came for lunch on the train from Nottingham, whom I'd 'met' in an online class with Janet Conner a few months ago.

Currently, I'm 'meeting' people in Susannah Conway's Journal Your Life course, which is directly responsible for the creation of this blog. This week's prompts have been about connecting with our bodies, and asking direct questions, and this is what I scribbled yesterday
I know I look older than my 49 years with my half-paralyzed, unsteady body, but in my heart, in my soul, I am fully able-bodied and young and interested in life...

Every human being is always more than the sum of their parts, and the internet is at its best when it's giving people a platform, a voice; especially those who otherwise would feel disconnected and voiceless...

... like this leaf.

First published at Able at Heart on 25 September 2013

Today is a special day - our Gorgeous Boy is 18!!

After 3 miscarriages and a stillbirth (Connie in 1993), we feared we'd never have children...

But the marvellous Prof. James at QMC Nottingham worked out what was wrong - I have Protein S Deficiency, i.e. 'sticky blood'. And when I conceived again, I was scanned every 2 weeks, until Samuel Dickson Sauer was safely delivered on 25 September 1995.

He grew into a beautiful toddler...

 ... then into a fine young man...

... and today he is legally an adult, and I am so proud to be his mama :)

First published on The Leave-Taking (12 April 2011)
I guess it's about time a trained theologian and former Anglican Reader attempted to put into words what she thinks 'GOD' means... 

Why it's this day rather than any other, I have no idea... 

All I know is, coming across this quote by Meister Eckhart today, prompted a response, a calling, a yearning to try and articulate what I think, feel, experience each day...

I am a spiritual person, and I have always been what is often called 'a sensitive child'. I feel things deeply, and often acutely, and always have. I jump at loud noises, I am aware of people's moods when I enter a room, and yes, I cry easily - whether in joy or sadness - at images, at music, at books...

This dimension of my person has expanded since suffering a serious stroke almost 4 years ago, when I was barely 43, and I'm aware I haven't processed this expansion - I've been simply experiencing it...

And I'm thinking this blog will be the place to unpack it, to unwrap each element, each concept, each thought, each experience, and hold it up to the light... not to critique it, and certainly not to belittle or judge it, but rather to examine it closely, minutely, to name it maybe, and certainly to own it...

So today, rather than any other day, I, Claire, am taking leave of God, and tentatively moving towards GOD... 

First published on The Leave-Taking (20 April 2011)

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Absolutely clear.
~ Hafiz

I found this poem over at The Abbey of the Arts where Christine's pondering The Space Between on Holy Saturday.

I confess I've always felt more comfortable with the atmosphere of Holy Saturday. Always troubled by the mental logistics (not the mention the suspension of disbelief) required for the Christian doctrine of the atonement (how could any father - divine or otherwise - put his son through crucifixion???), and equally troubled by the easy triumphalism of Easter Sunday, my God is always the Comforter, the Companion, yes, the Jesus on the road to Emmaus...

The essence of belief is hope, and it's not necessary the thing with feathers, as much as the trust that in the darkest night that there will be a dawn... Every day is a journey from darkness to light into darkness to light... This is the most basic rhythm of our human existence.

In the darkness is where we find our deepest fears - the most primal sense of 'What if the sun died in the night? What if daylight never again breaks?' - the fear that all I hold most dear is indeed lost... As Meister Eckhart realized, we all live under the umbra nihili, the shadow of nothingness, and as the clinically depressed know too well, it can be a crushing, heavy shadow...

Yet, it is holding, and owning, those fears, sitting with them, that eventually faith and hope are born...
We have to go deeper into that emptiness,
then we will find beneath nothingness
the flame of love waiting to warm us.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 33

And it's the nature of that love that shapes us...

as children it's the love of our parents - or lack of it - that gives us hope - or despair... 
as we grow up, it's the love of friends - or lack of it - that gives us meaning - or emptiness...
as adults it's the love of lovers/partners - or lack of it - that gives us stability - or fickleness...
and throughout our lives it's the love of self - or lack of it - that puts us in touch with the Other, be it human or divine - or leaves us doubting there is any such thing as love...

Love allows understanding to dawn,
and understanding is precious.
Where you are understood, you are at home.
John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p. 36

First published on The Leave-Taking (16 February 2012)

I have been pondering for a couple of weeks now, my name for the Divine...

The first truth of Jan Lundy's Your Truest Self is 'I am free to live a spiritual life of my own making', and the reflection questions at the end of the chapter include 'Have you consciously named the Divine One, especially in light of your emerging self?' and 'what qualities does he/she/it have?'

Much has been swirling around in my centre, especially since I drew this last Sunday...

... as I try to formulate, and name, what I am feeling...

Then last night, before sleep came, names, words, memories, meanings arrived...

Mary - mother of Jesus
Mary Magdalene
feeling deeply, honestly, passionately

My childhood was not idyllic. My mother was mentally ill, harsh, demanding, manipulative... My father was gentle, but too meek, and didn't/couldn't stand up to her.
My paternal grandmother was mean-spirited, critical and shrill...
My paternal grandfather was gentle, kind, nurturing, encouraging - my childhood saviour - but died when I was 13.
My female primary school teachers were strict, demanding, harsh (except one, whom I adored, but I had only two terms with her, as I as moved up a class...) The headmaster was gentle, old, encouraging, but distant...
At secondary school, most of my teachers were men, both young and old - encouraging, gentle, kind - but the women who taught me were harsh, demanding - except one (the Religious Studies department head), whom I loved and who gave me extra tuition, which was vital to me getting into Oxford to study Theology...
And at Oxford, all my tutors were men of varying ages who were demanding, but fair; tough, but inspiring; exacting, but also encouraging...

And it came to me - throughout my childhood, I found care, and nurture, and kindness, in the men, I encountered, but very little in the women...

I rectified this, by nurturing female friendships as I grew up - a number of which I still enjoy today - but clearly a deep, deep need was unfulfilled...

I became a Christian at college, and for 20 years was a committed, and active, Anglican - I even considered training for the ministry! - but over the years I found the Church's judgemental attitude to gays and women (the fact the General Synod is still discussing female bishops, while the western world is in financial meltdown, just beggars belief!!!!), unbearable - and I finally left...

And now, I am asking myself questions about the nature of the Divine as I endeavour to live a spirituality of my own making - questions not pre- or proscribed by an established Church, as they were in my 20s and 30s...

And I am finding a need to connect to a nurturing, caring, mothering Being... a Being with a loving, female face... who engenders, and inspires, with gentle encouragement, a desire to be the best person I can be...

And I've now realized why I surround myself with artworks of female faces... not because I am a closet lesbian as a dear friend feared :) - but because I want to be looked after and watched over....

These are but a small sample of the faces I see every day...

I still don't have a name for the Divine, but I certainly know what she looks like...


First published on The Leave-Taking (7 April 2012)

Ahhh! Easter Saturday...

Well, my feelings about this day haven't changed much since last year's post...

... this is where true faith dwells... in the space between...

This is part of Richard Rohr's meditation for today which arrived in my email box...

Jesus trusted enough to outstare the darkness, to outstare the void, to hold out for the resurrection of the forever-awaited  'third day,' and not to try to manufacture  His  own. That is how God stretches and expands the soul, and makes it big enough to include God.

You see, to love fully is to die! (When you fully unite with the other, the separate self is gone.) What is handed over to God is always returned to  us transformed into Christ Consciousness. Easter is the eternal third day that we forever await, but today we are content to live in the belly of the whale, in liminal space, in the 'in  between' that is most of human life. God is creating a Big Space inside of you. Just wait!

Part of me is frustrated that my situation - both physically and emotionally - hasn't changed much since last Easter Saturday, but even as I write this I realize that isn't quite true...

Things have slowly been stirring... I have been returning to Jesus' story again and again, thanks to the wise writings of Brother Richard...

And as I approach the fifth anniversary of the stroke (on 9 May), I am indeed frustrated that I am still unable to do so many things, but I have to accept that 5 years to expand a human soul is truly not that long...

... not compared with eternity...

Music has always been SUCH a big part of my life!

The first single I ever bought with my own pocket money was this *cringe*
Well, I was only seven :)

And I love that our daughter is just beginning to appreciate that Mum actually has some really good CDs in her collection! She's borrowed all my Pink Floyd (I 'discovered' them when I was her age. Though, originally, I bought the vinyl LPs, which are stashed at my Dad's somewhere...), Led Zeppelin, Meat Loaf, Stereophonics, Maroon 5...

Though, she has yet to appreciate the woman who has provided the soundtrack to my life, since I was 18...

I'm always on the look out for new music - I love Later was Jools Holland, and recently bought Lorde's debut album, having  seen her performance. Can you believe she's only just turned 17??!!

First posted 30 December 2013

Today's card is a very timely reminder to me!

I am struggling with the house being full of people...

I'm still getting up at 5.30 am for my quiet time, my Hermit time, my recharging time, but it all changes from about 8 am onwards...

I take a deep breath, and remind myself I love all these people - they are my Dad, my husband, my son, my daughter - THE most important people in my life! But they make noise, they take up space, they deplete my energies...

Then, I beat myself up for not being happy they are here, happy they're in my life  *sigh*

Then I see today's card and remember 'the unlike' is good, 'differences' are good, and I take another deep breath and remember to love, and to see 'the most beautiful harmony' - for it is here, here in this house, with these precious people.


First posted 24 December 2013

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

And sharing today's card...

I was hoping for a jolly, celebratory card to suit the mood of Christmas Eve, and instead I pulled this

I guess it's a timely reminder for all of us who find company tiring, to make sure we find enough quiet, alone time over the holidays to recharge our batteries, to draw breath...

... to then be in sparkling form again when required :-)

Sending all love and blessings of the Season, and looking forward to seeing all that 2014 reveals xx


First posted 20 December 2013

Not the best photo - sorry!

My heart's instinct is to hibernate... tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the longest night, the shortest day.

Also, feeling rather cr*p - had my diabetic review on Wednesday, and my numbers aren't great, so totally changing my insulin regime *sigh*

It means I feel nauseous, tired, weepy...

Hence, I want to burrow, to hide, to wait till my body adjusts, which I know it will.

And after tomorrow, the days will get longer, a new year will be born, and life will feel good again!

In the meantime, I sit with an image by a favourite artist, words by a favourite poet and rest in being a hope-filled Romantic, trusting that the diabetic nurse knows what she's doing...


First posted 16 December 2013

Feeling rather flat... no more inspiring emails from Susannah :-(

But today's card reminds me of the important things...

... so I'll try and rouse myself to do something creative today. I know I'll feel so much better when I'm done!

I'd forgotten how much I adore Degas - especially his ballet pieces... *sigh*


First posted 13 December 2013

Today's card is just lovely for the last day of the Blogging from the Heart course!

I don't usually read the wee booklet that comes with the deck, but this time I love what it says:

Harmony, exuberance, fulfilled wishes

This is exactly what I wish for each of us on this course (and Susannah herself, of course!)

May each of us find 'A happy life... in accordance with its own nature', and as we live it, and blog about it, may we find harmony, exuberance and fulfilled wishes!!

Consider yourself        

And I do hope we keep in touch...

First posted 11 December 2013

Today's card is another perfect reminder to see what's right in front of our eyes and embrace it, describe it, share it... For we already have all we need to grow, develop, expand, we just need to really see it.


First posted 9 December 2013

I know several of us on Susannah's Blogging from the Heart course have begun new blogs (you're reading one!), or are already thinking of the new year and dreaming/planning for what 2014 may hold...

So today's card is just perfect...

Be bold, today; be courageous; begin!!
First posted 4 December 2013

What a difference a few days make!

Thank you for your lovely comments, advice, empathy for the last post. I so appreciate the support, the connections - so good to know I'm not alone!

Daughter's coping well, guinea-pig session went OK - tried to focus on them, and not me! And Christmas is happening - thanks to pretty good internet connect, hooray :-)

This morning I've spent two hours on this:

If you haven't seen it already on Susannah's blog, go and download it, and print it out, and start - it's a wonderful gift from this wonderfully generous soul!! Bless you, Susannah :)

I've almost finished reviewing 2013 - just need to list the gifts - and there have been many!!

And than I pulled today's card - sorry, but it is just too, too perfect (unlike the photo - I so need a new camera!)

Nuff said :-)

First posted 2 December 2013

It's a very grey, drizzly day today - and it's Monday... *sigh*

I write this with lots of emotions swirling...

Concern for our daughter who starts her GCSE mocks today - she's very bright, but struggles with the exam environment.

Low-level panic - how can Christmas be just over 3 weeks away?? I've done nothing to prepare - no presents, no cards...

Sadness for the families who have lost loved ones in the freak accident in Glasgow over the weekend.

And full-on anxiety for today's events...

I'm going to be a human guinea pig to help out my physiotherapist, who's teaching a course at the hospital. She's asked me to demonstrate how I walk - firstly, without any aids, then with my leg splint on, then with my FES fitted...

I know I want to help, and I'm sure it'll be fine when I get there, but since the stroke, I really struggle with any new situation and meeting new people. And the more anxious I get, the higher the tone in my muscles, and the more unsteady I become *sigh*

In this state, I drew today's card...

... aahhh!

I guess, I'm going to draw a deep, deep, deep breath... and get on with it...

As Mark Twain said,
Courage is resistance to fear,
mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

First posted 26 November 2013
Today's card carries the meaning of 'Joy, clarity, enlightenment' according the deck's wee booklet...

But I just love the Turner painting Banks of the Loire and the inspiring quote from Friedrich Nietzsche (who clearly wasn't a morose nihilist all the time!!)

Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard's rustling,
a breath, a flash, a moment - a little makes the way
of the best happiness.

I drew the card at about 7am - having got up at my usual 5.30am - and immediately looked out the window to see if the sun was up yet...

... and the answer was, 'Almost' :)

I hope we can all make the most of today's least, softest moments, for they may well be 'the way of the best happiness'...
First posted 25 November 2013

Today, I drew Friday's card again - 3 of Wands with the Klimt painting and Stevenson quote!

Guess I really need to hear the words again...

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, 

is the only end of life.
Then I suddenly remembered, I'd written out a quote from Christina's A Field Guide to NOW in my journal yesterday...

OK... I'm getting the message... new day, new post, new blog - it's all in the process of Becoming...
24 November 2013
I didn't draw a card today, as I have decided to join Silent Sunday...

First posted 23 November 2013

My card for today from the Art of Life tarot deck.

The image is Jester with a Lute by Franz Hals with the quote:

You must live in the present,
launch yourself on every wave,
find your eternity in each moment.
Henry David Thoreau

A timely remember for every day, n'est pas??

UPDATE 10.30am
This has just arrived in the post...

I ordered it weeeeks ago (and I confess totally forgot about it), and it arrives today!

How's that for timing??

First posted 22 November 2013 

Throughout this past year, I have drawn a card of the day from this deck, and I suddenly realized I could now share the card on my blog :)

I think the combination of fine art paintings and famous quotes are always perfect, and always inspiring!

The fact they are tarot cards is totally secondary to me! I just like having a quote and a nice picture to look at throughout the day. And the box's construction is cool - the top stands up to display the card!
Today's card was this...

... a detail from a favourite Gustav Klimt painting The Three Ages of Woman, with a great quote from Robert L. Stevenson:

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, 
is the only end of life.

This is just perfect for me today as I work to create a blog that I feel really represents me, as I am, at this particular moment in my life.

Friends often ask me to draw a card for them too, and the number of times the quote, especially, is exactly what they need to hear is a tad spooky...

So, if ever you'd like card drawing just for you, drop me a comment, and I'll gladly do so :)

I find I am at most receptive in the mornings (because I'm an early riser, I think), so I will draw it for you in my UK GMT morning, if that's OK :)

Another 17-year-old's work I love - I have both her albums - is Birdy... How can these young women be such incredibly talented???

This arrived in the post today (21 November 2013).
I love this ultra-talented young man :)


Here are some of my favourite poems.
They're listed alphabetically by author surname.

I can't remember when or where I first read this, but it's still the church for which I seek...

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s laughing
as she rocks in her rapture, enjoying her art.
She’s glad of her world, in its risking and growing.
Tis the child she has borne and holds close to her heart.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s weeping
as she crouches, weighed down by the sorrow she sees.
She cries for the hostile, the cold and no-hoping
for she bears in herself our despair and disease.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s dancing
as she moves like the wind and the wave and the fire.
A church that can pick up its skirts pirouetting,
with the steps that can signal God’s deepest desire.

I dream of a church that joins in with God’s loving

as she bends to embrace the unlovely and lost.
A church that can free, by its sharing and daring
the imprisoned and poor, and then shoulder the cost.

God, you make us a church that joins in with your living,

as you cherish and challenge rein in and release.
A church that is winsome, impassioned, inspiring,
lioness of your justice and lamb of your peace.

Kate Compston



It’s Earth that breathes around us,
so perilous in its comforts,
so perfect in impermanence.

Autumnal sun streams through
these yellow maple leaves
translucent as stained glass.

The ground beneath my feet
is strewn with pine cones, acorns.
The random pattern of continuance.

Etched columns of pine and oak.
Incense of resin and fungi.
Great glacial stones for altars.

High winds and choirs of
minor breezes, the whispering hush.
It is the Sabbath. It is enough.

Dolores Stewart

from The Nature of Things

I first read David Whyte's poetry about 10 years ago, and immediately it spoke to my soul...

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte
House of Belonging


Taking Stock
November 2013

Originally, I thought I'd do this wonderful exercise from Pip Lincolne on the first of each month. Then, I realized it would make more sense on the last day - to take stock of the month just passing...

So here's goes - and fingers crossed the internet connection holds long enough...

Making time to ponder the past few weeks, and prepare myself for Advent...

Cooking as there's little I can do in the kitchen nowadays, I make sure I'm an enthusiast recipient of whatever others cook :)

Drinking water with a slice of lemon - it's how I get my 8 glasses a day!

Reading Christina Rosalie's A Field Guide to NOW - it'll be my Advent book this year.

Wanting peace and solitude - especially after such a full-on couple of weeks!

Looking out for gifts - I've hardly got anything and xmas is less than 4 weeks away, eeeekkk!!

Playing two favourite wintery CDs - Thea Gilmore's Strange Communion and Sting's If on a Winter's Night

Wasting energy fretting about all I haven't done about Christmas...

Sewing (since I cannot physically do this any more, think I'll change it to Sowing...) seeds of plans for 2014 - the year I turn 50 and we celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary!

Wishing as always, for peace and justice in our world

Enjoying all the great dramas on TV (not to mention Strictly!)

Waiting for a burst of energy to tackle my To Do list!

Liking the peace and quiet as I'm the only one up

Wondering how long it will last

Loving the bright sun streaming through the window
Hoping it stays all day :)

Marvelling at how the internet connection is lasting...

Needing it to hold out a few minutes longer...

Smelling like I need a shower :(

Wearing my pj's and dressing gown (well, it is the weekend!)

Following the moving shadows across the wall...

Noticing the clock ticking... the only sound in the house right now...

Knowing soon there will be noisy activity upstairs as Sam has to go to work, and Nick needs to do grocery shopping - our cupboards are bare...

Thinking this a really wonderful exercise :)

Feeling so grateful for the wonderful beings I've met on the blogging course :)

Bookmarking all their blogs as they add them to the course blog roll.

Opening my heart to connections and possibilities...

Giggling/Smiling at the memories of Thanksgiving dinner - so much fun :)

Feeling so much better and calmer, and ready to start the day...
December 2013

Time to take stock of December - thanks to Pip Lincolne for the idea!

Looking forward to seeing Catching Fire at the Showcase this afternoon.

Playing Bastille's All This Bad Blood which I've just bought - a double CD (including instant download)  for £5.00 - crazy!! 

Wasting as little of everything as possible.

Sowing idea seeds in my journal...

Wishing suicide bombers in Volgograd would desist from their attacks...

Enjoying Molly-cat's gentle company.

Waiting for the sun to shine :(

Liking every song on the CD :-)

Wondering if 2014 will be as fun as 2013.

Loving the pretty Christmas lights.

Hoping we'll get to cinema on time...

Marvelling at the fibre-optic small tree in the window-sill (how does it work??)

Needing nothing :-)

Smelling nice and clean (I hope!)

Wearing my favourite snuggly big jumper - it's cold, wet and windy here in the UK.

Following the candle's steady flame when I glance away from my laptop.

Noticing the distant rumble of a plane overhead.

Knowing every moment of awareness is precious.

Thinking Dan Smith is one hell of a songwriter!

Bookmarking Centrepoint - my chosen charity for 2014 - which helps homeless teens.

Opening my soul to the future.

Giggling at Molly still trying to find the perfect spot to settle...

Feeling warm, safe, blessed.

January 2014

As it's the last day of the month, here's January's Taking Stock - thanks to Pip Lincolne for the idea!

Looking out of the window at yet another grey January day *sigh*

Playing with images in Picasa - slowly getting more adept

Wasting time playing with images in Picasa :-)

Sowing blogging ideas in my journal...

Wishing the sun would shine - even a smidgeon...

Enjoying immensely The Celtic Chakras by Elen Sentier - she's a wise woman!

Waiting for the kids to start their school-day routine

Liking the thought of several hours solitude

Wondering what The Year of the Horse will hold...

Loving Billy Collins' poetry

Hoping the gas fire will light - it's very temperamental!

Marvelling at all the lovely blogs I recently discovered at the Grow Your Blog party

Needing the fire to light....

Smelling like I need a shower :-/

Wearing pj's and dressing-gown

Following lot of new blogs!

Noticing how chilly it's getting...

Knowing I have a lot to learn about British shamanism

Thinking I want to learn more about Elen of the Ways...

Bookmarking Elen's blog

Opening yet another box of tissues ('tis the season!)

Giggling/Smiling at my daughter as she listens at Radio 1, while eating her breakfast

Feeling more awake than an hour ago!

February 2014

Nearly got caught out by February being such a short month...

But here it is, the monthly Taking Stock (thanks to Pip Lincolne for the list!)

Making plans for Lent - share more next week...

Cooking too many pancakes - practising for Shrove Tuesday!

Drinking my usual water with slice of lemon

Reading The Grateful Table: Blessings, Prayers and Graces for the Daily Meal - one a day

Wanting Spring to really start - keeps stopping and starting...

Looking forward to the warmer weather

Playing Laura Mvula's album Sing to the Moon

Wasting nothing

Sowing hopes and plans for my birthday and Silver Wedding anniversary in April

Wishing I had more energy

Enjoying art journalling - collage papers strewn everywhere!

Waiting for the New Ash Moon tomorrow

Liking too many pretty things on Etsy...

Wondering how cold it is outside, and whether I can brave a trip out on my disability scooter.

Loving the longer days already... 

Hoping our son will get his act together before he leaves school in June...

Marvelling at worldwide creativity you can see every day through the internet

Needing nothing.

Smelling nice - this is my current favourite perfume

Wearing jeans and chunky sweater

Following great terrestrial TV dramas like Line of DutyCall the Midwife and Mr Selfridge

Noticing weak sun trying to break through...

Knowing the stirrings of Spring deep in my bones

Thinking less, connecting my heart, soul and spirit more

Bookmarking nothing in particular

Opening my soul to the joys of Spring

Giggling at Outnumbered - gotta love those hapless parents with whom I identify soooo much!

Feeling happy - especially when the sun breaks through after a hailstorm (of which we've had several!)
March 2014

Suddenly realized it's the last day of March!! So here's this month's Taking Stock (thanks to Pip Lincolne for the list!)

Making time to rest - my poor body's been through it this month...

Cooking - Nick made his special fried rice for dinner - full of colourful and tasty ingredients - YUM!

Drinking  the usual... water with a slice of lemon...

Reading several copies of The New Yorker sent by my lovely friend in Santa Barbara, CA

Wanting a good night's sleep

Looking forward to a dear friend's wedding on Saturday

Playing Elbow's new CD (and yes, I have a wee crush on Guy Garvey - such a poet!)

Wasting nothing - enjoying every moment of feeling better!

Sowing seeds of kindness...

Wishing for good weather on Saturday - fingers and toes crossed!

Enjoying the new series of Endeavour, which started last night - a great concept brilliantly done!

Waiting for a burst of energy to tackle the chaos on my desk...

Liking the longer days (we changed our clocks to BST at the weekend)

Wondering what we'll have for Easter Sunday lunch (only 3 weeks to go...)

Loving my magnificent magnolia in full bloom

Hoping the weather holds, so the mass of buds can keep opening...

Marvelling that something so exotic can thrive in our wee back garden

Needing a good night's sleep

Smelling everything (esp. the magnolia!!) - enjoying every moment of a non-congested nose :-)

Wearing my favourite comfy clothes - a light wool tunic and leggings

Following the ascent of my beloved Liverpool FC to the top of the Premier League - not yet daring to hope they could actually win it for the first time in 25 years - 6 more matches to go till the end of the season...

Noticing how tired I am (it's now 9.20pm)

Knowing I need to go to bed very soon

Thinking nothing - my brain needs a rest

Bookmarking some wonderfully beautiful creations on Etsy

Opening my eyes wider - they're threatening to droop...

Giggling/Smiling at the memories of yesterday - a lovely family lunch with my dad and brother (it was Dad's birthday AND Mother's Day), followed by a family trip around Belton House

Feeling so much better and so grateful for that!


Giveaway 1 (winner drawn 2 February 2014)

OK, here we go...

Giveaway 1 of 13... and the reason there's 13? 

It's the number of abundance (a baker's dozen, in the UK), it's the number of the triple goddess (not bad luck at all!), and there are 13 weekends from Imbolc/Candlemas to my 50th birthday on 28 April :-)

So, if you'd like to win this beauty, just leave a comment here (or send me an email using the Contact Form in the sidebar), and I'll make sure your name's in the virtual hat to be drawn on 2 February 2014.

(photos copyright Boho Photography)

This is first of several necklaces I'm giving away, which have been languishing in my jewellery box since the stroke, and which deserve to be worn and enjoyed! I may have worn this a couple of times, but it's been cleaned, and ours is a smoke-free home.

It measures roughly 18 inches, the Tibetan om pendant is carved shell set in silver and the clasp is Hill Tribe silver, the beads are a mix of Chinese Chrysophase, turquoise and silver glass foil. It was handmade by an Etsy seller called Boho girl, but she no longer has a shop.


Giveaway 2 (winner drawn 9 February 2014)

Happy Candlemas and Imbolc everyone!!
Blessing upon blessing this bright Sunday morning :-)

One by One
One by one, in tiny increments,
candle by candle, gesture by effort,
wish by prayer, concern by care,
we feed the light-fires of the soul
and light the infinite universe,
little by little from within.
Mama Donna Henes

And to celebrate, here's Giveaway 2 of my 13 weeks of gifting to mark my 50th year. This week's giveaway is this wonderfully, wise book.

This is a brand new, hardback edition. It was given to me as a gift, but I already have a well-loved copy...

You can find more info here and here's a couple more pictures

(The book stand is not included in the giveaway, I'm afraid.)

The Four Agreements are:
Be impeccable with your word.
Don't take anything personally.
Don't make assumptions.
Always do your best.

Not rocket science, I know, but in these 152 pages, Don Miguel Ruiz writes clearly and beautifully, and really challenges and inspires. Most deep wisdom is surprisingly ordinary, but incredibly hard to put into practice. I find this book a welcome reminder of things my Best Self already knows, so I come back to it again and again...

I hope you'll enjoy entering this week's giveaway, as this lovely hardback edition (with its pale blue ribbon marker) deserves to be read :)

Just leave a comment below - and GOOD LUCK!

I forgot to mention last week - I draw each winner in the 13 birthday giveaways at 
11am GMT (the approximate time I was born in Singapore in 1964) on the relevant deadline days.


Giveaway 1 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway.

There were 47 entries*, and using an online random number generator, the winner is comment 15.

Well done, Judy Cooper!!

If you would email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar), I'll get the om necklace in the post this week :)

*My instructions weren't the clearest, when I combined the first giveaway with my Grow Your Blog post, so I added the names of those who asked to be entered into the draw, but didn't comment on the actual giveaway post.

Giveaway 3 (winner drawn 16 February 2014)

Those who allow their day to pass by without practising generosity and enjoying life's pleasures are like blacksmith's bellows: they breathe but do not live.
Sanskrit proverb

This week I started a new practice called Word for the Week, and this week's word was

which seemed rather appropriate for 13 weeks' of gifting to mark my 50th year :-)
Don't you just love synchronicity??

And here's Giveaway 3 - a very unusual, fun necklace

It's made from hand-forged, oxidized sterling silver and leather by Susan Richards at Studio410, and here's a close-up.

The hand-stamped words read, 'The second star to the right' from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan - directions to Neverland, and there's a handmade green glass bead hanging from a silver curlicue, and a wee crystal attached to a wire-wrapped heart. The pendant elements hang from a 1-inch silver bar attached to a leather cord with a handmade silver hook. The necklace measures about 19".

It's a very lovely, highly unusual piece which deserves to be worn and enjoyed, so again I wish you GOOD LUCK!!

Leave a comment below, and I'll draw a winner next Sunday, 16 February at 11am GMT.


Giveaway 2 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my second giveaway.

There were 20 entries, and using an online random number generator, the winner is comment 15 - I know, same number as last week, but I swear I'm using this.

Well done, Birgit!!

If you can email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar), I'll get The Four Agreements in the post to you in Munich this week :-)


Giveaway 4 (winner drawn 23 February 2014)

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wise words indeed! I've kept a gratitude journal for years (except for the years after the stroke and I couldn't read and write), recording at least 5 things I am grateful for each day.

I've been keeping it with extra enthusiasm since I started this new blog on 19 November last year, giving thanks for all the lovely, lovely people who visit and comment - truly, you all make my day :-)

So here's this week's Giveaway for you - a cute, cute journal I bought a few weeks ago online from here. I was so taken with it, I just didn't check the dimensions (A6 approx. 15cm x 10cm) - and it's just too small for me to write in!!

But it is perfect for someone with two useable hands to keep in a handbag to jot notes in...

or record great thoughts  while commuting...

or doodle in boring meetings...

or even to use as a gratitude journal maybe :D

If you'd like to win this ultra-cute notebook - to use however you choose! - leave a comment below, and I'll draw a winner next Sunday, 23 February at 11am GMT


Giveaway 3 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my third giveaway.

There were 33 entries, and using an online random number generator, the winner is comment no. 1

Well done, Michelle !!

If you can email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar), I'll get this lovely necklace in the post to you this week :-)

Giveaway 5 (winner drawn 2 March 2014)

Put your ear down to your soul and listen hard.
Anne Sexton

I love this quote!

And it's rather appropriate for this week's Giveaway - this beautiful soul-full necklace from Creek
Photo copyright Creek

It's made from oxidized silver, with the wee charm reading 'Soul' and a small turquoise bead capped with silver, and there's a handmade hook clasp with seedbeads

Photo copyright Creek

It is really very beautiful and delicate, but it is also short - measuring roughly 16-17 inches (almost choker length), which is just too close-fitting for me... 
The stroke left me often struggling to swallow, and I simply cannot wear things this close to my throat :-(

So I want to gift it to a person who will wear it, enjoy it, and listen hard to the things their soul whispers...

If you'd like to win this delicate treasure, leave a comment below, and I'll draw a winner next Sunday, 2 March at 11am GMT (March, already?? *gulp*)

Giveaway 4 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my fourth giveaway.

There were 24 entries, and once again using an online random number generator, the winner is comment no. 4 (and no, I didn't count her PS comment *grin*)

Congratulations, Hula La!!

If you can email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar, as the email link on my Profile doesn't seem to work...), I'll get this cute notebook in the post to you this week :-)

Giveaway 6 (winner drawn 9 March 2014)

I decided to mix it up a bit, and announce the winner of last week's Giveaway first...

Giveaway 5 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my fifth giveaway.

I think it spoke to a few people's souls as there were 30 entries (I discount any second comment from the same person, so everyone has a fair chance). And, using an online random number generator, the winner is comment no. 22

Congratulations, Kay!!

If you can email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar, as the email link on my Profile doesn't seem to work...), I'll get this beautiful necklace in the post to you this week :-)


I'm developing a little pattern here, I realize... one week jewellery, the next week, a book...

This week's Giveaway is a beautiful, totally handmade sketchbook from Nellie Wortman. I have several of her creations, but this book has been sitting in my art cupboard - sadly, it's too small and fiddly for me to work in one-handed... 

It's roughly 7" x 5" (so not that small!), and has 12 blank pages (24 sides) of heavy paper/thin card for painting/sketching/writing. The covers are made of canvas and have been painted, stamped and stitched - Nellie is a real multimedia person! I think the angel is an image directly transferred to the canvas, but I'm not sure...

This is the inside cover, with a vintage lace 'page' on the right. The inside cover is made from an original ledger page, a tin heart with a pearl button and the words 'fluttering of wings'. It's a wee piece of art itself!

And inside the back cover is more ledger paper, and a transferred image of a tulip, and the words 'I sit and wait' and 'morning', and the rest of the vintage lace...

It is a very beautiful object, and if you'd like to win it, just leave a comment below, and I'll draw the winner next Sunday, 9 March at 11am GMT 

Giveaway 7 (winner drawn 16 March 2014)

Oh my, the weeks are whizzing by... which means I AM getting closer to my half-century *gulp*

Much better to focus on loveliness like giving away pretty things :-)

And this week's jewellery Giveaway IS pretty - and unusual...

It's a handmade silver pendant with a ginkgo leaf impressed into the silver. In the Far East, the ginkgo is the symbol of longevity, hope, resilience and peace - how beautiful is that??

As you can see, the pendant is almost an inch in diameter and on the back is the artisan's stamp and a hallmark to show it is fine silver. It hangs on an olive-coloured leather cord about 18" in length with a small silver lobster clasp.

If you'd like to win this pretty, symbolic necklace, leave a comment below, and I'll draw the winner next Sunday, 16 March at 11 am GMT 

Giveaway 6 winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my sixth giveaway - this beautiful sketchbook.

There were 26 entries and, using an online random number generator, the winner is comment no. 4
Congratulations, Alexandra!!

If you can email me your snail mail address (using the Contact Form in the sidebar, as the email link on my Profile doesn't seem to work...), I'll get this treasure in the post to you this week :-)

Giveaway 8 (winner drawn 6 April 2014)

Finally, I'm back in the land of the living... and trying to catch up with myself....
So to crack on - here's the winner of Giveaway 7 - do you remember this pretty necklace?

Using the random number generator thingy, it chose no. 10 from the 21 comments left on the Giveaway post, which means 

Congratulations, Onewaterlily!

Also, does anyone know how to contact Alexandra who won the angel sketchbook (Giveaway 6) - she's on Google+ and I can't contact her...

Giveaway 8

Now for this week's Giveaway

I love this book - but not enough the keep two copies - so I offer this brand new paperback to you :-)
There's an awful lot of wisdom packed into these 100+ pages, and I just love her quirky sketches!

She has a beautiful way with words, and you can learn more about Ruth Gendler here on her website. I'd really love one of her paintings, but I'm settling for enjoying all her books instead :-)

Leave a comment here if you'd like to win the book, and I'll draw the winner on Sunday 6 April at 11am (BST - yes, we finally changed our clocks this weekend!).


Giveaway 9 (winner drawn 13 April 2014)

Jewellery again this week...

... a freshwater grey pearl necklace, with a beautifully detailed clasp. This was a gift, and I've only ever worn it once. It's about 18" long, and I think the clasp is pewter, but it may well oxidized silver, I don't know...

The top of the clasp is a beautiful flower - I think it looks like a camellia :)

And underneath...

.. is an S clasp, which is just too complicated to do one-handed. Hence I'm giving this beautiful piece away. It deserves to be worn, not closed up in my jewellery box.

I adore the grey pearls, which shimmer different colours as the light catches them, but they are very hard to photograph.

So, if you would like this to appear on your neck, leave a comment, and I'll draw the winner next Sunday 13 April at 11am (BST).

Giveaway 8 winner

This one didn't prove that popular, and there were only 6 comments. So using the random number generator the winner is comment no. 5

Well done, Gill

If you can email me your mailing address, using the Contact Form in the sidebar, I'll get the book in the post this week :-)

Giveaway 10 (winner drawn 20 April 2014)

This week's Giveaway is a book with a difference - it's a handmade mini album/art journal from Petra at Journal Passions.

It's dimensions are roughly 7 x 5 inches with chipboard covers and 6 inner pages/pockets with tags and flaps and other steampunk goodies.
The inner flap holds a beautiful card (4x3in)

These pages are pockets which hold big tags, decorated on both sides.

This page folds out to hold 4 beautifully decorated mini tags.

It's another treasure from my art cupboard that needs to be used - for photos, or drawings, or recipes, or quotes, or... 
You decide :)

Leave a comment below and I'll enter your name into the random drawing on Easter Sunday(!) (20 April) at 11 am.
Giveaway 9 winner

This week there were 12 entries, and using the random number generator the winner is comment number 10
Congratulations, Karen Ives!!!

If you can email me your address using the Contact Form, I'll get the pearl necklace in the post this week :)

LAST Giveaway (winner drawn 27 April 2014)
HAPPY EASTER everyone!!

OK, it's going to be a BUMPER-giveaway this week - as I missed a couple of weeks being poorly, so I've combined the gifties from those weeks with this week's.

The LAST Giveaway in this Celebration Sundays series to celebrate my Big 5-0 birthday on 28 April - the day after drawing the last giveaway winner.

But before I show all the goodies on offer, let's announce last week's winner

Giveaway 10 winner

This week there were 12 entries, and using the random number generator the winner is comment number 11
Congratulations, BJ!!!

If you can email me your address using the Contact Form, I'll get the journal in the post this week :)

Now, here's the booty on offer for this LAST week of Giveaways...

It's quite hard to describe all the loveliness, but I will do my best! Starting with the top left

click on photo to enlarge

This is the necklace (in the butterfly giftbox) made by Amanda Davie (whose photo this is above). I adore her mixed-media jewellery and own several pieces, but this is too short for me now (about 18" long), and it so deserves to be worn! Here's a close-up of the wee ceramic bird with a copper 'Imagine' charm.

To was to be a STAR Giveaway on the last day of Celebration Sunday (which it is!) as it is soooo lovely!

Next to it is a fabric wallet holding a handmade, stab-bound book (out of shot), a bookmark, a pencil and a Reading List. Sadly I can't remember who made it, but it's from an Etsy shop...

Next is a lovely zipper pouch/make-up bag (8 x 6in approx.) made by Rhonda  with a gorgeous contrasting lining

Underneath the pouch in the photo are two books - one is a pocket-size note book, the other is a beautiful signed, handmade book of nature paintings and poems by Tracie Lyn at The Red Door Studio, and a very sweet ceramic turtle book thong.

And last, but not least, as you can just see peeking in the corner of the above pic is this copper bangle with its own cute leather popper pouch. Written on the bangle are the words 'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain'. It's a favourite quote, but a can longer wear bangles, so...

And there you have it - quite a stash, don't you think??

As always, I'm happy to post it anywhere, so please don't be shy. And previous winners are more than welcome to enter to win again - you can even tell your friends - you don't have to be a follower, or a regular visitor!Let's make this LAST Giveaway the biggest and the best :) 

Just leave a comment below and I'll put your name (or a friend's) into the random drawing on Sunday 27 April (the day before my birthday!!!) at 11 am.

And here we are - the end of my 13 weeks of Giveaways... It's just flown by and thank you so much for all the lovely comments each week - they have just made the countdown to my BIG birthday even more special :-)

So let's crack on!

For this final Giveaway there were 46 entries - wow, thank you!! And using the random number generator the winner is comment number 20

Congratulations, Mascha!!!

If you can email me your address using the Contact Form (the link on my Blogger profile doesn't seem to work!), I'll get these lovely goodies in the post this week :-)

This has been such fun, and I fully expect I'll have another Giveaway series later in the year! But starting tomorrow, I have a fun-filled week - birthday family dinner tomorrow, Silver Wedding anniversary on Tuesday, birthday lunches with friends later in the week...

And 2 weeks today, a dear friend visits from the US - she turned 50 in January, so lots more celebrating is planned!

I will post and share as much as I can, so do keep stopping by to share the fun xx


This is where I record my work and responses to the lessons in Unearth Gather Create (Summer 2014) led by Gillian Lee Smith whose work I've loved for several years (I own one of her early pieces...)

As I write this (25 June), I'm trying to play catch-up - our internet connection has been very poor lately... *sigh* and I've only been able to view parts of some of the lesson videos... so I'm rather making it up as I go along...

Lesson One - Mark making

I started in a big, new sketchbook (A4), but quickly realized I really didn't like the shiny white paper and I really didn't find it freeing at all - just distracting...

So I switched to my trusted sketchbook (A5). I should have taken a pic of the random charcoal marks I was marking, but I got too into blending and rubbing with my fingers, and before I knew it, this emerged...

... I am always amazed by what appears when I just play! One of my big hopes for this course is that I will trust my inner artist - as I KNOW she resides in me somewhere...

Lesson Two - Still Life

One of the things Gillian asked us to do before the course started was to write words/images that resonate with us... And bowls and spoons really do with me! (My 'Word' for last year was Be a Vessel...

I know I need to spend more time practising still life drawing - learning about light/shade and tone - but for some reason, I just really like this - it makes me smile....

Here's a poem I really like - the way the poet feels about spoons, I feel about bowls as well :-)

Spoons, An Appreciation
Ah, the romance of spoons. Their goodness.
How they fit together, how they lie together, hip to hip,
spooning comfortably in that slender bed, the drawer.
I believe in spoons, their essential good nature.
They are the gentlest of the utensils.
Knives cut; forks jab, but spoons cradle.
The knife slices meat. The fork skewers it.
But the spoon is oval and holds sips.
It is the utensil of moderation, of cure,
spoonfuls of medicine, spoons full of care.
A spoon will never hurt you, never jab nor cut you.
There is no blood in the history of the spoon.
Spoons are the sexiest of the utensils,
feminine and rounded, all curve and camber.
Knives are phallic and forks are aggressive, toothy,
but spoons are the shapes of breasts and buttocks.
To knife is to pierce, to fork is to branch out,
but to spoon is to make love, cuddle together.
The gentle spoon, to be spoon fed like a child.
Spoons are the utensils of babies.
The spoon conserves, contains, mothers.

Tim Barnes


Still on Lesson Two (Sunday 29 June)

Having got a steady internet connection finally, I watched the video of Gillian drawing the apple... She makes it looks so easy!

Here's my attempt at a wonky tomato lit strongly from the upper right by my desk lamp

I got myself the grey scale chart from Amazon, and I definitely prefer drawing on the darker side(!). I love Gillian's description of lost and found edges, but I'm still a little unsure of what exactly they are on the object I'm drawing...

What I did find in this exercise drawing with charcoal is that I used my blender and my electric eraser like further drawing tools. Only having the one usable hand, I do struggle to control them, but I'm sure I'll get better the more I use them.

I was trying to pull forward and push back different areas, but I didn't always get them right...



  1. Claire, I really love the quote about walking yourself into wellness, I understand that part because 14 years ago I too experienced a life changing injury that I walked and forced myself to continue a useful life. I too am very stubborn and wouldn't quit. My hat is off to you.

    1. Bless you, Dawn, for leaving such a lovely comment :)
      Sometimes being stubborn is what gets us through...
      I fear my usefulness in the world is rather limited nowadays, but I AM seeking to live a meaningful life, which may in turn, turn out to be useful :)
      Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful 2014 x


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It's good to know I'm not alone :)