31 January 2014

Focus on Life Week 5: Get outside!

Ho hum... this past week really hasn't encouraged embracing Nature here in the UK - wet, cold, grey, the odd snow flurry!

All I managed was to snap this from the car on my way to hydrotherapy on Wednesday - the only time I've stepped out the door this week **bbrrrrrr**

Day 31...

... of January's Mindful Writing Challenge - I made it! 

I've written 27 small stones this month - including this one :-)

I used to walk this path -
ancient hazel and hawthorn, 
willow and sycamore.
Now, I retrace my steps
in rhythm and word.

Thank you to all those who have joined me on this journey, and left lovely, encouraging comments along the way... Companions make every journey more enjoyable, so thank you!

I have decided to keep writing these small stones (but not every day!), and I invite you to join in and share your small stones with me. Maybe we could create a small stone circle :-)
There's a button to grab in the right sidebar...

And, 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!

30 January 2014

Day 30...

... of the Mindful Writing Challenge (one day left to go...)

The prompt title is 'Go gently', and Satya quotes a favourite author, whom I met a number of years ago in Santa Barbara CA, Anne Lamott, a wise, wise woman indeed!!!

The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.

Write a small stone of what comforts you today...

Clean laundry blowing on the line,
Beds made, tidying done,
Time to eat, drink, read -
Feeding soul and body.

29 January 2014

Day 29...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Today's prompt: 'See if you can find yourself a small stone today'...

I love 'found poetry' - Satya found hers in the names of paint in a Farrow and Ball paint shop...

I found mine in the titles of the books on the sofa next to me...

Know life -
Cultivate balance
Writing books

The books are:
Art of Life Tarot
Crones Don't Whine: 13 Qualities to Cultivate

28 January 2014

Day 28...

... of January's Mindful Writing Challenge, and today Satya's prompt focuses on taste, with a cute quote from Lewis Grizzard:

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts 
while eating a homegrown tomato.

It's the wrong time of year to grow tomatoes in England, and too early in the morning for me to think of cooked food, so...

A tall glass of
Crystal-clear water -
Life-giving, but dull.
Plop in a slice
Of fresh-cut lemon -
And taste the Life!

Talking of crystal clear... I don't know if you've seen/heard this - Ashana's voice is as crystal-clear as the bowls she plays...

27 January 2014

Three small stones...

I had a VERY busy weekend with the Grow Your Blog party (so much fun!), so the small stones* rather slipped from my grasp...

So today, you have 3 for 1 - aren't you lucky?? 
(Maybe judgement should be reserved till you've read them...)

Saturday's suggestion was 'write a small stone about something vulnerable or fragile...

(the only Misty Mawn painting I own - 
my treat to myself when eventually I re-learnt to use the computer in 2008)

Fragile wings
Settle on a delicate shoulder;
Hold this moment,
Before it fades.


Sunday's prompt: 'Look up into the sky to write your small stone today'...

Today's sky?
Heavy grey, rain, hail...
Thank God for memory
And hope.


And finally...

'Today you could write your small stone about yourself, or about what's around you after sitting quietly for a few minutes'.

Suddenly I got very creative with Picasa...

Enjoy your Monday - Beautiful You...

* I forgot to add the usual link to the Mindful Writing Challenge - sorry!

24 January 2014

Grow Your Blog 2014

2 Bags Full

Well, it's finally here - the BIG Grow Your Blog party - seems ages since I signed up back in November 2013...

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Vicki, our hostess - apparently there are over 500 of us, that's quite a party in anybody's book!! 

So, to introduce myself, I'm Claire - lovely to 'meet' you :)

I live in the UK with Nick, my American husband of almost 25 years (gulp!), our two kids (Sam aged 18, Esther aged 16), and our beloved Molly-cat (aged 4.5 years).

I've blogged since 2006 (there's a list of my various homes in Blogland at the end of the About page), and since my stroke in 2007 (aged 43 at the time!) it's been a lifeline to connect with like-minded souls...

I started this newest blog while taking Susannah Conway's Blogging from the Heart e-course, a few months ago. I really wanted to create a space where I could create 'the magazine of me' to use Susannah's wonderful phrase! Me as I am NOW - a disabled wife and mother trying to live, and write, as mindfully as I can...

I shall be 50 at the end of April (eeek!), and to celebrate I'm having 13 weeks of Giveaways, and I figure this party is the perfect opportunity to start us off!

I'll be drawing the first winner a week on Sunday (2 February 2014). I figured the weekend of Imbolc/St Brigid's Day/Candlemas was an auspicious date to start :-)

You don't need a blog to enter - if you can't/don't want to leave a comment, email me using the Contact Form in the sidebar and I'll put your name in the virtual hat!

Here's a pic of my first giveaway - a lovely Tibetan om beaded necklace

If you'd like to put your name in the hat to win it, please leave a comment on this post (where there's more info about it) - and remember there will be 12 more giveaways, so do drop by again :-)

I'm looking forward to meeting you at the party - but I doubt I'll get to greet you all - 500 is A LOT of virtual hands to shake...

Focus on Life Week 4: Word(s)

I decided to take Sally's Optional Prompt this week...

This is My Word(s) for 2014... 

I have this image as my screensaver, so I see it every morning when I turn on my laptop :-)

At the moment, I understand it to mean I write/postspeak as truthfully, and mindfully, as I can... to be honest and open... to 'make known' as much as I feel prompted/able to share...

I expect other aspects of My Word to make themselves known as the year progresses, as has happened in previous years :-)

And can I Make Known (sorry!) to you  my exciting plan for 13 Giveaways??

Just click the button in the right sidebar to go to the Giveaway post, or click here. You can leave a comment there or email me using the Contact Form, and I'll put your name in the virtual hat. 

This is the first item I'm giving away - there's more info about it here 

Giveaway 1 (winner drawn 2 February 2014 at 11am GMT)

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 below (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.

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.


Day 24...

... of the Writing Challenge (just a week to go...)

And today's prompt is interesting, in so many ways: 'Today you could write a small stone about something you feel resistant to writing about...'

Satya mentions 'cobwebs in the corner of the ceiling' - of which we have many (I've never been houseproud!), but instead, I'm going the way of Gloria Steinem, whom she quotes:

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. 

And it's why the link to Satya's website is blue rather than the usual dark red...

I like texture - 
it makes clothes,
paintings, people,
more interesting.

That's why I like
to throw the odd
F*CK in - 
to season 
the conversation.

23 January 2014

Day 23...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Too funny after yesterday's post that today's prompt is: 'Practice non-judgement as you write your small stone today' :-)

And Satya adds Osho's famous quote:

Don't say this is good and that is bad. Drop all discrimination. Accept everything as it is.

OK, the lines are faint, wonky and uneven,
Lack of skill and confidence are obvious,
The 'fruit' are strangely indeterminate,
But you can tell what it is, right?
Then, it's good enough.

Did you see what I did with the shape of the small stone? 
Sorry, couldn't resist :)

22 January 2014

Day 22...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Ah, today's prompt... difficult in so many ways - the title 'A kind of brilliance', the prompt itself: 'See if you can find brilliance as you write your small stone today', the quote Satya shares:

One day passes and another day comes along, and everything happens the same. 
But basically, we are so afraid of the brilliance coming at us. and the sharp experience of our life, that we can't even focus our eyes.
Chogyam Trungpa

Then add my own issues to the mix - say the word 'brilliance' and I immediately thing 'mental acuity', 'genius' 'exceptional', 'once-in-a -generation skill' *sigh*

Too, too much internal pressure!!

But I'm learning...

I breathe through the dialogue raging in my head:

Breathe in love, breathe out judgement...
Breathe in calm, breathe our anxiety...
Breathe in light, breathe out fear...

And find a photo to inspire a small stone...

A sudden flash of sunlight
Catches the window sill,
Catches the glass jar,
Making the feather quills shimmer.
Can I capture this moment
In ink?

21 January 2014

Day 21...

... of January's Writing Challenge (only 10 days to go...)

Today's prompt is easy in the sense there is soooo much to be inspired by...

Write a small stone about nature today.

Click on the picture to enlarge and really see the frost flakes!

Crystalline frost,
Like salt or sugar,
Adds interest to
The death of winter.

20 January 2014

Day 20...

... of the Writing Challenge.

The weekend passed in a haze... disrupted sleep, foggy thoughts...

But a new week, and a new prompt: 'Write a small stone about something you can smell' and a wonderful quote by John Betjeman:

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.

Fresh, roasted coffee,
Frothed, warm milk,
Sweet vanilla muffin -
Smell, taste, savour
Every moment of
The morning ritual.

17 January 2014

Focus on Life Week 3: B&W photo of you...

Well, it had to happen sometime... *sigh*

Sally does like us to share a self-portrait.

But this time, at least it's black and white, which can be more flattering :)

So, I've cheated a little - I took the one photo of me that I do like (taken by a dear friend a couple of years ago), and I've cropped it a tad and made it b&w.

If you really want to, you can see the colour version on my About page...

Day 17...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Sad little rose bud
Never got to bloom,
Missing the moment
To take Anais' advice.*

*Anais Nin's famous quote: 'And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.' 

16 January 2014

Day 16...

... of January's Writing Challenge.

Today's suggestion is 'Write a small stone about a small thing'...

Smallest of birds
Fitting here and there,
Singing a big song
To find his mate.

15 January 2014

January Full Moon Dreamboard

Well, a new year and a new way of doing my dreamboards...

A lot has happened since December's Full Cold Moon...

I had a natal report done, where I discovered many things - not least that I was born under a full moon! Maybe a reason why I deeply connect with this practice! 
I'm not sure what I really think about astrology, but the descriptions of what heavenly bodies were in what houses at the time of my birth almost 50 years ago does make very interesting reading, and Sherry described many of my personal traits rather accurately!

Also, I bought an e-book from Amy Palko called Bloom by Moon, where she gathers four traditions of moon lore - Astrological, Celtic Tree, North American and Global Perspectives - and poses journal question for each. 
I have actually printed out the whole book, and gathered the pages into the respective lunar cycles, and put them in a ring-binder.  I've been working through some questions for this first lunar cycle of 2014 since the New Moon on New Year's Day.

I'm naturally drawn to Celtic Tree lore, which calls January's Full Moon a Birch Moon, where the focus is on new beginnings. Birch branches were used for brooms, so the journal questions Amy posed were: What am I making space for? What am I ushering in? What is dying to be born?

On the left-hand page are two photos from Country Living - one of a frosty field, the other of a bunch of sage (which for the American Indians is a cleansing, purifying herb). Below those are two images from old We'Moon diaries - one of the Goddess of the Wheel of the Year showing the 8 pagan festivals (copyright Sheila Brown 1991); the other, a stunning painting by Toni DeMello called Ascend (2005), which the editors used one year to represent the 'Stillpoint' of this lunar cycle.

Finally, there is an image from last year's A Woman's Diary by Susan Seddon Boulet of her painting Calling the Eagle (1986) with the quote:

Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.
Sonia Croquette

And underneath are the words 'The closer we look, the more we discover' from a Aptamil  baby's milk advert(!)

The right-hand page shows Lady Birch - a favourite tree from the the end of the road where we used to live, the word FOCUS, a picture of woman meditating from a Harper's Bazaar holiday ad on which I've written the journal questions, the words 'Express the essence of you' and 'What better time than now?' both from different magazine adverts. Finally, a photo of a very Bloomsbury-style sitting room (I cannot remember from where I clipped it), and a photo of several stacks of books!

If I were to interpret these images, based on the journal questions, I'd say I'm clearing space to think and focus and meditate, because I'm trying to find the words to express my inner essence, which eventually I hope to publish in book form... 

I know this year is significant in so many different ways - I turn 50, we celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, our son leaves school after completing his A levels, and our daughter takes her GCSEs. A dear friend is getting married in April, and another dear friend is visiting from the US in May...

And I want to be in the best possible spiritual place to experience all this to the full, for these days will never come again!

Day 15...

... of the Writing Challenge - almost halfway :)

Today's prompt reads: 'Write a small stone about your body today'...

Stepping from warm water
Into cold air,
Fine hairs stand erect 
With shock!

14 January 2014

Day 14...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Today's suggestion is all about hands - 'to write your small stone about something you can touch'...

Marble hands make an offering of leaves,
Holding autumn's beauty lightly.

13 January 2014

Day 13...

... of Writing Challenge.

Today's prompt is to have a bit of fun, to 'look out for something whimsical'.

Well yesterday, I saw this, and had to take a photo before I ate it :)

Dark chocolate is good for you, the papers say,
Especially with fruit, nuts and smiley faces in it, I'd say.

12 January 2014

Day 12...

... of the January Writing Challenge.

Today's prompt is to be quiet and listen... 
'The quieter you become, the more you can hear' ~ Ram Dass

My soul is a singing bowl,
A singing bowl, a singing bowl.
My soul is a singing bowl,
Hear her ring.

Silent Sunday

11 January 2014

Day 11...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Satya's prompt today is to write about 'an object that is showing signs of age and impermanence', and she quotes Robert Bly:

It is not our job to remain whole.
We come to lose our leaves
Like the trees, and be born again,
Drawing up from the great roots.

Paper-thin skin, protruding veins,
Where's that young, spring leaf
Of a girl?

Focus on Life Week 2: Silhouette

I'm hoping by next week to have a new camera...
Our poor, old thing really doesn't cope with low light or back-lit subjects, which you kind of need to capture a silhouette!
So here's today's fuzzy dawn :)
And here's others' less-fuzzy pictures...

10 January 2014

Day 10...

... of the Writing Challenge.

Ah, Satya's suggestion today is to 'write a small stone about something you want to change but can't, or can't right now'...

I want the right hand I had seven years ago -
It held magazines, and wore beautiful rings,
It had long fingers and manicured nails,
And it never formed into a fist!

Harsh, but true... sorry!

9 January 2014

Day 9...

... of January's Writing Challenge.

Yesterday was a strangely busy, interrupted day... just couldn't gather my self together to write.

But I won't beat myself up. I'll just get back on this unsteady, unpredictable writing horse...

Transported by Tavener to a sacred place.
Mary's candle-lit shadow large on the wall.
All is well with my soul.

7 January 2014

Day 7...

... of Mindful Writing Challenge.

Today, Satya suggested 'you could write a small stone about what is happening right NOW', so...

Cloud-thoughts scud across my mind
on this grey, windy day...
from despair to hope 
and back again, 
stopping briefly at every
station in-between.

But I've actually disembarked at Hope as this was my card today :)

6 January 2014

Days 5 and 6 (combined)

... of the Mindful Writing Challenge (because yesterday was Silent Sunday).

See things with fresh eyes...
The essence of Epiphany.
We see a baby,
They see a king.
We see a pauper,
They see a prince.
We see a winter tree,
They see new life...

Whether you 'believe' in the story of the Epiphany, the message is clear...

Epiphany: a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something 
in a new or very clear way
Merriam Webster Dictionary

Isn't this the lifeblood of mindful living??

PS I've just drawn my card for today - perfect or what???

4 January 2014

Day 4...

... of January's Writing Challenge.

Grey, grey, grey,
Joy slipping away...
I need tea.

On the sill overnight,
The cactus has bloomed -
Pink joy unconfined.

Focus on Life - Week 1

So a New Year dawns, and once again Sally Russick is inspiring us to Focus on Life by capturing evocative images...

I'm looking forward to meeting new people who have joined, along with those of us who participated last year. It was a wonderful weekly gathering :)

So let's get cracking!


Week 1: The Minimalist Photograph ~ Capture an image using a single subject

This is my favourite fruit at this time of year, but it looks so blah and rather unappetizing in black and white - minimalist in the extreme!

So, here it is in colour - YUM...

3 January 2014

Day 3...

... of January's Mindful Writing Challenge.

Yesterday, I stood in the light... today we're asked 'to drink the stupefying cup of darkness and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised', Edward Hirsch.

Dazed by lack of sleep,
Windows rattle, 
Gates clang,
Trees bend.

I reach for my Mary stone.

I finger its edges,
I trace her contours,
I pray for grace
~ and peace.