Tag Archives: aging

Nature’s salvation

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How do you ask your friends and families for help when for most of your life you have been the strong one? The one who has always sorted out everyone else’s problems.

How do you cope when your body betrays you?

How do you keep your body, soul and heart intact when loneliness attacks after seventeen years of living alone?

That is my life in a nutshell. I ask myself these questions every day. No-one answers. Not with real solutions anyway.

It was my choice to live alone, but it wasn’t part of the plan to still be alone nearly two decades later.

I have always kept my body well-nourished and reasonably fit despite a variety of health issues over the years, all dealt with, yet in the end pure happenstance had me falling down a flight of concrete steps and damaging my spine and hip. Perhaps it would have been a lot worse if not for my interest in alternative therapies, good nutrition and yoga. But still – when all is said and done, I am severely limited now in my mobility – no more cycling, no more long distance walks, and worst of all – no more dancing.

And now, in my need and awaiting an operation that might just give me full mobility and might just as easily not, I find it hard to ask for help when, maybe, my family do not understand just how damaged I am.

So, I have to authenticate my life in other ways. I write and paint, meditate and read. My novel is almost finished; I’ve sold a few paintings … but I’m still alone, and fighting just like I have done all my life because I will not give in … to age, to my injuries, to my loneliness. It just doesn’t quite make up for being alone no matter how many afternoon teas and cake I partake of, how many poems or stories I write, how many pictures I paint, or how much meditating I do. And yet, on most days, I am content

Like today, I am sitting at my laptop, writing this to the songs of birds hopping about in my heavenly, flower and herb filled wildlife garden. On sunny evenings it is also full of delicious scents. I meditate there whenever the weather allows and get all the authentication I need through nature. The birds, bats, frogs and toads that inhabit my garden, the fox that flits through it, have become my companions; the bees and other insects my helpmates; even the snails have something to teach me. Nature infiltrates my writing, my painting and my dreams – my tiny urban garden, and the artistry it inspires – has become my salvation. Within this context, the words of the campaigners of the sixties, my era,  are relevant … I will overcome! 

vintage rose

 

 

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Colours of Purple

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Purple, violet, mauve, lavender … these different hues of a single wavelength of colour define my life, and have done since I was a child of 5 choosing a piece of violet silk for my Gran to make a dolls dress from, for me. You only have to look at my interior décor, my garden, my clothes, my business website (Lavender Fields Therapies) and business cards to understand this. It is a spiritual colour – the colour of transformation and inspiration: and also within that definition lies my salvation – hope.

Memories of Violet

A whirling galaxy,

Nebulous gas particle clouds,

Dancing their indecipherable ballet around

An empty, careless, spinning universe

dreaming of purple space

 

A late evening sky,

With silver lights pinpricking

The transparent liquidity of

The vast heavenly arc.

 

Soaring mountains reduced to shadows

Shift, and etch a crazy pattern

Of crags, rocky outcrops and forest edges

As earth slowely waltzes into the morning light.

 

The great Blue Whale, effortlessly

Leaps and arches into the light.

Then eases its great bulk

Between the waves of a purple washed ocean.

 

His leviathan tail rises up to salute the setting sun,

Which flings its last, defiant rays

Flaming, around the bowed horizon,

Painting two mighty elements, with amethyst hue.

 

A shining drapiness of fine silk

Moulds to the youthful curves

Of a teenage girl body

On the night of her initiation into adulthood

 

Sublime aromas of herbs

Fill the summer air, mingling with subtle

Scents of flowers that tumble riotously

In every shade of seventh heaven.

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Blackcurrant jam sandwiches

Drip their tart purpleness

Down her child’s sticky chin,

Whilst she sips lavender lemonade

 

And that same lavender loveliness

Anoints crisp white sheets,

Blessing her disappearing dreams

Of dancing amidst those spinning constellations

 

Old woman, her time here softly waning

Paints her life in all its violet shades and hues:

The colour of her memories

The colour of her true loves eyes.

Painted Nails, and all that Glitters isn’t Gold!

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Once upon a time I would never have described myself as a lover of Bling. Well I’m still not, not in the accepted sense of wearing lots of cheap glittery jewellery and tiny sparkly tops, anyway. But I do like a few sparkles: the odd one of my home-made bracelets, (that I wear in multiple bands on each wrist – a kind of signature feature which I make in many colours to match my ‘colour style’ of ‘summer’ plus some neutral ones in Autumn colours and, of course, black) made of Swarovski crystal beads, sparkly eye make-up courtesy of Barry M and, especially, sparkly nails. It often bemuses even me that I feel able to paint my nails so brightly, whilst the rest of me is still struggling to rise, phoenix-like out of the ashes of expectation, and blossom into the dramatic and creative persona hiding inside.

But thinking back over the years there has always been one particular aspect of my dress/style that I let stand out – to speak out for my inner extrovert – ha ha! In the 70s and 80s it was large drippy earrings. In the 90s it was drapy scarves. Since the 2000s it’s been my bracelets. Now – it’s gorgeous, brilliant, rainbow coloured nails (oh yes … and tattoos, I forget). (I don’t remember much about the 60s – we were too busy breaking down all conventions from miniskirts and hairstyles to music and the sexual revolution).

388 the Stardancer tattoo – my first and most loved – situated on inside of my left wrist

It seems that, ‘that hidden me’ has to peep out of the cracks somewhere; and those single decade-specific items are slowly adding up increasingly to more of the inner me being exposed – minus the drippy earrings. They died a death when the sheer weight of them left rather large jagged holes in my ears that will now only take a complete hoop earring, otherwise they just fall out. It doesn’t stop me hanging charms from one of them though – latterly a tiny goddess figure with a moonstone belly, now – wait for it (mad Stardancing Grandmother rises again) a tiny silver sonic screwdriver. Well, what else would a lifelong Doctor Who fan wear in this, the programmes 50th year? Anyway, it matches the silver Tardis on a chain around my neck, and the Gallifrey and Stardancer tattoos. Torn ears didn’t stop me getting second piercings either, that now have rainbow-coloured sparkly stars in them, and occasionally, a long drippy earring as well (yes two in the same hole)to counterbalance the charms dangling from the opposite silver hoop. Told you – mad grandmother rises again!

Going back to my bracelets; making my own from coloured glass beads and silver charms means that when I’m fed up with them I can un-make them and transform them into something else. Or when I have a new outfit I can make something that exactly matches the style or colour, and then re-use when that outfit has been discarded. Making them is also incredibly relaxing. I sort of go into a meditational state and time passes without noticing it. So double benefits.

Later: I attended my eldest daughter’s and son-in-law’s joint 40th party recently, wearing a fab new Italian vintage looking dress in anthracite and amethyst silk and lace, with sparkly violet nails and my hair curled into ringlets (that lasted all of 5 minutes due to the fact that it was raining – of course it was!) What struck me most at the party were two things – firstly the lack of colour with almost all the women being in some version of the ‘little black dress’ although, thankfully, my children have learnt from their mother who taught them about wearing colour when they were children insisting on them wearing colour-coordinated Clothkits (anyone out there remember them). The second thing, oh dear, was that all of the guests (other than my grandchildren) were middle aged. Er this was so wrong, wasn’t it – it looked and felt more like a party for my generation till I realised that I was part of the older generation, not the middle-aged one! Bump and down to earth I came. My generation was represented by myself, my son-in-law’s mum and dad, and a soon to retire colleague of my daughter’s … just four of us. Still I had fun catching up with some of my daughter’s friends that I knew from the 80’s when I ran the local youth club. Apparently I haven’t changed. That’s funny because they have … they look older!

 

Age is just a number – isn’t it

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I got pretty irritated recently. Am I beginning to look my age after all, I’m wondering? Several times this week I have been the recipient of well-meaning but patronising younger people.

You know, the way the check out women talk to you – do you need help with the packing, shall I go a bit more slowly? I have no issues with the questions – they are very courteous requests. It’s the way they are said – with the dreaded ‘dearie’ or’ sweetie’ or’ love’ added at the end of each sentence. “Oh, isn’t that sweet,” I got when buying some craft items and the shop assistant commented on my ability to alter and restyle clothes, and make my own jewellery. Considering the shop was a craft shop – surely all her customers have this, or similar abilities. Argh! It makes me so mad.

Then there were the two marketing guys in a well known craft store trying to sell me something. They noticed the limp, the temporary stick (I have a hip injury at present and the stick, I admit, is a very groovy violet floral one) and immediately changed their attitude to simpering sympathy as if a) it must be age-related arthritis and b) I must therefore be on the way out and need help.

I was at a conference on Saturday full of vibrant, inspiring women from average age 50 to 70 though with some younger and older. We had a really inspiring talk and demo about colour styling. The woman who was talking seemed really in tune with modern older women’s desire to continue to look stylish, attractive, sexy. Then we had an equally inspiring talk by a younger woman who had undertaken a personal, physical challenge and walked the Great Wall of China for charity. Her experiences were something to be proud of, I quite agree. Then she spoilt it by suggesting the women in the room should also take on a challenge themselves, suggesting it would make them feel worthy and having achieved something.

I have two comments to make here. Firstly that many of the women in the room had already achieved so much in their lives, whether raising a family in the adverse conditions after the war or in the 70s, or having pursued exciting careers as teachers, solicitors, social workers and other similar professions. Many had travelled the world, organised events, changed careers, cared for elderly relatives or disabled children. Every woman in that room had already achieved great personal challenge .

Secondly – a question – why is personal challenge only seen in terms of physical challenge? Eg: sport, running races, trekking, climbing, jumping out of aircraft etc. Challenge comes in many forms – yes physical, but also intellectual, creative, even emotional. Any woman who has put up with a difficult marriage and finally found the courage to get out, or has put up with physical, verbal, financial abuse and bullying, they have already achieved greatness. After a lifetime of work with children young people and families I’m busy challenging myself to pursue a writing career, and last year I taught myself to paint in watercolours; this year I’m learning about the Qaballa and yoga. By the end of the conference, to make a point, I had volunteered to run next year’s regional conference. Another personal challenge. My topic – adding value to age – aimed at inspiring and empowering all older women to ‘not go quietly into the night’. I’m going to steer clear of ‘how to make a will’ or ‘plan your eco-funeral’ or ‘care for your arthritis in favour of singing, restyling yourself, dancing, eating delicious anti-aging foods, and other such positive activities.

A final – tongue in cheek – comment: I was delighted to be able to get into the cinema one evening and not only benefit from Orange Wednesday, but at a reduced pensioner rate too! Well I’m only human! I’ll take advantage of my age if it means a discount, any day; to hell with image then!

Just another canvas – how it started

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Image“What made you do that?” asked a (so called) friend after I’d had my first – well second, er third – tattoo. I’m 62 and according to this acquaintance, I should know better at my age. “I didn’t think you’d be into that kind of thing, “she added. Thing I thought, slightly bewildered? Just goes to show, doesn’t it, how people you’ve known for years:

  1. Never do really know you, and
  2. Are happy and quick to judge you

I’ve had ‘get a tattoo’ on my ‘list of things to do before …’ for years but never dared to be vulnerable enough to flaunt convention and just – do it! Then I got fed up of being ‘the someone’ that other people expected me to be, or approved of. You know … the dutiful daughter, the loyal wife, the caring mother, a compassionate friend, an inspiring teacher, a conscientious social worker, a creative therapist?  But just who am I really? I’ve never really known the answer to that question.

Once upon a time I was going to be an artist, a writer; lead a bohemian lifestyle (I always adored the Victorian poets and Pre-Raphaelites – I really feel I belong then)  but … time, relationships, job commitment – well, they get in the way, don’t they.

Once upon a time I was a rebel – a hippy flower child, born in the 50s, spending my developing years growing within the creativity and emerging freedoms of the 60s. Where did all that courage, rebellion; all that energy, go? How did it all get so lost in time?

To be honest, I’m quite a young-looking, creative and visionary person who has inspired others to do all sorts of marvellous things but never really explored my own Self.  I have flaws, I freely admit – laziness vies with ambition; my voluptuous curves belie an interest in healthy lifestyles and environmental responsibility; a love of beautiful things, including clothes, strains a fixed income. Being born within the sign of Gemini (the Twins) is so hard to live with; especially as it also results in an extrovert/introvert confliction.

Well no more. I will bare my soul for all to see – revel in my almost waist long, blond from a bottle, I won’t put up with grey, hair, dress how I want whether that be vintage, gothic or just a baggy old sweat shirt and jeans. I will do what I want – stay in bed reading till lunch time or practice kundalini yoga in the garden; run Goddess workshops for like-minded women; sit goggle-eyed at my laptop till time disappears writing my stories, poetry, the novel; paint all weekend long; or just sit and daydream to beautiful music; or eat cream scones in a countryside café with my friend.  And to my critical friend, let me just say about my three (er four, no five, with one being a work in progress ) tattoos …

My body? Its mine! It belongs to me; and I am after all, an artist at heart … so, my body is just another kind of journal or blog, to decorate, and assist me in telling my story – in other words:  it’s just another canvas! My body has become a metaphor for change. “Bring it on,” I say. What do you say?