Monday, September 26, 2011

My attempt at writing a sonnet......

Within my heart love beat in gentle time,
reminding Soul of wistful, long-held dreams,
which hid beneath my restless, darkened mind,
and called for me to lay upon life’s breast,
to know the truth of being ever held
in soft embrace of golden arms,
which offered bright and sure eternal rest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My time seems to be taken up with poetry lately. After years of nothing they are pouring forth. This poem is in response to a prompt from Margo Roby's poetry site.... something from an ancestor in their voice.

The first thing I thought of was my mother's diaries. Well, hardly diaries, more small books in which she wrote detailed lists in tiny writing of all she had to do. They are precious to me and it is probably time for me to read them again. If one reads lists in any true sense.

In many ways they reflect her life so accurately. She was a Virgo, but suffered from anxiety and depression and lived in so many ways a small, cramped, measured life. In her forties she developed rheumatoid arthritis which limited her even more.

She often said that she wished she could have been a nun but the arthritis prevented that. It is not that she was particularly religious or spiritual because she wasn't but I think it was the hermetic nature of the life which appealed to her. As it was, she was 56 when my father died and because of her nature and the arthritis she did end up living something approximating a monastic existence for the last 24 years of her life ... albeit mostly in an institution.

Do we create what we believe or desire or do we know what we have chosen in this lifetime? Perhaps a bit of both.

My mother's diary

In tiny shreds of writing,
I offered up my words,
in lists inconsequential,
of what I had to do.
Buy soap. Wash hair.
Post birthday card.
Cut nails and iron dress.
Write letter to my sister.
Soak underwear tonight.
In pencilled, leaded
offering, I wrote it down
to last, that I would be
remembered; that you
would know my past.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Playing around with painting

Having freed myself from the dictates of  what I paint and how I paint I have begun to play around with images and equipment.

Most of my latest painting has been done with pieces of sponge and crushed tissues, paper napkins or even toilet paper. I am finding it easier to get the images or design that I want using such things as opposed to brushes. Experimental is the word.

I started painting this photo below because I liked the colours but, with limited knowledge and limited paints and no thinner because I am in Africa and one cannot buy such things here, I have ended up with something different:

And what I got was this work in progress which looks nothing like the photo, contains nothing like the colours, but may end up respectable all the same. It sort of has an African feel to it which was my goal. It seemed silly to live in Africa and not paint something with an African theme.

The thing about Malawi in particular is there is such a sense of distance, mountains disappearing into a blue-tinged haze, and a rolling of the land toward a far horizon. I guess that is what I would like to capture with this painting.

I am not sure whether to turn the 'white' at the top into clouds or mountains but the beauty of oil is that of course, one can paint over anything. It is one of the reasons as a novice that I chose it as a medium. I figure if anything can be corrected eventually then there is lots of wriggle room.

After another fiddle I am pondering clouds but I might have to look at it for a few days and make up my mind as to whether the perspective demands snow-capped mountains. 

One thing is sure this is some way from being finished. Not that I am in a hurry because I have only one other canvas and will have to wait until one of us gets to Joburg or elsewhere to purchase more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living your own truth means sometimes you will look like a fool.
Living your own truth means doing what you need to do and saying what you need to say without expecting or demanding any particular result. It also means that sometimes you will look like a fool. At least it does for me.

Living my own truth means respecting who I am and striving to respond with dignity, compassion, integrity and common sense to any situation. It's the respecting who I am bit which often leads me to look foolish in the eyes of others but I consider that a small price to pay for holding to my own principles of integrity.

My way of dealing with situations and learning from them and processing them and moving through them is to ponder deeply what has happened and to then seek to communicate, not always, but often, with others who have been involved.

Sometimes this means that to others we may appear weak, vulnerable, needy or even desperate.... all of which can constitute as foolish. But the important thing is to do what one believes is right no matter how it may make us look.

The trick, or art is to have no expectation or demand of any particular result and that is the hard part because at unconscious and subconscious levels of course we always do. But knowing this is enough to safeguard to some degree.

I practised this most with my mother who, through her own woundedness and psychological damage was often, if not mostly, unable to understand the feelings and emotions of others and so, words offered to her dropped into a void. I could offer the words, the thoughts, the gestures but in most cases nothing came back in return.

It made me realise how hard-wired we are to expect results from our words or our actions. It's not surprising, connectedness, for that is what it represents, is the foundation of our nature as human beings and is in fact a physiological requirement for our survival.

When we reach out to someone else with words or actions we are seeking to connect at some level; when they respond to us they are connecting at some level to lesser and greater degrees. When words or actions are met with silence or no response there is no connection and our gesture goes not necessarily unheard or unseen, but because it connects with nothing it goes nowhere.

Perhaps nowhere is a little harsh because in speaking or acting our truth we are connecting with our own Self, our own Soul and we are making manifest who we are, whether that is recognised or acknowledged by others or not. I like to think that at a Soul level even if the other person is unwilling or unable to respond, to connect, to accept the gesture of communication or interaction which is offered, they do 'feel' and 'hear' us.

In essence it is about living with integrity, respect, compassion, love and honour no matter what the outcome. It is about holding to principles and not allowing our actions or words to be dictated or diminished by the actions of others. It is also about recognising that sometimes people are unable to connect in the way that one would wish. For some this is temporary and for others it is permanent.

With some people, asking, expecting, or hoping for them to respond, to connect, is like asking someone with no legs to walk. That is why it is important to have no expectations and no demands because until we make our offering we often do not know where or who the other person is.

In a way it is like an offering to God or the Gods, where a gift is given because it is due; because it is the right thing to do; because it is a way of saying thankyou. When we seek to connect with others we are saying thankyou to them for being in our lives. The mere act of reaching out, however it is done, represents an acknowledgement of our connectedness....however limited or expansive that connectedness may be.

It is all so much easier to write about and talk about than it is to do. But that is the way with so many things we seek to master. Practice may not make perfect but it does help us to master skills.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I am back at work on my painting although still fiddling with these two and the bottom one in particular because I am not sure whether to leave it or keep working on it.

Not that it matters since I am the only one I have to please. 

N.B. I did have another go at the tree painting.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lessons, always lessons

It's a choice to approach every experience as an opportunity to learn. I am not sure what else one can do in terms of trying to find meaning and purpose in the often challenging and unpredictable aspects of life. 

I am not sure I always learn something but I do try. Although I remember reading somewhere once that if you are trying you are not doing. I think that is a bit glib. We use the word try when we recognise we have not mastered a skill.... perhaps I should say I practise as opposed to I try.

But trying or practising, it doesn't take away the painful feelings and no doubt there is good reason for that but it does often make the unbearable, bearable and/or manageable.  I can see control at work in the word manageable but sometimes we need to exercise control, particularly over traumatic experiences, in order to gather enough calm reason to make our way through it.

So much pain is sourced in demand as opposed to desire. It is one thing to want something, to desire something and another to demand it so that when we do not get what we desire we are disappointed and often angry. We feel cheated. That is demand, not desire. Desire is natural and a healthy part of our human condition... demand is another thing altogether.

It's really about putting the thought out there and then letting go and trusting that while we may not always get what we want, we will get what we need.  Perhaps it simply does come down to a need to control life for desire has no need to demand if trust is present.

Ah trust! One of the most difficult things to be, skills to learn, habits to make. Perhaps that is because so much of who and what we are is programmed at an early age where any lack of trust or absence of security programmes us to fear that which we believe we cannot control. 

And yet it is all illusion.... the illusion of certainty .... comfortable as it may be is still an illusion. How easy it can be to know what we should be or even could be and how hard it is to be it or become it. Perhaps that is why so much of life is about lessons - we must practise, practise, practise to make manifest the best that we may be and the lessons will continue to come until we do.

And perhaps pain is a crucial part of being human. It is clear that this world is about connectedness and the greatest power to connect is Love; that is when we connect with ourselves, with others and with cosmic energy. But pain and suffering also open us and allow greater connection at physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual levels and on that count they are a gift. 

If we accepted pain and suffering as a part of being human would it hurt less? Probably. If we worked with pain and suffering and allowed them to work with us would we learn more and learn faster? Possibly.

If anything makes me believe in re-incarnation, and I am not sure it is a reality or a necessity, it is the fact that we are such very slow learners in this world no matter how committed we may be, or believe ourselves to be, in terms of becoming the best that we may be.

In truth every moment of our being is perfect as it is because it is all that there is. There is only now and we have to recognise the perfection of that now no matter how painful, traumatic, flawed or wounded it may be. There is nothing else so of course this moment is utterly, beautifully perfect.

Again, so easy to say and to think and so very hard to be and to do. Therein lies the lesson.