Tuesday, March 30, 2010

my beautiful week 12

- I wake to the sound of long awaited steady falling rain.

- A small brown spiky ball scuttles across the road and up a driveway. We slow down to watch a hedgehog in a hurry.

- Chocolate cows with faces of creamy bemusement stare at me as I stride purposefully up the road beside their paddock.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

my beautiful week 11

- Brightly coloured stained glass windows filter morning sunshine, casting blessed rays over the Benediction café.

- The steady metronome of footsteps crunching gravel settles my restless mind in a walking meditation.

- I wait with pounding heart at the finish line for Talya to appear. Before long I see her long legs racing down the home stretch, chest lifted, broad smile across her happy face. “I can’t believe I won!” she exclaims with joy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

press pause

I've been noticing more and more how easily I get distracted by the internet. I can so easily whittle away a half hour or more just browsing blogs, following link after link, stumbling across treasures and pearls of wisdom along the way. It's a great way to connect with like-minded people and find inspiration for things as diverse as poetry and paella (and discover that maybe they're not so different after all). But the thing is that the more time I spend on the internet the less attention I pay to my own life and my own voice. It's not that I spend all day on the world wide web. If I added up my total time each day it would probably be less than an hour. But I've developed a habit of stopping suddenly in the middle of doing something to pop over and see what's going on in there. As if it won't still be there when I am finished what I am doing.

So, inspired by Fiona Robyn's week long internet fast I decided to make Sunday a 'day of internet rest'; a sort of search-engine-sabbatical - a day to press pause and find some space before the week got off to another busy start.

I started the day with a walk in the fresh autumn air and came home to pancakes for breakfast.
After a productive morning of catching up on housework and bit of gardening, I put my feet up and read my book on the couch. The girls were playing happily outside and Glenn was busy in the shed.
Before long my eyelids were drooping and I had nodded off! An hour later I emerged planning to concoct a vegetable quiche for dinner but Glenn suggested we get Chinese takeaways. After dinner of fried rice and spring rolls I whipped up a batch of chocolate brownies for lunchbox treats and then sat down to watch the TV2 Sunday night movie - Fool's Gold, while completing two more squares of my blanket.

All in all, it was a very restful Sunday, just like Sundays were made to be. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and ready for the week. And it was great to find that when I logged on today the internet hadn't come crashing down in my absence and all my favourite blogs had been updated with fresh and interesting posts!
It felt so good that I'm planning on making every Sunday my day of Internet Interrupt.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

my beautiful week 10

- A baker in the café kitchen carefully measures sugar into a large stainless steel bowl. I wonder what she is conjuring for the hungry customers of The Ginger Crunch café?

- A man and a young boy paddle a small white boat across the sparkling blue sea, basking in the sunshine of their Monday morning adventure.

- Shelby plonks herself in the middle of my yoga mat right where my feet need to be. I transplant her to the couch but she leaps off and sprawls herself mid-mat in a languorous interpretation of cat pose. I surrender to the power of meow.

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

in the blink of an eye

They say that good things take time,
But really great things happen in the blink of an eye.
- Hannah Montana

You walk into a hotel lobby in Cape Town at 8am on a Monday morning to meet a consultant from New Zealand so that he can follow you along the motorway to the office (did we not have maps or gps back in 2000?). En route to the office you make a mental note about his blue eyes.

Then you wake up one morning and ten years have passed.
You’re living in a cottage in rural North West Auckland, married to aforementioned blue eyed New Zealander. You’re the mother of his two blonde daughters (and you're quoting a fictitious popstar created by Disney!)

Life changes in the blink of an eye.

And you learn that Love is not something you fall into, it is the thing that holds you together after you have picked yourself up from the fall.

It is not a red rose, or a box of chocolates, or a letter, or a kiss.
It is not a wedding, or a song, or a baby or a house on a hill.
It's none of them, but all of them.
It is in the next breath you take and the next beat of your heart.
It is the thing that you know will carry you through tomorrow no matter what it brings.
And it really is.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

happy birthday dear sister

One year ago,
we stood on a beach together and
plunged into salty waves
In celebration of four decades of our sister-friendship.

I stood on that same beach today
And plunged into those same waves
I watched the ebb and flow of the tide
And looked out towards the horizon
To where you slept
While I stood in the sunlight

Our sistering

to me,
is like our breathing
always present

as vital as heartbeat
life sustaining.

Today I pause to honour you and
Thank you for being born,
my sister-friend
Happy Birthday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

my beautiful week 9

The thing I love most about collecting these daily tidbits is that I can look back on what feels like has been a rather dismal week and realise that despite my gloom, there has been plenty of loveliness. Here are 3 of many:

- Shelby is fascinated with my knitting project. She swipes her paw at the twitching strand of wool each time I yank it towards the next stitch.

- I head off for a walk along Inland Road and before long a light shower of rain has started to fall. I continue, enjoying the cool freshness and quiet softness that comes with rainfall. The road is gravel and meanders up into the hills past fields of sheep, rundown barns and clusters of cabbage trees.

- On the drive home from school we see our dance teacher walking towards the hall to teach her Friday classes; her red sequined skirt sparkles in the afternoon sunlight.

* photo: Cabbage Trees by Diana Adams

Sunday, March 7, 2010

clearing the fug

For the last couple of days I have been in a state of mental fuggishness. There is no other word for what my head has felt like: filled with an unyielding fug.
I even looked up 'fug'. It is defined as 'an airless smoky smelly atmosphere' or 'a heavy, musty and unpleasant atmostphere, usually in a poorly ventilated area.' Spot on.

I am never quite sure what brings on this condition. But when it descends I drag myself around with a head filled with hateful thoughts and self deprecating banter; I feel miserable, alone and full of despair. For all I know it could be purely physical, brought on by premenstrual tension or one too many mouthfuls of a disagreeable food, but it feels as though there is nothing in the world that can drag me out of the mire of my misery. I feel fat and unlovable. Even though I am not very fat at all. And I am surrounded by a lot of love every minute of every day. There is just no logic to my craziness.

But I have spent most of today working through the muck and slowly I am starting to see light again:

First of all, I phoned my Mom and my Sister. They are my biggest fans and I am eternally grateful for their unwavering love and support. If ever I feel like I am the world's worst person all I have to do is pick up the phone and they will convince me otherwise! Thank you. I love you both.
Then I drank a few large glasses of water.
The girls and I went down to a local farmers market. We bought passion fruit, candy floss, walnuts and muesli. A generous lady gave me a free hand scrub with some essential oils and mineral salt.
I ate a delicious mussel fritter for breakfast with some garlic aioli and a squeeze of lemon on a slice of fresh bread.
I sat looking out over the vineyards as the autumn breeze brought goosebumps to my arms.
I pushed Anika on the swing.
When we came home, I cleaned the windows in the cottage and the morning sunlight came streaming in through smear free glass.
I tidied the kitchen and cleared away some clutter.
I spent five minutes in uttanasana.
I wrote.

I still feel a little fuggy but it feels as though I have opened a window to let in some air and light. And soon the atmosphere up there should be as clear and blue as this afternoon's autumn sky.

I ask myself if there is a way I can prevent the fug descending in the future. In what ways do my daily choices contribute to the gathering of fug until it takes over and I can't see clearly anymore?
Is there some way I can keep that window slightly ajar even when its getting stormy or polluted out there?

Any ideas are most welcome :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


My fragile ego
is like an eggshell, easily shattered.
But the miracle of the breaking is in
what it reveals:
- beautiful deep yellow yolk
source of life
a liquid golden heart

Friday, March 5, 2010

on marriage

A friend sent me this excellent piece of marriage advice written by Zig Ziglar and I thought it was well worth sharing!

"I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all.

On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person.

I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you."

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

my beautiful week 8

- Muriwai Beach at low tide is a long wide flat mirror of ironsand. I walk along the glassy sand looking down at reflected clouds and seagulls.

- Three starfish, one a deep shade of orange coral, lounge on the beach among a pattern of scattered shells.

- A warm breeze wraps around my shoulders like a silk scarf. I feel lighter with each step, leaving behind a trail of worry like footprints in the sand.

Monday, March 1, 2010

thaw blogsplash!

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free. Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow at http://read-thaw.blogspot.com.

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.
The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat - books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.
Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about - princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.

I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say, 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for,' before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.

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