Monday, 10 April 2017

One gesture. One person. One moment in time.


This is how change happens, or doesn’t happen. One gesture. One person. One moment in time held, or let slip.

I love hobbling through the dew in the morning, calling to the hens, telling them what delicious scraps they’re about to get, opening the stiff gate into the chicken run, and then searching for their eggs. Usually they each lay one every 24 hours.

At 11 am, I sat for an hour in the eucalyptus forest with a group of  young mums with their babies and young children.  Close by was the forest  bar, the dry river bed, the gypsies ponies, and the busy main street is not far away. The sun was shining, the mood  lively.  They were planning a fund raiser in the forest for  RCK - an organisation which provides daily meals for thousands of refugees in France.
Their inspirational young leader Bridie, is fired with passionate enthusiasm.

I listened and watched. There was something in the air.

Then seemingly suddenly, but oh so gently, a 5 month old baby and I fell in love with each other.

She was lying  on her mother’s lap, just inches away from  me. There was nothing to be done except to  look into each other’s eye and beam love.

Occasionally we touched hands, but all she wanted to do was soul gaze.

Painting y George Roualt.

Then, because my legs became sore from sitting for an hour and a half, and I knew my  purse was empty,  I left the forest, and went to the bank.  This was a small side track to the ‘mission’ to buy local olive oil. 

I like to think of my visits to the nearby small town as my ‘missions.’ Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I fail.  Both happened yesterday I think.

At the cash point outside the bank, I quickly became spellbound by a short conversation with an elderly seƱor visiting our area. You go first he said, so I did.
He told me quietly he was  afraid to use the cash machine, in case his card got goggled up.

Automatically I pushed buttons, one eye on him, the other on the screen. My card popped out.

With little  encouragement, he launched into  a passionate philosophical – or was it a poetic-  explanation on the origin of fear.  
All the time  he  beamed such vulnerability and such sweetness towards me,  I almost offered to wait  to see if his Visa card  slid out  ok.  But didn’t, and I don’t know why.  
 I drew his attention to the help number above the machine, if needed, and turned away.

Drawing by Egon Shile.
His eyes followed me into the street, as if saying, but I haven’t finished yet, please wait.
He looked six years old.
I felt deeply  ashamed of myself  for giving so little of myself, and so little of my time.

Who knows what one more minute, one more sentence could have manifested?

One gesture. One person. One moment in time, and change can happen. On this occasion , it didn't, well, not in a positive way .

Walking away to buy the oil, downhill and uphill, I  felt acutely the meaning of the word deserter.

It isn’t every day that buying organic olive oil includes a concert of Sufi music! A group of talented musicians were playing at the indoor market.

So,  after listening to the sweetest of sounds for  a short while, as if being blown from one place to another by a strong wind,  I bought the golden oil,  and  from the new Moroccan tea shop, chose a small treat. I think it’s called Baklava.
It’s  a two inch square of brown sugary heaven.
It will be quartered and rationed and shared tomorrow with a visiting Norwegian lady vicar.

48 different nationalities live in and around our little town of Orgiva in Andalucia, Spain.  Every known faith and no faith, I think , is practiced and respected here.

This afternoons siesta was deep and long, and lunch was not a culinary success. Some ingredient was missing ! Healthy and  organic  yes, but… well… not quite right !  Do you every do this?

The day seemed to then  change gear in late afternoon.  I felt exhausted.  My legs were sore again. When will this operation be?  Soon please.  So I decided not to go the evening concert in the church.

Supper wasn’t  a great success either, not a good cooking day, but then a walk around the lane at 8.30pm set  the inner compass  back into perfect balance.

All around my new little rented house there is so much natural beauty.  So much  coming to life in the springtime plant world.    So much newness… so much space… so many shades of green, and the poppies appearing overnight in such amazing places, as if chosen my angels for the very maximum wow factor.

Why am I writing this? What’s my mission right now, post chemo, in remission for 2 years?

I really feel it’s to follow Mary Oliver’s advice:

‘Pay attention. Be astonished.  Tell about it,’

Nothing is certain in my life now, and that’s universal.

We all interact with strangers every day. For me they are my daily teachers.
I find it so easy to love them, anywhere in the world.

So what happened with the elderly man at the cash point?
My heart was guarded. Why?

What I  find hard is to end one experience and then start another right after.. it feels a bit like writing a story without any punctuation, or , eating soup and pudding at the same time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And this is how change happens, or doesn’t happen. One gesture. One person. One moment in time grasped, or let slip.

my home for 3 months

Bridie and friends are fundraising for on Saturday 22nd April in the forest beside Rio Chico, Orgiva Andalucia.  11-5pm
A day of wonderful kiddies activities and taster sessions of many therapies.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Art of Allowing and Joan Eardley's art.

Feelings have power.

My life is very precarious this month.  So many uncertainties. It’s a challenge not to get unsettled by barking dogs during the night, and all the practicalities of where to move to in July.

So even though I’m deciding to depend on God/Goddess/All That Is, rather than just trusting ( big difference for me), difficult moments happen, and I find myself  lost, living in a kind movie I would never want to watch.  By this I mean the main character is reacting in a very ungracious  way.

So when this happened at the art group this morning, in the last half hour, I was deeply shocked with myself.  Wednesdays are the highlight of the week.  How could I spoil a Wednesday with a  huge, mood swing?

But we are never upset for the reason we think. Sometimes bubbles needed to burst. And it did.

So, I asked Google for suggestions for  ‘re-centring myself ! ‘ LOL!

The following, accompanied by wonderful birdsong from the garden , immediately popped up !!

Abraham Hicks says:

 ‘Develop faith that things always turn out okay.

Feelings have power.

Keep your eyes and heart focused on how you can add value to the world each day.

Practice the  Art of Allowing - meaning-

I am that which I am, and I am willing to allow all others to be that which they are.’

So if I want to add value to the world by creating beauty, and encouraging other artists in whatever way I can, then re discovering the paintings of Joan Eardley re set my inner compass - big time. They are so utterly authentic – to my artist eyes anyway.
Her work embodies wonderful drawing, and  a fabulous sense and use of colour.

Her work is about deep care for disadvantaged children, and  a profound love of the north east of Scotland, were I spent 30 years of my life.  Joan Eardly died aged 42 of breast cancer.  That’s where our biggest difference lies. I’ve been given a second opportunity.  What would she have done with hers, had she been so lucky?  

Cordelia Oliver ( a Scottish art critic), observed that, 'for her ( Joan Eardley) , a truly successful painting had to go deeper than a mere visual record, no matter how accurate... ‘her success lay in her ability to combine the acute, uncompromising painter's eye with a warm human sympathy and understanding.'

Only surviving drawing from this morning!   5 minute sketch.  I need longer !

And as soon as I decided to allow this morning’s feelings to pass, and looked at my drawings -most of which were heading for the trash can- then immersed myself in Joan Eardley world, something,  magical happened.

Thanks to Facebook chat box,  the  possibility of renting an artist’s house near Malaga for July and August pooped up:

'I’ve been seriously thinking about letting my house this summer' the friend said.
'Let’s talk about it, come and stay the night.'

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Depending versus trusting...

Today didn’t start well.  I had a sinking, heavy hearted feeling before I opened the shutters and soaked in the sunshine and the views of the Sierra Nevada mountains which tower behind my little orchard and the chicken run.
Erik  the rooster and the neighbours no brained dog had been awake since 3am. My inner world felt grey.  Nasty, raw, sludgy grey, the opposite of that gentle quiet clear shinning gratitude which often starts my day.

So what’s with this grey stuff ?

Well…what’s good about another major operation looming ( hip), then there’ll be an  eye operation (cataract) - how to arrange help – how to ask for help- where to live for the summer ? Then there’s all the legal red tape stuff with the lawyer and the new residencia card, and the driving licence.  And is my car begining to fall apart? No, no, no !! Please no.

And is the no-brained dog going to bark every night at And how often will the young neighbours have a  noisy party  staring at 1am?  This morning, these challenges (especially official things, loud music, and barking  dogs)  felt too much.

So after a quick medicinal  check via FB posts - where I looked for  inspiration and encouragement -  I got it.  Really bulls eye this morning! Thank you FB.

I need to start  depending on God again, rather than just trusting Him/Her/It – for everything.  I started a month ago, then stopped it seems. I need to practice this.  Like Spanish verbs, I won’t get better at it just looking at the book on the shelf.
So how to do this? How to kick start the new habit?

First  it seems, an insight is needed to change the chip. And this morning I got three, all via Facebook!   So the day became incredible, beautiful and poignant,  and included a village funeral  at 6pm. Joaquin who died was 86.  He is part of that generation who will soon no longer exist in Spain. A truly humble gentle country man, he is a part of Andalucian  history.

After the mass I received so much love from my friends and neighbour in Alcazar ( I no longer live there), I came away positively glowing. Surviving cancer is always very good news, isn’t it?

This morning I realised I’ve slipped backwards in depending on God. Even in trusting.  It’s  so easy to disappear into a chaotic emotional blur when there are too many ‘difficult’ things to sort out. But where to start the sorting?

Today, before breakfast, before making any lists at all,  it was a clever little 3 question video on Fb, then a David Whyte poem that did the trick..

The questions -  you have just died- answer the following:

What did you love about your life?
Do you have any regrets now that it’s over?
If you were given one more crack at life what would you do?

First question easy.  Second question a shock and a surprise.  Third question a surprise.

David Whyte philosopher and wonderful poet writes:

REGRET is a short, evocative and achingly beautiful word; an elegy to lost possibilities …. to admit regret is to understand we are fallible: that there are powers in the world beyond us: to admit regret is to lose control not only of a difficult past but of the very story we tell about our present….
sincere regret may in fact be a faculty for paying attention to the future, for sensing a new tide where we missed a previous one.
To regret fully is to appreciate how high the stakes are in even the average human life. Fully experienced, regret turns our eyes, attentive and alert to a future possibly lived better than our past.

I leave you with these three simple questions, and hope they give you the kind of insights that made my day today  not just manageable, but magical. 

And as I said in my last blog, Mary Oliver  recommends we - 'pay attention, be astonished (by life), and ( then) tell about it.’

That’s what I wanting to do.

Namaste to you all.

PS. I also found this David Whyte poem this morning - What to Remember When Waking -  here are a few lines from it:

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

Pic 1 - 5 thanks to Pinterest, the rest mine , with sincere thanks to Merxe for the unforgettable day at her grandmothers farmhouse learning how to make bread, and much more.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Two eggs a day.

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.  ~Mary Oliver.
I think this could be the subtitle for my blog! 

As an artist I often think the less words the better, because in so many ways, images speak louder than words.
But as an artist who loves to write, I need to play with words too... in order to.. as Mary Oliver says...

Be astonished, tell about it.

Sending love over the mountains from southern Spain.. May some of the images inspire you to be astonished, and to smile.

I am particularly astonished and delighted and grateful that  the two chickens I am now guardian to, are laying 2 eggs almost every  day.

Buenas noches queridos amigos. 
Os quiero mucho.

First six photos, thank you Pinterest, last four are mine.