Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Finishing up in Greece...for a little while

Having come to the end of my eight weeks in Kefalonia, and now returned to the UK and Mr Gorgeous, I have had time to reflect and ponder on the great, good and sad bits and what I am grateful for.

What I have heartbreaking in parts is leaving my delicious two year old grandson Spiro and my five month pregnant daughter. That's hard as a mum and grandma.  Also, leaving the utter peace and tranquillity of my surrounds in the mountains and on the edge of a very Greek village, where my days have taken on a natural rhythm, born of a bygone age, where one was guided by nature and the seasons.  I've relished the blissful sound of silence, the stillness of blue sky afternoon and the soft lapping of a clear blue sea, having the while pebble beach all to myself while more sensible locals enjoyed the shut eye of an afternoon siesta.  I am missing the slow lazy smile of delight and the sound of pleasure in my grandsons voice when he says Amar (his name for Grandma) in a deep growl which belies his young age. And I am also missing the evening ritual of waving to the three old folk who sit in the same place at the same time each evening in a very high mountain village and wave as I pass by shouting Yassou couklamoo, it makes me feel very loved and happy!  I shall miss the shouting, the wildness, the raw energy of the hard but real way of life which assaults all the senses ranging from the amazing highs when your soul is fed on smells, sights, sounds around every bend and the deep lows, of feeling isolated, lonely, unfriended at times and wondering what the hell is going on as every day brings a new drama.  And at home now, I am missing a dear friend Anne who makes me smile every time I am in her company.  She is very beautiful, down to earth and inspiring and I adore her.

I am however, deeply grateful to see Mr Gorgeous again and jump into bed each night to feel safe, secure and loved in his heartfelt embrace.  I am looking forward to seeing some of my lovely customers who buy my little artful treasures on Ely Craft and Collectible Market.
And I am really looking forward to seeing my lovely mum who has been very poorly in hospital, she is on the mend but we are very lucky she is still with us. It makes you realise how important our loved ones are.  I had a great conversation this morning with my best friend Aunt D who I love more than life itself and I am in deep gratitude that I was able to sit and natter with her for well over an hour in the comfort of my little dolls house barn in Burwell amongst the trees and in the fens.  I'm also looking forward to reconnecting with some of my very close friends who have always loved and supported me in whatever I have endeavoured to do, they are few but very precious and best of all I am so excited to be seeing my son Dan Canham's latest production which has had wonderful reviews and is a tender and soul reaching piece of musical dance theatre entitled Ours Was The Fen Country which by all accounts is really touching peoples souls.  He is a treasure and a delight and I am so looking forward to seeing that next week and him of course!

So all in all I am blessed and grateful to be so lucky to be able to live and work in both countries, the fantastic and amazing wild crazy island of Kefalonia and the slow fenland pace of Burwell with my little barn and the sounds of the fen swirling all around me.  Of course I make sacrifices in order to do this, and live extremely mindfully, carefully and artfully in order to have enough money for the bare basics sometimes.  I appreciate this would not be a way of living for everyone but it is for me, and with the small amount I earn from my artwork here in the UK and the small amount I earn from my Breathe In Space retreats in Kefalonia and (a few one offs here) I can manage to get to spend time in both places and enjoy the things that are really important to me. So I am managing just, to do what I love; making art, living some of the time on a Greek Island, meeting lovely people at the UK art and craft fairs whilst appreciating all that nature has to offer in the way of clear blue seas, black night skies, twinkling lantern stars, baby goats at my door and the deep rich soil of the fen as it whispers its stories for me to write my small stone poems and blog posts like this one.
Yes, both my spaces give me a place to breathe, time to reflect, a space to create and the chance to clear my mind of the inconsequential, the unimportant, the mundane and the no longer needed stuff to make room for the hopeful stuff, the mindful moments, the sparkly opportunities that wait in beckoning wings, the glittery moments and the happy dots that make up this feeling of wonderful abundance.  I have peace...I am lucky.  I am loved and bit by bit each day I know I am enough.  I have made friends with my imperfect bits, the saggy parts, the wrinkled places and I smile more these days, I belly laugh more, I giggle a lot.  I know what is important.  I am thankful for that knowledge.  I am on a journey of self healing, self love and making life as beautiful as I can for both me and all that step into my little sparkly circle of love and abundance.  What do you know now that you always did know but just didn't remember?  I'd be interested to hear from you :-) xx Big love and sparkles as always x

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Post Retreats!

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion."

[The Minotaur]” 
― Albert CamusThe Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

It's been great to get back to doing some writing and a little dabble with the paints and glitter again.
The lovely people who have been and gone over the past six weeks on their individual Breathe in Space Retreat have been delightful and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with them.  Cooking lovely meals has been a pleasure and showing them around this wild and wonderful island of Kefalonia has been magical.
(Tzanata where we have our retreat)
We've really had a mixed bunch of lovelies!  Some self guiders who just wanted rest and restoration and another lovely woman who wanted time out to take photos for a college course she was taking, whilst being nurtured and looked after.  We had a beautiful soul who was on a very personal journey which was both brave and incredibly difficult and a really intriguing lady who was here for some shamanic soul work, it was a joy to see her attune to the islands energy so quickly.  Not forgetting of course the gorgeous man who wanted a space to get off the fast food merry go round and reaquaint himself with his tastebuds for good fresh non processed food.  He also used the space beautifully to journal, mediate, immerse himself in nature, swim and even do a little artwork (Thank you for your lovely offering!)  You can read more on my website if you are interested in seeing what we've been up to.
It was at times hard work, both emotionally and physically and as ever with each and every guest, I always learn something, either what I need to know right now, something about myself or some other way to do something differently.  All in all it was just great having all of the very diverse people us our little home as their get away from it for a short while.  In one's and two;s the space worked well enough, the weather was incredibly kind to suit all comers, the birds chirped, the bee's buzzed, trees rustled with a warm summer breeze and the sea was just about warm enough for a fresh dip!   And the picnics we shared in special places were just delicious....we made medicine wheels on the beach, labyrinths in the sand, sang our way through the mountains, had an adventure or two, witnessed beautiful sunsets and listened to waves lapping gently against the shore as we ate out under a twinkling black sky.

Secrets were shared, wine was sipped, rune stones picked, numbers analyzed and cards read.  Laughter prevailed, giggles abound, some tears mopped lovingly up, snoozes in the hammock and mountain journeys back home by a huge yellow moon.  Lots of precious moments to recount and remember.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each and every kind sweet soul who put their faith and trust in a Kefalonia Island, a little house in the mountains and me....I like to think they went home rested, rejuiced, restored and very relaxed.

I am now enjoying a little art time, a little solitude,some extra special moments with my beautiful daughter and my too gorgeous for words grandson, before returning back to the UK to bring some new artful treasures to my patient customers. Not forgetting of course to be reunited with my most gorgeous Mr D whom I have missed in a way like never before.
I shall reconnect with this most magical, timeless place again in July for another month of 1:1 and 1/2 person retreats and a week of all or stand alone artful treasures workshops, including journaling, visionboarding, mixed media, intuitive art, heartful jewellery play glitter and some lovely lunches. 

This week is doing me good - I am restoring lots of little patches that need attention and am renewing my creative energy.

Sadly the Kefalonian weather is pants at the moment!

Just out of interest - what would you most benefit from if you were to come to Kefalonia for a Breathe in Space Retreat?

Answers on a postcard please...only joking the comments box on the blog will do nicely!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Breakfast in Kefalonia

Breathe In Space

I had breakfast this morning with a dragonfly hovering, some swallows swooping and the resident cats meowing.

There were a couple of butterflies playing in the gentle sunlight as the previous days warm sea mist cleared to unveil a clear blue sky and warm yellow sun.

A slow moving caterpillar moved along at a snails pace and the my skin welcomed the warmth of the gentle breeze as I listened to natures radio of chirps and chatter interceded by the occasional rumble of a passing truck.

All was well in my world as I welcomed the onset of a brand new day.

I am grateful.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It's been a while since I last blogged.  A long while actually.  What's that saying "Life is what happen's while we're busy making plans"?  A favourite quote of mine, and I forgot to remember to apply it to myself.  So what's been happening?  Everything and nothing really.  I've been busy busy busy with art making and selling which is lovely.  Eased up on the clothes selling but still have some sparkly dresses which I am keeping for a germ of an idea I have for my new ***Lovely Life*** more about that in a future blog and I made a BIG decision, finally for once and for all, to get fit and this little rant, blog, information piece is about how I got on last week at my first attempt at exercise for a very very long time!!!

Well, I took my tiny little pot of courage in both of my pudgy hands and went trotting off to the Zumba Gold class last Monday evening as part of my quest to make my dreams more real.  Putting my money where my mouth is came to mind.  How could I continue to coach, inspire, encourage and urge people to make their dreams more real if I was sitting on one of my own, squashing it literally, if I must be blunt.  A part of one of my tender little dreams (still in seed form) is to dance again.  Joyously, freely, beautifully, energetically and with gasping for breath.  I want to feel good about my body again and to work with it in tandem, kindly and with love.  So, last Monday was the day.  I joined Slimming World in the morning and was immediately welcomed by some really gorgeous people, men and women doing what I wanted to do.  They were on their way, I was just beginning.   (Again, my nasty little gremlin screamed at me when I first went in. I had to tell it to shut up, sit down and behave itself, it just wasn't needed.)  I do find Slimming Clubs hard.  My ego roars into play and seeks all kinds of reasons as to why I don't need it, don't want it, and it also produces comic material that would give Little Britain a run for its money.  I reined it in and eventually got out of my own way, which helped enormously with the duration of the class. A dear friend who is at target also arrived which gave me an extra dose of motivation.

My weight was as expected.  Fat.  Amazingly, this time it didn't send me into a spin, even though it's the heaviest I've ever been.  I could quite easily have gone into self hate mode and ended up at Laines Bakery chonking cream cakes, but I didn't.  A calm rational came over me, with a bit of self love chucked in, and a healthy dose of pragmatic thinking and I accepted it for what it was.  I also made up a little mantra ' If you keep taking small gently steps in the direction of your dreams, you will never feel this shit again'. It helped.

Round Two.  Monday evening.

Took myself off to Zumba Gold with another wobbly warrior.  We met at 6 and we both had the look of the
 truly terrified on our faces.  My courage faltered.  I don't think I can do this, I whispered to my friend.  I don't know who pushed who up the corridor but before we knew it, we were in the room, along with three other women who, holy crap, were THIN. They looked fit already.  Surely they were in the wrong class.  This was the class for overweight, knackered old birds who needed seriously slow dance moves.  My nerves kicked in and I became Dawn French's twin sister.  My friend was Jennifer Saunders and I seriously felt myself getting out of control.  The women were lovely, kind, compassionate and lovely.  The teacher walked in and the class just got worse.  Her look at me said it all.  It didn't help that she was the most springy moving woman I had ever met.  It made matters worse that she gave thin a whole new meaning and when she spoke, I felt sure she had elocution lessons from the Hitler Finishing School of Control and Charm.  

There I was trying my hardest to remain upright, seconds from collapse, gasping for breath and trying to appear completely normal, as well as trying to make my feet, body and arms match her super springy latin american moves, when I hear the roar. "You must not dance in bare feet"  Was that meant for me?  Oh god, shame, it was.  "You must wear something on ze feet next week" crackled out around the hall.  Shit, next week?  At this rate I was going to make the next day.....

From there on in, it all went down hill.  I think I was just all too much for her.  From my wobbling parts, to the pink flower headband, worn especially for courage, to the defiant look in my eye.  She glazed past me every time to rest on my dear friend, who recovering from two major surgeries, had opted for a chair.  ( I wish I had)  Fantastic, very good, brilliant, she enthused to my lovely friend.  Pan right, glaze past me again, good, great, vunderbar, to the thinnies on the right, they looked pityingly at me feeling my pain. This continued for the whole class.  I wanted to cry.  I was 8 years old again, out of favour with the teacher.  The council house kid in the school for fee paying pupils.  (My mum and dad bless them got me in by cleaning and building for the convent in return for my free place)  Blimey, how deep does this stuff go?

I got through it.  Being of a generous nature and trying to ingratiate myself with said teacher, I went to thank her for the class.  My friend seemed to be bringing her round a bit, so I hung around on the edge.  "Did you enjoy the class?" she said (her tone was definitely unkindly) I explained I had but was a bit peed off with myself that I had managed to get this unfit.   "You can't expect to get fit in one class" fired back the reply, actually going up an octave.  Ouch.   My already battered and wounded little child just crumpled.   I may be fat it doesn't mean I am stupid.  I knew that.  I just wanted a bit of encouragement.  Oh bum I am a needy weakling who still wants the teachers approval....I legged it as best as a woman in need of oxygen could leg it right out of the class and gave vent in the corridor to all my inner child feelings.  I swore, stomped and ranted much to the dismay of my dear friend, who let me sit in her car until my tantrum was over.  I was astounded by how much I still had buried inside.  I felt quite amazed by how quickly I had been transported back through time to a place where I had felt unsafe, scared and frightened.

What I also realised is how vulnerable big, overweight and large people feel.  We put a good mask on it.  I'm talking about  'The Look' one large woman gives another big woman.  It speaks of that split second judgement about size, shape and confidence. ....Is she bigger than me, are her legs fatter than mine, does she feel more confident than me.  We measure ourselves against similar shapes, our fragile self esteem searching for signs that will make us feel better or temporarily ok about our size. These would be the 'she has larger hips than me so I am OK' type of signals.  Even when we are vivacious, funny, outwardly extrovert, there is often a scared, nervous, vulnerable creature inside, not wanting to be seen.

We put on our capable confident masks of the adult we have become but retain the younger childlike insecurities, that are always threatening to make their way to the surface.  Is it any wonder that we stuff these feeling down to keep them buried, hidden and away from prying eyes that could pass judgement on them without compassion.  Without helpful empathy and support to help us examine these uncomfortable feelings that keep us prisoners in our castle of fat.  Of course, I've know all this a long time.  Knowing and letting it out are two different things.  Sometimes the stuff we need to look at is forced out ~ so we have to examine that what we have been avoiding.   So I guess it was my time to look at my stuff...again.  Not just look at it this time, but actually see what still serves me, see what I can bravely let go of.  Look at those labels that we get given as children and being to prise them off.  And that's what I've been doing this week.  Gently, kindly, in a small way.  Using the tools I use to teach I have been giving myself my own lessons to work through.

I don't expect everyone to understand my thoughts on this weeks events.  It can be intricate living as a fat person.  It's very easy to say the mantra Eat Less Exercise's true but it's black and white.  What that reasoning forgets is the huge grey area in the middle which are the emotions, the stuff our brains have logged over the years, the triggers that send us into spirals, the stuff we sometimes are not even aware of.  It's on a sub-concious level, super-fast thoughts, feelings actions.  I've done so much work with this stuff and still forget to remember.

If everyone did what they were 'supposed' to do, there would be no addictions, no problems, no issues and we would all be living in tralee lalee la land.  I'm not making excuses for me being fat, or fat people in general.  What I do say is hold your judgement.  Be a bit compassionate.  Ask what you can do to help if anything.    Read Dr Robert Maurer's Kaizen one small step can change your life.  He is a psychologist who has made success and failure his life's work, and covers weight and the reasons we don't lose it in much more depth and far more eloquently than I ever could. (I did part of my Kaizen Muse Training with him in America and Jill Badonsky Coach Founder)

So will I return?  Yes.  Will I go easy on myself?  Yes.  Will I remember to nurture that little girl inside who still needs some unconditional love and guidance? Yes....and will I continue to move quietly, softly and gently in the direction of my dreams?  Of course I will, life is rich, it asks us to be brave, take heart and keep going.  I intend to take a slice of my own (low fat!) pie and do what I have to do.  Safe in the knowledge that I am loved, I am good enough and I have good people around me...urging me on, willing me to do well, encouraging me and holding me safe because they love me.  Angels included.    I am restoring my already wonderful self.  I am recovering my secretly buried dreams and I am renewing all that is good in my world.  What will you do this week to restore and renew?