Dabbling in Crush-ville

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a drawing class. It’s something I’ve been wanting to try for years, basically ever since I had to choose between art and music at school aged 15 (due to timetabling reasons) and chose music. I’ve always suspected I’d love drawing and would relish the opportunity to have a proper go. I’ve modelled for countless artists over the last decade but have been keen to try my hand at the other side, and signed up to the mailing list of a local artist, planning to go when my diary aligned with his class, which happened a couple of weeks ago.

When I pulled up outside the artist’s studio for the group class and the door opened for me, I was startled by the artist who welcomed me in… He was utterly dreamy, twinkly and greeted me with what felt like possible excitement. The class was really fun. I was terrible at rendering the model’s portrait at first but got gradually better under his tuition; I managed not to faint at his biceps when he stood close to demonstrate (who knew artists had biceps?) and listened, rapt, to his not-from-round-here accent. We made shy conversation (well, he was fine, in his element, telling me about measurements and how to line things up on paper; I was shy, obedient, enthusiastic). The small class was mostly conducted in silence (pity the model who later told me he passed the time by counting) and so all flirting had to be minimal and understated; touching knees as he showed me what he would do differently, small questions about my week/life/interests, a slight bit of flusterment on his part when I asked about the paintings of his that lined the walls. Continue reading

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I promise I’m not high…

… But every now and then I enter, as though through some magnificent mind-portal, a realm of absolute wonder. That is, I walk around the place with a small, dippy grin in a dream-like state (though I suspect I am in these moments more awake than ever), in absolute amazement of the minutae of the world around me. Sometimes this happens after meditation (or, as I call it ‘mediprayer’, which sounds, fittingly, somewhat medical and if you ask me to explain what I do it will take ages and probably involve waffling anecdotes about decisive inner voices, feathers & moving jewellery) or just a really good writing sesh. The feeling of abundance is overwhelming and difficult to properly integrate; it’s a state so enormous it makes me laugh, and makes me feel so hilariously insignificant at the same time as (crucially) very loved/cared for.

The things I appreciate are often other people’s inventions, and those things (which are often everything) that make me feel particularly supported, lucky or abundant as a recipient, in unrestrained awe of everyone else around me or who has come before me.

Some examples of things I find particularly wonderful, now and then: Continue reading

Sacred 21

The notion of ‘self care’ is a booming, insta-worthy buzzword, and with great reason, even if it does reek of psychobabble; we all need to do more of it. It’s occurred to me on multiple occasions recently that the act of living alone soon becomes (wittingly or unwittingly, by choice or not) a grand exercise in self care. Every moment is a chance to either do it, and therefore benefit, or forget to, and therefore falter. I think of it as self management; little instances (first conscious, then automatic) during which one part of the self takes charge of the rest, to the end of higher degrees of sanity, happiness and security. When you physically live alone, it really is ‘me, myself and I’; you are both the mother and the child, and I suppose the bins aren’t going to take themselves out.

What self care really means, in no particular order: Continue reading

Orienteering: the bodies we take around with us

I recently did an online 5-min meditation (through a yoga site I’m a member of) which had me visualising a tiny, personal sun above my head, full of pure, liquid golden light, able to be accessed at any moment. I was told to visualise scooping from this sun the warm balm of radiant love and smearing it over the parts of my body that needed it (reader: I did this literally, not just in my mind; so glad no one was watching), and allow it to cool and harden as armour and protection. This isn’t the first time I’ve been hit over the head with an image of the sun being a ball of love; I once received a clear, booming message during a meditation, a few years ago: ‘when you feel the sun on your skin, picture it as my love sinking in’, which I then made into a painting so I could harden it into liquid (/paint) concrete (/paper) and keep it as a reminder.

The other day, a friend told me he was learning to walk again and mentioned the north star. The north star, I’m sure Galileo would agree, is the centre of all things, and so it seems quite silly to me to realise that I actually don’t know how to find it. Something about a belt, a pan and a certain level of brightness. I own several belts, but can’t remember the last time I wore one, I cook in pans daily and although recently described as ‘the most intelligent airhead I’ve ever met’ think I’m sort of bright-ish, so what’s going on here?

I am in the mood to do an overhaul of my north star, once I’ve located it. He and my personal sun need to have a meeting, the agenda of which might be significantly influenced by the concept of the Life Book (which has people reimagining their lives holistically, by getting down to the nitty gritty of 12 identified areas – health/fitness, family, character, intellectual, love/relationships… etc.) and which will certainly involve a degree of book-closing and book openings (some quite literal; for one thing I want to read Tristan Gooley’s Wild Signs & Star Paths, which apparently will have me able to notice telling signs in nature and orientate myself within the outdoor world with much more success than ever before). And the north star has stuff to say. It seems to make its presence known in a blinking fashion during heartache, or perhaps in the days/weeks pre-empting it; then it appears confused and faded, or twinkling mysteriously, perhaps in all manner of bright colours (like outdoor Christmas lights; though not the awful electric blue ones, which to my mind should be illegal) such that you are not really sure whether you’re in the right place at all, and if the person you are (or considering being) semi-infatuated with is in fact a terrible match for you despite some utterly wonderful qualities, and merely struck by the idea of you, perhaps because you seem to carry a small sun around above your head.

Afterwards, the north star coughs a little and is luculent again, dreamily constant, as though it’s been there all along (which it has) and merely been masked by some passing, diaphanous clouds that seemed to make it appear somehow altered (maybe even blue). Although appalled that you accepted less than you deserved, or that you faltered, that you got things quite wrong, it is too busy being utterly sure of itself to bother to be angry; it just shines on. It is ready to reorient whenever you are, emitting truth graspable by the naked eye. It applauds the fact that you were open, without particularly looking at you, and forges boldly on, being entirely stuck to the correct degree. A north star, even if not infinite, is patience, certainty, strength in reserve, and wherever it is, I am probably always walking underneath it.

 

Mixed materials

  1. I love it when a song comes on and my brain is AWOL enough in that moment for me to know I recognise it but not remember who the singer is or what they look like or when it was written or what it’s particularly about. It feels like a fleeting, second chance to see if I really like or dislike the music, with any possible preconceptions disappeared, and I enjoy it and I always hope to string out my not-knowing for as long as possible (always an image of the singer drops back into my mind, like a dream you try to remember by not looking directly for it, which then emerges as a surprise). Effectively, it’s an abrupt little test of my own tastes – the freedom of no context. Does anyone else experience this? It’s a bit like those occasional moments when I see a photograph of myself that I’ve modelled for and for a moment (somehow) don’t register that I am the subject, and so am completely free to see the subject (/myself) as another might, or without any attachment (I am often kinder to myself in these circumstances; more generous and open; perhaps modelling over the years has been a discipline simply in seeing what others see).
  2. Twice today my own reflection in a hotel bathroom in peripheral vision (the mirror is to the side of the entrance) has made me jump. I am wearing an embroidered, red, tie-dyed dress today, so am buoyantly alarming.
  3. Amusingly, a link to an article came in an email newsletter I looked at today: 18 Signs you have a poorly developed sense of self (+ what to do). It’s a gruelling list, and ‘scattered priorities’ is in there. Humph. If I’ve got a poorly developed sense of self (but developed enough to know it should be hyphenated), I’m open to that new identification (and I say this as someone who only wore one contact lens for a short period this morning, so don’t say I’m not open to new ways of seeing myself) but surely it’s only true to the extent that I acknowledge I have five million versions of myself. Enough selves, in fact, to have just re-read the article and realised my sense of self is actually pretty well developed. I’m still deciding which version of my self to employ in order to ascertain whether or not I think this is a good thing.
  4. A list I wrote on my phone here in Bangkok of possible materials for my latest idea (I’m going to create paintings with words from my own poems, paint images & compose objects; these mixed-media pieces are the absolute epitome of notes to self, and it’s been a while since I last did it):
    String
    Wool
    Crocheted pieces
    Broken jewellery parts
    Beads
    Buttons
    Paperclips, drawing pins
    My hair
    Coins/Currency/notes
    Ink
    Leaves/flowers?
    grains
    Letters/notes to self
    Metallic pen
    Ribbons
    Silver foil
    Bells
    Wire
    Washers/nuts/bolts
    Lace
    Shells
    Stamps
    Cut out words/pictures from newspaper/magazines
  5. I’m about to fly back in time, travelling from south east Asia tomorrow afternoon for an elephantine weight of hours, and arrive in the UK on the same day as though absolutely nothing is unusual here at all nothing to see what could be more normal. I still don’t know how planes stay up, though was once sent this diagram:

plane

The thing in the tree

‘Bon Bon,’ says my 4-year-old nephew, holding a plastic retractable dagger with a pirate ship depicted on the handle in one hand, and a red empty plastic saucepan in the other. It’s Sunday evening at my parents’ house and he is full of boiled potatoes and ice cream.┬áHe is about to start school next week.

‘Yes, Phin?’

‘Do you remember that time we made soup and we looked under the table?’

I have no idea what he’s talking about, though it’s true he’s made me soup of various kinds over the last couple of years (carrot and lemon, strawberry and apple, potato and orange; educational fruit shapes I make him pretend to cook for me, though he is still hazy on the difference between a lemon and a lime). ‘What were we looking under the table for?’

‘I made soup and we were looking for Tushka.’ Continue reading

The stripy moon

One of the things I’m most proud of (other than my new excitement about running, which is something I never thought I’d enjoy, much preferring always dance as exercise, but suddenly find exhilarating – I am obsessed already – and that my aching, transforming body is as sensual as the feeling of my hair growing so long now that it tickles the backs of my elbows as I walk) is my ability to operate on blind faith. I don’t even know if ‘blind’ is the right word; if it’s about seeing versus unseeing, or seeing versus non-seeing, then any blindness is contingent and deliberate. It’s more about knowing, anyway, perhaps. Knowing is stronger than belief. I spent a whole term writing essays in epistemological philosophy, once, but the previous sentence was the crux of it (I think). I know that working on knowing is one of the bravest and most essential thing one can do, when so much is in contrast with what appears around us, and patience goes hand in hand, and I think it takes a sort of training (but the sort of training that can become complete just as easily in the blink of a seeing eye as it can by mantra/affirmations/sitting/self-convincing/listing/ritualising).

One silly example: I booked a holiday to a Greek island the other day because I knew I needed to go, and I knew a recent foray into sadness needed some respite and a clash of something nonsensically right. I can’t (if you consider my bank balance as evidence) afford to go. I can (if you consider my absolute intention to make this work mixed with my denial of current facts) afford to go, however. Continue reading