God I feel good today. I feel awake and alive.
Slept in, got up, put my favourite t-shirt and raggy denim skirt and steelcap boots on, went to my favourite cafe, got two lattes to go, took them home and drank them one after the other. Sat on my green velvet couch, looked around me, saw quiet beauty everywhere.
Yesterday I had a long walk under whispering trees, excellent conversation, delicious kisses, then an evening laying with my dear old sighing dog watching Last Tango in Hallifax until midnight, crying occasionally because I missed Mum.
I'm seeing my wise friend for dinner tonight, and until then, for the rest of the day, I have the happy circumstance of being entirely in my own company. Bliss.
Contributing to the reasons I've got this good-day- feeling is the fact that I've had the luxury of a marvelously slow start to 2018.
Unusually for me, I didn't spend New Year's Eve & New Year's Day setting goals. Instead, I spent the entire day alone, took great pleasure in the solitude, let one day roll into the next with no real plan. I've realised goal-setting doesn't work for me. It's always been more like a stick to beat myself with, a measure for what I didn't get done. Screw that.
My son has been off having a great time with his father for the holidays, so I have had these last weeks off being a mum as well having time off from the making of artwork and a living. I've been able to relax properly. Time has stretched to my own schedule. I have eaten and slept and and cried for Mum and binge-watched tv as I've wanted to, without needing to have thought to anyone else's needs. The hours and days have felt like this liquid fluid thing playing to my tune instead of a hard and fast 9-5. It feels like a year since the first of January. There is something very special about once and while giving yourself permission to attend to your own self first and foremost. It brings you back to life in a way nothing else can.
The other day I listened to the marvelous Esther Perel on Debbie Millman's Design Matters podcast. Esther was talking of trauma, in this case of her parents and their friends who had survived Auschwitz. She said "there are two types of people; the people who did not die, and the people who came back to life. There is a world of difference between not being dead, and being alive."
Yes, I thought. YES. Aliveness.
I do believe I have decided that aliveness is my word for the year.
Here, my url-friends, are a few things that in the first few days of 2018, have made me feel aliveness.
And yes, I am aware that grammatically, that previous sentence sux.
Ain't it great to do what the fck you like with words.
What pleasure I take.
1. Walking a beautiful shoreline alone on a New Year's morning.
Taking a delicious dip, lying down in the shallows, feeling the water across my body. Not giving a flying fck about my hairstyle. Loving the feeling of sand gotten right in everywhere.
2. Recovering my workroom chair
Used my old dressing gown which has given me at least a decade of comfort, and upon which I had sewn the words chin-up which my mother always said to me. I made a photograph of those stitched words for the exhibition I made for my mother. Now I get to sit in this chair while I write, and have her words at my back. It's an appropriate place for them, since she's always had my back. That ain't changed even though she's gone. I miss her every day but you know what, it's okay to feel good again. To feel happy. She wants that for me.
3. Furry pink and delightful green against a wispy sky
Nah, I haven't been anywhere on my holiday, I've just been hanging out with myself at home. Ten doors down from me and look what I saw. It doesn't take any other resource except for your own self to feel a few seconds of pleasure right down deep in your bones. Breathing deeply and opening your eyes wide so you can see how beautiful this world is will usually do the trick.
4. A road-trip with my wise friend
Where we saw this girl jumping a chain fence into a rough ocean, with a seabird flying above. Then had lemon verbena tea at the home of a delightful woman I'd never met before and she gave me a green glass jar all the way from her home in Switzerland just because I told her it was beautiful.
5. 47 years old and standing in front of a mirror, looking at myself naked
And very much liking the body I see.
I love my hips especially. They are very wide, like my shoulders are. I always think I have a pacific-type body, rounded and well-shaped like those women Gaugin made all his paintings of, except I'm pale instead of brown.
For the last five years, I have paid increasing attention to my body. I have found joy in the sweat and grind of training, of truly being in my body for a few hours a week. I love feeling strong and fit. I love having muscles and being able to use them. I pay attention also to what I put in my body, and who I share it with. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Just like Aretha said.
The very best thing about my body though, well beyond its nice looks, is that for the first time in my life, my body truly feels like my own.
Those of you who have experienced your body being treated as if it is someone elses will understand what I mean.
The day I took this photograph, I looked at my scars and skin and breasts and legs and hands and face and felt quite fortunate and lucky, that I could stand there and bear to look.
I know so many women who hide from their own bodies, ashamed. Who have bought into the story that no body is good enough, especially not their own.
What I see these days when I look in the mirror is a responsive sensitive body which has given me such deep and precious pleasure. A body which has carried me through the deepest of grief, the blackest of days.
Over the years, this body of mine has experienced trauma no body should ever have to. On the other side of that mofo coin, I have cried many times at the joy my body has shown me. Light and shadow, mate. Light and shadow.
Like it says in this photo, it is beautiful here. Right here in my body. Right down deep.