August 1st, 2015

My cat died today. My little Star, comfort and companion these last twelve years. She’d been staying outside in the sunshine but today it was raining and I had her inside. She’s been fading over these last few months but still happy enough. Today I could see she was suffering so I phoned the vet and our appointment was at 5 pm and ten minutes later she was gone. I can’t say I didn’t know she was on the way out and this day would come. But I wish, I will always wish, I’d understood that it takes seconds for a cat to die when the anaesthetic is injected as I feel like I didn’t say goodbye properly. The move from ‘She’s clearly in pain’ to ‘The kindest thing is to put her down now’ was too sudden for me to take it in.

I didn’t understand the bond it is possible to have with another animal, interspecies love if you like, before Star taught me, through the intensity of her attachment, that she loved me. It was that fact that blew me away. For a human to be fond of an animal was one thing, I had no idea how capable of love an animal can be. One of the problems with having a job that wasn’t local was how much she missed me. I’ve heard how she cried when she thought I was gone and how she purred when she discovered I was around. (I had to go through this sentence changing the tense from present to past.) Sometimes when I was writing in the mornings she would put her head on my wrist and press down to force me to stop and pay attention to her.

I am trying to remember when I first met her – 2000 I think, when she was someone else’s cat. She wasn’t then the world’s most engaging cat. She drooled constantly and was jumpy and nervous. She came to live with us in 2003. It took a long, long time for her to trust, two years before she ever curled up on my lap – the very first time was while I was meditating. She had a particularly blissed out look when she was being petted sometimes, a smile of pure pleasure was what it looked like.

Her character changed a lot from those early scaredy cat days when she wouldn’t go into the garden unless I was with her. She became opinionated, ready to argue the toss. Her meow of indignation was hilarious. She got cross with me when it was raining, backing into the kitchen from the door and giving me a very dirty look, protesting as if I could do something about it. Who knows what goes on in their little heads but there were times when it seemed like she understood exactly what I was saying and had plenty to say in response.

It’s weird being alone in the house. I’m expecting her to get under my feet as I walk around or to find her curled up somewhere. Cats are supposed to be independent, free spirits but nobody told Star that. Over the years of ill health, it made such a difference all those weird woozy lost days to have this sweet little Being beside me purring. When I was recovering from the operations, she didn’t ‘fuss me’ looking to be petted but sat quietly on top of me with a deliberate intensity and, say what you like, I found it healing to have her love focused so.

Yeap, Star was in my world for a long time and I’ll miss her. Her passing is the end of an era, of a chapter of my life.

It’s Lughnasadh and for any of you for whom that word has meaning, I wish you a happy Lughnasadh. It is the pagan time of harvest, of celebrating all that the cycle of seasons has brought to fruition. It is usually a time of connection, a time when I am enjoying the company of others. This year I am about as isolated as it is possible to be, house sitting for friends in a place where I know no-one. There are two cats here, one about as disdainful and disinterested as a cat could be, whereas the smaller and younger one grows more friendly and affectionate the longer I’m here. I was finding it so difficult to be at home without the familiar presence of Star that it is perfect to be here with the company of Ferne, the little cat that must be about twice the size Star was.

Star’s death changes things. I am free now. Free to move on to whatever comes next, free to find my way forward. I was blessed to have her all these years but her departure is timely as I need to sell this house and it will be such a relief to be released from the debt that’s been accumulating over these months of recovery. I never did have an assessment for ESA. If I had, I’d have been £30 a week better off (approximately). It is another example of the meanness of this government that the chronic underfunding of the Welfare System means that thousands of people never get the money that even the government says they are entitled to.

I am still working out what my options are and trusting that I will work out how to get from here, a place that feels so uncertain, so confusing and unclear to a life that reflects what matters to me. What’s the relationship between this and the fact that I am now sleeping for far longer than I’m used to? The inability to sleep properly was a major contributing factor to the breakdown. What does it portend that I am now sleeping for nine hours a night and then for an hour or so in the afternoon? I reckon sleeping until I wake up naturally is one of the great luxuries, the outstanding benefits of being in this peculiar limbo, this odd state between one life and the next. For months I have been forcing myself to exercise every day. Since I landed here, I’ve temporarily given up on all of it and sat around thinking, writing, meditating. The oddest thing about this house is that it is full of books and all of them are non-fiction and non-literary. If I’d realised this I reckon I’d have brought some poetry books with me at least.

I am in a very different place now to the one where I wept at the drop of a hat. Yes, I am sad that Star’s gone but it just means I don’t want to be in the house where I’m so used to her being around. Writing for ‘Transformations’ and reading the article Andrew posted about depression and debt has helped me put things in a different perspective. Not my fault that the way the job was set up leads to so much stress-related illness. Not my fault that the system is set up so anyone who becomes ill also ends up in debt. I am very fortunate that I have a way to get out of debt, that I have a home to sell. And beyond that, I am fortunate that I have skills and experience that, even if I can’t see how right now, will enable me to make a living in the long run.

I feel even more like I’m in a cocoon here where I am temporarily free from ‘I’ve got to….’ I’m home in a couple of days and I hope that all this lazing around means I return with renewed energy to the things that need to be done.

Buddhafield Encounters

July 24th, 2015

Home from Buddhafield. 78 emails in my inbox. I am shattered. I want to stay positive in the exhaustion of today. I want to surf the wave of positivity from the last five days for as long as I can. For someone as withdrawn from the world usually as I am to have more conversations in a day than I can count is a powerful experience. It would be best if I could sleep but there’s too much going on in the assimilation of all these encounters for me to be able to sleep so I’m ‘downloading’ so I can come to a place of rest.

At the end of the 4th Work that Re-connects session Debbie and I ran, she said ‘You’re back’. I know what she means and part of that is that suddenly all the possibilities look like opportunities rather than threats. Right now I’ve no idea what I’m going to do, I’m just gathering up my options. I still think that the financial consequences of being too ill to work in this country are horrific. When someone who has been paying national insurance contributions for long enough becomes ill they get ‘contributions-based’ Employment and Support Allowance which means that if they’ve a mortgage, they are not entitled to any help to keep a roof over their heads. I am going to lose my home as a result. In my case that’s okay because I have so many options available to me, so much love and support around me, but for lots of families, it is a disaster.

At Buddhafield I met Caroline Brazier whom I know (slightly) from the PCSR online debates and from the Eco-psychology Conference a few years ago. She’s a Buddhist writer and psychotherapist who runs various training courses in the counselling field. We’d a brief conversation on Friday and when I walked away I felt a bit stunned. She had just offered me exactly what I want right now. I’m still reeling from the sense of it being miraculous. She’d like me to come and do some Work that Re-connects CPD for therapists in the training centre she runs. I don’t have to do ANY of the stuff I hate – sorting venue, advertising, networking, the blowing of trumpets. It has always really wound me up just how many hours the toing and froing of setting up a course or workshop absorbs. I loved working for the Extra-Mural Department in the University of Ulster. Once the blurb was in the brochure, it either attracted enough people or it didn’t and I’d so much fun running those courses I designed myself. I’ve a lot of nostalgia for all the work that simply got handed to me on a platter when I lived in Derry, the phone calls out of the blue offering me training work and inviting me to name my price. I was a bit clueless on realistically pricing my planning time but there’s nothing more fun than ‘bespoke’ training for someone who loves making up experiential exercises as much as I do. So this is my dream scenario, to do what I love and none of the stuff I don’t.

And then she said that they have a writing retreat and I could stay there to write. Now that is something else altogether. Caroline’s written loads of books. She makes it look easy. She gave me one of her books ‘The Other Buddhism’. It’s about ‘Pureland Buddhism’. I’d never heard of it before. I reckon if I was to be a Buddhist then this’d be the version I’d buy into but I rather suspect that I will continue with my own peculiar strand of Pagan/Christian/Buddhist practices and beliefs. Nothing set in stone as yet but the prospect lifted my mood significantly.

I am pleased with how I paced myself over the time of the festival. I spent a lot of time resting and limited myself to a workshop a day. I went to Cathy Whitefield’s Conscious Dying talk about Patrick’s last nine months. I will always be grateful for the precious hours I got to spend with Patrick over those months. I knew him through the Stop Hinkley C campaigning and involvement in various Transition Town projects and events over a number of years. He was a true gentleman Patrick. I miss him. I miss the support he gave me, how he believed in and encouraged me.

Cathy I didn’t know really because, for health reasons, she spends her winters in Spain and the second she reappeared, the only glimpses I’d get of Patrick was him glowing by her side at festivals. Cathy shared her poetry, photographs and memories of Patrick, talking truthfully and openly about the details of his final journey from terminal diagnosis to death and how she supported him to die at home. I am in awe of her. It’s only 5 months since she lost the love of her life and here she is offering her experience to others to help them with the challenging experience of supporting a dying loved one. It was obvious that Patrick loved his wife very much. Now I can see why.

But perhaps the most significant encounter of the last five days was with another boarding school survivor who shared her experiences and the therapy that she’s going through with a therapist who specialises specifically in working with those who’ve been boarders. In coping with the PWP role it was unhelpful that the situation ‘triggered’ me, reawakening the misery I experienced going to boarding school when I was eleven. I’d read too many Enid Blyton books and I wanted to go to boarding school. When I got the job as a trainee PWP, I was delighted. Both situations differed significantly from my expectations and, in both, being dyslexic was a contributing factor in how the challenges overwhelmed me. But I was bullied at school and my colleagues at work couldn’t have been lovelier.

We talked about our survival strategies. Hers was to be always bubbly and light, to fit in, mine was to bury my head in a book and say ‘Fuck off’ to anyone who disturbed me. Because I spent so much of my early years outside, incarceration and the enforced collectivism, constantly in the presence of others who were sometimes hostile and generally uncaring, had a huge impact on me. I responded by building an effective barrier between myself and others. The legacy of my initiation into boarding school life is the split between ‘me in here’ and ‘me as presented to the world’ my need to always be fine, to be smiling, to appear competent, strong, invulnerable.

It’s been a gift in this recent breakdown to breakthrough, using this blog to explore the relationship between these two aspects of myself and all the support I’ve had in doing so. The person the world sees is no longer so intent on ensuring ‘me in here’ is kept hidden. They are not in conflict as they used to be. I suspect I will always prefer the competent self and be happier working from my strengths but the truth is the poetry that so many people said they loved this weekend (Debbie encouraged me to share poems as part of the workshops we ran) comes from the vulnerable ‘me in here’. ‘Weep and Pray’ is the poem I wrote during months when I did feel ‘useless, pathetic, stupid’, floored as I was by CFS and I have lost count of how many of those who heard it said how deeply it touched them. They make me want to write more and to share more of what I’ve written.

I wish I’d managed to post this before the Buddhafield bubble burst. I’ve been pretty much wiped out for the last week and there is definitely a sense of evaporating energy and optimism, not least because it turns out that the weekend that I was to work for the Tariki Trust clashes with a prior AVP commitment.

It’s great to have options but decision-making is difficult. I don’t always find it difficult but I’m about as dithery now as I ever get. And this lack of clarity leads to a lack of motivation. I’m tired but I can’t work out to what extent the lethargy is because I am aimless and confused rather than due to physical limitations. How do other people do it? Find ‘get up and go’ when it feels like it has got up and gone? It’s raining now and I didn’t manage to mow the lawn with the lawn mower I borrowed and have to give back this weekend. I could now list all the other things I’ve not done but I’m resisting that road because if I’ve learnt anything it is how unhelpful my habit of attacking myself is and that’s where it leads.

This too shall pass. I’m up and down like a yo-yo these days and the one thing that is guaranteed in life is change. I’ll blog again when I find something worth saying. Go well, one and all.

Slow Poet

July 12th, 2015

Sunday Morning 12/7/15

I’m out of sync, circadian rhythms all out of kilter. It does strange things to my thinking when I am awake at 3 in the morning and asleep at 3 in the afternoon. Yesterday was a non-day. I was supposed to go to see some of the great bands who played at Priddy Folk Festival but never made it. No promise of good music was enough to overcome my anticipation of the misery of walking round a field either in the isolation of knowing no-one, or going through the horrors of trying to negotiate conversation.

I’m glad I’ve spoken with all those people who shrink their worlds because they can’t face others as themselves so I know I’m not alone in tying myself in these knots. I find myself thinking of them, looking at the burning candle and sending them love on the airwaves. I’m aware of how utterly useless these people found the help we had to offer. It’s not that the analysis of what’s happening isn’t accurate and the advice to challenge the unhelpful thinking and ‘just do it’ to discover it isn’t as bad as anticipated isn’t valid, it’s what happens when all that isn’t enough to get us out the door. Having one of those days myself, I pray that they found someone to help them find a happier place than where I left them.

Friday night, Jo and I did our poetry dialogue. The event wasn’t in the program so the only people there were the other performers – Deborah Harvey and the Fountain Poets. The Word Tent was next to another venue with an acapella group with enthusiastic audience making it difficult to hear anything. A small but exceptionally attentive audience, and I felt that Jo and I managed fine. There is no better audience than other poets.

And still it hurt. When I speak my words, it is an act of trust that extends beyond my faith in the world. When I say ‘Mother Love’ it is the distillation of my experience of the relationship between my mother and myself, the realisation of love between us after her death, the grief that she died too young for resolution, the acknowledgement that all I have left is my mother as she is expressed in my being in this world. Do I think people get that? It is the ultimate in a failed communication but it’s the best I can manage.

Mother Love

I say I do not remember you
cradling me in your arms
yet holding my child
I hear you in my voice
and know that I knew
before words formed Universe
the inchoate power
of Mother Love.

Painfully I recall the words
that separated us.
Would that we had spoken
words enough for understanding
rather than let hurt silence us
but so each generation finds itself
adult through argument.

Now, child in arms
cradling and crooning
knowing Mother
as first I knew you
the whisper of love
I carry in my bones
births Mother in me
and sings in your voice.

Or, even worse, when I say

‘From the void beyond all voids unfolding
the cross of matter demands
a relationship with the circle of spirit

and you may as well sing your grief as cry it.’

does anyone have a clue what I’m on about? And even if they could, what chance is there that anything much is conveyed in the context of all the noise from the venue next to us? I feel like I have cut myself open to reveal my innermost self and for what? And so much of what I’m saying is no longer true – like in the opening poem ‘Religion’ there’s a bit about ‘burning passionate’. I do not burn passionate anymore about anything. Maybe that’s because I’ve lost this religion too because when I spoke with the young anthropology student that’s how it seemed to me. I was a believer and now I’m not.

But I still pick an angel card every day and if it’s a tough day, I’ll pick more. Today’s angel is ‘Creativity’. And so I begin my day by writing this. You are so precious to me and your comments keep me going. All I need to know is that someone finds this helpful for me to keep journeying, to go on sharing the road with you, and most importantly of all, keep faith with the future that is calling me forward.

Reading the paper Andrew posted on the PCSR ning on debt and mental health was hugely helpful. As he says in the introduction to the paper

‘Depression is not, in itself, all bad. It is horrid whilst one is in it, but we know from therapy that a depression often works like a damming up of creative energy, and in time, new ideas and solutions appear.’
Andrew Samuels p 11 of Davis, Montgomerie and Wallin 2015

If this is one of my lifelines, the PCSR (psychologists and counsellors for social responsibility) is another. This is the only source of academic writing I have right now and it’s like having someone pick through the dross and hand on the gems. I didn’t realise the extent to which I lost faith in the existence of sound scholarship doing the training to become a PWP. I had to read my way through so much rubbish and my one attempt to explain to those around me exactly why the research on which the entire IAPT programme was rolled out was flawed, failed miserably. It was beyond me to hold to my position as the one person in the entirety of the world I was in who could see through the lies on which current NHS mental health provision is based. But the material that’s coming my way now, with no effort on my part, is of a higher calibre entirely.

I find it kinda scary that all those people who put together the PWP role, who believe in the effectiveness of ‘low intensity’ treatments based on the numbers game they choose to play, are acting in good faith. I know all my colleagues were. And more than that, they manage to do amazing work, the good old-fashioned caring kind, underneath the fallacy that it’s the ‘evidence-based treatments’ that do the job.

I am starting to discover shape that grows out of my essential nature. I am a writer. I may never be what my ambition calls me to in terms of communicating with others but, good, bad or indifferent, it is inevitable that I will continue to write as long as I have left. I am deeply grateful to Jo for asking me to perform with her at Priddy. She opened the door to poetry for me. Yesterday, in my non-day, I picked up a book of poetry that Speaking Tree refused to buy and read such wonderful poems I can only rejoice that they didn’t want it. I would be happy to produce more poetry but a poem can take years to grow right. I first wrote ‘Mother Love’ when my daughter was a new-born infant, with the most intense stare, who would stop crying when I sang to her. I reworked it a few years later and plucked up the courage to give it to my father who amazed me by loving it. Over time since it has shed some words. It can take years for a poem to settle into itself. Slow poetry it’s called. I’m a slow poet. It’ll do for starters.

The First Soul Circle

July 7th, 2015

What I should be doing right now is producing draft plans for the workshops for Buddhafield in a couple of weeks so that Debbie and I can finalise the plans when we talk on Friday. I’ve been awake since 4 a.m. Or rather I gave up on sleep at 4.

Yesterday I was interviewed by an anthropology student from Durham University studying the relationship between Wiccan/Pagan beliefs and the practice of healing. I find such interviews (and it’s not my first) interesting because I only learn what I think now when someone asks me. This young woman asked interesting, intelligent questions. I become aware of the relationship between experience and beliefs, of how one step on the road led to the next. I’m sharing my map of the world, how I make sense of things. I recall magic nights when ‘Keeping the Moons’ I’d cast circles in special places and my daughter and I would dance and sing to the sacredness of all things. She was brought up in a religion that was fun. Now I live in the largest pagan community in Britain and I don’t feel to sing to the land here. I’ve a poem I’m doing at Priddy Folk Fair that is about my need to connect with the land, to experience Magic as I have before, as I did last week in Wales.

I talked about how what in Western Medicine is seen as an inconvenient contaminant of ‘double blind’ experiments and called ‘the placebo effect’, is in reality our innate ability to heal ourselves and what witches as healers are seeking to support and enhance in working with people. And I talked about experience that is culturally accepted as ‘consensual reality’ and the experiences we have that do not fit within the consensus of the culture as ‘non-ordinary reality’. I’ve often thought how much easier it would have been for me if I did not have experiences that lie outside the bounds of consensual reality. It helps to have studied social anthropology in rejecting the cultural boundaries of what is possible; to know that in other cultures the spectrum of what is accepted as ‘real’ is different.

It was a conversation that left me with a lot of ‘processing’ to do which had to do with things I did not talk about. Events that shaped me that it did not feel appropriate to introduce into the conversation. I know full well what happened to end my early experience of the world as full of angels and fairies, invisible friends and friendly trees, how I came to be ‘weighted down/earthed, clumped, bound.’

My experience of CBT in the NHS is that it is about avoiding processing. Management is the name of the game. It makes me think of the song in Guys and Dolls ‘Sit down, sit down, sit down you’re rocking the boat’. There is value in being able to handle ourselves but the treatments on offer are so superficially presented. They call it ‘Talking Therapies’ and it’s more like teaching than therapy. The tools are ones that every human being could do with learning in considerably more depth than we ever got to teach them. And sometimes people need witnessing, then need to know they are heard, that someone is there saying ‘yeah it is so’ more than they need to be told how to manage their problems.

For all that, it is management I want to write about. How I’ve learnt to manage the emotionality I often wish would simply disappear. Some mornings it’s like someone pressed the ‘reset’ button in the night and I’m lost in pain again. Stuff surfaces and I wade my way through it. Every time I see my family I think of my son. I’ve a nephew who is of an age with him and I wonder how they’d get on. Years ago I wrote about the adoption ‘I know these tears/ for I have wept them/ must I weep again?’ And all these years later the question is still there. Yesterday I cried. I let all the gloopy messiness that was stirred up by the weekend dissolve into tears. I know not to attack myself now. I’ve learnt how to let be and trust that change is the one thing we are guaranteed. This too shall pass. It is natural to grief, normal to feel sad, to weep over how it is sometimes.

I was at my sister’s 60th birthday celebrations at the weekend. The party was held in Spinnaker Tower which is beyond doubt the most spectacular venue I’ve ever partied in. There was less opportunity to catch up with family than I would have liked but they’re all doing grand and that’s what counts. It’s great to be in a room full of happy people celebrating someone they love.

I am sad that I am not closer to my siblings. Before my eldest brother went to boarding school, we were close and we were a truly lovely bunch of kids. We were fair. We shared our sweets and treats. No-one was mean. No-one was cruel. We had a lot of fun together. I was blessed in my sister and brothers, my first soul circle, the one in which I learnt how circles can work.

Soul Circle

My heart aches for a soul circle
where we humans form the hub
and in the centre Divine Spirit
guides us all in love.
A circle of equals, united in purpose
celebrating the diversity we find within our midst
knowing our strength is in our difference
our willingness to hold conflicting perspectives.

But all there is is us’uns
with our faults and failures and foibles
and all the bits left over
from our imperfect childhoods –
anger and pain, fear and impotence
endless battles of our little egos
our incompetent communications
and inability to handle conflict.

So how’s it going to work then
this transition to the future
when each of us embodies
the woundings of our culture?

We fumble our way forward.
Keep speaking truth.
Keep listening.
Keep going

until we find that place of healing
evolve into a soul circle
where we humans form the hub
and Divine Spirit guides us all in love.

I’m ready to start planning the workshops for Buddhafield now. Awakening Awareness is this year’s theme and I love to weave the theme into the workshops. Priddy Folk Festival this weekend, Buddhafield next week. I may not have a bean left to bless myself with but I am still very blessed indeed.

The Dragon Storytelling Chair

June 29th, 2015

My car is growling. Ouch. It is odd not to be bothered or worried or upset but looking out at the hills, listening to the wind in the trees in the garden and the birds debating in the distance, I just can’t quite manage it.

I get membership of the RAC through Higos Insurance so I’ll find out why my car is growling and until then there’s no point in worrying now is there?

I know exactly how I did it. Yesterday I spent all day writing.
Then I took a notion that I would go to ‘The Magic Land’ after all – having found it on google maps so I would recognise the turning when I came to it. I bought a half share in this bit of land, which I thought was near Aberystwyth but in fact is closer to New Quay( and about an hour’s drive away), years ago. I’ve only been there once, the summer the collective met for the first time. I broke up with the partner I bought the share with and that was that.

Getting to ‘The Magic Land’ involved driving along a potholed road such as I’ve not driven along in years. I can’t say the land looked magic when got there. There must be half a dozen abandoned vehicles along with strange looking shacks and piles of rubbish by the side of the dirt track. Getting there I drove real slow and then, cos the path through the other side looked better than the one I’d just crawled down, I wound up driving another mile or so on poor quality dirt track to find myself at a farm. Not magic at all. The way back is all uphill and if I don’t drive in second gear I’m not going to get up the incline. So now my car is growling at me and the nice man from the RAC will get here when he does and tell me what damage is.

It may not look like much ‘The Magic Land’ but someone has managed to plant oak trees so along with the tree stumps among the scrubby growth of weed and bracken, there are young oak trees all green and healthy and happy. That’ll do for starters. I remember that first meeting I thought that some of the shareholders’ notions of what was possible to do here were, well let’s say ambitious, but I kept my mouth shut. Miracles happen when people have enough faith in their vision to put in the work it takes to manifest it. All I wanted was to ‘re-wild’ the land. What I love is the remoteness. The absence of traffic noise. It’s somewhere I can be very quiet and connect. I ended up doing a bit of a Midsummer Ceremony all on my tod on this land I feel has some claim on me.

I don’t sing to people, or I very rarely sing to people. I sing to the land. I sang to the land as a child and yesterday I sang to the ‘Magic Land’. I sat on a tree stump, basking in sunlight, looking out to the horizon singing ‘Where I sit is holy/sacred is the place/river, mountain, forest/listen to my voice’. There have been phases of my life when I sang every day. Singing I am ‘remembering’ in the sense of all the pieces coming together, a re-collection of who I am. It may not look like much but the land has some magic, especially the trees that will be mature in a few centuries.

Then I drove on to Newcastle Emlyn. I wanted to spend sunset in the Dragon Chair at the castle there. Newcastle Emlyn is where the last dragon in Wales was killed and where Pamela Gaunt lead a project which included making and erecting the Dragon Storytelling Chair. I have been meaning to get to Newcastle Emlyn and sit in the Chair for a few years now. I made it. Whatever the cost, I made it. I sent out a prayer for the friend who told me about it, for the vision he’s now living. I wish I’d written down the Merlin Prophesy that’s there. I read it out loud and, yes, I wept. It’s powerful stuff. And I sat in the chair and sang some more. I said the Mantra of Unification 3 times (binding the spell). I felt like a child sitting cross-legged inside the dragon and oh, does it feel good, looking out over a wide valley bursting with life, full of healing green. Sitting in the Dragon Chair calling in a new story, I felt more ‘at myself’ than I have in a very long time.

The man from the RAC has been and gone and it’s not the engine but the exhaust pipe as I suspect that anyone with the nonce to think of it could probably have worked out. It’s just that the last time something happened the car, it was serious. I have not done what I came for, not by a long chalk, but it still feels like I did absolutely the right thing in coming here for this week.
I wish, I really wish, I could remember what it’s like to come out the other side when the terrain ahead looks bleak. But dark days, my thinking becomes static and the gremlin shouts too loud for me to hear the chorus of hope ‘This too shall pass’.

It cost a sobering £250 and the entire day to get the car fit to drive again. I don’t want to think about it too much. I’m sad to be leaving all this peace and beauty behind. I’ll be back. I will return to the land of the dragon.