Green and gold

I have nearly completed my Christmas tree and I’m so proud, waxing about her as if she were a newborn child. Given the brevity of time before me and the new terrain, the landscape of ‘different’ in which to source from, she’s a work of art. A patchwork of randomly sourced objects, lovingly put together with an attention to detail and adherence to certain rules – like each additional adornment must be serviceable all year, for life not just for December…, she presents a whole that even I with my obsessive need for perfection cannot readily unpick.

There is a velour cat with a bubblegum pink ribbon; a perspex diamond accommodating two mis-adventuring mice (one, with her purple jacket and hat, reminding me of my grandma) a child petting her pet, who just so happens to be a beautiful chocolate-brown spaniel; a hippo in a tutu attempting a pirouette; a moose holding a snow-clad tree – tiny in comparison to his rotund self; an eccentric giraffe displaying, in his outstretched hand, an umbrella (perhaps to remind me of England and all of the rain I incurred there); a felted tiger straight out of ‘Where the Wild Things are’, a similar felted fox and kangaroo, part of a matching collection; a terracotta angel painted Mallorcan style; a ceramic squirrel with a hollow centre and a rabbit carved from local wood. All that’s missing is the star.

Sitting at the very top, visible from every angle… the star cannot just ‘do’, she has to outshine. So while I’ve seen passable solutions and the occasional ‘blow me away with their beauty but also with their price’ attempts at twinkling joviality, I haven’t yet seen anything that works without breaking the budget (which is also one of the rules!) apart. But I believe… : in the solution, in the ‘right’ one, in the five-pointed declaration that is made specifically for me. When the Universe is ready (as like with everything else), she will extend her palm and yield. And if for some unforeseen reason she will not explain, she, the universe and all of the powers that accompany her… deem I am not to have a talisman, a gem to shine in the night, to ward off the darkness… then so be it. There are reasons greater than me.

And maybe it’s about being flexible in the face of restriction. Or happy amongst the uncompromising walls of limitation. Or about only seeing what you want to see.

Living from the one hastily-packed suitcase, a sitting room full of boxes it would be unwise to unpack; making do with another’s curious ornaments and furniture – a glass bowl full of plastic fruit, a black sofa with rose embellished cushions, threadbare rugs that house more beach than dust, a table and chairs with green velvet seats (seriously?), a kitchen that supports the making of tea but actively dissuades the creation of anything else, appliances that make their grievances known, usually throughout the night; bedsheets that itch and towels that scratch, tiles that bear the mark of generations and shift beneath passing feet: there is a lot of accepting and reimagining involved.

But like with boxes and randomly placed objects; unfolded clothes, decaying flowers and unwashed cups: all manner of unwanted but immovable things… After a while they cease to exist, the eye cleverly distorting what the mind lacks the conscious desire and active need to see.

imageSo really it’s just my tree that stands out, projecting beauty, colour, positive energy, fun, enchantment, love and pride. Greeting my return like a faithful friend, she adds a little warmth and welcome to an otherwise cold and inanimate space.

Close to my chest

Reacquainting with old friends,
I stand confused,
unsure of who I am greeting,
twin locks of gold spinning before my eyes,
almost identical in nature.

And yet, there is a discrepancy –
of gender, of age –
if only I could see fit to figuring it out.

Picking my words carefully,
I say ‘hello’ from a distance,
one step removed,
waiting for those on the other side
to take the lead.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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There’s no place like home

It’s the 2nd of December and all of a sudden Christmas is just a handful of days away, or that’s how it feels. I have been in Mallorca since Friday and am slowly settling in – adjusting to the temperature, the scenery, the way of life; putting long held things down and letting go of things that are tight. The people are friendly and I feel welcome wherever I go. The sky is blue and in the centre of the day it’s warm enough to sit outside. The streets are quiet, empty… and I do not have to clean my shoes each time I go out. There is less pollution. Whites stay white. Food is cheaper, fresher and mostly organic. Apples taste how apples should taste. Seafood is common and it is possible to eat out often without guilt. I am eating out. I do not feel guilty. I feel restless though and I am finding this hard to accept. I cannot sit quietly or do what I usually do; there are fears and thoughts filling my mind with the kind of things that go bump in the night. 

I miss my home with its familiar surroundings – my pictures, my drawings, my ornaments, my Fimo unicorns and knitted mice, my crystals, my oracle cards, my pendulums and lucky charms, a tea for every day of the month, four alternatives to milk; gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, lactose-free products; a wardrobe full of choice, drawers full of excitement, a bed with a mattress and sheets that have only ever been mine, a brand new everything inside an old but renovated space… I miss the bathroom I at first disliked with its traditional sink and cracked white tiles, the floors whose scratches I hid beneath rugs, the neighbour upstairs and his heavy feet, the washing machine whose spin cycle woke everything up. I miss the central heating, the insulation, the open space and tall windows letting in the light. I miss it’s countless memories and the special things I did there. I could sit still and calm in that space for hours, content to be alone. I was warm. I was relaxed and safe. I am a creature of habit. I do not like to deviate from or break with routine; it tortures me, from the centre out, undoing all that I have put in place, unpicking all that I have set down, challenging my beliefs. 

Resisting the urge to rewind, burying myself deep in chocolate, tea and toast, over-sized omelettes and glasses of local wine, I try to love my hat, focusing on the importance of finishing that. But even while the comfortable click and clack of my needles soothes me, the simplicity of the project, the superficiality of its journey after that, fails to really get beneath.

Being mindful, I remind myself of how normal all of this is, how ‘okay’ it is to be a little spikey. In acting out I am speaking for the child within, the hidden part that is most often ignored. Like a dog, all she wants is a warm lap, a familiar space, a routine that caters to her every need and lots and lots of attention. Like an infant, she wants to play, existing solely in a space of love, laughter and light.

Maybe I will buy paper and coloured pens to paint my story out? Maybe I will buy thread and felt to stitch it down? I’d rather go for a walk on the beach, attempt to meditate with the sand on my skin, visit the cathedral, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, peruse the local markets, sightsee, explore, delving into each and every space, feeling, touching, tasting, really getting a sense of it. But I am trapped in another’s routine, rushing and rushing then sitting and sitting, counting the hours, avoiding the minutes, longing only for bedtime when, finally, I can shut it all out. 

This will pass, as everything passes; for there is nothing in life but change. We cannot still. We cannot cling. We cannot stop, no matter how much we might want to. And in the meantime – while I grin and bear and occasionally grimace and growl – it is best to view it as a meditation, the acquiring of a new level of acceptance, patience and self-love.