Thank you!

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Happy February morning to you, and a belated happy new year as well!

I’ve had a long break, done a lot of soul-searching, or soul-dredging more like, and made a decision to put confusion and despair behind me. Not because I am burying my head in the proverbial sand, but because I am most useful in my everyday life when I am positive, calm and clear.

Like many people, I am overwhelmed with the state of things. I care. I care so very much about things that matter and have been feeling overwhelmed at my helplessness. There is so much anger, fear and hate about right now. It’s like an epidemic. I do think it has the effect of a disease by infecting anyone who gets too close too often. And this disease is spreading everywhere. I can feel it when I’ve spent too long on a news site or social media. It’s like a car crash that you can’t look away from. I’m rubbernecking so as not to miss anything, and I get swept up in the mocking, nasty, to and fro of snark and condescension. So I’m stepping away from all of that for the most part. Focus on where I can make a difference and thinking about what that might be.

When I think about the people that have had the most influence on my life, it is those who are living in a way that I want to live. Those people who are wise, kind, gentle, creative, care about the natural world, are contented with their life but at the same time stretch themselves to grow and improve their own lives and the lives of others. People who compose a life on their own terms, whatever that may be. I do want to know the facts about important issues, but I’m rarely influenced by those who shout the loudest, retort the wittiest, or debate the smartest.

There is a quote by Socrates that I read years ago on the Internet (in the days before it became saturated with inspirational snippets), that has always stuck with me. It reads:

‘ The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’

I think he was on to something. And although, of course, the world needs activists and people to speak out for what they believe in, I think that we especially need people who are focusing on building a better world in whatever small way they can. And it is doubly difficult because it does seem like a small and ordinary thing. There are no Nobel prizes for it. But to live the best life you can is an immense inspiration and incentive to others to do the same.

There are so many wonderful bloggers, writers, artists, film-makers, cooks, musicians and more… who have unknowingly encouraged me to lift myself out of depression and begin again, and again, and again. To persevere. There are too many to name, but I just wanted to say thank you to all the creative people of the Internet and wider world. I think you are building a new world within the one that is burning. At the very least, you are giving people like me hope… in goodness and in beauty, and that is what’s sorely needed at the moment. So Thank you. xx

September Writing Prompts

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A little late, but here are September’s Writing Prompts. My daughter is back to school, my uni course starts back up again soon and I am enjoying getting back to the familiar routine of study, writing, reading, working, housework, that fills so many of my days.

I have been collecting words lately. When I read a book or a blog post, sometimes a word will stand out to me and I have a feeling I might have something to say about that. So I started to keep a little list of words in a notebook. Words that spark interest, are metaphorical or symbolic for something in my life right now, or something connected to the changing seasons.

It is one of the ways in which I coming to see that I have to find my own way to do this writing thing. For more years than I care to remember, I have been reading books and articles about writing. Goodness me, doesn’t everybody have something to say about it! So much advice. So much good advice. But often conflicting, and how do you know which is right, or at least right for you? Well, I guess you don’t, not without trying out what works for you. And when you try out enough different ideas, you come to see that there are other ways too. And you begin to listen to yourself a bit more. This is something I’ve not been very good at in the past.

So, here’s to September. A golden month, I sense. A month to discover your own way of doing things. Enjoy the light xx

August Writing Prompts

August Writing Prompts

I have got a little out of step of late. The world and life knocks you about from time to time and the rhythm of our lives gets disrupted. I crave routine these days. I am finding more and more that I do not need so much excitement and adventure in my life. Being at home and living in gentle rhythm is just fine by me.

Days filled with reading, writing, knitting, sewing, preparing food, laundry, playing with paints, drawing, playing and talking to my children, long walks, planting seeds, weeding, household chores (okay, I could do without so much of the cleaning, haha).

Is this turning away from the world – burying my head in the sand? Perhaps it is. All I know is that, for me, it is a needful thing. It is that or choke to death on my own despair (a little melodramatic maybe, but not so far from the truth). For me it is not so much a turning away as a turning towards. Towards those things where I can have a direct impact on my life and the lives of those I love.

When I am focused on the news and current events that are taking place far away, my attention has been withdrawn from where I actually am. I might not be truly listening to the people I am with, or able to discern that poem that is bubbling up inside me right now, or notice if a neighbour needs someone to walk their dog when they’re ill, or what letter I could write to my local council that could make a small difference. There is always something that needs my attention right now . When my attention is on the latest world news, it is not here where I can actually take action.

I’ll still keep a distant eye on what is happening in the world so that I can make informed decisions for voting and suchlike. But otherwise, I’m making a conscious choice to get up close with the personal.

These writing prompts are a move to that end. Writing in my journal over the years has been an enriching part of my life. I find I write best when I do not have a prescribed subject but just a word or an image to spark the flow of whatever needs to come forth that day. I’ll share some of what I’ve written here on my blog and maybe if you’d like to join me you could link to your own posts or share your thoughts in the comments.

Not that what I write need always be deep and meaningful. But just the regular rhythm of writing brings me closer to the soul, closer to what life’s all about. And heaven knows we all need a little more of that.

Kim x

The Spirit of Trees

Bark

She wanders, weaving slowly through the trees. Her feet kicking up the decaying leaf litter on the forest floor. Pausing at the base of an oak, wide as half a dozen people around, she wraps her arms around its trunk and lays her cheek against the rough bark.

As if listening to the ocean in a conch shell, she hears the life of the tree deep inside. A quiet smooth rushing and the soft trickle of sap.

The sunlight dances on her skin as she sinks down to sit on the arched roots where the tree clings to the ground. Her cheek brushes moss, a cushion, a contrast to the parched cracked texture of the bark.

Its wrinkled skin, impermeable, etched with the lines of life, of wisdom, holds her close in spirit. And right then she knows, after so long searching among people, here is where she belongs. The forest is her tribe, the oak her elder. She need search no more.

April Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Prompts Printable

April’s writing prompts are a few days late, so apologies for that.

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post. While I have done a lot of non-fiction writing for websites and essays etc., fiction writing is a whole new world to me. I am enjoying the new exploration of imagination, and appreciate the encouragement, so thank you again for letting me share it with you 🙂

The White Hard Snow – A Short Story

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Photo credit: Rob Bye

Maria slipped off her boots and socks, shivering as she plunged her toes into the ice-cold sand. Staring out at the wild sea she realised her neighbour had been right after all. She’d mocked the suggestion at first, but now she could see it with her own eyes. A long ridge of wave was caught solid in its tumble to the shore, frozen, as if time stood still.

It reminded her of the time her mother had told her the story about the frozen sea. A true story. Sometime during the war – she and Aunt Jenny – they’d called it the ‘white hard snow’. A frozen wave just like this one.

Oh, the stories they would tell of having to make do with what they had, no meat, no butter, no coal, but still they seemed to look back on that time fondly – especially the way they talked about the frozen sea. She remembered the way their faces had lit up in the telling and wished she’d paid more attention; the memories were fading now.

Maria walked to the water’s edge. Slivers of ice floated and rocked in the foam, and she bent and dipped her hand to lift a few shards, crushing them between her fingers before flinging them out towards the frozen wave. The tension she’d felt since leaving the house was melting, though she grew colder by the minute.

‘Mum, Mum…’ she turned and saw her daughter racing towards her.
‘Mum, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break it… I… I didn’t do it on purpose.’
Maria recalled the fragments of glass inlaid with intricate white lace patterns. Swallowing back the remains of her anger, she took a deep breath.
‘I know you didn’t do it on purpose, Annie’, Maria caught a strand of her daughter’s hair as it whipped about her face and tucked it behind her ear. ‘Let’s sit over there on the rocks for a moment…’

‘I only have a few things that belonged to Grandma and that plate was very special to me… some things just aren’t… replaceable.’ Annie nodded solemnly.
‘You miss Grandma, Mum?’ she said, absentmindedly drawing stars in the sand with her finger.
‘Yes, I miss her a lot Annie.’
‘Well, at least you have me and Aiden.’ She looked up with a cheeky smile.
Maria squeezed her daughter’s shoulder.
‘Look, can you see over there?’ She pointed her finger, directing Annie’s gaze to the water’s edge.
‘What is it, Mum?’
‘The sea is frozen, shall we go and see..?’ but Annie was already on her feet and running towards the shoreline.

Tied to the Earth

Pale Peach Rose

“The best poets are tied to the earth. They live regular lives and wear regular clothes. They walk around incognito, yet they look at the world with keen eyes… by listening we can begin to notice, and then eventually tell more”

~ Visual Poetry, Chris Orwig

How grateful I’ve been for a couple of weeks break from the Internet. Time to gather my thoughts, catch up on some coursework and housework, nurse flu-y children, take a few walks and generally just slow down to a pace that I can actually keep up with.

Everything on the net seems to go at such an alarming pace. The worldwide web is a wonderful thing, and it has changed my life in so many positive ways, not least of all being able to come here and type out my thoughts and read the blogs of other like-minded people and not feel quite so alone in the world. But the sheer speed of it all – the constant updates and ever churning out of more more more information – all of this directly feeding into my brain can get a bit much sometimes.

But a break is as good as a change in my book, and so I return with renewed enthusiasm to this small online space of mine.

I’ve been thinking about why I come here. It sometimes occurs to me that it is a pointless exercise – as if there are not enough people chattering on the Internet already, I’m not sure I have anything of worth to add to the conversation. Then again, blogging has been quite eye-opening to me. I’ve come to understand that I blog in order to see my life more clearly. The act of blogging actually makes me slow down and notice the events in my own life. I see my life in greater clarity – what needs to change – what I have to be grateful for – what inspires, motivates, and moves me. And sharing that experience with others who similarly find it a therapeutic or life-enhancing activity is an added bonus.

So, I am glad to be returning to this little space…  expect more gabbing on about nothing much in particular, or even lots of particular but ordinary things. You know, just the very stuff of which life is made 🙂

March Writing Prompts

March Writing Prompts

Just a quick post with this month’s writing prompts.

I am taking a couple of weeks break from all non-essential Internet use. We have had some illness in the family as well as various other commitments and I could really do with the chance to take a breath and get my bearings. I look forward to catching up with all of your blogs soon. x

February Writing Prompts

February Writing Prompts

For a year or so I have been reading the book editor Bryson’s blog ‘The Habit of Being‘. This is a lovely personal blog celebrating daily moments and interesting reads. Through her newsletter she has offered encouragement and tips for writers including monthly journal prompts.

I’ve found the words and short phrases inspiring because sometimes it just takes an unusual or evocative idea to help see things from a different perspective.

She has recently made some changes to her online presence, and, sadly, she is no longer offering the monthly prompt list. So I decided to create one of my own. A word or phrase for each day of the month gathered together. (I nearly lost it a few times in the two hours it took me to figure out how to turn a word document into an image that I could post on a blog not to mention turn a list into two columns – but phew –  I got there in the end! )

I’m posting it here in case anyone else would like to use it to spark off their own writing session. So do save or print it if you feel it could be useful to you.

If all goes well, I’ll post a new list each month.

x

In Between Days

Christmas Cottage

Inbetween Days

The house in the pictures is not mine. It is a cottage just around the corner from me which reminds me of the house in the film The Holiday… a favourite festive film of ours. I wonder if it is as cosy and warm inside as it looks on the outside.

I love this time of year – the in between days. Between Christmas and New Year there is, for me, a sense of peace and magic in the air. No less because the festive season is coming to end, and, while I enjoy aspects of it when it is here, I am a simple routine kind of person and I crave the ordinary rhythm of ordinary days. I look forward to taking down the tree, clearing cards and decorations, preparing healthier, simpler food, and making way for the new year and new possibilities.

I also take these quiet days to reflect on how the year has gone, what went well; what not so well; what I hope to improve on in the next 12 months. In 2015 I accomplished several but not all the goals I set for myself. There was sadness, joy and challenge in fairly equal measure over the year and I’m not going to berate myself over what was not achieved.

I have made new goals for 2016. It is less about attaining, as it is about giving my life a sense of direction. I have a tendency to meander aimlessly from one interest to another, my fickle mind is often a-flutter with curiosity. So goals and ordinary routines give a sense of order to my life, a structure to contain the inevitable messiness.

If you are like me and could use a bit of help getting a handle on the coming year here are a few New Year planning resources I have found helpful:

Susannah Conway’s Unravelling The Year Ahead

Goal Setting and Action Workbook 2016

New Year’s Resolutions Guidebook

I also wanted to take a few moments to wish you all the very best new year – I hope it is filled with all kinds of good things – with creating, sharing, learning, hoping, loving, listening and quiet moments of stillness and appreciation for all of life’s simple pleasures.

Kim x