Thursday, February 16, 2017


Rarely do I travel alone or spend much time alone. For a few months, it has been a rarity to even have a few hours alone. Currently alone in the country, I am noticing my thoughts and feelings as they come and go.  With no distraction of interaction with other people there is awareness of them and how few thoughts there are, and thank goodness for that.

There is wide disparity in the thoughts - relief about being alone, the desire to achieve tasks, a desire to let go of tasks and just sit; looking around me and noticing beauty, alternating with seeing things to be done; things that are 'wrong'/need fixing/replacing/sorting/washing/weeding/pruning. I'm very aware that when my mind is unsettled I notice the things that are not quite right, whereas with a settled mind I am much more willing to let those things go, if I do pay any attention to them at all.

There have been moments of peace as the silence of the day becomes longer and deeper. There has been the feeling of a sense of responsibility to return home tomorrow, and yet an inner wisdom that that is too short of a journey into silence.

I have a quiet curiosity to know what would become of my thoughts if I were alone for, say, seven days. I find myself wondering if I might experience more peace, more inner understanding, more creativity; perhaps a restlessness, or a desire for company?

Earlier I went out into the garden with the notion to water the plants that will one day make up a lush and high hedge on one perimeter of the garden. The temptation to pull a weed here or there is always with me in the garden but today, nonsensically, I pulled a type of weed that I know is tricky. I thought I had full control of my hand as I did it, but there was a back pull against the weed and the nail of my little finger on my left hand partially cracked.

Immediately, I felt woozy, cross with myself; disoriented. I found some super glue and ensured that the crack was well sealed, a strategy I have been shown by the nail technician.. Yes, it was unfortunate, I assured myself silently, but it wasn't the end of the world so long as I was particularly careful. (She repairs a broken nail rather than making for a new one.)

 It occurred to me after this happened that I am not a free agent, even alone. I can water the garden and maybe prune a little. But, the big tasks are not for me, never have been for me and never will be for me. The 'training' of my place is too well entrenched; has taken place over too long a period of time.

Over the summer my sister-in-law was here and she commented on what a girl our dog is. She's a girly sort of female dog and I responded that she and I were the same - on the far end of the female scale. We both crave attention. We both know the limits of our nature; what we can and can't do; what comes naturally and what is unnatural. I've simply grown used to my husband's sorting of big projects himself; of me making suggestions as to what I'd like done and he making it happen, when and if he can.

In fact, I can do far more when my husband is here because it feels more comfortable to act as the 'worker' knowing that someone else is orchestrating the overall job. We fall naturally into these roles, most of the time - he the one that determines the overall job, and me choosing the easier, more manageable components of that overarching project. Day by day, he's responsible for the functioning of some tasks and I have the responsibility of other tasks (which don't matter to him, or he has no desire to do) and that sorts itself out all right, by and large.

With natural limitations, it's easy enough to fill my time with simple enough tasks. But, should I stay here a week, or more, I'd have no other choice, I suspect, but to take some responsibility for my actions - not in the sense of cutting wood or using equipment that is beyond my skill base, but getting on with being all of me. That is, with no distractions, what else would I do here but get on with my writing project; meditate a little, walk a little...but generating pages would ultimately be the way it would go, in good time.

The reason I say this is that, as I see it, there needs to be in a person's life, the space in one's mind to sit and ponder alone. There needs to be time with no thoughts and there needs to be time with one's own mind without the interruption of others' thoughts imposing. It hadn't occurred to me as much as it does right now that my head often can't be free to wander where it will; that I spend much of my time pushing away my own thoughts, inspirations and desires so that they don't impede with the needs of the other people in my life. It hadn't even really occurred to me in any serious way that I had a right to such time and space on my own; to dream, to think, to conjure; to create; to have a still and settled mind.

I'd like to think that this could be the start of a new chapter in my life; to live, for several days at a time on my own alone in this house and alone with my own mind. I knew I had to get away and only 36 hours later I feel so much more settled within myself. It's interesting to me that my grandmother spoke often of wanting to live in a lighthouse and the idea was that no-one bothers people if they live in a lighthouse.

It's been emotionally painful over the last several weeks to have been impeded in my bid for silence, for privacy,  for thinking time and kinky time. It's been a markedly challenging month for me as I've reckoned with an ongoing restless hive of activity within my own home such that I eventually sought refuge elsewhere.

Some people simply must get away from the hustle and bustle of the world for a time, free to roam in their own heads, or even to, metaphorically, cut off their head for a time. Quietening the mind is easily achieved in a quiet place all on one's own. I must remember to do this on a regular basis. I must remember to do this for me.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


As an extension of the practices I learned when on retreat last year - meditation, overall muscle relaxation, nutrition for healing the body and gentle detoxication - I bought books and CDs relevant to these matters. The most important book 'You Can Cure Cancer' by Dr Ian Gawler has been absconded by my husband, and this doesn't surprise me, for a few reasons.

A pattern that I have noticed in my marriage is that, in order to get a project going, I begin. I can consistently count on the fact that my husband will develop an interest in the project and not only join in the project but sometimes take over the project. This is why I might begin something, not sure where I can going with it, because the beginning is easier for me, whilst the pursing with obsessional compulsivity is his forte.

The truth is that my husband is quite sure that he can do things better than I can. He won't always come out and say it, but sometimes he will. His answer as to why I can't do something might be, 'I don't want to have to do it over again.' I might say that he could teach me the methodology and then I'd know how to do it, which is logical but also frightening for a perfectionist. He just knows that I'm uunlikely to be as interested in the process as he would be. He is very process driven, absolutely, much more than me. He's scientifically trained whereas I am not.

I'm trained in an academic sort of way but as much as my husband respects my brain, he doesn't trust it. In knowing about literature, philosophy and writing techniques does that enable you to comprehend and critique  material about cancer therapies? He just intuitively feels that I might bring to him ideas, but he is the one to follow them through and make determinations. C'est la vie! To fight this line of thought is quite useless. My use is in introducing ideas, consistently mentioning them in a non-threatening way, until they are embraced by my husband, should he eventually choose to do so.

As it happened, a condition became apparent. His interest in my material spiked. He embraced the material to the point where it became front and centre in his life. Various vegetables, powders, vitamins and brews came through my kitchen with almost alarming consistency, sometimes twice a day. The Vitamix whirs away three times a day.

When I introduced vegetarian food to the household it was very complicated because this was for my son whilst my husband very much insisted on his animal protein. But, as he researched, he began to agree that animal proteins weren't part of a wellness or healing diet, and thus he concurred with my vegetarian meals. There is sometimes a little fish, a little chicken, beef or lamb in the meals I prepare, but not much; far less than in the past. Eggs are no longer the food of choice for breakfast.

Rather, there is plenty of choice for vegetarian rich meals; plenty of fruit; pomegranates, berries, shitake mushrooms. It's not at all unusual these days for my husband to throw any bizarre mix of foods into the Vitamix and to drink these 'juices' that are, in my estimation, almost beyond consumption. He does drink them and in the process he loses weight. He simply has no more weight that he can lose without being underweight. Hopefully, all these measures have a good effect on the condition, currently unquantified.

Now, let's remember, I instigated thoughts about naturally healing the body. He took me up on them and made them his own. I should be thrilled to bits, right?

The reason for this post is that I am working through my emotions about this situation. Everything I know tells me that self help in terms of staying healthy is the correct approach. Medicine, that is going to see a doctor, is  fundamentally designed to cater to those who are unwell. Preventative medicine assists in the process of being and staying well, blood tests and other tests, but doctors rarely hand out advice about how to lead your life.

There is no other way to stay healthy than to adopt a self help methodology. The body is designed to be as lean as possible, to move, to eat the plants of the earth, and to avoid chemically driven products. We need to be aware of what builds up in our bodies and to counteract those toxins. My husband and I are unified about all this now.

Yet, I'll be honest, obsessional thinking and practises, on any topic, tend to instinctively make me uncomfortable. To put it into words, it feels too much, like there isn't balance, or space for a balanced life. Obsessional thinking can make me feel like I am drowning, or like I can't breathe; like I am short of oxygen; like my life, and my house, has been invaded by processes and intense conversation about one single topic.

To be clear, and completely honest, I'm not very good with sickness and I never have been, though I am getting better. I don't like to be unwell myself and I don't like those I love to be sick. It's incredibly unbalancing for me. It's particularly disturbing when in fact they are all right, or the condition can be managed well with a combination of medical know-how and self help practises. I'm as far from a catastophizer as you can get, since I'd rather pretend it wasn't happening. Most importantly I don't want to preempt sadness. My husband has been telling me he wouldn't make it to old age since he was 19 so trust me when I say I have some mileage with this.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I'm on board with the changes to diet and the talk about the body's natural healing. Tick. I'm an advocate of regular meditation to calm the mind and for the mind to help heal the body. Tick. I acknowledge that the condition must be investigated carefully and healed/monitored and that this is a necessary preoccupation. Tick. My role is to encourage play, relaxation and leisure activities  in our lives and to encourage balance in the finance side of life too. Tick. I'm on board in all these ways.

Yet, in terms of my own well being, I do need strategies to counteract the lack of space I feel; that feeling of drowning. And, that's just exactly it. I need to make space for myself; physical space. Time alone. In the library. Writing. Time alone in my own endeavours. My. own. endeavors. My. own. space.

In my little meditation group there is a retired orthopedic surgeon. He has a supportive and loving wife to whom he has been married for decades and they have four loving and successful chuldren. The couple often attended the meditation sessions together until they didn't. She took up a full time course and now he comes on his own. Fair enough. It was the teacher who told me privately that she had to do that in order to survive the preoccupation with his Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. There had to be more than discussing the disease.

In more recent days I found myself reading more world news than usual, and as I did I became more upset. It felt that one man was single handedly messing with the lives of so many people, including my own. When you throw a pebble into the water on one side of the water it can create a tidal wave on the other, and so it seemed to me; that Trump was causing mayhem wherever he went and whatever he did. One possibility was to watch less news. It's putting one's head in the sand, I agree, but what value to the world was my upset? Maybe this period of history was something that needed to play out in order for the world to go to these 'obsssions' and fears, and then to find balance again.

Maybe this is what we all need: space and time. In this way balance occurs quite effortlessly