breathe dearheart, breathe

Category: Humankind (page 3 of 6)

When you were little <----------- who were you?

Did you ever happen to see the wonderful documentary series “UP”? directed by Michael Apted and commissioned decades ago by Granada Television in the UK?

Starting in 1964, it ground-breakingly recorded a group of disparate children at 7 years of age, then at 14 years of age and 28 years, 35 years and 42.

When I watched the “35UP” programme I was struck by a cloud-parting insight. As the filmmakers cut together each 35 year old with their 7 year old self I could see that those who were happiest, most content and successful were the ones who had remained true to the individuals they were when they were little.

Have you remained true to who you were at 7 years of age?

The successful grown-ups were those in the group chosen by the filmmakers who had not, like me and the others, spent much of their lives wild goose chasing.

I am all-for a good wild goose chase and to illustrate this point I will let you know that when I was of an age to theoretically know better, maybe 10 or 11? I am proud to say I remember chasing wild rabbits about with a cellar of salt having been told if you sprinkled salt on their tails they would not run away.

I still happily believe dumb things like this.

Rainbows still lure me with their elusive pots of gold even while I have actually trudged for miles, lugging a heavy spade, experienced the disappointment of rainbows not getting any closer so you can’t reach their end at all (did you know?).

As I write that I realize this is a metaphor for my life. I have chased rainbows my whole life and it’s taken me from living in Glasgow to London to Sydney to Auckland and back to Glasgow. And still no pot of gold. Lots of very pretty rainbows however, especially in Sydney after a thunderous rainstorm.

I was thinking about all this last weekend when I noticed on Twitter #WheniWasLittle as a ‘trending topic’. Don’t you just love Twitter?

Curious, I clicked and was delighted by some of the wonderful statements people made on this topic.

I’ve copied some here for you. I hope you will smile as you read them and maybe also reflect on how different or the same you are to who you were at 7 years of age.

I’m sure you were utterly lovely.

@imdabutterfly i was small.. Hhaahahhhaha..

@EleniTweet_x #WheniWasLittle Me And My Sister Would Fight Over Barbies

@Temayah RT @joeythechase: I still have mine RT @Temayah: #wheniwaslittle i had a susu box..—lmao! Rili?

@neneclemons #wheniwaslittle when spacejam came out i confused michael jordan with r.kelly

@kylebanks #WhenIWasLittle I didn’t have to get up at 4AM to go to work at 5AM

@BeeDubbleYu #wheniwaslittle i wanted to be older…now i want to be little again

@mattyicerob7 #wheniwaslittle I was into pokemon. The cards, games, and show. But now I’m only into the games.

@jozegr8 #wheniwaslittle we passed letters like – “Do you like me?” Check: []Yes []No []Maybe.

@KatStacksLaugh #wheniwaslittle Toy’s R US was the Ultimate Heaven.

@jemstarmusic #wheniwaslittle I used watch Family Matters, Fresh Prince, Saved by the bell, Martin .. Still do! lol

@de_bisi #wheniwaslittle I was the black sheep of the family! Wait I still am! Oh well

@Temayah: #wheniwaslittle i loved bathin in da rain… Gawd i miss those tyms

@VIR3N #wheniwaslittle I used to think that I could use MSN without internet. #fail

@Gussser #wheniwaslittle me and my friend michael would go outside in the rain and play like idiots.

@demibass #wheniwaslittle I use to make ‘potions’ with the hair products, shampoos and conditioners

@itssssawyer #WheniWasLittle i put my grmas car in drive &it almost drove out tha gas station , thas y u dnt leave badd ass kids inda car by themself

@BeanzDaring: #wheniwaslittle we used 2 put empty Huggie containers n our bike tires so our bikes can sound like dirt bikes


@arli92 #wheniwaslittle going down backwards on a slide was the SHIITT lol

@helloanxious #wheniwaslittle i used to think my freckles made me gorgeous. not so much now.

@thelps1987 #wheniwaslittle we used to play football in the park for ages! none of this ps3 nonsense

@TevRunWisdom #wheniwaslittle I used to call people cheaters if they found me in hide n seek

@dave_alist #wheniwaslittle I thought it was cool to run around peeing on people..

@DevikaDidi #WheniWaslittle I used to have a boy short cut hair.. People be asking me if I’m a boy or a girl when I have a barbie jacket on.. D:

@mrym_xoxo #wheniwaslittle I believed in happy endings 🙂

@SiMpLY_GoLDeN_#wheniwaslittle I loved playing in the dark!

@Djembe_Djammer #wheniwaslittle Being double-dared something was like a death sentence.

@tslkailahgirafe #wheniwaslittle there was actually good programs on tv 🙂

@nightwork4 #wheniwaslittle we had 3 channels on TV. we actually played outside too

@MairaSalvatore #wheniwaslittle my families would always play around with my hair since it long —


@patrizisbored #wheniwaslittle my grandpa used to put me on his shoulders so i can shoot the ball in the basketball ring at the park :’) good times.

@mrym_xoxo #wheniwaslittle I believed that was another world above the skies where fairies lived :p

@Liy939 I wanna go back to #wheniwaslittle cause back then, the hardest decision was picking a crayon…

@james_burge #wheniwaslittle we lost our teeth at 12 not our virginity!

@engelbertcrab #wheniwaslittle I had a bee cemetery

@rqdiva #wheniwaslittle my grandpa gave us chewing gum everytime he saw us. Lol

@mechellejones *blank stare*RT @MissDisla: #wheniwaslittle my mom taught me how to handle my liquor so that i wont use that excuse when i decide 2 have sex


Nature: is it in your nature?

Do you think about yourself in relation to nature around you? What is your relationship with nature?

Are you intertwined like ancient roots or curved branches? Do you blend in? Are you detached?

I have just realized that the more I am in nature, the more I details I notice and the more supported I feel.

Yes. I was going to say ‘healed’ and there is that too. But it’s supported that I mean. And feeling supported, as my extraordinary homoeopath once told me, is the number one most important factor in anyone’s healing.

Last night I noticed that the bees were still busy caring for the pinky-purple flowers of the giant rhododendron trees in our back garden as dusk was darkening thickly around them and the wind was gusty and hard. Yet even with their aerodynamically-absurd tiny wings and big, fluffy bodies the bees kept going.

Suddenly I’m thinking the quickening dark is an analogy for depression and that bees are a wild inspiration to us for mindful activity in the face of impending mental angst.

I am seeing these kind of tiny, potent metaphors and analogies everywhere I look in nature now.

It’s quite overwhelming.

It’s like I knew all this but now I am being shown, blinkers off, eyes wide open.

I’m frightened yet thrilled. Like when a child asks for some “danger” within the safety of a familiar, loved story.

A single happy moment. Unbidden. Arriving during a simple, productive task.


I feel we have lost much of the support of nature, the bracing perspective it gives us, and the multifarious, analogous aids we have in seasons, plants, birds, animals – aids we can easily find in every living thing if we simply look.

I think we humans have simply taken it all for granted, simply not really noticed it and furthermore we’ve been hugely attracted, like bees to blue plastic flowers, to gadgets and gizmos and fripperies that provide saccharine nectar for us which doesn’t sustain and nurture us but gives us hedonistic, too-quick highs and cravings for more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as easily seduced by shiny as you or anyone else. But now I am feeling a different seduction that’s much more rewarding. A primal craving. And a deeper level of satisfaction.

I’m Noticing Nature.

Feeling supported by it.

Which in turn makes me Notice Nature more.

And feel ever more supported.

Why should this be such a surprise to me when it’s in my nature? Is it in your nature too?

Image “Forget Not” above borrowed from Mae Chevrette Art – Original Paintings and Mixed Media. You can buy this and other art such as “In the Sea” and “The Love You Make” oh, and “To Be Brave” from Mae’s Etsy store. Thank you for making the world more beautiful Mae.


Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow

Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow. Oh, the rhythm of the tango.

If we dance through life then the tango is my dance. What’s yours? Waltz? Foxtrot? Tango? Maybe a bit of line dancing – why not?

Even while I’m a person who’s happy to go from sound asleep for 10 hours to massive, intense, multi-tasking action to ‘make up’ for my love of sleep, I’m feeling a pull towards a slow waltz. Yes, I think I’m gonna take the slow road, even while as the picture above shows, that’s a topsy-turvy, new perspective for me.

I don’t think I’m alone in noticing a deep, quiet yearning for a slower pace.

So I’m now evaluating how I dance through life on an every day level. One step at a time.

Time. Well let’s forget about that. Let’s consider for a moment perception. Perception of how we move in the world. Do you rush? Do you walk slowly?

A lot of the pace we find ourselves setting is not just about the tasks we set ourselves each day but also, quite simply, where we live.

City dwellers always move and talk faster as a general rule than those living in rural areas. Living in the city and attempting to slow down requires a conscious swimming against the tide of, (sometimes pretty frenetic) energy that surges around you every day.

While in the countryside, surrounded by powerful manifestations of natural cycles through plants and animals, the seasons and an overall sense of a ‘slower’ pace, the full force of Mother Nature is setting your internal pedometer and mental acuity without you even realizing it. You are HUMAN after all.

So now I am noticing these differences. I’ve become aware. I’m aiming for slow-slow-slow-slow-slow —s-l-o-w and will be happy with a little quick-quick in there now and again, of course.

Even in nature a slow-grazing rabbit must be ready to run fast, a lazing, energy-saving lion to dash for a gazelle, a feather light seed to move quickly in the wind, a snail to tuck itself into its shell.

Snails. We love snails here. Having had a dry spell there have not been many about. But during lovely, saturating rain yesterday we had a snail encounter that illustrates several of the points I think I am making today.

Our bus broke down. Us passengers were off-loaded. Some were grumpy. I just don’t see the point of grumpiness about things like this. We were standing on the pavement about to walk when I realized a woman was calling a taxi.

Ever the friendly opportunist, (I’ve always lived with dogs and cats) I asked if we could split the cab with her? She was very sweet and happy to tell me in her Irish accent that it was a free ride on her employer’s account. Lovely!

As we waited in the drizzly rain my daughter excitedly drew my attention to what she had been studying – three gigantic snails in full slither all over the top of a garden wall in amongst lush green shrub.

Wow! They were beautiful. We stared and stared. They were moving pretty quick in the rain, in their natural element, out in the morning, happy and getting to it after being in their shells so long. My daughter wanted to give them something to eat.

I had a few big crumbs of bread in my bag (yes, I know that is a bit weird, but I AM a fairy story character, OK?) so my girl put the crumbs in front of one of the giant snails and he/she slithered at it and ate it while we watched, enchanted.

I am telling you this, possibly tedious, (slow?) story to illustrate how magical experiences have the space to happen in those slow moments when we are forced to wait, to look around and wonder. (Remember “the waiting place” in Dr Suess’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go“?)

While some people might say it was a nuisance to have your bus (or car) break down with a different perspective it can be a gift out-of-time, a valid excuse to not just embrace but fully indulge the slow. Even witnessing, as we did, one of the natural leaders of the slow movement – and pretty mascot of the Slow Food US / Slow Food UK – the snail.

I am loving the Slow Movement, Slow Food (follow it slowly, of course, on Twitter) and slow everything else even while I am still catching myself doing a bit of quick-quick quite often. But then snails slip into their shells very quick-quick.

So maybe snails understand the rhythm of the tango just as much as me but prefer a slow waltz generally. I guess they keep their schedules pretty open: find food, eat it, evade death, appreciate your amazing hermaphrodite-ness, enjoy slithering and making out with other snails.

There’s a lot of good stuff to learn here. I am going to stop setting myself a ridiculous number of things to do each day. I am liking this idea of taking the slow road and making a slow, mindful, energy-saving and aware mindset my default position.

You gonna make like a snail or are you enamored of the cheetah? Unlike most animals in the wild, we have a free choice (if we allow ourselves to live wild that is).

Footnote: I must add that I’ve actively practised s-l-o-w while writing this post, by putting back the delivery time on your email subscription instead of rushing to make it by 11am AND forcing myself to not check the 26 emails which arrived tantalizingly in my inbox while I was writing it. This was NOT EASY for me! But change never is, is it? Also, thanks to Bindu Wiles for her wonderful 21.5.800 project which has supported me in staying focused and centered today. What a gal is Bindu – check her out.

PS Lovely Jackie Stewart of Flowerspirit has a wonderful post about the healing effects provided by a particular flower essence on this very issue. This flower helps us, as Jackie says, ‘slow down and be present’, can you guess it’s name? I love flower essences.


Flipping free of creative oppression

Can you relate the person in the illustration above? He has taken all his wondrous, firey wands of creativity; his gorgeous ideas and free-spirited thoughts and has dug them in around himself like the stakes of a prison. Now his wands of creative imagination and expression hem him in, smother and oppress him.

Feeling creatively oppressed is horrible. With too many burdens to carry you’re exhausted and grumpy. The feeling escalates with every un-creative task you attend to, (although admittedly you could argue all tasks are creative in some form or another).

Yet, annoyingly, it’s a natural part of the process of creativity.

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in mundane tasks like washing the floor, doing the laundry, making meals, checking emails. I’ve been over-ambitious about how much I can achieve in one day.

I’m wrapped up like a fly in a spider’s web of grocery shopping, making someone’s birthday present, sweeping the patio, taking the dog for a walk and on and on it never-endingly goes.

I think about the world and all its concerns. My giant creativity is tied down and every tiny task or thought is like a tiny person tying down Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels until it is trapped, rigid and helpless.

Now I don’t want to give you a shopping list of X ways to flip free of creative oppression for fear that might make you feel even more oppressed. Just thinking about a shopping list makes me feel suffocated right now.

So look, here’s just ONE simple, lovely way. Maybe two, or two and half.

First, realize you are creatively oppressed. Know that in living and being part of the real world, it’s normal and natural for things to overwhelm you. Flip this attitude to one of appreciation of the basics like having a job or a roof over your head then let it go by doing this:


Allow your creative, adventurous, daring and risk-taking side a little space. How do you do that? By relinquishing stuff.

We all know that what we do on the outside mirrors what we do on the inside and vice-versa. So grab a bag and throw some stuff out.

This may seem to contradict what I said about simple tasks making us feel creatively oppressed but I’ve found that cleaning my home or tidying up seems to release at least some of the burdens that are weighing me down.

I knew a novelist who could not write a word unless his entire house was neat and tidy. (Luckily it was a small house and he has managed to write a few books.) I think maybe this has something to do with tangibly getting your house in order so your mind will be ordered too. The mindful task of cleaning and sorting also sorts out your thoughts and calms you.

Sculptors know all about removing in order to create. They talk about taking pieces away to reveal the shape within. I’m not a sculptor but I really love this idea. Minimalists and those on a de-cluttering drive get it intuitively. (Leo Babauta of ZenHabits has a beautiful, useful post “how to let go of possessions” on his Mnmlist blog which fires me up to chuck stuff out.)

My number one way to instantly relieve myself of a sense of creative oppression is to grab a bag, zealously collect things from round my home that I no longer have need for and take the bag to a charity shop.

When I do this – and I do it a lot because I often feel creatively oppressed and am cool with that – I feel instantly lighter.

The bigger the bag, the more stuff I’m removing, the lighter I feel. Oftentimes the more ‘attached’ to something I am, the more relief I feel in getting rid of it.

So here’s your one-step process to flip quickly from feeling creatively oppressed to creatively liberated: relinquish.

Yes, take one bag of stuff you no longer need and give it away. Free up your space, free up your mind, free up your creativity.

————–> If I’m being responsible I should add an important caveat. There is another effect of relinquishing physical possessions. It often precipitates relinquishing of relationships and out-moded ways of being. For example, don’t be surprised if you throw out a bag containing your first resume attempts and some old work stuff to find yourself deciding to write a resignation letter.

Relinquishing has a BIG ripple-effect. And as we know a ripple effect is one of nature’s fundamental and creative responses.


Hello authentic life

Yesterday I talked a little about how we could all be more ourselves – the individuals we are – and feel more empowered instead of running around like Loraxes.

But how exactly to do that? How do you live your authentic life?

First of all, you are an individual. It follows that your life ought to be one based on your individuality. You are not just a person in the system, a potential customer, a consumer or one of the target market. Yet so many of us are unwittingly brainwashed and just bob along with the waves of patterns of behaviour that move around the ocean of our populace.

It seems to me that while most people understand we have free choice – and so many less fortunate people in the world do not have this essential foundation of a free society – they don’t use their free choice. (However, there are anomalies in our society, for example, parents-to-be in New York have no choice about whether to have their baby at home or not.)

Free will and free choice means we have the luxury of being more conscious of the tiny as well as big choices we make every day.

Each choice has a consequence. When we choose carefully and thoughtfully, when we ask ourselves what we want to do instead of just automatically doing what we think society wants us to do, we instantly empower ourselves.

The more we listen to our inner Self, and act on our intuition, the stronger we feel, and co-incidentally happier. The more we consciously strip away unnecessary things by de-cluttering, creating breathing space in our lives, being more mindful, honoring the things that make us feel good and doing more of them, the more authentic our lives will be. Our lives reflect who we are.

So in the hope of inspiring you, I gave myself 15 minutes to write a little stream-of-consciousness list of my ways of authentic living – practical choices I’ve made and continue to make that have helped me strip away layers of accidental falsity and live a more fulfilling life.

Hello authentic living –

Hello handmade, nature, wilderness and conscious living. Hello make-do-and-mend and minimalism. Hello connecting with my community and guerrilla gardening. Hello buying local produce and seasonal food.

Hello stripping away unnecessary things, including people and ideologies. Hello looking at bees and butterflies instead of watching them on TV. Hello letting children feel free and safe and able to play without adult supervision and interference.

Hello walking instead of driving. Hello knowing more about my family and friends than I do about celebrities and TV characters. Hello Waldorf / Steiner education and toys made of things that once lived like wool and wood. Hello not window-shopping and buying into retail persuasion.

Hello wearing the same dress I wore ten years ago because I love it (fashion doyen, Vivienne Westwood would approve). Hello making your own clothes, buying vintage clothes, revamping your old clothes, buying clothes from charity shops and expressing your individuality through the clothes you wear.

Hello being indecisive so you are always open to something new happening. Hello being spontaneous and going with that whole “who moved the cheese” thing.

Hello learning to be storytellers again instead of always reading books. Hello buying online direct from artists and creators on Etsy instead of big brand manufacturers. Hello upcycling and finding new uses for things we might otherwise throw away. Hello guitars around campfires, sleeping  under the stars and taking courses like Guy Mallinson’s woodland camps.

Hello farmers markets and people raising animals and crops the old-fashioned, expensive way. Hello curative classical homoeopathy and the slow movement. Hello creating communities of like-minded people online so it’s like we all live together in a village. (I’d like WildelyCreative as a neighbour.)

Hello supporting the people working with white knuckles, gritted teeth and in tears to save our planet, the species we share it with and the welfare of animals. Hello the rebel, the maverick, the weirdo who stands up and is not afraid to go against the tide.

Hello having your baby at home, being supported by other parents and breastfeeding for as long as you want. Hello hand-me-down clothes that have the energy of other children about them. Hello dads being good at supporting and protecting their family and moms being good at nurturing and home-making and hello all parents feeling supported and confident instead of thinking they need to read parenting books <– although I recommend that one).

Hello feeling connected to people via the magnificent universe that is Twitter that you’d never meet in real life. Hello listening to our instincts and acting upon them so we get more gut instincts and start to rely on them instead. Hello thinking for yourself instead of what everyone else seems to think.

Hello doing the exact things we loved as children, not matter how childish like playing with modelling clay and crayons, making things from twigs and collecting feathers. Hello not feeling you have to see the latest movie. Hello walking barefoot and getting your hands dirty.

Hello attempting to fix something instead of just buying a replacement. Hello getting to know your neighbours even if you don’t like them. Hello having a cat or dog in your life to teach you important life lessons and bring you companionship, fun, love and joy.

Hello photographing wildlife instead of shooting it. Hello going on guided nature walks instead of shopping trips. Hello home baking, making meals from scratch and growing our own wild foods.

Hello taking things out of skips and picking up things off the street that people have put out as garbage (we got 4 rolls of thick cream wallpaper on the street yesterday, great for HUGE painting and pastel works of art).

Hello looking up old friends and just saying hello. Hello realising you are beautiful. Hello loving what you have and being grateful.

Hello more displays of public affection. Hello more adventurous sex. (Bye bye stupid inhibitions.) Hello sharing secrets and talking more about what you feel. Hello writing silly notes and saying thank you.

Hello finding out about the insects and other little beasties you share you home and street with and looking for them and being able to name them. Hello smiling at people and acknowledging people more.

Hello realizing how far you’ve come and helping those coming up behind you. Hello leaving whole days open and unscheduled to do what you like in the moment. Hello risking looking foolish when you ask a stranger if they need help with their bags, car, crossing the road or anything else. Hello getting better about saying ‘no’ without giving an explanation as to why not.

Hello having wildflower meadows and wilderness areas in our gardens. Hello making gifts and cards for friends and family instead of giving money to a shop. Hello more people doing things like moving your tomato plant so the noise won’t disturb a leafcutter bee’s nest.

Hello healing ourselves by listening to our inner wild.

I’d love it if we did a kind of brainstorming thing here and you added your individual ‘Hello‘s in the comments below. I might add a few more too.

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