I am realizing afresh how impatient I am. I have written of being in pain and how vulnerable I have felt with it. So many lessons in that. Dare I say that the pain has been, on some levels, a gift? So many people in our world live with pain on a daily basis. How useful it is for me to be in a situation where I experience just a little of what so many go through. Hopefully, such a realization will grow my compassion and empathy for others.
Living with pain means slowing down. It also means not being able to do some of the things I would usually do. And I do not like asking for help. I would much rather be my independent self, doing things when I want and how I want. So this gift of pain requires me to ask for help and there has been joy in the companionship of the doing together. I have found myself feeling happy to have another along side doing the things that I have to leave off doing for now. That too has been a blessing.
The needing to wait for things to be done, until another can do them, has also left me feeling vulnerable. Have I become so used to doing things ‘instantly’ that I have lost resilience? How good it is for me to have to wait, to be patient, to say ‘no’ to some things that I would really like to be doing. To actually take some time to rest.
I have long admired the resilience I see in other people. Perhaps they have grown resilience through the patient art of waiting, perhaps even through a level of suffering?
Once again, I come back to the principles of pilgrimage and the lessons I learned when walking the Camino Frances. Rest is important. I do not have to ‘maximise’ my life even though so much of the culture around me, suggests that I should, that I must.
Perhaps I am learning. My pain has lessened over the past few days. My body is on the mend. I hope to remember this time of asking for help and the ensuing joy and happiness that I found in such experiences. May I live life more slowly and not get caught up in over-enthusiasm so that I remember.
I am aware that so many in the world live with constant pain. Living with constant physical pain is new to me and my situation is not permanent. I slipped on a wooden deck some six weeks ago. When I got myself up off the deck I told myself, “I have got off lightly indeed.” I experienced no pain at all, but over the next few weeks, I started to experience pain in my left hip. I mistakenly did not go to the doctor. ‘Too busy’. How silly. I have been going to an osteopath which in the past has given quick relief. Not this time. I finally had an ultrasound and I have small tears deep in the thigh muscles. I stopped walking, then dropped off some stretches, but still I keep needing to pop pain killers.
I have noticed that my emotions fluctuate according to the amount of pain I am experiencing. How do other people, who experience constant pain remain hopeful and engaged in life? Of course, I too remain hopeful and engaged, but sometimes I have been challenged to answer questions without being short.
My hope is that when my pain has gone when healing is complete, that I will retain compassion and empathy for those I meet who have pain as a constant companion.
The other morning I had clay in my hands. I joined the class of three – the other two members of the class were my 10 year old granddaughter and another girl aged 8 years. Together, we created bowls, jugs and I a soap dish. We had a lovely morning, each taking our turn waiting for the accomplished potter and sculptor, Kay Olgivy, help us along. Time of course was irrelevant, morning tea time came and went and so engrossed were we, the end of class came before any of us were expecting it. My granddaughter remarked, “it was so quick and so long this morning.” We are eagerly awaiting the call back when the firing is completed and we can begin our lesson on glazing.
How different was the pattern of time for me today. With my husband Bruce, I am cleaning and painting our former home getting it ready to sell. I noticed my old foe, Self-Pity creeping in this morning and time dragged. In reality, I do not need to be pitied. I have so much going for me and live a wonderfully privileged life. It is just that I resented being back in the house, still cleaning it up. Yet it needs to be done to get the best possible sale price and of course I will be one of the two who benefit from a good sale.
While feeling just a little resentful, and noticing the self-pity, I also noticed myself noticing my attitude and emotions. Walking the Camino de Santiago and my subsequent writing of Kiwi on the CAmino: A Walk that Changed my Life has made me so much more self-aware. So instead of continuing to feel miserable about my lot today, I was able to think ahead and at the same time appreciate how much work Bruce has put in over the past four weeks. His has been the lion’s share of the work. He is exhausted but continues to whistle and sing as he goes about his work.
I became my own potter, reshaping me as the clay, turning me from an ugly resentful figure, into one that could appreciate the work both Bruce and I are doing to get our former home ready to sell. What a gift both walking the Camino and writing about the walk have been. Instead of wallowing in the self-pity and being grumpy, I was able to keep going, looking forward to the finished result and grateful I know myself just a little bit more than previously.
To be at peace with myself, others and the earth, I need time to myself. I need to be quiet so that I can hear my own thoughts and rest in each moment, preferably with gratitude. The longer I have away from times of silence and solitude, the harder I find it is to stay with being grateful, an attitidue which I think is so essential to my well-being.
There is of course a place, and a necessity, for activity. At the moment, with my husband, we are busy renovating our home with the view of putting it up for sale within the next fortnight. The house is looking better by the day and it will be a grief to let it go. However, we cannot hold on to everything, despite encouragement from the voice of sentiment. To keep the current path of living life daily within the principles of pilgrimage, I need to live a slower, quieter life.
With the publication of Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life, the requirement to market and sell my book is dominating my life outside of house renovations. I understand that even authors who are fortunate enough to publish through traditional publishing houses, find themselves having to market their book. It is a challenge. The time and energy needed takes me away from the writing space. Once the house is sold, I will intentionally be creative about setting days aside once again for writing.
John O’Donohue is a writer I respect and appreciate very much. In Anam Cara he writes, “One of the lovely things in the Celtic mind was the sense of spontaneity. Spontaneity is one of the greatest spiritual gifts. To be spontaneous is to escape the age of the ego by trusting that which is beyond the self (p. 118). I like these thoughts. One of the reasons I left my last place of work to write Kiwi on the Camino was the desire to live my life more creatively and spontaneously. I enjoy the freedom to be spontaneous without the enforced times of meeting attendance and routine of times for the beginning and ending of days. I am privileged indeed to be able to choose what time I rise, how I spend my day and then what time I go to bed. The daylight is often the dictator in my rising and going to bed. So much kinder than an alarm clock. While walking the Camino de Santiago, one of my biggest lessons was to learn to trust. To trust that the day would bring to me what I needed for that day and to let the care and concern for tomorrow wait until the next day. Trust is one of the ongoing principles of pilgrimage that I continue to cherish.
Spring has arrived at at last. We have had just a few sunny days and this photo was taken on one of them. We are having soup and bread for lunch seated out on the small deck. This is our sole table at this house which up to 18 months ago was our home – the rest of our furniture is in storage. We are busy renovating so that the house can go on the market. Little writing is taking place with the focus of selling our former home so we can build up at the beach among the bush and birds, overlooking the harbour. We hope to have a commanding view over the water in the beautiful spot we are calling home and I loved looking out over the water and bush while writing Kiwi on the Camino.
Tonight I received two emails from women who have just completed reading Kiwi on the Camino. Both encouraged me to keep writing. I look forward to beginning to re-focus so that I can pick up my second book where I left off. The working title is: Living a slower life. I invite response to this proposed title.
I find I have an ongoing challenge in remembering to slow down, to breathe and focus with gratitude on each moment.
I continue to learn many things – most of which are about myself. Things I thought I had laid to rest, are rising from their dormancy. Fortunately, when I talk of these things with friends, they laugh, and I know they love me while knowing all along, that these personality and character traits have not ceased to breathe. Dare I say that these aspects about me, which trouble me, are some of the things that make me unique? And even lovable?
I have felt flat with the (re)discovery of ambitions which had been hiding. Spring is a time of new life and a vibrancy of growth. Yet my energy does not match that of the physical world around me. I know, however, that it is in these flat times, without adrenaline to speed me on my way,the secrets of my intimate self – the creative gifts can come forth. It is in the darkness where my soul dwells that my creativity can be rekindled.
For now, I rest, remember to slow down and be quiet and I will embrace the flat feeling, looking forward to the return of energy. I welcome this period of grace wherein something new can come forth.
I don’t usually remember my dreams, but when I do I take note of them. I dreamed two dreams several nights apart and both had elements of fear in them with a sense of loss and grief. The first dream had me fearing for my life. A gunman was after me and during the dream, shot dead a companion of mine. He continued to pursue me. The second dream was of me present in a house that was being robbed. There were young children with me. The thieves were stealing valuable art work from the walls.
After a few days of thought, reflection and prayer, I came to the conclusion that the dreams were about my writing – the art of crafting words. The threat of the gunman was the threat to the life of my creative self and the threat of art work was a similar threat – a threat to the art of writing. The children were a symbol of the vulnerability of my hopes and dreams about writing.
These two dreams came within nights of each other and at a time when I was feeling very despondent post publication of KIWI ON THE CAMINO. The daunting task of marketing a self-published book with all the ensuing blocks was inviting me to ‘give up’ the effort of publicity and marketing KIWI ON THE CAMINO.
The dreams, with their fear and threat of loss of something that is very precious to me – the art of crafting manuscripts – gave me hope to hold on and to persevere. When I came to understand my dreams, things changed. Three sources confirmed they would review KIWI ON THE CAMINO and a fourth has left the door open for a possible review. Hope was once again kindled that KIWI ON THE CAMINO would at least get a chance of being known by the reading public.
I take a wider hope from these dreams as well; that is for all of us who aspire to create, in whatever form that may be, that we hold onto our dreams, and that we become even more tenacious when the way is dark and discouraging.
May we hold onto our dreams and hopes.
Today I learned that a former doctor of mine died June this year. He was younger than me. When I needed to consult him, we spent more time talking about riding our bicycles and the over-the-top pressure of our respective jobs than my current ailment. When last I spoke with him, he had reduced his work days to three a week to enable him to get more rest and fun time in his life. Perhaps he left his plan to ‘live a slower life’ too late. I do not know what killed him, but tonight I mourn a good man. I thought him a good doctor as well, despite my attempting to hit him when he reminded me – some three years ago – that I would soon be 60. (I write of this incident in ‘Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life’.)
Once again I am reminded about why I have changed my life style and pared back to having fewer possessions. It is important to me that I take the time to breathe, to chew my food, to move as much as possible at a human pace, and to smell the air around me when I am in clean, green spaces. I am taking to heart Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s thought of “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” For my former doctor, he stripped away some of the stressors in his life, he was attempting to live with less money, less exhaustion, looking for a life that suited him better, but now it is too late.
Less is more, simplicity is more manageable than complexity. It is a myth that it is possible to multi-task. I am choosing to live my life more slowly despite the current pressure post publication of my first book. I am still holding on to the principles of pilgrimage in my ordinary, every-day life.
Growing a career when I have decided to live a slower live is becoming somewhat of an oxymoron. I am loosing my new slower routines as I attempt to cross off the ever increasing list of ‘must do’s’ now I have a published book. There are author and writer societies to join, writers’ groups to attend as well as writing workshops and seminars. There are retail shops to cold call on and that needs a marketing plan. The marketing plan has been on my list for days now, but seems to slip out of sight.
And then there are friends to help and visit. These are very important people to me who helped me craft Kiwi on the Camino into its final version. I have been thinking about the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. Is it possible that urgent actually is less important than ‘important’? Can that be so? I decided today to let the urgent slip down the list to let the important take place. With that shift, my breathing slowed down and I felt my body relax.
People are important. Tasks become urgent.