Sunday, 14 August 2016
I ran as fast as I could. Speeding past the daisy mound, around the corner and down the hill, he was catching up. I could hear pounding footsteps right behind me getting closer and closer. Wind rushed through my hair as my heart beat faster.
Making my escape behind the tall Sycamore, my friend in hot pursuit suddenly gave up the chase. Why had he stopped running? Was I just too quick for him, too stealthy? I glanced over my shoulder, panting. It wasn’t until I heard my friend laughing that I knew all was not as it seemed. I reached behind my back and peeled off the green sticky vine that had attached itself to me mid-escape - it was game over. I spun on my heels and immediately began the chase in the opposite direction.
Decades later, whenever I see these funny little Galium Aparine growing in a hedge, or in the woods, or by a tree, I can't help but remember how much fun they brought to my friends and I. This Velcro-like weed provided hours of entertainment. And what's funnier than launching a vine or two at someone to watch it magically stick to their clothing without being noticed…
Sometimes in life, things stick. Whether it be a comment, a look or an action, we occasionally find things that’ve been said or done can stay with us. We roll them over in our minds and ruminate until we are left exhausted, still none the wiser.
But the secret to flying is letting go. If we spread our wings and release anything we don't need, we might just find that we can soar higher and lighter than ever before.
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Consciousness drifts in and I lie there for a moment; still, peaceful, happy. My eyes gently open and a new day begins. I step out into the warm morning sun with a freshly brewed coffee and look up. Clouds waft around revealing the beautiful blue behind them. My body welcomes the heat. The strawberries in the garden are ripe and red, the Blueberries ready to be plucked any day now. A butterfly flutters past my face.
And as I glance over towards the flowering chives, a bumble bee catches my eye. I watch as it moves from one flower to the next.
I’ve always been amazed at how they manage to get off the ground with their bulky bodies - their wings seem so small, so delicate in comparison. As I follow my little friend’s journey, I begin to think about us and the weight we also carry around. There are times in our life when we can feel overwhelmed with all the things we need to do. Our hopes, our dreams, our fears, all playing a part in the baggage. Sometimes we have broken limbs, and sometimes broken hearts, but in spite of this, we carry on regardless. Life can be tough sometimes, but that’s the wonderful thing about us: at any given moment, we have the power to turn even the most difficult day into something better. And just like the bee working hard to collect the pollen, we too can transform our challenging experiences into something sweeter.
Sunday, 17 July 2016
Warm summer sun burns through the glass of the conservatory and a welcome breeze wafts gently in. I check my buttonhole for the final time and look around. A roomful of people waiting in anticipation of the arrival. I turn to look at my brother standing next to me, and I smile. He looks nervous. I bump his shoulder and wink. He chuckles.
A hush descends over the room and the first few notes of a song begin to play, followed by angelic singing. I turn my head to see the bridesmaids taking the first few steps of their journey down the aisle. Then I see the bride. She looks simply stunning, radiant. Her dress is fabulous!
And there, surrounded by all the people we love most dearly, they join together in beautiful matrimony.
Breakfast, speeches, songs and cake go by in a wedding day blur.
And then, as day turns to night, we begin to dance.
There is a moment on the floor when I suddenly feel euphoric, free. The beats take me higher and higher as my favourite song kicks in.
And at the end of the evening, the bride and groom run through an archway of arms, disappearing out into the garden. In the midst of applause and music and kisses and hugs, I'm left with a feeling that anything is possible.
And just like that, under a sky full of stars, life changes again.
Sunday, 12 June 2016
Saturday evening and I'm back on a train, homeward bound. Snaking through the city, we glide underneath the cable cars. I look up. Almost a whole year has gone by since I was up there, flying over the river, with summer sun burning through the glass onto the face I loved.
Rain splashes onto the window pane and I'm pulled back into the carriage and onto the tracks.
We clickety-clack in front of the apartments not quite finished, and homes that have stood for a generation.
The sky is heavy with a grey that will now see us through to night.
Passing the theatre that used to be a church, we roll into City Airport. A plane’s tail fin pokes elegantly out from behind a building and I'm suddenly transported back to a departure lounge goodbye: a gentle kiss, a pull inside my soul.
The old sugar factory looms to the right and I wonder about all the men and women who have toiled there in the past.
Humid, stormy air begins to make my shirt cling to the naked torso hiding beneath it. And as we begin the final part of our journey before the train reaches the end of the line, I am flooded with memories and moments. This city that relentlessly adds landmarks to the map of my heart, bombards me with associations every day - a year gone by and a journey that has changed my landscape, forever.
Sunday, 22 May 2016
As I enter the carriage, a wall of heat smashes into my body. Grateful to find an empty seat, I step over bags and outstretched legs to get settled. At the next stop people pour in and I'm surrounded.
I close my eyes. Suddenly, I'm walking alone in a field of daisies at the back of my house.
A memory of lying alone on the school green laps gently in my mind. Looking up at an open sky, every flower that surrounded me was a perfect opportunity to find out if he-loved-me-he-loved-me-not. Decades later, I wonder if these little things will stay with me forever.
I think about the I-love-you’s that change your world, and the I-love-you’s that are never returned; the ending of something that glimmered with potential, and the beautiful beginning of a beating chest.
Whether we're pulling away or coming together, there will always be a dance of the heart. And it’s through these twists and turns that we discover what we’re truly made of.
I can't help but wonder how connected we all are, invisibly intertwined. Who is falling for someone...and who is simply falling?
As the train pulls into my station, I look around. Has the woman sitting opposite found the love of her life? And is the man, lost in his book, craving something he will never have?
Bag on my back, I step out and make my way up the whirring escalator once more.
I suddenly jump to the field again. And I smile. For wherever I go and whatever I do, there will always be love in my life.
And a big field of daisies.
Sunday, 1 May 2016
She has a cold.
Her mini sneezes and tiny coughs make me scoop her up into my arms and hold her tightly. She wriggles away and jumps down to start the wonderful new game of catch-me-if-you-can. She stares at me with her glistening brown eyes and makes me chuckle – they have mischief in them.
Another little sneeze.
And so we begin. It’s a race to see who can reach her stuffed toy first. She flies across the room and I join her a couple of seconds later. She bites into it tightly and pulls away with all her might. I tug, she tugs harder. Her face screws up, lost in the absolute joy of living in the moment.
We lounge in the garden with the sun on our faces. Basking in the warmth, I momentarily forget about my yearning heart.
And at the end of a long day, she curls up on the sofa and I watch her drift off into a deep sleep. Her breathing slows and I hope that she shortly has one of her dreams again: the dream in which she chases her friend Cotton across the common, sending her legs wildly paddling the air.
She teaches me to take every day as it comes. She shows me the importance of being light with life. And through her I see that, by having an open heart and willingness to carry on regardless, even the most painful days will eventually transform into something most beautiful.
Sunday, 10 April 2016
A bustle surrounds me that is strangely comforting, nurturing, inspiring.
I take a sip of soya mocha and recline into the wooden chair that almost reminds me of being back at school.
Wherever I look, cups are being lifted, people are talking and people are thinking.
Hot chocolate, cappuccinos, iced tea and lattes - all at the centre of this crazy choreography.
The young lady with pixie hair, glasses and a septum piercing is tapping away at her MacBook. She looks vaguely familiar. Or maybe she just looks like someone I once knew. No sooner than I have that thought, she casually glances up from her screen and catches my eye. For a second we are locked in a gaze. I get the feeling that she is looking, but doesn’t really see me. The connection is fleeting. Almost immediately, I look away and notice that a man is sitting on his own in the corner, lost in his thoughts.
The group on the table next to me noisily gather up their bags and leave. Just as the last man is about to walk out the door, he suddenly turns back and glances at the table from whence he came. Satisfied that nothing was left behind, he continues on and vanishes into the crowd once more.
This is the moment when the clouds outside grow dark with an imminent downpour. And this is the moment I am suddenly overwhelmed with the unshakeable feeling that we are all somehow connected - connected in ways we can see, and in ways we don't quite know.
And as we continue to hurtle through the blackness of space, I can’t help but wonder about our shared experience of life here on planet Earth.
Saturday, 2 April 2016
A giant bee buzzes behind my head and hops from one flower to the next. Wonderfully lost in its own world, it’s oblivious to me sitting here with my cup of morning coffee. No sooner than I turn around to watch it, it takes off and disappears over the hedge.
I suddenly notice the buds that are beginning to appear. From barren terracotta pots and barked borders, new life is emerging once more.
The garlic clove I planted last week has already begun to shoot up elegantly. I’m instantly awe-struck at how intelligent everything is.
There are cycles of change, of growth, of hope.
A light breeze tickles the palm overhead and gently rustles the leaves. If I close my eyes, I can almost be back somewhere tropical and lovely...until a lawnmower whirs noisily into action next door. It doesn’t take long for the scent of cut grass to waft over the fence. I breathe deeply - it is comforting, invigorating.
And as I look up towards the giant tree at the bottom of the garden, I’m reminded that life always finds a way. Things can get tough sometimes. With all the daily challenges and struggles, it’s easy to feel lost. But as long as we are gentle with ourselves and have patience, we can find that a new beginning is just around the corner.
For every withered branch, there’s a bud about to bloom. And for every cold winter, there’s a spring.
Sunday, 13 March 2016
I placed the bunches carefully onto the kitchen worktop with the rest of the shopping and began to put everything away. I snipped off the elastic bands holding the stems together and trimmed the ends. Over the next couple of days, I casually glanced at the buds as I walked past the vase. I looked at them whilst making coffee, momentarily eyed them up before going to bed, and glanced at them as I sang. I was looking forward to the beautiful burst of bright yellow that was to come. I waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, by the 4th day, the first bud was beginning to bloom. It seemed a little slow in coming, but at least the flowering was imminent. Making my breakfast the following morning, my heart sank. The flower that had showed so much promise the day before was now already withering away. Then, one by one, the daffodil buds came and went without so much as a fizzle.
I couldn’t understand it. 1 week of hope, 7 days of willing, 168 hours of expectation led to this moment: the moment I finally realised that they were never going to bloom.
As I popped the brown stems into the compost bin, I began to think about hope and how, sometimes in life, things don’t quite turn out the way we want them to. With all the want and will in the world, some things are just not meant to be at that precise moment. But what if nothing is for nothing? What if the things that don’t work out eventually lead somewhere else entirely? That other place in which we laugh that little bit louder, dance that little bit lighter and shine just that little bit brighter.
Sunday, 6 March 2016
As the heavy door clicks quietly shut, the familiar scent of a hotel room embraces me. Keycard goes in, ambient lights come on and I suddenly notice that I have a new friend staying with me. Sitting on the bed, with an upturned trunk, is a sweet little elephant fashioned from various towels. I chuckle. He looks so happy with his floppy ears and stick-on eyes.
My bag plops down next to the desk and I fall onto the bed - it is soft and clean and white. There is a moment where everything seems to stand still.
I decide to do what I always do when I check into a new room: eye-up the shower. A smile creeps across my face as I spot the large Monsoon head glistening high on the freshly painted ceiling. I can’t wait to try it out.
The little bottles of shower gel and shampoo sit on the side and I unwrap the tiny bar of woody-spicy soap. There is something lovely about all the little things found in a hotel room - they make me feel warm and fuzzy, a kind of home away from home.
Back on the bed, I look at my towel friend and wonder how one would even begin to create such a thing. For a second, I think about deconstructing it to see how it is done. But I stop myself. I want to enjoy this moment a little while longer, to float in the peace.
And the last thing I see before I close my eyes is him staring back at me. I snuggle closer, my breathing slows down and I feel myself drift off into a beautiful dreamless sleep.
Sunday, 14 February 2016
Sunday morning and the city is slowly waking. Apart from a light breeze that strokes the branches overhead, everything is still.
Steam swirls up and out of my yellow mug. It sits next to my red smoothie. And I’m looking out into the world.
The daffodils that I placed in the vase a couple of days ago are beginning to open up.
It’s Valentine’s Day.
As I stretch myself awake, the puppy comes hurtling through the door like a flash of black lightning. Within a second she is all over me, tail wagging furiously. And so we play. She tries to lick my face and nibble my hand. I tickle her. It ends with her on her back for a belly rub. I watch her close her eyes and get lost in the joy. I chuckle. She loves me, there’s no doubt.
As we snuggle up, I begin to think about love and its many different forms. There is the love that we have for our animal buddies and the love that we get from our family; The supporting love of friends and the all-consuming love of a partner.
And then there’s everything else in-between.
Whether it be the deepening bond of a relationship, or a random act of kindness towards a stranger, love changes the world. It is everything.
But the most important love is the one we have for ourselves. And when that love is unconditional, we become limitless.
Monday, 8 February 2016
As I walk along the beach, the sound of lapping waves and soaring seagulls surrounds me. A salty wind picks up and tickles my ears. The sand is soft and golden. I turn my head to look back and see a set of footprints glistening in the sun. They follow me faithfully.
Making my way up the slope towards the cliff top, the bright afternoon light is invigorating.
And as I reach the highest point, I stop walking and look out across a glimmering sea. Boats bob gently on the surface and become part of the horizon. Just before the dirt track that runs alongside the edge, something catches my eye – a sign:
I don’t know if it is the picture of the falling man, or the words, but I am suddenly aware of the wet earth beneath my feet. I push away a thought of landing flat on my face and continue on. Mud begins to clog the soles of my shoes. I slow my pace.
And when I eventually reach the ditch that spans across my path, I begin to think about fear and how it can stop us from moving forward. What if we fall again, what if we fail?
But there is only now. Just this single moment.
And so, under a cloudy sky, my feet lift off the ground and I leap across the muddy void.
Sometimes in life, we slip. Whether it be from a banana skin, a break-up, or a bad day, there will always be things that pop up, causing us to lose our balance. But for every fall, there is a get-back-up. And for every dust-yourself-down, there’s space for something new. Something wonderful. Something beautiful.
Sunday, 31 January 2016
I'm up above the clouds once more. From 38,000ft up, I can see for miles. My magazine is closed on the table. A clear plastic cup containing what’s left of my sky-high cocktail, a small piece of ice and half a lemon slice sits next to it. I look out over the horizon. We soar high above white, fluffy clouds.
I used to wonder, as a child, what it would be like to be this far off the ground. I remember sitting in class, looking out over the cross-county field towards the airport runway and watching the planes take off one by one. I would dream of all the places in the world that I could visit one day, and of all the colourful people I would meet along the way.
As we bank gracefully left, the sun glares through the window and temporarily blinds me. I close my eyes. And within this isolation, a feeling of peace floods my body. I am free as a bird as I doze off into a light sleep.
The sound of the trolley being pushed back up the aisle for the final time pulls me gently back. Soon we will begin our descent. Soon we will be walking through passport control. Soon I will be boarding the DLR. And soon I will be back in my bedroom. Night will come, dawn will break, and there will be a new beginning once again.