Monday, December 27, 2010


tomorrow. tomorrow we will get up before the sun. and take a train. and another train, and another train. and another train. crossing the mountains, back into the cold, the snow, the heart of winter. all the way back home.

but today. today the sky is blue as violets. the sea green as silk. the pink flamingoes are nodding their heads. and the wash is hanging out of the windows.

today it is still the south.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


today my little girl turned 7. she is funny, wise, quick, stubborn, gentle, loving, shy, graceful and grave. but really she is none of those things. she is just her amazing self.

(and i bet you'll never guess what she got for her birthday...)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

yule tide

for the first time since 1638, a lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice. at the sun's darkest hour, the moon's full face was veiled.

the moon and the sun granted me three gifts tonight. the gift of trust. the gift of inner fire. and the gift of seeing that which is invisible for the eyes.

all gifts that can only be found in the dark. thank you.

(and here is a beautiful yule song:

Enter the night and you'll find the light,
that will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
in the field of infinite possibilities.

On the longest night we search for the light,
and we find it deep within.
Open your eyes to embrace what is wise,
and see the light of your own soul shining.

Wrap up in the cloak of starry darkness my child, and you'll find the center of all things.
For from this place of the deepest dark space,
life eternal does spring.

So when you find that spark.
When you dream in the dark,
hold it close to your heart and know.
All that you see is all that can be.
When you give birth to the dreams of your soul.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

paris, paris

short stop-over on our way south. long enough to remember the love. long enough to see some beauty.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


now that the moon has entered her second quarter, the sun is shining on the sea, and i am smiling again (see above for evidence aimed at reassuring my worried readers), i'd like to sit here for a while with my cup of tea (and you) and ponder this whole 'feeling bad' thing.

just imagine for a moment a world in which the following conversation would take place between two friends:

- i don't know what's wrong with me... for weeks now, i wake up every morning, and i am just feeling so happy. it's crazy. and it goes on all day, too. i wake up with it, i go to bed with it. i've tried all my usual tricks to get rid of it, but nothing seems to help.
- oh honey! how awful! i'm sorry to hear it... remember i had more or less the same thing last year? i thought it would never end...
- yes, i do remember. what did you end up doing?
- oh, i tried everything: books, movies, walking, running, talking... nothing helped. i even went into therapy for a while... in the end, i just took pills for it. couldn't see any other way out.

crazy, you say? yet, replace 'happy' with 'miserable', and you have a perfectly 'normal' conversation. working on the assumption that the people i don't know (many many many) are not altogether that different from the people i do know (a few dozens), i would say that the human condition involves more or less as many 'bad' mornings/weeks/months/years as 'good' mornings/weeks/months/years. so what are we doing, turning up our noses at half of our lives?

(note in passing that it's really hard to talk about feeling 'yucky' in neutral terms, since almost all the words for it are either of the clinical disorder type or, well, 'yucky').

so what's so bad then, about feeling sad? some say it hurts. in my very limited, subjective and personal experience, however, it is not feeling sad (when feeling sad) that hurts. not crying when your throat is full of tears, that really hurts (incidentally, trying not to laugh when you have to is just as painful, as any parent watching their young child perform a theatre play will be able to confirm). but a good deep long cry relaxes, soothes and calms. in fact, it's right up there with the full-blown spa treatment in terms of recharging your battery.

and it's not just a question of physical benefits. sorrow has a softness to it, a gentleness, a compassion, that joy sadly lacks. when terribly sad, i always feel so connected to the rest of humanity; seeing people walk on the street, i can feel their pain alongside mine, and i am overwhelmed with compassion for us all. everyone is me, i am everyone. we are all in this together. and sorrow makes me appreciate the little things, the small daily gestures of love, the smell of my child's head, the one rose courageously braving the frost. there is something very grounding and soothing in sorrow.

some say sorrow is dangerous, if indulged in for too long. that's probably true, but isn't everything dangerous, if indulged in for too long? true, depressed people are more likely to take their own lives, but insanely cheerful people are more likely to have crazy accidents because they think they are invincible and immortal. as for daily health benefits, again, i'm guessing being joyful all the time is probably as bad for you as being sad all the time. it must be exhausting on the kidneys...

anyway, let's face it, for most of us, there's no question of 'insanely' and 'all the time'. it comes and goes. some days are more tumbly, others more quiet. some days are more out, others more in, some days have more laughter, others more tears. and isn't that just lovely?

imagine feeling cheerful all the time. the thought alone is exhausting. i'd turn into a duracell rabbit, a never-blinking robot.

and then there's the other thing i often hear (... from my own mouth): 'yes, but i want to be happy!'. so, does 'happiness' necessarily equal 'joy', or even 'equanimity'? i don't know how it is for you, but last week, i was lying in bed, crying my eyes out for the third time that day, with the cat on my feet, and a loving arm around me. i was really really really sad. a seemingly bottomless pit of sadness. if someone had asked me, right at that moment, 'are you happy?', i would honestly have had to say 'yes, incredibly so!'.

so maybe happiness has less to do with avoiding pain and sorrow, and more to do with being where i am, feeling what i feel, and letting what there is be. loving the sadness, loving the joy, loving everything in between. i mean, are endings less beautiful than beginnings, are decaying flowers less pretty than fresh ones, is dying less of an amazing life-changing experience than being born? why not embrace the whole of existence?

there. i've almost convinced myself. what do you think?


(i am not supposed to talk today, but does posting here count as talking? what do you think?)

the big cloud in me has shifted enough that i can see it for what it is: a big cloud. in the process of shifting. as clouds invariably do. i was reading my own blog this morning (such a wholesome way to start the day...), and it all looked so dark. the words, the photographs. i thought 'why so hopeless, so grief-stricken?'. three answers came rushing in.

'it is as it is because it is as it is. and it's absolutely perfect that way'. hhmmm. where have i heard that one before?

'because these are the darkest weeks of the year'. these weeks in which the cold has seized, and the light is disappearing further every day, and there is serious reason to doubt whether it will ever in fact return (just because it did last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, does not mean that...). weeks in which sleep is a blanket too heavy to throw off, and the night-mares come galloping over children's heads in the small hours. if you are to grieve, and doubt, and fear, and lose, and feel the breath of death, as you must, being human, then when would be a more appropriate time than now?

'it isn't all so dark. look better. listen more carefully. close this computer. go out into the woods. go find the light.'

Sunday, December 12, 2010


i am sad, sore, broken-hearted and empty. as much so, if not more, as a couple of months ago. as if all these weeks of healing, strengthening, growing and learning never took place.

last night i dreamt of a friendly old man. i asked him what the medicine was for a broken heart, and he said i should insert a live eel into my heart. so i looked it up on internet. turns out eels stand for a 'great journey into oneself, from which one emerges transformed beyond recognition'.

sounds great. in the meantime, there is just good old same me, with my good old same ache, and my good old same inability to do anything with it but hurt...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

where are you?

Where Are You?
Do you know that the heart has a dungeon?
Bring light! Bring light!

Mary Oliver

Thursday, December 09, 2010


the sheer impossibility of bringing some things across.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


in an attempt to let silence play a more prominent role in my life, i have decided for the rest of the winter to not speak on tuesdays.

(you may laugh now)

(for as long as you like)

(and for those of you who wonder why anyone would laugh, just ask the others)

(whenever you're done...)

so, as i was saying... silent tuesdays. yesterday was the first attempt. it was remarkably hard work. and not that silent either. much much white noise in my head. on the other hand, i did find it deeply relaxing to never have to wonder what i should say next. definitely worth exploring further...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010


so incredibly tired, i can hardly move. all i want is to curl up against the warmth of sleeping bear, with a good book (proust?) and a cup of tea (lapsang souchong). i want to lie on a thick carpet and slowly dangle my feet in the air. i want to watch the sun make light bunnies on the wall. to doze and dream thick creamy dreams, filled with unicorns and porcupines.

i want to stand very still, deep in the winter woods, and let the white silence settle on me, let it seep right into my being until i too am only white silence, until all i can hear is the beat of my own heart and the whispering of the tide of blood in my veins.

mostly, i just want to sleep.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

how can it be so dark, in the midst of all that brightness?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


winter's promise