Reflections

 

Seewirt Hotel, Bad Reichenhall, thumsee, bavaria, bavarian vacation, eagles nest, berctesgaden, lakes and mountains, austrian lakes and mountains, holidays,
Calm Stillness

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago in Thumsee when I went for a walk around the lake there. I love a photo that makes me see things differently.

It has been a strange old week in my old house. Well, strange is probably the wrong word. Fraught. That is the word. Life takes us on a journey and we never really know what will be revealed down each path. I arrived at a crossroads some time ago and chose a path that was far more overgrown than I imagined. I have spent many years attempting to cultivate the path, changing its direction, cutting back brambles to open up a new walkway, only for more brambles to spring up in a different place, treading in the shadows and basking in the sunlight. This week I think I emerged into a clearing, slap bang in the middle of a rainstorm. Still I believe that dancing in the rain is far more important than hiding under a shelter, who knows what you find when you step in puddles.

puddle art

 

Maybe the puddles will reveal a whole new direction.

It is hard to think of that at times but a couple of years ago I was in a restaurant celebrating a birthday and this poster was on the wall right next to where I sat. I photographed it and come back to it often.  I often think about the dream and if I truly owned it for myself or was I chasing somebody else’s dream. I have to remind myself that it is ok if I took the wrong path and, no matter how others think or feel, I have to be true to myself.

965389_10202099989593665_531653344_o

 

So, back to this last week and all the fraughtness and tension that have been building for some time finally came to a head. Not pleasant but evolving can only bring pain if you are to reach the giddy heights of pleasure. The best way I know to deal with pain is to recognise it, acknowledge it, and then READ.

I often find myself alone pottering around the house and this can be one of my greatest joys or biggest frustrations. Last Sunday being the latter of the two for many reasons but last week, rather than get upset, I  decided on a  diversionary tactic. It was the perfect opportunity to finish reading a book that I had started some time ago and so  lazing on the sofa  with Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella, a hot cup of mint tea and a great dane curled up at my feet I immersed myself in a fun and easy read. Staying there all day until the sun went down and not actually moving was pure luxury as Barney slept through after the excitement of visitors the week before had worn him to a frazzle.

sunday afternoon pursuits, sophie kinsella, bookclub, reading for fun,
a dog, a book and a comfy sofa. Bliss.

Life turned on it’s heel on Monday and the fraughtness began. I have stumbled through each and every day, walking Barney, journaling, cleaning and painting furniture. Life is all about change and I am sure that there are many changes coming I just need to work out how best to effect those changes in my life in a way that is positive and caring.

Yesterday I returned to Thumsee. The sun wasn’t shining so brightly and the reeds had grown tall. I sat on a bench with Barney laying beside me and thought about the numerous changes I have been through over the years and how I am still here, still standing and still ploughing on. So, maybe the reeds in my life will just be a protection from the winds of change, a place to rest and to prepare for the next big push.

Thumsee, Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria, Eagles Nest, Berchtesgaden,
Hidden by the reeds

 

Halfway Down the Stairs

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King

stairs, quotes, motivational quotes
One step at a time  – photo courtesy of quotesgram

I am on the “how to do it” stair right now.

As a child my Saturday morning chore was to sweep the stairs. I would be handed the wooden brush and asked (or rather told) to get on with the task. I hated it. I didn’t see why I had to be the one doing it.  Starting at the top of the stairs I would slowly and surely brush down the dirt of the week onto the next step,eyes filled with dust and feeling more and more grubby with each step I would try to focus on each individual step rather than the whole task. Once on the bottom step I would sweep all of the muck to the hall floor and, standing amidst it all, wonder how one week could generate so much mess and dirt. In the ensuing years I had forgotten how I used to feel when made to do this task, I had also avoided ever having to be the one who took up the brush to sweep down the stairs.

The other day, out of nowhere, I decided to sweep my stairs with the handbrush. Taking my time and starting at the top I slowly worked my way down. The stairs in my house are on three seperate levels so there are quite a lot. Upon reaching the mezzanine level I stopped and sat on the stair. After a while I realised that I had been sat there for some time pondering life. It occured to me that sweeping the stairs was giving me the space to work out some of the things that have been bothering me. A mini meditation. I laughed to myself as I thought about the scene in the Karate Kid  “wipe on wipe off” and then out of nowhere the Martin Luther King quote popped into my head, followed swiftly by the words to one of my favourite songs.

It seems that sweeping the stairs clears up more than the dirt from the week, it clears my head and allows me to think more clearly. Now where did I leave that brush.

 

 

 

 

Snap Decisions and Photosnaps

 

hearts and flowers, beachcombing finds
beachcombing beauty.

Wandering along the seashore I spotted the pebble glistening in the tidepool, calling to me, urging me to pick it up and enjoy it’s smoothness. I have a penchant for finding heart shaped rocks and this was no exception. Sitting on the sand watching Max (my Great Dane) running  in and out of the surf I turned the stone over and over in my palm. Feeling it’s cool hard surface warm up and take on my energy. Beachcombing, for me, is a way to immerse myself in the here and now. To forget all the stresses of the day and to quieten my mind from all of the rushing thoughts and questions that it throws at me constantly. I have made some of my most important decisions sitting on a beach surrounded by my days gatherings. That heart helped me to make a decision that, sadly, I now recognise as being a mistake but still I’ve come a long way since making that decision and still I have new roads to travel and new decisions to make.

Normally I would cart my finds home with me and place them into a box waiting for their fate.  As I meandered my way along the beach I spied a  little nook of rocks where daisies were growing. Inspired by the daisies and the lichen covered boulder I placed the heart in amongst them and started to snap photos. The heart seemed so at home there among the weeds and moss, reflecting how I felt at that moment in time,  that I felt obliged to leave it and with that I took some photos to remind me of the rock and the feelings that it evoked that day. I have a box full of driftwood and a jar full of shells all waiting to be used in one creative way or another but to this day I have never been able to create something as beautiful or thought provoking (for me) as that photo of the heart.

 

IMG_0750

I live in landlocked Austria now but I found myself a very small beach by the river. The beachcombing is nowhere near as wonderful as in Wales but I still manage to ponder life and make decisions. Lets hope that the decisions I need to make over the coming days and weeks are far more reasoned than that snap decision in that snapped photograph. Still whatever decision I do make I will live with it (right or wrong) because it will take me down a new path to new adventures.

right decisions, wrong decisions

 

 

inspired by Daily Post Prompt SNAP

Perchance to Dream

 

sunrise in an industrial town
sunrise in an industrial town
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Not for the first time I have sat and watched the light slowly creep into the valley, wondering what it was that sat quite uncomfortably with me.

Awake since 3am and no chance of sleep returning I made my way down to the kitchen and watched the steam rise from the kettle as I waited patiently for it to boil. Standing at the countertop and longing to be under the duvet dreaming is becoming a regular occurence. Is it age? Is it lack of mental stimulation. Maybe it is a combination of both. It certainly isn’t a lack of physical activity as I am more active than I have been in many years.

Slowly sipping my chamomile tea I make my way to the windows and sit at the bench. Peering out into the blackness of the village I look up to the stars knowing that the sky is so vast and yet I feel confined, claustrophobic even,  here in this small village in the mountains. It irks me that I am feeling this way. This was supposed to be me stepping off, moving away from the chaos and noise that is inevitable as part of the corporate lifestyle, the hustle and bustle of the city, the lifeblood of everyday modern life. So why then do I feel so empty, so devoid of emotion and so very restricted?

I have too much time to think, not enough things to think about.Just space, empty space in my head allowing all of those emotions and thoughts that I have pushed away for so long  to crowd in and fill my head with questions. Why did I leave the world behind? What am I looking for? What do I want my life to be? Is it always going to be this way?

Slowly the light creeps over the mountains and down into the valley. At once I realise that I miss watching  the sunrise. The changing colours as the world wakes up, the beauty in the way that the light bathes the earth, making even the ugliest landscape beautiful and I decide,  I must seek out the place where the sun is visible as it rises and sets here in the mountains, it is the thing that I have missed. Here in the village surrounded by mountains that one simple pleasure is blocked out by the magnificence of the mountains.

All at once I remember the sunrises and sunsets in Wales, visible from the house in which I lived and the times that I sat on the beach waiting for the sun to rise or set. The times when I was leaving my home for work in London, Liverpool and Colchester and I watched the sun rise as I commuted from home to office. Be that on the train, standing at a bus stop or walking through the city. I always loved that time of day, the colours so vivid and the sound of the birds waking. I knew that I loved it and also appreciated it at the time but I had not consciously missed it . Today my conscience was pricked and I ache to see a sunrise in all it’s splendour.

Sitting by the window I look at the birds emerging from their resting place, the blue tits getting busy collecting materials for their nests, blackbirds searching the ground for the early worms. Crows swooping and landing on the rooftops as they squawk their greetings to each other. I breathe and enjoy the moment, every moment has it’ s own sweet joy.

Slowly the village begins to wake, I hear the cows in the sheds across the road as they prepae to be milked, the horses neighing as they are turned out into the fields and I spy the neighbours cat hanging onto the door knocker in her usual peculiar fashion as she begs to be let in. All happy to see a new day dawning.

Cars begin to move down the hill into the village and head on into the city or neighbouring towns to work, women make their way to the supermarket for the bread and cheese for breakfast and workmen appear to begin mowing lawns and planting flowers. Industrious as ever in a different way to that in which I grew up.

As I cast my eyes out across the activity I know that I am not ready for this world of quiet inaction, unstructured days, relaxation to the max. I need to have a structure, I need to be industrious, I want purpose in my life.

I realise, as I sit here in the early hours of the day, that I have been sleeping. Sleeping Furiously, while life goes on around me. 

I have been hibernating, hiding from the world. As spring nudges nature to do it’s thing  so it is waking me up too. Waking me to the endless possibilities in life, to the things that I have always loved but allowed myself to lose sight of. Depression and Anxiety has a way of stealing your life and shutting you down.  The Dawn today was waking me to what it is I love and miss in life. Whispering to me to find a balance and a logic. Urging me to find the strength to rekindle my love of life and find a way to bring those things I held dear back into the fold.

I am awake, it is time to set about creating (or recreating)a good life.  Finding a balance. Life doesn’t have to be one thing it can be many parts made into a whole.

 

in response to today’s wordprompt  Bedtime

Stepping Off

IMG_4439

Many people would tell me that this photo is only fit for the trash folder but I disagree. You see I took that photo on a very rainy day heading into the office in the city of London. It sums up how I came to feel about life at that time. I was lost, confused, exhausted and miserable. Every day rushed by in a blur, morning and night taken up with commuting and each weekend stolen by sleep.

I read an article in The Guardian today  which stated that “UK has worst quality of life in Europe”   a line stood out to me

We may still be enjoying the fourth highest household income in Europe, but the high cost of living means we are living to work.

I was one of those people who fell into the trap of living to work and in the end it broke me.  It was that experience that finally helped me to make the full time move to Austria. Life here is very different, so quiet and peaceful.

Just before I made that decision to leave I wrote the following,

I am working to earn the money to pay for a house in Austria that I can’t live in, I cant afford the flights to visit the house for a holiday because I am spending money (every spare penny) to help me to work to pay for the house that I can’t live in.

I am working to earn money to pay for a car to commute to Liverpool 3 days a week to earn money to pay for a house in Austria that I can’t live in

I am working to earn money to pay rent on a flat that I live in 3 days a week so that I can have a break from living in a hotel 3 nights a week when I commute to London to earn money to pay for a house that I can’t  live in

I am tired, I am exhausted, I no longer know what it is that I should be doing.

I now have a very modest income, I dont have the latest iphone, smart TV, car. I do have a beautiful home that I get to spend time in, countryside galore on my doorstep, towns and cities within a very short drive, snow, sun, lakes, mountains, rivers, meadows and forests.

A Telegraph article recently stated that London and Liverpool revealed as England’s mental health spots.  I lived in both of those places and I can honestly say that my mental health suffered when I lived and worked in London.

When I have a dark day now I take a step back and  I look at that picture of a rainy commute, I read those words that I wrote and I am  thankful that I had the opportunity to step off that merry go round and take a seat in my very own Cwtch Corner.

IMG_3928

For Today

a watery sun
The watery sun is trying it’s hardest to break through the grey clouds outside my window as I sit here taking a break from my chores. The horses that pull the sleighs are resting in the fields behind the house and when I wander to the back of the house where the windows are ajar to allow in air I can hear them neighing and whining. The farmer is busy milking the cows and I can hear the whirring of the equipment as it moves the hay backwards and forwards, now and again I hear a mooing of contentment. The snow is already melting despite it’s late appearance and slowly the village is becoming green again. I feel a little sad about that as I love the light that it provides in the midst of winter.
IMG_3766
I am thinking how to move my life forward. I have been here in Austria now for 6 months, during that time I have done very little in the way of work or planning for the future. It is time that I have needed to ground myself. Time to learn how to live in this old house and how to make the house work for me. Now it is time to start waking up as the spring approaches and spreading my wings further than the village too.
 IMG_3765
I am thankful that I had the opportunity to take this time out but I am also painfully aware that I am slipping down a slope of apathy and abandonment. It is all to easy to lose sight of what I have and what I can do with my life as I am feeling ever so slightly sorry for myself after friends have been visiting and headed back to the big metropolis that is the UK. I am thankful for the peace and quiet of the countryside but slowly realising that I enjoy the hustle and bustle of a town from time to time.
IMG_1841
The weather has warmed up quite a lot today so I am wearing a simple woolen dress and thermal leggings with my thick thermal socks and furry boot slippers. I am happy to be able to wear something other than thermal trousers and jeans and I recognise how much I love to dress up and make an effort. Clothes have been my coat of armour for so long and I have allowed myself to slip into not considering or caring how I look.  Another thing for me to be considering as the days get brighter and my life goes on.
IMG_3151
I am creating a new home, it isnt easy. I must remember that these things take time. I lived in my childhood home for 26 years and my Mum continued to live there until she passed which was almost 40 years in total. The family home was my anchor and there were lots of things that I loved about the house. It felt safe and (mostly) warm despite a lack of money to decorate in the latest trends. I have never really followed trends when it comes to both my home and my fashion. I have spent the last seven years striving to feel “at home” and attempting to make various properties into a place that I can lay foundations but it has eluded me so far.  As much as I love this house and I know that I can make it feel like home I am not convinced, yet, that this is the place that I can finally put down some roots. My soul is wandering and my heart is fluttering. I feel as if I am flying but my wings are still not totally unfurled.  I catch a thermal and then lose it quickly again, stuttering and dipping. Gasping for air and a safe place to land
I still haven’t found that safe branch to land upon.
IMG_1101
I am going to sit with those thoughts, not worry about them and go about the business of making a home, building a life, learning a new language and trying to settle my soul. This blog will be a place for me to document my feelings and thoughts and help me to work out where my soul should be.
IMG_0061
I am hoping that by looking inside myself, being selfish and not self indulgent then I will finally know who, what and where I want to be.