The Glow of Gardening

I must admit I’ve never been a gym bunny, I’m just not into treadmills and rowing machines and static cycles, or the kind of en masse exercise classes where everyone does aerobics or hot yoga or zumba together deliberately working up a sweat.

I’m not a naturally sporty girl, either, no running or gymnastics or hockey or netball or badminton or table tennis for me. I do like walking and swimming, although nowadays I have to be careful not to overdo anything with my arthritic hip. I have to do enough to maintain strength in my muscles but not so much that I put any further stress onto my crumbling joint, so it’s just a case of trying to get the balance right between doing and not doing the things I like that keep me active.

I really do enjoy gardening though, it’s such a good way for me to get a reasonably relaxing workout in the fresh air and I usually come in afterwards with a healthy glow in my cheeks, more from satisfaction than exertion… πŸ™‚

JusJoJan: Exercise

Weekly Prompt: Glow

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An Ever-Fixed Mark

My introduction to Shakespeare came not only formally from studying Macbeth and Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice as a required part of our English curriculum at school, but also creatively from my mum’s love of traditional ballet – Prokofiev’s balletic version of Romeo and Juliet re-tells the tale so beautifully in music and dance, but ideally you have to read the original to be able to follow the story.

So one way or another I’ve always loved the challenge of reading Shakespeare’s plays, but to be properly understood I always felt they really needed to be read out aloud with proper expression and animation, breathing life into the sparkling narrative rather than just read out word for word in a meaningless monotone that inevitably leaves everyone bored to death by such a dry and dusty delivery.

And much later on I discovered Shakespeare’s sonnets, often bringing another challenge of true understanding if not read out aloud with feeling. They can sometimes be quite repetitive in their themes but are beautifully written nonetheless. I have a treasured silver bangle in the shape of a Mobius strip with the first two quatrains of Sonnet 116 engraved onto it. As the strip twists, the wording continues on to the ‘other’ side of the bangle, so it is engraved in its entirety.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

William Shakespeare

This is also the sonnet that Marianne quotes in Sense and Sensibility, when she finally comes to the understanding that Willoughby could not have loved her enough if he chose to marry someone else for money after he was disinherited due to his own bad behaviour. And it is this sonnet (engraved as it is on my bangle) that immediately sprang to mind this morning for me, too, when I read the prompt word ‘bend’… πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Bend

Reflection and Contemplation

This week’s Weekly Prompt asks if we find the stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter boring?

In general, even though I don’t personally like to participate in the harried extremes of it all I still find the social and cultural norms of the expected frenzied lead-up to Christmas and New Year far too chaotic and stressful for my liking, and usually I’m just quietly relieved when it all calms down again and life can return to normal. So as a rule I don’t find this time of year boring at all, instead I find it peaceful, something to look forward to. For me there’s always something comforting in being able to take our foot off the gas en masse and just idle along from one cultural calendar hot-spot to another.

In particular, though, I was made redundant from my part time retail job on 6th Jan this year, so rather than have everything return to normal I’m currently dealing with the imposed-upon change of being a full-time housewife again for a while. It may be a bit early in the year to think about spring-cleaning but for now I’m really enjoying clearing out cupboards and sorting out the cumulative detritus built up from last year. We also have some (more) major DIY projects to undertake in the house this year, so I’m getting into the swing of things with preparation and planning for that.

I’m making a point of being creative too – our new crochet blanket is coming along nicely. It’s probably going to be finished too late for making the most of it over this winter, but it will be perfectly in place in readiness for the next. It’s nice to be able to sit quietly on the sofa, warm under the weight of the blanket being made, without feeling guilty about the time spent ‘doing nothing’. I truly enjoy spending time at home, and I’ve been cooking some of the more time-consuming dishes it can be difficult to fit around working patterns, which is lovely to be able to do.

So all in all I don’t ever find this time of year boring – I find it a time of reflection, of contemplation, of emotional feeling and healing. A time to catch my breath, to hunker down and hide from the world legitimately, balancing out the busyness of the end of the last year, building up and banking my store of smiles for social interactions that will inevitably be spent during the following seasons’ outgoings… nope, definitely not boring at all πŸ™‚

Stuff I Worry About

Today’s inbuilt WordPress Daily Prompt asks ‘What could you do less of?’

Ah, good question… The immediate answer for me is probably ‘Worry…’ because I have to admit I’m a bit of a worry-addict…

There is a part of me that tries not to worry so much. I try to logicalise and rationalise everything and remind myself that as so much of what happens in life is totally out of my control anyway, then why worry about it? The past cannot be changed, the future hasn’t happened yet, the present moment is all we have. We are where we are, what will be, will be… We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

But there is another part of me that constantly contradicts that wisdom, the illogical, irrational part of me that fights against such zen-like flat calm. Surely if I just tried harder I could do better, make things better, feel less nothing-y? So I worry about feeling not good enough, and about feeling guilty for being not good enough, and I worry about whining about it and feeling pathetic and weak and nothing-y.

I worry about getting old and infirm, I worry about getting to the end of my life and regretting not having done the stuff I want to do while I still can. Not flights of fancy stuff, real possible stuff that is realistically within my grasp if I only find the courage to reach out and grab it. But I still worry too much about being judged and found lacking, and I worry that worry stops me from getting on with it all before it’s too late…

So I suppose I worry most about tying myself up in knots so tight I can’t get myself out of a worry-straight-jacket of my own creation, bound up in an emotional shroud of fear that pins me down so effectively I spend the last couple of decades of my life in a self-imposed mummified decay, watching the rest of the world go by without me… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘dict’

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Question

Weekly Prompt: Flight

Taking it Easy… Please!

I would love to be someone who has a natural ability to take things easy in life. To just chill out, and stop the frenetic freak-out from taking over my head.

By that I don’t mean to suggest that I’m always on the go physically – because seriously, I’m not. It’s more that mentally I’m not always very good at relaxing, even when the opportunity arises. I try – I really do try. Sometimes I confess I try so hard it stresses me out. To try to relax I read, and I garden, and more recently I paint. And historically I watch TV – often too much TV.

Sadly too much TV makes me lazy – not just physically, but mentally, too. It means I don’t have to think – in fact, thanks to TV I can avoid thinking about some of the things that stop me being able to take it easy in life. And right now I’m NOT thinking that I’m going to be 59 in a couple of weeks, beginning my 60th year on this planet… Eek!

Recently I’ve been waking up every morning with a feeling that I’m stuck in a rut, wasting my life in fearful mediocrity. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a lovely house with my lovely husband and I honestly wouldn’t change either for the world. But personally, I worry that deep down I’m just not making the most of whatever potential it is I still have within myself. I feel like as I’m getting older I’m losing something vibrant and dynamic, as if I’m stagnating, seizing up.

I’m getting to that stage in life where I’m beginning to wonder what my regrets might be at the end of it all, and I don’t want one major regret to be that I was too scared to live the life I wanted. Not the big bucket-list social-media showy-offy stuff, but how I approach the everyday realities of existence – what I wear, what I do, how I feel about existing in this ever-changing world.

I want to be able to enjoy wholeheartedly what’s left of the life I have, not worry and fret about whatever happened to the ideal dream life I thought I might have when I was younger. Because like it or not, I am who I am, no more, no less. And perhaps if I could start to accept that reality, I might just be able to learn to take it easy a bit more into the future… πŸ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Confess

Weekly Prompt: Easy

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Morning

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Thanks

Me Myself I…

In some ways, like may introverts I feel like I’m only really truly myself when I’m on my own, alone in my own space, spending time doing what I want to do rather than what I feel I have to do – not what my people-pleasing head tells me I ‘should’ be doing to not be judged lacking.

On my own I enjoy reading, or blogging, or painting, or crocheting, or gardening, or going for a walk in nature. And sometimes the thing I choose to do to recharge my depleted batteries is nothing – I just sit quietly and let my mind drift, enjoy just being in my own internal world as it comes to me.

Ideally my social interactions with the outside world remain intermittent – the more necessary involvement I have with others during any given week, the more I prefer to withdraw fully whenever I can. Even virtual interaction like blogging feels like it’s just too much for me at times, so I find myself backing off.

I realise I’ve not been around on here very much so far this month, and realistically I’m probably going to be around a lot less for the rest of the month as I have a lot on people-wise so don’t worry if you don’t hear much (if anything) from me for a while, I’ll be back soon enough πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Alone

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Intermittent

Clouds in Many Guises

Over the years I’ve photographed many clouds – some white and puffy, some glowing orange with the setting sun, some dark and brooding, some seriously strange in shape and some just plain weird…

I’m learning to paint at the moment, and have been working with using photographs as reference images – but sometimes I think if I painted clouds the way they actually looked, no-one would believe me! πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompts: Clouds

The Journey Begins… Again!

I really used to enjoy art at school, and was actually reasonably OK at it, but of course it’s been over 40 years since I left school and whatever nascent artistic talent and skill I was in the throes of developing at that point hasn’t exactly stayed poised ready to pour easily from paintbrush to paper just because I’ve decided I wanted to try painting again as an adult!

It’s been two whole years since I last picked up my water-colours… August 2020 was the last time I attempted to paint anything, and even then I only managed a grand total of three colour studies – a rather flat-looking thistle, some not-too-bad plums, and a thoroughly underwhelming landscape view of Inverness – before disappointedly packing my paints away again, wishing I hadn’t bothered…

And before that it was… God knows, probably almost a decade ago that I first thought seriously about trying to take up water-colour painting as a hobby in my later years? I think on that earlier occasion I’d only managed about three paintings before giving up then, too. What stopped me both times was probably a simple fear of failure – sadly I found it easier to give up at the first hurdle than to struggle on feeling not good enough.

So here I am trying once more to learn how to paint with water-colours, still struggling with it but at least this time (over this last week or so) I’ve achieved more than three paintings and haven’t given up yet! They’re not great, my initial efforts – I’m sharing this one here not because I think it’s good but because I realise it’s probably going to be a long journey to get to even close to where I want to be, this is where I’m at currently, and I have to start somewhere… πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompts: Journey