Summer Breeze

Things have been looking up of late, I don’t feel so screwed up as I have been doing since the start of the year. Its not all sweet smelling flowers of course, but I’m sleeping better, more active, just had my bike repaired to increase my stamina, reading great books and listening to equally great music.

The thing is I’ve had to let go, right across the board in many areas of my life involving people from my past and present. Ive had to get pro-active, ditching the dark negative thoughts that were sprouting like weeds among the blooms of reason. But of course this is not just for now, I have to stay focused on the path ahead. My life, Ive come to believe is a work in progress. No bad thing.

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Down But Not Out

I’ve been weighed down by personal problems of late, stuff that penetrates the surface and embeds itself so deep that it’s hard to root out.

It’s mostly to do with people that are close to me, and if it hadn’t been for unparalleled support from my wife, I could have quite easily gone under and buried myself alive until there was no life left.

The problem is (and ice mentioned this before), the lack of genuine forgiveness. Something prevalent in our society today. So I struggle and struggle, turning to poetry, faith and my journal for comfort and company.

The summer is upon us, and that may help with the healing process. In the meantime, I will just sit quietly and write.

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Oh Sister

I have an older sister, who I speak to over the phone several times a year. For various reasons, I haven’t seen her or my brother since I got married fifteen years ago. But that’s fine as these days we are all in contact via texts and social media.

Last weekend, I had a longish conversation with her and it was a wonderful experience. We shared many things far to personal fit these pages, but most of all, within that conversation, I detected a sibling love that would make our long gone parents, rest easy, wherever they are.

Quite rightly, the social media platforms are criticised for the many ills they can generate, especially between the very young. For me, it’s my portal to my brother and sister, the only one at this time, and I’m thankful for that. We will all meet one day I’m sure, but in the meantime thank God for texting and Instagram.

Our family loved roses, our garden way back, was alive with them.

Our family loved roses, our garden way back, was alive with them.

Other People

I’ve really struggled of late, with the attitudes of other people, momentarily forgetting that one can only change oneself, and have absolutely no control over people’s negativity.  

Rescue from this present army of woes came this week by watching the first four programmes in the latest series of Spring Watch, and the positive vibes of the four main presenters.  

Strange some might think that my depression can be eased by watching television, but observing nature through the various webcams and listening to the genuine enthusiasm, has calmed my troubled head these past four days. And one should take any help they can get when the need arises. A big thank you to all concerned. 

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Sacrifice.

I’ve been struggling these last few days, and yesterday (Sunday), I sat in the back garden reflecting on why I broke down in tears the previous day while talking family stuff with my wife. She knows me like no other person and is wise enough to just let me ‘go through’ this period of darkness my own way, at the same time acting as a lifeboat if she saw me disappear below the waves. 

Today, (Monday) I’m up and running today with a new level of creativity and that’s the paradox that sometimes occurs with depression. Sometimes one has to walk through treacle, to emerge refreshed and ready to rock.

Tuscany was fine, but on reflection not the best of holidays. The best part was undoubtedly meeting some amazing people, which made it for us. For the time being, the clouds have lifted and I haven’t stopped writing for two days now. Long may this injection of creativity last.  

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Journeys End

I’ve always hated airports. I’m no fan of flying either, but for me, airports are hell on earth. Flying out to Tuscany was relatively stress free, apart from the cramped conditions of a full manifest. Coming home was a different kettle of piranha fish. 

When the call came for us to board, the line of human priority traffic just stopped dead. And that’s how it was for close to one hour, no movement, no explanation, nothing. There we stood waiting at the gate, climate and tempers overheating, and I could feel the rage elevating to dangerous levels. 

Eventually we took our seats, but upon arrival at East Midlands Airport, we were met with an irate taxi driver, who had been given the wrong time to collect us. I was livid, my wife cooled my head, and once home suggested we talk a walk and go to a local restaurant for dinner, which we did. 

We have absolutely no control over the world at large, only our own fragile thoughts process, which in my case can still become frazzled at the inadequacy of others to perform their jobs correctly. By the way, the reason for the delay at Piza Airport was treat they were short on bus drivers to ferry the passengers to the waiting plane. It was parked less than 300 meters from where we stood, gimme a break!. 

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I hate the process of flying.  

Taking Time Out

I love the Mediterranean area, and although it’s not strictly in the centre of my favourite area of the world, Tuscany is turning out to be the medicine I’ve needed for several weeks now. 

In truth. I’ve been struggling with a few things of late, all people related, all solvable but what I desperately needed was time away from my familiar surroundings, to recoup some sanity, and seek a little clarity to how I’ve been feeling. 

So here we are in Tuscany, and I’m feeling much more relaxed and focused, and the problems back home, are being attended to with the help of open and honest talk, and a little prayer. Over the next few days, some real answers will emerge and decisions made which may be a tad painful, but absolutely necessary. 

 

This too shall pass

This too shall pass

In Tuscany, with volumes of beautiful texts. 

Delight In Discovery

This was in my doorstep and I didn’t even know it existed. A place of beauty, land left to nature, after the extinction of scrap yards, railroad lines, allotments and the 1970s/80s scourge of vandalism. That place is Aylestone Meadows. 

Today it’s an area of peace, and for depressives like me, a great place to clear my head, as I did yesterday in the company of my wife. I made some images while listening to a lunchtime chorus of birds who I could not put names to. 

Despite the cold snap, an hours walk settled my recently troubled head, when some bad dreams left their brand, and unsettled my calm routine. I’m ok now thanks to this amazing new discovery of partly reclaimed local land. Time for tea:)  

 

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Aylestone Meadows. A wonderful place

Easter Comes And Goes

Easter is a time that I’ve mostly enjoyed, it reminds me of times when life was less complicated, a happy time with family and friends.

This year was no exception. I was in Leicester City Centre enjoying the celebrations, when I received a text message from a dear friend saying how about coffee after the event. 

We met near the Sports sculpture, and went for coffee in a quiet outlet just off the town hall square. I was delighted to see this friend, a recently retired GP, who lives close by. After we parted, it occurred to me that friends are equally important as family. 

Over coffee and cake we talked about quite personal things, and this level of trust is sometimes higher (I’ve found), than within the immediate family group. I was able to unload in complete confidence, for this guy is like a brother to me. 

It was a ‘moment’ and one that enhanced my Easter experience.  

 

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Coffee with a close friend at Easter. A magical time. 

Frustrating Times

I hate getting old, I detest the fact that I can’t do the things that came naturally to me even as recent as ten years ago. Last week after a delightful time with two good friends, I called into our local superstore, to pick up what turned out to be a heavy bag of essentials.

The bus I’d planned to get, disappeared up the road before my eyes, so I decided to walk the mile or so home. By the time I turned the key in the front door, I was completely exhausted. And my lower right leg was in a world of pain. 

All this was due to nothing except the ageing process, and I got so pissed off, that all I could do was lay down and cry. Later I pulled around with thought, prayers and a realisation that ‘this is it’, and nothing, not even my daily exercises or walking is going to halt the inevitable. 

My response in the days thereafter was to write about my elderly limitations, and try to come to terms with what ‘Is’, and not what I would like. The times, they are a’changing. 

 

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Yours Truly, not as young as he used to be. 

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With my father and mother, sixty years ago! 

The Pain Of Others

I’m going through a bit of a rough time at the moment, as the arthritis in my hands is becoming more acute, and much more painful. Also loosing my friend, the writer Stephen Loveless a few weeks ago has deflated me, far more than I anticipated, leaving me lacking in both energy and enthusiasm.

Stephen himself would be horrified by my plight and would be among the first to tell me to lift myself from the doldrums and get back to writing. Not that simple my old friend, but even your strong presence in my life from beyond the natural burial, won’t help right now. 

Its the pain of those around me, that has set the tripwires over which I’ve stumbled, my lack of self discipline and focus has demagnetised my compass, and I’ve been spinning helplessly for some time. 

We are halfway through the period of Lent, and over the next twenty days I shall be putting anything that may lead to stress to one side, and park myself in a quiet area. Just some downtime might be the answer. 

 

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The door is always open.  

Lending A Hand

Despite all my efforts to keep as fit as I can, ( walking, floor exercises, housework), I cannot stop the onset of things like arthritis, especially in my hands and back pain. The latter being the ripples from disc prolapse diagnosed over a decade ago.

I could just loose heart, stop everything I’m doing to suppress the discomfort, and quite simply, quit. Not my style fortunately, and a new weapon in my armoury is to study more, read more, and compose poetry. The latter is especially interesting as I’m creating one line per day, for the forty days of Lent. 

Journaling for nearly thirty years now, as most people know, has been my shield against attacks of depression, putting the experience into verse, is a whole new layer of protection. In a few weeks, I will publish a poem on this platform about my sexual abuse as a boy, by an older boy and how my forgiveness of him, empowered me. I’m not a victim, just a survivor, who has found a way to love myself as well as others.

 


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Thinking about lines of poetry throughout the period of Lent. 

Down Time

I’ve taken a day off from everything, and it’s remarkable what some time of silence and stillness can do for the troubled head. I’m slowly recovering from the death of my old friend, he wouldn’t want me to slip into a whirlpool of sadness and tension, quite the opposite.  

So sitting here in my quiet corner, with a black coffee and a collection of Gerald Manley Hopkins, I’m remembering all the solid, worthwhile moments I had with Stephen. He was truly one of the best friends I ever had. 

 

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For Stephen. 

Memory Loss

I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafes, drinking delicious, strong coffee and devouring equally delicious vegan chocolate cake. I walked the long way into the city centre to check the bus times to Northampton, and ended up at the wrong station. 

For the life of me, I could have swore that this was the station I caught the bus to see my old friend no too long ago. But no. This is just one incident of many, that my memory has lost its daily function. And it frustrates me more than anything. 

Its an area in my life that needs a complete overhaul. Not only that, I also need to measure my reactions to the gaps and holes that fragment my memory functions. I’m ok now, probably need to relax a little longer until my next destination, wherever the f**k that is?  

 

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Relaxing with a cup of black gold, trying to make sense of my memory loss. 

The Light Of Early Morning.

I felt a little sad this morning, not knowing why didn’t help the situation. Maybe I thought, it was the recent loss of a close and much valued friend whose funeral I will be attending this coming Thursday. But in truth, it wasn’t that.  

Then by instinct, I reached for my latest journal and flicked through the pages of months past, and read of similar thoughts on similar mornings. The facts are that sometimes, I’m just ........ sad. So I wrote about it and the fog and weight diminished, almost instantaneously. The power of applying pen to paper.  

My stepson and his wife were up for the weekend to see the new granddaughter, and much of the early afternoon saw me, Grandpa, pushing her tiny frame to and from the restaurant in town, booked for Sunday lunch. I cherished those moments, at the handlebars of the buggy, walking this bundle of innocence, through this extraordinary heat we are experiencing right now. 

Those murmurs and cries from this beautiful three week old girl, drove my blues into submission. I’m alive, getting fitter, learning to love myself again on a daily basis. The fight continues.  

 

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Spring and Summer cometh! 

Loosing Those I Love

Two weeks ago a very close friend died after a six month battle with cancer. The first I knew of his plight, was on New Years Day. I emailed him and asked to go over and see him, at his home in Northampton. He didn’t want me to go. 

I sent more emails over the next few weeks but no reply came back and I feared the worst. A mutual friend, informed me via social media of his passing, and I was low and tearful. He was my tutor in Creative Writing at the now defunct Vaughn College in Leicester. We stayed friends for over a decade and collaborated on several projects. 

Knowing him as I did, he wouldn’t want me to crumble, but to stay strong and positive. At the moment, I’m holding up, but there are times when his loss, cuts deep.  

Goodbye my old and much loved friend. You were more to me than I can scribble in this blog. Never forgotten, by those you taught and gave your time to.  

 

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The Addiction Of Poetry

I’ve been reading and writing poetry since I was a small child. Not consistently, more in short bursts in different chapters of my life. 

In latter years, poetry has become less of a pass time, and more of a constant companion, in as much as I carry a dedicated notebook, and one or two collections with me, everywhere I go.  

This weekend, I decided to dedicate all my spare time to reading and writing poetry, with the inclusion of two great movies, about real and fictional poets.  

Through my years of depression, a constant ‘pick me up’, although not a cure, has been seeking out poetry from ancient to modern. It’s helped me through many a troubled night and difficult day. For me it’s both calming and settling, page after page after page. 

 

My weekend companions

My weekend companions

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Two fabulous movies to view over my ‘poetry weekend’. 

Walking The Blues Away

Sometimes all I need is to walk, is it that simple? Of course not. But this time of year, when it’s cold and the winter sun barely skirts the chimney tops, I feel compelled to wrap up and just put one foot in front of the other. 

Gone are the days when I ‘holed up’ and embraced the darkest corners during the winter months. So many of my friends have taken their own lives, in times such as these. Now I just walk until either tiredness sets in, or my back begins to ache. 

Today, today was magical, and while changing into my loose togs’ I spied a beautiful sundown. What a heavenly light! 

 

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Sundown over Leicester’s West End district. 

A Quiet Day

I’ve spent most of the last two days cooking veggie dinners, writing and reading poetry and indulging in a lot of prayer. I’m not a bible thumper, and never force my views and opinions onto anybody. 

its says like these when I have, or come close to, the peace I’ve spent a lifetime searching for, and it’s right there - in the simple things that life has to offer. 

If that’s the case then I long for a simpler life. The veggie diet is going very well. But I need to expand my vegetable cookbook. 

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So Far So...

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve given up eating meat and fish. This as some might think, wasn’t a decision based on political ideals, it was to do wholly with health concerns. 

So far, I’m doing just fine and seem to have acquired energy levels that I haven’t experienced in decades. Whether this is just a short term placebo effect, I have no idea, but I’m enjoying the ride. 

Mentally, I’m in a new arena. 

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