Seasickness & tortilla chips

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Seasickness & tortilla chips

Seasickness & tortilla chips

One morning, during my recent holiday in New York, my mum and I got on the ferry to take a Hop-On, Hop-Off tour of the Hudson River.  Whilst I had felt fine beforehand, within a few minutes of being on the boat, I began to feel a bit nauseous.  I have never particularly suffered from seasickness, but the weather was rough, the motion strong and I began to struggle with the feelings of sickness.  I tried to breathe through it and focus on one thing, all of the usual strategies, but the feeling was intensifying and, by the time we

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These muted days

​Your blankets have been hot-washed, tumbled and donated  and your corner of the kitchen is clear and simply a kitchen corner again,  suitable for the storage  of dustpans and brushes, dinner trays  and a box of emergency toys and crayons for the kids.   You were my baby  and I loved you  and I could have sworn fifty times today that you had come trotting shyly into the lounge,  seeking a warm lap  or my abandoned grey shawl to hide in.  Our quiet little opportunist.   My heart will miss your sweetness and the contentment of your sunlit dreams.   The

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Only a few moments ago

​Only a few moments ago,  I slumped on the floor by your bed like a child and pressed my thumb into the fleshy nook of your elbow and felt the last waxy warmth between your ribs and your arm,  as though you were still able to hold me.   And I thought then about wandering upon the wet cobblestones in Galway after dark,  live music from gallery bars competing with the rushing of the sea and the stars  falling one by one like shivering birds shot out of the sky.   Sleep well now, my love, and thank you for

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Transcending the body

Transcending the body

When the vicar, Sarah, arrived yesterday to see my grandmother and to say a prayer for her, she walked into the room and said “Oh, it doesn’t look like Dora.”   Far from being an insensitive comment, it was tinged with tenderness and some surprise.  Of course, she would have always seen my grandma at church dressed smartly in a skirt and navy blue blazer with court shoes, beautiful white hair perfectly curled–always immaculate.  But her observation ran deeper than that, for me. There is something that, when it begins to fade, makes the person look less and less like

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A personal update: nearing the end

A personal update: nearing the end

My grandma is in the very last stages of her life.  It is hard to say, of course, but I can’t see that she will continue for more than a day or two.  It could be hours.  She is sedated now and unresponsive to touch.  This is a blessing in some ways, because her breathing is accompanied by a rattle, and she sometimes appears to be trying to cough and struggling.  It is disturbing to watch, but her facial muscles show no signs of agitation.  The nurses have reassured us that she is relaxed and that the experience is worse

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In the kitchen, after dinner

In the kitchen, after dinner

It seems I spend my life crouched in some cold kitchen with an upturned glass and a torn piece of card,  trying to capture time as though it could still thrive, contained in an elegant dome of my choosing. Moments, shivering and rare, scuttle across the floor wishing not to be trapped nor admired by those who do not realise that these silver, suffocated things are ancient eagles  soaring over empty mountains, wide wetlands that stretch in a shimmering curve  all the way to the sky.

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Misconceptions about meditation

Misconceptions about meditation

I went on a weekend meditation retreat a little while ago and, without doubt, the most frequent comment I received from colleagues on Monday was: “Oh, it must have been so relaxing!” Well, yes.  And no.   Yes, because I was away from the traffic and noise of London, away from work, away from the constant pinging of technology and away from anybody I knew, just for a couple of nights.  The retreat took place in the countryside so, of course, being able to walk in nature and enjoy the stillness, the peace and the fresh air was relaxing. But

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Words from a rugged master

Words from a rugged master

Tonight I felt like sharing three of my favourite Jim Harrison poems.  He was able to capture incredible beauty and inspire a deep love of the natural world in a way that was simple, pure and raw.  I love the powerful combination of grit and tenderness in his words.   Enjoy. Seven in the Woods Am I as old as I am?Maybe not. Time is a mysterythat can tip us upside down.Yesterday I was seven in the woods,a bandage covering my blind eye,in a bedroll Mother made meso I could sleep out in the woodsfar from people. A garter snake

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Body beautiful

Body beautiful

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything.”  I love this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh.  It helps me to realise that, whilst the physical form may be superficial and fleeting, it is still precious.  A flower dies within days of blooming, but don’t we enjoy it, celebrate it, nurture it and revere it while it is alive?   With the discovery of a newfound spiritual practice there can be a tendency, as I suggested earlier, to think that it is futile or even arrogant or shallow to take

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Don’t stay on the park bench for too long

Don’t stay on the park bench for too long

Like many people, I have read and listened to Eckhart Tolle’s teachings for the past few years, finding them of great benefit to my own life. Yesterday, I listened to a recent radio interview with him on YouTube.  He talked a lot about his early life and experiences, and his responses seemed more personal than before.  I could hear that, while he says he is basically surrendered to the ‘isness’ of each moment, there are still difficulties for him–his sudden fame, busy schedule and lack of time and opportunity to hold one-to-one sessions with individuals.  He also said that he

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