This story started off as a drawing, and not of a dreamcatcher but actually my first attempt at a mandala! As I drew, the mandala began to look like a dreamcatcher in my eyes and before I knew it I was creating a story in my head to accompany my artwork. I feel incredibly vulnerable sharing my writing with you, however, I start as I mean to go on with my word for the year, stories.
Her inky, earnest eyes were searching. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of a new term, with the stories of presents and cheer, she stood out. With feet planted solidly on the concrete playground, she created a curious stillness.
I inquired if she had enjoyed her holidays, to which her reply made my breath catch for an instant in the frosty air.
“ No,” she said, with a challenging edge, “ I keep having bad dreams.”
And so I strode over to her side and took hold of her stripy gloved hands, which felt icy despite the happy coloured wool. The floodgates opened.An unspoken question was all that she had needed from me.
She spoke of characters who lived at the end of her road, who were known in the neighbourhood for their shady dealing, who frightened her with their dark, menacing manners.They were like monsters she said. And monsters can get anywhere. She told of stories she had heard, of the mean actions they inflicted upon the weak and vulnerable. There was one time, she reflected, that one had approached her as she tried to enter the local shop to buy a pint of milk for her mum and how she had stayed in the shop for what seemed like hours, peering out of the windows until he disappeared.
“I don’t feel safe,” she shrugged, “ And how do I protect my mum and my sisters if someone breaks in?”
The responsbility that she carried with her emerged, an enveloping cape of darkness, hanging so heavily,forbidding her entitled dreams. I softly pressed her, my heart needing to know whether she had spoken to her mother. Matter of factly she described how she had been told they would go away and not to worry. Haven’t we all had those moments in our own pasts when this advice was given so plainly? I was filled with a sad disappointment in us, the adults, at not wanting or being able to open ourselves up that little bit further.The proud girl had then not divulged the root of her dreams, though she was acutely aware of them, their edges cutting into her subconsciousness night after night. A wave of protectiveness washed over her, making her stretch to stand taller.
“ I don’t want to worry her more. I love her.”
I looked deeply into those dark pools of her eyes and advised her to try again,
“ You are a child. You are allowed to have good dreams. Ask mum to listen to you tonight. Tell me tomorrow how you got on.”
The whistle blew and I left her standing in her line, her brow furrowed in thought. I found myself mirroring her expression.
The following morning she found me, and slipped her hand gently into mine.
“Mum is going to buy me a dreamcatcher. It catches bad dreams real tight so they can’t get me.”
That night I wrote dreamcatcher on my shopping list.
My house is full of rainbows of colour, I'm also gradually investing in a wardrobe of garments that match and express my moods. I take photos with abandon when it comes to capturing the deliciousness of colour. And therefore this could well have been such a bright and delightful photograph. But the truth this week is that I am not feeling it, instead the subtleties of grey have held my attention. Grey largely because I haven't been feeling well in body and mind. But strangely I have also found that grey doesn't only have a negative association, for I also mean grey in the sense of looking closely how even delicate shades of grey tell their stories in the skies, in the light inside and out. And as I take more and more grey toned/black and white photographs, I find my love for this medium of photography is growing.
I pulled this out of the depths of my iphoto library. I took it when I was just beginning to explore photography with a basic point and shoot. I've never put it out there as it isn't technically the best, however it encapsulates my emotion at this point in time perfectly- everything has a purpose even if you have to wait a while for the purpose to become clear ;)
I love the nostalgia and the hope of a new year, and whilst I understand those who are cynical of me, who might think me sentimental or naive for believing that just a change in date will bring transformation, I try and stay clear of these voices and reflect/plan with glee. Each of us has our own rituals that make us individuals - unique. I know that things will not magically change over night. I know that it isn’t an easy ride and putting in place commitment, positivity and patience asks much of me, but I do know that the rewards can be astonishing. My word for 2011 was connection, and it became my leitmotif throughout the year. Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously, my thoughts and actions kept returning to my chosen word. I am proud of the connection I created and allowed myself to receive. I feel richer both in mind and soul because of that guiding light. By naming an intention I am giving it power to develop within myself and in my world. Naming is power. That has to be a good thing right?
So I sat here at my desk on the 31st of December, in the late afternoon with candles lit, thinking intensely about my new word with the help of this thoughtful tool created bySusannah Conway. At first I felt anxious, as a word had not made itself known to me, and usually by this time I have a pretty clear idea of where I wish to take things. I had read so many delicious words of others, most of which I have tucked away for future nourishment, but didn’t feel I could use a word belonging so fiercely to another. Then,as my thoughts became lines, which became pages, the word stories emerged. I have let my need to write and tell stories ebb and flow for years now, it just hasn’t felt right, for a multitude of different reasons, to pour all of myself into the task at hand. But sometimes you just have to wait patiently for your personal catalyst to come along. For me this arrived in the form of Jen Lee and especially her Telling Your Story course, which I had begun just a day earlier. As I wrote I realised I was telling my story for 2012 and that actually, the time is perfect for me right here, right now. This year is the year I will put my stories out there, it is the year I will work on telling my stories out loud to share with others, and it is the year I will listen to the stories of others more intently and more mindfully than ever before.
Happy new year my friends, may your words come true in 2012.
Fitting for the first day of 2012, Bella asks us to look at that clean slate, how every action on the first day of a crisp, fresh year can be seen as a new beginning. The idea of focusing intently on my routines and environment,as if for the first time, was quite liberating for this soul - it really made me sink into my actions and surroundings with that little extra attention and care. I chose to capture my creative altar, a place where I intend to sit for a few stolen minutes each day and feel inspired. A recharging station for my soul. I've only just set it up, and so I know it will grow with riches over time, but the magic is there, I can feel it.