Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the Pink

Ok, so the photo has nothing what so ever to do with the blog other than the colour is right!

Everyone is the monkey in their own zoo, the clown of their own circus, the master of their own disaster! (Unknown)
What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?
(Bumper Sticker Wisdom)

So instead of putting colour in my dry hair and leaving it on for 15 minutes and then washing it, like normal people do… I decided that I would apply the colour with my conditioner (I am sure I remember my hairdresser, Alex telling me that this was a good time to apply colour because the hair shafts/follicles? were ‘open’ from washing the hair…?)

I climb into the shower and wash my hair. I then reach out for the little bowl of colour I have prepared: a splodge of ‘Magenta’, a squirt of ‘Rich Wine’ and a dollop of ‘Foxy Red’. I add the conditioner and apply to my hair with my hands, working the coloured conditioner through the hair. All the while my eyes are closed… I rinse the conditioner, open my eyes and eeeeeeeeeeeeeek! It looks like a particularly violent murder has been committed in the shower! The walls are splattered with pinky-red ‘blood’! So are my hands AND my body!

I look in the mirror, and my face is very much in-the-pink! Needless to say I spend the next half an hour, with nothing on, but a towel on my head, cleaning the aftermath of the blood-bath (rather blood-shower).

So today I have rosy pink flushed cheeks, looking very much in the pink... and very pink hands.

Note to self: 
wear gloves and hat when venturing out for next few days;
do NOT show any part of your anatomy to anyone; 
next time you colour your hair: follow instructions on packaging!! 
And always wear the plastic gloves provided – it saves having your hands as a ‘conversation-piece’ when you venture into public, and have to try and explain for the umpteenth time why your hands are bright luminous pink!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Irresistable urges

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist (Albert Einstein)

Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to play of imagination is incalculable (Carl Jung)

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person (Frank Barron)

My creativity has been dormant for a while. Earlier this week though, I was like a creature obsessed. My art making paraphernalia were scrabbled out of the cupboards. I was on a mission to make art. I worked in my journals, using older art: ripping, tearing, cutting, collaging, I created in frenzy. But at the same time, on another level, it was a calm meditation time for me; I was oblivious to the world and felt a little harried when the world intruded on my fantasical haven.

I was quite caught up and fascinated by this irresistible urge to create. My desk although I attempted to tidy it, still bears remnants of this mad spree.

If I just let go, what other irresistible urges will emerge?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On emptiness

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them  (William Arthur Ward)
We put thirty spokes to make a wheel; but it is on the hole in the centre that the use of the cart hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay; but it is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room; but it is the empty spaces that make the room liveable.
Thus, while existence has advantages, it is the emptiness that makes it useful
(Lao Tzu c.604 - 531 B.C.)
My life is emptier than it was last week. My heart is broken. My little Precious has gone off to university. A new journey for Ariél; a new beginning. I wish her a journey full of EMPTY moments that she will fill to the brim with usefulness and FUN.

In the empty spaces left by Ariél not being here, I am going to sew more; make more art; study more; be wilder. 

Plan of action for tomorrow:
Start the day filling an EMPTY stomach with homemade Green Monster Juice + fruit salad = RAW
Do the washing so the washing basket is empty (but the washing machine, folding and putting away pile and ironing pile will be full…)
Start sewing the dress for work – all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go!
Fill empty moments with useful ones.

I was delighted by this picture outside my window last week. Sunrise. SUN. Winter in the northern hemisphere is quite long and bleak with many grey days. When I do see sun, I am elated; I really appreciate the sunny days – they are the gorgeous golden honey replacing emptiness with beauty and hope.

So, little Ariél – make each day FABULOUS, take note of the emptiness-es and decide whether they need filling, or whether they need to be empty for you to replenish and re-fill your chi… Enjoy your university life both the full-to-the-brim moments, and the reflective empty ones. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cirque du Soleil

Its time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap
(Stephen Schwartz)

I have grown to love the unexpected, for in it is the miraculous, here is where we are shown, events that create our lives to be more enjoyable, more loving, more adventurous than anything we ever could have planned. When we let go and trust, the mundane of life becomes the profound. Leave your concepts at the door of fate, open your arms. Today is [going to be] a good day.
(Marlise Karlin)

I have always wanted to watch a live Cirque de Soleil. Ariél decided that for our 30th Wedding Anniversary she would give us tickets to see a live Cirque de Soleil show at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

This show was called Totem. It traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.
Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species.

Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential”.

It was an experience that appealed to the senses. The location: the Royal Albert Hall is very majestic, but seemed quite happy to welcome and cradle this show in its bosom. The lights and set design blended effortlessly into the Victorian décor as there is an underlying Darwinian feel to the theme.

The costumes reflected the seasons, with bright colours on the summer beach, a sense of autumn harvest in the unicycle jugglers’ costumes and a wintery feel to the roller skaters’ white fur Apache-Indian costumes at the end.

There was a wonderful sense of continuity between acts as characters from one act blended into the next.

What struck me most about the acts was the sense of trust between each performer. In order to let go and know that your partner is going to catch you before you fall you must trust them absolutely. Absolute trust equals going to new and higher heights together. I really liked that. I also enjoyed the coloured thread of humour that ran through the show.

What a treat!

Thank you, Ariél!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last day in Rome

The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 - 1832)

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science (Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955)

Today was our last day: our last day in Rome; our last day to spend with Roarke and Gina.

We planned to see the Sistine Chapel today. With much excitement we set off with ideas of seeing Michelangelo’s famous ceiling paintings. It was not to be. The walk took almost an hour, and then, en route, an elderly gentleman called out to us that the chapel was closed (it being Boxing Day).

Disappointed we headed back to the apartment where Roarke and Gina were staying, passing through a street market on the way. This market became the setting for a special moment for me. At one of the stalls there were Tibetan singing bowls for sale. The man at the stall asked if he could make one sing for me. I selected one and he coaxed the most beautiful pure sound from it that sent shivers down my spine. I placed my hands together at my heart and bowed thank you. He acknowledged my thanks with thesame gesture back to me. This little interaction made my day.

Some of the group went and collapsed at the apartment. But for some of us, after this very long walk, a hot chocolate was called for.

After this sustenance, Ariél and I decided to visit the Castel Sant'Angelo. To do this we had to cross the beautiful bridge over the river Tiber, with its many ethereal angels guarding the way. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum. It was incredible to walk down corridors that are almost 2000 years old and touch the stone work that is astoundingly neat and regular.

Had to share one last hot chocolate and a big hug with Roarke and Gina before we headed off to the airport back to London Gatwick…

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seven Deadly Sins

There is no sin except stupidity
(Oscar Wilde 1854 - 1900)

A conversation over pizzas at a little Italian restaurant was about the Seven Deadly Sins and their associated colours.
I browsed the internet and discovered the following about the Seven Deadly Sins, which have their origin in the Bible, and have been changed slightly over the centuries.
I thought of trying to find an image for each of the sins from my store of photos… see if you can match the picture with the sin…

What it is: Pride is excessive belief in one's own abilities, which interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.
Why you do it: Well-meaning elementary school teachers told you to "believe in yourself."
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be broken on the wheel.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Pride is linked with the horse and the colour violet.

What it is: Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation.
Why you do it: Because other people are so much luckier, smarter, more attractive, and better than you.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be put in freezing water.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Envy is linked with the dog and the colour green.

What it is: Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.
Why you do it: Because you were weaned improperly as an infant.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be force-fed rats, toads, and snakes.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Gluttony is linked with the pig and the colour orange.

What it is: Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
Why you do it: Oh, please.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be smothered in fire and brimstone. Not kisses.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Lust is linked with the cow and the colour blue.

What it is: Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath.
Why you do it: You're wired for it. Also, the people around you are pretty damn irritating.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be dismembered alive.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Anger is linked with the bear and the colour red.

What it is: Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.
Why you do it: You live in possibly the most pampered, consumerist society since the Roman Empire.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be boiled alive in oil. Bear in mind that it's the finest, most luxurious boiling oil that money can buy, but it's still boiling.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Greed is linked with the frog and the colour yellow.

What it is: Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.
Why you do it: You're shiftless, lazy, and good fer nuthin'.
Your punishment in Hell will be: You'll be thrown into snake pits.
Associated symbols & suchlike: Sloth is linked with the goat and the colour light blue.

Rome day 4

Every day is my best day; this is my life; I am not going to have this moment again
(Bernie Siegel)

The enlightened give thanks for what most people take for granted....
As you begin to be grateful for what most people take for granted, the vibration of gratitude makes you more receptive to good in your life
(Michael Beckwith)

Christmas Day

The chiming church bells reminded us that Christmas is about a Universal message of love and hope and gratitude. Christmas in Rome is about the birth of the Virgin Mary’s baby, Jesus rather than presents and tinsel. Being out of my familiar surroundings, it was for me a time for reflection.

Out on the Piazza Navone, people were milling, and there was sense of goodwill. Well, maybe I wanted it to be like that…

We arrived at the apartment, where Roarke and Gina were staying with Gina’s parents and her sister (Sandra, Carlo and Maria), laden with our share of the Christmas luncheon. Tom had procured, the previous day with his proficient Italian chatter with the shopkeepers, antipasti consisting of prosciutto, salami, carciofi, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and provolone cheese; for dessert we had visited the gelatti shop for a tub of melon and lemon sorbet. 

We dropped off our food and then made our way down to Piazza San Pietro, for the Pope’s Christmas service. It was not as crowded as we expected; there was such a peaceful energy amongst the throng of people gathered there. We couldn’t understand the Italian mass but it was a privilege just being in that moment, it felt like a peaceful blessing.

Lunch was a late and prolonged affair, starting with our antipasti, then Roarke and Gina’s pasta with pesto sugo, then later Maria’s lamb stew and much later the sorbet. Coffee was followed by limoncello. In between all of the courses, I had snuck off to the kitchen to wash the dishes, aided by Carlo who had dried them off ready to use for the next course. I was reminded of a conversation we’d had at an earlier meal about the Seven Deadly Sins*…

This was a day of gratitude for me: being with my little family…in Rome…at Christmas. How splendid! How grateful I am for having this very special celebration.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave.
The gaudy butterfly is sure that the flowers owe thanks to him

(Rabindranath Tagore 1861 - 1941)

On day 2 in Rome as we were about to enter the Basilica’s cupola, we came across a bee relief sculpture. On day 3 the bees in the church at the Victor Emmanuel Church were a ‘sign’ to me…

What do bees mean? I have done a bit of research as to their meaning. I have decided that for 2012 the bee is going to be my Totem. It is also going to be my ‘wild’ year… ??

Bees have an ancient reputation as the bringers of order

Bees serve as images of the miraculous interconnectedness of life

Honey bees are a shamanic sign of passion, progress, and sexuality. They are also tied to joy and creativity

The Royal Bee Totem possesses the following virtues:
Messages from higher planes and consciousness
prophetic dreams and visions
productive hard work
sexual attraction
the power of giving back when taking
the ability to turn something unassuming into a wonderful creation
ability to enjoy and savour the sweetness of life
connection with the Earth and living things
divine messages
and realizing the fruit of one’s labour

Rome day 3

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything
Tsunetomo Yamamoto

The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Motherland) is a monument built to honour Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome, Italy.

It was raining on day 3 as we perambulated around Rome with our brollies, we would not be put off by a little rain, we thought. By the time we arrived at the Victor Emmanuel monument it was raining heavily. After posing for a photo on the steps in front of the Eternal Flame (which burns in memory of the unknown soldiers who died during the Great War) some of needed to find a toilet. Kyle, Roarke, Ariél and I braved the pouring rain, while Sarah, Tom and Gina went into the church.

The church is as magnificent as all the catholic Churches in Rome. Kyle and I wandered up to the altar and each lit candle, saying a little prayer. Part of prayer involved being shown a ‘sign’.  As I looked up I saw a bright blue window with three yellow bees. The day before just as we were entering the cupola walk, we had come across a lone bee relief sculpture at the entrance*

Outside the church we walked down some really slippery stairs and then came across an “Assassins Creed Statue” so had to take a picture.

By the time we reached the forum we were rather soaked. The ruins inspire contemplation of bygone centuries…

The coliseum dwarfed the enormous Christmas which stood smugly proclaiming a Christian celebration dating back to pagan times, with an ancient, wise superiority. A ‘gladiator’ chatted to Sarah and when he heard she was from South Africa, he exclaimed “Bafana Bafana!”

We took the Metro up to the capuchin crypts. We realised how fortunate we are to have the beautifully clean underground that we do in England! As we alighted from the train at our stop, three youths (!) shouted “Ciao Rossa!” to our red-haired Sarah.

The capuchin crypts which contain the skeletal remains of 4000 bodies believed to be Capuchin friars buried by their order. The Catholic order insists that the display is not meant to be macabre, but a silent reminder of the swift passage of life on Earth. I was superficially interested in the bones, until we reached the second last crypt which had a coat-of-arms… Suddenly my stomach lurched and I felt an overwhelming nausea take hold of me, I was repulsed and needed to get out in a hurry. I am not sure why…

*See next blog post

Rome day 2

Rome Day 2
Be happy when you reach the top: cry, clap your hands, shout to the four winds that you did it, let the wind - the wind is always blowing up there - purify your mind, refresh your tired and sweaty feet, open your eyes, clean the dust from your heart. It feels so good, what was just a dream before, a distant vision, is now part of your life, you did it! (Paulo Coelho)

Breakfast consisted of coffee and panettone. A flurry down the four sets of stairs to spill out onto the Piazza Navone, the square on which our apartment was set. It is a large and lively square containing three fountains and the   baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, as well as many restaurants and cafés and market stalls selling wares of a varied nature.

A brisk walk to the St. Peter’s Square, armed today with my camera. St. Peter's Basilica is quite beautiful; there are not words to describe what it is like. It is a cornucopia of Christian iconography and opulent, ornate artwork, the scale, the detail, the sheer scale and abundance of beauty took my breath away. Ariél made the comment that she would have become a Christian just to come and drink in the art. But these words do not suffice the enormity of my admiration for what we saw.

Ariél, Kyle, Sarah and I did the Cupola climb. There are a few hundred steps which become increasingly narrower and curved, you have to bend your neck over and lean to one side at some stage. Once on top, there is a 360° panoramic view of Rome. What a breathtaking sight.  

After another ciolatta calda, we set off for the Spanish steps. We girls were enticed by the shops up and down the streets leading up to the steps. But, no we didn’t buy anything , just looked.

Rome day 1

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age (Sophia Loren)

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force...When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life...When we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other...and it is this little creative fountain inside us that begins to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected laughter and wisdom. ...Well, it is when people really listen to us, with quiet fascinated attention that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way (Brenda Ueland)

Rome is sensory overload on a humongous scale. Ancient buildings stand proudly, housing new shops and restaurants. Cobbled streets are filled with small cars parked haphazardly in maze-like complexity. Almost every street corner has a Virgin Mary effigy. Drinking water fountains are littered about the streets on unexpected little squares, with water spurting forth from some olden statue as it has been doing for centuries.

Roarke and Gina had had a week to reconnoitre and were our guides. After settling into our amazing apartment we visited the Pantheon. The original Pantheon of Rome built between 27 & 25 BC, was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa. It was dedicated to 12 gods of heaven and focused on Augustus’ cult. It burned down in about 80 AD. It was rebuilt in about 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian who wanted his temple to be a sort of universal temple where people could worship any and all gods they wished, not just local Roman gods. This would have been keeping with Hadrian’s character — a widely travelled emperor, Hadrian admired Greek culture and respected other religions. The Pantheon was converted to a Christian church in 609 AD and still serves this function.

We had our first cioccolata calda: thick creamy custardy hot chocolate, which is served with a spoon. We were taken to a gelatti shop, where the choice of flavours was enormous. On my first visit I had a scoop of torrone (nougat) and a scoop of crème caramel.

Being extremely tired, I walked around in a surreal daze through the narrow alleyways, down towards Fontana di Trevi, one of the most famous fountains in the world. According to legend a foreigner who tosses a coin into the Fontana di Trevi ensures his or her return to Rome, so we all stood with our backs to the fountain and threw a coin over our left shoulder to set our intentions to return. The scale and beauty of the statues is awe inspiring. The fountain is at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC. It brings water all the way from the Salone Springs (approx 20km from Rome) and supplies the fountains in the historic centre of Rome with water.

There is a sense of confident superiority in the ancient buildings and statues that line the streets of Rome, yet one is seduced, not repelled, by this arrogance…