Today, November, it has all come to an end. It is dark at teatime, it is dark in the morning, and the rain is falling outside buffeted by the wind. I have to cover up to go out, and today I have chosen to wear black because it feels good and comforting. Now, I don't consider the bigger picture. I want details, to think things through and to make plans. I eat hot food and wrap myself in warm soft blankets when I sit down on the sofa in my sitting room. I wear a blanket in the studio while the heater makes my hands less cold. I put on my fairy lights in the hallway, in my sitting room and outside the studio because in so much darkness, the lights look like magic, like stars. Now I am curling up in my home, and feeling the need to sleep and to hide away. As I write this, over the sea in Bognor lightening is flashing, and over my house there is thunder. Banging in the Sky the children used to call it. I remember once being stuck in my car outside our old house in London with one of the children aged about four, in November, with the rain falling loudly on the car around us. In the darkness the thunder crashed and we had to wait for the deluge to stop just a little, so that we could run out of the car, up the street and into the house. That was where the phrase banging in the sky came from. It was magical being cocooned in the dark in a safe but tiny space in a violent thunder storm with a little child. The rain was so loud it was hypnotic. We held onto each other and imagined we knew who was doing the banging up there in the sky. We went through all our neighbours, friends and family, and by the time we had finished the whole lot of them, the little one was asleep in my arms.
November and December will be less busy, as I have studio work to do and I am planning to get in there and paint. This means less hoovering, less food shopping, a lot less longing to see people who live half a day's journey away, and less thinking about my next mealtime.
It is best if I give you bite sized accounts of October, which was a very good but exhausting month.
- A Graceful Death went to Ascot at the end of September, to a weekend festival run by an environment awareness movement called Ascent. My dear old friend Sharon Galliford and I did an adapted AGD for two hours, and very successful it was too. In every exhibition, there is at least one person who comes away feeling awakened and lightened. AGD has succeeded only when that person, or people, have come. At the Ascot exhibition, a man who had to leave the next day to see his dying mother for the last time, was able to come to terms with what was happening, and to understand something of what he was going to see and experience. My heart goes out to this lovely man, and wherever he is, I wish him peace and his mother a safe journey home.
- The Conversations Project is fully up and running. My new colleague and friend, palliative care nurse Gill Lake, and I held our fourth "Conversations about the End of Life, Finding Time to Think in Our Busy World" at the New Park Community Centre in Chichester. As with AGD, the one person who comes without knowing anything, and leaves with a way to start thinking about what dying is about, means the session has worked. For our last session, not many people came, but those that did come, really needed to. Here is more about what we are doing in an article I wrote for Dying Matters - http://dyingmatters.org/blog/starting-death-conversation
- Swansea! AGD went up to Swansea to the Elephant in the Room event run by husband and wife team Kiera Jones and Jim Fox. Oh that was such fun. Utterly exhausting but so worth it. A huge event to inspire, challenge and reassure, with a new venture for an event like this, a play directed by Jim called Colder than Here by Laura Wade. Terribly funny and terribly sad, but oh so wonderful. Here is another article from Dying Matters about the Elephant in the Room Event http://dyingmatters.org/blog/elephant-room . I love Dying Matters because they always let me write about what I am doing, and anyone who keeps saying Yes to me is a life long friend. The event was full to bursting with tea and cake, and I saw what I always knew, that Kiera Jones, alongside my dear friend and colleague Mandy Preeece, both are absolutely fabulous Soul Midwives. Both ladies really do the job. And Jim Fox is up there with Sarah Weller as a Sound Bath Maestro. I also met and talked with Dr Penny Sartori, who researches Near Death Experiences, Out of Body Experiences and all such astonishing and fascinating phenomena at the end of life. Penny struck me as a deeply intelligent, experienced and dedicated researcher. Her PhD is on these subjects and her latest book, "The Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding NDE's Can Help Us to Live More Fully" is out now. I bought a copy and made her sign it. Actually we got on really well and I didn't make her do anything.
- Reiki. I have begun to practice Reiki from home. I love healing, and have always done it. Now I have a name for it, and a wonderful teacher in Mandy Preece. I have a healing room and have begun to do an hour long session for anyone that wants to come. I charge £30 for the hour, and am thinking of extending it to cover conversation afterwards, as it seems some clear and profound thinking comes to my clients as they sit quietly afterwards. Here is the best picture yet of my darling friend Claire after her latest session. Claire and I fell about laughing at this and don't be put off, if you do look like this after, it will feel lovely.
- Qi Gong. I have started Qi Gong and the first time I did it I felt so sick I had to sit down. You have a good mind, and good energy, the teacher said, but no essence. So in the hope of finding some essence I have been practising it every morning. I am no longer sick, and am going back tomorrow hoping he will feel sorry he ever said I lack essence. It will be shooting out of the top of my head and that will be that.
- Paintings - I am doing another of the God's Life series. I have done God's Study, God's Kitchen and now I am commissioned to do a third. God's School Day. Here is the original God's Study, I have done a good few of them now. So far, only one God's Kitchen and God's School Day though.
- And finally. Father Dominic. I am painting my youngest brother as the final painting for AGD. After this last painting, I will do no more paintings for A Graceful Death. It will be big enough, and Dominic is a most wonderful subject for the final painting and interview in this most extraordinary of exhibitions. Dominic is living with stage four bowel cancer, and is doing well after much surgery and chemo. But his life and expectations are different, turned upside down, and he has shown enormous wisdom and humanity in his acceptance - and fighting the fear of - his cancer. I have been raising money to pay for the painting, and all the work that goes into creating the interviews and writing to accompany the portrait. I have raised £600 so far, and am so grateful for the love and kindness shown to Dom. Here is the Go Fund Me page. Have a look, read what I have said, and if you wish to, make a donation. http://www.gofundme.com/es6suc I cannot pretend I don't need the money, so please do what you can. And a million thanks to all those who have already donated. Thank you.
|I would love to say this is me doing Reiki and laughing, but it isn't. It is taken by my son, Giant Boy after he has been telling me jokes. See you all in December.|