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Resilience by Nature

This is a tiny ballet shoe which I bought a few years ago. I have a lot of nostalgia for red ballet shoes because it reminds me of a childhood dream. People often comment about the shoe when they see it in my house, but no one has yet asked me why.

I always loved dancing and from the age of 3, my mother took me to classes. At age 8 I was doing really well. I had two distinctions and if I got a third, it meant a scholarship to London to study at the Royal academy. My dance teacher was fantastic and was so encouraging of me. Then, she moved away. My mother found another teacher, but this one told me, point blank, in the first few lessons that I would never be a professional dancer because my little toes curled outwards.

Looking back now, it was a ridiculous statement, but as a small girl, it was easy to totally shatter my dreams with one comment. The teacher was angry at herself, I would imagine, at not having had the success she dreamed of. My first teacher saw the potential in all and saw her success as measured by our achievements. The second saw us as competition. I bought this little shoe to remind myself to never let anyone tell me that I cannot do something. I had a whole wealth of evidence telling me that she was wrong, but I let her poison my confidence in a instant.

Tortworth arboretum

Today I have been applying for what I felt could be my (2nd) dream job. Then I had a “Ballet shoe” moment. As an adult, I have been trying to devise ways to overcome the shoe. My current mechanism is to go off into nature. It is both humbling and inspiring to stand in amongst giant Oaks which have been on the planet for 200 years. I walked though a rainbow of leaves. I doubt very much whether the maple has a crisis of confidence about dropping it’s leaves for the winter. I somewhat struggle to imagine, a mushroom having an anxiety attack about whether it is time to pop out and spread it’s spores. The squirrels don’t produce an excel spread sheet about how many chestnuts they have collected.

In nature, things just “be”. Seasons change, winds blow, rain falls. Does the nut hatch mourn summer? Maybe. Is it stressful trying to feed and shelter their families, probably. But there must be an acceptance about the inevitability of it all. And I think that we must all try to seek the evidence of our talents and abilities and achievements, without the shadow of doubt eeking into and spoiling it all.

This week I will be inspired by nature to just “Be”.

Tale of a tigress

A short story inspired by being in the wild.

A tigress strode through the jungle and as she did, snakes slithered away. Bees and butterflies buzzed like glitter, spiralling into the sun. With her head bobbing, steam bellowing with rhythmic sway, she pushed her way through long, lush green leaves till she arrived at the water.

Stopping briefly, she bent down and lapped the cool, cold pool below. The tigress looked up as the sky changed slowly, yellow to orange, orange to blue, till tiny, blinking stars gazed back at her. In the distance, a waterfall poured it’s heart into the pool and all while huge blooms exhaled powerful fragrance which brought a tear to her eye.

The feline padded around the pool till she approached the waterfall, it’s song growing deafening as it grew closer. With grace and power she leapt, three times and then disappeared behind the waterfall. In the cave, she paced in a circle, measuring, waiting. At the back of the cave she looked at the fast flowing water as it fell like diamonds and it was as though time stood still.

The tigress leant back on her hind legs, as though in child’s pose, and then suddenly bolted forward bounding faster and faster until she reached the ledge of the cave. She sprung into the curtain of diamonds like breaking glass and fell down, down plunging into the cool deep below.

Noise became silence. And clarity became a blur of bubbles. The bubbles were replaced by flashes of gold and silver as the tiger swam slowly from the drumming noise behind. Great shoals of panicked fish burst like fireworks as she moved through them and gradually faded. Finally her head broke the surface, nose just clearing as she treaded water. She reached the soft sandy edge, which cracked like cake with her weight and she collapsed on the carpet of grass.

The tiger looked at the twinkling stars and heard the waterfall sing and breathed in the perfume of a thousand flowers and she wished that all the world could see such beauty. For life is not lived through a screen, not felt through paper. It is living and breathing and right before your eyes.

Picture credit: Artist unknown.

Nature connection

Why are our kids being made to stay indoors, stay still and shut up?

Nature reserve….please be quiet.

Sometimes I genuinely wonder if I am cracking up? I like working with children. They are hilarious. They have really important stuff to say, and they don’t hold back. This week big son said “I don’t want to go to school.” Hmmmm. ‘Why?” I enquired. “They make us stay indoors ALL DAY! And we learn the same stuff over and over.” Well…I pondered. Not much surprised. “If you stay home I will work you like a dog and make you think till you cry.” He thought about this……. “it’s a better option.”

The thing that everyone in education has forgotten is that people (kids) want to learn. Giving them a carrots does not change it, giving them the stick makes very little impact. My Dad (love him) when I went into teaching said “I don’t know how you do it without the cane!” P.s. my Dad never wacked any of us. He is a true born pacifist and a beautiful grandfather because he has endless patience. So why does he think this is the answer? It is totally weird.

This week I went to Ashton court. The “Nova” trail is four miles long and surprisingly technical. Not like the above photo, nob head-was too busy trying not to die, that I could not take a photo. Don’t judge.

It is a four mile section of trail with everything. But after I was exhausted. The van needed work. I needed to stare into an abyss. The kids were arguing about sweet F A.

The Devil and the Angel

Two contrasting micro adventures

Bristol botanical gardens

Adventure #29 was to go to a place which I had thought a million times “I should go there.” And just never got round to it. I have lived in the city for 16 years and never stepped inside the botanical gardens.

It was an absolutely glorious day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the trees were dancing. The spring blooms were beautiful and exotic. I felt such great, deep joy sitting by the lake I wanted to buy an annual ticket. It was a small oasis of tranquility in a city full of chaos.

Dappled sunlight

Aside from learning a lot about pollination and about medicinal purposes of plants in the Chinese herbal garden, I just loved the tiny naked cherub statue I sat next to as I had a cup of tea.

If the lord himself has wanted to send an angel down to England, it felt like a fitting location.

The devils pulpit

Today I went for a ‘soft’ interview. After wrecklessly giving in my notice in April, I needed to start to find some way to earn money. If I could do something in the great outdoors, I would be in heaven.

Afterwards, I took the opportunity to stroll a length of Offer’s Dyke to the Devil’s pulpit. It was said that this magnificent outlook was used for the Devil to preach to the monks below in Tintern Abbey. The Forest of Dean looked spectacular with its great undulating forest slopes and the winding river running through it.

As I sat there quietly contemplating a new career, I just marvelled at the beauty of nature. I have spent the last 20 years studying and teaching design only to realise the greatest architecture is growing all around us.

Wild flower