Afoot


There is a green plaster on my balcony
that wasn’t there before.

And last night there was a freak hailstorm
that earlier wasn’t predicted.

In my neighbourhood,
strange things are happening.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Rock and cement


 
Searching for home in a world full of motion –
shapes constantly shifting,
people and spaces milling, spilling, moving around;
loud,
noisy,
fast-paced –
my hands paw at the intangible,
looking for connection inside
solid structures like rock and cement.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Dilemma

image
 
At 40 degrees,
the temperature is oppressive.

Standing in the pool,
lengths requiring more
than I can willingly recall,

I wonder whether I ought to
sink or swim?

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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What it used to be like

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First she saw the orange wheelbarrow
and was drawn towards that,
and then she noticed the orange scarecrow
and instead wanted that.

And when, on her birthday
she opened first the orange
and then the green,
it finally all made sense

because orange was the colour of sensuality
and a newfound enjoyment for life
and green was the colour of healing
necessary to awaken that.

So she placed them outside on either side
of her small but perfectly proportioned garden
to watch over her and encourage her
while she slowly remembered what it used to be like.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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What I would like 

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A misunderstanding turns what should
have been special into something plain
and the associated pain hurts more
than I care to describe.

I stare at the window and will
what is real into something else,
replacing what is
with what I would like.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Baa Baa, Black Sheep

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Things keep breaking inside my house
and I seem to spend every spare moment fixing them.

I seek comfort in a warm cup,
my bed, and the gentle rhythm
of two needles going clickety clack.

Slowly nothing becomes substance
until eventually a blanket appears.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Green and gold

I have nearly completed my Christmas tree and I’m so proud, waxing about her as if she were a newborn child. Given the brevity of time before me and the new terrain, the landscape of ‘different’ in which to source from, she’s a work of art. A patchwork of randomly sourced objects, lovingly put together with an attention to detail and adherence to certain rules – like each additional adornment must be serviceable all year, for life not just for December…, she presents a whole that even I with my obsessive need for perfection cannot readily unpick.

There is a velour cat with a bubblegum pink ribbon; a perspex diamond accommodating two mis-adventuring mice (one, with her purple jacket and hat, reminding me of my grandma) a child petting her pet, who just so happens to be a beautiful chocolate-brown spaniel; a hippo in a tutu attempting a pirouette; a moose holding a snow-clad tree – tiny in comparison to his rotund self; an eccentric giraffe displaying, in his outstretched hand, an umbrella (perhaps to remind me of England and all of the rain I incurred there); a felted tiger straight out of ‘Where the Wild Things are’, a similar felted fox and kangaroo, part of a matching collection; a terracotta angel painted Mallorcan style; a ceramic squirrel with a hollow centre and a rabbit carved from local wood. All that’s missing is the star.

Sitting at the very top, visible from every angle… the star cannot just ‘do’, she has to outshine. So while I’ve seen passable solutions and the occasional ‘blow me away with their beauty but also with their price’ attempts at twinkling joviality, I haven’t yet seen anything that works without breaking the budget (which is also one of the rules!) apart. But I believe… : in the solution, in the ‘right’ one, in the five-pointed declaration that is made specifically for me. When the Universe is ready (as like with everything else), she will extend her palm and yield. And if for some unforeseen reason she will not explain, she, the universe and all of the powers that accompany her… deem I am not to have a talisman, a gem to shine in the night, to ward off the darkness… then so be it. There are reasons greater than me.

And maybe it’s about being flexible in the face of restriction. Or happy amongst the uncompromising walls of limitation. Or about only seeing what you want to see.

Living from the one hastily-packed suitcase, a sitting room full of boxes it would be unwise to unpack; making do with another’s curious ornaments and furniture – a glass bowl full of plastic fruit, a black sofa with rose embellished cushions, threadbare rugs that house more beach than dust, a table and chairs with green velvet seats (seriously?), a kitchen that supports the making of tea but actively dissuades the creation of anything else, appliances that make their grievances known, usually throughout the night; bedsheets that itch and towels that scratch, tiles that bear the mark of generations and shift beneath passing feet: there is a lot of accepting and reimagining involved.

But like with boxes and randomly placed objects; unfolded clothes, decaying flowers and unwashed cups: all manner of unwanted but immovable things… After a while they cease to exist, the eye cleverly distorting what the mind lacks the conscious desire and active need to see.

imageSo really it’s just my tree that stands out, projecting beauty, colour, positive energy, fun, enchantment, love and pride. Greeting my return like a faithful friend, she adds a little warmth and welcome to an otherwise cold and inanimate space.

This ole house…

Leaving your apron
I move away from
the reach of kitchen knives.

In the corner
my father sits
silent.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

This Ole House song lyrics.

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Inroads

Pulling, cutting, carving.
Holes in pale white skin.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Adventures in Winterland


As per doctor’s orders, I spent the afternoon studying TRE from the various YouTube videos available and in the evening I practiced, aware that there was no more avoiding what I had successfully managed to put off all day if I wished to keep my promise to both my body and the friend who had prescribed it to me as part of an energy share.

I spread a blanket on the floor, placed a pillow at its top, shut the blinds and dimmed the lights so that it felt intimate and private. Then I put on some music, (in this case Kirtan Mantras– this music is truly divine), and walked to the wall.

Step 1: the forced surrender

• stand with your back against the wall
• squat as if you are sitting on a chair
• hold this position for 1 minute

Determined to be a good student, I pressed my back up against the wall, exerting enough pressure to stay stuck. Then, satisfied I was safe, slid down, finding the described squat. The seconds ticked. I waited: 10, 20, 30… All fine, nothing too painful, nothing too hard to endure. And then, BANG!, I hit 40 and my legs complained, shaking as heat seared through them, urging me to surrender, calling me towards the floor.

Step 2: the passive surrender

• lie on your back with your knees bent, feet together
• allow your knees to fall open as wide as they can go in a relaxed manner
• relax your arms, letting them rest by your hips, several inches out from your body
• have your palms facing up
• allow quivering or tremors to express as they like
• if it gets too intense, take a break, extending your legs straight out
• at the end, lie in a relaxed position for several minutes

As before, I adopted the instructed position and relaxed, doing my best to get out of the way. It was hard; I could tell I was anxious: embracing the unknown is not something I am especially good at.

I waited, wondering what I was letting myself in for and whether I would be the exception to the rule, the first person unable to allow for the natural release. For several minutes nothing happened and I wondered if maybe I should force it. And then I felt my legs start to shake: gentle, almost invisibly, but definitely there.

Over the course of the following hour many things happened. I had anticipated the exercise taking perhaps five minutes, ten at most. But it evolved, my body taking over, and it seemed a shame to stop, to suppress what I had spent a lifetime refusing to acknowledge, own or let out.

I’m not really sure about all of it. A lot happened. And much of what happened was completely different from the examples I had watched. It was like my body took on a life of its own, taking me on a personal journey through not only this life but others as well.

I recall being a panther: powerful, feminine and proud; clawing, snarling, defending what was mine.

And I recall being buried alive, although this only became apparent when I translated what my hands and arms were expressing to me. A frantic scratching and scraping against an invisible barrier. Fear and panic in my heart. A knowing without knowing why that I was fighting for my life.

There was also a lot of flipping and flopping and twisting and turning and stretching and shaking and juddering and gliding from various body parts. At one point, I was even hitting myself: banging my chest, attempting to get something out. And I heaved too, almost hyperventilating: a physical expression of panic without the emotion attached – similar to a smile without warmth, a hug without heart, a compliment without the corresponding thought of sincerity. At times, it felt a bit Exorcist-like, but I wasn’t alarmed. I felt safe: in the space, with my body. I understood it’s needs. I knew what was stuck had to come out.

When it finally slowed, almost every part of me had moved in some undirected way, articulating something personal and private, something it had lovingly held in order to keep me safe. And I was aware, too, of how much hurt there was, how much fear and unforgiveness. No wonder I harbour the following beliefs:

• the world is a scary place
• bad things happen to good people
• it’s not safe to love
• it’s not safe to trust
• it’s dangerous to be vulnerable
• those you love will either betray you, let you down, leave you or die
• you cannot depend on anyone, least of all yourself, etc.

Obviously, there is work to do. And there’s more releasing, too. I feel like I only just got started, taking the first sip of an ocean, the first step on the mountain path. But it’s an important start and the continuation of a relatively new process, one in which I step out of the way and, from inside, really listen to what my body has to say, following the guidance of its ancient wisdom as to how to best heal and advance myself. Only then will I return to the place I used to inhabit: a place where a phone ringing is a harmless noise, a car horn just that, where raised voices do not necessarily signify violence, and an accidental bump in the street doesn’t warrant the need for me to defend against an attack. For now, there is at least recognition and knowing, an awareness of the unresolved causing me to react. And in this awareness, there is power. Wow!

In committing to a regular practice, I can safeguard against further buildup and slowly work to release all that has been held and suppressed. The body is amazing. I am truly in awe of the messages it holds and the experiences we have recently shared. And I am humbled too, for it has carried so much, protecting me from things I wasn’t able at the time to take.

I am sad that I keep on adding to the burdens it bears, that life continues to challenge and at times upend me. But I am positive too, for this is the closest we have ever been to a resolution. Previously, there was just sand.
 
 
by Rebecca L. Atherton

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