Monday, 27 July 2009

Getting back to living life

I started to write this blog so many times, in my head and on the computer. “Don't think – just write”, but the words wouldn't come out in the right order, and I pressed the back space key so many times, I nearly gave up. What's the point? It's been so long and so much has happened – too many things to catch up with.

But here I am, pounding the keys and fumbling with words, thoughts and emotions, with a few pictures thrown in, just for good measure.

Spring was a write off for us. We had three close bereavements in rapid succession – the culmination of an emotional roller coaster as I watched my friend, Carole, lose her battle with cancer. Then there was my uncle Peter, also a victim of cancer, quickly followed by my ex-father-in-law, Derek, as he finally gave up his brave fight with Parkinson's. I moved through Spring in a state of numbness, not feeling the same joy as new life burst forth all around me. What is it all about? This journey of life we are all travelling on: watching the seasons come and go; getting up, filling our day and going to bed; laughing, crying......

I was brought up Church of England, but following my parents' break up, when my Dad found the Jehovah's Witnesses, I have had a strange relationship with religion. I don't go to Church, except for weddings, funerals, harvest, Christenings – you know, the times most people make an appearance, but it doesn't mean I don't believe in God. For me, religion is a personal thing: I don't wear a label; I don't “belong” to a particular faith. My experiences of the affects of religion on a family have soured my belief in Church – not in God, but the Church bit, when mankind gets involved. Watching the goings on as the ladies do battle over alter flowers (C of E) and “Elders” (Jehovah's Witnesses) telling my Dad to shave his beard off because it gave the “wrong” impression to the outside world (unclean – can you believe that?), then listening to my Mum crying and pleading with Dad to stand up to them, after all, didn't Jesus wear a beard? The sound of him tapping the razor on the side of the bathroom sink will stay in my memory forever, as I watched the sparkle dim in my Mum's eyes. But that wasn't God's hand – it was men “interpreting” the Bible and its message, and that was when I pulled away.

So, my faith has become my own personal relationship with God, and this spring saw that sorely tested. As I watched the greening of the hedgerows, buds bursting forth and bulbs pushing through the earth, my usual joy and wonder was absent, as I grieved for people I loved. But this IS what it is all about, though, isn't it? The cycle of life, that continuous circle and my grief gradually turned into a heightened awareness that I had to get on and “live”.

And that is what I have been doing. I have been outside at every opportunity, working in my vegetable garden and nurturing my plants. I have started to sew again and resumed my voracious reading habit. Oh! And cooking – something I have always enjoyed, but now has become a passion. Jimmy has been chief tester as I have tried out new recipes on him and I have shopped locally for in-season produce, that I haven't grown myself, like a woman possessed. We have entertained as never before and I have hardly turned the computer on – that is a major achievement in itself!

Last week we went to Suffolk – just the two of us in a beautiful cottage between Edwardstone and Boxford (Grove Cottages).

The cottage was rustic rural at its best and each morning we were visited by a family of ducklings, with their mum. I fell in love with this county as we visited Flatford Mill, on through Manningtree to Mistley (Essex borderland), back towards Nayland, Polstead, Kersey (where the Witch finder General was filmed), up to Monks Eleigh, Needham Market, across to Framlingham, Woodbridge and Sutton Hoo and then on to the coast, where we explored Walberswick, Dunwich Heath, Westleton, Thorpeness, Aldeburgh and Orford.
The furthest west we went was to Lavenham and Long Melford, where we also visited Melford Hall. Wherever we went, we drove through picture perfect villages of pastel coloured, thatch roofed cottages, with village greens and duck ponds. I completely understand Suffolk Mum's choice of home county! All too soon it was time to come home, back to the reality of domestic routine – washing, ironing, cleaning the chickens out...............

But then, of course, as we drove home reflecting on our adventures in a previously unknown county to us, we turned the corner and the Malvern Hills came into view, as the sun was setting. My heart lifted, as they gently stood proud on the landscape and the warm feeling of home seeped into my bones. We finally turned into our lane and as we drove up the hill, our cottage stood quietly waiting for us. The dogs were going ballistic as they recognised the car engine sound and after a raucous greeting, accompanied by wet noses thrust into our hands and tails circling at 90 miles per hour, we collapsed with steaming mugs of tea, laid out in preparation on a tray by my Mum. We grinned at one another. There's nowhere quite like home, but we both agree that Suffolk comes a VERY close second!!


Blossomcottage said...

Oh Woozle you said so much for me, I too have sat down several times to write but neither had the will or the inclination, I tried again today but once again felt to tired to bother, then I went and had a look to see who had Blogged and there you were, you said all the things I need to say, the loss of loved ones to the "wondering about church" and finally "home is where the heart is"
I am glad you are back a the world of cyber telling and I enjoyed very much what you had to say and you know what I think you might have inspired me to exercise the grey matter and the keyboard.
Thank You Blossom

pinkfairygran said...

Lovely post. Suffolk is a gorgeous place to visit, did you manage Southwold? Maybe you mentioned it and I missed it; hope you did anyway as it is one of my favourite places, along with several others you mentioned. And no matter how much you enjoyed being away and exploring somewhere new, the old saying that there's no place like home, really rings true when you come back to it after a break don't you think? In fact, for us, there really is no place like it, and so we staycation, as mentioned in my blog last week.
And having bereavements, one after the other, is a sad and exhausting time I know, so I empathise with your thoughts on that.

LittleBrownDog said...

Goodness, Woozle, you really have been through the mill over these past few months. Can completely understand why you found it so hard to get blogging again - completely. But so lovely to hear from you all the same. That Suffolk cottage with the little latch door looks so cosy - I'm glad you had such a wonderful time exploring Suffolk - places I have visited in the long and distant past. Lovely to catch up. (And there's no greeting to come even close to a doggy greeting - they just make you feel so welcome back, don't they?)

Calico Kate said...

So lovely to have you back Woozle. Ihave popped by every so often but there hadn't been anything new for a while, and now I understand why. So sorry it hasn't been the happiest of times for you. That holiday sounds like just what you needed.
Thanks for dropping by my perch! See you again soon.

toady said...

Hey great Woozle's back.
My blogging mojo 's broke at the moment too. Glad you're feeling a bit brighter after such a bad time, and may this be the first of many.

Anonymous said...

Hi Woozle, lovely pictures.

I'm not surprised spring was a bit of a blur. Religion can be a real bind in people's lives and can often be the main cause of friction. I've lost a friend not long ago because of her beliefs, her constant and very unnecessary trying to convert me. My own beliefs are not everyone's of course but I do think we should each respect others.

CJ xx


Welcome back Woozle. What a lovely blog and so well expressed. Glad you have come through the sad times. It does make us reflect. I enjoyed the trip though Suffolk, as it is an are I don't know. I must trace the places on my map. Delighted you are back on top and enjoying all your hobbies with renewed vigour.

Pili pala said...

A beautiful blog Woozle. I'm sorry for your loss and glad you found some time to get away. I don't think it matters where you live you appreciate things so much more when you've had some time away.
I feel religion and faith are often confused. I do wonder at times if some people stop and think what they are saying during a service, no matter what their religion is. For me the overall message is to love and care for one another...

ChrisH said...

Hello, Dear Heart. It's lovely to have you back so well done you for finding whatever it took to make you pick up the blog again. Sorry that you have had such a sad time.

Frances said...

Hello and a big welcome back to you, Woozle.

We have missed you here, and this post of yours has gone straight to my heart.

Yes, there are lots of seasons that are so tough, even if we sort of know that they are coming our way.

What you write about diving into the beauty of nature, seeing your garden, finding many wonders in Suffolk, and ... having a wonderful welcome home ... it is downright encouraging to read this.

Please do send up some more posts soon ... see how greedy your readers are!


Pondside said...

Helloooooo Woozle! So nice to see you back!
What a spring you had - but you survived to think about it and write about it.
Your trip to Suffolk sounds beautiful - lovely photos make me want to see more.

Frances said...

Hey Woozle, I am back again, to thank you for your lovely comment.

Please know that every time I see Woozle 67, and return to that magical year 1967, I am reminded of how that year gave me my entry to New York and to a world city sense of contemporary civilization that I was so, so very glad to embrace.

Your use of 1967 is magic to me. xo

Fennie said...

Great to have you back Woozle and sorry to hear you've had such an emotional roller coaster ride recently.

Lovely photographs in your blog. We lived for a few years in Great Waltham in Essex not so far from the Suffolk border and my sister lives near Stowmarket so I know this part of the world pretty well and I am in 100 per cent agreement with you. It's really a very lovely place to be. Big skies and tall grasses.

bodran... said...

Hello my darlin, I've been wondering about you and it's nice to see you back.
i just can't seem to blog either.
We will all be in leominster again at the end of november, we'll have to meet up again, in fact i'll stand a strange man outside the house to tell you it's the wrong one Duurrrrrrrrr...... I'm going to try to get down sooner though just to look at the orchards..
What you said about religion ticks so many boxes for me every single one in fact...xxxxxx

annakarenin said...

Faith is a strange thing and I often question mine. The beginning of the summer I had to go a sit with my neice and her husband as they switched off her brother-in -laws life support. He was 20 and had a brain heamorrige(sp). His parents left the hospital when they were told there was no hope leaving Kerrie and Ben to deal with it all. My sister rang me from France where they had been on holiday begging me to go and be with them. It was very hard and not the instant thing that it is made out to be on television. At one piont during the early hours when they were sleeping I got on my knees and begged God to let Joe die to give Ben some release but it stretched out to the bitter end.

We have an excellent vicar at our church, I do go but take form it what I beleive is right and discount some of the dogma, Pili Pala has it right in my opinion. The next time we went we were asked to think of a time when we had wanted God to answer our prayers instantly. Until that night I had never asked for something instantly as that is not what God is about for me and I would never expect it.

I know why though Joe held on. He held on because his father came back to the hospital just in time to be there when he finally died. His mother now regrets it but it was her descission to leave and Joe's dad had to go along with that. We can live with our own descisions but it is so much harder for relationships to have to live with descisions tha were forced on you. It was important Joes dad got back and that is possibly why God does work in mysterious ways.

You needed your holiday and I am so glad for you it was a good one.

I don't read many blogs now like you I have tried successfully to break the habit as it takes over. I very rarely comment but felt I had to say something as it was close to my own experience.


CAMILLA said...

Hello dear Woozle,

Wonderful post and pictures, I quite fancy booking that cottage where you stayed in Suffolk, sounds heaven.! I live just over the border in Norfolk but have been planning a trip to Suffolk later this year.

It has been a very anxious time for you Woozle so can completely understand you not blogging, lovely to see you back again with us though. Pleased you are feeling much brighter after a very sad time.

Love Camilla.xx