Becoming Butterflies

This is a poem I’ve written for my sister and I. A reminder of all that we are and yet to become.

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Gaining Confidence

It has taken a while, quite a while when I come to think of it. My self confidence had taken several hits over the past few years but generally I refuse to be beaten by things and in a moment of loss and grief I decided something. That I was going to make it better again.

Although I am only recent on this road I am at last making headway and gaining confidence once again. I see glimpses of my old self that are returning at last.

I mentioned in a previous post about the recent loss of my brother and that at his funeral I shared some of my poetry in front of the assembled throng. It was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It was also a first for me and was well received. It got me thinking, was it just a one off or would I feel able to get up and do something like that again.

I was also facing another personal hurdle recently. Giving evidence in a court trial for criminal damage against my property caused by someone who has harassed and abused me for the past two and a half years. In the weeks leading up to the trial, I suffered more threats and did not know if I felt strong enough to deal with it, but knew that I had to if I was to get any justice at all. It was time for things to change, for the better.

So once again I stepped out of my comfort zone. I attended the trial, gave my evidence and came out of the court having helped convict the person who caused the damage. It gave me a huge boost to know that I had succeeded after being bullied and feeling daunted for so long.

Getting back to the poetry. At the funeral I was told by several people that I should write more and share it with people. Soon after that I was invited to a spoken word poetry reading at a local venue. I thought that I would go along and see how it worked. It happens every month and you turn up and share your words with other poets it’s like an open mic night.

I took my sister, she is used to performing since she is a professional musician. I went with a few poems tucked in my bag just in case I had the urge to join in. We sat and listened and what struck me, is that poetry affects people in so many different ways. Some was bawdy, some of the language strong, some I didn’t understand at all and others performed in song.

Since we arrived rather late in the evening I was one of the last to read. Many of the others had left by then and my nerves were trying to get the better of me. I was shaking like a leaf, the symptoms of my health letting me down again and wracked with pain. But I was determined not to back down. I had decided I was going to do this, so I owed it to myself to follow it through.

I had not practiced or rehearsed beforehand. But read out two of my poems, The Vivid Sky and Wild Horses to applause from the remaining people. At the end of the evening a few people came and asked me if I had done this before. There was one person who said he wished there were more, that they were longer as he hadn’t wanted them to stop. He said he’d enjoyed them and asked about my writing. We talked for a few minutes. I had also enjoyed his poems earlier in the evening. I was invited back next month and decided that I would return. I would also take the time to improve my presentation to make my voice clearer, there is some work to do for my own peace of mind.

It gave me a real sense of achievement to realise that at last I am slowly gaining confidence again to do things that I may not have considered before. Pushing my boundaries again. Something I have battled with in the past was getting people to listen, feeling that I could not hold their attention for long enough to make my point.

In the past week alone, having achieved these two separate things I have now realised that if I can stand up in front of a room full of strangers then I will become a better public speaker in time and this will expand my capabilities.

Who knows where that will lead me?

One of my bosses once said to me that I could do anything that I wanted. At the time I did not believe in myself to imagine that it were true. Thankfully I have someone else in my life who believed in me even when I did not and over the years I have been encouraged to try new things. Occasionally I follow my instincts and go and do the new things and am amazed when it works out. But to know that it’s there all along is a wonderful feeling.

The Daily Post – Gingerly

Creative Abandon

The Daily Post – Messy

Like many creative people my house can get pretty messy when I am busy making or doing a project. The key to this is to return to some order again once I am done. Admittedly sometimes this can take longer than I planned.

Yesterday I took over the kitchen as is often the case this time of year and made Winter Syrup. This will form the basis for some of my handmade Christmas gifts for friends and family.

As you will see in almost every hedgerow that you pass this time of the year in the Uk there is a plentiful supply of Rosehips just waiting to be utilised. After the first frost has softened them is the best time to use them. I love foraging for fruit and berries.

For the past three years I have made a Winter Syrup of varying ingredients. It is usually because I haven’t kept the recipe in one place and I strive to improve it each year. All have been based on a Rosehip recipe and are my first resort when sore throats hit since these wonderful fruits are packed with Vitamin C.

The first I made was the best since it was Elderberry and Rosehip and was what my brother who was a chef, described as “a little bottle of Christmas”. It was lovely with cake, ice cream and in sparkling cocktails. I resolve to make this version next year and not miss out on elderberries as I did this year I was just in the wrong place when the fruit was available. But for now, here’s the recipe for this year’s if you want to make some of your own.

1kg of Ripe Rosehips with stalks and ends removed.

2 litres water

1 Lemon with peel on, halved.

2 inches of Fresh Ginger root, sliced.

1 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice.

2 tsp Ground Turmeric.

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon.

1 tsp Cloves.

Honey.

Mix all ingredients in a large pan, with 1 litre water lightly mash the Rosehips to break up the fruit and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Use a Muslin cloth in a colander and a bowl to separate the fruit from the liquid, leave to stand to drain as much liquid as possible out. Because Rosehips have fine hairs within them which can irritate the throat you have to separate the fruit from the liquid.

Return the liquid to a clean pan and add another 1 Ltr water and 1kg Sugar. I used both Demerara and white sugar since it was what I had to hand. Add 2 tbsp honey.

Bring the liquid to boil until all sugar has melted then simmer until it has reduced to half its volume.

Bottle it into sterilised glass bottles. I got 8 small bottles from this recipe.

It makes a wonderful sore throat remedy. You will notice that there is a slight sediment in the bottles, this is due to the use of dried spices. Shake before use and once opened store in the refrigerator.

Favourite Places to Visit

Esther Chilton Challenge – Favourite Places to Visit

This is a place that really is my second home, the place I go to whenever I can. My sanctuary from all that has gone wrong in my life. Where I am surrounded by Nature and Beauty and I am reminded that there is more to life than whatever has bothered me before.

I can walk for miles, across those hills. Surrounded by greenery, trees, mountains and the sea.  The sunsets lift me, their warmth coursing through my veins and bathing everything in a beautiful glow. When I am fortunate to rise with the sun, then life is truly worth living and the day seems so much better. At night, when a magnitude of stars light up the sky, and everywhere else is black, what will catch me out every time is when the blackness suddenly turns from enveloping you to a blue blanket which surrounds you and the light creeps around the hillside fooling you  and the birds again into thinking that the morning has broken. When it rains, boy does it rain and the rain will come down sideways and soak you to your core and feels as though it could cleanse your soul.

It is one of my favourite places on earth.

Four Lessons I’ve learned whilst writing.

The Daily Post – Faceless 

My alternative title would be “Writing Under a Pseudonym Part 2”. Since this is not the first time that I have written about this subject. When I first began my blogging journey almost three years ago. I decided that I would not write under my own name back then.

I’d figured that since the subjects I could write about, might come out of nowhere and catch me by surprise. It would be better to keep some form of anonymity in case it didn’t work out. As part of my own healing process, I thought that since it was going to help me get over trauma in my life, by writing about the things that have affected me.  It doesn’t always do to be so frank. I could hide behind the other persona somewhat.
I thought about the fact that, since at the time I was suffering with very low self-esteem that if I wasn’t any good at it, then it would simply vanish into thin air. I could put the whole thing away, shut it down if I wanted to and chalk it down to experience and it wouldn’t jeopardise any future career prospects.  I have always been rather too concerned about what others think and it had often held me back.

I have learned some valuable lessons in the past few years doing this.
In no particular order…
I have learned that if you write under an assumed name, then sometimes it encourages you to be the person you hope to become.
1. If you mess it up along the way, then you aren’t called to account as such.
2. I have always been fairly careful in what I publish in that I do not want it to be held against me later. I set myself a rule that I would try to steer clear of bad language even when I am upset or angry about a subject. If you have to write when you are feeling like that, then don’t publish it for all to see, as you may feel differently later.
3. You can be transparent about all kind of things whilst hiding behind your assumed name.
4. It can be very difficult to promote yourself as a writer when you are someone else.  I still haven’t got past this last hurdle. I wrote a book you see, but how do you promote your self-published work when only a handful of people know who you are. If you go out there saying you are this new person, what happens if someone recognises you?

As time has gone on, I have wanted to write more and more under my real name though. To bring the writer within out into the open. I have gained more confidence in my ability to write. It was always something that I had out to the back of my mind, thought about pursuing on several occasions over the years,  but not really knowing where to begin. It was merely one of those skills that became incorporated into the repertoire of my working life.  I wrote good letters for my employers, could word adverts and job descriptions and was also thorough when it came to proofreading as well.   I enjoyed such aspects of my work.

Sure I am not everyone’s cup of tea. My style of poetry does not suit everyone and can sometimes seem like more of the same even to me if I revisit a subject. But there are times when it gives me the freedom to express myself in a different way to the norm, to say what is really on my mind.
I think about the many occasions where I have been going through whatever life has decided to throw in my direction.  I have thought about how I dealt with things and how I got through the hard times and it is there in the background, a constant.  I have poems I wrote in my young adult life, which I found in some papers a couple of years ago. There are bits and pieces, snippets of writing, a storyline which did not get continued which I began many years ago.  My own unfinished symphony. If I have been upset or confused about something in my life, it has always helped to write it down, see it in black and white in front of me, to get my head around it. I am not just a poet though. I write about all kinds of things.
Years ago, I found that a way to deal with things that I felt powerless about was to write a letter to whoever had upset or wronged me. Telling them exactly how I felt about the situation.  These were never meant to be read by the person and often written in the heat of the moment. They were usually burned, offered up to the universe to deal with in whatever way it saw fit. But it certainly helped me and as a consequence, once I had done so, I could let it go and move on. I do not hold grudges, but I rarely forget the lesson I have learned from an experience.

Latterly these past three years I have been writing more and more poetry. I had to find an outlet for it which is how the first blog came about. I had so many poems I didn’t know what to do with them, I wondered if others might like to read them. But I didn’t know where to start. Some people suggested I write a book, but I didn’t have the confidence or the know how to begin it. So I decided to publish it via a blog instead, who knows I might get some followers and later on if it was well received I might be able to write a book.

The poems came thick and fast. I wrote night and day, sometimes I would write ten in a night and sleep half the day. It was like a tap I could not turn off. I kept notebooks everywhere, made voice memos of subjects if I could not write it there and then, such as when I was out walking the dog, or had been driving in the car, I would pull over to record a thought of lines of this and that that I could refer to later. I kept a notebook in the bathroom, often clambering out of the shower or waking in the night when inspiration would hit with a couple of lines that would then turn into something quite magical. My fiance was concerned, as it seemed to take me over. That may seem like odd behaviour, however I have found out from other writers, this is perfectly normal! Within a few months I had written over 100 poems. I decided that was the goal that I would reach before publishing my book.

I still did not know how to go about it, but a friend also self-published and gave me some good advice about Amazon Kindle publishing.  I decided to take the leap. I selected about 60 poems from the 100 and wrote a little book of poetry.  My failing in all of this and lesson I  learned was that to get book sales, you have to promote yourself. I was not ready to get out there and do this at all. To take my work to a publisher for them to decide that it wasn’t what they were looking for. I didn’t think that I could handle any more criticism at that time. I was my harshest critic. Listening to the inner voice telling me that I wasn’t good enough was crippling me. But nevertheless, I put the book out there and there it remains, largely undiscovered.

But I haven’t given up. I thought about a second book and continued to write my poems, thinking that when I reached 200 then I would select again and publish another which had a title and a cover all ready to go. I also considered a third title.  I have now written over three hundred poems and have yet to select for the second book.  I figured that I was too busy writing them to stop and when self-doubt creeps in, I think what is the point when I did not get good sales of the first one. So some get published on the blog.  Others are put into cards for special occasions for loved ones.  My oldest friend said that I should write card poetry for someone like Clintons, but I feel that it would lack the personal touch.

I would like to use my skills as a writer more. I’ve been putting reviews on Trip Advisor for a couple of years now and thoroughly enjoy writing about my travels. I would love to travel extensively and write about it all. I love taking photographs and include many of them in the other blog that I write.

I had intended that this website would include more of my writing this year. It has been a tough one again and although I had thought that I was ready to unleash myself upon the world as a writer but it has been halted by family tragedy. I lost my brother suddenly in the summer and have had family responsibilities to carry out since then, so my writing has taken a back seat.  But there is hope still. I wrote several poems when he passed away. Although I published some on the other blog, I read one particular one out at his funeral, it was so important to me to do this for him. I am not a confident person and I have never been a public speaker. I do not crave the spotlight in any way, rather I tend to shy away from it. It wasn’t easy to be the first to get up and speak and to read something that I’d written in public. There were around 400 people who attended that day and heard it. Many came up to me later and told me that they were impressed by my poetry and that I should write more and publish it. So it showed me that I am on the right track after all.  What gave me a sense of pride was to hear from some of his friends later that my brother had been proud of my writing and often spoke about it. I had no idea, but I knew that he firmly believed we should both follow our dreams.

What I know now is that whatever direction my working life takes from here on in, I would like to continue to strengthen and use these writing skills.