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The Gallery – Pride

She opened up her hands
and there sat pride,
ingrained in every line and crease.

Like grime it clung
and clogged the pores,
smothering potential underneath.

Hands that could write
beauty out
in free uncensored streams

or paint a secret masterpiece
no stroke begrudged,
If only she could wash them clean.

No chance, she says,
and spreads-out wide her pride to show:
indelible as skin, worn thin
and hard as cold, dead bone.

This post was written for week 8 of Tara’s Gallery.
The theme this week was Seven Deadly Sins


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Mama – part 2.

Mama will you hold me?

Close in to your neck where we fit together so well.

I do not say your name, but I breathe it through my smiles and bright shouts. I say it in my hands on your face as I look at your eyes, open wide, wet and tired.

I am bigger than last time. I have learnt so much. So have you mama.

I have so much to say these days, and you listen, you listen so good. You do not miss one word I say.

You let me fill the space with my words, over and over. My sounds that I love. I know that they are not the same as your sounds, your words, but that is ok. We are not the same, we don’t need to be.

You get that sometimes I need to say the same sounds again and again. The run through my brain, as fast as my legs on the grass, and you KNOW how fast they can go now mama. They run out, and saying them makes me feel better. I love my sounds, I have a sound for everything. It is my thoughts, coming out my mouth to show you everything I am thinking, because you can’t see can you? I have a lots of thoughts, so I have a lot of sounds too.

Sometimes my lips are itchy, they need to play, they need to brrr and brrr as I run around. I like the vibration in my head.  Singing my song, over and over, it makes me happy. It is a good song but it is stuck in my head. Maybe I will sing another song if I find one I like better. Let’s make music together mummy, it is my favourite thing to do right now. You can drum and I can strum and we can sing and sing some more and dance and move and sway. I love to, I love to feel the rhythm in my feet and stamp it out.

I know it seems like we fight a lot, that I am mad at you. And sometimes I am. Because I have to be in charge mama, you know that. I have to make everything just the way I like, or else I get scared and cross. Why should it not be done my way? Why? It should, you know it should. I know better and exactly how everything should be. My way is best.

When I am mad it bubbles in me, just like real bubbles in bath that I say by the way they sound “brrrrbabum” with my fingers making the pop pop sound. The bubbles swirl in my tummy, they tell me I must NOT. So I do not. And my legs and arms, my body tell you so. They are better than words when you are cross, and so is the loudest noise that I can make. It says ‘cross’ that sound. It come from my toes and bubbles up and out in one big loud noise that makes my body feel better. If I kept it in mama I would explode.

You should try it. Maybe it would make your body feel better too.

I see by the lines that run down your face that you worry about me. But you shouldn’t, because I am a-ok. I am me and you are you. And we are the same but different. That is very special. And I don’t want to be like everyone else.

You look so tired mama, tired and sad. Maybe I will worry about you now. Because you know I love you, right? And that there is no other in the whole world that I want to be with every day? Maybe you have sounds in your head that need to get out. You should write them out, it helps, just like drawing my circles over and over helps me too. Make them pretty colours, your words mama, just like me, and make them real and leap and play and be free. Just like you let me be free too.

Mama will you hold me?

And then I can hold you too.

I wrote a post last night, which I took down again this morning in a silly fit of insecurity. I have put it back up again now. Thank you for those that commented and emailed, so much. And for these words especially:

“Josie,

I understand that you feel bad about worrying about your son. This is your wish for a mom who should only see his son in a perfect light, even if it wasn’t the case. the blind love… Your love is big. your love is the reason why you worry. You should not feel guilty about your worry. And you are not a bad mom if you think Kai isn’t perfect. You are not failing him.

You have a lot to give, and you are giving a lot already. You may not see it, but we all do. succeeding isn’t about achieving, but a lot about being. What you are Josie is beautiful. And I’m not talking about the outside and superfluous, but the inside, the depth, the sensitivity, the intelligence…

You know, what i think? I think Kai may help you overcome your fears of failing. It isn’t a easy task, Kai isn’t a easy kid. If he was an easy kid, it wouldn’t challenge you. You know, Kai may be your teacher. What I mean is that he may help you understand things about yourself. He may the “thing” you care so much that you will go all the way through and will eventually realize that love is strong, and that it is all that matters. You won’t be failing him when you love him. With love, you may realize, you have nothing to fear. I’m not saying love equals being a perfect mom. I mean that being a person filled with love, being honest and caring, and yes worrying, is what makes you a worthy person for your son.

I’m so deeply convinced, you are in fact the ideal mom for Kai… the moms you meet who are so sure of themselves and can “manage” their littles are SO not the right mom for Kai. Kai needs your sensitivity, your own painful experiences, your ability to listen, to tune in your inner self, to stand and raise above the differences. He will need that from you. And in return, he will show you that being Good and successful is not where you expect it to be. It’s already beautiful, Josie. How many do you know would improvise a gesture language to communicate with Kai? Your way to embrace your son for who he is and trying (struggling) to understand him is already beautiful, Josie.

There is beauty in imperfection. there is humanity. invaluable gift. You don’t see until it is in the ones you love so deeply.”

Thank you Eric. You will never know how much that meant to me xxx


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Shackles

I feel muted.

Like my tongue has been cut out and my fingers tied up.

I can’t talk about it, I certainly can’t write about it.

You wouldn’t understand. I tell myself that you wouldn’t, that you don’t want to hear it. That you won’t get what I’m saying, that’ll you’ll overwhelm me with kindness but not hear a word.

I’m trying. I’m going to try.

You’ve heard it before, it’s nothing new. Old words, said over and over.

A bad few days, that will pass of course, as they always do, but I am trapped again in a cycle of worry and doubt and fatigue that leaves my eyes hollow and my brain numb.

I don’t know how to fix this.

I don’t know how to stop worrying about a boy that seems determined to do every thing differently. Whose repetitive ‘stuck’ behaviours are becoming more and more obvious, whose tantrums are becoming harder and harder to manage. Finally those that spend time with him are beginning to realise what Ant and I have been saying all along, that we’re not looking at a speech ‘delay’ here, but something else. An opting out of speech perhaps as he busily and meticulously constructs his own language of sounds and gestures and a rich array of facial expressions. There is no lack of communication here, the boy that ‘talks’ for a good 12 hours straight most days with barely a pause, just communication on his terms, like everything else. His own words, with all the right intonation and syllables, even, that sound nothing like the English words but that he seems to have decided he prefers.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to not worry about a boy that seems so sensitive to sensation, that the sheer act of going for a poo, for god’s sake, makes him howl and cry, even though the doctor assures me there’s nothing physically wrong. That my poor love, not even two years old, is having to learn breathing exercises to help him cope with the anxiety and tension he feels when he needs to go.

And yet he is happy, for the most part. So full of life and vibrancy, interested in EVERYTHING. SO affectionate and, if given the right environments, making friends well, and genuinely the funniest, most entertaining little boy I have ever met. And I love him, and love being with him, even though he exhausts and confuses me. I just find him so draining. The pull on my emotional energy being with him every day, all day, is intense and makes it hard to recharge.

I don’t know what it all means. I know if I talk about it to you too much you will tell me not to worry, that he is fine, that it is all ‘normal’. And that I won’t believe you and feel lost and confused, doubting myself even more than I do.

And I don’t know how I’m supposed to let go as the gap between his peers gets bigger and bigger, and is, as I suspect, likely to get a lot big yet.

I worry about his differentness. And I feel guilty in that worry because although he is different he is healthy and happy, unlike so many children, whose parents must have to cope with so much more than me. Infinitely more.

And then there is me.

So trapped in patterns of self-doubt and low confidence, to the point of almost an crippling paralysis. To the point where I feel it could spoil everything I am, or could be. It has already made me give up things that if I told you about, which I never have – I can’t bring myself too, would make you gasp. And no, it wasn’t a baby. A baby of sorts, a dream, a talent, which because of the way I feel about myself I am too scared to even contemplate taking up again.

And I know that this is what you won’t understand. That you will think it can be fixed by saying nice things, and I wish it could, but somehow that seems to make it worse because I don’t feel like I deserve them.

It feels such a waste. I hate myself for this pathetic wallowing. These endless up and downs which exhaust me as they must you too.

Life is so short, too short to waste it, and deep down I KNOW that I have so much to give, and that I worthy of it. But I can’t move past the fear, of failing, not being good enough. It is like shackles I can’t shake off, and I don’t know where they came from or how to be free of them. I just know that it colours everything, painting over bright horizons with endless washes of grey.

I want to fix it.

I want to fix me.

But I don’t know how.


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Happy Monday folks, hope you’ve all had a good weekend. Here are your prompts for this week’s workshop – here’s hoping you find something to get you blogging this week and really sink your teeth into.

For any newbies to our weekly workshop (and it’s never to late to join in), here’s how it works: I’m going to give you 5 writing/blogging prompts. Pick one, pick two, or do them all if you’re really keen – it’s up to you. How you respond is your choice. You could share a real-life story, or make one up. You could write a poem or just free-write without thinking too hard and see what happens. It can be funny; it can be serious; it can be emotional. It can be whatever you want it to be. The only rule is to enjoy writing your post and get something out of the process.

Prompts each week take their inspiration from blogs, current affairs, daily life, or just whatever everyone happened to be talking about that week. If you’d like to suggest a prompt for a future workshop then send me an email or catch me on Twitter – I would love to hear your ideas.

So here they are:

1. Write about a nickname you have been given in your life, either an endearing one or perhaps a hurtful one that cut deep. How did that nickname come about? Who gave it to you? What feelings and memories does it conjure up?
- Inspired by Belle Joie who was called something hurtful at work this week.

2. Tell me about a time when you had a moment of realisation and knew that something HAD to change. Did you act on it straight away? Or did it take time?
- Inspired by Keep Calm and Eat Cake and her honest post Tummy Tuck.

3. Have you ever had a paranormal experience? Or has someone you know? How did you interpret what you experienced? If it was someone close to you, did you believe them?
- Inspired by Crystal Jigsaw and her beautiful real-life ghost stories which I so enjoy and by Mari who talked about her dabblings with Tarot recently.

4. Share some memories of a sibling or siblings. How does your relationship with them now differ from when you were kids? For those of you who have perhaps lost a sibling, what do you remember most vividly about them? What things or places remind you of them most?
- Inspired by Mrs Lucia-Wrights BEAUTIFUL and well-crafted poem about her brothers which was one of my favourite posts of last week.

5. Tell us about a random act of kindness, either one you performed or one you received.
- Inspired by Susie at New Day New Lesson and her fantastic new Kindness Club, with weekly prompts challenging you to an act of kindness.

Now here’s what you have to do. Write your post and publish it on your blog between now and THURSDAY. On Thursday come back and use the widget that will be up to paste in the URL of your post to share. Then take some time to read some of the other entries and leave some comment love! We’re not here to critique – just to have fun and support each other in our writing experiments. So be kind please.

Anyone who would like to submit something via email, or even anonymously will be more than welcome to do so. I’ll post them on the site here and include the link in Thursday’s round-up.

Feel free to use the Workshop badge on your blog or as part of your post if you like. Code is here:

Note: I’m told Blogger does something a bit funny with the code so you’ll need to copy and paste it and then retype the quotation marks (“) as Blogger changes them for some reason.

See you Thursday then!

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This Writing Workshop is brought to you in association with Mama Kat’s Losin’ It – who’s lovely author came up with the concept and runs her own workshop over in the U.S.


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New

I lie in sickly soft fluorescent glow,
numb in mind but not in bone.
Ten marathons run hard and long
in just one day and night.

My eyes are fixed on the plastic crib
for signs of life, for need. I do not know you
yet my every nerve is tuned
to each new foreign snuffle sound.

And then, a cry. I pounce
and join you in your wail as stitches pull,
looking down in shock at this strange weight
my arms have never known.

A red mouth opens wide with rage.
The blood-loss shakes me empty, cold.
This rigid, curled tight horror that you are.
My world turned inside-out.

_______________________

I know that some of you may find this poem rather shocking. It was the second poem I wrote this week for my assignment based on the study of autobiographical memory, prompted by my reading of a wonderful, healing book called ‘What Mother’s Do’ by Naomi Stadlen that explores feelings experienced after childbirth in one of its early chapters.

I love my son, I hope that fact shines from the pages of this blog, but when thinking back to the first few hours after his birth, my memories weren’t those of love, or sudden infatuation, or that magical sense of ‘knowing’ this beautiful new baby in my life. No, my memories were of shock, fear, confusion and complete bewilderment at what on earth I was supposed to do with this thing that I had absolutely no understanding of.

I wanted to share this because I know many, many other mothers feel the same, and that those early emotions are often hard to acknowledge or to talk about.

And I wanted to say that I think it is ok that we feel like this. That shock at such a life-changing event is a normal part of the process, that MOST women feel like this, some dads too. But at the same time, from these terrifying first beginnings, most parents build a deep, powerful and deeply satisfying love for their children and a confidence in their parenting abilities. And it takes time, for some much longer than you would expect, and that too is normal. We’re not talking days here, we’re talking weeks, even months.

Nearly two years on and I’m still getting used to my little stranger to be honest. But knowing that my love for him is something that wasn’t exactly given to me on a plate, but is something that I worked for, nurtured, grew, makes it all the more precious and significant to me. A love hard-won and all the deeper for it.

How about you? How does your experience of early parenthood compare? Did it take you some time to move past that shock and overwhelming feeling of being out of your depth? Or was it a gentler transition?

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I have put together a page with a selection of some of my recent poetry which can now be accessed from the page menu at the top and to act as an archive for some of the work I may have previously shown here. There you’ll also find the finished edit of the ‘Accidental Meeting’ poem I shared with the workshop yesterday, if you fancied a read. Thank you for all your feedback, encouragement and support. It really helps me in developing my work and gives me the confidence to keep going. Special thanks to Deer Baby and Muddling Along for their time and feedback yesterday x


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