Quiet, small and full of grace

My heart feels fragile and my emotions are like glass. I ache everywhere… from head to foot. Strange! I don’t know why.

Maybe I’m just tired? Every time I think I’m out of it: home free, laughing on the other side of what has been a long lonely eviction from all that’s warm and sweet; it comes crashing back, knocking until I fall to my feet. Not that I was ever arrogant about standing upright anyway: it has always been a challenge. 

Born into a mould that was different; teased about this and that; poked and prodded until my paper-thin broke: I have learned to hide rather than shout. Like the church mouse, I creep and sneak. Like her sister Cinderella, I pick up and dust. I often think I was born to serve. I do it so well. 

Perhaps my role is not to stand out, not to change in any overt external way, but, insteadto lend, lever and prop up? Maybe I am just the wingman: fixing what is broken in others; healing what hearts, bellies, minds cannot stomach, see or tolerate? Not a bad task. A task I actually rather like. After all: what comes easily and cleanly; what feels natural, an extension of self; what reaches out and into one’s own heart, bringing one into presence, demanding one turn up… is hard not to like. 

I’ve always had this desire to help others; this calling to protect, shield and heal. It’s something I’ve done ever since I grew up. Something I endeavoured to do even in childhood. I used to think: if I can’t fix me, if I can’t protect my own damaged and broken self: then at least I can apply the knowledge, the learning, the ‘advice too-hard-to-take’, to those around me.

And yet…

there’s this yearning now: to be whole, to be healed, to be Holy.

Tripping over my own misguided self; falling flat on my long-ago disowned face; finding myself alone with my mind and my body โ€“ things I hated, things I feared; nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no anything to take me: the all that I had been avoiding, the everything that I had fled, the darkness and dirt disowned… caught up. And somehow โ€“ in the eye of that nightmare, in the vortex of that storm, in the deafening noise of that aloneness, that isolation from friends and family, world and self… I found myself a miracle: quiet, small and full of grace. 

Slowly, I learn. Slowly, I see. The road is long; the horizon unclear. It is often dark and it is often wet. But there are stars ๐ŸŒŸ and rainbows ๐Ÿญ too. And the sunsets ๐ŸŒž, when I manage to see them, are incredible. 

I live according to a routine, keeping it simple. I don’t overly tax myself. I keep interaction to a minimum and travel to where I can get to outside of rush hour on foot. I don’t expect. I don’t demand. I listen to my body and do what she wants. We draw a lot. We make things out of paper, silk, clay and wool. We listen to the radio and we read, educating ourself, ourselves, in all things spiritual, metaphysical, holistic, helpful and healthy. We sing ๐ŸŽค and we dance ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿผ. We do yoga. We meditate – with essential oils, with crystals – hands on heart, on abdomen, on head… addressing each injured part, each softly screaming object, each rejected bit of once-upon-a-time integrated ingredient, bit by painful bit.

I begin my day in front of the mirror, greeting myself with love ๐Ÿ’‹. It is hard work and it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to do it; I want to run away ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿผ and pretend like everything’s ok, like everything’s usual. But I can see how it affects my life and I am encouraged by the results.

I work on releasing anger ๐Ÿ’ฅ: forgiving, accepting, letting go๐ŸŽˆof things I have too-long been holding onto. 

I am learning to say “no” and not to beat myself up for having done so. I am not a bad person and I deserve to be loved.

I am starting to listen to myself and act from the silence and in doing so I am learning peace .

I am shining my light and allowing others to shine with me. This is incredible: I had forgotten how much, when in alignment, when balanced and grounded, when in sync with authentic self, I glow.

I am welcoming abundance and paying attention to the guidance ๐Ÿ”ฎ that I receive. I am practicing accepting ๐ŸŽ‚ along with giving ๐ŸŽ, allowing an even exchange. This really has been difficult. 

Slowly, I am letting go and learning how to surrender.

I see the shadow that stands behind me, the pain on her face and the suitcase ๐Ÿ‘œ she holds in her hand. I sit with her on quiet mornings and together we go through the contents: sifting through old clothes ๐Ÿ‘—๐Ÿ‘˜๐Ÿ‘š๐Ÿ‘•, forgotten garments ๐Ÿ‘™, things I have not seen or thought about for many years. 

My wardrobe grows, accommodating things I now wear instead of hiding deep inside me. I wear my shame with pride and slowly she glows ๐Ÿฎ. Life is richer, brighter, more intense. I don’t dance around the permimeter of the person I want to be. I step in fully and completely. 

It’s a long journey, but daily we are getting there. Happiness ๐Ÿ˜Š is a choice I make and I am making that choice upon rising โ›…๏ธ every day

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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The Frog Prince and the Fairy Princess

Once upon a time…

A long time ago, before either you or I were born; before, even, most of us can remember โ€“ not our mothers or our grandmothers, or their mothers and their grandmothers โ€“ there was a handsome prince. And, like many far-off fabled princes, he was spoilt and mean. He teased his sister, chased his maid, terrorised the kitchen staff, shouted at both of his parents; refused to attend school, whether home or otherwise, and spent most of his spare time (which, considering he rejected investing in anything that wasn’t directly relevant to him, was a lot) catching moths, dissecting butterflies, tormenting little kittens and stealing baby birds.

The prince who favoured the beast

The handsome prince

His family, being good God-fearing people, suffered his behaviour to the best of their ability, attempting to instil their beliefs and values into him in the hope that, eventually, he would change. And for a while, they genuinely believed that he would.

But as the years passed and he grew from a boy into a man, drawing ever closer to the time when he would, traditionally, inherit the kingdom: their concern grew, it’s toes extending into every corner.

Fearing the destruction of everything they held dear: the community they had built, the people they worked hard to protect, the landscape that not only inspired artists but attracted writers from miles around, they called in external help, turning to the one person they knew they could rely on. And while her ways were initially painful, often confusing and unusually harsh, they accepted that they were also always right.

The one person they knew they could rely on

The one person they knew they could rely on

So began a time of mourning, in which the kingdom wept a thousand tears and all who lived there learnt to pray for compassion and forgiveness.

Years passed and nothing much happened: the king turned grey, the queen grew plump, the staff became less vigilant and the townsfolk gradually withdrew, for, although they knew it wasn’t their fault, they couldn’t help feeling responsible for the way that things had turned out.

The frog prince

The prince, and what befell him

As for the prince: he grew into a man โ€“ bitter, twisted and resentful, all the worse for the feelings his punishment had evoked in him.

Hiding inside the palace walls, he survived the comments, whispers, stares and judgement by keeping to himself.

And then, one day, the king of Mercy arrived with his daughter, Grace, and the prince, who was now a frog, awoke, the beast inside him dissolving in an instant.

The fairy princess

The beautiful princess

Determined to win the hand of the beautiful princess, the not-quite-so-beautiful prince set about improving, first attending to his own (up until now) wicked ways, and then extending his efforts further into every attainable interior of the kingdom.

Slowly, the chill began to melt. Life returned, laughter resumed and, once again, love remembered.

And then a question was asked and a hole was created โ€“ inside of which, there existed everything.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

Wings and Webbed Feet

The straight and narrow

Wings and Webbed Feet

This piece was written to compliment a textile I have just finished working on. Click here to see how it was made and to find out more about it.

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