Be like a train; go in the rain,

go in the sun, go in the storm,

go in the dark tunnels!

Be like a train;

concentrate on your road

and go with no hesitation!
~Mehmet Murat ildan

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

***Unfold your own myth.***

I hope you will go out and let stories,

that is life, happen to you, and that

you will work with these stories . . .

water them with your blood &

tears & your laughter till they bloom,

till you yourself burst into bloom.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Friday, 9 February 2018

Oh For a Cottage On a Hill...

...for a cottage surrounded by
green pastures & rolling hills
dotted with sheep. A cottage
looking out onto trees & sky,
and a sleepy village
from another time...

...and that's precisely our cottage,
set on a hill in Wales

I don't even know how or where to begin telling about all that's happened in the past few months, ever since September really, when we found our little cottage on a hill in a small border town in Wales. Do I start with September, when we walked through the cottage for the first time and fell in love with it? Or does a move to Wales really begin 11 years ago, with our move to Oxford? Where it really and truly begins though, is probably 25 years ago, before I had met Stuart, before you had to take shoes off at airport security, before I even had an inkling I would one day live in Britain.

Maybe it's best to let the story unfold slowly since there are so many twists and turns on this very unexpected journey. All I know is that the underlying current of my life has always been leading me here.

I'm going on an adventure!
~Bilbo Baggins

 A sign on the path that runs along the river.
It divides Shropshire & Powys,
England & Wales.
To exist is to change, 
to change is to mature, 
to mature is to go on 
creating oneself endlessly. 
~Henri Bergson

I've lost count of how many times I've invented & reinvented myself, and now I'm doing it again. The photo above is our life right now...I'm based in Wales and go back and forth to Oxford. Stuart is based in Oxford still, at the B&B, busy with his walking tours but coming and going to Wales when he can. And Jack? He's not quite sure I think.

Wales or England? England or Wales?
How should one small dog decide?
One of the reasons we love Wales is the walking. It's a walker's wonderland. And there's nothing Jack likes better than our walks, so that alone has swung the balance in favour of Wales for him. He and I are in heaven, with our two or more hour walks every day. Just having the time for all that walking is a precious new gift.

It is not talking but walking
 that will bring us to heaven.
~Matthew Henry

It didn't take long for Jack to warm
to new walks, new places, fresh views.
He trots along like he owns the place,
just as he does in Oxford's University Parks.

If you're happy and you know it,
then your ears are going to show it.
When Jack is happy, his ears
have a way of flying.

It didn't take Jack long to figure out
gates and stiles. To know to wait 
patiently for his turn to go through
with the best of manners.

Rain or shine, snow or sun,
we always walk. Sometimes we
 get all of that and more in the
space of one walk, but it never
dampens our spirits.

Playing with Stuart along the river.
Just as in Oxford, our walks take us
along a river, this one shallow and
 running faster with winter rains.

Jack insisted we follow new paths after
 awhile and so we did. This public footpath
 leads up into the hills that our cottage 
windows to the north look out onto. 
I watch the hills in all weather,
getting to know them, and now we're
getting to know every curve and 
contour as we walk them.

Half-way up we turn and take in the view 
across the valley (below). It's views like
this that I fell in love with 25 years ago,
and dreamt about long after. Now I see
them every day.

Dreams are illustrations...
from the book your soul is 
writing about you.
~Marsha Norman

The very first time we took the
path up into the hills, we made
it to the stile where I had a good,
long sit, relishing the silence,
imprinting the views on my heart.
Jack snuffled and shuffled his way
through the fallen oak leaves, intent
upon smelling all there was to smell.

The next time we ventured over the stile
and up, up through the oak wood. The
 oaks, still in their winter silence, kept
quiet watch as we walked, not making
a sound on the mossy ground.

I have come home at last! 
This is my real country!
 I belong here. 
This is the land I have 
been looking for all my
 life, though I never 
knew it till now...
Come further up,
 come further in!
C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

And then further up and further in,
 the oak wood gave way
to towering evergreens, beautifully
green on a sullen winter day.

And this, our life, exempt
from public haunt, finds 
tongues in trees, books in 
the running brooks, 
sermons in stones, 
and good in everything.
~William Shakespeare

Jack put on the breaks as we went down
the hill toward home. He sat at the 
intersection of two footpaths, insistent
we take the other path that leads up
the hill to the north. By that time though,
after hours of walking over frozen ground,
my toes were registering complaints &
all I could think about was a hot cup of
earl grey at home, and the last bit of
Victoria sponge. I expressed all of this
to him and so he relented. Down we
went, toward home and tea.

Jack was not happy he had to lay in his bed to dry off since he'd much rather be in the comfy kitchen chair. Once he was dry though, and didn't smell so much of mud, he sat in my lap in our kitchen which already feels like home. And then when Stuart arrives on Monday, at the little train station just down the hill, it will really feel like home. Our happily ever after home. I have come home at my real country and I belong here.

Oh, then, may our homes on earth
be as green spots in the desert, to
which we can retire when weary of
the cares of life and drink the clear
waters of a love which we know to
be sincere and always unfailing.
 ~Silas X. Floyd (1869–1923), 
Home, Sweet Home