In The Shipwreck Of My Mind…

It’s been a strange couple of months… April marked the first anniversary of a venture that I’m collaborating on with a colleague… it’s been an interesting and creative adventure and although pretty far from finished, it has reached a point where we felt it was time to assess what we had done to date… it felt that a necessary pause was called for and that our work should be placed into a temporary hiatus before we added even more to the load… and that is when the dreams began. You see the problem (or maybe the benefit…) of navel gazing is that it soon starts to stir up the subconscious… I found myself afloat in increasingly bizarre dreams, none of which I could hold on to for long enough to see what they were… and whilst not exactly in the doldrums, this certainly has felt to be a strange place in between the worlds and almost a perpetual twilight as messages have tried to blink their way through into the conscious world…

I tried in vain to recall the details and then decided to abandon that and wait and see what came to mind… and then it slowly started to resurface… a little segment of my childhood… a tiny chapter in a yet unfinished story but there it was… or there I was aged 10 and seeing clearly for the first time that I had residing within me the soul of a storyteller…

I’m sat opposite my teacher with a blank face or rather an expression that I now know would probably be described as dumb insolence… she waved a bunch of sheets of lined paper at me that had my pencil scrawls all over them…

Why Karen? Why?What made you do this?

I looked back at her and remained silent… deeply aware that whatever explanation I gave would only serve to further fuel her rage… My mind was putting together links of logic and reasoning and was swirling in a sense of bafflement at the what I considered to be  the ridiculous situation that I now found myself in…

Let’s take a step backwards… the day before, I’d been sat in the classroom at lunchtime, all on my own… I’d been absent in the morning at a dental appointment and this had meant that I had missed the end of year exam on composition so now I had to do it in solitary confinement… I turned over the page and there it was again! NO!!! Not that same sentence! The one that I had seen a week ago as we had to sit in silence and do a mock exam in preparation… There it was again… those words staring at me unblinking…

As I entered the woods…

Those 5 words were given as a  prompt and the rest of the story was for me to fill in… but I didn’t want to do it… why should I do it? I’d already done this a week before and the events that unfurled then had filled me with horror…

So you’re probably wondering what terrible fate had previously befallen me… so gather in close and I’ll whisper in your ear…

I’d written a story… in fact…I’d written a bloody pretty amazing story and therein lied my problem. I hadn’t realised that the teacher would rank the class and put the stories in order, in her words, from the worst to the best… and so she began to reel off names in 30th place was Robert, who squirmed in red-faced shame in his seat… 29, 28, 27… and a roll call of kids shifting uncomfortably… Oh GOD!!! Please let my name come out and let this be over with… 10, 9, 8… please!!! please make this stop!!! 3, 2, and no…oh no… my name had still not been called… this could mean only one thing… First place goes to Karen! Then it got worse… then she read my story, my story that I’d written under exam conditions and that I’d only expected to be seen by her eyes… she read my story out loud to the whole class and with each word I felt as though I died a little…  How dare she put me out on display in such a crass fashion?

I was furious… I was beyond furious and so a week later when those words appeared again…

As I entered the woods…

I felt my tinyness faced against a system that I had no power to control and something subversive stirred within me and I took my chance at a small action of silent rebellion and I put my pencil to paper and wrote the biggest pile of crap you could imagine…

So… Poor old Miss was horrified and bawling me out… What the hell is wrong with you? How can you drop from the top of the class to the bottom in one week? Why didn’t you just write the same story that you wrote before?

Well… I had 101 answers but offered none… I just watched her as the tears welled up in her eyes and she said that she had no other option than to disregard my mock result and enter on record the fail grade that I’d got on exam day…

I remember a faint fleeting thought of what difference does it make to you? and then there was a faint realisation that maybe her teaching would be called into question… so I tried to look suitably ashamed and I waited for the storm to pass…

It occurs to me now, that this was quite a traumatic event and could be described as a bit of a shipwreck moment… I pondered further on that thought and about how there are four kinds of shipwreck and then I tossed my deck overboard to see what would wash up and I moved from navel to naval gazing…

The shipwreck!

Waxing Oracle a-hoy!!

Shipwreck


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FLOTSAM…

This is the wreckage of the ship that stays afloat…

What part of me was not sunk on that day?

Strangely enough… my will to climb to the top… to climb every mountain… to  follow every dream…

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JETSAM…

This is the parts of the ship/cargo that are purposely cast overboard to lighten the load in times of distress and is the things that hopefully will wash up on shore…

What did I jettison that day?

I see a cheeky dragon with its tongue out… I threw my imagination away and my sense of magic and wonder… I threw away my own myths and legends… I cast them out to sea in the hope that they would swim to safety rather than be drowned by the arbitrary markings of a primary school teacher logging exams that really counted for nothing at all…

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LAGAN…

The wreckage that is dropped to the bottom of the ocean and is often marked by a buoy so that it can be reclaimed later…

What did I sink and leave for later use?

The ability to make bridges and connections… to be able to link together in my mind the world as I saw it, my imaginary world and also to see how this links into, extends and reaches into the minds of others…

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DERELICT…

Cargo sunk to the bottom of the ocean with no hope of recovery… also boats that are cast adrift and abandoned…

What did I want to lose that day?

The searing pain in my soul as I felt that some kind of damage/trauma was being inflicted on me… the feeling that I was being pierced and skewered and ripped open and laid bare for all to see…

But let us not finish the story there…let’s leave the classroom with its tables arranged into a horseshoe shape, firmly where it belongs… back in the 1970’s…

Let’s look at my shoreline now and see what has washed up on my beach… what parts of myself did I manage to salvage…

Salvage

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My love of colour whether that be via language or my palette…

 I use my experiences to draw on and to display a full spectrum…

I love to express via art, especially the way in which a picture can convey a thousand words and leave me feeling bathed in colour rather than exposed and vulnerable and naked…

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Oh… the churnings… yearnings… learnings…

The ebbs and flows of tides as feelings, thoughts and emotions come and go…

The way that this can dredge up the mud of the past but also how it can reveal the hidden treasure that lurks within… or the way the waves roll a rough stone up and down a beach to polish it a little more with each motion until all the rough edges are smoothed away and a humble tiny rock can gleam like the most precious of jewels…

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Ahhhhh!!!! My magical water dragon…

Purposely cast loose and told to swim buddy swim!!!

YES!!! He made it safely to shore!

’nuff said 🙂

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What is this I see? Barnacles and Verde de Gris??

My derelict cargo left to sink and disappear without a trace… and somehow it makes its way to the surface to stare me in the face yet again…

Though I feel no need to repair the damage that I felt was done at the time…

Instead, I see that the rust that has formed has given it a new life and beauty and a story all of its own…

But then again… I may just  have a somewhat fanciful imagination…

Maybe I’m all washed up! 😀

What do you see?

All images (c) Karen Sealey ~ The Waxing Oracle

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Noodling on Nodes…

I’ve been studying Astrology for around a year now… and I’m a reluctant study at the best of times as I don’t like to sit down and keep still and keep to routines and timetables… so, it has amused me greatly that during the course, my lessons have landed in my inbox… yet the answers arrive via my environment…

My latest assignment was to look at the aspects of my nodes… I have North Node in Aries and South Node in Libra… and they are unaspected.. they are free range and roaming at large… I’m not going to bore you with lengthy ramblings about my life lessons and past life issues and excessive naval gazing, but I will relate one small thought… that I need to toss out the Libran weighing up and tap in more to the Arian impulsiveness…

So… when I found myself sat in a room with a guitarist and the word noodling came up… then my little Astro heart filled with glee as a-ha… this is a perfect route to off road my studies…

And out came the ink…

I’m not going to lay down my astro findings per se…

I will share a little of how to noodle…

Noodling is focused randomness…

To explore through seemingly random notes (or pen strokes)…

To allow trial and error and intuition to roll out, rather than relying on the rigidity of rules and systems…

To wonder rather than needing to know…

To let your hand play unbound…

To explore…

To feel a pattern emerge…

To notice the cycles, repeats and patterns that occur naturally and to expand them…

To let your thoughts spark!

To support new ideas with things you already know…

To build up your muscle memory to make your mind quicker…

The funny thing is… I do this all the time… It is my natural impulse to explore the word in this way… I have done it since before I was even knee high to a grasshopper… though I tend to call it scribbling… or sometimes doodling… I’d placed little value on it…

Yet suddenly… calling it Noodling… allowed me to see it with new eyes…

It’s funny what a change of name can do…

😉

 

 

When Less is More…

I’m just starting to get back onto my feet after being forced into complete rest… and it’s given my quite a lot of time on my hands to idle muse… It slowly dawned on me just after the last lunar eclipse that the first twinges of the pain that was going to lay me up began way back in April 2014… I ignored it at that point and didn’t really think much of it… with hindsight, maybe that is when I should have taken some rest voluntarily… as from that point, one way or another, series of events seemed to conspire to keep me desk bound rather than out and about on the hoof…

I pondered more over the recent blood moon and started thinking … On April 15, 2014, there was a total lunar eclipse… the first of four consecutive total eclipses in a series, a second one took place on October 8, 2014, third one on April 4, 2015 and the remaining one took place on September 27, 2015…

It’s with a wry smile that I now note that each of these dates in one way or another, tied in to removing certain things in my life that had turned rotten… times of cutting ties and connections… movement away from dead weights and things that had been dragging me down…

Right through that, most of that period, life felt to be a Sisyphean task… right up until a couple of months ago when the pain in my back grew so fierce and the muscles went into intense spasm every time that I moved, that I had no other option than to give in and lie down… to rest up… calm the pain and let it heal…

I don’t like being still… I don’t like being indoors… so the frustration and the thought of being laid up indefinitely almost had me in tears… I started to wonder how I would cope with it… and decided to turn it to my advantage and actually use the time to organise the chaos that has sprung up all around me since I started playing around with art just over 3 years ago…

Also, there’s a secret project that I’m working on, that I realised I had a few gaps in my knowledge as to how to turn that into a reality, so this would be a good time to learn some new tricks…

Now that brought me some laughter as often people suggest to me that I should make a deck and I say… yeah… maybe… if I get an idea… and then I’ll wander off and scratch my head and birth ideas and then kill them off…

Going through my artwork over the last year, I have all sorts of varied things going on but as I laid everything out… I started to notice something… there within all my experimental pieces was a consistent flow of pieces in encaustic wax… piece after piece that I’d made… each one made when I had something other on my mind… a problem to solve or a thought to resolve… an unease that needed soothing… idle meditations… all sitting in a pile…

I counted them up… there were 60 of them… the by-products of struggling with Sisyphean tasks… and somewhere in my head a little valve lit up… and that was the birth of The Waxing Oracle

So…I pull a card… yes! very funny! given I’m spending a lot of time sitting on ice of late… but then sitting frozen gives plenty of time to look for the patterns emerging…

I’m going to meditate on that further and consider the paradox of less effort yielding more results…

Though maybe I already know the answer…

As a good friend of mine recently said…

When you look for your lost pen, it’s always under your bum!

😉

Why do we measure waits in length…

There are few things that irritate me more, than being swept into other people’s time streams…

I don’t care much for time… I don’t wear a watch… I pretty much operate within my own timezone…

I guess it comes from a combination of things… years of working shifts, watches that have a tendency to commit suicide when I wear them and the general mayhem of rearing 4 kids that seem to have conspired between themselves to ensure that at least one of them is always awake…. no matter what time of day or night…

But one thing I do know for sure, is that I never miss a deadline…

I very rarely know what day of the week it is, often I’m not even sure which month I’m in and I have even been known to ask – what year is this? Yet somehow or another if I’ve said I’ll do something, it will get done…

Now I find myself in a position where I’m being given a weekly countdown…

And it’s a very strange situation… I completely fail to grasp a sense of urgency when someone informs me that we ONLY have 8 weeks left…

My mind drifts into space as I think 8 weeks… wow… that’s a lifetime…. that’s many lifetimes… I’ve got loads to do before then…

I hear a voice that pulls me back into the room…

So! Have you brought any work with you? Have you written anything yet? Time is running out…

Apparently… jeez…. you’re so stressy! is not the appropriate answer…

Neither is… yes… I’ve written loads actually… oh… for this? the homework? oh no…. not done that…

And last week when asked if I had any material…

Well.. I answered – Yes! Yes I have!

That went down a bit better… The anticipatory smile of my tutor was soon replaced with a grimace and a nose dive into despair when he asked – so where it is?

Oh… it’s at home, there’s no point bringing it in yet, it’s not legible to anybody else right now…

Are you planning on delivering via telepathy? he inquired…

Mmmm…. possibly…. yeah…. that works pretty well for me…  I mused…

You have 8 weeks to write 10 minutes worth of material, you need to get into the habit of writing…

I suppressed the urge to rupture into raucous laughter… as I didn’t feel much inclined to let anyone else in on my joke…

10 minutes

Get into the habit of writing… ha! it’s a habit of writing that’s gotten me into this mess…

I do plenty of writing and I know that I have very many deadlines to hit before that tiny 10 minute slot even starts to appear on my horizon of urgency… particularly as I already have way too much material… there’s a fractal of scrawls in my book that could fill a few hours… I don’t need any more words, I need to kill a few of my babies off… a comedic cull down to the survival of the wittiest…

I disappeared into idle daydream and again my attention was yanked back…

So… What are you going to do? Sit with some crayons and draw a few pictures? And just hope that words magically appear? You have to write words if you want to write!

What?

Laughter filled the room… Though the focus has moved elsewhere and settled on a chap nursing his notepad…

Hey! I said, what’s so funny about that? That’s pretty much what I do…

Glances swept my way then just as quickly swept away again… though in that brief flit of eye movements, I heard a silence filled with unspoken questions of – Why are you even here? Why aren’t you taking this seriously?

I went back into my bubble… I like my bubble… I can think what I like in there… without interruption…

I pondered a while, what is it with people that if you’re not doing things their way, that they think you are not doing anything? What is this obsession with time? This strange notion that a set amount of time is required for such and such a result… I don’t buy into that… I remember as a child, learning to play instruments and being told to practise for an hour a day… everyday you must spend an hour… I found that a nonsense… there’s very little point in sitting for an hour if you are not in the mood, there’s so much more to be gained by spending 15 minutes playing when you are in the mood… then there’s that whole bending and stretching thing that time does… times when if time thinks that you’re not looking, it will move backwards… sometimes you can catch it out of the corner of your eye as the hand on the clock reverses… then other times hours pass like seconds…

An old friend dropped into my dreamscape…

White Rabbit Magic and Myth

Yeah… that’s good of you to drop by Mr Rabbit… but really… you want me to take advice from someone who spends all day running around shouting about being late?

Sure… why not?

Because Rabbit… I’m not even convinced you can tell the time… You should trade that fob watch in for a digital, then maybe you’d realise that you have plenty of time…

I see that you’re still argumentative then…

Pardon? Hey Rabbit! How come you are black now?

Black? White? Neither or both… It all depends on where you’re standing…

The life in 30 days of my desk…

You can thank Mr S for this one and his comments and observations a month back… How can you exist in that mess…

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Well… I think I’m existing just fine… after all… I think… therefore… I am…

Incidentally… My desk at this current point in time in currently clutter free and only has the laptop on which I’m now typing sat on it…

Now… my floor on the other hand…

Well… I’m sure that there’s a carpet under there somewhere… 😉

Tears of a Clown…

Mental health has been THE hot topic over the last few days… suddenly anyone and everybody has something to say about it…

And to be perfectly bloody honest… I’m sick and tired of hearing about it…

5 of Pentacles (c) Jordan Hoggard

5 of Pentacles
(c) Jordan Hoggard

But before you get on your high horse and tut tut your disapproval let me continue…

I have spent my whole life surrounded in some way, shape or form, by people with mental health problems…

Chronic disorders, endogenous depression, acute anxiety, general anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, psychosis… and the list goes on…

So why am I pissed off?

Because… I’ve seen many people with mental health illness carry on about their lives with very little and often zero support from those around them, other than the odd ‘helpful’ soul who tells them to ‘snap out of it!’

And now I see news feeds flooded with empathy and wise words and much gnashing and wailing about how they’ve been so personally touched  by the events of a stranger in the media spotlight…

And I find it very hard not to shout FUCK YOU!!!

Where are you when this affects the lives of people you know…. your friends, your neighbours, your family…

The people who don’t disappear when you log off…

On hand one… I do hope that media attention helps to remove some of the stigma that surrounds mental health…

But on the other hand… I know today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s fish ‘n’ chip wrappers and the topic du jour will soon be replaced and when it comes to real life…. My experience is that most people are uncomfortable around these issues and prefer to ignore them…

Then on the other hand… (yes… I have at least 3…)…

I find another worrying trend that disturbs me… an eagerness to over prescribe and medicate away parts of life that are normal…

A few years ago, I went out with a group of women and there were 14 of us and I don’t recall exactly how the conversation started but we all sat and dined around a big table and the wine was flowing and one of these women let slip to me that she was on anti-depressants… and she clasped her hand over her mouth as she had shocked herself with her reveal…

Now… I knew at least 2 other people at that table were also taking these tablets… I said to her… Don’t worry… you’re not alone…

Then what I did next surprised her but was an even bigger surprise to me…

I banged on the table like a toastmaster…

Hands up!!! Who here is currently taking or has ever taken antidepressants?

Two hands went up… a few glances were exchanged then 10  … yes TEN more hands went up

Out of fourteen people there were twelve that raised their hand…

Only myself and one other person had not taken them… I asked that one  – why not? and she said that she had been offered them several times but was terrified to take them…

I have also been offered them and the reason I have not taken them can be found here… My response is not ‘normal’

Mental health disturbs me on so many levels…

And I have spent many hours pondering on my own mental health as basically most traits of being creative hit tick boxes for getting you sectioned as a nutter…

I find people very uptight around the subject… when I’m with my friends, I can let loose my dark humour (or on stage… I have done a set on what it’s like to live with someone with OCD…) but online… well… I had a rather interesting encounter after putting up a jokey status along the lines of what is it with people with OCD…. they have a bloody place for everything except for where they leave my sodding car keys…

That led to an un-friending after being told how ignorant I was and it’s NOT funny! My son has it and you don’t know what you are talking about…

I’d been blocked before I even got to reply… But then fuck it! Why should I justify myself anyway…

The person who’d I written about found it funny… and if I didn’t find some way to find some humour in mental illness then I’d have probably have murdered someone in their sleep many moons ago…

So… I see people who want to pop a pill for everything…. oh… I feel a bit sad… Here! Take this! My Granny has died… Here! Take this! I’m a bit stressed…. Here!…. need I go on?

I see normal every day things being medicated away…

I see people with severe mental illness trying to live without medication as not only does it take away illness… but often it robs them of other things… Where’s your natural personality in all of this…

And often I see that it’s not that person who is ill but the environment around them that causes the problems…

I’ve seen people who’ve been using medication for years suddenly become miraculously better after changing who they hang around with…

A couple of years ago, I had a problem with one of my sons at school… It went on for almost 2 years…

He was highly stressed at school and would walk out of the building…

The school wanted me to take him to the Doctor’s and get him diagnosed as having a behavioural problem…

I refused to take him and argued that there was not a problem with him but with the lack of classroom management skills…

Now this class was so noisy that you could hear the teacher shouting two streets away…

But I got told – Nonsense! Your son is unteachable…

Yes… my unteachable son who now he’s moved school has a shelf full of awards for being gifted and talented… mmm…

And that brings me back again to Mental Illness???

How are you defining that? Because… I’m seeing it as society is ill and doesn’t want to deal with anyone that they can’t slap a label on…

Oh… and watch out! Because if they do slap on a label… it never comes off…. Not even if it’s a misdiagnosis…

Catch 22…

You know… I went online the other day and found a test… It was to see if you have a split personality…

I took it twice… I failed one and passed one…

In the mean time… I think it’s time to claim back eccentricity…

It’s a good old fashioned English way…

I can be as bat shit gloriously crazy as I like… and if I’m functioning happily and undisturbed by my quirkiness… then why the hell should anybody else mind…

How can you exist in that mess…

How can you exist in that mess…

That’s a common refrain that I hear in my house…

Poor old Mr S the neat freak that he is… is often driven to distraction by what he calls my mess but I call my circle of chaos…

And I’m pretty used to hearing him chuntering away in the back ground about how I should tidy things up and how can I possibly find anything…

And I silently chunter away in my head… why don’t you just shut the chuff up and ha! you don’t need to find anything… this is my stuff and I know EXACTLY where everything is…

Mostly I ignore him but now and then I will ask him about the wild tangle of wires at the side of his bed connected to all manner of effects pedals and recording gizmos and all sorts of other paraphernalia that musicians amass and ask him why that is not classed as a mess…

But yesterday… He said something quite interesting…

He said that watching my desk was like watching a living entity that had moved into our house and ebbed and flowed or sometimes glided across the room like a melting glacier…

So… I decided to take a photo… And I’m going to take one at the same time of day, each day for the next 30 days and see what sort of beast I have here…

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Mmmm…. Looking at this I kind of see his point… but I’m going to have to say he is wrong…

I can work in this… 😀

See you in 30 days time…