Tuesday, 31 January 2012




Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Here are tears. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Here is joy. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Here is rain. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Here is sun. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Here is life. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Here am I. So be it.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 30 January 2012


Life Is Easy

Thirty days of January
(life is easy, life is easy)
Economies imploding, trouble mounting
(life is easy, life is easy)
Huge changes looming all around
(life is easy, life is easy)
Fear, doubt mounting, losses rising
(life is easy, life is easy)
Fighting this, fighting that
(life is easy, life is easy)
Ray of light, breaking through
(life is easy, life is easy)
Iluminates a child, a coat, a ball
(life is easy, life is easy)
Illuminates a mind, a heart, a soul
(life is easy) (now)

Saturday, 28 January 2012


Here is a nub of orange strength
a morsel, a soupcon.
This tiny fragment is enough
to tell me, I can go on,
to give me strength
to keep on keeping on,
and hope that somewhere
it will all make sense,
and I will make sense,
and the sadness will cease,
or cease to consume,
and I will know
that I am enough.
This little piece
of orange.

Sent from my iPhone

I Know

I know the sound of drunken steps
the difference between good drunk and bad drunk
I know how to lie in the dark, listening.
I know how to pretend it's not happening
I know how to tense my shoulders, and keep it all together
I know how to rush to protect, and how to run, and drive into the night
I know how to sleep in parked cars; and the sound of the key,
and the stumbling and mumbling in the kitchen.
I know the slightest slur in the voice
and how to interpret steps; happy or angry
I know how to hold children in the dark, and breathe, and pretend to sleep heart pounding.
I know the shadow at the door, and the swaying form, menacing in silence
I know the demands and tiptoeing on eggshells
I know the counting
of glasses
of pints
of bottles
I know the pleading, I know the hope, I know the promises, I know the dust of broken promises.
I know the picking up of pieces and starting again - and again - and again.
I know of house moves and new hope and dashed hope and more pieces.
I know of broken sundays and broken week nights, of frightened children and missing dogs
I know how it feels to have something broken to teach you a lesson.
I know how it feels to have your children broken to teach you a lesson
I know the pathetic and grateful thankfulness for small crumbs of kindness scattered amid the ashes.
I know the pulling and the pushing, the tussles at the door, the pounding heart and the holding erect, as you watch your dreams disappear.
I know the numbness and the aching, the anger and the breaking, the chasing in the garden in the dark.
I know the talking and the meetings and the desperation.
I know the helplessness of holding a newborn in front of a drunk; and the pleading and the tears and the loneliness.
I know the lies and the truths and every shade in between.
I know the put-downs; I know the pissing on the floor; I know the mornings and the "sorries" and the "what's wrong"?s
I know the shame of grown men fighting in the street in front of children.
I know neighbours knocking on walls, I know neighbours turning cool, I know my heart breaking again and again.
I know new hope and new dreams and rising above it all.
I know pretending, and spaces in the bed getting larger and larger and larger.
I know cars driving away and cars coming back, I know accidents and broken things, and stories weaved to make things right, and terror coursing through the night.
I know the grey morning light, and desperation, and having nowhere to go. I know the sound and feel of drunken stupor, and knowing when its safe to tiptoe back inside.
I know the sound of drunk driving, the difference in speed and the turn in the drive. How the footsteps emerge and approach the door. I know swaying in the hall, I know calling out of children in the night.
I know the screaming, I know the meaning of trying to break through. I know fear, I know dread, I know being afraid to go home. I know being afraid to leave home.
 I know courts, and orders.
I know sadness, and endings, and bags packed, and angry departures, and the flinging of words, and the flinging of rings.
 I know never, never, never again.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Golden Child

Three or four years old. Golden limbs. Sitting in the sunshine in a short sleeved dress. Golden child, golden limbs, down beside the lake. Absorbed, completely involved in what she's doing. Moving things around on the ground by the lake. Humming. Sun shining. Completely absorbed. Humming and moving, not looking at me. She Knows I'm there, but she's not letting on. Her whole body tells me "I don't trust you". Golden child. Shouting silently. "You think I'm going to THAT scary place?" Sun shiny, golden shiny, golden limbed child.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Ocean Floor

I say this
You hear that
Oceans between us
Not possible to explain through the fathoms
Immensity of miscomprehension
and friendship falling to the ocean floor

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

In The Raw

It's time to step out of the bubble, time to enter the world. Stop observing through the glass, and enter the messy, dirty, painful, shabby, beautiful, holy world

The bubble is safer; floating high and whispering "I don't care" each time. Inside the bubble, walls lined with books and plenty of ideas. A cosy place to nest.

Why bare my soul to an indifferent world? Ask instead, why hide in a nest, year after year?

No more why, just a now. "Now" was the time for a bubble. That "now" is past. This "now" is now.

This "now" a world pulling, calling "come, taste me in the raw."

 Unfiltered experience.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


After mama died of TB, there were just three of us left. Heniek, Marysia and me. Twelve, eleven and thirteen. I think. They kept changing our ages, so I can't be sure. The twins had died before mama. Tata had disappeared at the station, somewhere in the Urals. He was lost to us, lost or dead.
The villagers chased us away, then, saying "you have no father, you have no mother, you are nothing. Go away. Don't come back".
That rejection has stayed with me all my life. All my life. Rejected. Not wanted. I can be in a crowd of people, and always feel all alone. In the orphanage in Africa, too, the supervisor told me "it would have been better if you died in Russia." Rejection, and being pushed away. All my life, and I'm 83 now.
We walked away from the village. The sun was setting. We sat on the side of the dirt road. Leaving Romitan. I think that was Uzbekhistan, but I can't say for sure. Everything gets mixed up. I said to Heniek, as the sun went down, " what will we do, Heniek? What will happen to us now?". We talked of giving ourselves to a Russian orphanage. I know, now, that that would have been a death sentence for us all. A Polish soldier walked past us. He walked past, and did a double take, and came back to us. "what? Polish children? Here?"
He took us to the Polish orphanage in exile, attached to Anders army. We owe him our lives. I'm 83, Marysia is 81 now. Seventy years since then. Seventy!!
Seventy years of living. Only poor Heniek didn't last the year. Seventy years. I know how lucky I've been. Still, I remember as if it were yesterday, being pushed away, rejected, pushed away and not wanted, pushed away to die.


An abandoned hospital
An abandoned black kitten
A newborn child that is mine
I carry heavy boxes alone
I feed the new life
It's already too late to call
The child is standing, she's already standing
Its time to name her. I name her Kite


.... and in this chest a heaviness,

and in these eyes a tear,

and steeples point to heaven....

"kite 2 - reaching for heaven"
(acrylic on canvas)

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Last night, I sat in bed with my journal, and found that no words came. Instead, my heart kept going back to my mother's brother, Henryk, or Heniek as she calls him, and to his death on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

This picture emerged.

In Memoriam Henryk Pepel d 5.9.1942 at Pahlavi 
It is said that as long as we keep telling someone's story, they remain alive to this world. I'm thinking today of Heniek, and once more sharing his story.

A boy, just on the cusp of adolescence. Two sisters he could no longer look after. Reaching Pahlevi after a nightmare journey on a crowded boat, already sick. Reaching a place with hot, hot sands. In a tent on the shoreline. Slowly fading from this world. 

I feel his circling presence.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Resting Place

Recently, in November, I learned for the first time that my mother's brother Henryk, who I had always thought died in exile in Russia with the rest of her family, had actually left Russia with my mother and her one sister, leaving with the Polish orphanage in exile attached to General Anders army. He had survived the long journey from Poland by cattle truck, Siberia, Kazahkstan, Uzbekhistan and the long escape, to finally arrive at Pahlevi (then in Persia, now Iran).

Pahlevi (now called Anzali) was the place where the ships which carried the Polish men, women and children escaping from Russia landed, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The boats were inadequate and wholly unsuited to the journeys they were making, and the people they were carrying were crowded onto the boats in completely unsuitable conditions; but General Anders was concerned to get as many polish people as possible out of Russia while the opportunity existed.

Sadly, Henryk was so depleted by hunger and sickness that he died not long after they landed. He was my mother's older brother, so she was around 11, and he was 13 or 14. She remembers his death in detail, with much sadness.

Conditions at Pahlevi were very poor, despite the very best intentions of all concerned and the British Red Cross who met the arriving refugees. They had no idea of the scale of numbers of people who were to arrive or their conditions. My mother remembers that water was rationed, and some people were so thirsty, they drank salt water from the sea.

My mother knew that Henryk had died in Pahlavi, but she didn't know what had happened to him after that.

Today, after a little investigation, I got confirmation from the Polish Embassy in Teheran.

Henryk Pepel, my uncle, is buried in the Polish Cemetery in Pahlevi/Anzali. He died 5 September 1942 on the shores of the Caspian sea, one of over 600 Poles who died and are buried in this cemetery.

This is the first ancestor who's resting place we have found. I feel very happy and also very sad.

Henryk Pepel 1938 - 5.9.1942 rest in peace

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lessons of Blue Monday

Yesterday evening, in my own blue funk, I decided to peer through the window of blue monday, and see what might be found there.

This is what I found:

If you stop and look through your own blue window, what do you see?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blue Monday

Today is "blue monday". A time for nesting. A time to sit on all the potential, and keep it warm, until energy and enthusiasm return.

Outside, the fox prowls, but here in the nest, you can keep those precious potentialities safe. Safe and warm and waiting. Sit close, sit quiet, nesting until its time.

Allow blue monday its time. Incubation time. Time for gathering inwards, time for nesting, time for holding. Yin time.

Trust that as night follows day, yang follows yin.

Don't fight the quiet, don't fight the blues. They too have purpose.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Arusha Days

I wake as usual in the wooden dormitory, on the simple framed bed with it's horsehair mattress. It's hot already. The mosquitos are buzzing in my ear. I hate the mosquitos. I hate them so much, hate the high pitched "nnnnwwww" sound they make, as they fly past your ear. I've had malaria twice now. Its horrible. They make me take this yellow powder from a teaspoon. Once, I sneezed and spilt it, and they beat me, and no one got breakfast. Mornings are hard. Michal wets his bed. We all get punished when he does. Once, I decided to do something about it. In the night, I tied a piece of string around his willy, tight, to stop the wee getting out. It worked - he didn't wet the bed. Trouble is, his willy swelled up like a balloon, and they had to take him to hospital, because his willy had swollen up so much, they couldn't cut the string off. Still. They never found out it was me. To breakfast. The usual race to see who cam eat fastest; loser goes hungry. I don't care. There's my sister over there, with that girl she's always with. I think they're in love. She never has time for me anymore, just hangs around with HER, holding hands and laughing. I don't care! I don't need her anyway. We're heading to the river today. Me and the boys. Have to be careful walking barefoot down there, though. Last time, some insect crawled right through my skin and into my foot. Or maybe just eggs got in. I don't know. Anyway, next thing, this insect was growing under the skin on the sole of my foot. IN MY FOOT! sick. Anyway, the only thing you can do when that happens, is find a Masai. They're the only ones who can help. You stand really still, REALLY still, and they do something with a piece of bone, fast, while you're notlooking, and its gone. But still. It hurts a lot. Best not take our shoes off. We head off, the three of us. I lead the way. I'm youngest, and a girl, but I'm bravest too. We're going to the swing. Its made of creepers. The boys follow me through the bush. Here's the river, here's the swing. We play for hours. When I'm in the air, I feel like I'm FLYING! We're not supposed to be here - the river's forbidden. Time to head back soon. One last go each. My last go, I push off REALLY hard, I swing up high, high, out across the river , weeeee..... somehow, i don't turn quickly enough, and I'm heading backwards towards the tree, I can't turn, I can't ... SMASH. I hit the tree back first, full force. I try to curl away as I reach the tree, and bang the bottom of my back, full force, into the tree trunk. I let go of the rope, and fall onto the red mud bank, half in and half out of the water. I can't breathe. I can't move. I can't speak. The boys pull me up the bank. I lie there, staring up at the treetops, tears pouring down my face and into my ears. The boys are panicking. We shouldn't be here. What if I've broken my back. What if I'll never walk again? The boys try to pull me up again, but I just scream, and they let me back down into the mud. Half an hour later, together, we get me to my feet. I limp back slowly, leaning on them. We've missed lunch. We're in for a hiding. We can't tell anyone where we've been or what happened. I try to walk on my own as we reach camp. They know something has happened, they don't know what. We're in disgrace. My back hurts. My head hurts. My sister doesn't care. I can't eat. I feel sick. When supper time comes, I don't want bread and jam, I just want to sleep. But when I get into bed, I hurt too much to sleep. I lie awake, on my side, listening to tje nightime sounds of the bush, and wondering how long this pain will last. How long? Maybe a lifetime.

Let me be my story

Let me be my story, let the story unfold. Surrender. Surrender to the story, no hiding, no inner cartwheels, no juggling to change the course. This is the course. Let the story unfold, let the river flow. Sometimes its flat and calm, small eddies, fish rising, dragonflies bluely hovering just in sight. Elsewhere, the banks close in, the walls rise, hard rock on either side, squeezing and squeezing until the water pounds and foams to make its way through. Turbulent. Raging. Violent and angry. Just go with the river, you can't climb the banks, and there may be rapids and waterfalls ahead. Don't let fear overwhelm. I am water, I am my story. After the terrifying white water ride, after the great falling torrent, a still pool. Then gentle meandering. Let me be my story, until I reach the ocean.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Tucking Myself Away

Tucking myself away, year after year,
Neatly folding myself up and tucking myself
Into the pages of my books; into the
Quiet places in my life. Neatly tucked away.
Invisible. Hidden.Quiet. Safe.
Not present to a bruising world.
Invisibility becomes a way of life. Becomes Life.

So now, even walking in a public place
Feels like taking my clothes off in front of a stranger.
I pull my coat around me, and practice the art
Of becoming invisible. I turn to the sea,
And the sky, and the birds. I walk to
The quiet places, less populated. Still
Neatly tucked away, hidden to the world.

Dublin Bay from Irishtown Nature Reserve
12 January 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


11pm, and its MY time. Time to play with ideas and see where they lead. Time to play with words, to play with colours, to play with lines on a page. Kids asleep, or those that aren't, quietly watching tv. Dog curled up at the foot of the bed. He's stopped chasing the kitten til morning. Work that's notbeen done can reasonably be shelved until morning at this hour. I should really go to sleep, have a clear head for morning. But its too much fun to sit and play with words and paper and pens. To let the flood of images, ideas, colours, textures, smells accumulate and gather at the tip of a pen. Watch a child. See how THEY play. Sometimes they race around, all sugar high and energy. Otjer times they sit, absorbed in the task at hand. Oblivious to the world around. They resist bed, and sleep - too much to do, too much to do. 11pm and time for that close, concentrated, solitary absorbtion. Let morning take care of itself. The work will still be there. This image here - and that one there - may not be. Capture them. Set them down. Image hunter. Sensation catcher. Forager of ideas. Amidst the leaf mould - truffles.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


No, not arriving out of the blue. Epiphany is the sudden realisation that comes after the hard work. After the preparation. Those wise men, how do you think they explained that strange Journey. "We're following a star" they said. "To take us to a saviour". All the months and years of studying the skies and the ancient books. Would you have believed them? Gone with them on their journey? Or said "come now. You're not being realistic here. Give me more detail, verify it, then maybe I'll consider lending my support." Ah. Perhaps we need a little more work on ourselves before we reach the epiphany.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

After the Storm

After the storm at Kilcoole beach. Wind. Pale winter sun. Sea. Waves ruffling in and out. Railway bridge with rusting girders. Half rotten timber posts. 

Low sun reflected in the water. White swans. Birds wheeling low over the water. I reach the spot where the river meets the sea. Small river, big sea. All that immensity.

Where the little river meets the big ocean

And here's me walking along, wondering what its all about. Feeling seventeen. As if I'm just pretending to be grown up and know what I'm doing. Wondering where my life will take me, and how on earth I can overcome the problems of now. I nearly wrote "challenges of now" wanting to be politically correct with myself.

What happens if I change the paradigm.

What happens if instead of trying to overcome the problems of now, I decide I WON'T "overcome" the problems of now. I CAN'T overcome them. 

Now is now: and all my striving won't stretch reality and make it what it's not. I know  I've spent a lifetime,  STRETCHING reality to make it fit my expectations and desires. Stretching and bending it, then working like a Trojan to keep my illusions in place. To stop my carefully spun version of reality from coming asunder.

Today, I challenge myself to stop trying to overcome "now" and stop trying to make it a different place.

I challenge myself to surrender to "now" exactly as it is. 

To yield.

To allow.

To let "now" be.

I am a little river, that has been trying to control it's course. 

I surrender myself to the great ocean. Take me.


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Tonight the Wind

Sunset on the peak 2 Jan

Tonight the wind is raising the roof. I can hear tiles clattering, lift and clap, lift and clap. The whole house is shaking, and it feels as if there may be no tomorrow.

Just two days ago, this was the glorious, gorgeous sunset, no more than a mile from here. I'm needing to remind myself of it, as we sit in the midst of the maelstrom.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Nightfall and Being Human

So hard to be human. So hard and yet - 
What choice do we have, really, but to be?
Except when we swallow our humanity, and
Grow obese. Except when we drink it away
and grow numb. Except when we tell the world
"I don't care", and refuse to live. So hard
To be human
Nightfall Wicklow

Secret Desires

For months, when we met, I longed
To sink to my knees, and gently kiss
The tender space, just below your navel.
The power of this desire so overwhelming,
I was afraid I might speak it unwittingly, or
Find myself, one drink too many, kneeling
Unbidden at your feet. Those days have
Passed now. And still I wonder where those
Secret desires go to hide. Is there a
Meeting place, somewhere inside, where they
Gather by the hearth, exchanging notes?
One day, they'll write a book. "Our Secret Life".
And go on tour, doing book signings in remote,
Small town bookshops in the West. Strange,
The secrets we carry inside, and hold so tight.
I wonder, if I will ever tell you about those days.

Small Particles of Desire Gathering at the Hearth

Time for work!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Prayer for Self for a New Year

I'm struggling today with the thought of re-engaging with the "real world" tomorrow. I wrote this for myself, and thought I would share it as there may be others feeling like I am today.

I am spirit - feed me.
I am body - touch me.
I am ego - see me.
I am child - love me.
I am mind - understand me.
I am parent - need me.
I am human - befriend me.
I am soul - be my shadow and my light, and sing for me the eternal song.

As I walk, as I work, as I make, as I rest, as I play, as I sleep,
See me, understand me, and let me be the love the child in me deserves.

Half moon at sunset, Wicklow Mountains

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Look what can be found

Dried Flower Head 
Even in the deepest point of mid-winter, there are beauties to be found. Here are a few things I noticed on my walk.

Here's a dried flower head. Look at all those sleeping seeds. Waiting, to drop to the place where they might flower. Waiting, for warmth and sunlight. Waiting, just gently swaying in the breeze, letting the world hold them until its time for them to be blown off the stem and carried by the wind to the place where they will germinate. Perhaps to land close by or maybe very far away.

When the time is right, the process begins. The seed doesn't ask permission from the world to germinate. It just nestles in the soil, and absorbs the warmth, the dark, the nutrients in the soil; all those things that nourish it and allow the germination to begin.

Flowering Gorse

And the time for flowering is also not decided, but given. The gorse is already flowering. In the darkest part of the year, there are yellow blossoms everywhere.

Before midwinter draws to a close, I want to rest in the darkness. Allow myself to absorb the darkness, the warmth of the soil.

No forcing the germination. But hoping that when the time is right, something will gently pulse inside. Will push at the sides of the seed husk, and, with the strength born of  long resting in the dark, will start to unfurl.

To slowly grow, up into the light, out of the dark. And bloom into flower, when the time is right.

Let 2012 Bloom

"Blooming in silver and blue"
Acrylic on canvas

Let 2012 bloom silver and blue.
May there be a flowering, a blossoming,
An excitement of possibility, and lots of
Time to play. May incredible lightness
Of being mingle with the darkest, deepest
Recesses of soul; fusing to give meaning;
Fusing to give joy. The world intends us
To feel alive; human; connected.
May my intention match the world's.
Let 2012 bloom silver and blue.