THE BLOG

On Summer Solstice, Life, Light, Darkness and Welcoming It All In

22/06/2015 12:25 BST | Updated 20/06/2016 10:59 BST

I am fond of the Celtic wheel of the year. Modern life often seems so disconnected in myriad ways. We wander about urban environments, technology buzzing in the background. It's a relief to have a sense of road maps, of something bigger than myself in which to ground. I'll take a cycle: a season, the waxing and waning of the moon. I'll take throwing myself down in a woodland, tossing myself into an ocean. I'm not the sort of grrl who believes in God...but maybe many of us just hanker after something larger, more expansive than ourselves. Just me, the entire cosmos, eternity.

It has been a funny few months in my life. But then, I suppose my life is rarely usual. Is anyone's? If you have read my writing before or you know me, you may know I live with chronic illness. I don't really like to identify myself with that. Illness is, after all, shifting, variable. It moves alongside me right now, but may not always. I'd rather tell you about a really good adventure I had. About how the clean, soft water of the river Dart felt wrapping around my body one Autumn Equinox, gasp-inducingly cold. About being high in the Tuscan hills at midnight one night last Summer, Florence glinting below.

I'd rather tell you about any of those things. Or throw you a secret, perhaps. I like to give those to people. There is little I won't mention in the right context, the right company, the right mood. I like to know who is shockable and who isn't. I like to know who'll meet me in openness. However, in the spirit of honesty, I'm going to mention the tiredness. The tiredness is neither glamorous nor sexy and it doesn't feed either my wanderlust or my vaguely insatiable curiosity.

The tiredness has been going on for a long time. Since childhood, really. Growing up, I never felt like I had a lot of energy or like what I had was flowing particularly well around my body. Retrospectively, there were reasons for this. The chronic fatigue type symptoms set in when I was about twenty one or twenty two and then I began to buckle at the knees, I began to lose much energy for speech.

I lost much of my twenties to illness. Lost? I learnt a lot. I followed unexpected pathways and I worked on my health and myself and I wrote and wrote. I had some amazing experiences and I learnt myself and different ways of connecting with people, and I learnt to re-inhabit my body more - and better. There were also black holes of pain and illness and hospital trips whilst I doubled over in pain. Know pain, know illness and you might learn your own shadow.

The attacks of pain no longer happen to that degree and that is a relief. I don't buckle at the knees any more. Last Summer was a good Summer. In Spring, I housesat in the Algarve; came back dusted in freckles and the memory of sun on my skin, of run-ripened tomatoes and olive oil slipping down my throat. August was Florence. In between, I ran many workshops. Every so often I tossed myself into a sea or a river. The sun shone on England. Then, in September I got the flu from hell, and it seemed to embed itself deep in me. At the same time my grandmother lost her battle with illness and died. I was so ill and exhausted I could barely move. Illness and grief froze inside me.

I have spent most of the subsequent months in various degrees of burnout; a kind of creaking tiredness. It is not that I have accomplished nothing in this time. I have accomplished a fair amount on many fronts. However, it has been accompanied by a backdrop of this horrible, unerring tiredness, an exhaustion that has sometimes made me sob. A few weeks ago I reached a point where I realised something must change. Much of my lifestyle is already healthy by necessity - my health needs this and I am sensitive. Finally, though, I once more minimised processed sugar, took up gentle yoga again.

I seem to be healing. I am going slowly with myself. I am balancing various work projects at the moment, all of which I love, all of which nourish me, feed my energy, wake me up. Still, I do not rush. I am offering more workshops locally. These now take the form of creative play and therapeutic creativity sessions, working more with marginalised groups. I am writing and writing. As my energy begins to flow better again, so, too, does my writing. Mostly, I am transcribing other people's stories: writing articles from the fringes. My new workshop project is called 'Find Your Story.' Somehow - via life, via work, via everything - I seem to have become a collector of stories: my own and those of other people.

Eventually, I will be offering these workshops far afield. My spirit is perpetually restless and I am generally happy to take my work where there is demand. For now, I let my health and energy stabilise. I am dreaming of the ocean, of sunshine hotter and more fiery than that found in an English climate. I'll wait and see if that's something I follow this Summer. It is Solstice. The world is rolling through its cycles. I am, too.