I haven't written a post for quite a long time, almost a month - as you can see by the date!
I had a week off a week ago - went on a retreat to a converted barn in Devon. It was very nice and relaxing, and great to simply switch off from the madness, hustle bustle media-consumer-driven lifestyle that Londoners can so easily fall into the trap of.
I reconnected with nature, my 'inner self', did some meditation, and simply existed in a fairly simple way. The weather was nice too for most of the week, which was a bonus!
I also had jobs to do each day on the retreat - every morning I fed their two cats Bramble and Marmalade, feed some grain to the geese, released the chickens from their coop, and fed them fresh water and grain. All this in the middle of quiet Devon countryside, where all you could here were birds twittering, wind being windy, rain being rainy, and the odd sheep/cow bleeting or mooing.
Since I have got back I have been working fairly relentlessly - my week of solace, quiet and peace seems a bit like a distant dream now. I have tried to maintain formal meditation practice, but it's very difficult without others around you doing it, and a routine which facilitates it. Ah well, I will just try my best and not worry about it too much....worrying will only undo all the good work of de-stressing which the week itself began to achieve!
Whilst I was on the retreat, I read 'Wild Swans' by Jung Chang which has been selected for my reading group. It's a big book (700 pages), but it was a seriously fascinating, incredible read and is not a book I will forget in a hurry. The atrocities and behaviour of the Communist Chinese in the 50's-70's was, quite simply, astonishing. I look at the whole Beijing Olympics/Darfur debate with a renewed/different perspective now I know the kinds of things which the Chinese people sadly afflicted on each other in the past. Arguably, they continue to violate and infringe human rights even today. If you haven't read this book, I urge you to read it. It's jaw-dropping on virtually every page. Reading it I feel so blessed and lucky to be living in the society I am in. It's by no means perfect, but we have also got a lot of things right.
This weekend has been good, but fairly quiet - no mad partying for me. My god-daughter's mum is very ill unfortunately, so yesterday I spent quality time with my god-daughter whilst her older sister went to her cousin's and her Dad went to work. We played together, had lunch, I took her to the park to play on the swings, slide and climbing frame, made her dinner, put her to bed - the whole works.
Today I ended up nursing her mum who's effectively bed-bound, while the kids went to their grandparents. She's on the mend slowly but it has truly knocked her for six.
Here's some photo's of Little Miss GodDaughter playing in my room, and trying on my hat.