Soul of a Poet

I am frequently told that my poetry makes the reader feel my sadness.  In response, I usually advise that they aren’t always written from a place of sadness, I just seem to sound that way.  (This observation isn’t exclusive to my poetry, it seems the tone of my text messages also emits the same impression!)  It used to be a standing joke, with an old friend of mine, that the mere mention of my putting pen to paper must mean a looming depression.  It is true, of course, that some are written purgatively, as though to exorcise a dark daemon.  When this occurs I usually feel instantly better and free of negativity; the rest of them are written purely as an expression of thought – some directly pertaining to my own emotions/experiences, the rest pure imagination.

I am a person who has known great sadness, but I also know great joy; yet like a true Wednesday’s child, I can only seem to harness the former in my thoughts/writings.  I presume that the lack of finding true love is the culprit.  Perhaps, should I ever find my soul mate, I will no longer write poetry?!  It seems I am, as yet, unable to write a happy poem.  For my birthday, early last week, I received a wonderful gift from a colleague and friend.  She had a selection of my poetry printed in a hard-backed book and wrote a most flattering dedication for the back cover.  I took it to show my family; many of these poems my mum had seen for the first time.  She said it made her sad to think that I lived such a sad life.  I couldn’t seem to reassure her that I didn’t live a sad life, I live quite a full life, and rather a charmed one in comparison to some; however, I do concede my heart is a permanently heavy one – heavy with the burden of unfulfilled love; but let’s face it, it’s not the end of the world, life goes on regardless of one’s marital status. (Sigh)

It is unusual why I can’t seem to write something that captures happiness, I am not impervious to life’s intense and varied beauty.  I tried recently.  I had so many lovely gifts for my birthday, a lot of them very personal and creative ones.  With all this happiness, appreciation and love in mind, I sat outside Costa one morning (I had my birthday week off, naturally) and set about capturing that gratitude on paper.  What emerged was utter rubbish!  All it reflected was how badly I translate happy thoughts into poetry.  I shall have to leave that to the likes of Pam Ayres, rhyming with a comedic wit, intent on making the reader chuckle.  The soul of this poet is somewhat cumbersome, not unlike my physicality.  I could write about the happiest day of my life in a blog and the reader would feel the joy pouring from each word – but put it into a poem and it would surely sound like my worst day ever!

So therein lies my niche.  I am the world-weary, heavy hearted poet, but being just expressions of a single emotion, they do not detract from the fortunate life I currently lead.  When the day comes that I publish a truly happy poem, please raise a glass in my name, and congratulate the love I have undoubtedly found.

JG

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Metaphor for a Buttercup

I took the brave decision to extricate myself from the Brightonian beach yesterday in favour of attempting the countryside.  (I am much more a fan of sea salty air and seagull watching than of creepy crawlies and buzzy bees, hence why I have never, and will never, go camping.)  I have been intending to take myself to Devil’s Dyke since one of the tour operators sold me on the idea when I was here a few weekends ago.  So after a lavish hotel breakfast and an hour’s lay in the sun on the pebbles, feeling like Uncle Travelling Matt, I donned my back pack and headed for the bus stop.

On a clear day the views from up there would be stunning; but I could make out the varying greens of patchwork England well enough, despite the low cloud cover.  It was peace that I sought and I most definitely found it.  I adore the beach, but my ten minutes of tranquility ran into trouble when the Carousel behind me fired up and the Pier to the left of me opened, pumping out chart tunes for the thrill riders.  Up on the Downs this was far from an issue.  I found a nice, quiet spot off the rambler’s track, beneath and betwixt two tall trees.  The only sounds were nature’s rustling and chirping; the occasional panting dog and gravel crunching passer by.  Finally, I was alone with my thoughts, of which are plentiful at present.

Scattered about me were wildly bright flowers in amongst tall blades of grass and short, stubby clover – though not a four leafed specimen to be seen, alas.  It was a buttercup that grabbed my attention the most; so rich in colour; such a vibrant yellow and, for a moment, I wanted to pluck it to hold in my hands.  I hesitated over it whilst it occurred to me that should I take it from its dwelling and claim it for my own, I take possession of it, but for what?  To place beneath my chin and discover that I do indeed like butter as the yellow reflects onto my skin (as my Mum and Nan did when I was a child); to spin it rapidly, yet whimsically, between two fingers; simply to take a closer look; perhaps to be placed behind my ear for decoration?  Ultimately, it would be cast aside, limp, useless, dead and wasted.

I’m sure this could be a metaphor for a multitude of things; but for this seemingly eternally single girl, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is a better way to exist; to be left to blossom alone.  So many relationships I see, regardless of sexuality, are unhealthily codependent.  The romantic notion of two individuals being so in love with each other that they wouldn’t want to walk this Earth with any other is perfectly beautiful in my eyes.  This is totally different, however, from the couples who live in eachother’s pockets simply because they can’t bear to be alone…..and I won’t even broach the ridiculousness that is their idea of jealousy being a healthy component in a relationship….it really isn’t.  Quite like the buttercup thieves, they pluck one another from where they stand and take ownership of eachother’s lives.  When this happens pieces of what you once were slowly die until you are changed; unrecognisable.  Having had a codependent partner I can fully identify with this.  Before and after her I remain vibrant, free; I am that independent, thriving buttercup, left alone; I would say for all to enjoy but that would imply something potentially very rude and/or arrogant, and truly, promiscuity has never been my thing.

As far as relationships go, one must only hope to find the like of which enables us to thrive regardless, to be as powerful apart as we are together; to be able to stand alone and come together on equal footing; to be together in spirit, mind and heart, when not together in body, and cope perfectly well.  Anything else seems pointless to me.

And as for the buttercup, I left it where it was, untouched, alive, hopefully for somebody else to enjoy it’s simple beauty after I’d gone, as another may have done before me; and I promptly returned to the beach.
  
JG 25.05.15

All About The (Baby) Boy

Being able to share in someone’s joy is a distinct privilege and honour, especially when it is due to a life changing event.  Earlier this week our department threw a baby shower for a colleague.   A few of us early birds gathered in the decorated office, eagerly awaiting her entrance and consequent reactionary surprise.  Sleepy-eyed and unaware of the spotlight, she breezed in to find a sea of faces gazing upon her, lit with mischievous smiles, glistening eyes and, with bated breath, we watched her expression change from quiet calm to happy chaos.  Balloons bobbed around on weighted ribbons, others taped to her computer screen; bunting and banners adorned walls and doors; wispy pastel coloured shapes floated down from the ceiling; a ‘Mum to be’ sash sat perched on the back of her chair, wanting to be worn; and a large blue-iced sponge cake with letter block design atop, sat proudly at the centre of her desk, hand made by a colleague.  Suffice to say she was shocked. Once we felt she had been embarrassed enough we dispersed wishing her a happy shower day. 

At lunch time we laid out the party food, to which we’d all contributed, enough to afford us lunches and snacks for the remainder of the week.  On display, upon a cleared desk sat a large cardboard box, dressed in baby themed wrapping paper, overflowing with gifts. Rather than a collection we’d opted to buy presents individually. For a department of around 20 staff this was an impressive, and very generous, haul. 

Now, I’m not a fan of babies, but I am a fan of parties, especially of helping to organise them; and this party was extra special.  The mum-to-be silently suffers an irrelievable pain that comes from being unable to carry your own child. What should be every woman’s natural born right – to procreate – has been denied her; for a woman with such maternal instincts and desire for a child, this truly is one of life’s cruellest injustices. However much it will remain a tragic lament in the depths of her heart, it should pale into insignificance thanks to the imminent arrival of a 9month old baby boy into her and her partner’s lives.

The adoption process is arduous and characteristically intrusive with good reason of course; the safeguarding of a child is paramount; but considering two spotty teenage oiks can perform a drunken have-at-it and immediately fall pregnant, the lengths two genuine and decent people have to go to seems relentlessly burdening.  Still, perseverance has proffered what they wished for; a child to raise and call their own. Biology isn’t everything and it’ll make them no less of a Mummy and Daddy, in fact it’ll make them more so.

After the lunch and gift opening had finished and all was cleared away, as if right on cue, she received a call from her social worker to confirm the adoption had been signed off and paperwork was in the post. It was official. All that remains is for them to be introduced and, at the end of a week of supervised meets, bring him home; a beautiful new chapter to begin together. 

For the rest of us, we are all sharing in their joy. We’ve been kept in the loop over the last year as to what stage they were at; the trials, the hopes, the upsets and now the reward.  It’s fair to say that we all feel we’ve adopted a part of this baby boy; we are Aunties in waiting (and one Uncle.) No doubt we’ll be seeing him inside and outside of the office very soon.

On the whole, at work, we are a unified team. The women I work with are incredibly compassionate, generous, loving, caring.  Having been on the receiving end of the cushion of love and support they instinctively provide at times of need, I knew exactly how the mum-to-be felt….overwhelmed.  Needless to say the bubba has no idea how much love and fun he is about to inherit from his new folks….not to mention his army of work Aunties!  How unique it is to proudly call your colleagues family.

JG 23.05.15 

Chasing Happiness

Sometimes you get an overwhelming compulsion to run away or to radically alter yourself/your life; perhaps both.  Either way they are escapist notions born out of sheer boredom.  Suddenly the life you lead becomes insufficient, mundane, frustratingly routine.  The work you do is no longer challenging; the relationship you are in becomes stagnant; the stay at home mum gets tired of laundry and relentless tidying.  Life gets dull for us all from time to time.  And this is where I’ve found myself recently.

It’s taken a few weeks to get to a point where I needed a time out, whereby my tolerance for everyone and everything fell through the floor – not ideal when you are mentoring trainee staff that constantly need answers to their questions.  Suffice to say I had to apologise to one patience-testing individual who, on the second occasion that I snapped at last week, I told to ‘piss off before I slap you one.’  Fortunately I am well known enough for my reaction to be seen as both out of character and in jest (ish.)  No lasting harm done; not that there is ever an excuse for having a bad attitude, hence my apology.  This, and other coinciding events, brought me to one single conclusion – I needed to be alone.  Frankly, and ideally, a month or two on an isolated beach with zero interaction with any human being is what I fantasised about; but for the self-employed woman, just beginning a renewed contract, a long weekend had to make do.

I sat on my bench on the green after work on Thursday night and called my Mum regarding the day, the decisions, the tears with colleagues, aka my mini meltdown.  I said that I have so much planned for May/June that I barely have a weekend free and that, while I am looking forward to them, I’m not excited.  I’m not excited about anything lately.  I have become increasingly unhappy, and when you feel unhappy there isn’t a physical thing you can do to change it; you just have to let it pass.  Happiness is an inherent state of being; not a beach you are on, not the job you are in, nor even the company you keep;  but all of those things can perpetuate your happiness if you are already within that place.  I digress.

So my Mum wished that I would hurry up and settle down, preferably up North nearer to where they moved to, put some roots down, instead of always, “Chasing happiness.”  Those two words, unbeknownst to her, stopped me in my tracks.  ‘Chasing happiness.’  Is that what I do?  Given some thought it becomes a desperately depressing statement.  Am I the (relatively) young, free and single girl with money to spend, places to visit, experiences to have whose ideology is spontaneity?  Or am I the middle-aged purposeless woman, filling my free time with adventures and escapism to evade an otherwise crippingly lonely existence?  Do my escapades from hotel to motel; North coast to South coast; theatre to opera and everywhere inbetween simply fill an aching void before a meaning, a reason, a purpose for my time on Earth finally presents itself?

Chasing happiness….

I don’t regard myself as unhappy, generally; I’m just having a blip.  Mundanity has crept in.  Running away, as idyllic as it sounds, is never a solution.  Problems will simply pack their bags and tell the cab they just got into to follow yours.  Time out is good though, to find some peace and quiet, some solitude away from the daily clucking of fellow battery caged office workers.

The long weekend of doing what I pleased and having quality time with the tonic that is my best pal has calmed my stormy seas, for now.  Old routines must go, mundanity is not acceptable.  Big changes are a must, but for now, it’s back to work tomorrow….more relaxed….and hopefully with a better attitude.

Perhaps I should apologise to my colleagues in advance….just in case…!

JG
27.04.15

And Then…..You 

The night before we meet

(Though we’re totally unaware

To this do we’ll both be going)
I wonder what I’ll wear
The dawn before we meet
I think about the day
Where I’ll be, what I’ll do
If the sun will chase this grey
The afternoon before we meet
Tomorrow comes to mind
A meal for one, a film at home
A chance to sit, unwind 
All that was has changed
For now is when we meet 
Despite the crowd, your eyes meet mine
And we forget to speak

Rebel Girls – Wake Up Call

I time-travelled this morning; sadly not in the Doc and Marty sense. You know when something sends you instantly to a previous time of your life….a smell, a song, a season…..suddenly you are transported. It is quite incredible, quite powerful, to know that your brain can instantaneously return you to a feeling that you hadn’t had for such a long time; a time and a feeling that can never be repeated, it was exclusive to that period of your life. And yet, with that one song…

It is a rare occasion, these days, that I will let my mobile phone alarm play the entirety of whichever song I have selected. Usually, no sooner have I heard the first chord I hit the snooze button, repeatedly, until it’s at least an hour and a half post wake-up time and I’m running late for work. This morning, quite by accident, I let it play. I was having such an in depth dream (where all the satellites orbiting the Earth, fell in one big, simultaneous hit across the globe; mostly in my back garden, in case you were wondering) that the song became a part of the dream. Before I knew it I was jolted awake, bopping along in by bed to Incubus’ “Rebel Girls.”

I bloody love that song. I only found it around this time last year, perhaps a little later, just as Spring had sprung. I have remarked on this before, but that was the start of an incredible few months for me. Hearing that song play out took me straight back there; and whilst I basked in that formidable memory for a few moments, recalling the excitement, the promise, the new experiences, the romance, my regular visits to my beloved Brightonia and most of all, the amazing feeling of being truly alive; it got me thinking about now and what a difference a year makes.

So much can happen in life. You gain people, you lose people; you may change your job; your finances. There is relentless change. The friend, who became a lover, is now lost from my life. The conversations we used to have were highly entertaining and insightful, but it clearly was not meant to continue. Another friend walked away from me last year without reason, but that’s okay too, that brief friendship had more than run its course. There was so much light at the start of 2014 and yet towards the Autumn it became so dark with the strain that cancer puts on a family; I truly find it incredible how things can change so rapidly in such a small amount of time.

2015 has begun quite non-descript, which is probably a blessing in itself. For a couple of people I know the absolute unthinkable has happened to their loved ones – one couple are coming to terms with the loss of a child to illness; another friend is coming to terms with a sibling being imprisoned in what has been a heart-breaking miscarriage of justice. I am quite thankful for the monotony given what could be happening. Although to say ‘monotony’ is doing life an injustice. There are things happening; I have more savings than I’ve ever had, which is all going towards my deposit for my Brightonian (or nearabouts) home; I’ve been given a further 6months contract at work, which is amazing and has smashed any prior longevity of contract before now and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still there at Christmas! Which would be just fabulous.

Maybe it’s not all the same vibrancy of what last Spring had to offer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In these quieter times, we can put all those little pieces of life together. We can reflect, appreciate, send our gratitude out into the ether. Personally I feel nothing but love and thankfulness for all that has been; and use this time to appreciate the calm which is such a blessing after all the stress of last year. My brain can calm itself ready for whatever is coming next. I may not have a song attached to this period to send me into rapturous reverie this time next year, but it doesn’t make now any less poignant.

How wonderful that Rebel Girls, no matter what happens in life, will always fill me with joy.

Have a marvellous day.

xx

Saying Goodbye

A final goodbye is such a peculiar hour. Today I attended the funeral of a Great Aunt. She was 94yrs old, widow to her husband who had died over four years prior. He had reached over 100yrs old; they had been married for 71yrs. They had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. They were adorable people and a loving couple. My Great Uncle, was the sweetest, most gentile and kindest gentleman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I remember them both very fondly. As with all goodbyes, it was a sad and sombre affair, reflecting on the loss of a loved one, but also turning the focus to your own life. The reality of death makes you ask yourself if you are living enough, if you are free, if you are doing it right.

Maybe it’s my advancing years and rapid approach to midlife, but at this service I found myself worrying about my own inevitable funeral. Should I live to a ripe(ish) age, the generations before me will likely be gone. As I have no children of my own and am never likely to, just who will be left to see me off? I won’t be remembered as that loving matriarch who had the longevity of a harmonious married life; a soulmate; a family. Okay so, by the time I die, if fate is in my favour, I may have my soulmate, I may even have that longevity of marriage, but I won’t have the family. I have never been that way inclined.

It struck me as odd today that I’m not pro motherhood, personally. I am missing the maternal gene, yet I have so much love to give, so much compassion; I think I’d make an awesome mum. All bar one of my cousins have ever growing families of their own. Despite being older than some of them I remain partnerless, marriageless and childless. It filled me with a desperate fear that I may truly end up alone; with merely a few blue rinses from the bingo at my funeral, mostly happy that with one less player there’ll be more money in the winnings pot for them.

There’s not a great deal I can do about that. Some of us are meant for certain things, others…not so much. One can only hope that at my final goodbye, no matter who is left behind, that if I am thought of half as much as those that have gone before me, I must be doing something right.

One can only hope.