The Blue Beyond

For the past few months it has felt as if someone had pressed the ‘put life on hold’ button.   Everyone knows that buying and selling houses, along with divorce and other life events, is one of the most stressful things we go through.  But like childbirth, you forget what it feels like, and having moved out of the farmhouse into my tiny attached cottage a year ago I put the farmhouse back on the market for the second time in 2 years. (see previous post).  I told the agent I needed more than 2 viewings this time and was delighted to accept an offer within a week of it going back on the market.

I settle in and wait patiently for the lawyers to do what they need to do to bring the sale of my house to completion.  With no rent money coming in, as weeks turn into months, life becomes a bit of a struggle.   The cash I had raised from selling a few pieces of furniture soon dries up.  Then the landline and internet are disconnected and to compound my sense of isolation, my car is grounded because the date to renew the tax disc comes and goes.  Any credit rating I might have possessed is now blown out of the window as the bills pile up with no means of paying any of them.  I begin to avoid answering calls coming in from numbers that begin with 08, and relish Sundays when I know there will be no letters demanding payment.  More worryingly, the insurance on the farmhouse is a whisker away from being rendered null and void, and as I lie awake at night listening to the storm-driven rain on the roof and the wind whistling under the gutters in the wettest of winters, I pray that the farmhouse remains dry and in one piece.  Sleep is harder to come by and sometimes, I call out for help in the darkness or sob my sorry state to sleep.

a staple standby.  One of my soda bread creations

A staple standby. One of my soda bread creations

The tins of assorted beans and bags of lentils, pasta and rice getting dangerously low, vegetables donated by a kind neighbour eaten, I wonder what kind of meal I can magic out of the odd jars of herbs and half empty bottles of chutneys, jams and sauces (after spooning out the mould) that are left in my store cupboard.  Not even any wine or other substances to dull the senses, just a bottle of bubbles given to me by my daughter to be opened on completion of sale.  What I do have though, is plenty of flour.  I have enough flour to make bread for a small army.  The making of it keeps me warm and I am left pondering that there must be a reason for this sorry state of affairs.  One thing for sure, being creative with your recipes is all part of the challenge.  For instance, try substituting 100g of your usual flour for corn meal (polenta) in your soda bread mix, or a tin of coconut milk in place of milk in your wild rice pudding!  Delicious.

There is nothing left to do except cancel appointments for hair-cuts and planned seminars and curl up with my two adorable hot water bottle whippets under an old sleeping bag.  I don my woolly hat and hunker down to weather the storm, wondering how many days of electricity I have left before that gets disconnected too or how much oil is left in the tank before I am consigned to perpetual darkness and freezing February temperatures.

A couple of friends have noticed I am not answering emails and call me (I still have incoming calls) to find out if I am OK.  I am hugely comforted by these calls but it also serves to remind me that in the end we are all alone.  Even my recent attempt at on-line dating turned out to be a bruising and humiliating experience.   I can’t help a wry smile as I empty out the few coppers I have left in my purse.

 Living in this strange limbo land, there is a very fine line between the madness of anxiety and the sanity of hope.  Even though at times, it feels like you are the only one suffering, I remind myself, there are many, many people worse off than me.  And I keep reminding myself that when we are presented with adversity we still have choices.  Or is it true we are led to believe we have choices but in fact our lives are predestined?   Maybe we need to learn the lessons life presents us with before we can move on.  So I choose to consult the runes, light a joss stick and listen to my intuition and the voices of my guardian angels.  I also choose to publish this account of one of the darkest periods of my life, not because I am looking for sympathy but because I want to remember and learn.

And apart from a few twinges now and again, I give thanks I am still healthy.

Meanwhile, as the austerity bites deeper it is like living in the midst of a collapsing house of cards.  I seem to stagger from one disaster to another.  Even the simple tasks seem to be compounded with difficulty, and I feel weak and feeble.  In such moments of despair, it is difficult to imagine better times to come.  Despite these moments, or perhaps because of them, there is one thing that keeps me going.  You see, with no external distractions, I have more time to plan my adventures: to plan for the better times when I can spread my wings once more and feel the sun on my back.  It is a very real opportunity to relish the peace this situation has afforded me to do some serious soul-searching.

You may ask, why start this journal at such a dark moment in your life?  I think it is a fitting point in which to launch my account because life is full of ups and downs and to keep the dream alive has given me a reason to live through recent trials.  My pilgrimage is all about ‘getting lost’ and believe me, in these last few months, I have felt lost, if not a little abandoned.  Now, I can at least see a chink of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.  So here I am, at the beginning of this Chinese year of the Horse – on the brink of the biggest adventure of my mature life.  I have my sights set on the distant hills in the Blue Beyond.  Welcome to my world.

12 thoughts on “The Blue Beyond

  1. Caro…I am weeping reading this…I cherish your honesty, and am – as always – aghast at your wisdom and strength despite such horrendously lonely and anxious times. I cannot tell you how glad I am that things have finally come right…you are an incredible soul. Love Tx

    • What’s the saying? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At least there was the possibility of reprieve at the end of it….for so many others, well, there just isn’t any way out. xxx

  2. I wish I’d known Caro; it can be so difficult to nourish yourself when everything is in darkness and you’re fighting to meet your basic needs. It’s exhausting, debilitating, but your creativity and resourcefulness are shining through, creating your own light. That is your strength.

    I love reading your posts, and I’ve been thinking about you a lot recently as I read about walking and try and formulate my own adventure (and not getting very far!). I’ll be back time and again for more inspiration Caro, and I hope that you’ll feel more energised and keep finding wealth in your words! xxx

    • Thank you Stephie! I have also been following your trials and tribulations and felt powerless to help. But if its any consolation, I do send you healing thoughts from time to time. Perhaps its time we met up to talk about walking. I also want to pick your brains about the sat nag thing and plotting courses on the map….so much to discuss. Shall we email? I’m caro@carowoods.co.uk. With love x

  3. Blown away by what you have created for yourself and the way you are coming through the fire…Blessings for your journey..

  4. Sarah and I want to come with you into the ‘ blue yonder’ possibly we might need a chariot and torch to light the way but friendship will warm warm us with all that life has yet to offer. With love from Custard Cottage xxxx

    • I would absolutely love the company of such dear friends…..and think what fun we could have? A chariot, a torch and some wing-ed angels to guide us. I will be swinging by Custard Cottage soon….will you be at home? xxxx

      • I will I hope just tell me when… I am in london thursdays and fridays but apart from that I am here and there is always a spare bed. Would love to see you and here all your news. xxxxxx

      • ps I have had a look at everything Caro on your site and it looks so so interesting!! What A project…its going to be wonderful..you can just feel it pushing to be born. clancyxxx

      • Poem sent to me by John O’Donohue about six years ago when I was venturing out alone and about to get lost!!!………………….

        The Art of Disappearing
        When they say ‘ Don’t I know you’? Say No.
        When they invite you to the party,
        Remember what parties are life, before answering.
        Someone telling you in a loud voice
        They once wrote a poem. Grey sausage balls on a paper plate.
        Then Reply.

        If they say we should get together say
        Why?

        It’s not that you don’t love them anymore
        You’re trying to remember something
        Too important to forget.
        Trees, The monastery bell at twilight.
        Tell them you have a new project.
        It will never be finished.

        When someone recognises you in a grocery store
        Nod briefly and become a cabbage.
        When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
        Appears at the door,
        Don’t start singing them all your new songs
        You will never catch up.

        Walk around feeling like a leaf
        Know you could tumble any second.
        Then decide what to do with your time.

        Naomi Shihab Nye – Words under words

        love clancyxxxx

  5. What a wonderful poem! What a beautiful gift you have given me Catherine. This is so where I’m at right now. Plus, I’m very good at being cabbage. Is that THE John ODonahue?

    A Blessing for Presence

    May you awaken to the mystery of
    being here and enter the quiet
    immensity of your own presence.
    May you have joy and peace in the
    temple of your senses.
    May you receive great encouragement
    when new frontiers beckon.
    May you respond to the call of your gift
    and find the courage to follow its path.
    May the flame of anger free you from
    falsity.
    May warmth of your heart keep your presence
    aflame and anxiety never linger about
    you.
    May your outer dignity mirror an inner
    dignity of soul.
    May you take time to celebrate the quiet
    miracles that seek no attention.
    May you be consoled in the secret
    symmetry of your soul.
    May you experience each day as a
    sacred gift woven around the heart of
    wonder.

    From ‘Eternal Echoes’, Exploring our Hunger to Belong,
    John O’Donahue. (2000)

    sent with love and gratitude. xxxx

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