Trust Your Gut

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Perfect illustration from Bryony Attenburrow

A few short weeks ago, I would have avoided reading this piece, or anything similar. I wouldn’t have clicked the link or wanted to face the truth.

It seems one’s body knows when things aren’t right, it tries to tell you time and time again, and it is possible to quash the feelings, to get on with it, to ignore the niggle. I’m the biggest worrier in the world. I’m constantly teased about it by the people who know me. But a gut feeling is different to the twisty tummy worries that come and go.

Relationships are the thing that get me in the gut. And when you have a good connection with someone it becomes very difficult to face the flickering warnings in your heart. I’d go as far as to say that it takes a certain amount of bravery. Especially when the future is unknown.

I had to hurt someone I care a great deal about. I had to go into my retail job trying not to cry, and hoping people would know without me having to tell them. I’m a bit lonely, at a bit of a loose end. I’m 26. I’m not a teenager. Something spookily similar has happened to me already. But my gut is calm again, for the first time in a long time.

I have a desire to marry, and to have children. This is so important to me that I want to be as happy as possible and absolutely ‘love in a bucket’. Marriage is difficult enough without serious doubts.

I fear most people, most women? Settle. I always thought of settling as ‘I’m unhappy, this isn’t what I want but I’m going to go ahead with it for whatever reason. Baby/security/money etc.’

But it’s more ‘I’m quite happy, I really like/fancy this person. He’s really good to me. We have a good time. We’re similar. Maybe I wouldn’t find anyone else.’ While feeling that something isn’t quite adding up inside.

There’s a dull dread when people get engaged. It’s hard to feel happy for people you love who are happily putting rings on fingers. This is terrible. I was so grumpy when my brother got engaged and I even cried, and it wasn’t jealousy. I wanted everyone to freeze until I was happy, I was ready, until I was at their level.

Maybe you’re thinking, how dare she expect anything more than a decent man who loves her? But if my body was quietly warning no, no, no- how could I ignore it? I have faith enough to believe that there’s someone out there just for me. My mammy’s been praying for him since I was a little girl. I want to love as deeply as I’m loved. I want a sureness, a yes-ness, an excitement to move forward that flows into everything else.  Yes, it is a lot to ask for. But I deserve it. You deserve it.

Listen to your gut.

 

p.s I wrote this to try to make sense of things. I thought my experience might help someone. I really, really don’t wish to hurt anyone. Please let me know if you have any issues.

My Dear Bessie

So, escapism is the thing at the moment. I haven’t got any real way of watching anything so I am reading, reading, reading. Have had ‘My Dear Bessie’ on my shelf for many months. A love story in letters. Set during WW2. Between Chris Barker and Bessie Moore. Exactly my kind of thing, really. It’s fascinating. The pair worked together years previously at the Post Office, and begin writing to each other while she’s going out with someone. Their love blossoms quite quickly and develops purely through their letters, their words.

In September 1943, Chris Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa when he decided to brighten the long days of war by writing to old friends. One of these was Bessie Moore, a former work colleague. The unexpected warmth of Bessie’s reply changed their lives forever. Crossing continents and years, their funny, affectionate and intensely personal letters are a remarkable portrait of a love played out against the backdrop of the Second World War. Above all, thispreviously unpublished collection is a stirring example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives.

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The big shame is that barely any of Bessie’s letters have survived, 90% of the book is Chris’ letters, but oh how beautiful they are! They are so constant in this special kind of love. He’s always stationed in Italy and Greece and far flung places from London, where Bessie is.  The frustration, but enduring love is extraordinary.

Even in the 1940s there are lots of dirty bits, and you can see why Chris felt the need to burn letters! They still try to be quite proper though. ‘Tips of your breast’ and ‘your vital vibrant spot’! Feel a bit awful that these were published, poor Chris would be mortified, I’m sure. But even the sex discussion/longing makes it all the more human.

Bessie was a terrible worrier, like me, but she was very intelligent, worked hard and could argue politics and current affairs brilliantly with Chris, and stand up for herself in work and everything.

It’s weird that she had to give up her job when she got married. and some of the stuff Chris says and expects have my inner feminist growling, but it was a sign of the times, and Chris truly cared about her, and knew how happy they could make each other.

You wait with bated breath for them to meet, as it’s so unlikely and waited for, and anything could happen. I wish they still had cause to write letters during these times.

They’re funny, emotional, addictive and a real snapshot of what the war was like. I don’t want to give anything away, but the brief chapters on what happened after are interesting and wonderful and emotional. I hated the letters coming to an end but at the last letter, when Chris was hours away from reunited with his beloved Bessie he signs off:

Dearest, Darling, Only One, thank you for all that you have been to me through these years, and be sure that we shall overcome with our love any difficulties there may be later on. I can never be as good as you deserve, but I really will try very hard, and I know you will help. We shall be partners, collaborators, man and woman, husband and wife, lovers.

I love you. I want you. I need you. ALWAYS.

YOUR Chris

I really was mesmerized. And jealous! I’m so glad they found each other and didn’t have any way to communicate except through ‘LC’ letter-cards. It truly is amazing. A rare, wonderful book and really worth reading if you are a fan of post and letters, and true love.

Scouring twitter during reading I discovered that Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey read the parts of Chris and Bessie for Radio 4 last year. Oh I don’t know if I could handle it.  I found this clip of Benedict, lovely man, reading one of the letters on youtube.

Creativity and Real Magic

A whole month since Christmas today. ‘It’s as far away as ever.’ as the Derry saying goes. I have just finished reading my second book of the year. I was totally blown away and I wanted to share it.

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love) has created a wonder in ‘Big Magic.’ To
be honest, we have it in work and I picked it up a few times but I don’t think I would have chosen it myself. So I would like to thank SongBirdSignBird for the wonderful Christmas present. She wrote inside (my favourite, book inscriptions) that it helped her, and a little birdy (pardon the pun) told me she’s been writing nearly every day since reading it in November. I’m hoping it has that effect on me! I feel like it does.

I’m in an emotional place at the moment, the book made me cry three times when I’m not sure it would have that effect on anyone. But my overwhelming feeling is of RELIEF. No it’s not too late to get back to writing (if I ever started), it’s allowed to be fun, who cares if you’re not successful, do this for you. I can’t even tell you. Self-help books I avoid partly because ironically they are usually full of pressure. You must do this, you must spend this long exercising, how are you going to write if you don’t put in this effort. Big Magic is the opposite of pressure. There’s bits about fear and how that stops people. There’s a permission slip of you’re waiting for one.

Anyway, I think I will give you a few examples. If you ever wanted to write, make art, create anything (which, Gilbert points out, is all of us) I urge you to read this book.

The first part of the book is Courage. We hear of the legacy of a poet named Jack Gilbert (no relation) who once said to a young poet in his class after hearing she wanted to become a writer, ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping that you will say yes.

She writes of the burden of genius and the obsession of getting and staying at ‘the top’. Harper Lee, Gilbert wishes, that right after To Kill a Mockingbird and her Pulitzer, she had ‘churned out five cheap and easy books in a row.’ She could have tricked us all into forgetting, herself into forgetting she was Harper Lee. ‘It would have been a gift to the world. And it would have been a gift to her, as well- to have been able to remain a writer, and to have enjoyed the pleasures and satisfactions of that work for herself. (because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.)

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All my notes. Wow such a book. 

I’m afraid to give too many secrets away so I think you should read it! Yes, some of her ideas about Inspiration and an idea ‘moving on’ to someone else and even the Trickster thing kind of weirded me out but over all the book is a little miracle.

Highlights for me, which I have diligently post-it noted for this occasion are:

Here’s a trick, stop complaining

Day job- there’s no dishonour in having a job. What is dishonourable is scaring away your creativity by demanding that it pay for your entire existence.

Done is better than good.

Nobody’s thinking about you.

A beautiful story about perseverance. That made me cry.

An exquisite tale of painting stars on children’s bicycles that had me cry just now like a crazy person while reading aloud to my Mum.

I’m forever changed by this book. I feel the permission, the freedom, the lightness and pressure free chance to write. To make art. Creative Living Beyond Fear as the lovely book boasts.

P.S Thank you so much to Laura and Eoin if you’re reading for really cheering me up on Friday. You’s made my night! Thank you for the blog support :) Means a lot.

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Yes. Image from here