A Patchwork Post: Soup, Song and Hyacinths

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
~ T.S.Eliot,  from
Little Gidding

As you know, I’ve been having a break  from public writing while I attempt to get some balance back into my life. I only write well if inspiration overflows from a life filled to the brim with presence, insight, love and creativity and I discovered last year that too much time spent reading and writing online detaches me from the real world, the source of all my soul-fuel.

The blogging world is an inspiring, stimulating place, full of friendships and opportunities, but blogweariness  can drain the life-blood from my writing if I let it. These last few months, I’ve been refilling the well and getting the balance back.

My husband and I have been making slow but steady progress clearing out and renovating our house. I clear cupboards and drawers and fill bags with stuff most days, and the house is feeling more spacious and serene as a result. We were given a few boxed sets of DVD’s at Christmas – 24, Supernatural and Cranford – and after long, productive days, we’ve been enjoying cosy winter nights by the fire enjoying them.

My kids’ school days are going more smoothly and we’re back to having home-made, nutritious snacks, meals and soup every day. There was a time, right in the middle of my most OCD blogging phase, that the freezer saw more use than ever before, but there’s nothing quite like making soup – washing, peeling, paring and chopping a rainbow of colours and textures – to make you feel healthy and grounded.

music for healing2I’m also in the middle of putting five decades worth of music onto my MP4 player, and that’s involved converting cassettes to MP3 and hardest of all, classifying and editing them.  Music’s always been a important part of my life, and it usually means there’s a mini bout of depression on the horizon if I stop singing and listening to music. There’s a deeply rooted connection, too, between my writing voice and my love of music. When one fades, the other often joins it.

I wanted to write you a piece about music, but couldn’t manage it. But that’s OK; it heartens me that I wanted to and tried. Everything will  fall back into place when I’m ready and my writing voice is refreshed and rested.

In the meantime, here’s an extract from a  piece I wrote a few years ago, about how I got my writing voice back when I discovered coaching. I re-read it today, and it reassured me that we spend our whole lives spiralling upwards. We may feel we’re stuck in a loop, back where we started, but we’re really always evolving; if we can see the patterns for what they are, we can rise above  them.

extract from The Sound of Music

I love hearing silence used beautifully. The perfect pause that reaches out like ripples around a pebble in a dark pool. A poem where the unspoken word can say more than the most carefully crafted chapter. The silence between the notes that makes the music.

I went to a Scottish folk concert last night and sat in awe as the fiddles and pipes had a spirited conversation, the flute became a voice, the guitar wrapped itself around them all and the drumbeat turned into a heartbeat, a handclapping, footstomping hall full of joy and applause. As I sat listening to the band, watching the stage lights pick out their foot tapping, swaying forms in beams of changing coloured light on the dark stage, I remembered how I used to feel performing my own songs in the heat of the lights, savouring the silence between the fading of the last note and the start of the clapping.

I sang my way around Europe when I worked as a language teacher and translator; my voice was a vital part of who I was and what I did. After I had my kids, I moved back to Scotland and slowly, imperceptibly, I stopped writing, stopped singing, stopped playing the guitar and even stopped speaking the foreign languages I was fluent in. Silence gently settled around my soul like snow.

When I drifted into life coaching, on my journey out of what I now realise was low grade chronic depression, my passion to tell the whole world about it bubbled up, spilled over and finally gushed out in the torrent that helped me rediscover my voice.

I’ll be able to write again in the next few months;  I’m sure of it. Inspiration is always there, like hyacinths blanketed beneath the snow, biding their time, waiting to wake, blossom and fill the air with their fragrance. Until then, I wish you all good things and look forward to connecting with you again someday soon.


  1. Hi Janice .. good to see you again – you do write wonderfully well. Harsh winter you’ve had up there! The little hyancinths will be so pleased to pop out after the snowdrops and daffodils have started. Lovely that you’ve had warm cosy evenings of mugs of soup and good films or series to watch by the fire .. good memories for you all. Glad to hear the balance is coming back .. your talents are there and they’ll return and you’ll use them again in various aspects of your life .. your music, your languages and the writing you’re here .. that’s the main thing.

    Thinking of you as you and spring lighten up – nurture yourself – Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Wigmaker, “Cottonpolis” and the first factory =-.

    1. Hi Hilary,
      Thanks for all your support. Just wrote you a long reply but Internet Explorer wouldn’t let me post it and gave me a whole load of scary warnings about security certificates and things I don’t understand. I’d forgotten to save it before I submitted.

      I have no idea why it let me submit this one; I’d forgotten how much AOL, Internet Explorer and the whole technological side of blogging added hours to my day and bugged me!

      It’s snowing again today; the language when I walked into the kitchen wasn’t pretty! The roads have only been clear for the last few days; until last week, we still had mounds of black, frozen slush everywhere from the previous month’s snowfall.

  2. Hi Janice .. IE has just started doing that – when I open your site and others (not just you!) .. it says it won’t let some of the content thru because of the Certificate .. I ignore it – as I can’t see what’s missing. Also on my gmail emails some of the business content sites I have to click to accept downloads – whereas before I could just look and if I wanted I click – now it makes me.

    I want to move to FireFox, but there’s a couple of things I couldn’t get quite right there and needed my head straight to deal with yet more challenges – enough here with my Ma and last year my uncle before he died .. I’m fine! Just sometimes can’t do it all!

    My comments – if I need to think – I now write in Word (not notepad because it just runs) – then if I lose it I’ve got it. Sometimes if like you this morning I do it straight and it appears to lose it – sometimes the back button works.

    I can’t get comment luv set up for some reason .. can cope now .. so it’ll get sorted during the day I hope! Registered etc .. but it won’t let me put in my details – seems a bit strange .. and cannot think how it won’t, because it appears to be so straightforward .. so I’m about because your comment luv enablement .. is mentioning my previous post – I did one on Sunday night on the Great British Garden Watch .. with ten pics of birds – that’s why I thought if I registered it’d update the commentluv tag here & use my latest post – not to be I see!

    Just don’t get overwhelmed .. it’s a pain – but our results in due time will be worth it .. look after yourself from a wet (only!) Eastbourne .. love Hilary
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..The Wigmaker, “Cottonpolis” and the first factory =-.

    1. When I write long comments, i sometimes use Word, but I usually just use the copy function or sometimes I cut and paste into an email which I keep in email waiting to be sent.

      Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one having Internet Explorer problems. I checked it out a bit, and it seems like they’re saying the problem with mine is that I’m using a DIYThemes theme (Thesis). They gave me an option of uploading some certificate or other, but I’m going to get my hubby to check it out first.

      1. Ignore it. The patch from Microsoft, as I understand it, upped the security level in your IE settings (amongst other things).

        You can change this by going to Tools > Internet Options… I think. Sorry, it’s been a long time since I messed around with IE.

        You can either lower the overall security level, or manually add sites to the “Trusted Websites” bit

        1. So I have to add my own site to my IE Trusted Websites bit – now there’s a bit of irony, given how well I know the real me and the dodgy folk who visit this site… 😉 Thanks for the techno input. You’ve always known how much the technological side of blogging takes out of me. I love most of blogging, except those bloggers who shamelessly exploit and those who are blatant fakes, but even then, it’s up to me to use my common sense and just not go there. But the techno side; that’s something I can’t avoid or just deal with by clicking unsubscribe.

  3. @Janice I don’t need to tell you about the black hole of doom that blogging can suck us into. What I will say is that I am glad you recognised the warning signs and took steps to distance yourself.

    I also want to re-iterate that blogging should be a pleasure for you. So forget about the RSS numbers, the Tweetmeme gadget and the Google Analytics and write whatever you like, whenever you like.

    Even once a month posts from you Janice are well worth waiting for. With excited eyes, the readers that matter to you will still be watching their RSS readers.

    And those that don’t matter…pfft, their loss

    @Hilary IE had a major security issue lately. So much so that the German government actually recommended the thing should be dropped like a poisonous hot potato.

    If you’d still like to switch to Firefox but are having problems, drop me an email. I’ll see if I can help

    marc DOT pieniazek AT gmail.com
    .-= Marc´s last blog ..Why You Shouldn’t Work for Your Friends, Family or Yourself =-.

    1. It doesn’t surprise me that King Arthur and his lot came from your part of the country. You are such a knight in shining armour. Thanks for helping me try to figure out my WordPress comments problems and for helping Hilary. She’s one of the most consistently supportive bloggers on a lot of folks’ sites.

      As for Internet Explorer…it’s poison, so I may be hiring you to help me switch over to Firefox, too. When I can face it. Right now, I have a few emails to write and then it’s enforced logging off before the Matrix reclaims me. I really do feel like I just yanked that connecting cable out of the nape of my neck just before Christmas.

  4. Welcome, back to your blog home and our ‘hood’, dear Janice!

    You enrich my current culinary play with your eloquent testimony: “there’s nothing quite like making soup – washing, peeling, paring and chopping a rainbow of colours and textures – to make you feel healthy and grounded.”

    I’m ready for more from your singing self’s stories and perhaps songs. Also thank you for the timely reminder of the spiralling nature of living my life (and the “patchwork” theme).

    Many warm, stirring memories occur as I read: “my passion to tell the whole world about it bubbled up, spilled over and finally gushed out in the torrent that helped me rediscover my voice.” I am one of more than you’ll ever know who benefited and continue to! 🙂

    Honouring the space and patience for your organic inspiration,

    1. Thanks, Connie. The Sound of Music was one of my favourite Coaching Moments pieces, a hymn to ‘failure’! It’s good to be back, but I’ve already lost three comments today either because of AOL or a stupid cut and paste and I’ve wrecked all the settings on my digital camera. I logged off for a lot of reasons, but one was the hours spent frustrated with the digital world in general and my personal challenges in particular. We’re having soup again today when the kids get in; my version of Portuguese caldo verde.

  5. Family first and follow your heart Janice. Life gives us many balls to juggle and family is one ball that can not be dropped or everything else falls out of step. You have lots to say and we are all happy when you do.
    Cheers to cozy fires and serialized shows that have substance while holding hands with your best friend.
    .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Sean! =-.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. You nailed the image. I didn’t just drop all the balls; I dropped them, slumped into a sofa and watched them roll all over the place, as I sat there, head in hands, unable and unwilling to pick myself up or do anything about it. Luckily for my family, I’m such a control freak and an organised person, the kids never really guessed how soul-weary I was; they still got loved and the basics got done, but the differences were noticeable to me and my husband.

      I salvaged Christmas, but it didn’t fuel my soul fenough for the whole year like it usually does. The kids were bemused the other day to hear me listening to a folk CD of traditional Christmas carols when they came home from school; I explained that I’d downloaded it for Christmas but had forgotten I had it. I was simply enjoying a serene moment of soaking in the true spirit of what Christmas is all about, even though it was a month late!

  6. I really know how you feel. I just can’t write when I don’t feel like my world is right, in order and happy.

    Take all the time you need. 🙂

    1. Lovely to see you! I’d almost forgotten how much pleasure it gives me to log on and see everyone’s familiar friendly gravatars. One of the many reasons I write is to help me make sense of the world and to connect with messages that come from somewhere else. But sometimes, it feels like I need to clean house spiritually, so the light and inspiration doesn’t get clogged or blocked. I can write when I’m miserable, as long as I have energy, but like you, I can’t write if my world’s out of whack.

    1. Hi, Davina. I know you and I come from the same place here, maybe because we paint as well as write; the wonderful set of posts you did from your cabin break inspired me to tune in more carefully to the messages I was getting about the need to unplug from the computer and get inspired by the world around me again. I seem to be in a blogging cycle of flow/gush/ log off, but if that’s my natural pattern, I have to honour it.

  7. Hi Janice,

    It’s great to read your beautiful words again. I smiled as I read the part about making soup, chopping all of the colorful vegetables. knowing you and your family are eating healthy. Recently I made a big pot of minestrone and that was my favorite part – looking at those chopped fresh vegetables, knowing dinner would have no preservatives.

    I agree with what Marc said. Blogging is suppose to be fun, not feel like a chore.

    I’m wishing you all of life’s best.

    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..One, Or A Million =-.

    1. Hugs right back! I love your new blog theme, by the way. I feel like I’ve been taking a wee wander back through the old neighbourhood today, and it’s been lovely having friends over in my comments boxes chatting again. I love writing, but comments boxes are why I enjoy blogging, which for me is another beast entirely.

      I’m thinking I may post one of my soup recipes this week. I’m so relieved that I’m not the only person who feels there’s something almost holy about preparing a warming pot of it in the winter!

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