Tag Archives: magical hummingbirds

None of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out…..

My last post featured my stay in Brittany during the month of May.      

However, since then I have spent eight days in Kingston Hospital courtesy the wonderful NHS (National Health Service) and have been recouping ever since, all of which emphasises that none of us is ever creative enough to know how things will actually work out………….

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I was two years old in 1948 when the NHS came into being. Having been fortunate enough to experience very good health during my lifetime, I have not had the need to use the Service very much, however, I have always held it in the highest regard.    

It’s important to say that nothing is perfect…..and indeed when the NHS came into being the world population was approx., two and half billion….now we are rocketing towards eight billion! This of course puts great pressure on all institutions……including the NHS.  

My recent experience in Kingston Hospital has brought home to me how fortunate we are in the UK to have such a Service. If necessary we must go to the barricades to preserve it from those politicians who might see it as a cash pot!!! They are out there waiting to get their greedy hands on it……..

The beautiful Brecon Beacons…Wales – watercolour/gouache

A little known fact is that The NHS is available to everyone within the UK no matter how wealthy or poor….it does not discriminate.     I know that in countries where free health care is only given to those who  are lacking in financial resources….much division has been caused.  

Magical Hummingbirds – watercolour  

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So what happened to me?    I think it’s fair to say that I had probably been overdoing things, especially as I hadn’t been feeling 100% since the beginning of the year.    I had been experiencing breathlessness…something totally new for me, and after a couple of visits to the doctor, I decided to let time sort things out!

I suppose time indeed did sort things out only not in the way I had hoped……

Crickhowell from the Bluebell Woods – watercolour

Having just returned from a lovely wedding celebration in Atlanta, Ga, I was resting in my flat when all of a sudden I experienced extreme pain through my middle section and nausea.    After fifteen minutes, I realised something was very wrong and for the first time in my life, called an ambulance.

The ambulance service was superb.    Once they arrived I simply let go and gave myself to their knowledge and understanding.      Magical hummingbirds were clearly overseeing the situation.

watercolour

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On the way to the hospital it occurred to me that this might be it. It also occurred to me that where and how we die is not of great importance, ….the key is how we have lived our lives.

Have we loved and been loved? Have we loved the experience of being alive and all that entails? Have we done and said the things we wanted to do and say? Have we been grateful for gifts that we have been given? All of this was mulling around in my head….

Maybe it’s because I oversaw the care of my Mother for eleven years at home and in nursing homes, that I am very clear that I prefer quality over quantity. In other words, I would rather live a shorter life of substance and joy than a longer life inhibited by ill health.

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And so I arrived at the A & E department ready for anything…and at the same time, although in pain, very peaceful and calm inside.

It was found that I had fluid on my lung, plus blood clots…one of which had destroyed my left kidney. {The good news is that my right kidney is still in good shape.}

I had gone to my doctor a few times since the beginning of the year, but hadn’t always taken her advice. I was convinced that whatever was going on would sort itself out! Well this time it didn’t….

summer tree – watercolour

For the following eight days I received superb treatment. So many tests, I lost count, plus constant updates from nurses and doctors and a feeling of being very well taken care of.

I have never enjoyed hospitals, or needles (had a serious needle phobia up until the age of 60) but this experience was different. I found it all very interesting and it’s left me wanting to learn more about the internal workings of my body.. It was as if fear was replaced with intrigue. Plus there was some wonderful ‘people watching’ to be enjoyed – although having said that I didn’t have the energy even to sketch!

Other than my lovely next door neighbour Jeanie who brought in clean pjs etc I didn’t tell anyone else that I was in the hospital. My two children in the States are still recovering from the sudden loss of their father in February and so I didn’t want to alarm them….and given that I was so tired, and occupied with tests, etc. I wasn’t up to people visiting me.

I did let my children know after three days….Since then they have been so very supportive and have told me not to do that again……

Brecon Beacons – Wales – watercolour

Since leaving the hospital, the support I have received has been wonderful….all of which I am very grateful for.

I suppose I am a little like a cat…..when I get sick, I tend to hide and nurse myself…..:) I even asked my dear friend Gail in Kent if I could hide out in their yurt. It hasn’t come to that, yet, but it seems like a good idea to me.

My aftercare has been excellent and is ongoing. Still lots of tests…including heart scans…. It’s all quite fascinating.

Church Path – Crickhowell – watercolour

I was asked by a good friend yesterday what has been the most important part of my life. My answer ‘creativity’.

It is this one element that has made sense of everything else and has enhanced and nurtured the great joys in my life, – my children, friends, animals, etc. It has also been a great buffer against the trials and tribulations that we all experience through life’s journey.

Those who read my blog will know that I am always banging on about ‘The Creative Process being the key to Emotonal, Physical and Spiritual Wellbeing’. It’s true.

watercolour /gouache

This experience has given me cause for much reflection.

Painting, writing, gardening, and all sorts of other creative endeavours will take precedence.

Much more time spent communing with Mother Nature……

As little time as possible in cities……

And I definitely need to organise my life so that I can have a cat again…..:)

Christeve the Cat – watercolour/gouache

Fortunately I don’t have anything on my calendar until October….and so my plan is to just hang loose. Each day I am able to do more writing and painting….and as I said earlier am feeling better all the time.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer and keeping well….and of course being creative.

A Bientot

Janet

Four weeks in beautiful Brittany…Part 1

I have decided to split this blog into two parts.       The first part will be an overview of my four week stay in Brittany.     The second part,  will focus on what our leaving the EU means to me and my many European friends.

When I began writing this blog nearly fourteen years ago, I made a commitment not to talk about politics.      However,  back then none of us had any idea of the madness we would find ourself in today!

After my recent trip, and then the commemoration of D Day and everything it stands for, I am moved to write on a more in depth personal level.

First the overview.

Separated by the English Channel, this map shows our close proximity to northern France.    Map - English ChannelI took the EuroStar train  (one of my favourite forms of travel) from London to Paris which takes two hours and twenty minutes.       From Paris Nord the metro to Paris Montparnasse where I caught the TGV to Lorient.       My dear friend Elisabeth was waiting to take me to the cottage at Lamor-Plage .      Everything on time, and very comfortable and if you book way ahead of time, inexpensive.

Elisabeth – in the cottage garden20190515_130110I first met Elisabeth when I was living in Crickhowell (AKA The Magical Town of Crickadoon) Wales almost thirty years ago and subsequently really got to know her when I had an exhibition in Brittany in 1995.        She is an amazing woman involved in many different areas always helping other people.    She is a good friend.

The poster from that exhibition28701436_10156170620555396_5832736884418070645_oI can’t feature Elisabeth without showing  her dog dear little Nouchka.     Nouchka is very special…..I love her:)20190527_190545The lovely cottage I stayed in came about because of Elisabeth.   When I was with her in March 2018, we had lunch with her friend Nicole, who just happened to mention that her son  had a cottage for rent……the rest is history.61452683_10157261746160396_3668991356094644224_oAnd to add icing to the cake – I arrived at the cottage to find all sorts of goodies, courtesy Elisabeth and Nicole…..a lovely welcome 60333444_10157206747210396_869104246006480896_oDuring my first week, French actress Patricia Pekmezian joined me and was kind enough to sit for several portrait studies.    We had a really lovely time together and talked at great length about the arts and life in general……

watercolour61676983_10157279497840396_5977241380945133568_o   watercolour/gouache20190513_084156Patricia in the cottage garden61954572_10157279495935396_6012649482175381504_oTowards the end of the month Alice Johnson arrived from the States….Another good friend and artist.    We go back many years.        We enjoyed painting together and everything else on offer….

Happy times were experienced at the Lamor-Plage beach.    Here is Alice waiting to enjoy another delicious French lunch.

20190527_150255Meanwhile,    it was so lovely to spend time by the beach and to experience the wonderful fresh air.       Patricia and I spent a day on L’ile de Groix – an island I would love to spend more time on.    There are miles and miles of amazing coastal walks to be enjoyed and of course so perfect for sketching and painting.

Patricia waiting for the ferry to take us to L’ile de Groix.20190511_100022The beach at Lamor- Plage580054b0_originalAnd then there were the wonderful musical concerts.     Brittany much like Wales is known for its love of music and we were not disappointed on this trip.       One of the concerts featured a Welsh and Breton choir….bringing home our deep connections and similarities.

Elisabeth’s partner Herve…is involved with Les Gabiers d Artimon.     As a choir they perform all over France plus more recently in Quebec, China and Russia.    Talk about wonderful ambassadors.    _1During Alice’s visit we were fortunate enough to attend a big concert in the Lorient Theatre with its one thousand seats….all filled.    The concert was uplifting and moving, and again cemented the positive ties that we in the UK have with so many of our European brothers and sisters.

Les Gabiers D’artimon performing at the Lorient Theatre. 2867_2019053011341487.jpg Then of  course there was the food…..Oh La La…….Eaten with Breton salted butter this bread is divine……...61992592_10157276804560396_3690182544344481792_nAnd the glorious patisseries that can be found in every village, town and city in France….d114f9d889e0ace18604cda0ef39966bThere is so much interesting history surrounding the area…especially involving WW2…which I will write about in my second half.

I could go on and on, but key to all of this was the amazing hospitality of the Breton people.        Beautiful people living in one of my favourite regions of France. 

I will be away for the next week or so to enjoy a very special wedding.     I  plan to write the second part of this blog after I return around the 21st June.

Don’t forget the magical hummingbirds….watercolour.

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A bientot

Janet.

I will catch up with blogs and messages after I return from the wedding.    Suit case will be packed away…and I am here for the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s time to travel…..

I am off to the School in Olhao Portugal early next week  http://www.artinthealgarve.com Then France for the month of May and after that a wedding in Georgia USA mid June.

I leave you with some sketches and photographs from Portugal….

watercolour/gouache sketch from the Saturday market Olhao Portugal 43407049_10156706179130396_6856048434814648320_oClare sketching on the Island of Armona – a fifteen minute boat ride from the School. 18403517_10155206867690396_5892022252939504336_nquick watercolour sketch – Culatro island 20-11-15 - 1 (63)A simple and lovely lunch of grilled fish on the Island of Armona. L1080100watercolour – steps in Olhao Portugal 20-11-15 - 1 (936)The 150 year old olive tree in the School courtyard Olhao Portugal  10295235_10152370607180396_8634046936488294426_oOne of the many characterful faces of Olhao Portugal.     Olhao is a working fishing town. watercolour20-11-15 - 1 (199)Dancing and music during the Saturday market – Olhao Portugal 12916733_10153992590920396_3025259967763687254_oRapid watercolour of sun setting in Portugal P1160789Jazz at Cantaloupe Jazz Cafe, Olhao Portugal.    Excellent for sketching .20180923_185441A sun drenched wall with trees – Olhao Portugal 20190128_112330I leave you with colourful magical hummingbirds….   watercolour/gouache20190108_134301A bientot

 

 

 

 

 

An Accident of Birth – short story about Sid the Boxer

I always carry a sketchbook and watercolours with me so that I can make quick sketches of the fascinating people I come across.

This short story is about one of those meetings.    The day I met Sid The Boxer.

Sid the Boxer.    watercolour  20190304_141151I first visited Barnes, SW London in August of 2005.

I was preparing to leave Wales where I had been living and working for thirteen years  to move to London, primarily for work, and to be closer to my failing elderly Mother.     It had  been suggested that I rent rooms in a house in Barnes in SW London.

This particular visit was to take a look at the area before making the move in October 2005.

On what was a lovely summer’s morning, I packed my watercolours and something to eat and went off to explore.

I found a promising place in a little park next to the river Thames between Barnes and Mortlake and set myself up on a bench.     During the next hour or so I enjoyed the sense of peace and tranquility that comes when I am painting and communing with nature.

Across the little park from where I was sitting were a group of people on another bench.    Other than this group and myself, there seemed to be no-one else around.       Eventually the group got up and began to walk towards the river and then towards me.     My first thought was that I hoped they wouldn’t want to chat with me and disturb my solitude.

As the group steered towards the river (thank goodness) one of its members broke away and came directly towards me.       He was a big man with dark glasses, drinking a large can of beer and generally looking rather disheveled.      He said ‘Hey love – you wanna paint my portrait’?     I looked at him and said ‘Actually yes – I would love to on the condition that I paint one for you and one for me‘.      I motioned for him to sit at  the end of the bench.

Clearly very surprised at my response….he actually became quite nervous.     ‘Did I mind if he drank his beer‘?   ‘Should he take his dark glasses off’?     I told him to make himself comfortable and then as I painted him he began to tell me about his life.

His name was Sid the Boxer – be was born into a gypsy travelling family and had spent most of his life in reform schools and prison.     That he had only recently been released from Wandsworth Prison for attempted murder.   Banned from every pub in Barnes and surrounding areas, he basically spent most of his time wandering around with his friends during the day time, until they could return to their hostel.

As dangerous as this might sound, I knew instinctively, intuitively that there was nothing to be afraid of.       I learned that Sid had a daughter who he hadn’t seen for over thirty-five years.   Sid had been a very good boxer and he went on to tell me this talent had kept him alive and given him respect when in prison.   It had been his protection.

As we came to the end of our time together, he asked if I had gone to a special school to learn to be an artist.    I told him that I had gone to the Medway College of Arts in Rochester Kent, and he exclaimed with great delight.   ‘That’s where I went to Borstal’ – (a boys reform school for the uninitiated)”!

We shook hands and Sid the Boxer left with his sketch and I kept mine.     As I thought about our meeting, I recognised what an accident of birth our start in life is.   In the random nature of things, Sid had been dealt a tricky hand, however he used his best attribute, that of being a boxer to survive.

Wherever Sid the Boxer and his sketch is, I send him this magical hummingbird, and hope that he is able to drink from some of the sweet nectar of life – if not in this life, maybe the next……..

20190117_095823The moral to this story, is to never leave home without a sketchbook…..You never know what interesting person you might meet……

A Bientôt.

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intangible healing of creativity

“The creative process in all its many forms is the key to emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.”   Janet weight reed

My hummingbird imagery symbolises the unseen and intangible in our world.    Just because we can’t see or touch something doesn’t mean it’s not there or is having a profound effect on our lives.

20190218_111017The Aboriginals, Native Americans and many other indigenous peoples around the globe have a deep understanding of our spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to the land.       They believe all of life as it is today, human, animal, bird and fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships.       They understand fully the importance of land management care towards our health and overall wellbeing. 20190219_073051It seems that many people today,  young and old from all sectors of society,  are experiencing physical and emotional illnesses and distress.         Given our fast pace of life and that so much of the world’s population is now plugged into technology of one kind or another, is it any wonder  that our collective senses are being deadened?

 

 Technology has changed the whole world dynamic. 

 

In this fast watercolour sketch from Portugal last October, everything within the image is interconnected.    There are no starts and stops…no beginning and no ending, rather a continual flow.

20180930_125738Feeding our senses by spending time in the natural world, is healing.   However, like all good medicine, it needs to be enjoyed on a consistent  basis.

Many have forgotten the simple pleasure of sitting beneath a tree and how restorative it is.    14435032_10154437102300396_4492475642371147944_oI have been listening to a radio programme about the power of the placebo…and how it has been shown time and time again to cause a sense of wellbeing even though the recipient is fully aware that they are taking a sugar pill.     This has everything to do with mind, body connection.

27164538_10156023231000396_5682597220846199362_o     This photograph was taken on a hot day last October on my friend’s farm in Portugal.   I had just finished teaching a course and needed time to relax, focus and meditate.     Once I began to sketch and most importantly open my senses to all that surrounded me, within minutes I felt calm and refreshed. DSC_6669When we immerse ourselves into the creative flow, our minds are taken into what I call deep time.     A place that is totally different from our clock watching, rushing to the next appointment type of time.       An intangible sense of calmness and wellbeing ensues.   We return to what we were designed for – being part of nature and engaging our senses.

Portugese children on Armona Island playing with shells….20-11-15 - 1 (913)    Trying to exist in this brave new world and finding a space for creativity, in all its many forms….might sound impossible.

I have raised a family and worked all my life and like most people have lived through some very stressful times.      I have learned that if I simply stop….and give myself some soul food each day, I am immediately calmed and feel a sense of well being.    Soul food time enriches and supports everything else we need and have to do in life.

It costs nothing.   It doesn’t mean major life changes.     It simply means addressing the part of ourselves that is in desperate need for daily food. 46361144_10156801851710396_7419123831345774592_oOne hugely important factor so often overlooked is that of populations growth.

I was born in London in 1946, right after World War 2.     At that time the world population was approximately two and a half million.    Today the world population is seven and half million and rapidly rising. 20-11-15 - 1 (135)This tells me that more than ever before we need daily soul food and to renew our connection with the natural world. 

If we don’t give ourselves this precious time, we are doomed to be like hamsters running around a wheel…..feeling utterly frustrated and exhausted, and at the same time achieving very little. 

I made this quick sketch when visiting my son and his partner on their farm in Pennsylvania last spring.     Their neighbours are Amish.      We have much to learn from such people. 20190125_123816From Buddhist Offerings….

‘We see that life, composed of this mind and body, is in a state of continual constant transformation and flux.      There is always the possibility of radical change.    Every moment – not just poetically or figuratively, but literally – every moment we are dying and being reborn, we and all life’ 

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A bientôt

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk –   The Apple Exercise. 

I have just re-read Virginia Woolf’s  – A Room of One’s Own.     It has been at least forty years since I last read it.   Back then it didn’t resonate with me in the way it does today.  .

 

Magical hummingbirds for Mary Oliver

The American poet and writer Mary Oliver (1935-2019)  died last week.    However her soul and spirit will live on in her beautiful and evocative words.

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She asks her reader    

‘Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life…..’  

20190115_094047She reminds us that material stuff clutters our lives.

“I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things……”

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We are reminded of the importance of giving time, power and energy to that which we love and feel passionately about.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”20190115_092149

“You do not have to be good.   You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.   You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…….”20190120_145359

In this poem she speaks of her intense love for Mother Nature and the smallest of birds flying among the scarlet flowers……..and that she cannot wait to be the hummingbird……26733700_567669383565711_6812376656265793633_n

Thank you Mary Oliver for showing us how to drink from the sweet nectar of life….like the magical hummingbirds.

20190117_095809A Bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

http://www.artinthealgarve.com

Approaching Christmas with childlike, wide eyed wonder……..

Yesterday I was on the bus returning home from Kingston upon Thames.     Most people were carrying large shopping bags and looking pretty exhausted and fed up…..and then quite spontaneously three little children began to sing Christmas carols….and everyone smiled and began to talk to one another.   Everyone’s mood changed…………

watercolour/gouache29872646_10156236175455396_8857424718959096304_oIt”s so easy to get caught up in all the adult stuff.       I remember very well when my own children were young and being responsible for putting on Christmas celebrations with all the trimmings.     Quite often, the real meaning and essence of the celebration was lost,

It would seem that for the most part we humans insist on making life complicated and in doing so forget the pure joy of simple pleasures.

Millie visiting my studio and being caught up in all the colour and magic. P1110644Capucine – a little girl I painted in France this year.    Her eyes were filled with wonder and curiosity  20-11-15 - 1 (1449)

Look at the amazement and curiosity in the eyes of these little Amish boys who had come across a field camera his week in Pennsylvania.      They had no idea what it was or what the flashing light indicated….but were clearly amazed and filled with wonder.    (My son sent me this picture from a friend’s farm). 1397175_10200103094498419_1961274517_oAs adults we don’t have to give up our childlike ways – in fact I believe that a fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child.    The child-like wonder that still lives within us is what keeps us filled with the promise of the unexpected, the spontaneous.

dancing hummingbirds – symbolising the unseen magic in our world……watercolour10841985_10152900246405396_684849903434205677_oIt would seem that it is the simple elements of life that give us all great pleasure.     Singing, dancing, giving to those in need, being part of a community and laughter….and of course a simple smile can change the day for so many people.  

Christmas decorations at Hampton Court Palace. trees hcp I hope that everyone enjoys a Christmas with elements of spontaneity and joy and of course some really good food:)

I will spend the holidays with friends and then my daughter Christie arrives from the USA on the 27th December and will be here with me to celebrate the new years.    What a gift.

May magical hummingbirds surround us all.    26758187_10155992367365396_6811764365978108756_o

A bientot

http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk