Thursday, February 24, 2011

Colour me yellow

The sun's come out.

There's definitely spring in the air.
I can hear messmonsters laughing outside.
I am in a yellow phase

Sending a big splash of yellow to my family and friends in New Zealand who now have to rebuild again after the Earthquake. It's my way of sending Hope. Good vibes. Prayers.

If I could paint the world yellow, 
would it start to grow back beautifully?
Like spring daffodils
poking their tender, brave heads out gingerly
from the thawing Earth?

I feel like I have to try.
I'll start with splashing some around in my studio
Might be safer for us all ;-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

J'aime celui qui tente l'impossible or Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!

I have a wee secret to share. 
I'm a little embarassed to mention it actually. 
You will probably laugh. 
I am supposed to be a grown up after all. 

I'm afraid of the dark. 
(There! Now you know!)

Not the dark inside my house. 
I can still manage to function inside during an electricity cut :)
The dark outside.
The intensity of the night shadows in my garden 
pales in comparison to the intensity of my grim fear of them.
Logically I tell myself that there is no dracula, no werewolf 
waiting behind the trees to snare me and drag me away into its lair...

Maybe I've seen too many horror movies. Maybe my imagination is too over active. Whatever the reason, I've never felt comfortable wandering around my own house, or anywhere else for that matter, alone in the dark.

Every time I have ever raced non-stop 24/24, it has always been with a team. Any suggestions of the team splitting to search for a marker at night were always met with virulent objections from the wee blonde thing at the back (mmmmmoi!!). Bad enough it was being the last in line… What if I disappeared, was engulfed in the dark… Never to be seen again??? 

So what made me volunteer to run 21 kilometres through the mud, in the rain and cold, not to mention a little fog, alone last Saturday NIGHT? 

You want the truth?

It wasn't courage. Originally I didn't realise I would be running alone. I thought two of us would be collecting the race trail markers and making sure there were no stragglers on the course. And so it was for 7 kilometres - until the 20k and 46k race split into their respective courses and I veered to the right into the deep, dark forest alone, 20mts behind the last racer on the 1st half of the 46k trail that went directly past my own country cottage. 

My how welcoming that little front door looked…
Never more so!

It was 7.30pm by then and I had been running softly for an hour. The night before had been full moon so the trail should've been lit up plain as day. Were it not for the heavy rain clouds, that would surely have been the case. 

Over hill and dale, aside lake and river, through muddy fields, the bordering thorny thickets scratched insistently at my clothes like witches' claws. No one was behind me. No racers, no markers, no race controllers. The race controllers I had given leave to return to base, the markers from behind me were clutched safely under my arms ready to pass on to another controller at a further control point, I knew not when, nor where. Actually, I did know where, but I was too petrified to stop and look at my map. My headlamp being the only lonely beacon left on the landscape, each time I paused to untie the race markers from the boughs of branches, fences or electrical pylons, I felt like a target. For the next hour it seemed the darkness was pursuing me and gaining on my stumbling body minute by minute.

I could barely feel the rain pelting down my front. The cold of the incoming fog was nothing compared to the cold in my heart. After a particularly gruelling climb the length of a slippery and muddy field where the markers were so far entrenched into the mud I nearly fell trying to pull them out, two glimmering eyes peered out of the darkness at me. With my heart in my mouth - I continued moving forward, muttering to myself as I progressed, "FOR GOODNESS SAKE ANGE! YOU'RE 40 YEARS OLD!!! Joan of Arc lead an army into battle when she was but a girl!"  You can tell we're doing medieval history in homeschooling huh ;-)  "What's your problem??" As I reached the top and the edge of another wood the fox skirted off to the protection of the trees. 

Who's scared of who??

I think that's what liberated me. That poor, scared fox. All of a sudden it was like I had been scared of the 'green pants with no body inside 'em.' (In case you don't know my favourite Dr Seuss story - I've added a little animation video from YouTube below)

Then a whole new world of adventure opened up for me. The countryside I so love by day took on new shapes and forms in the dark. The fog gently enveloped me in her folds and cooled the sweat on my brow. The rain washed away my worry. The trees no longer threatened me with their shadows for those same shadows hid those to whom I was a threat. The darkness behind me was no longer rushing to engulf me, but sinking further behind. There was nothing but the sound of my own breathing in my ears.
My hearfelt congratulations go out to those who continued on for the full 46 kilometres. The last person to finish the course arrived after 3am. I raced into the welcoming light of the Abbaye de Sainte Marie du Desert, and a home made hot soup from my friends the organisers, at 10pm, after only 3.5 hours running (and stopping and running and stopping). No one was left on the first half of the course. That part of the countryside was at peace.

These were the trophies I made for the winners. 
But really, the finisher is the winner.
Next year I want to train and do the whole 46k alone in the dark.
Just to see if I can still win over myself.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Being nobody but myself - Thank you Mr Cummings!

I have just raced in, breathless from an hour's bike ride over the hills of the Gers. The fields look like huge, green, waves of earth and I just felt like this little cork struggling to bob up to the crest of each one. Victorious and grinning with each rise to the top! I  imagine I still looked somewhat akin a cork struggling and bobbing my way up the crest of each one though!!

Hehe, I would like to be more like a balloon wafting effortlessly up into the air, with not a care in the world :)

Today is a glorious day. The sun is shining, the messmonsters are outside at the neighbours horseriding and biking, and I got back to the wonderful surprise of having an hour more than I thought up my sleeve. Wooohooooo! Lucky you me!

Alors mes amis, am I going to shower straight away like I should? Then throw myself with wild abandon into the preparation of tonights vittels? 

Et NON! 
I am ALONE! 
(joyful  murmurings of a Crazy Woman!)

 I am going to firmly sit here and smell blog away to my heart's content, knowing I am not bothering anybody, then open the windows wide when I leave to pick up the possums :)

You see, I have this juicy  little piece of wisdom from E.E Cummings that I really wanted to share with you:

To be nobody but yourself 
in a world which is doing its best day and night 
to make you like everybody else 
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight


That just hit the spot for me today. 

Especially as I'm still on my Tibetan trip and they have such a gentle but fighting spirit. Speaking of, here's a little more colour for you,  in the form of the glorious Tibetan costumes from the 50th Anniversary TCV festivities held last October in Dharamsala. 

I acutally have some exciting news to tell you about my plans in Dharamsala, I've just been a little shy about spilling the beans. A splash of colour first - and I'm sure I'll be able to recount the tale in a couple of days. Let's just say I'm taking you on a colour trip first. 

Have a great mid week everyone.
Hmmm - I'd better go have that shower afterall - it's become too chilly to open the windows ;-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Others Before Self! : A Tibetan cry of colour

*@!!!*!!@&!!** (Mac Speak for ARGHHHHHHHHHHH)
  I just spent half an hour trying to be brief yet witty in my explanation as to WHY I have been having soooo much trouble posting about India, and with one false 'tap' on a key, I've wiped it all.
That will teach me two things:
1) Not to make excuses
(sheepish grin)
2) to be more present with what I am doing :)

Honestly though, the real problem is,  WHERE DO I START?

It's not just that there are 2000 photos to go through (yes, you did read right, 2000 photos in 3 weeks). It's more about the inspiration and admiration I feel each time I flick through them again. Now how do I convey this adequately to you? In chronological order? 

I could regale you with quips (a 'Mise' word that I like very much ;-) and anecdotes about missing planes and having to take buses 500km overnight after endless hours flying and a 12 hour wait in Delhi airport. You might think it interesting, or even entertaining. Even a tiny bit. 
However, it has come to my attention (through repeated frustration personal experience) that life does not happen in quite the chronological order one, or at least I, might expect!
So I'm cutting straight to the nitty gritty.
It's not about me.
It's about THIS!!

The colour, gratitude, generosity, courage and love 
that exploded forth during

The 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the

Below are a few words to describe the TCV's beginnings in a nutshell, but I strongly advise you to click on the link above to find out more. It is truly a message of dedication and strength, as well as being a testimony to the value of education (you know -  the subject I get on my high horse about ;-). 

After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, and H.H the Dalai Lama's escape to Dharamsala in 1959, many Tibetan children were left orphaned and destitute, separated from their parents during their long and arduous escape from their homeland.  On 17 May 1960, fifty-one children arrived from the road construction camps in Jammu, ill and malnourished. Mrs. Tsering Dolma Takla, the elder sister of His Holiness, volunteered to look after them. 

When her older sister sadly  passed away in 1964, Jetsun Pemma, who came to be known fondly as Amala (mother) left her studies to dedicate her life to the education of an increasing flow of orphaned Tibetan children.  Since its beginnings, the TCV has grown from one small live-in nursery school, to a number of schools spread across India. More than 34,000 children to date have been educated in both Tibetan language and culture, as well as receiving professional training so Tibetain children have a viable future not only in exile, but the day they regain their homeland.

I could go on about this forever. I have frivolous photos, slightly more arty ones (although you and I all know I'll never be a photographer) bits and bobs of colour and calligraphy from around Dharamsala that I will undoubtedly inflict on you over the next few posts. 

However these are my favourite. For the colour, yes. They vibrate with aliveness. But more importantly because they inspire me every time I look at them and remember the sincere gratitude and dedication  these children showed to H.H the Dalai Lama (yes!! I saw him up close!!), to their teachers and to Life itself.

"From the day we became refugees, our basic objective was to rise to the very place from where we have fallen down."

- H.H. the Dalai Lama

What better lesson for us, than that?

Love to you all

See you in a couple of days
I may be on a roll with this ;-)