Thursday, 8 August 2013

Becoming Katy Cambridge

Another beautiful day in Cornwall! And being forced into staying at home to wait for a wedding gift delivery from Abe's Grandad Robin, has given me the perfect opportunity to sit and write. And I have needed this self-therapy for a few weeks.
So, here I sit, in the shed, looking out the window over the piles of clutter that are obscuring the view; washing hanging on the line: his and hers. Fairy lights dangling: an addition to the garden that we purchased together. Plant pots filled with growing vegetables: there to feed us.
Being engaged has been a two year, long process. A process involving positive and negative experiences that come like the waves of the great blue sea. Quite often, I would listen to other people's conversations who had found themselves in the waiting line to becoming married. A common theme of discussion seems to be:
"Will this change anything?"

At first, I thought "Not a lot, no."

Then I thought "Perhaps a little, yes."

And then, today, whilst going through online articles to suss out whether having anxieties and cold feet before getting married is normal (it, apparently is), I realised that:

"Actually, this changes quite a lot."

A fundamental issue that had been bubbling up behind a cupboard door was the idea of leaving my past behind.


A gust of wind has blown that door right open!

Leaving the little girl, who loved climbing trees, playing with her dog, fighting with her brothers, needing her Mummy and Daddy behind is the issue that has bubbled out of the cupboard door and is now resting on the carpet in front of me.

Becoming a wife, for me, means just that. Leaving my history at bay and beginning a new journey with a new person - that person becoming my family. Of course, I know that I will be able to be with my family and be part of my family whenever I want to be. But marriage is something else: it is signing up to being the one who supports another, to being responsible, to becoming a duo rather than a singular or as part of a pack. And, dare I say it, it is preparation for creating a loving space to raise a family.

I have gathered a large cloth and am beginning to mop up the issue from the carpet and ring it out in a bucket.

"Katy Port, is going to become Katy Cambridge." I tell myself.

Becoming Katy Cambridge means a world of new opportunities, of new love...

and it means acceptance of leaving behind Katy Port. 

Still an element of question at the unknown, this isn't an issue that can be completely mopped up in the writings of one session. It is all part of the epic journey of life.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Parachute Silk: Portholes

Parachute Silk: Portholes: To her home was less a house of cold stone and mortar, rather the warm wooden hollow of a hull. Drab, moth-nibbled curtains became whit...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Beloved C

Once again, she has landed. Feet, almost firmly placed on the floor under the table she sits at. It is decorated with a Guatemalan table cloth, rich with wild bright colours ranging from pulsating plum to orgasmic orange. To her right, a column of dangling Indian elephants with a bell at the bottom that gives off a sound much like the bells worn by the cows she had seen and met in India. Next to that, a picture frame which is filled with memories from her adventures with her fiancé. A fiancé who is overseas enjoying his own adventure: a life away from the rat race. A Tamil 'Om' sticker on the window to the left, golden in the Cornish winter sunlight is a reminder of her own journey to discover and experience. An easy wipe kitchen cover with map of the world is used by the cat as a place to sit as she stares out of the window and watches as the seagulls attempt to dive bomb exposed bin bags. Behind her, a series of postcards bought with love but never sent. A reminder of the people that fill her heart with joy and how she must do all she can to show them they are treasured. Pictures on the front of Koalas, kangaroos, stunning sun sets and sea life. Australia is the place she had just returned from. And now, after a year dotting herself around the planet, she finds herself, once again, in her little white shed at the top of a hill in her little Cornish town. She looks up and reminisces with a smile. On the wall in front of her: a black and white picture of her and her very good friend Carmel from years back on a back packing holiday in France- memories of a care-free existence where fun was the main objective. Their first time away together. Bags, well over 20kg weighed them down, two budget tents and a twinkle in their eyes. They were just beginning a life of their own. From school, to college, to university to here. This is where they found themselves unknowing of what the world truly had to offer them. This is where life began: the first steps of exploration.
Four years on from then and the girls - now women holding on to their childhood, met again in Australia and warmed themselves in the flame that has been keeping their friendship going for so long. Fun and enjoyment in discovering their connection again was the focus. There were more stories to share, more lessons that had been learnt, a better understanding of the world around them and themselves and a yearning to do more, see more, learn more, be more. Who knows where these two will find each other in years to come, who they will be, what they will love. What is known, is that when they do, they will dance in the same flame and keep each other warm until the next encounter
A life is ahead of them that will weave its way over this beautiful planet. A life where they are not restricted by anything at all but instead embrace the opportunities that are given to them: chances to learn, love, develop, grow.
How lucky they are.

To my beautiful C. Thank you for being a constant shining star and taking up residence in my heart box. Here's to our future adventures.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Time Has Come...

The whiskers on the dog twitch as the ceiling fan oscillates above us, the sound created is similar to that of a ticking clock, reminding me that time is passing very slowly. The air here is humid and the furniture is old. I have found myself here again, perhaps fourteen years since the last time. In Florida. Strange and bizzare Florida. I can never be sure why my Grandmother moved here, but it seems the lifestyle and the temperature agree with her. She sits on the sofa in front of me, her face obscured slightly by a small bamboo pot plant and watches a very loud, brash and slightly terrifying 'Family Fortunes'. I sit back behind the plant, take a deep breath to centre myself and remove myself partially my the noise created by the television and begin to write. 
The first five months of 2012 have been rich in substance and variety. I have worked and travelled with friends and with Abe in places I had only dreamt of being in. I have found myself in situations that have challenged me and caused me to see, question and understand myself more intimately. With people around me I have felt alone, when I have been physically alone, I have felt peace like never before and vice versa. I have pushed myself beyond any boundaries and discovered much more about the insides of my mind: about what really makes Katy tick.

During my brief adventure around some of Central America and a teeny weeny bit of North America, I have been pondering over some of the discoveries I made in the three months I had spent previously in India.

I had spent the entire of my early twenties worrying about what I was 'supposed' to be doing with my life and consequently avoiding enjoying my creativity. In India, for some reason, I learnt to calm my mind. I learnt the true value of giving up the search for the next great thing and began focussing completely on the moment. No more did I spend my nights sleepless over the concern for my lack of career and apparent lack of direction. No more. In fact, the more I chilled out, the more I found myself picking up a pencil to draw, a paintbrush to paint, a torn piece of tin foil to mould in my hands. 

I enjoyed being creative for enjoyments sake. I have not made money from my art or creations - something that in the past concerned me. I now realise that money is an abstract idea and cannot provide me with the happiness I sought in it. My creativity comes straight from my heart and is made to share with those I love. I am privileged to have been given the time to make these discoveries. In a world that can seem detached, I learnt to reattach. I discovered that my life is simple, as are my needs. But there was something still to be learnt. 

Since travelling around parts of Central America with friends and my fiancé, where I met an abundance of intriguing characters, I have returned home with every story, every encounter, every moment, metaphorically pinned to my skin as a Brownie badge to remind me of the joy that exists when existing in bliss. Living minimally from a back pack, eating delicious fruit from the hands of those who grew it, taking in the colours of the hand dyed wools and rubbing my fingers along the rough texture of aged wooden doors with huge iron hinges: I felt each moment was real and I was there to be in each moment entirely. I learnt to live to my full capacity - to live right now. 

I was fortunate to travel so freely. I left behind the self that never felt good enough to succeed and returned with a new self who learnt to relax and remove her concerns of failure and self pity. My time here is valuable. It is precious. I know that if I want my life to happen as I feel it should, I can make it do exactly that. Exist in contentment.

When I sleep, I dream of temples. I stand at the top of Temple IV in Tikal and look across the distance in awe: a forest has grown around the Mayan ruins where now only their peaks can be seen. My dream virtigo keeps me a metre from the edge but I still smile as a breeze washes over my face and through my hair. I dream of India, of the temples there where communities gather to share in each other's beliefs. Om in my ears and a pinch of red turmeric dabbed on my forehead. I feel along the carvings of the Hindu Gods, the stone is warm under the palm of my hands. I dream that I am back in Oaxaca and San Cristoba in Mexico, bartering and laughing with cheeky ladies who are selling their crafts. Sitting on the roof top of the hostals and watching as the sky turns pink and the sun sets behind the distant mountains, sharing a beer with old and new friends. I dream that I am sat on the edge of Rasta Roy's boat on the Caribbean waters, about to dive in to the warm, crystal blue waters below, ready to make friends with glittering and colourful fish. I dream of laying down on a pontoon on with Abe, the water underneath us is a mysterious cloudy white, the sky above is black and sprinkled with stars that feel so close I could reach up and grab them. I dream I am next to him, holding his hand and rubbing his fingers gently with mine. I wake up and I am back in my bed at home in the Shed and Abe is still there. He is asleep and our hands are clasped together. 

I see that my path is written a centimetre ahead of my footsteps. Keep close to it, don't drag your feet nor try to run: you may just lose yourself.

Thank you Satish Kumar

A new boost of motivation was injected into me at Sunrise festival this year when I attended a talk by Satish Kumar. A group of people formed in a small tent at the top of the festival site: all there to listen to one man speak. Intriguing I thought. I perched on the outskirts of the group and listened in to this small and slightly weathered Indian man talk. His eyes moved across the crowd and sent waves of electricity through all of us. Lightening! Though his speech was calm, his message was strong. He repeated a saying that I love very much, "Be the change you want to see in the world" which he then followed on with his own inspiring words to encourage anyone and everyone to contribute their efforts to live more compassionately with our brothers, sisters and planet. 

Since then, I felt an urge in myself to write some words down the line of a page...

And who am I
to sit and weep
while you alone
No home to sleep?
Who am I
to want for more
when your only hope
is to not be poor
To live your life
as free (?) as I do
The girl who is
juxtaposed to you.
Who am I
to dare to see
myself as individuality.

You are me
And I am you
Our lives are weaved, tangled.
It is true.
We make one
We all do.
The beauty and the magic
The pain. It is tragic.

This moment shared
Is special and raw.
No other moment
like this
has been before.

Now is the second
that we realise
that compassion
and love
will open our eyes
to opportunities
and chances
that show us what's real:
Take this moment to
burst open the seal.

You are not solo
Not alone
Not one
You are forever
Forever is your son.

It is time we see
that he is me
and she is he
and I am me.
The capacity
to be
entirely free.

my mother
my brothers
my father
my lover
my friends in Africa, India, Belize.

We are not alone in our struggle to survive
The choices we make while we're alive
Are important and impact ALL of us!

So take it slow
Next time you buy chocolate
buy fair trade
Value our unique Human Race.
Adapt just a little
(Not too much)
Think of the hearts
That you can touch.

Who am I?
This English girl?
I am the fountain of life
I'm the world
I am within
I grow on your skin.
I am the DNA that has built us to win
to sin
to fall in.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

Give this a watch if you have a moment, I think you will enjoy. He seems a very content man.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Warrior Nana

After having spent six weeks travelling around Central America on a whirl wind adventure of exploration into new places, cultures and into the cogs that put my relationship into motion, it was finally time to go and spend some quality time with my Nana Thelma in Florida. For over thirty years she has lived in a small retirement village in Lakeland, Florida which has meant only a handful of moments have been spent with her during the past twenty-six years. As the mother of my mother, I am already fortunate to have a natural bond with her meaning that every time I walk in a room and she is there, I feel like I have come home. It is the exact same feeling I have with my own Mum. Both of these women, my Mother and my Nana have very similar traits - and I'm starting to learn that I do too. For example, while my Nana T was making sandwiches yesterday, I watched with intrigue: the way that the tuna mayonnaise was put together was exactly the same way that I had been taught by mum. A little salt, a little pepper and some vinegar to add to the taste. Simple but Delectable and exactly how I would do it. It has made me ponder about how many other similarities and differences we may have.I'm sure the short week I will spend here will shine a light on a few of these things.

Now I have become a grown-up (questionable I know),  I have felt a stronger urge to come and spend more time getting to know this incredible woman Thelma. Thelma the Trooper. She's survived a stroke which left her having to re-learn even the most basic skills, a struggle that took over a year to overcome and where she was without speech for six months. She was so determined and so strong that she found within herself, the power to paint again (she was the most skilled painter before the stroke) and is now at the same level of skill that she was before. A few years of peace and then Nana noticed a slight pain in her tummy. She made a visit to the GP and after a few tests was told that she had bowel cancer. Devastating news. But, she soldiered on and with the help and support of those around her, she took the cancer on and beat it. I hated that I could do nothing for being so far from her but was comforted by the knowledge that people were really, and truly caring for her. I know my Mum felt the same. About a year ago, Nana T's second husband Texan Jim, who cared for Nana in her darkest hours, had an accident whilst he was in hospital and he sadly passed away. I remember him for telling incredibly bad jokes. I once got him a Bad Joke Book as a Christmas present and have noticed it in Nana's house since I've been here. It's spine is all bent and it seems that book had some good use. Nana had lost her first husband, my Granddad about twenty or so years ago.

Now you'll see her zipping around her village in her golf buggy with her little dog Mitsy (who will be three years old in a few days) saying hello to all of her visor wearing, very tanned and very wrinkled friends around the pool, popping out for a bite to eat at her local haunt 'The Moose' and going for a bit of a shop on a Sunday in her Ford car. She may perhaps be struggling with her arthritis and a few other ailments, but this woman is a strong one. She has a wicked smile, twinkling eyes and a raspy laugh that I remember from childhood. From Thelma, I have seen and discovered a new form of mental strength that I never knew possible.

Friday, 30 March 2012

I sit on the roof of the house in Ambattur OT, the sun is low in the sky illuminating everything around me with an amber glow; the tops of palm trees are visible from where I am sat and droop wearily after another day enduring the Indian heat. The floor is dusty and dirties my feet; the washing line, draped with colourful bed sheets is held up with a single wooden post and tangles and untangles itself dancing with the breeze. I push my legs forward, cross my feet in front of me, lean back on to my hands, look up to the sky and my mind drifts.
Two and a half months here in Chennai; two months in South India and just over three weeks until I board the return flight back to the UK. As if having a flashback in the moments before death where one recalls their entire life, I see and feel every experience I have had in India so far. And then I ponder over what will come next.

The Work

I have spent the first two months here working on a Youth Livelihood Project. My role was split into two: one part involved me leading the junior volunteers and supporting them with with their work: a role I felt comfortable with. The other involved me researching the content to go into the Livelihoods module which would be taught to out of school youths around Tamil Nadu. This I was a little more nervous about. I worked mostly on my own and in the beginning was very uncertain of what I was supposed to be doing. Working with my Indian team was an experience: lots of laughing but at times, tedious.
My boss, with his wicked smile and intense stare used metaphors and similes in every conversation. To make any point, he would tell a huge story about something seemingly irrelevant and by the time it got to the point, I had lost track of what he was trying to say. Combined with his impossible accent, this made my start with the charity quite slow. In time, I got to understand what was being asked of me and even began taking on the Chennai accent in my own way.  I carried out needs assessments in different areas of Tamil Nadu to try and understand the needs of those I would be working with. From this I began to understand the direction of the work I would be doing. It soon began to flow; like a smooth running river with a destination to get to and a deadline to meet; like a roll of fresh green turf spread across a new lawn. It was great; I enjoyed this new found flare in myself. I believe it is called professionalism. I thrived on it, took on challenges and embraced new ideas. Seeing myself in this role reminded of my capacity and potential to achieve all that I aim to achieve; it reminded me to overcome my barriers and endure to see the truth.

A bump in the road...

A week before I was due to deliver this module to the junior volunteers, my time had come to suffer the dreaded Delhi belly that I had long heard of. And it was worse than I could ever imagine. My body, pale and exhausted, took no nutrients and had no desire to. For just over a week I was very unwell. I sat in a bed next to another of the volunteers who suffered the same ghastly illness, we kept each other company for just over a week. The training was postponed. By the sixth day of this feverish parasite illness that sapped all of my energy, I made the decision to go to hospital. I was weak and dizzy and vaguely remember stuffing my rucksack with many irrelevant items and a clean pair of pants.Vadivelan had called me an auto rickshaw, My Knight in Shining Armour. He, a solid block of a man with a heart as gentle as a purring kitten and a smile bigger than his face, took my hand and led me to the vehicle. Phew! We sat together as the auto rickshaw buzzed through the streets of Velore, dodging big trucks, cows, cyclists and chai stalls; the noise of the city was lost to me. My head was a space where no sound entered and no thought was created. I felt numb.
We arrived at the hospital nearby and floated in to the waiting room. After a few minutes we were seen to. I'm not sure when it began, but soon after we had arrived, I began sobbing quietly to myself. The doctors, nurses and Vadivelan reassured me all was well, but all I could do was weep. I wept because I was weak and I wept because I was scared. The hospital, as lovely as the staff were, was not in the most hygienic state. Grunts, sniffles and moans later and I was eventually moved to a bed. A bed in a nice, clean room. My nerves calmed and I lay down on the bed and took a deep breath. A nurse called Girija came into the room like an angel from heaven, she held in her hand my new supply of life: an I.V. saline drip. In the needle went into the pumping blue vein in my right forearm, a stab of pain. Then the drip was attached my a long thin tube to the needle jutting out from my arm. I watched as the liquid slowly made its way from the bag to where the tube met the needle and I sank deeper into the bed. Relaxed. I knew that in a matter of a few hours, this horrible illness would leave my body; I would be able to eat, drink and sleep without the worry of being ill again.

Back on track...

I was now behind on my work, but very eager to complete it speedily in order to give the training the next day. A day on the computer in a small and sweaty internet cafe, costing 75 rupees helped me to gather some extra information and I was ready.

I delivered the module to the junior volunteers in one day. There was a lot of information to take on board but I felt one day was sufficient for them to receive that information. I felt relaxed in the delivery and though there were areas that could be adapted, it was mostly successful. It was an experience that has helped me to feel more comfortable in the role of 'facilitator'.
The junior volunteers took on what they needed and planned to prepare their resources to go in to the field. They were equipped with lesson plans and materials to help them carry out workshops in rural communities to help empower unemployed youth and teach them new skills such as; soft skills, Career/Business Development, CV writing, Interview skills and information on Government Schemes available to them.

After a week of preparing their resources, the junior volunteers prepared to head out to work in their communities. I joined fellow West Country girl, Katie to her allocated group near Chenglepet. Three train journeys, a bus ride and ride on the back of a motorbike and arrived in Mullipakum, a small rural village near to Chenglepet. I had visited before to carry out the needs assessment of the area and was happy to return. It was beautiful; beyond words, it was truly beautiful.

Aside from the work we would be starting here, this space, this community is where my heart was yearning to be in India. Similar to my life changing moments in Africa, I had found myself here in Mullipakum, with real people. Real, raw and simple. It was life stripped bare of all pretense. It was pure.

I awoke in the morning to the sun in my eyes and a peculiar noise in my ears. I peeled my body away from the plastic covered mattress, rubbed my eyes and noted a green parrot sitting at the window; I smiled. It squawked proudly from its perch a song missing its harmony, then off it swooped across the lush green fields of rice. I followed it as it flew, my eyes touching on new images with every second; men and women, draped in sarees and lungis bent forward in the fields, huge, horned bovine being pulled by tiny old ladies, goats and chickens running freely, palm trees reaching high in to the sky, hairy coconuts littered on the ground underneath them, a stream of irrigation water with no sign of pollution in it. The air was fresh.

The week I spent in Mullipakum was the best I have spent in India. This is where I am happy. No noise from over populated cities; just peace. No pollution littering every free space available with smells that burn like acid through my skin. No people shouting, touching, staring aggressively. It was entirely peaceful. And the people I did meet had a calming effect on me. Of course they were interested by the strangers in their village, but there was no anger in their eyes; no fear. We were existing together in this village with a language that consisted of smiles and energies that exuded warmth.

During the days we would meet with people in the village:
We visited a local farm where we played with animals and ate with the family who lived there. We walked through their fields of watermelons and beans and played volleyball (embarrassingly poorly) with their children. The kindness of these people grabbed me by the heart and left a hand print that will always be with me.

We traveled by hitching rides in the trailers of tractors and ate slices of watermelon from roadside stalls. At 2 rupees a piece, it would have been a sin not to indulge.

We visited schools and played games with the shoe less children who with their gap toothed grins showed joy at our presence. We shared words by pointing out objects and animals and named them in English and Tamil. We played games of 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' and 'The Hokey Kokey' and enjoyed every minute of it; myself, I feel, more than the children.

In the evenings we worked with our Livelihoods Group. With a focus on Career Development, Soft Skills, CV Writing and Interview Skills, I observed the sessions and facilitated others and loved the process of seeing everyone in the group develop in confidence. The junior and national volunteers included.
To see what I had planned in action and to see it working effectively with all participants being engaged, I felt a sense of pride wash over me that helped to build my confidence and has enabled me to see my potential even further. This weeks achievements will stay with me and guide me throughout the course of my life: I am capable.

On the last night, after an interactive and engaging session on Interview Skills, one of the girls, Ramini, presented us with red roses from the bush outside of her house. They were tied to branches of pine trees with white twine; I felt the importance in this occasion. We all stood together and Ramini spoke; she expressed her happiness at us coming to her village and her original fears of having strangers come to teach; she told us that the skills we had taught are invaluable to them and will stay with them always; she said she felt like she has gained sisters and she was sad to see us leaving. A small tear trickled town from my left eye and I brushed it away. I shared with them words and Katie did too. I was grateful to have shared a moment of their life with them; Their life so pure, so innocent, so different in just a small moment has assisted me in my journey in an incredible way. In them I see a peacefulness that is attainable within everyone.

In this country, I hoped to develop myself spiritually and do so through meeting people who could talk to me about the way they live their lives. Though my experience here has involved struggles and strife, I have also had the opportunity to be involved in situations with have provided me with a deeper insight in to the lives of those who live simply and within their means. Inspirational and thought provoking.

I have learnt in India.

I came here with certain objectives I felt needed to be met whilst in this country. I have been drawn to India for many years and I felt it could help me to understand new ways of seeing and understanding the world. This restlessness within myself has been calmed in the last few months as I have realised that I need not be in any particular place to feel complete. I was forever searching and through encounters with people here in India, I have learnt to stop that search. All I need is right here with me. There is of course more knowledge to be gained, more experiences to be had, but these come with time. I do not need to wish for them to hurry along.

I feel very relaxed.

The sun is setting in the distance over the houses of Ambattur and the night sky is becoming visible. I get up from where I have been sitting, stretch up high, reach towards the sky, stand on my tiptoes then touch back down onto my heels. I walk towards the steps to leave the roof. I turn back to where I had been sitting, smile and leave.