Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, October 21, 2011


Awen (noun): poetic inspiration. From the Indo-European root *-uel, meaning 'to blow'.

I love the concept of awen. A wind blowing through your soul, bringing inspiration in its wake. I've only recently discovered the term, in reading about modern Druidic tradition amongst many other explorations of pagan paths. It immediately spoke to me, like few other concepts in any tradition have ever done. I know that feeling intimately, and seeking it forms a big part of my own search for a spiritual identity. For me, without spirituality there is no awen, and without awen there is no spirituality. The sense of connectedness and transcendence is something I have sought since I was young.

Music has always been one of my sources of awen. When listening I find it in music of all genres, from classical to new age to Enya to ordinary pop/rock ("Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel and "Steer" by Missy Higgins are perfect examples). I also find moments of it when singing or playing an instrument in a group - those moments of transcendence when the ensemble combines perfectly and the music itself seems to come to life. It's one of the major reasons why I still love Anglican church services - there is a magic in massed voices that defies artificial boundaries between faiths.

The natural world, and its weather and the turning of its seasons, has always been my biggest source of awen, and it is what led me to paganism. Red berries against a blue sky, sunlight across the plains, a crayfish scuttling under a riverbank, the wind in my hair, mist rolling up a valley, thunder on a hot night, the first frost of autumn... when I am out there in the natural world, awen is everywhere.

Of course, the man-made world is not without awen either. Buildings that are old or odd or quirky. Artworks I like for no better reason than that they speak to my soul. (Here is one - I have seen the original in the Tate and was captivated). Crafts that are nifty or cute. An uplifting book scene or a really clever joke. When I open myself to it, awen is everywhere.

My desire to write fiction has been driven by childhood experiences of awen. It was lacking in my real life - we were not a religious family - and my main sources of it, then as now, were music, nature and stories. My formative years were shaped by books and stories told in electronic media that blew into my soul, inspiring me to act them out, extemporise, adapt and retell over and over again out in the half-acre scrap of garden and bushland that was my childhood temple. All of the books I've tried to write and the stories I've tried to tell have contained elements of this raw need to channel, create, inspire and share the sensation of awen.

Age 9, glowing with inspiration
 I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as I try yet again to put words on paper, or on screen as it is these days (and perhaps that's part of the problem). The wind of inspiration blows into me, and I come alive with the thought of the story I have to tell. I envisage it whole in my head, see it, feel it, live it out in little scenes in my mind, but when the words reach the page they seem to lose their sparkle. How do I maintain that sense of wonder, and the fierce spirit of inspiration? How do I keep the fire of awen burning for the weeks, months and years it takes to craft a novel? How do you keep your spirit glowing with purpose when you're burdened with money worries, or the toddler is being irrational, or when the housework never seems to be finished? How do you teach your heart to be open to awen every moment of every day? Not just for novel writing, but for teaching, and cooking, and keeping house, and nurturing my loved ones, and hoping and believing and growing?

What are your sources for awen (or whatever you would choose to call it)? What reminds you that it's good to be alive, or feeds your creative fires? Where do you get your inspiration?

Monday, October 17, 2011

When the grass is jewelled.

It really feels like autumn this morning, at long last. It's been getting a little cooler lately and the leaves have been falling apace, but the last two days there's been a real crispness in the air. Our outdoor thermometer said 1C when we checked it at half past six this morning, and as the sun came up the mist rolled up the valley and has blanketed our town. It's gorgeous out but very crisp!

Some pre-dawn pictures from our back door. Check out the pink contrails!

Two weeks until Hallowe'en and three to Bonfire Night... the fireworks are coming! The munchkin has been asking for fireworks since April so it's high time they arrived. We plan to set a few off ourselves as well as going to public fireworks events on both nights.

It's going to be Christmas before we know it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This will not be my wedding dress!

Today I finally got around to sitting down, leafing through all my accumulated wedding magazines (many bought before the actual engagement *cough*), and snipping out the few things I found attractive to stick onto the inspirations page in our wedding notebook. While I was perusing I came across this advert that made me snicker when I saw it a few months ago...

"Time for a new agency?" "...yup..."

This is the most hideous wedding dress I have ever, ever seen. I don't even have any words for it. The price was into the four-digits realm, too... who would pay over £1000 to look like a collision between a handbag and a ballerina?

I love the way even the models seem to be wondering WTF is going on with the dress.

Feel free to post your own caption for the picture in the comments!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Into the 130s!

My weight has been fluctuating around the 141lb mark for the past two weeks, so I was delighted to step on the scales this morning and see 139lb on it. This is a new low and very pleasing! It means I've lost 32lb, or 18.7% of my starting body weight, and have a mere 10lb left to lose before my BMI is back in the healthy zone.

I was blown away enough when I first put on a pair of size 12 jeans that fit, and I'm finding it hard to comprehend that I could get any smaller. Yet the 12s are getting looser, and yesterday in M&S - while buying a second pair of size 12s so that Ellie and I are no longer sharing hers! - I decided to try out the 10s. I slid into them thinking "they'll never go over my thighs", but they did. I pulled them on thinking "they'll never do up"... but they DID. I'm not quite there yet - they give me a muffin top - but that's where I was with size 12s only a few months ago. I know that by the time I've lost this last 10lb, I'll be fitting into size 10s easily. And I know I'm going to lose that 10lb. That feels amazing.

I had one of those serendipitous moments yesterday. It's time for me to start exercising every few days to burn up the last few pounds and tone my upper arms, tummy and thighs before they have a chance to get floppy. I knew I needed a sports bra as my next essential purchase: my old one was two dress sizes and one cup size larger than I am now (in Aussie sizes, I've gone from 16DD to 14D, and could probably go smaller again, I need to get measured). The old one offers no support whatsoever and my everyday bras aren't cut out for that. I had a £24 Debenhams voucher which was my leaving gift from my co-workers at my last school, so I headed there to see what I could find. In a moment of utter bizarreness, every sports bra in Debenhams was on special ... for £24 exactly!

So I have a nice new sports bra, and it's my first 'serious' sports bra as opposed to a reasonably well-structured and ventilated ordinary bra. What a difference it makes. I went for a jog today, and the support was amazing. Who knew jogging could be so comfortable?!

I only tried a short jog today, as it's been a year since I did regular high-cardio exercise and I'm definitely going to need to work back up to full fitness. I found it tough - my heart rate soared and I got short of breath - but I'll work on that. The good news is that my foot doesn't hurt, thanks to a better running style, flat trainers and the podiatrist's insoles. And I got a thrill when I checked the settings on my heart rate monitor and found that when I last used  it I'd had my weight set to 79kg. Resetting it to 63kg was a good moment.

It's all going very well at the moment, and I'm still amazed by it, particularly now that I'm reintroducing foods that were on the not allowed list for so long. I've brought back yoghurt, porridge, and a selection of fruits so far. And I'm still losing weight. And best of all - I'm allowed to bring back dark chocolate next. Just a little bit here and there, but... chocolate!

And it's easy to be content with only a little bit, when there's only 10lb to go :)