From the Diary #25 ~The Masks


When your inner life and outer direction grow in new ways, there is likely to come a time when the decisions you make will cause upset in the people around you.  If you’re an empathetic person, this will trigger a panic in you. You might wonder what will happen if you are no longer seen as being gentle, kind or good? You might wonder who you are if other people start to see you differently?

You look around for guidance. The people you’ve upset now surround you. They are wearing masks, masks that you yourself have worn, masks that remind you of the past and who you used to be. You are offered a mask to cover your embarrassment but that time has passed. You need to show the people around you who you are now, who you’ve become. The time for hiding who you ‘really’ are is over.

You have been working out these patterns and challenges for as long as you can remember, but now the momentum has gathered and the changes are happening quickly. You are caught in the shadows of the past: always being the good girl, conformity, letting the crazy makers run rough shod over your life. These shadows cast a darkness over the spark of light that is there to guide you. It is finally time to learn what you need to know.

You have spent your life avoiding conflict, but this has meant giving up your inner peace. But now there isn’t the option of doing nothing because the ground you stand on is a battleground. If you do not wield the sword you will be wounded by the sword. And how long will it take to recover?


So you face the masks around you and declare the next step forward in your life. You override your natural empathy because it is not safe to use here. The people who surround you see your innate compassion as a weakness to be exploited, a means to turn around your opinion in their favour.  No, not this time. You want to do what you are being guided to do, not what looks like the outwardly right thing, and not what will make other people’s lives easier.

You are clearing out your life, starting with your own brain. You are giving yourself a brainwash. You want to live in your own head prioritising your own thoughts, not what somebody else is thinking of your actions.

You want to follow the spark of light that is promising to drive you forward.

It is time to burn the masks and cast out the darkness.


From the Diary #24 ~ Creating the Creative Life

I think I’m going to have to calm the heck down. I am becoming too highly regimented, which is missing the point of the freedom I am seeking for myself. Being busy and feeling busy is a good way of never mindfully engaging with my creativity. What I need is to breathe, to think about what I’m doing and why, without a senseless powering through my day. I need to pay more attention to how I’m living.

When I write I don’t want to just type out the stuff in order to make it all go away, although sometimes that helps. I am looking for calm and a contemplative rhythm. At the moment I am very close to living how I want to, but I don’t have the ‘how I want to feel’ going on.  I mostly feel uptight and worried about time running away with me. To feel squeezed is death to my muse. Every time I set myself a strict schedule I end up with severe writer’s block. Don’t keep doing it to yourself, Claire!

But, yesterday? Oh I really tired myself yesterday thinking constantly about the future. I didn’t tether my feet to the spot and my mind went floating off, a bunch of balloons fragmenting into their single components, each single balloon now travelling hundreds of miles in different directions. It was like I had decided I wanted everything in the moment and I wasn’t prepared to wait, but all I actually ended up with was an anxious, robotic response to my do-list and a sense of dissatisfaction. I can sleep when I’m over tired but I can’t sleep when I’ve had a day like that. And when I’ve had a night of sleeplessness, for at least the next two days, nothing is right. I have to avoid that wildfire of worry and dissatisfaction in my brain like crazy. Because it is crazy. Name it for what it is.

Sometimes I think I’d like to be a simple person who gets up at 7.30, works 9-5 and doesn’t have any ambition beyond who they are now and what they are doing now. Do these people even exist?

But I do have an ambition in life, and it is more than just writing. For the past twenty years I have been trying to create a life which supports writing. I yearn for the pottering, languorous life, to creating a sense of spaciousness with which to work in. And I know that when I feel the least pressure, when I feel the most relaxed, I create my best work.

It is not nothing to create this type of life. It feels like an art in itself.

From the diary #23 ~ Everyday Sparrow Song

The past month has been a roller coaster of emotions with its upheaval of routines and identity. But already I know that I am coming out stronger and more settled to the other side and into October.

I’m starting to find a rhythm to my weekly timetable of teaching and writing, and I’m mentally stronger knowing how much I need to give to my new teaching job. The fever and heat of the last academic year are over. More and more I’m seeing my anxiety for what it is and calling it out. It is my perfectionism. It is my feeling less than. It is me trying to control my life so I can feel close to equal to those I perceive as doing so much better than me. I breathe deeply and I remind myself of the truth. I am good enough. I don’t have to retreat and hide. I can ‘turn up’. It can be done, and it can be done simply and without fuss.

And so I am trying to look after myself, making a promise to prioritise my self-care ~ taking the supplements that I need to, ensuring uv therapy, exercising (but only moderately as anything more seems to induce a euphoric over indulgence). I’m also prescribing myself at least one long walk in nature a week. Barely seems enough, does it, out of the 168 hours available?

I want to seize the day, my life, but I need to ensure I’m not seizing the nettle alongside it. The nettle is the cycle of depression and anxiety that so often accompanies my attempts to make changes.  I want to seize the day gently and without drama, just to live creatively and encompass what is good and nourishing in my life for me and those around me.

I am happy to be earning a living as a teacher, but I have changed my work path so that I can work part time and have time to write. Right now, I don’t do all the writing that I want to do in a week (will I ever?) but I am making progress in getting to the bottom of the why I am writing, and what I want to achieve. You see, sometimes I feel ashamed that I’m not inventive enough because my creativity lies so closely to my lived experience. There is a lingering feeling that what I do is closer to therapy than art, and then up pops that feeling of not-enoughness once more. But what about my creative heroes ~ Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo, Jean Rhys? Their art lay very close to their lived experiences. Were they not enough? No, there is a reason why I am drawn to them. They are a lighthouse that I navigate towards.


Today there are grey skies and a discernible mist. But tomorrow could still be blue skies and golden light once more. I am sitting here with the windows to the back of the house open, and I can hear birds singing. Sparrows, I think. An ordinary chirp that many wouldn’t stop to listen to. It’s beautiful in its insistence. Eight years ago when we first moved to this house there were very few trees along this road and for such a long time there was no birdsong, not even the unexceptional sparrow. Look how far we’ve come.



Life in Poetry #2 ~ September and the Wisdom of Cats



“Sometimes the poem
doesn’t want to come;
it hides from the poet
like a playful cat
who has run
under the house
& lurks among slugs,
roots, spiders’ eyes,
ledge so long out of the sun
that it is dank
with the breath of the Troll King.”

The Poem Cat ~ Erica Jong


“She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them.”

Black Cat ~Rainer Maria Rilke


“The cat is free;
No tether he
Will wear in circumspect…

Yet he betrays
His freedom’s ways
For one kind word and pat.”

The Cat is Free ~ Adeline Foster

“It rests me to converse with beautiful women
Even though we talk nothing but nonsense.”

Tame Cat ~ Ezra Pound


“Cats remember what is essential of days.
Letting all other memories go as of no worth
they sleep sounder then we,
whose hearts break remembering so many
inessential things.”

Inessential Things ~ Brian Patten

From the Diary #22 ~ Re-entry


from Mother Mary Oracle Cards

What if I began posting here again, without sharing why I needed to spend time away, of what I did during that time? What if I  began posting without sharing a gallery of catch up pictures?

What if I just opened a new post and wrote about how the year and my cycle of creativity has turned so that I am once again facing this site, facing the friends who come here to witness what I share?

What if I didn’t spill my blood across the page in the guise of ink, and instead I kept the struggle wrestling just beneath the words, the sentences creating enough intrigue to make you, my friend, want to join me again?

What if my writing stopped sleeping between the covers of my journal and broke free from the quiet ruled lines, the endless loop of the writer’s mind to the writer’s hand, so that the circuit was shorted by another responding heart and mind?

What if I just sneaked back into my blog, without fanfare, and began once more to chart my writing life here, to chart this new autumn cycle of my creativity?

What if I just began posting here again, without apology, without explanation?