Dear Diary; As I walked out…

Sometimes I wake up and think I’ll go for a walk…

And that I might keep going again – day after day like Laurie Lee ( and me in 2018!)… 

He inspired me when I was twenty years old, ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ echoed in my soul… Although by now my steps had become running ones, I had ‘walked out’ all my life, out into the fields behind our house, further to the woods and onto the common land…

Across to the next village and back again; walks taking three hours and more at a tender age… In Cornwall on holiday – early each morning alone I walked, by now inspired by William Wordsworth walking in the mornings around the lake – five miles or more…

One Easter Monday we walked seventeen miles to Guildford Cathedral – a group of us from the church – hours and hours it took until we looked up the hill to the cathedral standing tall and straight and red, the late afternoon spring sun shining on its windows – the organ playing inside…

And then I started to run instead of walk…

For years and years I was too tired to walk – when I wasn’t running I sat and reflected – or drove my car or took a train…

But in March 2020 when we were all locked in, walking walking and walking has all come back again…

Walking the streets and the parks with Anadi – hours and hours, each night we walked and through the weekend too.

And we haven’t stopped.

Time standing still in the step and the next…

The miles going by – the journey mirroring life – leaving it all behind as we go nowhere

The past melting into each mile and the next

No future on the walk

No purpose

No where to get to

But to be in the step and the next

And the experience of being alone together…

When I was twenty a wise person said to me about running that Van Aaken ( a renowned coach at the time) recommended walking breaks on the run. I listened to this truth, but didn’t hear it for many years…

I had somewhere to get to – the land of faster times – and I couldn’t afford to stop and walk…

But the land of faster times proved to be a chimera

I chose the best myth to chase 

My faster and faster times reached a point where they started to get slower and slower…

This irony wasn’t lost on me.

My spiritual quest of inner peace, silence, stillness always prevalent in the race to win.

And so after many many years I won my own race

I found out how to let go…

And walk out each morning – sometimes running, but with walking breaks as well; when I want, and so my soul follows the dream of the step…

Whether it is on the same well trodden routes around the parks and up the Kings road 

Or across a vast expanse of land

Spain…

Two years ago I finished my own walk out on the run – in my naked feet in the same town that Laurie Lee had ended too…I had forgotten this; not having read the book for almost forty years.

A Journalist alerted me… ‘So you chose to finish where Laurie Lee finished because he was your inspiration?’ she asked…

‘He finished in Almuñécar’? I asked with incredulity

Yes, he finished in Almuñécar too’…

Dear Diary; Full of Aliveness

Wednesday October 21st… Today it is my little sister’s birthday.

It is rather strange to have a little sister aged fifty nine years…

She will always be my little sister and we were to meet today – but London’s rules meant that she had to cancel her birthday lunch here in London Town…

And so I am now in a coffee shop alone – we spoke just now and I sang her the birthday song – she is celebrating by the sea and I am here – writing…

Both of us are where we didn’t plan to be… But still having a lovely day; together in birthday spirit but apart…

Me in a favourite place and she too – our childhood holiday destination, Hope Cove in Devon…

It feels like another life now, those days so long ago, that happened but never did! 

When we walked together along the coastal path, on the beach and body surfed in the waves – ate chocolate cake in Auntie Dorothy’s tea shop and made friends with the group of Scottish boys who taught us a mad song and how to sing it with a Scottish accent…

‘Ooh the brown troot’s gotten out and eaten all the corrrn’!

All part of the flickering screen of this life, an illusion on the screen – but real. While we are here.

The realness of our body, our separation from each other; the planet, the universe and all that there is…

This stage, the play of our life ever continuing, the curtain falling and rising again on all the different scenes…

New characters arriving and playing their part and then leaving ‘stage left’ – perhaps never to return again.

Some leading roles along with us, who of course is the star of our own show – some bit parts – or part of the chorus, the extras that wander along the streets and sit behind us in the restaurants and coffee shops lending a look of a real life occasion in our real life play…

This dream from which we can wake up at any time.

And know who we truly are

Beyond the dreaming state of illusion and emotional and psychological dramas that we continuously create…

The still small voice of calm speaks as we awaken

It speaks always

This silence, the mind quiet, all quiet and still

From within

And all round

The centre and circumference of all being

Silence

And so we continue when we awaken from the dream…

Alive, free…

Full of aliveness

Dear Diary; Possibility rather than Probability

We stood on the Kings road waiting for a bus to take us to the South Bank… Our Saturday outing plan – to journey there for brunch and walk home along the river five miles or so…

The bus didn’t come, and still didn’t come…

‘I’m going off this bus idea’ I laughed…’I vote that whatever comes first – taxi or bus – we jump aboard’!

‘Okay, you’re on’ Anadi replied…

A taxi appeared with his orange light shining, responding to our raised hands he pulled in… Anadi asked for Trafalgar square just as I said ‘the South bank please’… ‘Well get in and you can decide where you’re going’ our driver laughed…

He told us there was a road block – buses weren’t getting through due to a football game, that we would have had a long wait…

We talked as we journeyed together along the Thames through Saturday traffic; London looking busy again, but our taxi driver told us a different tale…

‘We’re having a very tough time – no tourists – September and October usually such a busy lucrative time – but this year no…’

He told us that he works mainly at weekends, but now the weekends are full of other drivers working too, trying to make up for their quiet weeks…

‘We need to “ride about to help out”, as well as “eating out to help out”I said…

He continued chatting about his life – struggle prevalent in his stories…

He told us of his work stresses and the ones at home too – and even more with his properties – his tenants finding it hard to pay their rent – ‘I understand – but I’m not a charity’ he mused…‘But once we have solved one stress, we make up another, don’t we?’ he continued… ‘Always something – we always find something to worry about, that’s what we all do…’

It is – what so many do – create worry and more worry with every thought…

But – there is no time like now, to “press pause”, and come back to the present moment… And to create a different thought at the very least and so begin a new process of possibility rather than probability… 

To dream a brighter future into being, breath by breath, thought by thought, word by word, deed by deed…

He dropped us off at Waterloo and we walked past the world of taxis – a long line of cars – their drivers sitting in solitude inside… No fares to be seen…

In trying to find the South Bank we walked through a huge arch full of graffiti artists – it was  like entering another world again… The metallic smell of paint – strong and intoxicating – huge works of art covering the walls – painters at work, an edgy atmosphere of artistic expression…

Messages of power, statements from deep within the person onto the wall in front of them – engrossed in their work with the onlookers looking on and wandering by – life in motion – another world… Us the observers, walking through the matrix in all is complexity and colour and confusing contours…

Out into the daylight…

We climbed the steps and walked through the doors for our brunch into yet another world…

Dear Diary;Wake up and Have Fun

Anadi and I set off on another Sunday adventure…

When we arrived in Kensington gardens, I suggested a new game for our run – more fun on the run…

‘Why don’t we take it in turns at every cross roads or junction or path going this way or that -,to take it in turns to say which way we to run – and whether to walk, run or stretch out and run as fast as we can…!

It was fun, this run… Twisting and turning, jogging and racing our way around the gardens and Hyde Park… Each turn a new possibility, a new vista opening up…

Like life

Shall we turn this way or that, every moment holding multiple directions down which to travel, to create, to experience, to uncover, to discover …. 

The road less travelled

The road never ever travelled before….

The day was sunny bright warm, a beautiful October day; rich with the smell that I know as this autumn month… Heralding a shedding of the old before a time of sleep and then the re birth into spring…

It felt full of possibilities and joy… We ran to the statue of Albert and I sat at his feet… ‘It feels like a holiday again today’ I said 

Yes – Anadi replied ‘every day a holiday..’

A holy day 

When we are present , when we stay with our breath, when our mind is still then every day truly is a holy day

A holy holi day…

We sat awhile longer and a little squirrel came and scampered all about our feet, really close – he came so close we could practically touch his multi coloured textured tail, waving behind him, soft like a dandelion; then he stood on his back legs, little paws in front…

‘I’m so sorry’, I said ‘We haven’t got any food..’ Later we looked up the squirrel spirit energy – ‘Make sure you’re having fun…’ it reminded ‘Play is essential too’

Our run had felt like ‘playtime’, racing across the grass, jogging round the lake – racing once again, and then taking a walking break…

It felt like being out with my friend all day, when i was very young – playing, running about, flopping down for awhile – and then off again…

We finished at our usual watering hole… The duke of York square and as we ate our Danish pastries and drank our coffee, with the buzz of life, of love or people enjoying being together, eating together, drinking together; a wasp flew up to me – (I thought they had all gone by now!) and landed on my arm, she then buzzed around me and I could feel the flutter of her wings near my skin making a light breeze…

My next totem for the day…

In she flew…

Wasp, beautiful and perfect – with her stripy yellow and black coat – in every way…

 I looked up her meaning too…

She said ‘Wake up’… I am not sure what I must wake up to…

But I am keeping my eyes and all my senses open and aware…

Perhaps it is simply encouragement to keep on waking up… While having fun!

A wake up call for all…

Wake up to who we truly are.

In each moment 

Celebrate being here, an opportunity to heal and grow, and so create in each moment a way of being true.

Spiritual beings

Being human

All that spirit is, we can be too…

Dear Diary; Virtually Together

Last Sunday…

Anadi and I awoke to a wonderful wet fresh Sunday morn… We jogged to Pret a manger

This is a new habit of ours – run one kilometre and stop for breakfast! ‘Aren’t you cold’ the barrister asked me looking at my bare arms and be vested being… ‘I’m hot’, I laughed – I proffered her my rain jacket… ‘We ran here for some breakfast’…

‘What a lovely way to start Sunday’ she said, while bagging our croissant (me) and pain au raisin (Anadi)…

We sat watching the rain drops splash down, enjoying the background hum of voices and music and whooshing coffee machines… Chatting, being, enjoying our Sunday run…

We set off after while – up the Fulham road – where we met a man with a virtual London marathon number on his back… ‘Well done’ we clapped him – ‘How far have you gone?’ ‘Ten miles, sixteen to go he replied’…

We wished him well and on he ran…

We continued on to Holland Park and as we came out the other side through Notting Hill we spied our second virtual runner… On the road to Kensington Palace there was another, and another – and in the gardens two more…

Approaching Hyde Park the numbers gathered and we became official road side cheerers and supporters – jumping and whooping as a runners with a number pinned to their being went by, some solo, some with supporters running too – or on bikes beside them…

My heart felt like it would burst with love for my fellow human beings being human – out in the rain running along, running a long long way. 

I felt tears rising in my chest as I witnessed their spirit in action – the joy and pain of the step, the road less travelled, the challenge – uncovering and discovering that they are more than they thought – can do more than they knew; growing as they journey within to their vulnerability – their strength shining through.

The running step is so simple and yet as complex as each human being; each step expressing their whole essence – the past and future encapsulated in the moment

No past, no future

Only now…

When we stay in the step, when we live it with all our being – when we experience it – the next takes care of itself…

Always

This is the way

The way to know ourselves is the stay present to each rainy , sunshiny, joyous painful step 

Of our life 

And discover

Uncover the route…

Forty three thousand people ran the London marathon that day all over the country, a virtual gathering

Everywhere, but nowhere

And every day eight billion of us all over the globe, a virtual gathering

Everywhere but nowhere take part in our own marathons.

We are all one

Journeying together on our own… 

As we left the park we had spotted twenty five runners… ‘It would make great symmetry to find a twenty sixth’ I said to Anadi – ‘great for the blog’!

And on the Kings road we did just that

Five hundred metres from home, there she was our twenty sixth virtual London marathoner approaching her final twenty sixth mile…

Dear Diary; A Perfect Start to Another Perfect Day

All night long the rain poured down… I heard it splashing and sloshing on the corrugated plastic roof over the little area where my washing machine lives…

A steady relentless sound, the backdrop to my night, rhythmic soothing too, water gushing from the sky…

At 6am it still came down… Anadi and I had planned to meet at 7am to train in the park together – our circuit session – but nowadays, the prospect of doing burpees and press-ups, dips and jumps, planks and pistol squats in the pouring rain doesn’t feel as much fun as in the sun…!

Suddenly I had a brain wave

The bandstand

I messaged Anadi 

He liked my plan

We met at the end of the road and made our way to the bandstand right in the middle of the park; covered over head – a smooth slate grey floor to perform our exercises upon.

We were on a stage… Dog walkers and runners went by, wrapped up warm -.hoods over their heads – while we leapt and bent and twisted and lunged in the dry…

I could perhaps be described as fair weather athlete now – well as much as is possible! Back in the day my coach insisted on singlet and shorts in all weathers, and on being out in all weathers – I still have a vivid memory of a hill session one biting cold January morn -racing up and down with the hail stones hitting my bare limbs!

But now, all has changed!

I bought a super duper ultra protective rain suit when I returned to the UK in the middle of last year..

I joined a gym – and after missing five winters- I steeled myself for the novelty of UK weather, thinking that maybe the following year, I could be sunning in Espana por favor once more! 

But for now I am staying here – this I have decided – I will winter once more in this beautiful land.

Already I am loving the shifting changing landscape

The seasons moving along – as they do – with their different characters, their beauty colour expansive swathes of grey black/ blue white clouds – and atmospheric airs and smells – the feel of the damp air, sunny glint through trees changing colour, rain and more rain washing the land and filling the river Thames – it is already looking higher than before…

And so I am ever inventive…

How to be an outdoor person for an hour or so each day, when I am not really an outdoor type! 

I’m an indoors or in a coffee shop with a coffee and cake type person, who just happens to love to run – and become – and so the land in all its ever changing beauty calls me forth to know her better….To appreciate her and love her in all her glory.

I remember the many summer autumn winter and springs I have run through…

And I am glad to be here once more to appreciate and be in this bounteous ever changing land…

We so enjoyed our new outdoor gym under the bandstand in the middle of the park

Dry while the rain teemed down.

Our indoor/outdoor gym to jump and squat and dance about in the early morning light.

A perfect start to another perfect day…

Dear Diary; Just for The Fun of it

Julia Chi Taylor - Bodhisattva Conversations

I like chanting at the Pagoda on a Monday

The trees blowing in the park beside us and the sound of the clipper whooshing up the Thames.

The sun September special glinting and rusty on the golden Buddha and the water below.

Every day magical.

The only day ever

New, fresh.

Everywhere was much quieter this Monday morn, the great sweep down which we regularly run was devoid of the crowds that usually tread the same path as us, coming and going… Brightly coloured running kit, bikes whizzing by…

Today the trees lined an almost empty road…

Who knows why? Changing seasons – or just this particular Monday morning…

We chant after handstand practise…

We need longer for our handstands really and truly – we only practise for a few minutes long… I can remember as a twelve year old spending every single break time at school on my hands… Endless practise…

Perhaps we need some dedicated handstand practise – minutes turning into hours – to just muck about as we did as children.

No real goals – just fun – and without realising it the repetition, the practise practise practise, creates miracles…

Everything can be achieved with practise

But if we always make the practise fun then we keep wanting to do it

We keep turning up, day after day, year after year if it’s fun.

To play…

We must always remember how to play, how to giggle and fall about in helpless laughter, how to lark about …

We must remember how to have fun

We must remember to live as we truly want to..

The biggest deathbed regret is

‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

The expectations from others can be so deeply embedded that we don’t even know they are there, which is why it is worth investigating our map, our stories, our pattens and programme and seeing if they truly do suit and support us…

Are we living life ‘our way’, or are we adhering to the rules and ideals of another

Are we living by default…?

There is always time to shed those expectations, to strip them away and to fly free on your own path. There is always time to start to play again…

To practise handstands over and over until they are perfect…

Like those days after school when my sister Rosy and I would play in the garden, racing around without any shoes on, practising high jump and hurdles and handstands as the sun got lower in the sky

Just for the fun of it…!

Dear Diary;This Gift of Life

I have always enjoyed conversations.

Life – a never ending dialogue – the words twisting and weaving as we create and co create our lives through the words we speak, the words we share…

Our lives an ongoing conversation with many

Our worlds opened by every conversation we have

Or limited when we close our mind and our heart to one another.

When we can truly listen, without projection, without expectation, without agenda, without judgement, without a filter…

Then we are free….

When we truly live in each moment, without an ‘already outcome’ in our minds, there are ‘3000 possibilities…’

When we truly recognise that the inner reflects in the outer

When we can rest in the mirror of awareness for the whole of our life, then the whole of our life becomes a meditation… We recognise that the reflection apparently ‘outside us’ is who we are.

So within so without.

Once we truly recognise that our energy – our inner state – is projected and reflected and becomes what we are experiencing in the outer realms, then we start to truly understand ourselves and our lives…

My life has always been one of laughter, and so every day I experience and enjoy laughter with others…

On Saturday Anadi treated me again to a night out at ‘The Chelsea Corner’, A vibrant fun restaurant on the Fulham Road…

At the end of the evening the waitresses appeared with four shot glasses, one each for Anadi and I and another two for them…! They filled with limoncello and we all downed them in one, amidst lots of laughter and declarations that this means we are forever bonded….

‘You’re the most positive people’ we have met, they said to Anadi and I as we thanked them for a brilliant evening…

Perhaps they recognised at some level that we’re both committed to the practise of being present, and fully experiencing whatever is occurring…

That we are fully aware that we are responsible for what we are creating in every moment…

That we love this gift of life… 

Dear Diary; Everywhere Home

On Wednesday last week, Anadi and I took a mini break by the sea…

We travelled on the train – out of the town and into the country where the tall buildings flashing by our window, turned instead into green fields and tall trees… We trundled on to the end of the land where the sea shone sparkly bright in the evening sun, and the sound of the waves became our backdrop …

I hadn’t seen the sea since March and hearing the squawk of the gulls felt to be a sort of homecoming…

Everywhere home

As a nomad I made my home all over the world – the planet my home – and this hasn’t actually changed in my heart… Even though I have stopped ( for awhile) in a basement flat in Chelsea, I still feel that the planet is my home…

I even forget I am in London as I wander and run through the streets… I could be anywhere… I have run through so many streets and paths, woodland, common land, canal banks, river banks and mountain passes…

Always running or walking though the land I am in…

Experiencing a sense of its energy, its flavour, its history and its present vibe, made up over the aeons of time, that are all happening now and will happen in the future now…

Anadi and I stood on the beach together on Thursday morning…

We had enjoyed a wonderful evening in St Leonards. The Bavard bar is the wonderful creation of Tim crook, where he hosts a show that invites people to come and talk about their passions, their lives, themselves…

Having been locked down since March, this was the first live show for some months and we were glad to be back in a theatre enjoying the anticipation of the show to come, with the shared energy of the rest of the audience… 

Athena Jane spoke about life death and re birth, very movingly and with great depth – and Mike Willis a musician, spoke about an unusual evening while he was touring in China…

So Thursday morning had dawned and we wanted only to wander, to be on the beach, to hear the sounds, to smell the sea, to be, there, here, now, together.

We didn’t go far, soon our wandering took back to the hotel, to sit on the decking and drink coffee, and eat breakfast

And be 

Together by the sea for just a morning.

A morning mini break – and one night in the huge king size bed with a sea view. 

Because after breakfast Anadi had to work… And me too…

But, we both love our work, and so this lends itself to every day being a holy day , a holiday… Our mini break was so perfect…  Each moment endless, expansive…

The whole of time – all past and future held in each extraordinary ordinary moment we are here.

Now

Dear Diary; Love and Let Live

I have loved writing all my life.

When I was quite small – nine, ten, eleven years old – I would sit down to write at the table in our family home… The table was always piled high with newspapers and books – paper and paints, pencils and colouring pens.

My mother was always piling the piles into new piles, and putting them at the bottom of the stairs for my sister Rosy and I to take to our respective rooms… We often stepped over them – much to her frustration! 

I would sit down at the table and open my writing book… ‘Mummy’ I would call… ‘yes darling?’ ‘Can you give me a title to write about…’ 

She would call out some ideas from the kitchen… I rejected many, but just as she was nearing the end of her ideas and her patience, I would plump for one and start to write and write; the words tumbling out.

In 1971 when I turned twelve, I wrote a whole book ( not a very long one!) about our African grey parrot called Polly Armstrong… My mother typed it up for me and we punched holes in the paper… `we threaded string through and hey presto I had made a real book with pages that turned…

And so today I sat down to write and I called to Anadi ‘Please give me a title to write about…’ 

He sat and thought a bit and then said ‘How about “How to stay true to yourself amongst other people’s opinions…” I didn’t reject it as I had my Mothers’ first few ideas… I put fingers to keys and here I am…

Opinions are just opinions; they are not set in stone or immoveable objects. They are of the person at the time – of course sometimes a persons opinion appear to be set in stone and they appear to be immovable, because often they can never be shaken or investigated…

The dictionary describes the definition of an opinion thus :

‘A view or judgement about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge…’

Many people feel that their opinions are right and being in the face of this can be a difficult place to stay true to ourselves – when another is making us wrong because of our choices in life, our words, our deeds, the path we are choosing to tread… Making us wrong because the thoughts we have, the ideas and beliefs that hold true for us, are different to theirs

One of the keys to staying true to ourselves amidst the noise and haste, and amidst the opinions of others, is to refrain from judgement, blame or shame towards them – to refrain from immoveable opinions ourselves.

If we hold a view, have an opinion then it is important that we hold it with a light touch and validate the differences in others, their ideas, their actions their words and deeds and views…

‘Do unto others as you would like done unto you…’ In other words… 

Live and let live

Love and let live

Connection arises from validating difference. When we validate another, however strong their view, then it becomes easier to turn that energy back to ourselves and to validate ourselves even if how we think and feel is different to another, be that strangers or our closets friends and family…

There is no need for differences to divide. 

We can unite through acceptance and validation of one another…

‘United we stand divided we fall’

And we stay united by staying true to ourselves and honouring the truth of the other…