Time to hunker down

Hunkering down weather

A very different view from the one we've been used to greeted me and Ounce this morning as we recorded today’s podcast at my gate.

The dark clouds all but shouted, “hunker down!” and that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing for a couple of days.

Yesterday, I emerged from an impromptu 48 hours offline. I go offline quite a lot, but those 48 hours were more of a struggle than usual.

Since my away from home adventures I’ve been reaching for my phone a lot, usually when I notice I’m feeling physically rather rubbish. It’s understandable that I don’t want to notice that I’m not feel good, but I’ve realised how much I’m using my phone (and my iPad and laptop) as a way of avoiding the feelings in my body and that’s not been doing me any favours.

The first thing that happened when I turned my phone off was that I fell asleep! When I woke up, the second thing that happened was that I noticed I felt terribly!

48 hours later, I’d slept a lot, read quite a bit and still felt not great—but maybe, just maybe, a little better.

I heading offline for 48 hours more. I’ll let you know how I get on...

Greeting the day in my usual spot

The view from my gate

Today I’m greeting the day by my gate. I love the view from here. This morning it’s especially beautiful and I might have waxed rather overly lyrically about it in today’s podcast!

It has been lovely to spend a few days by the sea and the early mornings on the seafront have been stunning. Yesterday, as I had my last cup of tea watching the waves gently lapping around the seagulls on the shoreline, I felt as though I could stay sitting where I was for a month.

Now I’m home and back to the early morning view that I’ve been getting to know for eighteen years, I feel I could stand for the rest of my life.

It’s been good to go away. It’s very good to be home.

A final cup of tea on the seafront before I head home

Cup of tea on the prom

I’m having a last cup of tea on the seafront whilst I’m waiting to be picked up and taken home.

It’s been a peaceful stay in Aberystwyth, helped by the equinoxal (is that a word?!) weather. So still and calm. A perfect Indian Summer, or Haf Bach Mihangel as this extra treat of gentle sun is called in Welsh.

Haf Bach Mihangel translates as Michael’s Little Summer, and that’s exactly how these last few days have felt. I’ve been feeling very blessed.

I’m still very tired and feeling rather unwell at times, but these last few days have helped me get into a very restful rhythm, which I’m taking home with me.

The Big Rest continues :)

Go Gently Letter: Still Flying Low (but saying a little more)

Flying Low

Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

—Mary Oliver, Today

As we approach the gentle stillness of the equinox, I’m sending you good wishes from my hillside in Wales. May the coming days be reflective and peaceful ones for you.

It’s been another six months since I wrote you a Go Gently Letter. I’d love to say that this is the first in a more regular series, but I’m not sure if that will be the case or not. Time will tell.

It's September and autumn has arrived here in Wales. Warm, gentle days that are getting darker at both ends. That means I can get up a little later in the mornings to let the chickens out and that they go to bed a little earlier.

Hardly moving, but still travelling to a better place

When I last wrote to you, I was slowly emerging from a rather difficult place. A not-knowing place and a place that had largely become untenable. I was still trying to sit where I was and trust that things would continue to improve and the way forward continue to reveal itself. I'm happy to say that that does seem to have been the case.

Oddly, my life and work don't look so very different than they did before things became difficult. I've hardly moved at all, although much has shifted. The view from where I've travelled to is clearer, more open. It is certainly a relief to be here.

Audio podcasting again

A year ago I thought that I might have stopped making my audio podcast, One Thing Today. Six months ago I still thought that might be the case. If you don't know, I'm happy to report that I've been back recording episodes since June and recently sent out the 1500th episode.

The podcast has changed a little. Most importantly I don't hold myself to a specific schedule (though interestingly, most weeks I still tend to send out three or four episodes).

It has been lovely to be back talking (and sometimes walking), encouraging listeners (and myself!) to go gently, and to pick one small thing to do each day to move our creative lives on a little. It is good to feel that there is just that tiny momentum in my life again.

Crocheting a stitch at a time

Creatively I'm still crocheting rather than drawing. Although I have noticed my eyes wondering to my pens again of late.

Crocheting is very good creative act for me at the moment. Making something one stitch at a time is a very good metaphor for gently moving along one small step at a time, enjoying the process and eventually finding that something has been made. A sock, a blanket or a gently lived month.

Quiet work on Patreon

Financially things are improving too. Since closing the company that I was trying to run, cutting back on my growing expenses and reducing what I was offering in the world, Patreon has become the place where I work and is providing me with an income. I am VERY grateful.

Over the last few months I've been shifting and adapting what I offering on Patreon a little. The focus is now on supporting my podcasts.

I'm offering patrons early access to One Thing Today and the Go Gently video podcast (which seems to have been on a summer break!), Podcast Extras, weekly twenty-minute work sessions, vlog posts and personal podcasts.

This is quiet work. Gentle work. Work that feels sustainable. If you would like to join me there, it would be lovely to have you.

Still flying low, but...

The Mary Oliver poem that I opened this letter with has been a comfort and good companion to me over the last few months. I've been learning it by heart so that I have with me all the time (it even popped up in a dream a few nights ago!).

I love the image of flying low and not saying a word. Of hardly moving at all, but still travelling a great distance. Of letting go of ambition.

Whilst I'm still flying low, I am happy that I'm starting to say one or two things again. The voodoos of ambition, meanwhile, are still largely sleeping...

Michael <3

Patreon Offer

Podcast Extras

For the last few weeks I've been running an offer over on Patreon. It officially closed a few days ago but I'm leaving it up for a few more days (I'd imagined I'd get this letter out before now, but as I'm sure you know by now, I move slower than even I think I do!).

Anyone that becomes a Podcast Supporter ($4.00 a month) will, in addition to the to the benefits offered on that tier, also receive my audio and video Podcast Extras, which are normally available to the next tier up and above.

Podcast Extras are video and audio content that go a little deeper than the regular podcasts and gives you more of the inside story (plus plenty of cats, chickens and the occasional donkey or two!).

To receive the Go Gently Letter directly in your inbox whenever I send it out, subscribe for free here.

Appreciating being home in my kitchen

Early morning cooking experiment

One of the lovely things about being at home after my adventures at Gladstone’s Library is that I can cook my own meals again (and at whatever time of the day I like!).

It was a good thing to have meals made for me whilst I was away and needed to focus my energy on Gladfest. But this morning I woke up with the urge to do some experimental cooking and was so pleased to be able to.

So, at 6.00 am this morning I was wide awake and trying out an idea I’ve had in my head for a few days for black bean burgers. I’m talking about them and sharing the recipe in today’s today’s One Thing Today podcast which is available now over on Patreon and will be released here and all the usual channels on Saturday (21st Sept).