I opened my We’Moon 2014 diary today, as I was feeling unhinged from my creative and spiritual self, too tied down to the material, the busy-bee me, the old me drained by giving, giving, giving. That sense of wanting to give is innate, a desire to nurture, to cherish, to care. To give love. But giving all is not the answer and reading the inspirational words of other women guides me back to a place of centre, and of calm. From this place, I see outwards to the many spokes on the wheel that is my life. My teaching and writing about midwifery and motherhood lies along one spoke, and often dominates my time and energies, not just because it is what pays the bills. It makes me feel strong, this work, preparing women to be midwives, preparing midwives to be with women – this strength comes from a reciprocal relationship between self and others, and the memories of love shared. That love manifested itself in time and energy sacrificed to support women, to educate them, to be strong for them and mirror their own innate strength. Now it manifests itself in the stories I tell to my students, stories where I let my feelings show- joy, sorry, fatigue, frustration, fulfilment. If I inspire just one of them, I have achieved my goal. But there are a hundred and one things I long to write about, to share with a wider audience, and I yearn for more time just to dwell on this part of my life.
The next spoke holds my creative writing, my fiction-self, novelist now with the validation of upcoming publication. In the face of all that is going on elsewhere, the creative voice has been somewhat neglected, but last night I read through my work in progress and found that voice again. Only utter exhaustion stilled the rapid scratching of the fountain pen against the yellow page; I could have written all night. But life has a routine, a necessary structure, and there are bills to pay and students to meet and so this part of my work is crowded into the edges, the corners, and the felicitous long, sunny days of freedom when there is nothing else to do but write. Still, I find myself missing my PhD studies, as these gave my writing a different kind of legitimacy, with external deadlines that kept me on track. Now I must be my own supervisor.
The next spoke is my family, the joy and wonder of a truly loving partner, the daily simplicity of mothering a son. Irregular contact with wider family but always, always, loving and knowing that family is there. I can spend endless hours with my lover, holding and being held, experiencing joy, pleasure and warmth, or simply exchange an intimate smile across the dinner table, and I know what love really is. I can call my sister and engage in the discussion of longest acquaintance, greatest mutual understanding. Despite the gaps left by loss, the scars that never really heal, this is where my life is lived, in the central text and context of home and family.
The next spoke is my friendships, with other women, other midwives, other pagans, with people of all possible manifestations – gay, straight, men, women, trans people or people with no defined gender. Just people who enter into the orbit of my life and shed light and warmth and share laughter and food and wine and songs and firelight and pub nights and all. True friends who see past the broken edges, the sharp corners, into the heart of me, good friends who like good conversation, easy friendships cemented in beer and late night shots in dark and rowdy pubs. Friendship is such a gift.
The other spoke, the one I speak of less often now, is the spiritual side of me, and again, I could write forever about the way that nature opens a door to the world beyond, the magic of the Beltane green in the leaves as the late spring rain glistens and glows. I could write of full moon nights with fireside chants and the close pressing sense of unseen presences, of celebratory Sabbats with food and wine and drumming, circles danced, mazes pranced, and the glimpse of something beyond the five senses, moving in the trees, blessing us. I could write of faith, and hope, and disillusionment, and love.
And the final spoke is my love of my land, of this Earth, and all the creatures on it. It’s what makes me make certain choices, makes me love food and cooking and sharing and nurturing, love making and brewing and preserving, makes me attempt to grow things and celebrate small harvests. I can write about my recipes for delicious meals and vegan treats, and mark my own small progress with living by my ideals.
At the centre of this wheel sits a woman, marked by time and experience. Society may disregard her, people underestimate her – just a short, fat woman with frizzy hair and glasses, no one of consequence. But that woman is a mother, lover, writer, midwife, teacher, has a black belt in martial arts, is a vegan, loves to dance and sing, celebrates the joy of being loved, and cherishes every moment she is alive and breathing. Nature is her church, friendship her holy book.
This is me. This is my life. This is what I wish to write about.