Tuesday, 29 May 2012

In The Garden...

A poem...


A white feather rides on a breath of air
And decends with grace,
Perhaps the utter of an angel's whisper,
Falling on a special place.
The dance of the daisies commences,
And the wind ushers the leaves on the trees,
The red breast of the little robin,
Expands to her playful song...
The blackbird answers in tune,
And the wood pigeon adds rhythm and percussion.
The garden hymn is sung.



Oh sweet, sweet rose,
Your perfume carried gently upon the breeze,
You with petals luxuriously soft,
Embelish the essence,
Of this glorious day in late spring.

By Helen Ratcliff.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Heaven Scent...

Despite all the ups and downs recently, the month of May has brought plenty of inspiration. As some of you are already aware, the vagaries of weather, work (or lack of), emotion and cash flow, have just about been rescued from the brink of oblivion. Well, I do honestly hope so. Things are definitely, slowly changing for the better...
 For example.... check these out.... in the garden...
 All that's needed is a pot of fresh tea...



Rose Wall by Helen Ratcliff


Yes, after the rains of April.... the flora of May.

And, once again, by the lovely pond of Wandsworth common...

                                               Wild Iris by Helen Ratliff



... Then, a new friend emerges from the reeds...


                                            Swan Pond by Helen Ratcliff

I begin to suspect that all will once again be joyful. This has been a long journey, which is not over yet. But, I find it heartening to know that a little patience, faith and allowing Mother Nature to beguile...Are just the ingredients one needs for a small dose of hope and even success...
 So... it would seem that the dance of a swan, wild Iris dripped with gold and  the scented roses, were, in my opinion, sent from heaven...

To be continued...

Friday, 18 May 2012

Jumping Fish & Wisteria...

Wisteria Wall by Helen Ratcliff

After applying for five or six more jobs yesterday, I gave myself the afternoon off to let go of the deafening silence... It is not the fact that I am not working at present which is lowering the self esteem, but the simple case of no response from potential employers. There should be some law against not answering someone's application. Okay, I get that the working folk have no time. However, they have the security and confidence that the rest of us need, to keep trusting and keep going... This is not easy. When I have put positive energy into letters, up - dating and honing my C.V., walking the streets of London until I have blisters and am weeping with tiredness and loss of will... waited and waited, kept believing, kept smiling, et al... Isn't it only fair that I receive some acknowledgement in return? Anyway, enough of the sad stuff.
 It is of no wonder that I communicate with animals. That nature brings me back to my 'self'. And, being in green spaces, smelling flowers and observing creatures in their natural habitats, is like a hug from heaven. The wisteria growing at the back of my house is abundant this year. I believe the rains have nourished well. The scent is sweet and slightly aromatic, almost medicinal. After inhaling the wisteria goodness, I set forth on my walk to the big pond at Wandsworth Common...
 May is a beautiful time of year for the natural world. And the amphitheatre is just buzzing with activity. All the birds are busying away - building nests, feeding their young, disciplining the babies, beaking, coohing and even running across the water.The comical landing of the ducks... So entertaining, they never fail to make me chuckle. Then, a larger than life crow appears. He is 'majestic - looking', shiny and proud. I greeted him ( like you do), and he responded with a squawk and took off into the lush green... Suddenly, an almighty splashing sound came from the centre of the pond. I thought it was ducks or couts...  then, blinking into focus, I saw a massive silver fish! He jumped out of the water and dove back in... and again.... he was huge, with big lips... he twisted his body upwards and then spiralled back into the water... I believe he was a Carp catching flies. It happened so quickly, but, like I have said many times... nature always manages to bring a smile, gasp of amazement or some inspiration... And, I always feel better...
 So... if a fish can jump out of water and a duck can add some humour to the mix... then, surely, someone out there can employ me...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Lifting Spirits...

Goose Family by Helen Ratcliff


Okay, so after last week's sadness... I went to one of my favourite spots for a walk, to help bring some clarity... And, this goose family strutted across my path and brought a smile to my face once more... This is a a place where I did a photo story - in a previous blog... "By the Riverside", near the 'sacred space' in Battersea. Then, I visited the church which also featured in my story and discovered something quite interesting.
 I have always been inspired by William Turner and William Blake. So, it was randomly brought to my attention that they both use to visit this particular church and had influenced the design within, mainly, the stained glass windows... Strangly, I went all goose bumpy and felt an inner glow...


This may seem weird, but at that moment the light came through this window and my heart seriously missed a beat. I stood, gasping... could this be a sign? I know, I know what you're all thinking, but sometimes the universe synchronizes and it is okay to allow yourself to believe. Especially when life has just been sending challenges, trials and disappointments for so long. I then moved on to the next window and...




This also spoke to me and I remembered the quote...

" Love seeketh not itself to please,
  Nor for itself have any care,
  But for another gives its ease,
  And builds a heaven in hell's despair "

William Blake 1757 - 1827.

Then I remembered a poem I had once written in my moment of despair...

" In the darkest moment,
  In the eye of fear,
  When all has abandoned
  And nothing is clear.
  Then and only then,
  The light will appear...
  Clarity prevails in one who believes,
  No matter what,
  Physical or faith,
  It is true to say...
  One will always find their way.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A Brighter Song...


Lioness, Tanzania. By Helen Ratcliff



For some time now, I have been struggling with everything in life. Work, emotions, family, purpose, direction and constant pining for the completion of my 'Big Cat Studies' course. This, however, seems to cause considerable apprehension amongst my fellow humans. The capacity with which they seek a reason for this choice of subject is almost tangible. "Why big cats?" They cry... I never seem to have a convincing enough response, other than the truth. So I tell them..." It just feels right and is something I need to do... Something soulful and spiritual... "
 I watched a documentary last night about a single lioness and her lonesome cub. How the lioness never ceases to amaze me. She is strong and intelligent. She makes wise decisions. For example, after chasing and killing an elusive wild boar for a meal, to sustain her undernourished little cub, and seeing him tuck in to the first meal in days, she is confronted by hyenas. Just one of the challenges she is faced with every day. It is the rainy season in Africa and The Plains are not exactly abundant with prey. But, she chooses not to fight. Her cub needs her physically well and able to hunt - an injury could cost her life. Also, a pack of hyenas would easily take her cub's life. She is the protector and does not have a pride to support her... alone in this wilderness... she must follow her instincts and calls the cub away from the kill, to safety... Sometimes, I feel like I am alone in my wilderness. It has felt like that over the last few months...
 I believe this emotional abyss began when my younger brother, Carl, announced that he was moving to Australia with his family. Suzanne (my Sister-in-Law), Josie, Noah and Isla. Isla, the youngest, is my God Daughter. Carl had been offered a job in Melbourne and had made a life - changing decision to move there - and I do not blame him!
 The thing is though, he refused to talk about it with me and completely shut down in my company. If I began a conversation he would walk out of the room, and for a while, I was unable to actually finish a sentence or feel relaxed around him or his family. I had always considered Carl's home to be an extension of my home. Unconditional love, comfort and support... or so I had thought for many years... Then, it all blew up in my face, one horrible day back in early February.
 I was useless that day... tripping over my words and crying hard, you know the type of tears I mean... When you can hardly breath, as the misery and unbearable shock of what you are experiencing and hearing is up there with the death of your Mother. May sound extreme, but years and years of anger were unchained within that moment. Like a frenetic thunderstorm which bellows through you and shatters your nerves. I faced a truth that day and it hurt at a tremendously deep level. I was confronted with a reflection of past years and my faith and belief in myself was unhinged. My world as I knew it had suddenly changed. The anger had apparently been born of my behaviour that dreadful day... My behaviour? I had asked Carl to read some of my blog ( I had recently written about The Iberian Lynx), I valued his opinion and was seeking direction in life - like the majority of us. To that end he exploded... He had no interest in what I had to say. I was selfish, ungrateful, useless, unloving, ugly, bitter, hopeless, boring, draining, a failure and had no purpose or place. He was sick of the sight of me... I was the elephant in the room. It didn't really matter what was actually said, for that is what I heard and believed that awful day...
 Two months went by before I heard anything or received an apology. I had also lost my job at the beginning of February, so had used the time to find work - even though there was an almighty sense of loss in my heart. I tried not to think about it and put the argument to one side and focused on providing a living and paying the rent... I went out hunting... like the lioness. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger... Isn't that what they say?
 Well, Carl did finally make contact. A late invitation to the leaving party was excepted, we parked up our monsters, put on a brave face and said farewell... Some of this experience, in my heart, has not yet been resolved. Perhaps they are demons and dragons closer to my core, which I had no awareness of and can only deal with myself. Maybe I should be thanking Carl for enlightening me. With this new - found awareness, things can be addressed.
 Carl has now moved on to a brighter and sunnier life in Australia - I am delighted for him, he deserves it. Unfortunately though, things are not so sunny in London. I am yet to find work. I was falsely lead in to thinking a job offer was imminent, but to no avail at the very last hurdle. Almost three months of interviews and trials! Still, perseverence is what is now called for here. There is only one option and that is positive thinking and building my 'self - belief' up again. I have failed in the past, but that does not make me a failure. I cry at wildlife documentaries, but my passion does not make me hopeless. I am single, but that does not make me useless or worthless. So... like the strong and beautiful lioness, I will embrace the challenges which lie ahead and bravely follow my instincts.
 The love I have for my Brothers is an unconditional and pure one. I realise that theirs is diluted in return, because of their families. I will only ever come second in their hearts. (I have an older brother, Mark. He lives with Karen and they have two lovely boys - Matty, the youngest, is my Godson).  However, the strength that comes with memories of growing up, sharing, laughing and being nurtured by the same Mother, is a bond and a gift which I will always be grateful for. It is because of them that I keep going... And, of course,  Jaffa and Otto, my feline companions!
 This emotional 'radio - head' will soon, hopefully, be finely tuned to a much brighter and mellifluous song...