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2015-12-30 14.37.33

The shoreline, wooded here and there with alder, hazel and yellow whins, curls its arms protectively around the bay. Those stoney arms, too short to meet in the middle, leave a gap, wide enough for the sea to come and go with comfort and when the tide is out the bay is filled with small islands of smooth humped sand.

Around these islands, sandbanks really, channels of seawater wind their way like medusa’s hair.

When the tide creeps in, which it does so coyly, the islands slip under water without any fuss, like slumbering whales, only to reappear with the next low tide. 

Beyond the gap the atlantic spreads out westwards.

I realize that the two small moving dots I have been watching out in the bay are not cormorants as I originally thought but more likely the heads of two seals swimming slowly in my direction.

Though as they get closer I realize that to be seals they would have to be giant ones.

I wish I had a pair of binoculars but I don’t so instead I sip my coffee and sit patiently (A new thing for me) by the window, waiting for the mystery to be revealed. 

~~~

It’s the first day of the New year,

There have been a few crisp sunny mornings after christmas when I have managed to get to the beach with my daughters dogs but mostly it has been wild and windy.

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Storm ‘frank’ has passed , bringing with it sheets of rain, flooding many areas but the seabirds at the back of my local beach don’t mind and the swans happily graze the abundant water cress .

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2015 finished yesterday with a splendid sunrise which I was lucky enough to be down on the beach to catch.

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But now as the rain pelts down once more, I feel I should a least make some sort of an effort to choose a new year’s resolution and maybe one that will suit being confined indoors due to the inclement weather.

I resolve to be to be more organised in 2016!

Hopefully then I will have more time for writing.

I start straight away (attempting what I have often tried to achieve on such a wet day but have never succeeded in completing).

I pull all the books off their shelves with the idea of putting some order on them.

As with previous suchlike endeavours, I hadn’t got very far when a book catches my eye and I sit back on the book strewn floor and start to turn the pages.

Way way back when I found the courage to leave my husband, a friend gave me a book called ‘Simple abundance’

Basically it suggested ways of being fulfilled using simple inexpensive means.

One example she suggested was picking a bunch of wild flowers and putting them on your table (presuming you had a table).

Another was to corner off a space in a room to give yourself a ‘Virginia woolf’s room of one’s own’  that is presuming you had a house or even still, a room, (at some point along my divorce journey I had neither)

I remembered reading through the book half heartedly and before focusing on one page

Every day, write a list of five things you are grateful for.

At that time I couldn’t think of much to be grateful for. I was concentrating on surviving.

Walking away from my large house by the lake with its woods and mountains hadn’t been an easy decision and the small cold and damp wooden house I found to rent was a far cry from the large stone well heated one of my marriage.

Divorce in Ireland at the time was seen as a huge shame filled failing.

If the man instigated it? it meant that there was something desperately wrong with the woman.

If it was the woman then it meant admitting she had made a mistake in her judgement by choosing the wrong person.

Though I felt like crawling away in shame and going into hiding, I had to continue to work,  so telling nobody at first, I tried to keep my dignity and privacy.

But living in the country leaves you open to much gossip and curiosity.

It was immediately noted that I was coming to work from a different direction and no longer on my bicycle, but instead, in an ancient battered toyota starlet.

I decided to get it over and done with so I told everyone.

Got it out into the open in one fell swoop.

In doing so I hoped that my circumstances would soon become old hat and the gossipers would move along to someone else.

Some people were genuinely sympathetic. Others, the begrudgers, pretended to be but I could see underneath they were delighted at what they saw as the downfall of another.

Though indeed it wasn’t long before they had moved on to their next victim (where is the fun of gossip when it’s out in the open) I still had to endure their pitying looks for another while.

I entered my first line in my gratefulness diary!

I am grateful that I found the courage to divorce my husband.

followed by

I am grateful that I have had the courage to tell everyone about my circumstance.

It was only two things out of five but it was enough to get started on.

Afterall I was still just about surviving.

~~~

The wooden house though cold and damp, was an oasis of peace. It was well off the road. Quite overgrown at the front which kept me hidden from the outside world, and from the back it looked straight out across a sheltered bay and beyond that the atlantic ocean stretched.

In fact it stood so close to the water that I could watch the seals swim by it’s windows.

Those seals brought a soothing rhythmic element to my day and the more I watched them the more I relaxed and felt my stress being washed away.

On my second day there, after I had lit fires to to get some warmth into the place, I sat in the small sun room with a coffee looking out to sea.

The two small dots on the horizon which I initially thought were two cormorants on a rock got larger and to my surprize I realized they were canoes.

I watched curiously as they made their way across the bay towards me.

Disappearing and reappearing, they navigated their way along the channels caused by sandbanks that appeared at low tide.

It was on those sand banks that my seals rested. The elders lay in that distinct pose with tails held high warming themselves in the sun while the young splashed backwards and forwards along the channels.

Every now and again an adult seal would slip gracefully off a bank and give chase.

The canoes were nearer now and making their way steadily to the small jetty below the house.

Curiously I waited until two smiling faces appeared at the sunroom door holding aloft a cake.

Two  friends who lived across the bay had seen the smoke from my chimney and had come to welcome me to my new abode.

That evening I added:

Good friends. Damp (but damned good) cake. Entertaining seals.

I had hit my five a day quota.

Sadly I eventually had to leave the seal house when it was put up for sale, But every morning from that day forward without fail and no matter what sort of a roof I had over my head I wrote my five things.

As the days became weeks, my list got longer.

I had no need anymore to suck the tip of my pen and stare into space.

I could easily find five, then six and seven, eight, nine, TEN things to be grateful for and I could have continued on.

I was no longer just surviving, I was thriving.

~~~

But look! The rain has stopped, the wind has eased.

I close the book and heap it along with all the rest, higgledy piggeldy back on the shelves.

It’s time to get outside, to walk the beach, to leave the past and concentrate on the present and my life ahead

And as I walk, the dogs running happily along the water’s edge,  it dawns on me, I don’t need to be more organized!

Continuing to thrive is adequate.

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