Hi there.

Thanks for popping in. Had a little revelation yesterday. As I mentioned, went out to work really early when it was dark, and drove straight into a flash flood. I tell you this, not to get a pat on the back for going into work early on a Sunday morning with Paul, Jilly, Leanne and Brother Steve (although a pat on the back feels good from time to time!). I tell you about my drive into work because it flagged up something far more existential.

I had an experience. It may not have been a good one, but it was just that: an experience. Driving into work through a rainstorm is hardly a holiday in Maui, is it?! However, it woke me up, it made me cautious, it heightened my senses – and it gave me something to report, to share. Made me feel alive.

During Lockdown, we have all of us been greatly restricted in our movement – some more than others. I can only speak for myself, but I have felt for months that I am getting boring, repetitive, not much to talk about. And the same old topics just keep rolling round: Clarity, Brexit, Covid, Trump, Clarity, Brexit, Covid, Trump, bla bla bla.

Huge spike of excitement when we brought Ragnar and Erik home, our two little kittens. Again, this was a Big Event, because it brought with it a new and wonderful experience.

I don’t know if I am making any sense here, but the point I am trying to make is – and again, I can only speak for myself – that perhaps my despondent days are not only due to the worry and uncertainty of events in the big bad world that we have no control over. Perhaps the lack of EXPERIENCES in them, actual activities which create stimulus and interest also plays a role. Nothing happening – nothing to talk about.

You know me! I was always hopping about, doing this and that, travelling abroad, packing Life with experiences. I never looked at them as the essence of me, just simply as interesting things to do, but they certainly contribute to my personality in that they broaden my horizon.

Realising this now, art, craft and all that jazz have just changed their role for me! Books and films too. I suddenly realise that they are there, not just to calm me down and distract me during these harrowing months of pandemics and crises, but to fill my mind with EXPERIENCES . I suppose we have to use our imagination, and THINK more. I can’t let Social Media and the telly be my primary feeder of experiences! Good grief !!!!!!! Think about that! No wonder I get low!!! So art is no longer just a distraction during crisis – it is nourishment. Food for the brain, the soul.

Going to start a diary, start writing my thoughts down. Maybe even a book – a page at a time. When you dig deeper than Facebook and TV, it’s surprising what you find inside yourself, isn’t it.

John Keats once wrote,

Ever let the fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home.

Makes total sense now. I have always felt it sounded a little ungrateful. Thought perhaps he was fed up with life or the wife (although he died at 25, before he ever got to be married). But now, when I apply those two lines to this Life of ours in Lockdown, it makes complete sense at a very different level. If Pleasure is brought about by Experience, I have to use my imagination now, and my creativity, to find it.

Here are the two lines in context…

Ever let the Fancy roam,

Pleasure never is at home:

At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,

Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;

Then let winged Fancy wander

Through the thought still spread beyond her:

Open wide the mind’s cage-door,

She’ll dart forth, and cloudward soar.

Beautiful. Absolutely wonderful. You can lock us down physically, is how I read this, but the mind is always free to fly. Sweet Pleasure melteth – I read into those words that nothing is permanent either. This too shall pass xxx

Got to go. SHAC Shack at 10am!

Love and hugs

Barb xxx

28 thoughts on “Imagination

  1. Hello Barbara
    Definitely food for thought. I am feeling at my second lowest since March and I think it is because of the uncertainty over Christmas. I like to have a plan and I don’t cope with change very well. My family has two get togethers at Christmas usually and I can’t make plans for either of them. These anxieties should be pushed to the back while I concentrate on the positives.

  2. So true Barbara. I’ve been feeling low like many of us but for no reason I got up today ready to do and go wherever it takes me but with a lighter heart so maybe there’s is light at the end of the tunnel and we’re beginning to see or feel it. Shack here I come xx
    I know one thing for certain, I’m so grateful to you and your many staff for all you do and for all the other Shackers – you keep me going xx

  3. Good morning Barbara.
    Using imagination is good but also there is a wealth of information and wonderful pictures to be found on the internet. You just need to be able to search in the right ways for it. And television too can take you places that are off limits at the moment and if the presenter is uplifting it makes you feel like you’ve almost been on that journey with them.
    It’s all we can do in these strange times really. Yes we can walk around our neighbourhood but sometimes round here it’s like Piccadilly Circus. So probably not a great idea. I’m glad we have our garden.
    See you in the Shac Shack at 10.
    Love and hugs xxx

  4. Good morning Barbara. I do understand where you are coming from. Since I retired (early) I have rediscovered reading. It really can whisk you away to other places. I am reading a book set in ancient Rome. I could never ever have gone there. There are lots of other things too like crafting, films and sorting out the garden. Not forgetting the Shac Shack that has been amazing. I do think we crave experiences and our expectations have had to be scaled back. Maybe that will be better for the planet. Take care. Hugs xxx

  5. Hi Barbara. I’m the insomniac from Canada.
    I’m isolating for our 4 month old grandson. So I’ve chosen not to go to restaurants, pubs or gatherings. 3 of my friends are doing this but I’m not ready to. So I’m doing the treadmill, then Qigong for flexibility. I love art and that’s saving my sanity at night.

  6. Great post today and we’ll timed. I think a lot of us are feeling another wave of low mood for whatever reason. I’ve been working from home since April and have recently been told that it is likely to continue for another 6 months. Although I have family members at home, it’s not the same as going in to the workplace and having different conversations. You’re are so right about lack of experiences and stimulation. I was wondering to myself why I feel so “low” when I am surrounded by my loving family, so thank you, your post help make sense of it and it is up to me to invent different ways of creating experiences. We are such complex beings aren’t we? Big hugs xx

  7. Welcome to the dull-dom that is retirement!!
    Inspiration changes us – did a fabulous on-line workshop with Eileen Godwin on Saturday, it was like going on holiday. It must be the same for you doing the SHAC shack.
    Just WATCH the kittens and love them, that is everything.
    Maggie (Bendy Yorkite)

  8. You are definitely not alone in your thoughts life has become routine which yes can be good but like you say no new experiences no new topics very mundane xx love the SHAC SHAC as this gives me a chance to express me and imagination can run wild I am transported to wherever we go and for that hour I am no longer sitting alone in my living room xx makes me sound miserable but I am not I am just frustrated by a situation I have no control over xx so thank you Barbara for taking me travelling xx

  9. An inspiring and thoughtful blog Barbara.
    I felt quite low when I realised how much I missed my fellow crafters and our neighbours after we moved but since we went into self imposed lockdown in February (for health reasons) we have had several e-mails and phone calls hoping we were OK. It really lifted my spirits.
    There were times when I felt that my mind was slowing down and losing interest even before the pandemic but lately I seem to have a new lease of life.
    We only have one life and it needs to be lived to the full no matter how you do it. We have our art and crafting, other hobbies, loads of books and music and each other. Life is good.
    We have both been clearing out items we no longer use, reminiscing on why and how they arrived in our world and having some giggles too as we went through a mountain of photos.
    I think that sometimes we live such busy lives that we don’t see what is around us. Although we cannot go out the wildlife, science and history programmes on TV have taught me a lot and has stimulated my mind as well as giving me ideas for my cards and paintings.
    I aim to live till I’m 100, health willing, as l have so much I still want to do. It’s good to have a purpose.
    Take care everyone, stay safe, stay positive.
    Love and virtual hugs to all.

  10. Wow well that certainly hit home. I’ve been felling math for a few weeks now and have no need to be that way. I feel that I am very lucky in my life, couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was going on in my brain. I don’t do anything particularly exciting. Like to see friends pop out for coffee or lunch and maybe browse the shops. Have put it down to not sleeping properly but maybe that is the reason I’m not sleeping. Some thinking to do here.

  11. I love reading your blog and check it every morning over my coffee. I recently retired from health care so in some ways glad I am not in the thick of it with wearing PPE everyday, all day, but it has been weird when I thought I would be at Aqafit 3 days a week, weekly hikes, etc. I am so grateful for my art and to read your blog, watch the HOCHANDA videos that you and Paul do. Art and creativity certainly is nourishment for the soul.
    I had to chuckle when you talked about media and Trump, Brexit, Covid ……….. because I often find myself watching the news and thinking “there are so many good things that people have done for each other during this time, kindnesses, fun things, so why can’t we hear those stories on the media rather than the politics, fighting, and negativity”.
    Living in Toronto, Canada with the cooler weather coming in now, makes me sometimes wish it was summer and fall all year around. BUT, then I would miss the beautiful seasons and the EXPERIENCE of the summer heat, the fall colours, the winter snow and bright skies, and then the spring flowers, so in the end, all is good.
    Thank you for your message and have a wonderful day/week/month experiencing all that you are meant to.

  12. Well said Barbara. I totally identify this. I had a stroke in 2003 and went from a very intense job including world travel to not being able to go shopping on my own. My world shrank and for a long time I really struggled. I have other disabilities which restrict me now but have learned to find the things which lift my spirits and fit something good into every day. Lockdown hasn’t changed my life much at all but even I find some restriction in not having friends visit or a day out to lunch and shopping with friends . I’ve always knitted and sewed but now I do far more crafting and have a craft room which I make sure to spend time in each day. The SHACSHACk has been a highlight for me this year and you are so inspirational. I also find the groovi clubs great to as that gives me a lift when that flies through the door and if I need inspiration the leaflets from groovi club and the groovi and clarity Facebook groups are full of ideas. Thanks to all at clarity and to all the clarity friends and family on Facebook.

  13. Quite the revelation. I’ve had lots of my own thoughts during this pandemic. Life was not good before the pandemic although there is a lot for which I am grateful and strangely enough, I am grateful for what the pandemic has given me, a real break from tradition and routine where every week was the same and sucking the life out of me. Unlike others who long for it to end and go back to ‘normal’, I dread that! At the SEC, I felt alive for the first time in years and that was thanks to you trusting me to do what I could to help you out. Recently, I’ve got a great deal of pleasure out of producing four pictures with the dies. Nothing original but it doesn’t need to be. I am no artist but the SHAC Shack has given me the confidence to try things for which I have all the products but little of the confidence! Occasionally, I have surprised myself but that is thanks to you giving of your time but also thanks to me because I have stuck with the process, with the flying clams, the houses that Jack built, the dodgy whatever else and learned through it all that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be an architect to draw a house! The houses that Jack built have more character and are certainly more fun than measuring each thing to within an inch of its life and all that malarkey! Those positives are a real encouragement because I can spiral downwards quite quickly and as I fight to stay afloat much of the time, I’m beginning to realise that floating is much easier when I stop fighting! The question is, where do I go from here? Life is short and we need to make the most of it. Here endeth the lesson!! Lol. Lots of love. Hxx

  14. I started a daily record of thoughts in both writing and art work on the very first day of lockdown in March,reading has always been one of my greatest passions and these months have given me all the extra time to read and craft without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else.My biggest sadness of all was not seeing my Grandchildren and hugging them,such hard times for parents and grandparents, but the children have been so positive and that give you a boost,I think we will all see life in a different way when this passes,which it will.My first book is full and has been put away with a message to my grandchildren about what we have all experienced during this time,history in the making.

  15. Actually I think I totally buck the trend -I LOVE lockdown and being at home and being able to live my life within. Since a small child I have always had my nose in a book or been doing something creative. I loved school . I went to a special one for bright kids, and they really gave us stimulating and exciting things to do, but best of all, taught us how to live our inner life to the full. I enjoy being alone a lot (when not with my friend next door, helping her with daily living tasks and enjoying her company) , just reading, listening to classical music and crafting. Poor health has limited my activities outside anyway and also much of my craft work, but I still enjoy the natural world around me and would be happy staying in (except for necessary appointments) for the rest of my days. I have memories of exciting travels and past nursing escapades, but I’ve never married or wanted to have a family. So for me, lockdown is a delight and a pleasure. I feel so sorry for those with families who are missing them and hope they can find an inner life and strength in the days ahead.

  16. Very thought provoking blog today. John and I have been walking more, doing our daily Spanish lesson, and being thankful for what we have every day. I’m enjoying reading more too and have finished a couple of long standing crochet projects and started some sewing whilst my papercrafts are all in storage. Your book sounds great though – when can I put it on my list for Santa? X

  17. We moved to a different area two years ago, (couple of reasons) from a town we loved to be in. I haven’t settled in this area, I don’t know where things are, and couldn’t have cared much either, and for about a year I was not myself. I missed all my clubs/friends/contacts and therefore things to talk about which interested me. I joined one monthly club in my new area about a year ago, but couldn’t attend a couple of them at the beginning of the year, then came the pandemic.
    Lockdown has actually brought more interest for me, even if the friends are not real, but are on facebook lives, I have something to talk about, to listen to, think about, and do, mostly thanks to the SHAC SHAC. If life ever becomes normal again, I must promise myself to find some clubs again to meet real life people, in my village/town, so I don’t become the hermit I nearly am, at the moment, (husband aside). Barb, you have certainly made me think tonight. We all need to have real experiences.

  18. I am an e mail buddy for an older woman and have been for nearly 20 years now when she had a significant bereavement. I HAVE to find something interesting to tell her every day. She does not want to hear about politics or Covid and she would not conveniently get involved in the SHAC. Mostly she’s not interested in my life. It is a real discipline but you must know that from the blog. I have just been reading An Evil Cradling, Brian Keenan’s account of his years as a hostage in Lebanon. At one point, he talks about an agreement with John McCarthy to ‘share only strength’ and I think that is the key. There are good things in every day if you look for them and those raise other people’s spirits, so interest them. Things you can make funny are especially good. Of course, what really interests a lot of people is your interest in them.

  19. I have always been a big reader so find it easy to escape.
    I also have 2 cats who provide much needed enjoyment.
    Great post today I have a friend who is quite down at the moment and I find platitudes are just that. But when we could go out I would always say to her that we are creating memories and in these difficult times it is time to recall these memories and remember the things that make you smile. Also stop watching TV 😂
    Enjoy yourselves

    1. Your friend is lucky to have you alongside. Depression is a horrible illness and some of the pills and other treatments cause memory loss, so they may need your memories of joint times to reach theirs and to share your concentration so they escape to other worlds with you. It sounds like you use the same tools as Brian Keenan, remembering the best and limiting your awareness of the worst by turning off the TV. I wish your friend a speedy recovery and hope you have what you need to stay with them.

  20. Hello Barb, a great thought provoking blog post. I think the whole situation has just worn people down. I know it has made me more anxious. I try not watch the news too much, rather watch quiz programs or DIY/upcycling programs, much more stimulating. Take care and stay safe everyone. I know there is a lot of support from Clarity followers, so I am sure we can reach out for some virtual hugs if needed. Bx

  21. Indeed! It’s the divine wake up! Probably good that we don’t have one of those every day but certainly invigorating. Recently happened to me hiking alone out at Jenner open space preserve and came upon a mountain lion. All senses like cylinders firing, hair straight out on end and a rapture that is for lack of a better word “aliveness.”
    Your poem reminds me of Hesse’s “Stages” in The Glass Bead Game: “The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us, but lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.”
    Pandemic or not, we as crafters and artists have a calling to, as O’Keeffe said, “make the unknown known.” We have to stretch ourselves, to seek out those things in life that call to us, to go deeper than the surface stuff, and to get our minds in a headspace to receive those divine bells, cause they are most certainly out there! Thank YOU Barbara Gray, and all the shac shackers, for doing the work yous do, and carrying on!

  22. Barbara is has really made me think… some of you lovely folk know what I’ve gone through this year, C19 aside, it’s been a very tough year. And I, like you have been feeling very lost in the day to day monotony of life at the moment. I have my dog to walk every morning, and I am glad for that momentary escape from four walls, but it is a fleeting pleasure. My art usually sustains my soul but I have found it useless this year. I’ve decided I must make the effort to enjoy what is available to me and enjoy every minute. Grief and anguish has taken up so much of my time this year I cannot lose any more.

    1. Right then Barbara, now is the time to start your book.
      I’m on my third book, it’s another way of crafting, it makes you think of other things. I’m sure you have had a very interesting life. You write a good blog. You should write your life story down. Maybe five years at a time. Go on get started .

  23. I’m not very good with words expressing myself,
    But I agree with your words feelings, thank you for the poem.
    Hugs take care xxx

  24. Hi Barbara
    What a wonderful, thought provoking poem. He definitely had a wonderful way with words.
    I had no idea that he had died so young. How sad.
    I shall look up some of his other works, and educate myself a little. Xxx
    Love & Hugs

  25. I haven’t been out since the beginning of the whole covid malarkey except to a funeral and the dentist so take everyday things as experiences. I craft when I can manage and drink in inspiration from your goodself and others – thank you so much! xxxxxx

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