Everything can change in a year

It’s strange how even a year or two can render you almost unrecognisable to yourself. The Áine who started blogging on Sirens & Muses two and half years ago has now disappeared into the folds of history. In her place: me.

Things have changed. I built a spiritual practice and gradually my blogging shifted over to that subject entirely. I blogged under the name Spinning of the Wheel for a few years, until I launched a business called Heart Story, and subsumed the blog into it. These days I am known as Áine Órga online, and the persona of Áine Warren – while it is a variant of my real name – has receded.

And I am happier. More stressed? Undoubtedly. But I finally feel that I am getting to where I need to be.

I am still writing. But at the moment I am primarily writing about spirituality, nature-based religion, and personal development. I write Tarot readings for people (when I make a sale!). And I am generally trying to reach out more into the world with my writing. I am trying to make a difference.

But I miss having somewhere to come and write casually. I miss creative writing, and I keep trying to find the time to come back to my novel-writing. It will happen, it’s in the plan. But starting a business is time-consuming!

So I think I’m going to come back and write here again. Probably very informal and unfocussed stuff. I won’t make any promises! But I miss Sirens & Muses and the freedom it offered me. It started me on an epic journey, and I will be forever grateful for that.

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Rebirth in Spring

Spring fever was short-lived here this year. The first few days of February were beautiful; bright, sunny, warm – the daffodils just beginning to push their short green stumps out of the cold ground. But now, drawing towards the end of March, it is cold and wet and wintry. We even had a few days of snow – blown almost horizontal by the sharp wind, the small hard snowflakes stinging our faces.

I feel as though I’m waiting for the weather to change, stuck in hibernation mode, my own blooming forth curtailed.

My life is, in practical terms, completely transformed from this time last month. In February, after almost two months of anxiety and pressure, I was offered a nine-month internship with the organisation I most wanted to work with. This essentially means that I don’t have to think or worry about money or my career for the next six to nine months. It also means that I now, as of the beginning of March, have somewhere to be six hours a day five days a week, and mountain loads of work and responsibility.

I am glad to be doing something concrete every day. If there’s one thing that the past six months have taught me, it’s that I probably could never be entirely self-employed; I would at the very least need somewhere to be going out every day, and preferably someone to be working alongside with. As the months dragged on, I became less and less productive, whiling way the hours of each day. Having somewhere to be every day, and specific work laid out for me to do, seemed necessary for me; at least for a certain amount of time every week.

But the transition stage is being a lot tougher than I expected. I feel… somehow less clear, more muddied, than I would have expected. As though I’m walking around in a kind of haze. I go to work, I come home and relax (being productive after work is sill not on the cards in terms of energy levels), and despite having quite a lot of time to myself, when I go to bed at night I feel like I don’t really know who I am anymore. As though I haven’t spent any time with myself in a long time – as though I have been absent from myself.

I wanted this new start to be huge, to change my mood and my habits and my personality all in one fell swoop. These catalysts rarely work out the way you expect them to, though. I am still expecting to reach that point, that feeling that I was hoping for. But it might take a few months.

I did, however, sign myself up for a ballet class. This was, perhaps, my primary triumphant move in my reinvention of myself. I flew in the face of my own procrastination and hesitation, and went ahead and paid for an 8-week term. So two weeks ago, I had never taken a dance class in my life. Now, I feel as though I’m starting to learn a new language, alongside my new life. A language of French words that translate to instructions of movement; a language of the limbs, of the legs, of strengthening and lengthening. I feel fantastic afterwards. Maybe not changed and renewed and courageous like I had hoped, but healthy. Calm.

But so far, these new and strange daily tasks at my computer in work, these weekly new and strange physical instructions, are combining to make me feel like a puppet. I feel pulled, drawn, exhausted, mindless. But any week now, I expect my energy to figure itself out. I will be able to cut the strings and dance.

Changes

It’s hard to believe we’re only just over a week into December. Already, the madness of November and NaNo feels like eons ago. And despite the lack of emotion and satisfaction I talked about in my previous post, I do feel like a very different person, or at least like I’m in a very different place. I look back at October and it feels like years ago.

My diminshed presence on WordPress is probably mostly due to habit – but I also feel that, in a way, I have less of a need for it now. Maybe I have accepted my achievement of the 50,000 words on a deeper level than I thought. For the past year, I have validated myself as a writer though blogging. And although I’m definitely not going to stop blogging any time soon, I feel less of a need for it.

It’s a season for change – maybe a year for change. My life is in total upheaval. And at the centre of it, I have moments of amazing calm, amazing certainty that I am in the right place right now. I don’t believe in fate or destiny, but feelings of belonging and contentedness and connectedness are things I’ve been searching for for a long time. Maybe I’m actually getting close.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading and development in terms of my (albeit atheistic) spirituality – though for some reason I don’t feel that this is the place to talk about that. So there are internal changes happening with the external ones. I am striving to become the person I have always expected to be some time in the future. But with my 24th birthday, something clicked with me that I will never become her if I don’t start moving in the right direction now.

I was going to write a post about Christmas, and I will in the next few days. But for now, this rambling fragment will have to do. To regular readers – I’m sorry I have been neglecting your blogs! I do miss reading everyone’s posts, and I’ll get back to it at some point. But right now, I’m not in a mood for forcing it.

The shape of a room

Click here to buy prints, cards and posters of some of these photographs!

Last week, I rearranged my bedroom in my parents’ house. I’ve always had a single bed at home, but for the past couple of years we’ve had the guest double bed sitting in our garage, so we decided it would make more sense if it was in my room instead. I go home to my parents’ house pretty often, and having got used to sleeping in a double bed, a single is starting to seem smaller and smaller. On nights when I can’t sleep, I feel as if the edges of the bed are creeping towards me, and every time I roll over I feel like I’m about to fall off.

So the furniture had to be rearranged to make space. Of course, there were probably easier ways of going about it – but I have a particular love for rearranging rooms, so I jumped at the opportunity.

It was also an opportunity to get rid of some last vestiges of my childhood that were clinging on. I had gradually taken down most of the posters and photographs, and boxed away a lot of the stuff that lined the shelves and window ledge, but there were still some areas that hadn’t been touched in years. I’m terrible for getting sentimentally attached to inanimate objects, so I do keep everything, but I do love the feeling of putting away a part of your life that isn’t relevent anymore.

While I was cleaning and moving, some forgotten friends and objects resurfaced, and I got to see things that had been there all along in a new light. So out came the camera.

Mr Woof was given to me three Christmases ago by my boyfriend at the time. Although I’m not a teddy bear freak, and had hardly bought a new one since I was a child, I fell in love with this guy in a toy shop – he’s big enough to be satisfying to hug, and ludicrously soft. He had been boxed away with all the other remnants of that relationship, and it was high time to take him out again.

I’ve picked up a lot of different things over the years, but the ones that have stayed laid out in the room are mostly those that were gifted to me, or hold some emotional significance. All the clutter of my teenage years has gradually subsided. It seems to be a common teenage phenomenon, the wish to fill your space with clutter and noise, as though desperately cutting a personality out for yourself. My walls used to be covered with sketches, drawings, paintings, photographs, pictures of celebrities, postcards, any pretty or funny flyer or poster I came across. But these days, I need a bit more room to breathe.

It used to be the case that my room was filled with cats – cat figurines, pictures, stuffed toys. There are still a lot of these floating around if you look closely. But there is one rather odd animal that I ended up with a mini collection of – elephants.

The dark wooden elephant in the middle was the first one I acquired, bought in the airport in Bangkok when I was eight. We didn’t ever leave the airport – we were on our way to Australia, the long way around, as we had missed the flights that would have taken us across the US. The ivory elephant to the front was the last to join the collection. I found him when I was ten years old in a small second-hand shop in County Meath, while on holiday with my mother, aunt and cousins. My cousins had a friend staying with them in the holiday home as well, and I had a fairly violent if quickly forgotten crush on him. I can still remember the smell of him as I wandered around the dimly lit jumble of a shop.

But the third jewelled elephant was probably where my love of elephant figurines started.

This little guy is made slightly ugly by the greyish-brown putty that holds his mirrored glass, and he has long since lost his tusks. But I love him because I can’t remember him not being in my life. He lived in my grandparents’ house, on a shelf in the corner at the back of the living room. Every time I went out the french doors into the greenhouse, I would wave hello or touch the red pieces of glass on his back. When I was nine, my grandparents died, and he was the only thing I requested to have.

These guys are ‘the dudes’ of my room. Both of these are relatively new, compared to the old canon of stuffed toys I grew up with. All of the older ones are now in the attic, apart from my two favourites, who have come with me to my flat. I’ll have to dedicate a post to them exclusively some day.

But these guys; the orang-utan was bought in Dublin Zoo when I was ten, and my cousin (and good friend) has a twin.The penguin is called Suica Penguin, and he’s from Tokyo. Myself and my boyfriend at the time spent two weeks in Tokyo back in 2008. Anyone who has used the metro in Tokyo might recognise him – he was the mascot of the Suica card company, which supply prepaid travel cards in Tokyo. We were highly amused by all the posters he featured in, and when we spotted a stuffed version in a metro station shop, we had to have him. He is co-owned, but has always lived with me.

The red paper lantern is also from that trip to Tokyo, but the dream catcher is much older, I can’t remember how old. These hang in the middle of my attic room, much to the consternation of anyone trying to move around the room. I am used to the fact that there is only a narrow strip down the middle of the room that you can stand upright in, but others are not, and cannot fathom why I would block this way with these hangings. But I like them; I always find ceilings too bare.

Although I probably would have been moving things around anyway to get the double bed in, moving furniture and cleaning always seems to be something I do when I’m going through a period of change. It lays out a clean slate, I guess. And gives me an opportunity to look back before moving forward.

Changing season

It’s the fourth day of autumn, and although there’s no sign of the leaves starting to turn – it’s usually a few more weeks, and thanks to all the rain this summer it’ll probably be later than usual – there is definitely that glowing August feeling in the air. I associate late autumn, in the run up to my birthday on Halloween, with cold sunshine and dead leaves blowing in gusts of wind – and already the wind is picking up and the sun in shining more often than it did all summer. I know a lot of people in Ireland consider August to be summer, and thanks to the school system it is still part of the ‘summer holiday’ season for me, but I can always feel the change of season coming on this month.

It’s been a tempestuous summer, and not only in terms of the weather. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much change happen during these months, and that’s saying a lot, as my summers were often very busy times for me. But my world has been shaken around quite a lot, and it looks like it might be about to turn upside down completely.

In a good way, though. I can’t say if it’ll all be for the best, because who can ever know that. But it feels good, it feels like it makes sense even though it doesn’t, not really.

The research project is starting to wind to a close. The first couple of months of that went very fast, but now it feels like I’ve been working on it too long. With all the changes that have been going on in my head and out of it, the coming towards the end doesn’t really feel like I would have expected it to. Or maybe these things never do – I guess the end of my BA didn’t feel as I might have expected either. But anyway, I can’t wait. I feel like my life is waiting to start. It’s not even that I have anything lined up or any solid plans, but with the new leaf I feel turning, it seems that with the end of the Masters I really will be ending one era of my life and starting a new one.

I can’t wait to have more time for writing and taking photos. Particularly writing – I have an idea that I’ve been gradually working on, and I’m itching to see if it can turn into something solid. Come September, all of this can actually start happening. A new beginning has rarely seemed so appealing.

New leaf

I love when I find echoes of a past happy time in my life. I love the symmetry, and also the trepidation. I love the feeling of connectedness, as though my life really is a narrative with themes and leitmotifs. I love the moments of uncertainty jolting through the familiarity.

But sometimes the most exciting thing about a new situation is that it is new.

When I was a very small child, I used to think that the clouds only appeared to move in the sky because the earth was spinning, but the clouds were in fact still. The sun, moon and stars were too far away for us to be able to perceive their relative shifting. But watching the clouds to me was like watching the road slip away under the wheels of a car. When I realised that the clouds do in fact move across our skies, I was struck with bitter disappointment. There had been something comforting in being able to look up at the sky and remind myself that we are moving forward.

The excitement of change reminds me of that. The clouds’ drifting spoke of the racing of time, of our own aging and development, and the amazing experiences that were waiting for me in my future, waiting to unfold. But I also was aware of the cyclical nature of time; that we may be hurtling through space, but we move in a fixed path, and the world spins only on itself.

And so we move forward, but also back on ourselves. The seasons come and go, and each time they come around we feel a content recognition, a familiarity. But each time they come around, we are different, we have changed. And so things are new even when we come around to them a second time.

The space before

All these little daily disappointments, I feel them in my knees. When I rise in the morning and feel the ache as my toes spread and my weight moves down my legs, I know I am in for a tired and uninspired day. But when I make mistakes, I feel it rising behind my ears like a blush. I feel it sometimes, as I reach for the hand of the wrong man, as I set aside something important. The warning in the space before regret.

During the day, in the glare of the sun, it is hard to tell if the scorching against my ears is the heat of the summer, or an impending disaster. It is easier in the dark, when the wine and tequila lays a vignette over the world, and he comes into clearer focus in the centre of my life. My whole body burns then, and the fear is gone.

I have yet to find the part of me that responds to what is correct. I sit for hours, staring questions in the face, and mentally examine myself from head to toe. That twinge in my chest – excitement or fear? Anticipation or trepidation? When I feel the tears come I don’t know if it’s sadness or exhaustion.

We all long for what we can’t have. And because it doesn’t exist, we long for that one true love that will follow us throughout a lifetime. Is there anyone who doesn’t wish their first love, that first flutter at the tender age of fifteen, was their last? Their one and only? We all want that clarity of feeling, the knowing that it’s right simply because it always has been.

But it’s never that easy. We fumble through life, clutching at the straws that are offered to us. And it can be hard to tell the clutching from the genuine falling.

So I try to just feel the want. It can consume me, if I let it, but I’m too old now for such extravagance. I rise in the morning, swing my legs off the bed, and test out my knees. I try not to take the disappointments personally.

Fresh start of the summer

Irish temperatures have finally caught up with the season, and the population of Dublin are wandering the streets and lounging in parks sporting bare arms and sunburn. My own back is a fetching lobster red, and the vivid white bra strap marks will undoubtedly remain all summer.

But sunburn is one ailment I will never lament, considering its infequency in this country, and the promise it brings for an outdoor, happy kind of season. A lot has changed since I finished the semester, both in my own head and out of it. Some demons may have caught up with me, but I’m shaking them off, maybe this time for good. And I have opened my eyes to discover a whole new possibility has been sitting patiently beside, waiting for me to realise.

It’s the kind of possibility I still can’t quite look straight in the eye, so we sit side by side in the sunshine and just wait. But a change is coming, so fast I have no time to overthink it.

I’m going to let it happen.