Tag Archive: communal camping


ImageNavigating the transition from school term to holidays is never easy, and I am grateful right now for my two hours in a cafe while Jude is at the low cost Women’s Centre creche. As many of you know, I finally made the decision to go with my gut and keep Jude out of school for at least this next year and home educate. The root of this decision lies back in his babyhood when I began to read about the philosophy around home education and the problems with schooling. So the impact of suddenly seeing the shape of my life without 15 hours of nursery per week is, to say the least, quite startling.

I often find that once a decision is made, the other side – the path not taken – seems to stand out in bold relief. I know that if I had made the decision to send him to school, I would be seeing all the flaws of that path in minute detail, so I can rest in the middle here, taking it all with a pinch of salt.

A few things have come to pass and to end lately. The vision of my son at school, joining the ranks of the vast majority of our society – there is a kind of loss and grief in that, even though I feel right about the choice; the end of a significant relationship; my decision to not take my place on the Creative Writing MA to start in October after all. Instead of the massive undertaking and financial commitment of a 2 year degree I am doing manageable little bits and pieces that nourish my writer self: such as the Sark ‘WINS’ course, which I started a month ago and am absolutely loving!

Sark is one of the most insightful and inspiring writers I’ve ever had the luck to come across. I loved her book ‘Succulent Juicy Woman’ and have aspired to be one ever since. Her program for writers, WINS, has in the space of a few weeks transformed me from a chronic writing procrastinator to someone who is doing something to do with writing almost every single day. I hope this keeps up! I know that if I get stuck there is abundant support to get unstuck again.

I have some interviews lined up with amazing creative and soulful mothers for my non-fiction project, and have already gratefully received some written material answering my questions from those who are not able to do face to face interviews. I am going to send a proposal to an agent who I have a connection with through an author friend. I am so excited about this project!

My son and I have spent 2 weeks camping this summer so far, one week at Midsummer Camp in June and one at Dance Camp East in late July – a week blessed with the most stupendous unexpected sunshine. We met lovely people, re-encountered lovely souls we’d camped with before, and generally unwound ourselves into the space of blue sky and the simplicity of cooking over a fire.

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But I noticed something different this year: the camps don’t feel like the be-all and end-all of my life, as they did the last two years – the first two years in which I discovered them. It may sound sad to say that only a couple of weeks out of a whole year would have such an impact, but they did. I was woken up to a way of living that resonated deeply with me: a way of being in community in freedom and mutual respect that I recognised with my bones. I came home from them absolutely overflowing with love and openness.

This time, though, I found myself almost impatient with the seeming irrelevance of the camps to my everyday life: after all, living on my own with my son barely resembles a situation of sharing cooking, childcare and songs with 30 other people. It’s as if there seemed no point in surrendering into an experience that, beautiful as it is, is not going to last and cannot be translated into my life in Brighton. Some kind of cynicism or disappointment had taken root in me, to my sadness. This didn’t stop me from enjoying the experience as best I could while there: I discovered some wonderful new things, like Taize meditative singing, which had me in tears every time, and circle dancing, and loved singing my way through a 60’s and 70’s songbook with a guitarist in my circle, and performing ‘I’m Alive’ with a small acapella group in the cabaret at Dance Camp East.

But I wonder if the community is simply evolving more slowly here, but happening in its own subtle way nonetheless. Several people I know through the single parenting community in Brighton have supported me recently with both practical and emotional issues – mostly online or via text, but it helped tremendously. Another single mom is looking at setting up some single parent houseshares, and I am dabbling with the idea. I am loving the home education community already, and am so grateful for things like the forest school at Stanmer Park which is like a mini-recreation of camp life for me, once a week, where Jude can make a stick man to celebrate Lammas and also run around with a sword with other boys. I also love my various women’s circles, which nourish me and connect me to my femininity, and am so excited about the collaborations in the form of yoga and creativity workshops I am brewing with other talented women. And it seems that various acquaintances are setting up new social events and gatherings almost every week.

Dance Camp has also renewed my determination to learn guitar. In the style of Sark’s micro-movements, (where you take actions that last no longer than 5 minutes, to move you steadily towards your goal), I have taken my guitar out of the cupboard and put it in the living room, looked at tuners online and peered in the window of a music shop.

I encourage you all to look at the little steps you can take towards your dreams, and see how these little seeds take root and flower. I am hoping that the roots of community and music will slowly spread right underneath the foundations of my life here in Brighton. Who knows where they will come up to light and flower next.

Back!

I’m back after a long absence. I don’t know quite where to start, so I’ll start where I am. It’s Spring Equinox today and the astrological New Year. I am sitting at my desk with a breeze blowing through my window and a conspicuous cobweb in my line of vision. My friend Loi, who is staying with me for the week to research for a project on people’s lives in Brighton and Sweden, is sitting outside in the garden. Above me is my vision board for this year (picture to follow – camera being stubborn!) which has mostly pictures of outdoor scenes: a labyrinth on a field, a woman in a hammock in a summer dress, gardening, campfires.

For the first time I can remember, though, I don’t feel quite ready for the spring and summer – it seems to have crept up on me unawares. Through the winter I’ve been cooking some fascinating projects, and I feel far from ready to bring them to the light of day. I associate summer with fun and lots of time outdoors, which often feels incompatible with hard work – so the end of my semi-hibernation feels premature, since I am still in the work mode. Sometimes, it’s hard to let the grace – and peace, and fun – come in, when it feels un-earned.

Here is a poem that I wrote recently, its seeds sown in a journal entry at a 5 Rhythms Retreat in February.

Enough

Enough

of the sacred. We turn

and go, confront

mud clods and staring sheep.

In the end

you cannot stay with the joy

forever. The sadness

catches up, bleeds

through your flimsy bones

like translucent fire –

and the way the stones skipped time

on the river, and the moss

climbed the rocks, and we looked

at every knob and curl

of a thousand year old yew,

and Alex stood with her arms in a V

to the Welsh blue,

with the vivid scratch

of a branch on her cheek,

branding her with a kind of kinship.

You cannot hold it,

you need to burrow out again,

collect more of your soul

lost in tatters on the edge

of wilderness

learn to love the sound

of your own voice

howling in darkness.

I dance in the village hall

with its names of dead soldiers on the walls,

my eyes to the sheep

on the hills, the silhouettes

of trees as dusk catches

us in a net of mortality

again.

One of the others, a man

who dances as if with every movement

it were possible to loop the moon

and its currents back into his body,

the warrior sun to take residence

in his joints and sinews –

says “I’ve felt sad the whole retreat.

On the other side of the sadness,

perhaps,

is indescribable beauty.”

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(‘Seed’ by Pavel Jonka)

I am picking up the thread of this blog again, to chronicle my continuing efforts to weave threads between the different parts of my life: motherhood, writing, spirituality, nature. Lately there have been some pure moments of connection between these areas: one is the birth of an idea for a book that slowly grew out of some articles I’ve been writing (including one for an upcoming issue of Wild Sister magazine), which will explore mothering as a ‘juicy succulent woman’, one who endeavours to live out of her creativity in every moment. I envision interviewing mothers who are artists or spiritual seekers in one way or another, (and who of us is not, in some way?) and examine their stories alongside my own experience, to provide sustenance to others on this journey.

Alongside this I am editing my magical realist/ supernatural novel along with feedback from a fellow writer and friend, Sara-Mae, (here’s her satirical art blog), and have put my new novel on hold while I wait to find out if I’ve got onto the Creative Writing MA at West Dean College, a dream I’ve had since 2006! I’m working on two collections of poetry, one themed around Brighton, one around different summers of my life. My son is now 4 1/2 and is starting to make inroads into his own independence, flourishing and growing both physically and mentally and continually surprising me, making me laugh and frustrating the **** out of me! Right now he is at nursery school which he is loving, and this afternoon we will go swimming and do some mommy-and-J things. Things feel in balance at the moment – and it’s always a balance that requires presence and attention (and it was definitely NOT the case last week, when I had a severe case of freak-out and overwhelm, but hey…)

I am also working on starting a new family-friendly nature-based camp, inspired by the beautiful camps I’ve been to and have blogged about on here, called Heartsong Camp – watch this space! At the moment I have a few people interested in crewing and giving workshops, and a possible venue – the finer details are being worked out. I have moments of terror that I am even contemplating doing this, but whenever I feel that way something comes along and indicates that the project has its own flow, all I have to do is flow with it, and the right circumstances, people, places and times will occur.

I also turned 32 last month, and two weeks ago got my Breastfeeding Counsellor qualification after 3 years of study. Feels like a time of landmarks, turning points, and things being wrapped up – making the transition from student to practitioner being loosed on the public 😉 !

Overall, it’s all been about trust, trust, trust lately. I have been percolating so many different possible ways of living, taking steps towards them, then a few steps back – in December I went to Norfolk to investigate moving here, but have decided to stay in Brighton for now – and throughout I am learning to let go of the outcome, trust the next step, trust that I’m being led where I need to be – and most of all, that it doesn’t, and I don’t, have to be perfect. Allow myself to learn and make mistakes. I love this quote from Annie Lamott: ‘Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you crimped and insane your whole life. Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while doing it.’

Until next time, keep dreaming your creative dreams and taking one step at a time. Love, Morgan x