To catch a falling leaf.



It was a blessing to walk with Ben Dog under gently bronzing beech trees. I nearly lost him last month, so our time together today was as golden as the sunlight falling across my desk just now. With my resilient little steed bumbling along the woodland path by my side, I caught my first falling leaf of Autumn – an annual ritual going so far back, I can’t tell you who first extolled me of its virtues.

This year’s catch was a surprise (considering we were in a beechwood) ~ an English Oak leaf (Quercus robur), meaning ‘strength.’ I examined it, with all my senses, then with my eyes fixed on Ben, I made my usual wish and let it go. I walked home, against the wind, yet somehow felt at peace.

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here on this blog, my mind fixed to pre-set Masters questions. They have been challenging research subjects too, like euthanasia and abortion, sometimes very dark and always taxing. I was not asked the specific essay questions I’d have liked on each topic. Narrow questions are hard to answer when subjects are vast and chaotic. I guess this is the nature of post graduate study!

Twelve essays into my degree, and channels of understanding have opened that I have not fully considered before. I have uncovered surprising things about my own sense of right and wrong. I have caught the Autumn leaf, examined it, but now must let it go.

Next, I will turn into the headwinds of dissertation, a squall into which I must lean, as much as catch my breath. It will captivate me, I know it. A meditation. I tend to absorb myself in meaning, and have trouble remembering to eat. But like setting course into new adventures, I’ll feel joy in moving forwards, despite resistance (yes, there will be much resistance, and in many forms).

Life is never simple and, as Rilke has written, we may embrace difficulties because they are the normality of existence. Joy in life then, as if by magic, transforms into the exquisite, ecstasy set against a backdrop of the mundane.

Now to regain my own sense of purpose and direction in thought, to retain some colour and independence. This will be my next mind-adventure. There will be surprises, and on my way home, I hope to find peace. I wish!


World Suicide Prevention Day




By sharing stories, we can learn from one another. Not least, being honest about our feelings, no matter how bleak.

No-one should have to deal with emotional turbulence on their own.

Life is not all about being happy. But sometimes, unhappy is the bottom of a deep, dark well.

After many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that illness is the wrong description for mental distress. There are multiple reasons for mental distress; evolutionary traits, genetics then, importantly, experiences, memories, habits, social pressures, governance, wealth, relationships, trauma, stress, climate change, biodiversity loss… the list goes on.

We are all unique.

To class every distress of the mind as ‘Illness’ simply gives over our own power to others, to medics. We do have our own powers, even if we need help to find them. Even if we need medics to help.

Key though, is that the right help for each person is needed, which means the first help might be the wrong sort.

Please, encourage those suffering to find the right help. It may take a while, sometimes a long while.

We are all unique.

And so then I would ask all to be receptive to those expressions of feelings. Listening is good. To be a listener is to live the good life. It is a skill that can be learnt.

Also, Suicide Survival Lists are good (reminders of why one should stay alive that can be kept in a pocket).

Suicide is preventable, but even ‘treatment’ doesn’t necessary end in avoiding the worst.
My mother was being treated.

All we can do is share the stories, our own and others.


One final thing from me. And it is important.

Peace is not death. Peace is here on this Earth, at one with yourself, in your relationships and at one with the planet. Death is nothingness. Escaping from pain to eternal nothingness? I’d rather find peace here on Earth. Having been to the bottom of the darkest well, I know this is possible.

You can find peace again and live.


Finding Mum


My mother loved the sparrows in the ivy. They were all over the windows that Summer’s dawn. I was the one who found her. This was written in Creative Writing Class during my inpatient treatment for acute PTSD after her suicide. Word for word…


I pushed my fingers against the brass plate. The door, ajar, creaked just a little. The blue of my mother’s nighty, I bought it for her, from M&S, shone through the crack and my voice trembled in readiness for a conversation. A sympathetic conversation.


“Yes, love.”

“Why are you in here all on your own?”

“I was just looking for something, Gin.”

Well, what could she she have been searching for so early on this cool Summer morning of July 18th? Her spectacles left after some dusting? Checking the boiler so that the heating in this drafty old cottage is still filling the radiators with tepid water half an hour each day?

“Hey, Dad’s been worried about you. He’s been marching through the lavender, the roses, calling your name, and for an hour and a half.”

Shall I embrace her?

“Hey, Mum.”

“Yes Dear.”

“Why are you in here all on your own?”


The lights were off, the curtains open. The sparrows must have pecked at the spiders’ webs on the window pains. Did they see you with their yellow eyes, heads cocked, inquisitive? Did they sing for you?


I see you, blue.
I touch your arm with the backs of my fingers.
I go down on my knees.
I stand and run.

The door closed behind me with the clatter remembered since childish forays into the cottage. The parties. Get togethers. Warm Christmases.

Now the door is locked tight, and I have no key.