Learning to See


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I came across this image and quote by Leonardo da Vinci the other day.

flower of life

How can you not love Leonardo da Vinci? I remember visiting his house as a child while on the ubiquitous school trip to France. Glass cases displayed notebooks, the pages overflowing with his cursive, scrawling, sepia-tinted handwriting. Mechanical models hung from the rafters and elegant, leaded windows looked out over rolling lush green fields. Beams of golden light bounced off polished wood and in the naivety of my youth it seemed sacred somehow. It was here that I learnt that he and I shared the same birthday – April 15th. I hugged this information to myself when I discovered it, as if I had been given a membership card to a secret club. It is true that knowledge such as this can be dismissed as mere coincidence but I’ve always been fascinated by the association that comes with numbers, especially my birthday. In this, I know, I am not alone.

For those who are unfamiliar with this kind of number association, I would invite anyone who is interested in learning more about themselves to start with discovering people and events both past and present who share their birthday. It’s great fun and can lead one to forming all sorts of associations not previously imagined. I also believe that all of the circumstances of our birth hold some clue as to why we are here and what we have come to accomplish. These include our family circumstances as well as the more well-established place, date and time of our birth as used to procure astrological charts.

It is said that starting to notice configurations of numbers such as 11:11 is a sign that you are ‘waking up’. I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I suppose if noticing such things helps to raise your awareness towards keeping your attention in the present moment then it must be a good thing.

Hearts Influencing Forever

Something wonderful landed in my lap the other day – an invitation to a Raw Food seminar in September. This is the story of how it all happened. With big thanks and love to the beautiful Amy x



Soul Dipper

A gift arrived from Japan last year from Jaq.

Distilling Devastation Distilling Devastation

The gift raises money for housing children who lost both parents on March 11, 2011 – the day of Japan’s devastating earthquake/tsunami.

My friend, Jaq, co-created the gift and its concept.  I was thrilled to receive it.  What is it?  Peek here:  Out of Japan’s Tsunami… the post simulates opening the parcel yourself.

I found Jaq in the blogosphere.  The blog’s name  – Jinkspots – fired my curiosity.  I wrote asking about the origin of the name.  Our friendship began and I learned she was from England, had married a Japanese man and had two beautiful children.  Jaq and Kuri wanted their daughter and son to experience the Japanese culture, as well, so ended up making their new home in Japan about 300 miles south much before the Tsunami’s rage.

Having legitimate concerns over the misinformation regarding the cracked…

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Beginning with Death

Year of the Horse began with the death of someone special.


I dropped everything and flew to England.

Despite being terribly sick the day before, I spoke at the funeral.

I shared my grief and my memories.

I shared my heart with my family

and with strangers.

And I determined that I would turn this loss, this biggest of negatives

into the biggest plus I possibly could.

I will no longer stop myself from doing the things I dream of. All of my effort from now will be spent doing whatever is necessary to turn dreams into reality. I believe that the call in our heart responds to one that is born in the soul of the universe and we should know we have nothing to fear. The only fear that should be embraced is the one that makes you work harder and that is, quite simply – will I finish it? Will I have time to accomplish all that I can? Rather than being confined by death we should allow it to liberate us into the boundlessness of the present moment, which is the same as the boundlessness that resides in our hearts.

Energy doesn’t die. It transfers, transmutes, changes. The energy that was my uncle is now becoming part of me. It is spurring me on with renewed vigour. He was a big strong man in his life, uncle Denis. He fought for his country on more than one occasion and lost all his teeth playing rugby. I think this is where the determination is coming from.

His death has cleared a path before me in a way I have never before experienced. I feel as if I have been rewired and I wonder if others have ever felt this too.

I don’t know much but I do know

there is no longer a moment to waste.


Memento Mori

Remember you will die.



Word count: 290 Draft saved at 1

Calling on the Ancestors


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The other day, Jinkspots hit a black spot.

Sometimes the Light is all but obscured...

Sometimes the Light is all but obscured…

It was one of those moments – maybe you have had them yourself – when the outside came crashing down around me and the inside, already struggling with its own tumultuous forces, was unable to withstand the tumble. In moments such as these, lonely, dark, despairing, what can one do to find the light? I got down on my knees and I prayed, with all my might, to those who have gone before me – my father, grandmothers, beloved aunts, uncles, great aunts and those who returned unborn. I asked for their presence to be felt, for their love, guidance and support. I was desperate. In modern life, I suspect, one often is.

I don’t know how these things work, but two days later, I received a reply in a way so physically present it took my breath away.

Note the shadowy figure behind the Queen on the blue stamp...

Note the shadowy figure behind the Queen on the blue stamp…

Enclosed in a package of books sent from my mother in England was this letter, dated September 1990 and sent more than 23 years ago. I recognised the hand immediately. The fine copperplate script penned in ink, real ink from a fountain pen, spoke of an age that has almost all but gone. The letter was from my great-grandmother, the mother of my grandfather on my mother’s side.

It is hard to know what to do with family history sometimes, especially when at least one half of what one should know is missing. I have no information about my father’s side of the family as I was separated from them as a baby and the connection never had the chance to be reformed. What I know of my mother’s side is unsettling – stories of abuse, neglect, shameful deceit and wanton abandonment run rife – seams of lead coursing through what should have been gold. There have been times when the weight of this knowledge has borne down on me with a pressure that is hard to define. Knowing what to do with it – how to transmute all that darkness into something more positive and life-affirming – has slowly become an intrinsic part of my own journey.

It seems there may be others who want me to succeed.

Inside the envelope was a letter and three poems which my great-grandmother had copied onto note paper. I waited until I could secure a few quiet moments on my own to read them.

Messages from elsewhere

Messages from elsewhere

Edith Childs had been born at the tail end of the Victorian era, in 1898. I have no living memory of what she looked like – our relationship was founded purely on the correspondence we upheld with each other. Her letters often spoke of God and always had a strong spiritual slant. I was already amazed at how quickly my call for help had been answered; the feeling intensified when I read her words. It was as if she were writing back then for me now. She says:

“This is a troublous (sic) world in which we now live, bringing us all into its trials and troubles in some way or another, as you must know quite well. We are all carried along with all the changes, and it is easier for some than it is with others, and of course, others finding it harder to find an answer to their problems, queries or whatever. I am writing to you as if you were an older person…”



Elsewhere she writes:

“Please accept the enclosed writings, for I feel that one day in the future you will find comfort in them. They are sent with much love.”


The two references to a time in the future; her desire to offer comfort and upliftment, how can these be explained, especially in the context in which I received them? I have always been prepared to accept the Mystery in life but even I have had my breath taken away by the force of the answer to my initial call for help.

Because she is right, isn’t she? This is a ‘troublous’ world and there are days when I do find it hard to find the answers. I try to keep my attention on the present – on my immediate surroundings and the people and places I have direct contact with. These things I can influence for the better, if I am able. These may receive my love directly.

But what of the wider world? I don’t need to think about what is going on out there for too long before I feel that dark despair again. I try to ignore it but how? How do I prepare my children for the world that is coming to them? What do they need to know? Does the letter offer any advice to help me with this?

“Understand that all knowledge comes from within ‘oneself’. Ask God in your prayers for His Guidance and Help. All are answered, whether by thoughts or orally, for thoughts are living things and they all find a resting place.”

A younger me tussled for years with the question of whether or not to bring children into this world. When I finally met the man who made me feel safe enough to do it, I decided that having a chance at Life was maybe the greatest spiritual gift you could give to another soul. If someone wants to come through me, I thought, then I am ready.

I don’t know what to do about the problems of the wider world. I can’t fix them. But I do what I can which is to work on an energetic level. I go to the beach and draw labyrinths and messages in the sand. With the current levels of bloodshed, destruction and blatant disregard for the sanctity and sacredness of life I feel it important to send love to the Earth. To let her know that we are not all like that. I don’t know if it does anything, but it’s the strongest answer I’ve found inside myself that seems to offer some kind of practical solution.

Giving back to the Earth

Giving back to the Earth

I like to think that receiving a letter from the past containing contact from a soul since departed is confirmation that maybe, for me at this time at least, what I am doing may be enough. We have a duty to take comfort when it is offered, so while I may feel my response is never enough, I have to believe that it does at least do some good. It helps me to sense the sunshine behind the clouds which gives me strength to keep going, day by day.


So to Nanna Childs, wherever you may be, with all my heart, thank you x.

Free to Love

The more I love

The more I am loved;

The more I am loved

The more I am able to love.

                                          ~ Jinkspots

Luna, Pao and Tipi

Luna, Pao and Tipi

Luna comes to live with us from tomorrow. It is a privilege when an animal enters your life. I’m really looking forward to getting to know her.

I’ve experienced many synchronicities with different people this last week. Yesterday was peppered with heartfelt messages and warm, jovial conversations. A day of bright communication. I wonder if it is anything to do with the meteor shower?

I heard somewhere that the Perseid meteor shower is especially bright points of consciousness that we can pick up on if we open ourselves to them. I was able to look every night but I saw only one – a brief but solid streak of light.  It’s interesting how shooting stars fill anyone who sees them with a special kind of hope.

Today is the 44th anniversary of Woodstock, An Aquarian Exposition, as it said on the poster. I love the documentary of the festival – the music is incredible – and watching it again last night, I was struck by how many times I heard the word, ‘Freedom’.

So now I’ve been thinking about Freedom all day and what it means. Can anyone ever truly say they are ‘free’? However we inch forward, it still seems a cause worth supporting.

This week in Japan is traditionally a time to pay your respects to your ancestors, as they return to visit those they once loved. I wish we could summon the Spirit of Woodstock and infuse all of humanity with that peaceful, loving vibration.

John Hersey’s HIROSHIMA


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This week marks the 68th anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we remember those who died, may we also ask that each of us find the way to cultivate peace in our hearts, so that such suffering and tragedy may be hereafter avoided.

Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky. Mr. Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it travelled from east to west, from the city towards the hills. It seemed a sheet of the sun.

In May 1946, The NEW YORKER magazine sent journalist and author John Hersey to Japan to write about what really happened at Hiroshima. Until then, while much had been written on various aspects of the bomb, both supportive and questioning, very little reliable information on the destruction it unleashed had been received in the West. Less than 70 years ago and the most trusted sources of information were still written reports of eye-witness accounts.

As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbour, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. She did not notice what happened to the man next door; the reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step (the house was 1,350 yards or three-quarters of a mile from the centre of the explosion) when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room over the raised sleeping platform, pursued by parts of her house… She heard a child cry, “Mother, help me!” and saw her youngest – Myeko, the five-year-old – buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children.

Hersey spent one month conducting his research. He worked alone and with little assistance from the occupying authorities. His research mainly comprised talking to survivors. The resulting 30,000 word article achieves a sober dignity by having its narrative narrowed to the lives of just six people.

After the terrible flash – which, Father Kleinsorge later realized, reminded him of something he had read as a boy about a large meteor colliding with the earth – he had time, (since he was 1,400 yards away from the centre) for one thought: A bomb has fallen directly on us. Then, for a few seconds or minutes, he went out of his mind.

The editors had originally planned Hersey’s article as a serial; in a moment of inspiration they decided to publish it in its entirety in a single issue. Hersey worked feverishly to meet his deadline. Miraculously the details of the planned special edition remained a secret.
For the first time in the history of the magazine, on 31st August 1946, an issue of The NEW YORKER was published that contained nothing but advertisements and Hersey’s article. Within hours of publication it had already become a piece of journalistic history.

He was one step beyond an open window when the light of the bomb was reflected, like a gigantic photographer’s flash, in the corridor. He ducked down on one knee and said to himself, as only a Japanese would, “Sasaki, gambare! Be brave!” Just then, (the building was 1,650 yards from the centre), the blast ripped through the hospital. The glasses he was wearing flew off his face; the bottle of blood crashed against one wall; his Japanese slippers zipped out from under his feet – but otherwise, thanks to where he stood, he was untouched.

The issue sold out within hours. Albert Einstein alone purchased 1000 copies. Requests for serialisation poured in from other journals. The American Broadcasting Company broadcast an abridged version, approved by Hersey, in four instalments and Alfred Knopf secured the book publication rights for America. Penguin Books recognised the importance of the work and believed that it should receive as wide a circulation as possible in the UK. Knopf acquiesced to their request for rights and Penguin were granted permission to issue it complete in book form.

Note that appeared with the original article (please see below).

Note that appeared with the original article (please see below for full transcript)

The volume that I have is one of these, a first edition, one of only 250,000 copies. It was published in November 1946 and reproduces the original article as it appeared in The NEW YORKER. The restrained style, the sparse yet acute observations, the inter-weaving of the six narratives in the words as they were spoken to Hersey all make for powerful reading. The book itself is a testament to the depravity of war with its low-grade paper and cheap paper binding which on mine has been replaced with hard boards. The furore initiated by publication gains further credibility when we remember the public’s ignorance of the true nature of the bomb and the length of time in which they had been kept in that state.

The impact of the bomb was so huge that news of it delayed reaching people for many months and when it did it understandably caused a mass uproar. Today we seem weary of the onslaught of  news that besieges us daily to the point that many – myself included – choose not to subject themselves to it too often. Yet my weariness stems as much from the fact that we don’t appear to be learning anything and I wonder what it will take to truly turn the tide.

Everything fell, and Miss Sasaki lost consciousness. The ceiling dropped suddenly and the wooden floor above collapsed in splinters and the people up there came down and the roof above them gave way; but principally and first of all, the bookcases right behind her swooped forward and the contents threw her down, with her left leg horribly twisted and breaking underneath her. There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

Are we to be crushed by the seeming-indifference we bear towards our own body of knowledge? Man’s folly may arrive, not carried by his eagerness to experiment and push boundaries, but by his failure to inhibit his desire to do so.

* The following note appeared in the NEW YORKER of 31 August 1946, as an introduction to John Hersey’s article.

The NEW YORKER this week devotes its entire editorial space to an article on the almost complete obliteration of a city by one atomic bomb, and what happened to the people of that city. It does so in the conviction that few of us have yet comprehended the all but incredible destructive power of this weapon, and that everyone might well take time to consider the terrible implications of its use.

Out of Time


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Have you ever stopped to consider the calendar that you use?

I was prompted to do so about 14 years ago, when I read The Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock. Think about it for a minute. The earth, the moon, the sun and all other astral bodies have regular rhythmic cycles. As does everything we see in the world around us, including humans and especially women. Yet the Gregorian calendar seems to limp, shuffle and stumble through the year with its strangely shaped 12 months – 30 days here, 31 there; this one has 28… oh, and sometimes 29… Why is it like this? And why, when it seems so at odds with the natural rhythms around us, do we follow it?

Once I’d started considering this I began to look around for an alternative. The 13 Moon Calendar of Natural Time, a modern interpretation of the Mayan calendar by Dr. Jose Arguelles, fascinated me and I began to study it, integrating it into my daily life. I couldn’t completely ditch the Gregorian calendar of course, because the world around me was railed to it. So I began to use the two together and what I soon found was that acknowledging the natural rhythms around me helped to enhance awareness of my own internal rhythms. The result was that I began to see the world in a different way as I began to understand time in a different way. Rather than being a linear movement from past to present and running on into the future, time revealed itself to be something that moved in circles. I stopped thinking about ‘time’ and started becoming aware of ‘timing’.

Now there is an ongoing debate among opposing camps regarding the accuracy and validity of Dr. Arguelles’s interpretation and in recent years I have come to know of at least one other group, calling themselves the Mayan Calendar Portal, who also propose a universal shift to using a calendar more in tune with the natural world. Despite the two camps speaking from the same corner, where the different energies of each day are explained in order to be understood and then used to the maximum benefit of the individual, they are arguing about the finer details and in so doing, each is crying down the other. I personally think this is a shame, as it is detracting from the real issue which is, how do we get out of the messy Gregorian calendar and into something more in tune with ourselves? For whatever the finer details, I have found that tuning into these natural, cyclical rhythms improves awareness generally and helps one to get out of the ‘time is money’ mindset and into the ‘time is art’ way of thinking. Giving yourself permission to start being the creator of your own life allows amazing things to happen. Taking responsibility for your self and the life you are creating is not something taught in schools – yet. It is only a matter of time though, I’m certain of that. Or rather, of timing.

So yesterday, according to the 13 Moon Calendar of Natural Time, was what they have termed the ‘Day Out of Time’. It is the same day, July 25th, ever year and the following day, July 26th is the beginning of the next lunar year. The exact mechanism of the calendar is too complicated to go into in detail here, but the concept of having a Day Out of Time is one that greatly appeals.

It is a day to stop. To celebrate life and all its potentials and possibilities. It is a day to not work or spend, if you can at all manage it and most importantly, it is a day to create, to come together in unity and share. It is literally a cosmic pause.

I was at home with my two children who are now on summer holidays. It was hot, more than 35° and humid. We went to the beach and played in the strong waves. We collected smooth stones and came home and engaged in Rock Art for a few hours. In the evening, once the heat of the day had spent itself, we busied ourselves in the garden, the children running and climbing with that enviable boundless energy they possess and which is so delightful to witness. We finished with a fire in which we burnt lots of garden rubbish, clearing the old to make way for the new. It was a day in which we simply shared the joy of being alive. And when it had all finished and the children were tucked up in bed, I sat outside and watched the waning moon rise above the trees that line the garden.

Moon Rise

I admit I’ve been feeling odd recently. My own female cycle is doing strange things and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with tiredness I have to stop and sleep, if only for 20 minutes. The other day I was quite tearful, unable to cope with the children’s squabbles and demands, unable to muster the light-hearted touch I’ve learnt is best with youngsters. As I watched the moon, two days past its fullness, I felt something enormous shift inside me and I realised I was looking at myself.

There comes a moment in every woman’s life I suppose, when she must accept that she has passed the peak of her youth. She must do this so that a new phase of life, a new role in life, can begin. What does it look like, this role? So far it feels less ambitious, more supportive and nurturing. Softer. Deeper. Calmer. Had I been fighting it? It wasn’t something I was conscious of doing but then maybe, rather than an overriding attitude, my denial was present in the small, habitual actions one performs almost without thinking. I went to bed resolving to let go of everything; of all that used to be or dreamt of being, so that I could re-form myself once more and start anew.

The day's end bring new beginnings

The day’s end bring new beginnings

Aligning myself with the rhythmic cycles of the natural world has brought me great comfort, for it helps me to feel my place in the universe. It has also allowed greater insight into my own nature as well as the nature of others as I cannot help but be aware of how inter-connected we all are. Just as we can rely on the outer rhythms of the rising sun and the ebb and flow of the tides, I now trust my own rhythms unquestioningly, allowing myself to be guided by them always. I would urge anyone whose interest is piqued or who has doubts themselves about the way our society views, presents and uses time to conduct their own investigation into an alternative calendar. I cannot recommend one above another, because the main point I believe is to shift out of the uneven tempo of the Gregorian calendar into something more in alignment with the movements we see and feel in the world around us. A world that we are not separate from, but which echoes us, as we do it.

Out of Time
Help me to know I am loved
For I am as the waning moon
Settling her view
Beyond the hill.
Her lustre softening in sheen,
Her light diminishing.

But before I dip below
My last horizon,
Grant me the grace to shine
My light on those
Who still believe
They can touch the stars.

~ Jinkspots

Creating Change


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Yohei Miyake.

Have you heard of him?

Yohei Miyake campaign style

He is a young musician in Japan currently running for entry to the Upper House in the national elections being held on 21st July. He speaks his campaign manifesto rap-style while strumming a guitar. He has never had political ambition. He is just one man, as terrified as the rest of us, who has the courage to stand up and speak the truth. He speaks for all of us. Including you.

There is growing disquiet in Japan. The murmurings that began soon after the triple disaster of 11th March 2011 are increasing. The people are not happy with their leaders: with their slow response during the disaster; the misinformation surrounding the ongoing situation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Facility; their failure to as yet provide adequate compensation to those effected by the disaster; their reluctance deciding whether to rebuild or relocate…

Three months after the earthquake. Copyright Haruo Matsuya

Three months after the earthquake.
Copyright Haruo Matsuya

Perhaps we cannot entirely blame the Government and its seemingly endless chain of changing Prime Ministers, for it is inarguably one of the most complex disasters the world has witnessed. One could even allow that for every accusation aimed at them, the Government could return a response explaining their non-action that would be regarded as perfectly reasonable by even the most cynical. For how do you decide what to do about a radiation leak that is housed in buildings too toxic to enter? How do you protect an entire population from radiation when nobody clearly understands how it behaves, how it moves, where it settles? How do you relocate entire communities who have lost everything except their deep sense of connection to place? How do you adequately test the food supply of an entire country? How do you decommission not one, but 54, nuclear reactors?  However competent the present leaders will prove to be I cannot predict. I do know however what I experienced that day and those immediately proceeding the disaster.

It was the future should we fail to change.

Some of the largest public protests ever recorded in Japan have been held in parks and outside Government buildings and nuclear facilities in the last 12 months. Tens of thousands have amassed in an attempt to make their voices heard. Yet the Government is stepping up efforts to start switching the nation’s nuclear reactors back on. It is ignoring common sense and the demands of the people.

People outside of Japan may not be aware that the disaster which occurred at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Facility in March 2011 is ongoing, that the facility continues to leak radiation into the air and the ocean every day. Sometimes a snippet finds its way into the news, such as ‘radiation found in tea leaves in Shizuoka more than 400km from Fukushima’ and ‘in fish in California’ and so on. A steady stream of people have been leaving Eastern Japan since it became apparent that nobody knew how to fix these problems. They continue to grow.

In his campaign speech, Miyake talks of the pain he felt at deciding to leave Tokyo in the aftermath of the disaster. How lives were uprooted and bonds between family and friends severely tested. He talks about the tenacity of love in a landscape where love barely features. He speaks from his heart.

Photograph by Yoji Fujimoto

Photograph by Yoji Fujimoto

Everything about Miyake’s music-infused election campaign is different, not least of all his honesty. Miyake says he wants to talk peacefully to current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe face to face because he truly does not understand what the man says, a feeling many identify with when listening to political speeches.

Album found in the rubble, Tohoku. Copyright Haruo Matsuya

Album found in the rubble, Tohoku.
Copyright Haruo Matsuya

In the weeks and months following the earthquake, in the jumble of extreme emotions, I began to sense a growing hope. That somehow out of all this could be born the way into a peaceful, kinder future. One based on holistic principles and universal values for the benefit of all. The Tohoku earthquake presents us with a snapshot of the future if we neglect to make the right choices now.

The founding principle of democracy is that the people elect those most suited to serving them. Modern life seems to have turned this precept on its head, with Governments increasingly using heavy handed tactics to push through laws and regulations that seem to suit their own interests rather than those of their citizens. Miyake seems different. He is not assuming the role of leader, but of spokesman. He is asking those who resonate with him to do all they can to help raise national and international awareness of the issues he believes need addressing. I’m writing about him because the issues facing Japan right now are facing you too, wherever you are. The air and the oceans do not obey boundaries drawn on maps by men. Nothing occurs in isolation; everything is connected. When you find a brave man willing to stand up and speak the truth that resides in his heart, you owe it to the well-being of those yet to come to act to support him. Change doesn’t happen overnight but it doesn’t happen at all if those who are aware do nothing.

Copyright Haruo Matsuya

Copyright Haruo Matsuya

The election is on Sunday 21st July 2013. But it doesn’t stop here.





I will always remember the day he appeared at our door. Small, thin and with a deep pink score where his right eye should have been, I could not help but let him in. He walked straight into my heart and I loved him immediately. We all did. His colouring was beautiful – all white with black smudges around his ears and tail. And a tiny black tickle spot under his chin. We’d been listening to Stevie Wonder a lot in the car, and because he was “Ebony and Ivory” the children decided to call him Stevie.


I’d never lived with a cat before but I could tell he had once had a family. He was house trained, calm and patient with the children and intelligent. I didn’t know anything about his life. Had he been injured in a fight and ejected from his home for being ‘imperfect’? Had they moved away and left him behind or had he just got lost? None of my neighbours knew him and we had no luck finding anyone who claimed him as theirs. Despite our own difficulties at that time I wanted nothing more than to look after him and give him the love I could sense he was asking for. About to embark on a six week tour to the far west of Japan in search of a new home, my last words to him before we drove off were heartfelt and sincere, “If you are still here when we come back, I’ll take you to Kyushu with us.” I don’t know why I ever doubted that he would be.


He turned up at the door one hour after I got back, six weeks later. My love and respect for him became boundless in that moment.

We left that house one month later, travelling the 1200km slowly, stopping twice for a couple of days to make it fun for the children and easier on Stevie. Each time we stopped he remained calm, padding softly around the houses of family and friends; exploring outside carefully, never failing to return. Arriving in Kyushu we moved in with an old friend who had kindly offered us a home while we looked for our own. Writing this now I can smile a little at the irony; where I had thought we were providing him with a home it actually seems in hindsight that we had joined him in his homelessness – and he was now successfully guiding us through the process.

Even boundless love can continue to grow.


When we at last we moved into our own home in October 2012, Stevie came with us. He looked after my husband when I took the children to visit their grandparents in England at Christmas and even cuddled up with my father-in-law’s chihuahua when he visited over the New Year. In less than a year he had become an integral part of the family. Until the unexpected and unthinkable happened.

In our defence it was a family crisis. My father-in-law was hospitalized and we were suddenly needed in Osaka, more than 600km away. We were only away for 3 nights. We’d left him alone for longer before. Our neighbour was coming daily to feed him and remembered seeing him the day before we returned. But after that trip he never came back. I blamed myself – in our haste to leave I’d forgotten to say we’d be back soon. I hated the thought that he had wandered sadly away, believing himself to be alone all over again.


Hardly a day passes without me thinking about him and for the first month I believed with all my heart that he would appear at the door, his sweetly soft meow asking so nicely to be let in. Of course I searched the area around our house asking everyone I met if they had seen him but no one had. I heard his call on the breeze and thought I saw his shadow at the window. It is hard to give up hope and I don’t know if I have yet but knowing what I do of him, how close he was to us, how much he seemed to want to be with us, I have started to wonder if what I should be exercising here is acceptance rather than patience. My husband, in an effort to relieve my quiet torment, has been gently encouraging me towards this and some days I feel like I might be there. Then I realised that I would only come to any kind of understanding of Stevie’s story by writing through it. It has so far taken more courage – and tears – than I had bargained for.

Stevie taught me so much. About the spiritual sensitivity and timeless wisdom these special animals possess. About the importance of communicating what you feel in your heart regardless of who or what you are feeling it for. But most of all about love. About how it asks to be recognised and received as well as given and celebrated. I learnt that love is a wild force that only assumes an attitude of domesticity but really is untamable and free. As such it deserves recognition without any attempt at possession.

It is really the essence of this last point that I feel to be the particular lesson Stevie came to teach me. That love begins and ends with open arms. That anything you love can and has the right to do as it wishes at any time. That only unconditional love can bring true freedom. I brought two children into the world knowing that the foundation of doing my best as a mother included consciously letting them go. What Stevie has shown me is just how painful an experience that can be if you don’t also learn to accept the consequences of loving unconditionally, whatever they may be.

Accepting that we cannot control who enters or exits or how or when brings me sharply into each moment, relishing the presence of those I love while simultaneously acknowledging the transience of what I am experiencing. Except for your memories maybe nothing will remain, and then there are those who are robbed even of these. That life is a tragedy is easily understood. Our journey seems to be to make it as liveable for ourselves and each other as we are able.

So thank you Stevie, wherever you are. I have so very much to be grateful for, including and especially the time spent loving you.




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Hands and heart,

Heart and hands...

My hands have been busy recently. Not writing but baking, as the dustballs scuffing the edges of this blog clearly indicate. Baking cakes.

I didn’t realise that baking was one of the ways my heart responds to life until 11th March 2011. In the days that followed the tsunami that struck Japan on that day, life became a surreal slideshow of tragic images and fearful news. Needing to do something but not really knowing what, I began baking cakes. I gave them to neighbours and friends. I sent them in boxes to family in the West and survivors in the North. It was an outlet for my pain and a way of attempting to transmute that pain into something more life affirming. Cake felt nourishing, comforting. It was a little piece of my heart wrapped up in love and distributed to help ease my own pain as well as those of another. Looking back, baking cakes seems like a very selfish act indeed to me now. That’s how it good it felt to do it.

I made a birthday cake for our friend and neighbour today. He loves chocolate so it had to be a dark, moist sponge with chocolate ganache frosting. Here it is:


Even though we have only known this man for 9 months or so, he has helped us with all his heart. I don’t really know how to return that kind of love, except to bake a cake. I wanted to make it clear to the recipient exactly what went into this one. Apart from chocolate of course.