An Apology Thirty Years In The Making

“If someone puts their hands on you make sure they never put their hands on anybody else again.” 
~ Malcom X

I was sitting in a suburban shopping centre cafe with my husband Ben a few days ago. As I sipped my tea a man came into view who looked familiar. He was older than when I’d last seen him. Thirty years older. But I was sure it was him. He was wearing a suit, his hair was grey and thinning and he’d gotten fat. But it was him. Let’s call him James (which is not his name).

In that moment I became so angry that I wanted to race over and punch him. Which is not like me. At all.

I didn’t do anything though. I watched him walk away.

Later that night I googled him and then found him on Facebook. He’s successful in his field. Married now. With two daughters. One in her final year of school and one at University. That made up my mind. I sent him a friend request and he accepted straight away. Then he sent me a message. I still looked hot, he said. Did I want to meet up for a coffee?

We ended up video messaging. At first we chatted about our College days, which is where we’d met. He asked if I was single. I told him I wasn’t. He told me he wasn’t either but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have some fun.

Sigh.

I asked him if he remembered the time we’d gone to a College football match on the first day of a long weekend of sport, races and balls. I’d just started going out with him, and this was our first proper date. I was in my first year of College and he was in his last – a big man on Campus whom everyone knew.

He drove me to a sports field on a sunny afternoon. We’d just parked and were getting out of the car when a friend of mine walked past wearing a huge scarf around her neck even though it was hot. James laughed and grabbed the scarf off her. Underneath was a series of small purple bruises. Perhaps you know them as hickeys. Or as love bites. She was embarrassed and tried to get the scarf back from him, but James kept holding it away from her while he kept up a barrage of teasing and increasingly lewd sexual comments. A crowd gathered around us.

Finally, I tugged the scarf away and gave it back to her and she fled, in tears. ‘Why were you so mean to her?’ I asked James. ‘What has she ever done to you?’ The crowd was still watching.

‘She’s a slut,’ he said. ‘She deserved it.’

While I was processing that comment he asked if I’d ever had a hickey.

‘No’, I said.

Before I could do anything he slammed me down over the car bonnet, pinned me with his leg and hands, and attacked my neck with his mouth. It hurt. A lot. My adrenalin went into overdrive. I yelled at him to stop and fought to get him off me. But I was slight and he was huge. My hands were pinned, my legs were pinned. No matter how much I bucked or writhed it was like a butterfly flapping against a bull. The more I struggled the more he bit and sucked on my neck while the crowd of mostly young men cheered. No matter what I did I wasn’t strong enough to make him stop. I was powerless. When James finally stood up he was victorious. He dragged me to the car’s side mirror and showed me. I had a violent purple and red bruise on my neck the size of a small orange. It throbbed and my whole body ached. I was dishevelled and humiliated. The crowd dispersed and then we were alone.

‘Wear it proudly,’ he said. And then he took my hand and started walking to the game with me in tow. I was in shock. Tears ran down my face but I picked up my handbag and stumbled along beside him.

As we neared the entrance gate we stopped and he wiped my face with his handkerchief. ‘Why are you crying?’ James said. ‘It was just a bit of fun. It’s a hickey. No big deal.’ He bought us both an entrance ticket and then left me with some of his friends while he fetched us drinks.

I was shaking, and I didn’t know what to do. So I stayed. Later a girlfriend found me and gave me a lift back to the dorms. I had bruises on my hips and my arms, one on my thighs and that huge shameful one on my neck. When James came around a few days later I told him I had zero interest in being in his company again. When I asked him why he’d done it he told me I was an uptight bitch, and that I couldn’t take a joke. He couldn’t work out why I was so upset. I was overreacting, he said. Crazy. A nut job. As he walked away he called back over his shoulder that I was a slut.

I struggled to reconcile that I had ever found him attractive.

I bruise easily, and that hickey took months to fade. I did what I could to cover it up with scarves or makeup, but I was called names by other students and even some of my male lecturers drew attention to my neck, making jokes about it. And about me.

I’d never felt so belittled, humiliated or ashamed. Worse, on that sunny afternoon, I’d felt what it was to be truly powerless for the first time in my life. I’d had no capacity to affect an outcome, no voice, no ability to have a choice. When James had held me down I’d felt unsafe, I’d been hurt, he wouldn’t listen and I couldn’t make it stop. He could have done anything to me, and it was all beyond my control.

So I told James that, thirty years later.

‘Is that why you dumped me?’ he said. ‘Over a joke? It’s not like I raped you!’ He had raised his voice, angry. ‘And you reconnecting with me now – is this your pathetic Hashtag MeToo moment?’

‘I’m still angry,’ I said. ‘I hadn’t thought about this for thirty years, but yes, I’m still angry, because what you did wasn’t right. It was assault.’

‘Get over yourself!’ James said. ‘Geez, I thought you connected because you wanted to hook up.’

‘No. I reconnected because you have a daughter who is the same age as I was when you did that to me. How would you feel if someone did that to her? How would you feel if she was pinned and helpless, struggling against a bigger man, being humiliated while other people stood around and watched?’

‘I’d bloody kill them!’ he said. And then he looked at me, and a strange expression came over his face. ‘I’d kill any bastard who tried to hurt my girls.’

‘I was the same age as your daughter,’ I said. ‘I asked you to stop. You didn’t. It wasn’t right then. It isn’t right now.’

After which we sat in silence, looking at each other via our screens.

‘Sorry, Nic,’ he said eventually, his voice quieter. ‘It was the era. It was just a bit of fun. I might have gone a bit too far. I didn’t mean anything by it.’

There was nothing else to say.

We ended the chat. I unfriended him.

It was an incident I’d long forgotten. A conversation I never expected to have. An apology thirty years in the making. But I’m glad I got to reconnect with James again and finally have him see things from a different perspective. My perspective. It felt good to finally be heard.

Much love, Nicole xx

A Little Nicole Update

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“People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change.”
~ Anthony de Mello

 

So, here I am, still in hospital.

There have been a few little bumps in the road, including a massive resurgence of lyme symptoms and herxing, post-operation, as I was filled with what seemed like enough antibiotics and other drugs to treat an entire small pox-ridden and hurting country. My poor body has endured a bit of a rough ride. I’m bruised and bloated and scarred and bandaged. Wings of my hair have literally gone white overnight. It’s oddly fascinating.

As well as my four-hour surgery, I have needed to deal with unexpected bladder problems and surgery, lyme-induced loss of vision in my left eye, loss of balance, light sensitivity, bone and nerve pain, raging insomnia and terrible constipation and nausea from my pain meds.

And still, my doctors are pleased with my progress and I am healing well.

Between the pain, the constant intrusion of nurses doing observations, and the insomnia, that’s a lot of time awake. That’s a lot of time unable to be filled with television or books or iPad games or writing thanks to my dodgy eye. (I am writing this with a 200% screen magnification and one eye resolutely screwed closed. It’s taken me about fifteen spurts of energy and then rests to get all of this written; not my usual efficiency – but these are unusual circumstances.)

What can you do when you are in pain and unable to use external distractions? When you want to be able to work on your book but you can’t see to read the words?

I can happily report that I have spent most of the past eight days back in the Kimberley, with my Aboriginal Aunties. Using my imagination and memories as a portal I have returned again and again to the places and people so dear to me, and that form the backbone of my memoir.

I have sat with the late night silence and the loneliness, and spun them into a ladder to elevate me beyond my pain.

I have practiced deep listening.

I have meditated, and I have prayed.

I’ve also time-travelled back into myself. The hours between eleven pm and four am seem well-suited to reflection and analysis of my life. I’ve dug deep into places I had long covered over. What did I really feel? Why did I really make one choice over another? What emotions were in my body? Where was my head? I’ve strung the answers like beads on a mala, knowing that as I hold each one when I am able to come back to my writing I will remember, and that this new understanding will better inform my work. I’ve come to a more honest place. A kinder place. There has been much forgiveness this past week, of myself and others. My stay in hospital has gifted me clarity, and a way forward, finally, to be able to finish this book of mine, and get it ready to send out into the world.

The other thing I have done is gather life stories and vignettes; stories about the nurses and their lives, stories from cleaners and room service tray attendants, from the other patients who are limping slow laps of the ward as they push their drip stands or lug their wound drainage bags and catheter bags, tales from ward orderlies and the lady who brings the morning newspapers. People are endlessly fascinating to me, and their shared stories remind me that we are so alike in our differing journeys and struggles.

For we all face struggles. That is the nature of life. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else.

Even so, it’s a beautiful journey, life. I’m very grateful for mine.

Things will be back to normal, little by little, here on the blog and in my everyday world. I’m okay with things needing to be slow. Slow is all I can do for now.

I’ll swing by here again just as soon as I’m able.

Hugs and love, Nicole <3 xx

 

 

The Stories That Bind Us, Heal Us

“Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.”
~ Charlotte Eriksson

 

Today we farewell my friend, Angela. Family, friends and community will come together to celebrate her life, and to remember her place in our midst.

Humanity is built upon stories, and today stories will help us to heal.

I have sat at the deathbeds of twelve souls now – family and friends – as I watched and assisted with their transition from this life to the next. And in every instance it has been story that has helped the living, and the soul who is passing.

When we tell stories we embrace the magical nature of an ordinary life. What kind of stories? I have never heard a deathbed story yet about a corporate takeover, a successful career, or money made. Nor at a memorial, unless by someone who didn’t have anything except the shallowest of connections with the deceased. Those kinds of stories are tabloid news. Wikipedia entries.

No. When we love and remember our time together with someone who is dying, or who has passed, our stories are always about the journey, and our shared moments. Our ordinary everyday magical moments.

Remember that dress with the puffy sleeves you wore to the school formal? God, we thought we were soooo glamorous.

Remember the time Uncle Charlie dropped his dentures in the punch at the wedding? Your mother was furious, and Aunty Esmay just fished them out and pretended like nothing had happened.

Remember that time when we went camping and it rained and the tent leaked. And then that big storm came? And to top it off we got food poisoning. Worst holiday we ever had.

What was that amazing fish and chip shop we used to go to, down at the beach? You know the one that did the big fat homemade chips and you always just used to get two crumbed sausages even though they had the best fresh seafood on the entire planet? You used to drive Dad mad because you’d never even try the fish. It was so good. So good.

Ah, those were the days. Remember that birthday party with the neighbours when we are kids and…

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Dad worked so hard. Two jobs. Sometimes three. I never realised until years later what a big sacrifice he and Mum made so that we could have a better education than them.

Remember that year you forgot to defrost the turkey and we had toasted cheese sandwiches and ice-cream and pudding for Christmas dinner.

Sometimes it’s a place for confessions and secrets too. I never told you where I really went that day. I never told you how beautiful you looked. I still have that jumper you knitted me. Sorry, Dad. I couldn’t throw it away. Now my daughter uses the desk you made for Grandma. Even after all this time I still treasure… I wish I’d told you… I’m sorry that…

We share the small events of our lives with the one who is leaving us.

It’s a beautiful day today. One of those spring days we get, when the jacarandas are in flower and the days are hot, but the nights are still cool enough that you need a blanket on the bed. There was mist on the river this morning. On the drive over here the radio was playing that song we used to dance to, back at high school. You know the one. I saw so-and-so yesterday. Did you know he’s married now? Two kids and another on the way. I can’t believe I used to have the hots for him. I’m glad you talked me out of that one!

I just had a coffee at that corner cafe. You would have loved the chocolate cake. Good thick frosting, and a little strawberry on top. I know how much you love a good cake.

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When someone is dying, and after they have passed, we swap stories about hair styles and ridiculous fashion, places from our memories, great meals and crashing personal disasters, often with a funny edge. We remember family pets and embarrassing moments. Our first cars, our first romance. Movies and music. Books we loved. How we met. That funny thing they always said. The holiday we had. All of those shared moments.

At the end of our days, or of a loved one’s, the memories we will string like precious beads will be about love and friendship, and adventures and adversities shared and overcome. They will be homespun, with a few exotic locations and amazing highlights thrown in.

We’re almost at the end of a year. A natural time for giving pause and reflecting.What blessings can you plan for the year ahead? What richness can you mine from your ordinary life, right now and into the future? Is your life filled with at least a small amount of the things that make your heart sing? Are you doing the things that really matter to you? Are you spending time with the people you love?

It’s not too late. Life is precious, and it’s yours to do with as you wish. I know that my friend Angela would want to encourage you to live it well, using your heart as a compass. Our time here goes by in the blink of an eye, so make it count!

What story will you write for yourself? What story will you share with the world? In the end it is our stories that bind us, that heal us, and that grow us.

Image from quoteswave.com

Image from quoteswave.com

 

Reminders from my Younger Self

NicoleandBunny

“Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” 
~ Neil Gaiman, M is for Magic

 

One of the most disorienting things about chronic illness and long bouts of treatment is that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Living in this half-alive place for so long you can begin to forget bits of who you are, and what was once important to you.

Luckily my sister recently sent me some images from our childhood. Last night I looked through them to see if my younger self could shed any light on this life I am living now. I’m so glad I did!

Here I am on board my maternal grandfather’s yacht, as part of the flotilla that went out to meet the Queen’s yacht HMY Brittania as she sailed through Morteton Bay and then up the Brisbane River to Newstead House. I’m sitting on my dad’s lap with the binoculars, trying to get a better view. I need to know what’s going on. I have never wanted to miss out on ANYTHING! That’s my little sister in front with my beloved Nana (Dad’s mum), ready to wave her flag. I remember: I adore the ocean, boats and adventures. I love the act of charting a course and navigating, and the smell of salt air, well… that’s heaven for me.

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And here we are, my sister and I, playing dress-ups at Nana’s house. We spent so many happy hours dressing up in her box of old clothes, necklaces and jewels, funny hats and handbags. I always made up stories of who we were and what we were doing and then we would act them out all over the house. The stories were the thing, and the clothes were the vehicle to take us there in our imaginations.

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Here’s me, wiping sauce off my face after a particularly satisfying meal. If Mum, Nana or Marga (my maternal grandmother) was in the kitchen, that was where I wanted to be. Cooking,eating and anything to do with food, including growing it – they are some of my fondest early memories. (We shall not speak of my baby brother whose biggest childhood crime was pulling the carrots I was so carefully nurturing out of their pot, eating their little orange bodies and then sticking the tops back into the dirt again!)

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Whenever I sat on the swing-set in our backyard I would think about the books I was reading and I would escape into my imagination, inventing the most fanciful stories. I was especially fond of fairies, pirates, knights, Kings and Queens, dreadful enemies, trees that could talk and horses that could fly. Of course there were also lots of castles, witches and scary forests too. Sometimes I would gather the children of the neighbourhood together and we would act them out, or put on a performance for our parents. Swinging was very conducive to thinking. Many of my best ideas were hatched there.

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As I was looking over these old pictures, remembering my essence – sailing, the ocean, food, magical stories, family, adventure – I came upon this precious photo of my three grandparents.

Here they are: Marga the Regal Queen who is also a Pirate Fancier, grand Mystic Visioner and Magical Charmer, Ceddie the handsome ship’s Captain and bold Commander who always gets his crew home safely, and my little Nana who was the closest thing to a living Fairy that I ever met.

Darling Pa had already passed when that picture was taken. Pa was a returned Soldier, a Global Explorer, an Artist and a Tour Guide. He opened up strange new lands to me.

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How could I ever doubt who I am or what’s important to me? Every cell of my body has been singing this song since I was born.

I like to think of my beautiful grandparents on a luxury ship up in heaven, leaning over the side amid the clouds and whispering encouragements and rememberings that drift down from above and into my ear to be retold as stories.

I shall lie here in bed today and think of my Pirates and Fairies and invent more impossible adventures for them. How lovely!!!

Nana’s Pikelet Recipe and a Few Good Yarns

Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you.  Now tell me about hundreds of things.  ~Saki

Pikelets are a bit of an institution round here, especially for morning or afternoon tea. For those of you not in the know, pikelets are like fluffy little pancakes – very tasty with a cup of tea and a neighbourly chat.

Yesterday our good friend Geoff came to visit.  Round here, we all refer to him as ‘Timber Cutter’. He’s an old, old man now, with big gnarled hands and still-strong arms (although his skin has thinned and he’s always got a bit of bark off), and he remains a demon with a chainsaw.  He can fell anything, quickly, safely and accurately.

Over the years he has logged up and down the north coast of New South Wales, and he knows this country and its seasons like no-one else I’ve ever met. Geoff’s not a well-educated man, education was a luxury when he was growing up, but his manners and values are old-school and he is one of life’s true gentlemen. He has an enquiring mind, and keen observation skills.  He thinks deeply, and speaks after much consideration.  When he speaks it’s generally worth listening to. These days he doesn’t do much felling. He’s replaced that with talking. I think he’s making up for all that time when he was out in the bush on his own, or too busy for idle chatter. Oh man, Timber Cutter can talk.  But we never complain.  We just fill up the teapot with a good strong brew, go out onto the shady verandah, keep the tasty treats coming, and sit around listening to his many tales. Pikelets are his favourite, and I always make enough for him to take some home.  I use my Nana’s recipe.  The following recipe will serve four, but I always double it!

Ingredients:  1 cup self raising flour (for my American friends, you can make self raising flour by adding 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to one cup of all purpose cake flour),1 large egg, 1/2 cup of milk,1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of melted butter or 1 tablespoon of cream, extra butter for your skillet/frypan.

*Note – these work just as well with commercial gluten-free flour.  I also like making them with 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup buckwheat flour and two teaspoons baking powder for my gluten-free friends.  Spelt flour, while not gluten-free, is also great!

The finished product, ready to be devoured!

Method:  Add the vinegar or lemon juice to the milk to sour it, and set aside.  (Nana always made her pikelet batter by hand but if you want, you can mix this with an electric beater!)

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Whisk the egg and pour into the centre of the well.  Then add a little milk. Using a wooden spoon gradually beat the mixture from the centre, slowly incorporating more of the dry ingredients.  Keep adding a little more milk until the mixture is combined and has a thick, creamy consistency.  Add in your butter or cream and stir again until combined.  Let the batter sit for ten minutes to thicken further.

Rest your batter for a superior pikelet 🙂

Heat a heavy based skillet or frypan and grease lightly.  Place spoonfuls of mixture, well spaced onto the hot surface.  When they begin to show large bubbles on the surface, turn them over.

Nice big bubbles show it’s nearly time to turn them over…

Pikelets are delicious served with butter and jam, jam and cream, or butter and golden syrup.  My Pa also liked his with a thick smear of butter, sprinkled with sugar, and then doused in lemon juice. They are great as a lunchbox snack and it’s easy to add variations to the batter.  Some of my favourites include:

  • Stewed apple chunks and a dusting of cinnamon
  • fresh blueberries and a little lemon zest
  • sultanas/raisins
  • date pieces and a shake or two of powdered ginger
  • mashed up ripe banana

While we munched away and sipped our tea, Timber Cutter regaled us with stories of the Frost of ’54, which came in November (nearly Summer in Australia) and decimated the lucerne and potato crops, timber-getting at the back of Kyogle in the 1950’s, and tales of growing up in a time where more people had a horse and cart than a car. We laughed and cried over crazy stories and tales of tragedy. Then we went for a walk around the paddocks, looking for koalas and watching the birds.

Can you see me? Sorry – she was up very high and the zoom on my i-phone is not flash.

All in all it was a very satisfying afternoon of yarns, friendship and a shared table.

Don’t you love Bert the dog, gazing hopefully up at the dwindling pikelet pile!

Day 22 – Gratitude Challenge

Image from thepunch.com.au

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen

 

“If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
~ Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

 

Stories are powerful things, and they come in many forms; books, movies, songs, poems, plays, ballets and operas, and even through letters and conversations.

In my life, I have been deeply influenced by stories that held a special message for me, or that helped me understand something important.  Stories have inspired, humbled, awed and entertained me.

Have you ever stayed up way beyond bedtime because you just couldn’t put your book down?  Have you ever felt sad and lonely when you got to the end of a book, or a series, and realised that you wouldn’t get to spend any more time with the characters?

Image from fineartamerica.com

Is there a song, or a record/CD that you’ve played over and over again because of how it made you feel?

Have you ever watched a movie that affected you deeply, or even changed your life?

Are there stories from your past that you remember fondly even now?

Is there a TV show or series that feels like an old friend to you?

Image from pascal.d.umn.edu

Today, lets give thanks for the storytellers, and the many, many (often unseen!) people who help to bring those stories to us – the music producers, the animators, the scriptwriters and authors, the publishers and agents and book sellers, the backup singers and session musos (musicians), to name a few.

Stories are a rich Blessing in our lives.

Counting Our Blessings and Using our Gratitude Rock

If you need a detailed reminder of our daily process, you can review it here in Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge.

  1. List five Blessings in your journal, explaining why you are grateful for each one.
  2. Count your Blessings off on your fingers, summoning positive emotion and saying Thank You from your heart for each one.
  3. Tonight before you go to sleep, hold your Gratitude Rock and affirm I am richly Blessed. I have an Abundance of Good in my life. Visualise one thing you have been grateful for today. Swell that positive energy up in your heart like a beautiful golden light, and give a heart-felt Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to the Universe, then imagine a tiny shower of golden light travelling from your heart into your Gratitude Rock.
  4. Still holding your Gratitude Rock, bless your fellow travellers on this Gratitude Journey by sending them golden light, and saying Thank you.  I Bless You.  I intend for you Love, Miracles and Abundance. Know that as you are saying this for them, they are also saying this for you. Feel that connection and gratitude and know that there is real love and support for you here. Place your rock back beside your bed, and go to sleep, cocooned in this good energy.

If all you do each day is these first four steps, know that is enough.

Would you like to explore this energy of gratitude more? If so, why not join me for today’s additional gratitude challenge.

Story Time!

Today, give yourself permission to immerse yourself in a story.  Perhaps you might watch a movie, or a DVD.

Maybe you could spend some time reading a book.

You could close your eyes and listen to your favourite album, letting the lyrics create worlds in your head.

Or your could meet up with someone (parents and grandparents can be great for this!) and have them talk about travel, or their childhood, or something that you haven’t heard before or would like to hear again.

Our whole life is a story, and stories are the language that connect us, heart to heart. When we meet someone we share of ourselves by sharing our stories. When we share our life with someone we create stories together. When we die, the stories others tell or remember about us is what keeps us alive in their hearts.

Image from solidgoldcreativity.com

Today, celebrate stories, and give thanks for them. Thank you for the gift of stories in my life!

All of this appreciation and gratitude around stories might even inspire you to create one of your own…

Bless ♥ xx

Image from flickr.com

In Defence of Fairies

The Forest Fairy – Image by Josephine Wall

Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom.  It is as true as sunbeams.  ~Douglas Jerrold

Those of you who know me will also know that I believe in fairies.  In fact, you’ll know that I count a fairy as one of my dearest friends.

I found myself in an odd position on the weekend. I’m writing a novel with fairies as some of the main characters. And someone I hold in esteem told me that writing about fairies was not only unimaginative, but that children were no longer interested in such things.

Hmmm, I thought to myself.  I know I’m not a child but I’m interested in fairies.  And many of my friends and clients are too.  In fact, whenever I write about fairies I get flooded with enquiries about them, and how people might get to know one or attract one into their garden.

As this learned person talked to me, I felt myself becoming sadder and sadder.  Not only because they were so disparaging of fairies and all things magical (which is of course, the world I live in, although they did not know that), but because I believe fairies deserve to be known, and appreciated, and dare I say it, loved…

Not that fairies care.  They shall go on happily, regardless of us.  But we, we are the poorer for not knowing of them and the work they do in the natural world.

And if there is no room for magic in our lives, and for the ability to believe in things we cannot understand, if there is no room for wonder, well then, what is the point of life?

Image from paganspace.net