I was out today taking seasonal photographs for hubby’s carpet business and was all delighted when I found a glittery butterfly that matched one of the warm plaid carpets he stocks.
Just as I was completing this assignment the lens fell out of my glasses so I had to take myself off to the optician’s shop to get that sorted.
When I arrived back into the car, I was totally stunned to find a real, live butterfly resting on one of the samples piled high on the passenger seat.
Its perfect beauty and softness warmed my heart more than I can even begin to describe and brought me back to a poster I had hanging in all the places I lived during my endless student days. It was this quote from Henry Thoreau.
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
Thoughts of the unfolding of years are among the Decemebery things that come round every year for me like berried holly and fresh mistletoe.
As I was out walking yesterday, I was thinking of how so much of own’s life can be encapsulated by thinking of the defining events, images, memories associated with particular years in each decade.
This brought me to:
1964 ~ I was seven and we had just moved to Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. That was a whole new adventure and it was the last year in which all five of us (Mother, Dad and us three kids) were together as a family as my sister headed off to boarding school in 1965. Being insulated by a warm, warm family is what stands out most as well as the arrival of our very first television in time for Christmas.
1974: I did my Leaving Certificate in 1974 by which time we were living in Drogheda, Co. Louth. It was a year of turmoil in quite a lot of ways and the Troubles in Northern Ireland were a huge worry.
I had placed all my hopes on pursuing a career in tennis but a serious wrist injury put all that on hold. I had deferred taking up a university place in the hope that summer surgery would rectify the problem but by the December it was clear that a career in tennis was out of the question. That was the year I began learning to drive and it was also the year that my sister and I were re-united as she came back ‘home’ to teach in the school that I had just left. It was all a bit of a social whirl with big sis as ‘chaperone!’
The song I played over and over in 1974 was this one:
1984: This was a year in which I was still reeling from the death from cancer of my long-time boyfriend from cancer in 1981.
I was ensconced in Trinity College, where I had embarked on a PhD on the experiences of people with physical disabilities in Ireland and I was also very busy working as a researcher on an exciting EU project in the Midlands about the integration of people with disabilities into society.
Tennis was back on the agenda and I simply adored being able to compete again after all the missed years.
1994: Undoubtedly the highlight of 1994 was pregnancy and anticipation of motherhood.
That was a year in which I was working in two areas I love: teaching and research and was able to work from home base here in Tramore.
2004: This marked the last year that my parents were in good health but they loved spending time with our son, Harry, who was very close to both of them from the moment he was born.
This was a time of major juggling between work and ferrying 9-year old Harry to all sorts of sporting activities.
A major highlight of 2004 was Waterford’s victory in what is considered to be the greatest Munster Hurling Final of all time:
It’s a year I very much associate with my father’s photography and being down in my parents house hearing about their outings to places here in Co. Waterford which they adored.
2014 ….. Right now, it’s hard to focus on highlights of 2014 but I certainly associate it with an ever-increasing love of Co. Waterford, nature, the ocean, blogging, poetry and a whole new adventure into the world of carpets.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d ever get involved in hubby’s carpet business as carpets seemed a million miles away from Sociology and Social Research.
However, I jumped in at the deep end back in January with a mumbled offer to do some online marketing for him.
It’s proving to be one of those unexpectedly enjoyable activities ~ often the best kind ~ and now I’ve reached a point where I’m seeing the world through both the eyes of bridges and tufts of wool.
I love the colours, patterns and textures of carpets as well as their deep connection to nature through woolly sheep.
Mercifully, hubby is happy to let me run loose and be as quirky and creative as I want to be in this endeavour. It’s pure fun and I adore heading off with a car load of samples, rugs, rolls of carpet and just seeing what will catch my eye.
I’m sure regular readers of my normal blog won’t be too surprised with the results!
I’d love to hear what carpets mean to you and if there have been really special ones in your life?
I was out collecting chestnuts yesterday, as part of my fun role in seeking to market hubby’s carpet business, and had that incredibly evocative feel of walking through crackling, Autumnal leaves as I gathered my loot.
Last night, I went from thinking about the feel of textures underfoot ~ shells, warm sand, dewy grass, ~ to a different kind of soul.
It was the image of a roadside billboard that was on the road just as one swung across the bridge in Waterford towards Dublin and it was there for years and years as I made that journey regularly.
This would get me every single time and have me thinking until I reached Kilkenny, an hour’s drive back then!
It springs into my mind on a regular basis still but there is one turning point in my young life when it really hit me.
I had just finished College and went to sit the Civil Service Exams in search of a permanent pensionable post. There were hundreds of other people there all beavering away answering the exam questions.
Instead of focussing on answering the questions, I started to analyse them and after about twenty minutes quietly packed my bag and left the exam hall.
It felt all wrong. It just wasn’t me. I felt that while I might well get a job that it wouldn’t be one in which I could realise my dreams or express myself in the way that I wanted.
To this day, I wonder about that decision. I could certainly be doing with the pension but I feel that I was right to be true to myself and embark on what turned out to be a very precarious career.
Even though the sign is long gone from that place just beyond Sallypark, it resides in my consciousness and comes to the fore when I least expect.
I must confess that I knowingly sold my soul once and I found it excruciatingly difficult and ended up spending years trying to redeem it!
Do you have these sorts of soul qualms or do you share the happier ones of massaging your soles on the soft carpets of life?
Even since I was a teenager I’ve felt the need to ‘process’ experiences and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always kept a journal. ‘Processing,’ for me, means reflecting on what’s happened and drawing the key lessons, wonders, magic, sweetness, mysteries ….. and carrying them forward so that they don’t get lost in the morass of racing around.
I remember mentioning this need ‘to process’ to a friend many years ago and she looked at me as if I was cracked. Cracked or not, it’s still something I need to do and, in many ways, blogging has become part of that.
For example, lots has happened over the last few days and because I haven’t written, it all feels like a mumbo-jumbo of ‘stuff’ that risks being lost in a mega tangle that will just have to be dumped.
I would love to know what YOUR view on processing experiences is. Is it fundamentally important to you or do you just move on to the next moment without a thought?
What was SO important over the weekend, you may reasonably ask. Well, here’s a very brief synopsis!
1. I got to see my legendary hurling hero, Ken McGrath, at the brilliant, evocative, All Star Challenge Match I was so looking forward to last week.
2. Mount Congreve Garden was beyond beautiful on Saturday morning:
3. Sunday 29th brought happy, happy memories of my Great Aunt Anna who has to have been the most romantic, fun-loving, generous person I’ve ever known. She married for the first time, aged 72, and she and her husband personified the word ‘sweethearts.’ She died very peacefully, aged 90, at dawn on June 29, 1991, as she and I held hands for the very last time.
4. It was a weekend of having fun in my new role as marketing manager for The Carpet Shopin Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Carpet is all about texture, colour, sense of place … so here’s a sample of where it took me as the sun shone!