The theme of this detox retreat is ‘letting go’. I write this very personal post just after the New Moon on the 25th May 2017. The new moon is a wonderful small crescent in the Northern sky here in the Sierra Cabrera. I am writing at about 6am having woken up just sometime between 4.30 am and 5am. In the Chinese medicine tradition each organ is associated with a time of day and if we wake up in the middle of the night we look at what might be happening. I have woken up three times between 4am and 5am this retreat and this time is associated with lungs and with grief. So this morning I got to reflecting on what might be happening.
Many of the readers will not know that I am a widow. My husband died young from a heart condition when we were skiing in Colorado 9 years ago. My journey to flamenco took off just after he died and to a large extent I have found flamenco a way of dealing with my grief. We had been married for 25 years, together for 30 years, and I was desolate after he died. One of the things that came up a few days ago was that I had not completely mourned or let go of the grief of losing my life style, which was good at that time, even though I believe I have dealt with the more personal emotional aspect. We had spent a lot of time and energy renovating a large Victorian house that had been built in 1901. Now we have WiFi, but my husband installed a LAN (Local Area Network) in our house before easy connection to the internet was available. So we had full internet connectivity way before most people knew what this was, and early on I completed a distance learning Masters degree in organisation psychology at Birkbeck the second year that it was available. Logging in to the modem connection was difficult and it made a funny noise as it happened. He gave me a jacuzzi for my birthday present about 15 years ago and I had a wonderful birthday jacuzzi bath! So this – as most family houses are- was a special place for me.
A few days ago I recalled the beautiful roof top bedroom with skylights that I could lie in bed and watch the clouds that we had built after removing the roof. I loved that room with wood and floors that Rob had varnished so carefully in which I would do my yoga practise. After he died I spent a great deal of time and money finishing that house – well almost finished, since I didn’t get to the basement which I wanted to convert to the kitchen opening on to our terraced garden. I sold the house with its memories of the family and chaos for a great deal of time. But there was a lot of love in that place and as I write I can feel the tears well up for the loss of it. My daughter has grown up and now has her own life, but I realised that I hadn’t fully acknowledged the grief of moving out and moving on from that time.
I reflect on the two dogs that I have lost as well since then – lovely Blue Roan cocker spaniels. I had wanted to breed from Tilly and due to Rob’s death I just didn’t get to achieve that. Just after Rob died I rehomed a male (neutered!) blue roan spaniel called Flash (his kennel name was Joylers Lightening Strike) who became, after an initial settling down period, a faithful companion to Tilly. They were well known in the Bishopston area of Bristol where we lived and I was distraught when eventually I had to put him down. Now both Flash and Tilly are gone. I had had Tilly for over 10 years and haven’t really mourned her passing last year.
My daughter moved away from Bristol to continue her career in London and I moved to a newer house in the outer suburbs of Bristol and developed my flamenco at classes with a Spanish teacher from Madrid who came across from Cardiff every week to take lessons with us in the Cotham School dance studio. I started to develop my flamenco further with workshops in Spain at the Jerez festival and in London with Juani Garcia and the Escuela de Baile. I would go up to London for a weekend every 6 weeks or so for intensive classes and attend the Spanish Dance Society workshop in the summer and the Escuela de Baile week long workshops at places like Sadlers Wells and Dance Attic.
During those last 9 years, this interest and passion in flamenco grew and my desire to take it further until one day talking with Ester Tal in a workshop I said ‘I’d like to move out to Jerez and do flamenco seriously’, and she said ‘why don’t you rent our apartment then?’ So I did.
I have lost a lot – not just the house in Claremont Road, Bishopston but my access to rock music that Rob introduced to me to and the English folk music scene I love. My life with the Gasworks Scratchy Orchestra. Walking the dogs and my friends in Bristol. My friend Kate commited suicide last year which I have hardly mourned. We were part of the Early Music group that I belonged to for many years before I started flamenco and before Lucy was born and during her early childhood. Kate was a very gifted viol and recorder player and directed the music for our productions. The group is dispersed now with one person living in Montpellier in the South of France – I make a note that there is a flight to Montpellier from Jerez and I have been saying that I would fly up one time. I called by last year on my way home to the UK.
My big passing was that of my mother just before Christmas. Not unexpected in that she was 101 years old and had been failing from Alzheimers for the last 9 years. However it marked a big letting go of my past and probably led to the severe bronchitis that I suffered over Christmas and the New Year and took months to recover from, and from which my body is probably healing now in this retreat. I had the same happen to me after Rob died so it must be my body’s reaction to deep seated grief. I acknowledge it and let it go and my healing continues.
So this post is a requiem to all that has passed and the grief that I have not felt as I have grappled with the life changes. My life is hugely different now and I love what I have become and the life that I have made and feel excited for the potential. Out of these tragedies and changes have come other opportunities – not least developing my passion for food, flamenco and indeed painting and making jam.