"Self-care is essential," I have heard from every one of my lecturers and supervisors in this my latest (and, I'm hoping, lifelong) career. "Get away as often as you can," many also said. Enjoy the change in surroundings. Catch a break from containing other people's anxieties. Immerse yourself in beauty.
I ignored them. The excuses fell thick and fast. "I don't need to get away because I love where I live and it's pretty peaceful." "I can't spare a few days away from home." "I have too much to do." "Even if I am stressed, I let it out through baking and craft." "I'm fine. I really am."
I'm glad this time around it didn't take too long for me to realise that the above isn't always enough, that I needed to believe that people with decades of experience know what they're talking about -- and more than that, I needed to go away. Indecisive though I still am, the need to go was far greater than the fear of committing to the one choice. So it is that I ended up in that magical spot not too far from home, yet far indeed.
Where welcome was expressed not only in words and a lift up the stairs for my overnight bag, but in a pair of lavender biscuits and the offer of the programme for the local outdoor cinema.
Where a sandwich, mundane no-time lunch back in my ordinary world -- the very same sandwich! -- turned into a magical meal to the music of galahs and cockatoos conversing as they swooped down to the pool. Eaten here, eaten thus, it was fuel enough for the next few hours' wander through the lavender and through my raggedy, neglected soul.
Where discarded old things aren't made to feel worthless, or at least that's the impression I got. You can't feel worthless, can you, if you're given a place like this to continue your existence?
Where en route to the bridge I could press close to a tree, tracing the story of its years through its resin-coated bark.
Where indoors, too, had many wonders to be appreciated: a thimble-sized couple shyly courting on the windowsill (I gave them their space when taking this picture),
the stage set for that old, old battle between light and dark,
and a former inhabitant of this house reclaiming his favourite spot on the spiral staircase, lying in wait for the odd unsuspecting foot.
And so it was, my first day away.
I'm quite pleased with myself, writing this post only two weeks after the fact. My blog posts are usually so delayed that seasons change and cobwebs form in between.