Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Movement is life

... if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

Aleanor Mordaunt

black and white photo of Corina Duyn and Frans Hogevorst dancing in a school party, aged 4. Movement is life
Me and Frans Hogevorst dancing during celebrations
in first year of school. Aged 4 '

Dancing has been one of my desires. All of my life.  It still is. This year I will dance! Hopefully using my body, definitely through my artwork.

As a little girl I passed by a ballet studio on my way to primary school. I so much wanted to be a dancer. During those childhood years there was a Saturday night variety show on TV. My favourite part was the group of eight dancers. I wanted to grow up as being one of them. I didn't. And even when I could decide for myself to attend dance classes, I never did. The closest I came to dancing was attending jazz-gymnastics in the 70's, and of course at the Saturday night disco! 

I possibly have been restricting movement in my body for years. Much longer than from the onset of illness. Maybe I had became unsure of trusting my body - of being who I meant to be and grew into someone others wanted me to be.
During the first few years of illness I became severely restricted in my movements. Every single action: walking, eating, brushing my teeth, having a shower, turning around in bed was at times so painful that I moved as little as possible. I did get out of bed every day and worked some routine in my day – but looking back I restricted movement to a bare minimum. The words "movement is life", uttered by a dietitian/homeopath who supported me during those early years, still rings in my ears. Movement is life. Now I am very slowly re-learning, re-imagining, and trusting, who I am. A dancer.  I am ready to dance, and ready for change.

Subtle movements are dance too

Through reading books about healing and wellness, listening to my body, observing nature and exploring art, I now come to the conviction that the breath can be seen as the subtlest form of dance. This way, we can all dance, no matter what our physical state may be. Even when I was more or less bedbound, or in constant pain, the core of my body was dancing. “Let the body be free and open as it’s rocked and cradled by the breath- still, yet continually moving,” as Vidyamala Burch suggests in Living well with pain and illness. “Motion is natural to the body and its systems. Even the bone cells are in a constant state of movement as they replenish themselves. 

So, inside I am dancing. The realization of the importance of the breath has been with me for a long time, but as for dance, I looked outside of myself.

photo of play of light on Annaghmakerrig Lake, by Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
Annaghmakerrig Lake
Dance is everywhere

Observing nature, I witness the dance of leaves and flower petals in my garden. The birds flying from tree to feeder. A goldfinch swinging gently with the breeze on top of the teasel.
Resting by Annamakerrig Lake during my residency in 2013, I watched water-striders dancing on the surface. The intertwining circles they created on the water were of a beautiful choreography. What about the autumnal leaves swirling on the road, or a group of starlings in the sky, shifting direction at the same time? Or the gentle bee hovering, dancing above a flower in search of nectar.

One of the beauties of living with this illness is that I have time to observe the minutest detail in nature. Of course I am not alone in this.
Kathleen Madge wrote in 1947 in The World of Living Green: “almost every plant has its own dance, continually moving, both in leaf, shoot, and flower – a dance so slow that we hurrying human being do not perceive it. There is a rhythmic dance of the flowers as they open in the morning and close at dusk…"
Aleanor Mordaunt wrote this delightful passage in The garden of Contentment one hundred years before I read it. Oh beautiful, beautiful life! beautiful wind and clouds and trees! they make a Pantheon of me, and I prayed them to take me to themselves and make me one of their wild, sweet fraternity, to teach me their secrets and joys, and their almost sweet sorrows; if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

The dance in art

Now. 2017. I am on a mission to dance. 
I am relearning my body's movements and possibilities.
I have continued with my walking practice, and every week I go 'one-tree-further'. I concentrate on my movements during this now almost ten minute exploration. I am observing the dance of nature. I  am filming some of it too. And I am dancing with words here on my blog. 
My art is definately going into the direction of movement too. The plan is to have two little aniamted puppets dance through my garden. (... more about that some other day.)
If I don't fully succeed to really dance myself (as in the true sense of the word), I will dance through my art.

Links for further reading:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Stranger by Anastasia Palmer

Let the sun be my smile
The rain be my tears
The storm be my anger
The wind be my voice
So let me be
Anastasia Palmer- Dear Stranger

In 2004 I was invited to give a talk at the Healing Arts Trust Lectures Series at Waterford Regional  Hospital. As I was not sure on what to do, I opted for a screening of the Fit to Fly  documentary created by David Begley, which documents the way I used art in the early years of ME.

There were quite a few people there and after the screening we had a question and answer session. Anastasia Palmer, then about 16 years old and ill with ME, was there with her mother Margaret. We chatted for quite a while after the event. I have stayed in touch with Anastasia ever since and have followed her amazing creative and healing journey.

At some point we considered publishing a book together. One side was mine. Turn it over and it shows Anastasia's.
I am so glad this did not happen as we would not have seen the incredibly beautiful letter press printed book Dear Stranger.

I am SO proud to have one of the first copies in my life. I remember when it arrived, I could feel the energy, the tears, the joy, the wonder and years that gone into this book.

The other beauty is that these books were to be given free to libraries, so everyone could have access to this amazing book, filled with so much wisdom and beautiful woodcut prints. Wisdom far beyond her years, as the words in Dear Stranger were written when Anastasia was in her teens. She wrote letters to a Stranger - to all of us. The words are striking. The emotions raw. It oozes with wisdom...
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger is now also available as paperback from Amazon
About the book: words by Anastasia from her website:
"Dear Stranger is a collection of letters that I wrote from age 15-18 while ill with a chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). I have hand printed 230 copies of Dear Stranger through the craft of letterpress printing, hand-setting every letter, rolling each page through the printing press and carving every picture in wood. As these books are limited they are being passed around from person to person as a gift and some can be found in libraries..

A few quotes from the book:

ME: I read through the list of symptoms of M.E., it made me cry so much, I feel like someone forced themselves inside my body and poisoned my blood with all of these pains. I was shaking reading it, my God do each of them hurt when added together, sometimes it’s all at once and other times it’s a large combinations. Even to just take one of the symptoms like memory or concentration – it is difficult, I forget a moment that has just passed, I cannot listen to someone long enough to understand what they are really talking about and it’s not likely I will remember later. The amount of strain I put on my ears to actually listen to someone, and it does hurt, physically first and then emotionally because I want to listen and understand.

Pain: I am in so much pain, you think that by now I would be so used to it that it would not bother me so much, but it does. And when I see myself in the mirror I am so saddened there is these young almost baby like face, but so tired and pale and stressed, filled with paying and an age that doesn't belong to youth. My God truly, what do I have left?

Dreams: I am starting to see that illness comes to us because of our story so it might also want to leave us because of our story. I will find out how to use my mind and then I will find out how to live my dreams.

Gift: I feel that illness has been a big gift in my life. … The more I understand the more I see the beauty of the path but I am on.
I ache about so many things and cry for hours about how hard it all is, but what is the wealth of my experience? A lot! My tears come from a special place and are connected to something far greater than I have ever cried about before… By being ill I have been able to stand outside of the world, meet my own world and now I am gaining strength so that I can go into the world again.

I would highly recommend reading this book. Teenagers and Adults alike... Dear Stranger is also available as paperback from Amazon


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday is a day of Rest

cat lying on his back on a bed. Sunday is for rest. Little Wings website by Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
Sundays are for Rest
I was going to write about the unease that One Man (and his 'friends') can bring to the world, but it knots my stomach ... and as I would like this Little Wings Blog to be about healing, ease and growth, I decided agains taking that route. I am sure you all have your own thoughts on the subject of D.T.

Lying in my bed, 
a photo came to mind
which I took a few years ago
 of my beloved Robert Cat ...

Don't rush to get up. 
Today is a day of rest!

But if you feel like watching some short
documentaries and videos
 about my art and writing, 
you can do so 

Be good.
Be well.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wheat, dairy and sugar free Rye Bread

When I was still well, as in not ill with ME/CFS.. a different kind of well... Saturdays used to be for baking. With that in mind, I decided that my Saturday Blog is a baking blog. My aim is to share recipes which are (mainly):

 Sugar free. Yeast free. Wheat Free. Dairy free. 
But still ABSOLUTELY delicious!!

First a thought, not baking related, but I just want to say that my thoughts are with my American readers who wake up to the knowledge that their new president has, within a few hours of taking office already tried to dismantle 'Obama Care'.  I can not imagine the worry that has brought to many. All I can do is that I have you in my thoughts.

I love baking. Much more so than cooking. And to accommodate my changed tolerance for certain foods, I have adapted many recipes over the years. 

My first offering here is a Rye Bread. It is a bread I made for years, and many people (even those not in need of a wheat free diet) have asked me for the recipe. It has gone to many countries by now.
Rye Bread. Wheat, dairy and sugar free
Wheat, dairy and sugar free Rye Bread

And... It is very simple to make.

In fairness, I do get help with the mixing. 
My job is to put all the ingredients in the bowl.
Observe the mixing. Set the timer .... something that is easily forgotten... Take it out of the oven. And eat it!

It freezer really well, so I slice it when cold, wrap slices in clingfilm and freeze so I can have a fresh slice of bread at any time.

I usually make two loaves, or one of this bread and one currant/nut bread. The recipe will follow next week

Rye Bread

Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl
2 cups of Rye Flour 
1 cup of gluten free flour, or spelt flour
1+ 1/2 cup of oat flakes 

1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon of nori bake which is a powdered seaweed
And you can add seeds of your choice

Mix the following
200 ml water
200 ml soyamilk (or goatsmilk)
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt (or good squeeze of lemon juice)

Stir and add to dry ingredients, gently mixing it all together.

It should be quite a wet dough! As one of my home helps used to say, "it is all in the mixing" Don't overdo it.

Put in a greased bread tin.
Place in Pre-heated oven: Gas 7, 220 C, 425 F.
About 45 minutes.

Cool on wire rack and ENJOY!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Meditation during illness

The most radical act of healing could be the act of presence. 

Being here.

Kalichi - Dance, Words & Soul quoted in Into the Light 

page from Into the Light by Corina Duyn. showing leek flower head and quote by Corina Duyn and Kalichi
page from Into the Light 

A short thought for today about the healing power of meditation, and observing life, nature, which is what I did most of the day yesterday...

for me means

Observing what goes on in my body

trying to let it be
Really seeing what is in front of me
ever changing light shapes 
of clouds movements in my garden

Without much doing

beautiful moments 
of lightness of being

Quote from Into the Light by Corina Duyn

Thursday, January 19, 2017

remission and relapse, the cycle of ME/CFS

... relapses are made much worse by the fact that they follow temporary remissions, when we think, with the eternal optimism of well-being, that we have escaped the clutch of pain for good.
Kat Duff - The Alchemy of Illness 

page from Into the Light by artist and writer Corina Duyn, showing a broken mushroom and a quote about relapse in illness

Due to some amazing creative growth spurts in the past few weeks and last few days, and not always listening to my own wisdom about pacing, about doing everything in moderation, my body said No (Remember that character in Little Britain? ...the computer said no...).

Anyway the pain that I have been experiencing the past few days, and the 'crash' yesterday is not a flu (as I thought) but most likely ME/CFS sticking its ugly head up again.

Fun, and creative adventures still need to taken in moderation.

See you tomorrow!

For now, I leave you with page from my lnto the Light book which reminds me of my own wisdom and of that by Kat Duff: .. relapses are made much worse by the fact that they follow temporary remissions, when we think, with the eternal optimism of well-being, that we have escaped the clutch of pain for good.

page from Into the Light

text from page: 



in moderation

talking walking

reading writing

resting eating


the cycle of
 Relapse and Remission 

Be well my friend, and thanks for your company today and every day during the past few weeks (and years for some!)