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With Becky...

Birds tell us what to do  
Holding the sun
As if it is never down      
Love makes us feel alive
Sleeping in silence
As if dark noises never come
Dreams make heart beat fast
Dreaming in blue
Mother of sight
Above the earth 
no place to hide
Above my thoughts
walk through blindly 
on the green lines

When Rebecca arrived, I was so excited about our week. I know she loves walking, hiking, and wildlife, but at the same time, I knew she was five months pregnant. So this could be unique for both of us.

Sitting by the fire, just woken up from a deep nap. It’s tranquil here! I knew there was no internet and no phone signal and being used to camping and walking in the wilderness that felt ok. Before I got here… now it feels like an adjustment!

The thought of a quiet evening… no internet, no films, no one is coming and going on the street outside… a little daunting, but I imagine it could be extremely grounding. I often long for a time before mobiles and internet and feel trapped by them, constantly watched, constantly available, but I see I’m just as addicted as everyone else.

Everybody believes I’m addicted to my phone too. Before I came here, the Elan Valley people thought it could be tough for me to live without my phone. They were wrong. I’m not addicted, and I’m living here very happily without internet. Moreover, I discover that social media and being connected to the internet all the time makes me anxious.

I explained to Becky about the joy and peace that comes from the simple routine of life here, for example, making the fire in the morning to heat the house and water. The simplicity of existence changes my experience of being alive.

We don’t have a car here so it’s suddenly a bit startling to think of how we’d get out if we needed to, I push the thought away because it brings an air of panic, I hate to be trapped… but I have legs and can walk so I’d be fine.

It’s nice to be in a Female space, a different woman spending time with Meltem through the year, the dolls on the wall, the expanding tapestry. My connection to being a woman is changing so much recently, and will no doubt continue!

Sharing this space with other women is teaching me a lot about myself and how others see things differently. Obviously, cultural differences play a role, but, beyond this, I could see how my perception of things is very different from that of neurotypical women. I’m noticing how cultural norms affect me, especially when I’m cooking and having guests. I’m teaching Becky some Turkish recipes while she is here and she is correcting my English, so I’m enjoying this exchange a lot.

We walked over the hill to a “waterfall” and back to the reservoir to a path that was closed because of rockfall.  The only other way back was too long, so we decided to chance it on the new track which turned out to be okay the only casualty was a new hole in Andy’s waterproof trousers, which Meltem had borrowed,  as we climbed a barbed wire fence. It was a new experience for me, being responsible for the navigation, whenever I do this I find there is always a point that I become daunted, and all the “mountain rescue” stories start playing in my head. Today it happened when our path, marked so clearly on the map, turned into a bog and seemingly disappeared, coupled with Meltem saying ‘I think snow is coming”. Visions of two lost women sheltering in a snowstorm. Of course, we were fine, and the weather was nice, it barely drizzled.

The walk was beautiful, the reed bracken mountains, the silvery green lichen, the stillness of the reservoir. It’s empowering being able to navigate, expanding the extent of the geographical and physical area where you feel you can go safely, to open up your world onto the hilltop.

I’m really enjoying learning how to cook new food, and it feels bigger than ‘oh a couple of new recipes’ it feels like an insight into a different way of engaging with ‘home’.

I know Simon will read this, so  I have to admit we were naughty. He told me that the path was closed because of rockfall and that the other option is dangerous. He said he tried it but understood it could be hazardous.  A path which we walked. Me and a woman five months pregnant. I was anxious about her, especially when we walked along a very tiny path over the river. While I felt anxious, she happily walked. Both of us were pleased we did it.  It was exciting and challenging. But I don’t recommend anyone to try this road.

Friday, day of the Domestic Goddess! Cake baking, soup making, embroidery and of course drudge up a hill. Meltem is thinking of running courses in how you can be an enlightened artist and also domestic, in her words “what are you so scared of?”

We are burning coal here, and it feels so precious and strange that we think we can wastefully burn it. The bucket is slowly going down. How can we claim to “love nature” or ourselves for that matter when we are so casually destructive? We take, and we don’t give back, how to give back?

Heading home today, unsure about connecting and returning to the so-called ‘real world’, a back to school feeling, but there are also beautiful things in the outside world to be engaged with.

Becky was my last guest because of the Covid-19 lockdown. I’m writing this post from Leamington where I have been staying since lockdown began because Elan Valley is not open yet. I’ve stayed in Elan Valley for only two months, but my life has changed massively in a short time. If I hadn’t had my Elan Valley experiences, I’m not sure I would have been able to handle what I have been

In these COVID days, I finished courses in Art Therapy Self-exploration, Art Therapy Self-healing, Art therapy: The Self and How To Use Art Therapy, Mindfulness, Autistic Awareness, as well as gaining diplomas in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Advanced Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Life Coaching. I’m studying two more one year courses, but I believe I will be able to finish them both in three months.  I was able to do all these courses because of the Elan Valley fellowship. So I’m so grateful to have this opportunity.

Later in the year, I will return to Elan Valley for four months to complete my project. My new guests are already lined up and time scheduled, and we have a couple of extraordinary projects about woman and nature. I hope I will start dancing with my beautiful friend Plexy and I want to do more community artwork there. Finally, I have decided to live around Elan Valley after my project has finished, so I’m looking for a cottage, a rural place, if you hear of one please let me know.

When I go back to Elan Valley, I will start writing again in this section. But in three weeks Andy and I will write from Karizma about our sailing adventure.

My life never the same
waves are cruel 
Drowning in sadness
Drawing in
drawing out

All the words in italics have been written by Rebecca Smith Williams 


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