“the shape of me and other stuff”


life sentence

may the forceA long Winter this, even before this dramatic spell of arctic whistling windy snow. I spend the part of everyday dedicated to outside work ensconced in a blue boiler suit zipped over all the clothes I wore leaving the house in the morning. The underwear, the overwear, the hoodie, the jacket, the scarf. I take off my blue beret and put on a fluffy hat. I put on beloved boot slippers and wellies. I am now padded and contained into a bigger rounded and very grounded shape (peeing requires premeditation and some entry-level athletics). I have a heavier footfall, I am less ahem… “feminine”, more animal. I feel this gives me some kind of intuition of what being a bear would feel like. I imagine what I look like but I do not attempt to draw this, the image in my head is probably a copy of a Lieke van der Vorst print.

For the goats’ winter diet I am out every day cutting briars, long, thorny, green, lodging splinters in my hands despite the leather gloves. I fold each in two or three sections under my left arm until the bundle has to be piled into what I will judge to be enough for the day. Yesterday I harvested enough for a week, seven piles that I can lift from under the fallen snow. A day’s worth of briars I have to carry uphill to where the goats are stationed, the little field attached to the cosiest shed. Keeping animals means carrying every single thing they will have eaten or turned their noses at during the winter months : the leaf hay (ash and willow branches, nettles), the bought hay, the barley straw, the daily ration of briars and the water. I carry the stuff in my arms, on my back, sometimes even on my head. I imagine the amusing shape of me with my bundles. I imagine the lines my feet draw on the ground, to and fro, repeatedly, to my grateful creatures.

Over Christmas I built myself a bed to support a larger gift of a mattress out of the recycled shuttering ply from the very long plinths for my last installation in December. I had a narrow bed since moving into this new miracle house and it is now wonderful to have space to extend my limbs at all angles. In a recent dream I realised that I was actually an octopus, able to reach out with all my arms, feeling powerful and able. To regain human shape in the morning I folded each arm into a hug around my own body. As if the shape of me (of each of us?) as a human was a shape of protective warm support of myself.

To prescribe homeopathic remedies it is often useful to know how one sleeps, on what part of the body one chooses to lie, where are the arms, the legs, how they are folded. Before I get up in the morning I often think of what shape my horizontal body draws in space. I think this daily practice has helped me incarnate more fully into my human form and form solid boundaries where I had none. I grew up living primarily in books and in my head because the world seemed like a dangerous place. I distilled the fear out of my life, and inside my strong (bear) body, I am safe now and forever.



  1. “Bear spirit animal and grounding forces
    The bear is an animal that lives a solitary life. Having a bear as a spirit animal can mean that you find balance and comfort in solitude. The presence of this power animal could point to the need to “regroup” and set up boundaries, so you feel comfortable in your own space. It may be a call to find time away from the crowd or busyness and favor quiet time and rest.” Borrowed from http://www.spiritanimal.info/bear-spirit-animal/
    Sounds about right!🐻 Couldn’t find any ref to octopus 🐙 😉

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