Good Afternoon from Tortorella! I hope this finds you well and that you are enjoying summer, or winter depending on which side of the equator you live.
One of my favourite words since I came to live in Italy is ‘proprio’. It means ‘really’ but in a very full on way. So when one of my Italian neighbours told me that a cake I had made was ‘proprio buono’ (really good) I was beaming from ear to ear as if I had won Masterchef.
Why am I telling you this?
Because it’s proprio hot! Star my dog, has even taken to ‘swimming’ in the goats water trough to cool down; this from a dog who normally hates being wet. So we have been hanging out indoors where it is cool which has given me some time to catch up on my studies.
I’ve taken myself back to ‘school’, to learn more about writing, storytelling and mythology, subjects that I am really passionate about and that weren’t on my school curriculum first time around.
One of the writing exercises I was asked to do was ‘Meet my Muse’. I have been putting pen to paper for a long time, I have written articles, poetry and even a book, and yet I had no recollection of ever meeting my Muse.
So I went to meet her.
Before she introduced herself to me and made herself visible, she brought me back to my mum’s kitchen where I was making chocolate biscuits. I loved cooking and baking as a child and my mum would let us experiment freely in the kitchen, it was bliss.
And then she brought me forward to secondary school, where for the first time my creativity was ‘graded’. Sewing, painting, playing music etc. which I used to love, got serious. And a part of me, the slightly rough around the edges farm girl now felt like she didn’t quite make the grade.
My stitches were strong but not elegant, my cooking was homely but not ‘cuisine’. My young self who was dealing with so much turmoil and drew straight lines as a way of creating order was told by my art teacher that I might best be suited to architecture. I think I was probably 12 years old.
So I stepped away from it all. Gave up art, even though I wanted to be part of the class, but knew I would never make the grade in the exam and somehow left my sense of awe and wonderment and belief in my ability to create behind.
And right there from the midst of my sadness she appeared; my Muse.
She was standing in an old Irish kitchen, stirring something in her cauldron like pot over an open fire. She looked at me and smiled. She was young and fair, one part fairy and one part the earth herself.
“Hi, I’m Alice.”
Which seemed quite ordinary, and then I remembered my God Mother had been called Alice which made me smile. And into her pot she put some of the herby contents from a jar she was holding. I told her that I felt like I should have studied herbs but I never really had the desire.
She told me that it was not for me to make the lemon curd, my gift lay in taking the lemon curd that someone else had lovingly made and turning it into a fabulous tart, to take the blanket which someone else had woven to make a tent in which to play, or to take a line of a story that I had heard and weave it into a whole new tale.
And I realised all the times in my life that I have done this, but somehow I thought it wasn’t good enough, it didn’t ‘make the grade’ as I had been taught.
And then something started to unfurl in me, a mix of sadness and rage.
Who is it that decides what makes the grade, what is artistic, or creative?
And why did I let myself fall for their tall tales?
And the reason is simple, because way down in a tender spot in my being I didn’t actually believe that I was good enough.
So Alice and I have been exploring, learning and creating new things, and I have been reminding myself that I am enough, purely and simply, because I am me.
So wherever you are and whatever you are up to day, please know you are enough, because you are you too. Proprio!
Much love from the mountain,
Catherine x x x