Saturday 30 December 2017

Stepping Into Magnificence in the New Year

Stepping into one's Magnificence

As Big Ben strikes midnight tomorrow up in London Town, from my house down here in Bognor Regis, my year off will officially come to an end.  When asked by kind friends what I will do now, I tell them that I will be stepping into my magnificence.  This seems a good idea, and a challenging goal to set.  But what is life for, if not to be challenged?  It has been a long year off, away from all I used to do and think, and it is a measure of the road ahead, the road already trodden, and the thinking I have done, to bundle it all up in glory and to step out of 2017 and into my magnificence. 

Background -

I began last year in Mr Bedford's little house in Hurstpierpoint.  Newly widowed, I could only think of life one day at a time.  I remember being relieved beyond measure that I was to take the whole of 2017 off, and at that time, a single year seemed too small, too short, too insignificant to find a way back to normalcy.  Not only had Alan just died, but my mother and my youngest brother Dominic had died too in the months before.  In those bleak winter months, Alan's son and I packed up his wonderful home, giving things away, taking things to charity shops, letting things go.   I remember being convinced that all of Alan's warm clothes, his coats and shoes, his bedding and his socks, all needed to go at once to Syria.  And I found a charity that did that, from Brighton, and car loads of all his good clothes were loaded onto a lorry and taken away to a war zone.  Alan also had a whole wardrobe of suits, shirts and ties.  I found a charity in London that took good office wear to give to people who needed to look smart for interviews, but had nothing.  I could hear Mr B approving of this.  He had a powerful work ethic, born and raised a Methodist, his father a charismatic Methodist preacher - Alan had no time for people that wouldn't work.  He would have loved his suits helping people to earn their way, and to find a job.  Bit by bit, the house in Hurstpierpoint was dismantled until on the first of January 2017,  I packed all my things from Alan's house into the car, and I left the shell of what had been for such a short while my marital home, and went back to my own home.

Once back in Bognor, I gave my lodgers notice.  My lodgers, five of them, were all carefree young lads, all hearts of gold, all approved of by Mr B because they had jobs, and all of them blind to chaos.  I was sad to let them go, but I needed my house back, and it seemed, my house needed rebuilding.

Coming home was like returning too early during a student party.  

  1. There was a double mattress leaning against the banisters at the bottom of the stairs that fell on anyone passing it.  Everyone had found a way to pass it that meant they didn't have to do anything about it.  What mattress? they would say in a muffled voice from under the mattress itself.
  2. There was no front wall.  A car, I am told, crashed into it one night sending all the bricks of the wall crashing into my lovely smelling roses.  Boy Racers, said my lodgers sadly, as they picked their way over the rubble daily, weekly, monthly, past all the debris, on their way out to work, or the pub.
  3.  The bins hadn't been taken out (what - every week?) - ever.
  4. Because there were no clear surfaces anywhere in the house, and no cutlery nor plates any more, everyone had either pizza delivered or ate cereals straight from the box.  When my lovely lads started to move out, all the cutlery, plates and mugs were found knee deep under the beds.  Still full.  It was like finding baby triffids in every room.  
  5. There were discarded wardrobes and chests of drawers on the landing, and mice living comfortably in the sofas on pizza.
I booked the biggest skip possible, had it delivered, and filled it within the day.  

Over the summer, my house has become a beautiful home.  I live in it.  It is filled with light, with gentle but strong colours - light blues and greens, deep pinks and bold reds - and has furniture and lovely things from my mother's house.  It is clean, it is mine and everywhere I sit in the house, I can see beautiful things.  It is harmonious, it is clear, and for someone who needed to recover their equilibrium, it is perfect.  There are flowers and plants everywhere.  I took over my garden and found to my surprise that I love gardening.  It is like tidying the house, tidying the flower beds.  Choosing what goes into the flower beds outside is like organising lovely things inside, and mowing the lawn is like hoovering the grass.  I hadn't time to get too winsome about Alan, Dom and Mum going - I was extremely busy creating this dream home in which to spend every minute of every day, forever, marvelling at how lovely the colours are and how lucky I am to have my mother's lovely things, and how nice my new windows are.  This, I remember thinking, is what being a grown up is all about.  

Jolly times with jolly grandson number one, the Dumpling Prince, George

Where does stepping into your magnificence come into all this?

Having time to stop and retreat, having time to disconnect and slowly let go of all the things I thought I needed in order to be and do what I was being and doing, brought me face to face with myself.  Bit by bit, I was required to take stock.  Where had this life I had lived brought me?  What I had I learned about myself?  Who was I, when all the talking, texting, Facebooking, rushing about was gone?  If I was to sit quietly by myself, and not tell anyone about it, not take photos of it to prove I was still here, not think of it as a career move, and not link it with opportunities to further the story of myself I told the world - if I were to spend time alone without distractions, would I like myself?  Would I even recognise myself?  When all the hype is gone, who is left in the silence, and do I want to know her?

Baby Arthur arrives, much to his surprise. 

Into this time of re creation and re building came a new grandson.  In August, a day or so after my own birthday, and three weeks early came the birth day of a new, tiny, pink baby boy.  He seemed to signify the simplicity and magnificence of life, and inspired in us all the love that goes with such a precious new little creature.  He and his older brother are reminders to me of the perfect circle of life, that I understand and watch and accept, without knowing why or how.  My grandsons have nothing to prove.  They just live, happily, being first and doing second. 

Baby Arthur sleeps on Grandma's hob top 


Towards the end of this year, I began to consider what to do when my year of  restoration is over in January.  What have I learned, and what have I understood about who I think I am?  It is not possible to take up where I left off, I don't want that any more. What I understand now is that I need a lot of space.  I need time to prepare for the things I do, and time to assess them afterwards.  I don't want to be busy if I don't have to be, I want to continue to know myself more.  It's very important.  If I am to be effective in my next stage of living, I must continue this fascinating business of knowing who I am.  If I am authentic with myself, I will be authentic with you.  If I can give myself time, kindness, and patience, I can do the same for you.  It is a life long relationship, like all our best, committed relationships, this relationship with ourselves.  And I am lucky, in the teachers that I have been given.  Alan is the greatest teacher in my world.  My mother, my brother Dominic, and Steve, the first love that started this journey into life and death, are my dear teachers.  As are all the people I met along the way until this point, the day before I step back into the world again.  My teachers, all of them, taught me hard lessons about life, love and death.  They didn't make anything easy, but they gave me everything they had before they left.  

So this 2018 is a time of reaping.  Reaping the benefits from my teachers, and being first, doing second.  In short, it time to step into my magnificence. 

And so ...

I am really delighted to be creating these workshops on the theme of coming home, of taking back our power.  This is the first step into our magnificence.  There is a limit of eight per workshop, it's best to work together in smaller groups when we are talking about such important things.  I have reproduced the details below

  • Sunday, 14 January 2018 at 9:30–16:00                                    

How is it that we wander so far away from home, from ourselves? When we forget who we are, we feel disconnected without knowing why, aware of a sense of loss but knowing that there is more to us than this. Coming Home workshops last for the whole day, and include discussion, creative exploration and deep thinking to explore how we get lost, and how we become homesick for ourselves. We will look at ways to Come Home, what is it to Be Home and centred in ourselves, and how, eventually, we prepare to Go Home when we face, as we all will do, the end of our lives.

We will work hard together in the morning, and explore creatively with Life Boards in the afternoon. Life Boards are a wonderful way to create a representation of how you are feeling right now, which you keep to remind you of the day.

Places are limited to eight people per workshop, and cost £50 per person.

To book please email, a deposit of £25 is required to secure your place.

Please bring a packed lunch, and teas, coffees and biscuits are all provided. Arrive 9.30 for a 10.00 start.

Antonia Rolls has worked with people facing the end of life for the last ten years, both as an artist and a soul midwife. A soul midwife is an emotional and spiritual companion for anyone facing the end of life, at any time from diagnosis to death, for however many minutes, hours or days are requested. Working with people facing the end of life has made Antonia see how important it is to live our lives fully now, right now, and with awareness, before we have to prepare to leave. Life, your life, is so important and learning to live it fully is a life long commitment. Wishing you had understood more as you are preparing to leave life happens all too often. Antonia's Coming Home workshop days are intended to start your awareness that you have much more power in your life than you think.
The Space, Waltham House, Town Cross Avenue, Bognor Regis, PO21 2DS