A picture can tell a huge story, but sometimes it helps to tell the story as well….
So, this is me, a copy of graphic novel Hopeless Maine vol 2, Inheritance in one hand, and the new religious/ philosophical meandering, “Spirituality without Structure” in the other.
I’ve been told that the tree behind me is a Dawn Redwood.
The brown dress I’m wearing was a skirt, a few weeks prior to the photo, picked up second hand at a Green Party jumble sale, and re-worked, to be a knee length pinafore dress. Something I can wear over leggings and a jumper to be passably warm, a bit fem, and wholly practical. That flash of blue jumper, is a handmade item, knitted by an incredibly talented cousin. She was a genius at all forms of needlecraft, and died in old age more than fifteen years ago. Her decision to leave half of her house to me has been a major contribution to my being able to follow this career path. It takes a lot of years to get established as an author, and without Louise Chandler it would have taken me a lot longer and been a lot harder. It’s a really snuggly jumper, too.
You can’t easily see the pentacles on my scarf, but I’ve had it for years, as useful Pagan bait. “I see you’ve got pentacles” is such an easy conversation opener, and I’m old enough to remember when we had to be a bit more careful about that sort of thing, when you could lose your job for being Pagan, and it wasn’t always safe to be out.
The colourful jacket came from Intrigue of Stroud (my favourite clothes shop). I’ve been getting into wearing colours in combination more in the last six months. I had years of being told I didn’t know how to put colours together, and it really dented my confidence. I also used to hear a lot that I had no idea what clothes shapes to pick or what looked good on me. I had no faith in my ability to dress myself, and that’s a big thing to lose. Now, I’m getting more into wearing things I like. The process of forming my own preferences, and learning to be comfortable in just liking a thing because I do and not having to justify it, has been an important journey for me. I am happier now in my clothes choices than I’ve been since my teens. I feel no pressure to dress to be sexually attractive to anyone, and I wear colours I like.
I’m thinner around the face in this picture than I’ve ever been before in my life. It’s not the product of weight loss, but of improving my iodine intake. It looks increasingly like insufficiency of iodine in my diet has, for my entire life, been compromising my thyroid gland, hence the chubby face that has been a source of misery since childhood. I’ve had a lifetime of feeling guilty over being fat, when what I had was a flaw in my diet. I look back and realise my life would have been really different if there hadn’t been an assumption that my chubbiness was my fault. I didn’t have a fat body just a fat face. I now know it wasn’t because I was greedy and overeating, and that’s a big thing in terms of sense of self, and how I feel about my childhood self. A kind woman at Druid camp last summer took me aside, and said I looked like I might have these issues, and she knew because her daughter did. I didn’t get her name, but my gratitude for the difference made is vast.
An image from a moment on the journey. Published author. Passably comfortable in my own skin for the first time ever. Living in a place that I love and where I feel a keen sense of belonging. And in the background, a tree that was thought extinct, and turned out not to be.