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Ruth Steadman

• Writing • Therapy & Wellbeing • Travel • Vivere Ad Alta Voce • London UK & Italy •

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The entire weekend spent chasing light across the keys. Thank you @reginaspektor for lifting London, and this girl, out of the rain last week, and most especially for this song. . . . #reginaspektor | #meandmypiano | #pianoheart | #pianolove | #pianosofinstagram | #pianoforte | #calledtobecreative | #nativecreative | #wherecalmlives | #slowandsimpledays | #distractionsandinspirations | #feliceadesso | #mode_emotive | #stillswithstories | #capturinglight | #mystoryoflight

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Often, when I am travelling by bus through London — perhaps because I am both a writer and a therapist and have a deep love of human narrative, and certainly because bus journeys are ideal times for reverie — I find myself imagining the interior worlds of my fellow passengers. It's quite giddying, picturing the complex star-pointed networks of thoughts and worries and memories and hopes and daydreams and passions and straightforward everyday plans, like three-dimensional worlds orbiting each face, and then scaling back to see just how many such worlds are travelling together, quietly together, through the same space. And it's an important reminder for me to tread gently in all my interactions, because none of us can ever know what might be alive in all those other worlds. Though like most harried city dwellers I forget to carry enough care more often than I care to admit. . And then of course — like most Londoners; like most human beings — there are all those other times I find myself, simply and gleefully, gazing into strangers' windows... . . . #bergen | #norway | #windowsoftheworld | #tostandandstare | #fromyourperspective | #weareunveiled | #boldbraveyou | #soworthloving | #forgeyourownpath | #fosterthoughtfulness | #adailysomething | #stillswithstories | #thestoryofeveryday | #littlestoriesofmylife | #mystoryoflight

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What is it that calls us so deeply to ritual? And deeper yet: to the magic that swims in the starlit dark underneath? We witness it, don't we, in the games and spells conjured up by the youngest of children; an instinct that exists long before rational thought. While the same folktales echo the world over with ceremonies that connect even the most geographically and culturally disparate of peoples. And every one of us quietly knows the private paths and patternings we tread so regularly through our human lives they can't help but write themselves into our hearts and bones as a sort of personal mythology. Even my cat has daily habits that seem, somehow, elevated beyond themselves. . For lots of complicated reasons, I have needed to take some time out this summer. And one of the gifts I am giving myself in my rest is the same slow morning routine to begin each new day: the burning of essential oils; Max Richter's soaring, soul-dilating soundtrack to Woolf Works; and long coffee, deep and black and chewy with stories. It is all, I am quite sure, old medicine. . . . #morningscenes | #mymagicalmorning | #todaysgoodthing | #adailysomething | #thestoryofeveryday | #thesimpleeveryday | #wherecalmlives | #somethingquieting | #slowandsimpledays | #inpraiseofslowness | #fosterthoughtfulness | #smallsolace | #selfcompassion | #wellbeing | #breathepausereflect | #mystoryoflight |

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The gifts we give each other as human beings — not the presents beautifully wrapped in ribbons and good paper; the real gifts — are so often entirely beyond descriptive power, aren’t they? This summer I’ve been very slowly (and very belatedly) reading @brenebrown’s Daring Greatly. And I’ve been even more slowly (and even more belatedly) letting its lessons soften into my life; letting its lessons soften my life. And the path into the arena of authentic vulnerability has become something a pilgrimage. If pilgrimage means a series of transitory moments that tremble and blaze on an unseen breeze, there for one brave and brilliant moment and then gone, written only (gratefully, preciously only) into memory as the deep seen and seeing water in another’s eye, the softly unspoken word, the traced shadow edges of warm breathing hand alongside warm breathing body; the painfully exquisite space between… . . . #thepowerofvulnerability | #daringgreatly | #courageworks | #showupbeseen | #thedaringway | #adailysomething | #weareunveiled | #boldbraveyou | #fosterthoughtfulness | #soulful_moments | #wordsfromthesecretplace | #smallsolace | #wherecalmlives | #mystoryoflight

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On Saturday night my neighbours had a summer party. A crackling fire-pit in their back garden that thickened the air of my flat with charcoal, loud music and hoots of laughter like sudden exclamation marks well into the small hours of Sunday morning. . I tried reading my book about wild swimming in an attempt to transport my mind elsewhere. I stuffed my head under the duvet, despite the humidity, to try and block out the noise. I even resorted to doing some 1am yoga, breathing into my frustration and all the discomfort that went with it. But I struggled. I resented my neighbours' drunken lack of awareness and the fact they were having fun at the expense of my peace. And then I resented myself double for resenting them, and for not being out enjoying myself on a Saturday night, too. . Showing up to practice compassion is so damn hard, isn't it? But I'll tell you what finally allowed me to sleep - it was when I took hold of my struggle, warmly and firmly the way a good parent might, looked that struggle squarely in the face, then let my neighbours off the hook for being drunk and unaware, and let myself off the hook double for being angry and upset (and promised myself a cottony gentle Sunday as a reward - and kept that promise). Because we are all stumbling and soft in our shared humanity. And that is OK. That is so very much more than OK. . . . #adailysomething | #todaysgoodthing | #fosterthoughtfulness | #boldbraveyou | #bedeeplyrooted | #soulful_moments | #wherecalmlives | #somethingquieting | #smallsolace | #selfcompassion | #wellbeing | #daringgreatly | #mystoryoflight | #thestoryofeveryday |

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We break our good habits so easily, don't we? And yet (and I say this smiling) all the terrible ones are so very easy to keep. Of course, one of the hardest practices of all is self-compassion, especially for all those times we slip up. But these are precisely the times, of course, we need it most. Hello there stumbling, soft, shared humanity. So here’s to the brand new week and the chance to begin again. Which for me means getting back into bed with some good sleep routines, and a pledge to be just that little bit more self-compassionate. What about you? . . #morningscenes | #thesimpleeveryday | #slowandsimpledays | #inpraiseofslowness | #todaysgoodthing | #thestoryofeveryday | #fosterthoughtfulness | #wherecalmlives | #somethingquieting | #smallsolace | #selfcompassion | #wellbeing | #daringgreatly | #mystoryoflight |

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For the last few summers I have travelled in the opposite direction to most holidaymakers - away from the crowded beaches of southern Europe and into the northern wilds of Scandinavia (this was taken last year on my way out to the Norwegian fjords). But for the first time in over a decade I am craving a proper Mediterranean summer holiday: a small whitewashed harbour town where I can watch trawlers tug in and out all day, a view of turquoise water from my dapple-shaded dozy hammock, and a fish restaurant I return to night after night because the food is so straightforwardly good, and because by the end of my stay the owners have become friends. Indeed, dreaming about holidays is almost as relaxing as the real thing, isn't it? But it's almost like having too much sugar, too. I spent most of the weekend lost in multiple browser tabs of @airbnb listings, flight prices and ferry timetables, so much so that as I drifted off to sleep last night my closed eyes were still full of sun flares, and I've woken this morning with the grit of golden sand still very much between my toes. But how delicious. So tell me, where are you travelling to this year?

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Summer, basically. . Last night I slept for a full eight hours - my first unbroken night's sleep in months. I woke (sweet scraps of dreams dissolving in the soft fingers of sunlight through my bedroom blinds) to find the full weight of this one stretched the length of my body, her tractor purrs thrumming against my shoulder, my ribs and my hip. It was all a little too hot, but all far too delicious to move. She knows. And this summer she is teaching me everything.

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Um, no - I don't think I have a stationery problem... Surely everyone has separate notebooks for their day-to-day planning, for their poetry, and for their Italian lessons? Though I'm not quite sure how I'm going to capture the hilariousness of last night's final Italian class of term. (And sadly this photo doesn't quite capture the watery teal deliciousness of this limited edition Nordic Blue Leuchtturm.)

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Despite a strong tendency towards synaesthesia, I feel like I have been slow to embrace the fullness of my sense of smell and what it can offer, both emotionally and creatively. But over the last few weeks I have been on a pilgrimage of sorts: seeking out fragrances that inspire and lift me, that fit and hold me the way coming home does; fragrances that know exactly who I am and what I need, and offer it as deep, wordless in-breaths; fragrances that are, in their own way, a sort of religious ritual and response. . And this is what my worshipful nose has given me: Gratitude to @loccitane for bringing back their classic Thé Vert eau de toilette, which in turn always brings me back to the sultry French summer holiday when I first smelled it, over a quarter of my life ago. @nyr_official's bright herbs and bitter citrus bergamot, softened and sweetened and deepened with black pepper, slow in baths and hot on the evening air. And the true resurrection that is @aesopskincare's aromatique balm, which is entirely worth carrying in its own cotton bag, and which I carry as prayer in my cupped hands every night as a I drift into sleep. . So tell me: what are your most treasured scents?

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When this is the cathedral that calls you to worship, and your prayers are carved out, long and sweet, in the hush and hallow beneath its surface.

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This hazelnut meringue, though... (And yes, she has been known to play.)

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"Tell me it was for the hunger & nothing less. For hunger is to give the body what it knows it cannot keep." Ocean Vuong - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous . Lago di Como - March 2017

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I mean, do I even need a reason to offer you another picture of #lagodicomo?

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Oh Italy. Italy.

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The hill on which I live was once right at the heart of The Great North Wood - a vast natural oak forest dating back at least as far as the thirteenth century, full of stories of fortune tellers and hairy hermits and an ancient Vicar's Oak. With goodly green views like this one I often feel the whispering ghosts of all those trees. And yes, generous amounts of birdsong come very much included. Good morning world!

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This view. Famously the last one afforded the condemned on their way to incarceration in the Doge's Palace, or worse. I'm pretty sure it was intended to torture. But I'm also pretty sure that in their short moments at those small windows many will also have found deep comfort, deep resolve and even, dare I say it, deep joy. A sigh is the wordless exclamation of several emotions, after all. And I love what that says about mindfulness and what its practice can offer us in challenging times. It's been another terribly sad week for my city. The situation at work is still unresolved. And on Monday I put my back out. But I'm taking my lead from those wise Venetian prisoners - if they were able to grasp small moments of exquisite beauty then so can I. And just look at today's summer sky! . Image: Bridge of Sighs, Venice - March 2017

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It turns out the end of the story with my work is still, even at this late stage, unclear. Just like the election, huh? But one of the things I'm proudest of in how I'm responding to this whole process is my growing ability to tolerate uncertainty - like strengthening a muscle, you know? In this week's craniosacral session we were describing it as surfing, or sailing: strong, intelligent muscles reading and riding a muscular sea - mindfully meeting this wave, and then this wave, and then this wave... . Image: Five Boats, Mersea Island - Easter 2017

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