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The Women’s Quilt project

Calling all my crafty people, can you help with The Women’s Quilt project?

“598 women were killed by a current or former partner in the UK between 2009 and 2015. That’s approximately 2 a week. The plan is to create a quilt made of patches with their names on, ideally for IWD on the 8th of March, this means patches need to be finished before March.”

There’s a facebook group which is co-ordinating the quilt project: The Women’s Quilt. In it you’ll find a pinned post with all the details and a list of the names which still need making.

Please share amongst your networks, and I know we can help them complete it for IWD!

Here are some of the patches which the project has received so far (photo by Roxanne Ellis in The Women’s Quilt Facebook Group).

Finished patches for The Women's Quilt project.

 

Lisa Margreet | designer | writer | author | image

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Pain is transformative. I’ve spent months crying on the floor, raw as an exposed nerve as my body destroys itself. There were months when I couldn’t sleep, and now months where I can do nothing but sleep.

In the pain place I moan animalistic, like a woman in labour. At the end, at least she gets to hold her baby. I have nothing except more nerve damage, or another hole in my nose. When I emerge, I’m bleached white like the bones of long forgotten warriors, my body occasionally ticking like a car bonnet as it cools down. No tablet can contain that pain, it’s too big, too all-encompassing. My dignity can’t contain it either.

As I lay on my hospital bed feeling the pain build, I knew the pain song would come as surely as the tide coming in. A voice joined in with mine, moaning in unison, but isolated in her own pain place. I cried and moaned, shaking my hands and feet. I swallowed tablets that the pain laughed at as it possessed my body. I closed my eyes and opened them again to the pale faces and wide eyes of my loved ones. The blank, unsmiling but not unkindly faces of the doctors and nurses. Expressions that told you it was bad, but also that you were “making a scene”, making them feel uncomfortable.

This night, when the new woman they wheeled in had joined her pain song to mine, both of us were as oblivious to the restraining looks as two wolves howling at the moon.

Afterwards, when my pain started to diminish and I slowly returned to myself, I became aware that day had turned into night. I reached out a tentative toe to see if this gentle movement would send sparks of pain fireworking through my nerves, but it had passed for now.

Outside the sphere of my pain, my senses started to return. The new woman was keeping up her lone litany. Voices and words started to form meaning again. “It won’t be long now,” a dour-faced doctor said to the concerned husband and son.

Embarrassment prickled my insides. I’d been lost in my pain place howling at the moon, not bothering to hide my pain, while she lay dying beside me. Of course I’d been dying too, that’s why we were all there. But so well internalised were these feelings of keeping it all tucked up inside, with subsuming myself for the comfort of others, that my return to sanity brought with it the ingrained rules of female decorum in a public place.

I lay exhausted, face down in my hospital bed, my hospital nightie constricting my shoulders where I’d thrashed and turned, burning out my own nerves. I kept still and let the acidic pins and needles, ever present in my hands and feet these past few months, pulse their beat of life. Or was it death. Or was it all the same?

My bed neighbour sang her last note, alone.

As my pain ebbed and I dipped in and out of sleep, I heard movements from behind the curtain. Her husband appeared and said “She’s gone” to the nurse. She nodded and went into the curtained bay with him.

Drifting in and out of the exhausted place on the other side of pain and painkillers, I felt bad that their last memories of their wife and mother would be sound-tracked by my song of pain.

Fragments of conversation drifted over from behind the curtain.

“No, only her wedding ring…”
“Only two choices then… Finger… Hack it off…”
“Or hack the ring off…”

“What’s he talking about?” Said a voice close to my ear.

I opened my eyes. I couldn’t see anyone, but the tone of voice was one I recognised from my pain song. She was still here, confused as to why her husband was talking about hacking off her wedding ring, or worse.

Consciousness was fading away from me but instinctively I reached out my mind and heart to where I imagined she was and wrapped her in white light. I sent her feelings of love, safety and happiness. I told her it was okay to let go and move on. As I tuned out to nothing I used my dissipating thoughts to push her on, with love. It was an instinct that only comes in those true moments of living. The white points between Life and Death. The In Between.

When I next woke up it was at the urgent insistence of the acidic pins and needles turning up the volume to Eleven and fitting a bear clamp on my right calf muscle. I realised that I’d had my only ever words of wisdom from “The Great Beyond”. The Other Side had a message for me and it was: “What’s he talking about?” It seemed somehow appropriate.

*****

This is extracted from my memoir “Transformations” which I’m currently writing about my recent diagnosis with a rare autoimmune condition, granulamatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), a type of vasculitis, my subsequent disability and my recovery journey. 

My new best friends. My gold zimmer and sparkly granny slippers.  All my octogenarian ward mates are well jealous! The other day, Lena from the bed next door borrowed it and forgot to give it back. Then she got annoyed with me when I asked for it back and

Lisa Margreet | designer | writer | teacher | farmer | image 

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EVENT: Reading at the Chester Literature Festival

This Friday, 14 October, I’m doing a reading at the Chester Literature Festival!

It’s an extract from my memoir that I’m currently writing (working title “Transformations”) about my recent diagnosis with a rare autoimmune disease and subsequent disability.

The event is on the theme of GOTHIC and will feature readings from members of the Chester Writers group.

“Chester Writers, Chester’s monthly writing group, fills the Gothic Town Hall with Gothic tales. Come along to see how Gothic stories, like the characters therein, can take on many forms…”

It’s in the Council Chambers at Chester Town Hall from 4-6PM. It’s a free event but you need to book a ticket via the Storyhouse website. Please come along and bring your friends!

My novel “This Is Not A Love Story” is available exclusively on Kindle from Amazon. As a special offer for the Chester Literature Festival you can download it for free between 14-18 October 2016.

My short story collection, “STASH and other stories” is available from Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd and Barnes & Noble.

I’ll be the one in the black eyeliner and velvet cape. See you there! 😉

Lisa Margreet | designer | writer | teacher | farmer | image

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The Cat And The Money Spider

Everything is going to be alright.

Yesterday I went and sat outside in the yard for a little while and thought about my “sit spot” for my rewilding project which starts tomorrow.

Actually, truth be told, I went outside to bring the washing in, a more mundane activity, but one that’s good hand therapy. Who knew that clothes pegs could be so tough to prise open? Anyone who’s suffered a wrist drop, I guess.

Mabel came up and rubbed her head against my legs and the washing basket. I think me being out in the backyard gave her the courage to come out. She rolled about on the warm tarmac, purring loudly, then started playing with a stone.

I felt sad that I could no longer provide her with an outside like at Oakcroft. She loved Oakcroft. So did I.

She was having such a nice time playing with her stone in the warm sun on the tarmac though. She wasn’t thinking about the loss of Oakcroft, she was just living in the moment.

It’s like that picture which sometimes surfaces on the internet: Reasons why your dog is happier than you. It shows a person and a dog walking side-by-side through a park. The person’s head is full of images of the things they need to do. The dog’s head is showing just one image – the dog and the person walking side-by-side through the park.

I’d heard a woman with dementia talking on the radio. She talked about how it wasn’t so bad having dementia, you just lost a lot of time. She said she couldn’t remember yesterday, and tomorrow she wouldn’t remember today. But it forced her to live in the moment, and that was a good thing.

It seems like that was my lesson for the day. A reminder to be present, and to live in the now.

I sat for a bit outside on the ledge by the fence, wondering if this might make a good “close to home” sit spot for my rewilding course if I’m too ill to go too far into nature. It’s already taught me one lesson.

After a while Mabel jumped up on the ledge and sat beside me. We stared at the ground for a bit, watching the shadow of my legs swinging against the wall, feeling the sun on our faces.

I ignored the detritus left in the communal yard by my messy neighbours who just moved out. A random collection of rubbish, including an incredibly large amount of tiny balloons. They reminded me of another occasion, one of the parties at mine and AMP’s flat in Glenkerry House, when loads of tiny balloons inexplicably appeared and we called them “tiny ass-balloons” (hyphenation correct). But that’s a story for another time.

I ignored the cardboard box which they couldn’t be bothered to break down and put in the recycling bin right next to it. I ignored the broken bike frame, and the sofa minus it’s cushions. I ignored the dog shit that they didn’t bother to clear up from one of their two Staffie’s. Maybe it’ll turn white if it stays there long enough, like legendary dog poo from the 70’s.

I focused instead on the occasional waft of lavender on the breeze.

A large lavender bush grows unruly in a patch of soil that seems like it was just dumped haphazardly in the corner of the yard by the sheds. It also has some nettles growing there, and some ivy. I put in a tiny stem of mint a few months ago, but I’ve now discovered that the housing association spray weedkiller in the communal gardens. I’m not sure if they spray it here in the backyard too so I’ll determine that before I cultivate this random patch of soil for food and medicine any further.

But that doesn’t affect the lavender aroma.

A seagull squawks above and both Mabel and I turn our heads to look at it. A seagull? In Chester? We’re miles from the sea and the nearest rubbish dump. Perhaps it’s lost.

Mabel decides that’s enough outdoors contemplation for one afternoon. She delicately jumps down, mindful of her arthritic back legs, and saunters towards her route back into the flat, via the recycling bins under the open window of my study.

I pick up my washing basket and follow her, taking the longer route back into the flat through the doors. My lumbering gait requires monumental effort, even to go this small distance. The physios still aren’t showing any interest in helping me with my foot drop recovery.

A short while later, when I’m doing the washing up, I notice a money spider abseiling down a thread from my hair to my shoulder. Some childhood reflex makes me grab the thread and rotate it three times around my head, wishing for money.

I’ve been channeling abundance and wealth so perhaps this was a reminder, a little wink from the Universe, to say that she hasn’t forgotten.

Maybe she was saying, “Go outside. That’s where you’ll find wealth and abundance.” I was hoping for something more material at the moment as circumstances are rather dire, but I’ve learnt not question gifts from the Universe.

I do plan to use my time outside from my “rewilding” to do some nature writing. So it could have been a gentle nudge from the Universe, encouragement that I’m going in the right direction after all, for both material and spiritual wealth and abundance.

After it’s thrice turn around my head, the money spider didn’t return. I felt bad. Did I throw it off into oblivion with my selfish desire for wealth?

A few moments later I felt a tickle on my cheek, then saw the money spider resolutely abseiling down onto my shoulder again. This time I let it finish it’s descent and go on its way.

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The Crippling Cold

I’ve been home for over two hours now and I still haven’t managed to warm up. This will be my first autumn and winter since becoming ill that I have been independently active, as in able to get myself around outside. Today I went to a planning meeting with my writing group, the Chester Writers, as we are doing an event at the Chester Literature Festival on Friday, 14 October (I’ll be reading an extract from my memoir). I had to get into town on my mobility scooter and it was raining hard, and very cold. It seems that October has brought the cold weather with it.

Regrowing your nerves is a strange thing. After half a year of constant pain, I now have heightened sensitivity. Since I’ve come off the morphine, my sensation is returning along with my mental aptitude and feeling much more like “me”. My bed is suddenly incredibly uncomfortable, and it seems that I have greater cold sensitivity. Maybe I’ll become more empathetic too.

By the time I got home, the function in my right hand, which is usually stronger, was much worse than in my left. My grip was bad and I’ve struggled to pick things up which would usually not be a problem to me. I think I may have to have a long hot bath before I can finally warm up! I never really thought about the phrase “the crippling cold” before, but I think that this is a phrase that’s going to have greater meaning for me this year. Time to dig out all my handknitted and cosy items.

My creative writing MA starts today. I’ve chosen creative non-fiction as my primary genre, with fiction as my secondary. I’m going to be focusing on life writing and working on my memoir about my illness and recovery. I hope to blog much more, and will be using it as my notebook for my writing and other thoughts. I’m also experimenting with using dictation software, as typing is not an option for me at the moment. Especially with these cold crippled fingers!

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