black on white 2


This is Gippy. As in Gyp(s)y. Don’t say the s. Like the Goose, (E)gyp(tian) Goose. And the Lake. Jipe. Spelt differently. Pronounced the same.  She is the newcomer. She likes to rest her glossy little black head on warm things: Pili’s older, wiser, yellow one.

Sometimes – in this vast sprawling lonely place – my life distills to the very tiny. There are few sounds, and no busy-ness, to drown the silence out. A luxury I hear you say. No. Not really. Overwhelming isolation is a difficult commodity to grapple with. It overflows my space and spills from my hands; I frequently cannot manage it.

The Outpost taught me a little of how to fill it though. A little. This is a larger void to stopgap.

I learned that I needed to concentrate on the smallest elements of my day. Join up the dots. Make a picture. Something I could present at sundown. This is what I did with my Day.

So I really taste that first cup of tea. Its fresh picked-piquancy and sweetness (I always take a spoon of sugar in my first mug).

I stop and stand and gaze, head tilted back, upon a flock of Turraco that are feasting in a tree we walk beneath on an early morning soujourn. I hear them often from the house, their gutteral, throaty call. But I have never seen one here. Until now. The tree was thronged with birds, their scarlet feathers as blood flecks against the green. They cackled crossly, leave us in peace, to eat. So we did. The dogs and I.

I prepare supper with imagination, a glass of wine to hand. Provisions are not easy here. Butter is more than an hour away. If you’re lucky. So I have learned to stretch the culinary deliverance of an aubergine.  Get some small jolt of achievement from reinventing last night’s steak as something with chilli and yogurt.

I eke out the day’s every flavour to make it go a little further. I have to.

This habit, this new habit, has a name I read. It is called Mindfulness: a heightened awareness, a deliberate concentration, on the details of the world around us. It’s touted as a wellbeing tool. Will it stop me going Mad, I wonder. (For in my solitary space I know I think too much) Google assures me it will.

So I ponder this piece of writing, select each word more carefully now, thread them as beads on a rope.

Gippy, aslseep at my feet, shuffles to find a new spot and settles her soft head upon my slippered foot. I notice her small weight. Her warmth.

I promise myself to write a post every day for the next 21, when I will have written 500 on this blog.

I promise myself to notice the little things more. To mind less.

I promise myself to be Mindful.


19 Responses to “Mindful”

  1. ceri Says:

    I follow you silently from London. I just wanted to say that I enjoy and appreciate the glimpses you offer into your life (so different and yet similar from my own) and I shall look forward to your next 21 posts. I’ve realised that silence must be frustrating for you so — there are readers who for whatever reasons do not respond but please do not take that as any lack of interest in your wonderful blog.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Ceri. Those are very kind words. and i shall enjoy being mindful and writing well for the next 21 posts

  2. inthewronggear Says:

    And I promise to read every one xx

  3. JF Says:

    Isolation is hard, I know, I live it. In a place far from any friends and family, living in places dictated by my husbands career. I no longer find silence to be a luxury but an enemy that makes the thoughts within my head unstoppable.

    I love reading your blog.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      I know JF. I know exactly what you mean and I empathize with all my heart. The thoughts that clamour can be very difficult to live with. Who thought distraction could be such a useful tool?

  4. Catherine Says:

    I have been following your blog only recently and silently and enjoy the way you write your thoughts down.I too will look forward to your next 21 posts. I must admit I crave peace and quiet and time to do things without rushing from one job to another. Though I do understand how you feel when you have no choice in the matter.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you for popping by Catherine. Sometimes I think it would be nice to trade days across the ether. My daughter writes and tells me of her weekend plans and I long to be her for two days … to see friends and go to the pub and do some shopping … if I could do that every now and again, this would be easier.

  5. iotamanhattan Says:

    I can’t believe you’ve ended up somewhere more isolated than the Outpost! That puppy is gorgeous.

  6. Elaine - I used to be indecisive Says:

    I like the sound of Mindfulness, sometimes I think we should all take the time to think about, and appreciate, and make the most of all the little things.

  7. joannastevenson Says:

    I love reading your blog and this reminder of how important it is to be mindful is beautifully written. I’m looking forward to the next 21 too.

  8. Ellie Says:

    I did not enter the world of living every breath and every moment in pure mindfulness until my brain tumor. Now, it is natural, and no longer requires special effort. But I do, occasionally, miss the carefree wildness of physical abandon. The carelessness that comes with physical ability and the freedom of having seemingly endless possibilities just outside my door. It is a different sort of isolation I live, from yours, and yet there are many similarities in the practical details. Funny. I am healthier now, in all ways. Isn’t life odd?

    Wishing you wellness and peace and joy as you embark on these days of writing and practiced mindfulness. And I look forward to reading! {{hugs}}

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Oh Ellie, I have a friend who suffered a brain injury and happily made a full recovery; but she says she is a quite different person now. Has quite different values. I am well. But I do need to find some peace in a challenging space … thank you x

  9. Kit Says:

    I always love reading your posts – so I’m happy that you’re writing every day for a while! My husband is always hankering after living on an isolated mountain somewhere away from it all, but I’m glad it hasn’t materialised for him just yet. I can feel from your words how hard it is making your way through days that could be empty if you let them. Gorgeous puppy!

  10. Ruth Stackhouse Says:

    Hi ! I just read quite a few of your posts. Been living in Tanzania for almost 6 years now. Never had children but married this December for 20 years. We volunteered to come here and rent a small three bedroom house with a nice view of Lake Victoria. But many times the view does not make up for the cultural and mental isolation. I am Canadian/British and my husband Canadian. Sometimes I feel like I’m at the end of my rope.. We live in Bukoba and it feels very culturally isolated. Local woman have never left their town. They cannot relate to me and I can hardly relate to them.. Due to,our work we have lived in ten different countries.. And while I love the nature and the flora and fauna here.. And yes the people are wonderful in their own way… I think I need to leave this small town and live somewhere more modern.. But it is not our choice and we have been waiting for a new assignment for almost a year now. Here there is nowhere nice to eat out. Only one hotel has a swimming pool and it stinks/is not cleaned properly. I tried to order a hamburger at a small hotel in town today. They said they couldn’t make it because they have no bread (which is what they always say, and I always say “why don’t you take it of the menu, or send someone to buy bread?) so finally today I “put my foot down” and said, “just give me a beef burger with no bun.. And with chips,” well that blew their minds. In the end I got a plate of chips and thinly sliced beef fried with onions. Well, better that than the spagetti bolognese swimming in oil. Usually I love cooking and “inventing” international meals from what I can find locally. But sometimes cooking is just too labour intensive, everything made from scratch. We basically eat the same 6 vegetables over and over again, conjured up in different ways. I love that where you live it is cold enough to have a fire at night. We never have to use air-conditioning here.. But it’s not chilly enough really for a fire. What town do you live close to? We both speak Swahili.. But now we try to learn the local tribal language, Kihaya. That will be a task. Just wanted to say hello from my lonely corner of Tanzania.

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