BUTTERCUP'S JOURNEY - Barking Up The Wrong Tree!

Sometimes Your Life Becomes A Mausoleum To An Old Dream

"New thoughts have the freshness of water as it heals the cracked skin of parched earth, calling forth new growth as it journey's back to source"

Pat O'Donohue

From foreword to his brother's book The Four Elements by John O'Donohue

I have finished making my little doll Buttercup. And her main message to me is "Clare, you are barking up the wrong tree!" I find sewing and knitting nauseating and yet I have felt pulled to make little things for so many years.

I am so grateful for this journey and that I have managed to complete her enough (thanks to a friend who lovingly made her hair for me, and I think that perhaps if it wasn't for that she may still not be finished!) But the finishing is what gave me the final last shout "You are barking up the wrong tree!".

Making Buttercup woke me up another level. I have been living in a dreamscape of longing to be a mother, have children (lots of miscarriages) be a good wife, be domestic, have a creative home life (baking, cooking, gardening etc). All of this is so far from how I enjoy spending my time and yet I have been doing it for years. Measuring it as a quality to be achieved. A mausoleum of a life that never happened and dreams that didn't come to fruition because of the limits of my body and the narrowness of my culture.

As I sewed her little trousers I had an image of being 6 yrs old and being 'taught' how to sew at school. We were given a tiny blue piece of cloth which I could barely hold, and we had to practice a certain stitch on it. I approached the task with great hope but I always ended up with a damp cloth from sweat, rusty needle and lots of knots. At last I get it (thank you Buttercup) and here's where the waking up showed up, and where compassionate presence with the pain and loss yields much through new thoughts and images.

I have inward sensing eyes, not outward, so details are incredibly hard for me to take in. I'm an INFJ on the MBTI personality type indicator. So Intuition is my strongest gift. I don't even have good eyesight for fine work (from childhood). Surely, me having to stand in the queue to see the teacher because I couldn't do the sewing, and sometimes getting hit with a ruler for not managing should have been an indication to at least one adult in my circle that my strengths and gifts lay elsewhere? (bullshit barometer off the charts as I write!)

I am an inborn singer, dancer, musician, story-teller and now it looks like writer/thought leader as well. Most of this didn't come about in my life. This leaves me asking the question now at 58; So, Clare, no children, no musical instruments, no family, what then?

I am finding it a support to me to think of my life as a Pilgrimage - so little of it was 'easy', so much of it filled with loss that in order for me to live my days now as fully as I can with the resources I have got and to contribute to others I now need to listen deeply. To the patterns of my life, to the flow of it, to the pain of it, to the joy of it, to the call of it.

Meaning and purpose are like bread and water to me, I feel their absence as a bodily ache and so I continue on the threshold between yesterday and the tomorrow that may come and listen through compassionate presence to the grief of what didn't come about, for new thoughts to enrich me like the one I received from Buttercup. "You're barking up the wrong tree!".

Clare O'Sullivan



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