I am all alone on the lawn in my hammock, swinging in a brightly striped cocoon of canvas, waiting impatiently amidst a swirl of daily activity to burst my bonds and emerge as the beautiful butterfly I was meant to be.

Three weeks ago I was pottering across this lawn, criss-crossing from a pruning snap of tomato stem to a turn of compost; spanning the grass without thought to admire a beetle or to pull a weed.  I thought my journey back to health almost completed but instead woke one morning to an inexplicable burning chest and tap-dancing heart, to a fatigue so deep that my once tiny lawn now seems like an ocean between me  and the next oasis of chairs.

The fussing doctors and nurses with their sticky leads and needles have retreated, reassured that I am not about to die on their watch, that they can safely leave me hanging, swinging to a slow, slow pulse until the cardiologist has time to see me.  ‘It won’t be long,’ they reassure me, ‘six to eight weeks.’  Six to eight weeks of what?  Slow recovery – to where? Hanging in stasis – like this?

My mind is rebelling.  I am nearly well. How can I be here, hanging uselessly, utterly dependant when I am nearly well?  I AM NEARLY WELL! How can I relax and recover when every slow turn of my head shows tasks undone, projects stalled, delights beyond my reach?  Has everything I have done to claw my way back to health been wasted?

Somehow I have to still my mind and find a place of acceptance, peace and recovery amidst a swirl of other people’s activity and expectations.  I have to withdraw, disconnect and find my still small voice of calm, my anchor.  Remembering an old trick for tackling panic I lie back, breathe deep and ask myself . . .

What can I See?
Soap bubble clouds in a bath of sky-blue.
Swifts scything the harvest sky on their south-ward drift to an African summer.
The lazy swoops of a red  kite, spiralling upward in DNA strands around a shining silver glider.
The sway of laundry in a breath of wind.
The flash of a mirror as the cleaner shifts in the bathroom window.
Primary splashes of:
Yellow – golden crusts of lichen on the summer toasted roof, buttery sunflowers, lemon lace fennel shifting in a haze of hoverflies,
Scarlet – crocosmia blooms and weathered tent pegs securing insect defying tents of white mesh,
Blue – azure stars of borage flowers in a sea of vegetable green.

What can I hear?
The drone of bumble bee and aeroplane against a Morse code of starlings.
A fizzing descant of chaffinch over the lyric tenor of summer bullocks.
Creak of rope, flap of wing, pulse of mower.
The slow, alien Lambeg tattoo of empty lorries as they hurtle through the heart of the village.
A patter of doors slammed, objects cleaned, footpaths trodden,
And riding above it all, the childhood comforting chorus of wood pigeons, hoo hoo hoo ho hoo.

What can I feel?
Rough canvas of hammock against  the back of my hands.
Warmth of sun-soaked dark-jeaned legs under my palms.
Slow pulse of blood in my hip.
Flush of sun on my cheek.
Kiss of ruffled hair across my eyes.

What can I taste?
The chemical after-tang of chewed vitamins.
A memory  of longed-for coffee, rich, dark and bitter on my tongue.

What can I smell?
A cool green breeze of grass and  growth, slipping through nostril and airways, soothing, calming, healing.

Sensations swirl around me as I journey to their centre and stillness. Right here and now I am safe and loved.  For now it is okay to be the centre of my own universe where I need to do nothing but heal – cocooned.

On your dark days, when recovery seems a million miles away, remember that many others have trodden this road before you and spent time in despair sitting by the wayside before walking on into the sunshine of full health.  Many of them now support others through The Chrysalis Effect.