Of Goats and Tenacity

When I woke this morning, I found myself thinking about Welsh mountain goats.  How random! I hear you say.  Why on earth … Welsh mountain goats?   

When I was young, my Cardiff-born mum used the illustration of Welsh mountain goats to teach me about resilience.  She said, “They’re stocky, brave, hardy little things.  Out in all weather, sure-footed, they manage to live in the most inhospitable places and find enough food to keep them going.  When things are troubling you, just think about the tenacious Welsh mountain goats …” 

A quick Google search told me much about the herd of Kashmiri goats which live on the Great Orme headland in Wales.  They were introduced to the UK when Queen Victoria was gifted a pair of the goats, then prized for the quality of their cashmere.  In the late 1800’s Lord Mostyn acquired a pair and they were released onto the Great Orme, where they bred successfully and continue to live.  In fact, the goats achieved a certain notoriety during lockdown earlier this year when they meandered into the town of Llandudno, having become braver because the streets were quiet.  They obviously possess quite a bit of initiative too!

I continue to miss my mum’s wisdom; we are approaching the 19th anniversary of losing her. Early November is a challenging time in our family as we remember the loss of mum, my brother Peter and ex-husband Ken, all in the same week, though different years. 

Quite a lead up to my birthday on 10th … thus I gather round me thoughts of the resilience of the mountain goats to help me power on through.

I wonder what you find to draw on in these difficult and challenging times?  I think it is fair to say that we are all living in a type of grief mode.  We are mourning the loss of our previously less restricted lives. 

In respect of the pandemic, I find myself drawing upon the same tools and devices that I use for processing grief.  I hope that sharing some of my list will in turn help you to identify those things which support and sustain you. These are all simple, accessible ways to increase our resilience as we work towards moving into the light space of a Covid free existence:

  • Words – whether spoken, read or written, words are always an important ingredient in my life.  I can read wonderful stories, I can write out my angst and I can listen to others speak movingly and supportively on topics which appeal to me. Shaun will attest to my ability to talk! – but in the talks and presentations I give, I try to make my words count
  • Music – one of the things that I love about technology is the ease with which I can access any music that I feel like listening to, generally for free too. It is such a personal choice, isn’t it? – and we now have an unlimited library at our disposal.  I must mention here the glorious and beautiful voice of tenor Maurizio Marchini.  This tall, handsome Italian has generously shared his amazing voice throughout the pandemic.  He began by singing from his balcony regularly to his neighbours and his new off-stage following has grown into an international audience of which I am just one of many admiring fans.  Check him out on Youtube or Facebook!
  • Beauty in nature – a walk outside costs nothing and never fails to uplift.  Even if you live in a built-up area, you can appreciate birdsong and sunshine.  One of my favourite occupations is photographing my surroundings and if I am feeling low, looking through my archived photos of happy, sunny days never fails to cheer me. And even gentle exercise releases endorphins which help to lighten your mood.
  • Art – this follows on naturally from photography really; in the past two years I have made an attempt to paint and I really enjoy learning about colours and techniques.  The concentration that is required to create a painting suspends the intrusion of mind chatter very effectively, I find. I am sure this works equally well with any form of creative exercise
  • Visual media – we are surrounded by images these days and it is easy to become visually over stimulated.  I have learned to be selective in what I view and watch on television or my phone.  I avoid what I consider to be dark or negative as it brings me down.  Instead I look for the uplifting or humorous aspects of life. 

Anyone who reads my grief writing will know that I focus on the positive:  hope, light, faith, resilience, joy, transformation, love … any combination of the foregoing is necessary to us all to sustain and help us through the coming difficult days.  I often affirm that, as my book’s title suggests, I am living in the mourning light and all of us can do this going forward.               We need to call upon our innate positivity, resilience and tenacious characteristics of the Welsh mountain goats which my mum told me about, many years ago.

Go gently and stay safe, everyone.

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