Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Loving Lupins

The first things that caught my eye at the accommodation in Kinloss were the lupins. Majestical and noble, they were standing guard at the entrance of the path up to the house. Although their spines looked very straight, they were far from stiff, with their delicate, pea-like flowers growing in dense whorls around a tall spike in a soft apricot abundance. ‘Welcome!’ they waved to me as I entered further, and was pleasantly distracted by a group of bright red Papaver orientalis surrounded by at least five different colours of aquilegias. “This looks good!” I exclaimed. “I like this little garden.” 

The owner of this temporary home, at the moment in Canada until mid July, immediately recognised the herbaceous perennial plant on the photo I sent. Last year his woman friend had taken some of its seeds — which come in a pod as fruit— to sow in her own Canadian garden. Two gardens, two people on different sides of the earth, connected by lupins and love. Most likely they grow very well there.

There are many species of the Lupinus albus and perennis, and they grow everywhere in Europe. For thousands of years they have been found around the Mediterranean, as well as in North and South America, where, it has been discovered, especially in the Andes, the legume seeds or beans have been grown for food for 6000 years. From my agricultural years in the Netherlands, I remember that farmers grow them as green manure, to nourish the soil. A meadow full of these yellowish flowers looks astonishing. Nowadays the lupin bean is increasingly popular as food again, as a healthier alternative to soya beans. Full of protein. An antioxidant and a prebiotic. And gluten free!
I would start to grow them in my veggie patch right away. Lupins. And more lupins. Partly to nourish and heal the body, partly as an ornamental flower to heal my heart and to brighten my days.

Now bring me that garden! As that is still missing. With a house, my long-term home to be. Yes, please!

© Blog 46, photo and text  9th June 2016, Kinloss.  © Adriana Bijman    

This is a shortened version, the whole version will be in the upcoming book!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Summer Solstice / Midsummer / Litha

The Wheel turns to Midsummer, the 2ost of June. The longest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. It is said that the Summer Solstice is the Give-Away time of the Sun. The light of the day has grown and has been expanding into its highest lights during these long, endless summer nights here in the north. Filling up the day and spilling it over. On the Scottish Orkney Islands it hardly gets dark and at Findhorn, with a bright sky, I can photograph outside without flash until midnight.
Breathe in deeply the abundance of fragrances in the air and the earth; light a fire; dance; wear wild flowers and bless the bread and honey and breathe deeply again.
And every Summer Solstice is totally different of course, like every day is different despite the sun rising and setting daily. Like the summers, like the whole immense cosmos, we —as the magnificent beings we are— change all the time. This year brings us an exciting mid June astrological constellation, with both the Sun and the planet Venus travelling together into the sign of Cancer, home of the Moon, home to all feelings, the heart and to the mothering quality in us. A great time to come home to ourselves and to the truth that lives in each of us.
In the Celtic tradition and pre-patriarchal times in which the Divine Feminine was honoured, the Goddess would share her power with the Sun King during Summer Solstice and they would sit side by side on their thrones. Let us honour both their energies in ourselves: the feminine and the masculine, as we are both. On these Midsummer Eves let us rejoice and enjoy the immense, sacred energy of the universe while the Sun touches the mountaintops, the seas and land at dusk and dawn. Happy Summer and Solstice!
Read and see more images about the Celtic Festivals of the year at my web page

Blog 45, text and photos © Adriana Sjan Bijman, 2009/2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

Gardening again

Now we write May again and although snow was forecasted for this coming weekend, the sun is out. The chalet, where I am temporarily staying in The Park has a south-facing terrace and herb bed, both yelling to be tended. The gardener in me can’t wait to respond. Weeding is the first thing that needs to be done. With the physical condition I have at the moment — amongst which vertigo with constant dizziness and distorted eyesight— it seems an overwhelming and Herculean task. I do not know how to begin gardening again! Kneeling to do the job? No! Squatting? No way. OK… sitting and moving on the ground then? That might work….  Oh my goodness! Is this something all less-able people have to go through? I never knew!

I am painfully clumsy, like a drunken sailor. For one and a half hour I try to ‘keep calm and keep on weeding’, puffing and sighing while every move of my head causes everything to swirl around. Until I have to stop from nauseousness. It is the most disappointing and frustrating experience I have had in this last half year here in The Park.
But OK, I pruned the sage. I weeded three meters of terrace tiles. I tackled a big long rooted nettle family. They’ll end up in tonight’s soup. With quite some effort I did fill more than half a brown compost wheelie bin with weeds and old branches. I did it! Now I’m proud to have gardened again.

Blog 44, text & photo © Adriana Sjan Bijman, May 2016

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Shifting boundaries

One night, I, once again, dream of death; a repeating theme lately. I am waiting for several people to die, and they seem to take ages to do so.  Slowly, they slowly turn into brownish-grey mud beings. I stand aside, witnessing it, left desolate.
It reminds me of a sentence I once read, “Now, in the middle of the journey of my illness, I am left alone and defenceless.”(1)

A realisation pops up that the dying people are part of me; the old me, from whom I want to detach, release or transform. As I am not totally ready to do so, in the dream I feel an uncomfortable sense of guilt towards them, as if I am betraying them. Letting them die seems as if they were not good enough, as if the old me maybe was not good enough? I have to tell them that they were, at the time, but that now I no longer need what they stand for: qualities of my pre-illness past, like impatience, direct sharp communication, and the multi-tasking workaholism. Let those qualities serve other people now.

Time for some homework it seems, as I then dream I am being forced into a gloomy cellar to clean the incredible filthy steps descending before me; a horrible task I have been given to undertake. Finally, after finishing it, I discover an old squeaking door in the cellar, which brings in fresh air and light. What a relief!

My old organisational skills are well placed to open new doors, I think. I would like to invite and integrate a new me, new personalities, as a gift on this journey of illness. Dissimilar to the old me in many ways. Not only physically older, but also wiser, with more experience on the inner. This physical condition teaches me new boundaries to what I can do, and can no longer. At other times, it forces me even to give up all limits and borders, depending on the shifting sands of my energy. It teaches me compassion, patience and slowing down, in fact a lot of slowing down. Taking this in, I realise I now want to live with an evolved set of boundaries, whether I am ill or healthy.

(1) from  The Alchemy of Illness,1993, by Kat Duff
Blog 43,  © text and photo: Adriana Sjan Bijman, March 2016

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Illness: Dark & Light

I am living in the twilight, in the middle of a journey. The door of the past — with its healthy body in a very busy life— has been closed and it is not clear where the road will take me.
“Illness is a simple though painful reminder that we are not the masters of our bodies and our lives” writes Kat Duff (1).Illness is a humbling experience and as such I think, can bring some gifts in disguise. Insights wrapped up as setbacks, in the Game of Life.

After seven months of gradually increasing symptoms, discomfort and pains, instead of a slow or quick recovery, I have to accept and learn to live with this, like many people with long term illnesses have to. It has turned my life upside down, thrown me out of my comfort zone and the fulfilment of a hardworking busy life. It makes me stand apart, in another category, that of the ill, the weak, the elderly, the non-productive. It is a different journey. It feels like that, even here, in a community on a spiritual base, where most people always seem to be so busy and often are on the edge of being burned out, trying to do so well, to save the world or at least save our community. Or simply trying to earn a living and be able to control the ongoing incoming stream of bills. Like I did over the last decades.

At first this big change brought up feelings of tension, guilt and questioning “Why me?” Feeling a bit of a victim. At times I even blamed myself for it from the point of view of certain schools of psychology, that ‘with our thoughts we create our own reality’, so why did I create this? And why can’t I now immediately create a healthy body. It is easy to stumble into that pitfall of being at fault and responsible for illness ourselves. These thoughts are absolutely not helpful to me now. It does not mean I am not willing to look at a deeper personal cause of what my body is doing and how I can help to get out of this predicament; how to make my journey towards a better life. How I can make peace with the symptoms. How we can become allies instead of enemies and how we can start to work for the same goal. For me a goal of balance.

Since I was a young girl, my whole life has been an experience of learning how to have and maintain independence. Although I now know we all are inter-dependent, it is a tough journey to learn to ask for help. I can already feel grateful for and see the advantages of newly learned qualities like patience and slowing down. The ‘being dependent’ and compassion are in progress, so to speak. I’ve always been a multi-tasker, a quick thinker and doer. Slowing down, especially to prevent more accidents with my vertigo-dizziness and only partial eyesight, makes me clumsy. I walk like a drunken sailor. Out of doors with crutches, for my own safety. Constantly having to balance myself is exhausting but also contains the lesson of balancing the way of life. How to bring more balance into my, our lives?  How to bring some light in the darkness? The light of keeping up my spirit, my hope, my goals of renewed good health.

Simple but at times exhausting survival activities like washing, getting dressed, shopping nearby and cooking easily fill my days, next to time to rest.  ”How did I ever have time to work?” I grin and wonder. Too tired to pick up a pen or pencil during the daytime, texts like this only come in the sleepless dark hours of the night, scribbled on and in between the lines, which I can hardly distinguish. It does not matter: I recognised the words and pass them on to you here, as part of my journey. On my way to more light.

© text and photo: Adriana Bijman. photo in the bus at the A96 to Inverness, along the Moray First Coast, 2015.
(1) The Alchemy of Illness, 1993 p 59.
Blog 42, Winter 2015/2016

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The joy of flowers and herbs

It has been and it always is a great joy to photograph plants, which I’ve been doing for many years. With an interest in, and love for wild and cultivated flowers since I was a young girl in the Dutch countryside, I now have a large photo-archive full of flowers and plants, made in the areas I lived in or on my travels around the world.
“The wonders of nature are like new every year” author Wendel Berry* writes.   I love gardening and see the daily changes in plants, from seed to bud to blossoming to the releasing of seed again at the end of the cycle. Such a great example of life! The flowers in our gardens are grown in a natural way, without chemicals, just organic compost, manure, love and lots of appreciation. I loved living with them in my own garden at home, at the studio, and in other gardens.
With every herbal greeting card, with every little bag of herbs or seed in it we give you:
The promise of life enfolding
The joy of growing and releasing, all in perfect timing
The blessings of good health
The abundance of colour, form and fragrance
The encouragement to express your love for the Earth
The miracle of Life

   You are also all that!

Herbal cards:  greeting cards with a herbal gift: seeds or herbs for tea or bath.
The new herbal greeting card series with inside a present from the Findhorn Gardens: Six different herbal greeting cards, (15x15cm/6x6” with coloured envelop) with a cute bag of seed and herbs to grow in your garden or in pot (like nasturtium, calendula and papaver), to make yourself a tea (fennel, lady’s mantle) or to use in the bath (lavender). Wonderfully illustrated with photos and explaining story about the herb. Hand harvested in the Findhorn Gardens. With instructions.  For sale in my online shop

·       Life is a miracle, Wendel Berry  (2000)
© text and photo Adriana Sjan Bijman, 2015  blog 41

Friday, 28 August 2015

Rain and more rain

We write the end of August. There were other deadlines to catch, health to attend to and balance to gain, so that I forgot to write a blog-story, to choose a photograph, one way or the other. Finally here it is, simple this time. But no good news, sorry.

I liked to photograph the rain, as that did not seem to stop here. From a drizzle to pouring waves. We are in a part of the world  (northern Scotland) where there is a bounty of water coming down, actually like in some parts of India and South America, where rivers are flooding this August.  I have not seen it on the news, but learned about it during my studies (world) Spanish. Like the flooding of the immense river-basin which is said to be the most polluted in the world, the Riachuelo-Matanza, situated in a densely populated and industrious region, north of the Río de la Plata in Argentina. It worries me.  In other parts of the world they suffer from drought. I think until now we have underestimated climate changes.

As Climate Central reports: “Even if the world manages to limit global warming to 2C — the target number for current climate negotiations — sea levels may still rise at least 6 meters (20 ft) above their current heights, radically reshaping the world’s coastline and affecting millions in the process.”* This is no good news.  And will we manage? The reality might even be worse than all predictions, especially for the ‘underdeveloped’ and poor areas on our planet.

And it continues to rain outside.

Blog 40, text & phtoo ©: Adriana Sjan Bijman

*Brian Kahn, 2015, Guardian Environmental Network,