What are small stones?

What are Small Stones?

Small stones are an observed moment,
written down. My small stones were initially inspired by the River of Stones
project each January, which sees hundreds of people observing a moment or
experience in their day and writing it down for the month. They can then be
shared on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or just written in a notebook, on a pebble,
the loo roll... To find out more about the flow of this simple movement to bring
more presence and awareness into our lives, check out the following link:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The river is flowing!

Opening up the old tin of seeds,
an allotment full of food and flowers
in the palms of my hands.
Even with the ground so hard, the air so cold,
Spring is coming, Spring is coming!
Feeling for what is yet to grow in me
out of the darkness.

It's the last day of the January 2012 small stone writing challenge!!!

I'm tempted to keep going, but know also that it'll be a bit of a relief to not be holding that commitment. I do fully intend to keep on observing the moments, to paying attention, to becoming more aware of eking out the treasures, however rusty or gilded, or just plain 'ordinary' in whatever is occurring (or not!).  Sometimes I'll write them down and share them here. Other times I'll let them just flow on, experienced and then released.

I feel huge gratitude towards Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita who created and continue to nurture the river of stones project.

This is also the time of Imbolc, the ancient pagan festival which marks the end of Winter and coming of Spring. It's a time of gestation, when many of the seeds are still beneath the surface of the earth but moving forwards in their journey towards life in the light and new growth. When I was pregnant eleven years ago I remember at Imbolc, I felt so connected to the Earth as 'mother', sharing that same anticipation of birth. Holding a seed of life in the nourishing darkness, full of excitement and dreams of what was to come. I was living in Penzance, got the bus to Madron and walked across the fields to the path leading to the holy well and the spring in the old ruined chapel. I sat by the spring, just listening to the gently falling water, hands cradling my belly and just being there, fully immersed in the moment. A moment which will always stay with me as a precious memory.

Another time during that same week I remember happily dancing around my lounge singing along loudly with a favourite Native American chant. It seems a fitting one to share here, at the end of the river of stones.... a river that I'm sure will continue to flow and to grow!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Forgetting my lights, cycling in the darkness
all the way thinking how bright this moon!
Half light, half shadow, like us,
moving through our phases,
seen and unseen.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Instead of opening an e-mail

Opening the envelope, unfolding a letter,
each page a different colour.
Following the curling trail of your words,
a smudge, a crossing out, a line sloping.
Unique dance of thought, hand, ink, paper...
this piece of you which crossed real space
to arrive with me to hold and breathe in,
faint sandlewood smell,
(incense burned while you wrote?)
this ritual richer now in its rarity.
Loving the slower journey which doesn't lose
the reality of your warmth, your heartbeat, you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finding the stone

Sometimes it comes to this time of night and I'm thinking 'wouldn't it be nice to just get into bed now but oh, I haven't written today's small stone'. Reviewing the moments in my day to select one out of all those thousands, a sudden mental image of sperm racing to reach the egg and be the one! Searching for which experience I can dig it out of, polish it up and shine a light on?

Is there a gem hiding in the way I woke in the morning, remembered there was no rush to get up, the comfort of how warm and soft the bed, the blade of daylight at the edge of the curtain.

Or in the hot luxury of the shower, noticing a small black slug stuck to the white tiling and trying to guide the torrent around it.

In the inability to make a decision, standing, staring at numerous watches in a shop, how ridiculous, just pick one, any one, they all tell the time! Pressure of time ticking away, and by the time I've sucked myself out of the black hole, I'm too late, I've missed the meeting for the walk on the beach in the sun with the dog.

Going home feeling crap and instead of losing myself in Facebook, or e-mails, I make a decision. A decisive moment to stay with the discomfort. Thank you Pema Chodron. To sit on the rug and stay with myself, meditation, yoga, it's been a long time! And it feels right.

Or later, sitting at the machine, sewing waves into the sea, an experiment of stitches, not how I planned it but becoming whatever it is, and taking me there - a beach at night and the rolling of water holding its secrets.

That only takes me up to half way through the afternoon and doesn't mention the way the dog curled up on the bed, twitching her eyebrows or the steam rising from that mug of lavender and lemon balm tea making my cheeks warm, or the way the radio news made my heart feel heavy and the chat with my friend lifted it up again. Or the moment of gleeful satisfaction this evening as we played Scrabble and I laid three letters across a triple word score and remembered how much I love this language.

Skipping quickly, everyone else in the house already asleep, I find my stone, where it is always found... here and now:

My fingers tapping letters on this keyboard
which take my thoughts out to the world,
because this is another way to touch.
I will never stop being astonished
and I will never be certain of anything.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Sudden shower of hard ice pellets,
dog watching quizzically, in the window,
boy rushing out the front door to catch them in his hand.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surrounded by the busy clicking of needles,
wishing I could unravel the years and begin again
as I am doing so easily now with this yarn.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unearthed hidden corners, cobwebs and dust,
startled spider running to find new cover.
Sorting through all this stuff, stuff, stuff, STUFF,
I sit stuck, still caught up in the web of it all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Chairs squeaking, throats clearing, sneezes,
urgent scratch of pens racing across paper.
Invigilators whispering, electric light humming,
bell ringing and shoes scuffling past outside.
Pages turning, loud clatter of a ruler
dropped to the floor, stifled giggles.
Listening to how full of sound, this silence!

Photo stolen from So'ton Uni website ~ wouldn't be able to take a pic while working!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dead fish

Suddenly amongst the stones, your brilliance! Silver-blue glistening beauty
so freshly lost from the sea, waves lapping their soft rhythmic pulse
without you now, while geese take flight above, air smelling of seaweed,
your cold unseeing eye staring up at the sky, mouth frozen in its final gasp.
I breathe in, whisper a blessing for your tiny passing, but your shimmering scales
making the sunlight dance upon you are speaking their own prayer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sitting on a log beneath tall trees
watching the long trunks sway in the wind,
thinking how strong their roots are.
My son exclaiming "Look!
They're doing the mexican wave".
Yes, it's true! And we join them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drinks on the table after a long day.
Workmates chatting about the best ways of layering a wedding cake
and laughing about today's leaning tower.
Enjoying the camaraderie of this job.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Though I'd told him not to interrupt...


"I like talking to you when I'm painting stones"

my son's words turn my eyes from the screen

to offer a snowy peaked mountain range

and birds in flight and a conversation for opening.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Late night cycling home, tired and cold,
head still pounding from a day of traffic, queues and stress,
there at the edge of the road a black shadow padding softly and silently,
stops for a moment to stare at me, so still, then is instantly gone,
leaving me standing there smiling, feeling lucky.

How small is a small stone?

Hmmm, I realise that some of my 'small stones' are actually heading more towards becoming boulders!
The idea of a small stone is to be a small piece of observational writing, a moment fully experienced and polished into the fewest essential words.

For now, I've decided to allow my small stones to sometimes grow into something else. To become a larger, less polished, less shapely stone if that's how it wants to be that day. The most important part of joining the river for me is to take real notice more in the world around me and the fleeting experiences of my time as it passes, however apparently trivial or mundane, however seemingly insignificant. To transform any ordinary minute into a minute I have been fully aware in and can appreciate, however beautiful or uncomfortable it is.

Even if it becomes a boulder, or even perhaps a complete land mass, it still began as a small stone, sprung from the seed of a moment where me and the world met, took notice, and tried to put that simple miracle into words. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Borrowing books...on borrowed time?

Turned away from the counter
to the new machines which
have replaced someone's work.
To scan barcodes and collect receipts
so that I can borrow and bring back books
without having to once speak
or look at a single person.
Anger, grief, for the soul
of the library which is dying.
This screen with a cartoon face (user-friendly)
mocking our humanity (not yet digitised).
I savour the weight of the books in my bag,
wondering how long before they
and this building are sold out
to the highest bidder, more pages
of a community torn out.

A hand-stamped page!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stargazing from Spinnaker Tower

Stargazing above this city longing to switch off
all the lights for a moment and see the darkness absolutely.
Clouds shift and briefly in that space is Jupiter, rings and moons.
And a space opens up inside me, magnifies the brilliance of All This -
city, universe, tonight us here together, watching.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Though I've looked out of this window so many times...

Suddenly I see them,
hyacinth and snowdrop
surprising me into a smile.
Tempting me away
from dark tangled thoughts,
flaunting their bright simple faith
in the coming of Spring.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Looking at his sleeping face

calm now after a battle

with horrors only he could see,

I realise again, as I always do

at times like this,

that what I want most for him

is enough strength

to recover from fear

however it strikes him.

To find peace within himself.
To know always,
how much he is loved.
I remember that this comes first
before any other 'education'
me or this world
can offer him.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The power of music


Their fingers and bows on the strings
create a river that rises me up,
carries me along, transposes me.
I surrender to the current,
surging and flowing,
like a leaf or a twig,
letting it take me 
on towards the sea.

Portsmouth Philharmonic Orchestra

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sudden flap of wings, sky of gold
and the black lacework of trees
framing the rising sun, moon still bright
and high to the west. Crunch underfoot,
the grass sharp with glistening frost.
This luxury to walk up a hill with my dog
before breakfast and then return
to dad preparing grapefruit
in his special way and mum
asking where I've been.

Feeling gratitude all day for this.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Urgently opening the window
as if this sky streaked
with so much colour and beauty
contained all the world's oxygen
and I had to let it in.
Into my home, into me,
breathing it in deeply
as if life depended on it.
Even as it was already changing,
dawn becoming day,
before my eyes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The phone ringing just as I’m rushing out of the door,

a voice that I cherish, needing to chat.

This is how simply it gets torn -

the moment, the heart,

splitting the loyalties

and intentions

that it holds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Have just realised that I don't have to only observe moments which feel high or positive or special in some way do I? Today is full of grittiness, discomfort, anxieties surfacing, short tempers... So, instead of waiting for it all to shift so I can find a satisfactory small stone, I guess my small stone will be found right here somewhere amid the observed disatisfactory grittiness?! Smaller, rougher, more worn down, harder to grasp, but small stones all the same!

Stomach churning, fear circling overhead
waiting to feed on what becomes of me
when I see myself as not good enough
through your eyes, bitter tasting
carrion of self-doubt.

Sometimes we can't escape.
Sometimes we can't pick up the pieces.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Your feet beneath my hands

telling me stories from their 92 years

of treading the paths of this Earth.

Of being massaged by pebbles

in the shallows of sub-tropical waters.

Of riding in the wooden stirrups

on your horse across Kentucky.

They whisper of the streets of Calcutta, of Pakistan,

the high seas, Kensington, Cambridge...

Of humble attendance

and pioneering trailblazing.

Of pounding the pavements of protest

for a world where feet can walk equally

alongside paw, claw and hoof.

Of their itching for adventure,

they tell me they’re still plotting

exploration of new terrain,

rich as they are with journeys.

Your feet tell me stories,

my hands are honoured to listen.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Onions sizzling, smell of garlic,
Outside a full white moon in the darkness,
thin wisps of cloud blowing over.
Songs of Praise drifting through from the next room,
and a wolf's howl rolling in on the tide
from somewhere wild inside me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The door opens and I'm smiling
at a beautiful cat's face,
then my friend appears saying 'come in dear'
and I'm here again,
amongst the warmth and the deep reds,
the cats and this amazing woman I love,
who's putting hot soup in front of me
and asking if I like champagne.
My spirit purring
as if nothing, nothing at all,
could be wrong in the world.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hospital maze of long white corridors,
a woman crying, asks where the lift is.
Wanting to hug her or say something,
but we're strangers and speak only of directions
before we turn and walk our separate ways.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

My son!

                                              This long body laying beside me
                                              almost as long as mine,
                                              long arms hugging me close.
                                              How could he have been so tiny once,
                                              held so closely, curled up inside me?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kneading, rolling, molding,
smoothing the cracks,
not worrying too much
about those that have hardened
and become part of her.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A lesson



                 Opening the window to let out the smoke
                 blackened pan burnt by my rushing,
                 corn still popping all round the kitchen.

And the moral is ~ 

When we try to make things go faster or in different ways to their own nature, they seem to go wrong!
After all, that's one of the reasons why I home educate.

Monday, January 2, 2012


                                  A broken, discarded umbrella,

                                  shimmering and flapping.

                                  Ideas blowing inside out

                                  of what it could become!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The little things

We can move through our lives from one 'special' event to another, always searching for something to look forward to, a party, a holiday, a specific activity. These times are obviously special, but when I look back at my memories of people and times that are now gone, it's mostly the seemingly insignificant, more-than-mundane details that stand out as the most powerful and precious. My brother tilting his head slightly sideways, half smiling, talking animatedly across the table in the pub, late afternoon getting dark, warm glow from the lamps. My grandma knitting a baby cardigan by the fire, her budgie landing on her shoulder, her head turning affectionately towards him.  Sitting under a tree making friendship bracelets with a new friend on a hot August afternoon, sharing bright threads of yellow, orange, red.

To me, small stones are very much about bringing awareness to these moments, the ones which pass unquantifiable in their seamless shaping of our lives, the seconds, minutes, hours, days... which we so often want to rush through to get to the next 'important' thing.  But these are the important things. These are the special times. The moments we constantly are knitting together into the fabric that will become who we are and finally, who we have been. The more we can recognise them at the time, perhaps the less regrets we will feel when they have become distant in time.