Finding a purpose – or a dolphin

For many years of my life I struggled to find any sense of identity, direction, purpose or path.

I didn’t know why this was the case, or what to do to change it. It took many years of jumping in at the deep end – particularly with relationships. I hadn’t known how to form them, or make emotional connections of any kind when I was younger, and eventually I knew that I had somehow to kick-start my life into action if I was going to have any kind of life at all.

Two divorces, another failed relationship, a shipwreck of a business venture and extreme bullying in the workplace led to me having a breakdown in all aspects when I was in my late thirties.

This included having what was described later by a psychiatrist as a ‘psychotic episode’. The psychotic episode followed a period when I was desperately trying to be as positive as possible about a situation that was too much to bear. Afterwards, my brain went ‘clunk’, ‘clunk’, ‘clunk’ down into the depths of depression and I have spent much of the last 25+ years training my brain to come to terms with the past and think differently about the present and future.

In my desperate state, running on survival instinct at best, I began to realise that I was very much not alone; that many people were struggling with many different difficulties, and when I could I reached out to help them too. I decided at one point that, knowing I was going to feel crap inside for a very long time, at least if I did ‘stuff’ along the way, I’d know that I hadn’t just done nothing.

After doing loads of different kinds of voluntary work and then part-time paid work, I was able to start a full-time job again and sustain myself in that for the next 14 years. By that time I’d learnt to prioritise, and I concentrated on work to the exclusion of most other things. Working and resting didn’t offer much scope for a personal life, but it was my way of getting through. At one point I decided that, if I could achieve nothing else in life, I would make sure that my cat, Bertie, had a good one. It felt like that was enough, and I do believe it was. At that time, that was my purpose in life.

Who is to say what is important in this world and what isn’t? In finding my own priorities I finally started to find my own path. Not a well-trodden one, and not one without trip-ups and tricky spots along the way, but mine.

I was eventually able to start and maintain a fulfilling relationship and my life is continuing to open up in ways that I could never have imagined possible when I was so aimless and adrift.

I continue to prioritise on a day-to-day basis, often on things that may not seem important to other people, but they are precious to me. My purpose is to make the most of things that come my way, the everyday, the challenges, the opportunities to engage – with others, with household tasks, with being creative or being quiet.

As for the dolphin, well that’s another story!

Potfest 2022

Next weekend I’m taking part in an event called Potfest in Melton Mowbray #potfest.

Maggie Baker

This completes a cycle for me that started many years ago.

Poetry & Pottery: The Perfect Partnership

There is no way I would have completed that cycle without all the help, inspiration and support I’ve had from family and friends.

And the wheel is going to keep on turning!

The midges danced around me … and sometimes they kissed me

Photo by Pixabay on

I’d prepared well for my trip to Iceland. But nothing had prepared me for the wild and fragile beauty of the place. And never have I felt more in tune with nature in all its manifestations as when I entered the Jokulsargljufur National Park.

Giant rock formations thrust and thundered their way out of the earth; solid and fluid at the same time. They looked as if they could be there for time immemorial and yet gone tomorrow as the cycle of changes continues to turn. Iceland is a place of mixtures and contrasts; of separateness and unity.

Young beech saplings, richly green, provided a delicate backdrop to purple meadowsweet and long-stalked buttercups. Anemones grew among the rocks and on the open heath, alongside thrift and heather.

Wandering off alone one evening after dinner, I lost myself in order to be replenished with a new sense of awe and wonder for those tiny things that keep singing and smiling and dancing and shining, night after night in that place that beckons and welcomes and yet turns cold and hostile to test the spirit and firm the resolve: the midges; the birds, the flowers.

I walked, I climbed, I turned, I fell, I closed my eyes, I clung
to a rock. I scrambled, I gasped and I grasped. I cried and
breathed and yelled and pleaded. I sought forgiveness. I felt despair (but only for a moment).

The midges guided me and the birds showed me how to flap my wings
to keep warm. I thanked them and rejoiced and sang and danced and
whistled and cried. After many twists and turns and loops and leaps, after crossing snow and stream, diving under branches, scrambling up hard rocks and across soft moss, the path became straight and broad and familiar.

Heading finally for sleeping bag and tent, I peeled off my cold,
damp clothes and piled on layer after layer, breathing warmth back into my bruised body for as long as I needed to.

I had survived but I had changed. Iceland survives but is changing. The change is being managed intuitively and generously, respectful of the needs of the wild and of those who need to escape to the wild to find a fleeting sense of freedom as a reminder of what we are, have been and always can be.

Goodbye midges. And thank you.

Au revoir Iceland. Bon voyage!

I wrote the above in 1995. Not long after that I spent two weeks as a voluntary inpatient in a psychiatric hospital, where my experience was described by a psychiatrist as a ‘psychotic episode’.

I’ve largely had to fight and find my own way through from that point to this, and never knew what to do with the piece that I wrote. In one sense it’s a piece of ‘travel writing’ and, as I feel more settled now in my head and my heart than I’ve ever been, I thought I might as well publish it on this blog.

The Playlist

When I was young I didn’t really follow any one
I wasn’t into screaming at the Beatles
Or collecting singles or going to concerts
I’ve always been a bit behind with a lot of things
I can never remember names
Or who played what or where or when
But then that maybe only matters
In pub quizzes or if you want to feel flattered
By other people praising you for what you know
It would be nice though, sometimes, to be the one
Who remembers what they heard when they were young
And relate it to a first kiss, or a walk in the park
But then I never could get up with the lark
Always had a bit of a struggle, doing the usual things
Although I did listen quite a lot to Cat Stevens
Wishing I could be Sad Lisa but ending up just being sad
Still, it hasn’t all been bad
At least I haven’t got cluttered up
With a load of CDs that I don’t know what to do with
And now that I’m 61 I can listen to anyone
Or anything I choose
And my music collection
Is out there waiting for me
Just as it was
All those years ago
When I was young

© Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 2017

Poetry Rule No 2. Establish a good relationship with a stationery supplier

I, The Tree

It is afternoon
soon to be evening
as I wait for her to return
from the business of her day

I always wait for her
and hope she never goes away

I am reaching, always reaching
into the garden she has tended
for many lonely years

I know that she knows I look out for her
and would love to wipe away her tears

But the fingers of my hands are too hard
bent and curled

The best I can do is to soften her sorrow
with the surprise of spring
and after the cold white of winter
the promise of a green and bright tomorrow

Summer comes
a time I love to share
with her
and the garden

She – stooped –
digging and weeding
me with arms outstretched
in full and joyous glory once again
her in her own way
also feeding

Together we grow
each through our seasons

Every year I provide a carpet for her feet
she thanks me from her heart
I feel
and looks out for me
the Tree
hoping I will never go away

I know
with all the branches of my being
I never will

2017 & 2021

Poetry Rule No. 3 Establish (and maintain) good relationships with other suppliers – providing the bases are reciprocal


Red was the colour
of your jacket
on the chair –
with slender, tender fingers
curled around a tumbler –
as you waited for me there
on our first date

Red was the colour of my jacket too
there was something about you –
the mark on your cheek
the way you held your head –
it wasn’t love at first sight
but I was happy for it to be
something else

Since then our jackets
have become
a pair –
your slender, tender fingers
hold me now
in bed –
but I’ll always remember
our first date
when you and I
both wore

2017 & 2021