New Classroom for my Willow Days teaching at Coates English Willow

New Classroom for my Willow Days teaching at Coates English Willow – 8/2/21
Very excited – last Friday I finally got to be in the space that will become my new classroom when I teach my Willow Days again at my favourite workshop venue, at Coates English Willow on the Somerset Levels.
Coates, (a 202 year old willow growing and basketmaking business), have had one hell of a year. But their true grit, tenacity and utter determination is getting them through. New exciting plans for their heritage centre has led to me taking on what was once an outdoor classroom in a lovely woodland setting.  This will now become a fantastic glassed in space, complete with facilities and a lovely wood burner.  What really makes this space so special are the stunning far reaching views across Haymoor and Curry Moor (flooded behind me in the photo), and the amazing accompanying wildlife.  I just can’t wait to be teaching whilst Great White Egrets, Harriers and Deer pass by, it’ll be inspirational!
Having greatly missed teaching, it’s so good to know that Coates are rooting for my livelihood, for me to survive, get through and thrive.
The reality has been that for the past few months I’ve been ‘actively’ hibernating, (including from Instagram!) This may all sound a little strange, but finally, (unlike in the first lockdown), I stopped fighting to return to my pre-Covid existence, (one that actually had a few major pitfalls!) I allowed the lockdown time in, took on the inevitable home schooling, the no teaching and the far less productive basketmaking. Very importantly,  I finally began nurturing myself in what I now realise has been, and is, a really transformational time.
January a year ago, a hospital consultant told me that I had to “stop”, literally had to STOP everything. Completely halt my work and way of living.  ‘Stop’ to give myself a chance to regain my deteriorating eyesight, ‘stop’ to somehow create a way to get the overwhelming pressure out of my head and give myself a chance to take away the hell of chronic migraine and facial neuralgia that I lived with.
I’m not very good at responding to the word ‘stop’ – it took me 11 months before I was able to do so.  Except for a beautiful brief respite last summer, (when I took myself off on campervaning adventures and realised even more what I truly wanted for my life), I became ever more drugged up and dependent on medication. This eventually removed almost all of the physical pain, but left me in a heavily sedated numbed up world that didn’t allow for the future that I’m creating.
So the last few months, (as has been the case for most of us), it has been really tough going.  But by finding my inner ability to finally “let go” of trying to control the uncontrollable, and know, just know that the magic of life is happening, well I’m doing so much better.
I weave when I can, doing this for others, but also far more for myself, (the woven willow and rush interior of my T2c VW campervan is coming along a treat!) I know that one day soon I will not only be taking on more commissions but will also be teaching again, excitedly welcoming my workshop students into Coates’s new amazing classroom space.
I’ve now trusted enough to be able to greatly reduce all the medication, so I’m no longer living in a cold fog, and importantly, am sometimes almost surprised when I do feel head pain.
Hopes that I’ve held for myself have become real and I’m embracing them.  Being here for my girls, enjoying with them the snowdrops and the sunshine.  Finally allowing myself to be cared for, to connect, to take a chance on love with my re-woven heart.  I trust in what happens now with my work and for my life. I am alive. I do know that none of this transformative time has happened by coincidence and I do know that I am, and always will be, a weaver. Sarah X