life lessons, poetry

Critical Review – Poem

we are all fragile

This woman comes to visit

She is really quite unkind,

She tells me where I am going wrong

And where I fall behind

How everyone else

Is better than me by miles

They don’t leave washing up

or ironing in piles

She says no-one’s home

Is in such a mess as mine

With cobwebs hanging here and there

Kitchen smattered with grease and grime

She points out all my faults and failings

She really knows me well

She makes her judgements thick and fast

On my failures she likes to dwell

This woman bullies me,

Each and every day

She is wicked cruel and nasty

And has so much to say

I wish I could escape her clutches

Tell her to bother someone else

The problem is that

That woman is myself.

global, life lessons, susatainibility

Who made your clothes? – Sew Solidarity

I love clothes, last weekend I dipped into Primark with a little sense off guilt. All around me were clothes piled high at prices that you simply cannot ignore – I know how much time and effort goes into making a t-shirt, so buying one for £2?

Everyone’s perception is distorted by the low prices of items – everything is made so cheaply that we have begun to perceive these as throwaway items. Why repair a microwave when you can purchase another for less than £30? Why bother storing your clothes from one season to another when you can buy new every season for less than the price of the weekly shop.

Sewing machines made today don’t have the staying power that machines did years ago – a friend of mine ‘wears her machine out’ in a year and happily buys a new one.

I have greatly reduced my clothes buying, even those from charity shops, I just am feeling a little sickened by the sheer wastefulness. Have a look at this lovely film – it really does show the scale of the problem. It is about the workers in India that deal with our discarded clothes. They think we throw clothes away hardly worn because we cannot afford to wash them!

Our sense of value is being distorted in such a way that craftspeople and artisans are no longer valued for the work they do. We believe that a t-shirt should cost £2 without even considering how it is made or where the cotton comes from. Or the true cost of the lives who are paid low wages so that we can have it all cheap.

The world is getting smaller, we are recognising that we can no longer distance ourselves what is happening in China and Asia will affect us one way or another. China is paid in dollar bonds they hold enough to bankrupt America if they called those in, and yet we and the Americans get more and more dependent on China for goods.

How much longer can we sustain this balance? We don’t make things in the Uk anymore, so where are our wages going to be coming from in the future? What do we as a country offer the world? Could we ever be self sufficient? We have lost all our skilled labour – generations ago.

But there are things we can do,  April 24th is a day we can all do something simple, have a look here. Its in memory of the factory disaster two years ago, when a building collapsed killing thousands of workers.

You don’t have to pay anything, you don’t have to go anywhere, just use your voice to join others in asking for sustainable, fair clothing.

We might just be one voice, but together we can help to change things.

life lessons

What a wonderful world

I really don’t do conflict well, the last couple of weeks have been simply awful. Every now and then I have to attend a meeting of colleagues and I know enough about group dynamics to understand that someone is always in charge and its not necessarily the manager.

It doesn’t matter if I change jobs, in every workplace there is one queen bee who wields power and influence, treating those around her with contempt -they are privately hated and despised but are woefully oblivious.  I have lost count of the number of personal remarks and public humiliations – this particular queen bee dishes up under the label of ‘helpful advice’   She crossed the line so far – I couldn’t step back anymore, I had to speak up – I would like to say I did it well, but I didn’t.

What irks me is this, within all groups there is a surface tension of appropriate behaviour, we all pretend that we are a ‘team’ we don’t upset the applecart – we ignore nastiness because the only option is to break below the surface tension of politeness and start ripples that make everyone feel more uncomfortable.

Believe me in these circumstances,  there will be sympathetic colleagues who will listen to you, they will even site their own experiences, and there are others who like you are upset, but won’t complain.  Don’t be lulled into imagining this support will be there if you speak out. The moment you break the surface, you will be alone, friendless, facing a battle not just of the bully but your team will pick their side against you.

You see, everyone hates wars, division, having to choose sides – its as if by revealing the nasty underbelly you are opening up a huge wiggly, slimy can of worms and everyone backs off in horror.

Your manager is the person who has to take action, you are the softest target, no one wants an uprising and usurp the queen bee, better take out the weaker team member, load lots of guilt and blame their way, suggest they are being ‘overly sensitive’ that no-one else is complaining –  the Manager can file the incident away nicely, ticking off their boxes,  equilibrium restored.

I don’t think there is a bullying policy that can tackle the sad fact that in all groups power has a role to play. I am still not sure what I need to do to ‘pass this life lesson’ or how to walk in among a group of colleagues and not tremble. Someone might have the power to make me cry, or belittle me in the eyes of team mates, but I don’t have to play the incident over in my mind a hundred times; worse listen to my inner critic, how I should have said this or shouldn’t have said that. I make such a mess of the whole thing, that I end up wishing I never started.

In the last few days I realise I have an overly optimistic view of society, I blithely go through life imagining that we live in a wonderful world. I expect people to be kind, I try not to back bite, gossip or belittle people, not because I am ‘good’ but my self esteem scaffolding is based around acts that uphold who I want to be. Spite, running people down is self sabotage that hacks away at our inner self esteem – it never occurs to me that people do this and so when it happens it really knocks me hard. I blame all the books I have read over the years, where friendships were deep, tightly bound by loyalty. Where wrongs were always righted, the bad people were easily identified and satisfyingly punished – a world where justice reigns.

My naivety has been well and truly smashed (again!),  people aren’t nice, it is rare that people are challenged on their behaviour let alone punished, colleagues let you down and queen bees get to reign another day. Its not personal, I believe that most of us can’t express our anger to the right people, so we offload to the next available target, the guy who cuts us up on the road, the telesales caller, the person who looks sublimely happy, what has she got to smile about!

Mindfulness tells us that stress begins with wanting to alter what is; that peace comes from acceptance.

 

Maybe I finally understand we live in a world that is half in light and half in darkness,

We have never been able to explain why there is suffering, only that it exists.

A world of breath taking beauty where earth quakes kill innocent people, just like me.

Where the miracle of birth happens in the same hospital where it’s a battle to live, many don’t win.

I know that the longest night is also the longest day,

In order to have winners, we also have to have losers

That you can only see the stars at night because the sun’s light blocks them from view.

I understand that you find the darkest shadows in the brightest sunlight

And being happy attracts bitchiness like a magnet,

I may take the odd knock to my confidence,

but my self belief is shored up by acts of kindness,

loving has never been difficult,

I haven’t had to choose between satisfying my hunger or that of a child,

Or facing prison because loving someone is deemed illegal.

I have never needed to put someone else down in order to lift myself up

I haven’t had to close my eyes to someone else’s suffering, for self preservation.

I am not entirely sure the laws of Karma are as fixed as the laws of gravity,

But I can dream, cling to the belief that somewhere out there, its all in some form of balance

I can imagine I have the power to change the world, a little bit,

That my smile to a stranger lightens their load,

or the compliment to the tired bank clerk rises above the complaints when she remembers her day.

I have faith that these small acts ripple on our world wide web

After an awful week – there is a warm hug,

visits from friends,  a smiles from a strangers

Even the darkest night weakens with the first rays of a new day,

Malice might hurt but it needn’t be fatal.

crafting, creativity, How to be productive, life lessons, Life skills, procrastination, productive creative, Unfinished projects

Calm down and get crafting

 

 

Do you spend most of your time having ideas but not following through?

Is there a dark corner of your home that has a mountain of unfinished projects?

Do you find you are so full of ideas that you cannot focus or sleep?

You aren’t alone

To be honest most of the time I find my creativity overwhelming; last week for example, I visited the library to return one book, I came home with several books; subjects were varied from hat making, dog training and gardening. I spent most of this week researching hats and gardening websites, leaving projects unfinished because the excitement for them has waned.

The biggest problem I face is maintaining enthusiasm for a project until its completed without being de-railled by the next idea.

Ideas and inspiration are everywhere, for example I was walking my dog and I came across some variegated ivy, by the time we made it home the idea developed and I taught a Christmas Wreath workshop out of it. I had to go through a process of trial and error (or playing as I prefer to call it) before I could take that idea forward into a course.

I thought I would share simple steps to ride that wave of enthusiasm, enjoy the making process right through to success! 

1 KEEP A NOTEBOOK

Writing down an idea means that I don’t lose it;

instead I can keep it on record until I have the time to pursue it.

Some of my best ideas come usually when I am in the middle of doing something else or on a long car journey. I take a notebook with me wherever I go.

Some projects never get beyond this stage, but others develop in time – I might change the method or the materials or  from a cushion to a wall hanging. Keeping a log of ideas also reduces the fear that one day my creativity cease at the moment I will need to come up with something.

The important thing is that my ‘new’ idea doesn’t derail my project.

2 LIMIT RESEARCH-2

Trying to create my idea while surfing the net – is like trying to be heard at a loud party! 

Learn to search with a purpose and tune out distractions

The process starts with a Pinterest board or  Flickr for inspiration but I narrow my search just on the object I am making. It doesn’t mean that I can’t ever spend time browsing and meandering around the internet, just not while I am trying to do a project.

A while ago I decided to make a vintage apron after a little research I decided on the design I liked most and I had incorporated elements of other aprons I had seen. I did not stray from aprons, even though my Pinterest feed was full of lovely things – I knew if I wandered off the path I would end up wanting to make a host of other things but essentially be too scattered to do anything.

I look at youtube tutorials, see how others have made them and incorporate their methods and ideas. I revise techniques I haven’t used for a while; there is no right or wrong way to make something, but there are a host of tips and tricks there.

Know when to STOP

Its important to decide when I have researched enough – I usually draw or sketch out what I am making, so that I have a fixed idea and then I stop looking. It is essential: otherwise I will find my ideas get muddled or I can get stuck  looking for the ‘next’ apron that might be better and my creative time slot has gone.

From that point on It is vital to stay away from the web until I have finished my project – it calms down the chatter in my head I find I am more focussed on my project idea. It is a relaxing place to be: allowing my mind to focus on just one thing for a while.

“Ignore the helpful voice suggesting I might miss something ..”

I have discovered that there will still be lots on the web waiting for me when my project is complete. It has always surprised me that after a few weeks away from FB it takes me only ten minutes to catch up!

MAKE NOTES-2

Taking a break helps you to be productive.

There is a theory that your creative mind is often drowned out by your problem solving logical mind, repetitive tasks such as walking or housework occupy the logical mind enough to allow the creative mind to come forward. That is why some the most creative ideas come while you are mopping the floor or in a supermarket queue. 

Walking the dog is good for creativity, I need time for my imagination to process my research, sift through the ideas and come up with a practical way to bring my idea into being. Walking is meditative and the physical movement oxygenates the blood helping the brain to function – I let my imagination take flight.

If you feel blocked or over stimulated it is really one of the best cures – right now its a real delight to see a snowdrop with its head bent in the frost, or the daffodil buds forcing their way through.

The internet works at a frenetic pace, connecting with nature and the slow rhythms of the seasons helps to slow down over stimulated minds. 

develop your idea-2

At this point you may want to simply jump in, but you are missing the fun of developing your originality – take time to explore your project.

Let’s assume I am making a strawberry pincushion, I can find 100 strawberry pincushions on the web – if I jump in now my pincushion will be like a photo copy of a photo copy or 101st strawberry pincushion –I need to make my own original version. I print out some of my research, (but I don’t go back to the web), play with the templates, mix them up – take the elements I like, piece them together to come up with my own design – original designs are what gets published .

I might look at strawberries, the shape, the colour, study them. Draw them. Get a feel for the strawberry, make it my own. I need to be off grid for this – its about my strawberry not the 100 net versions.

Crayons can be tremendous fun, or cut up magazine pictures, collages. I am not doing a work of art I am exploring the object. Even great artists do this, it should be sketchy, scratchy – definitely not a finished article – more about observation – or grown up play.

I might gather materials I might use, is it red velvet? Felt? Am I going to use embroidery? What shades of green do I have for the leaves?  I rustle through my stash – with a sense of purpose. A bead might be just the right thing for strawberry seeds, or I might find just the right shade of red fabric.

buy only what you need

Its so easy to get lost in buying: fabric stores are full of inspiration -in the past I have gone in for a fat quarter and ended up buying fabric for a dress.

Space is finite: filling a studio up with stuff not only reduces space to be creative the stuff saps energy. 

My first studio became a jumble; at first it was a great space but as time went on it became harder to find things, I had to move things around each time until eventually I would waste hours simply sorting through my stash. I would walk away not feeling uplifted as I did when I first had the studio but stepping away guilty at my lack productivity.

accumulating things was not making me creative it was making me feel guilty.

So now I make a list, stick to it and promise myself I will go back for the dress fabric I spotted that is temptingly more exciting than making strawberries. (I can jot it down in my notebook or take away a sample and tape it on a page) but I don’t buy it.

 I remain focussed but open minded -if I were looking for red velvet and I found some beautiful red wool that sings to me; then I am still creating a strawberry pincushion.

After a trip to a shop if I am wavering, it helps me to look at the collages and sketches once more – my enthusiasm emerges and I usually find the tempting other project fades.

 

Making is a journey not a destination

Collage, drawings and sketching will have helped to remain focussed, its time to  gather everything together to create don’t be surprised if you have a sudden desire to clean the windows, or re-order your stash because..

Making is scary! 

I find my ‘helpful perfection critic’ usually pipes up, listing all the things that could go wrong and why this particular project needs to be ‘PERFECT’.

Its helpful to see the making stage as experimentation

This is the journey – be prepared to have fun its not about getting to the outcome as quickly as possible.

Try different versions, see what works and what doesn’t.

If you are making clothes, do a toile first, if its a painting, use a ‘test’ canvass.

Expect failures, disasters or for things not to do what you expected

Sometimes the most wonderful ‘accidents’ turn into some of the best projects.

Be prepared to problem solve try to enjoy the challenge

If you get stuck then ask a friend or a forum or Facebook group.

You might need to look at youtube tutorials again, but stay on track.

Creating is a process – give yourself lots of time and allow for experimentation

It is easy to lose heart if it isn’t working – it is tempting to put it away…don’t give in!

If you have really hit a block,  take some time out usually a walk is the best exercise

Most artists imaginations are far richer than the reality – I may feel that my project has not come up to my expectations, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good.

Accept that you may never be entirely satisfied with what you have made – it is ok. 

Show a trusted friend – one that is encouraging, they may love it

If they suggest changes try not to take it personally but use it to direct you, see everything you make as learning

Try not to point out mistakes and accept the imperfections; it is hand made not machine bought.

The Japanese believe that imperfections are uniquely beautiful – imperfections make stamps and coins more valuable.

If its a dress,  no-one will notice the wonky seam line until you point it out! 

I like this quote:

Art is a process not an object

if you would like to find out more about avoiding procrastination, Bekki at the Creativity Cauldron has some fantastic advice, books and tips to help you tackle your unfinished objects.

I would be interested to read your tips, strategies or struggles please add them in the comments box.

most of all have fun

ttfn x

life lessons

Somewhere over the rainbow….

Unlike the film, you may never reach the Emerald City
Unlike the film, you may never reach the Emerald City

Its January and the media are all awash with New Year’s Resolutions, coming up with the top lists of things people plan to change this year. Its all so tempting, pictures abound of people taking Art classes, or sitting in some beauty spot or looking lithe in a yoga pose the picture of health and blissfulness.

It got me thinking, the underlying message that bombards me is that clearly I am not good enough, my life needs a transformation and I ‘need’ to change.  I should be thinner, healthier, read more, etc…

I read once that although we have far more money and leisure time as a nation than previous generations we are more depressed – the psychiatrist attributed this to one thing, advertising. In order to sell us products a desire or need for that product has to be created so we end up with a life that looks less than perfect and a glimpse of a better brighter future.

Sounds familiar? One article today I read told me that there are 52 Monday’s in each year and every one of them should be exciting, if they weren’t I wasn’t in the right career. Really? It immediately creates a huge magnifying glass on my life and highlights a potential flaw. Not all of my Mondays are exciting, some of my Mondays are actually quite repetitive and boring.

These ‘helpful articles’ create unhappiness, dis-satisfaction with who I am – they encourage me to examine my life – with this belief that every single moment  should be filled with a satisfying career, with time for healthy food, a fit beautiful body and inner peace.

However, its all ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ to a glorious point in the future when I finally get my act together, but definitely not in the now. Worse still, at the back of my mind is the knowledge that I have been here before, made announcements to the world about sweeping changes, my transformation, my brilliant new life that somehow has fizzled away to er… well nothing. I have failed, not even able to carry out a few simple changes, no staying power. I simply have no will power…. it all becomes a huge exercise in misery, wrapped up to look like ‘helpful advice’ to guide us to a better life.

The irony of this is that we can have a life that is full of wonder, joy and peace without really changing that much at all, it is within our grasp and it is a simple act of focus.

Take losing weight for example, I can stand in front of a full mirror and examine my body down to the finest detail. Yes, I am a woman in her forties who has had children and my body has wobbly bits, but you know something my body is wonderful and healthy. It does all that I require it to do – things that give me a great deal of pleasure, dancing, walking the dog, reading and writing this blog entry right now. All pain free. I can sit for a moment and feel the fabric brushing my skin, or listen to the most sublime music that makes me feel blissful. I can walk along the beach and feel the cool sand between my toes. I can squelch in muddy puddles wearing my wellies. I can experience the sheer bliss of chocolate as it melts on my tongue. I am so grateful for my body that faithfully serves me every day. Who wouldn’t want to appreciate that and give it the best food available that helps it to function? In this short paragraph I have closed the gap between this future perfection of happiness and brought it into now, this present moment. Where my body becomes the focus of endless pleasure and contentment.

Easy wasn’t it?

You see, over the rainbow, was actually Dorothy’s desire to get back home,  to the life she had before the tornado struck and she only missed it once it was gone. The Wizard of Oz was a film made at a time when America was on its knees, and people lacked hope for the future. The message was all about counting your blessings, as twee as it might sound. It is the a wonderful way to create happiness and contentment right now in this very moment, not next week after several gruelling gym sessions.

Change because your heart is telling you, not because you feel you should. Alter your perspective from a place of love, rather than beating yourself up because you fall short. If you really want to lose weight focus on returning the dedication your body gives you, by nurturing it with food that cherishes who you are, helps it to function well.

Thank you jar
Thank you jar

Last year I took a large jam jar and decorated it with glitter etc, I also took a few blocks of tiny post it notes and every time something nice happened I would write it down and pop it into the jar. I had to empty the jar twice this year, and all the little tickets make quite a pile. Simple things; the fantastic service I had in a clothes shop. The lovely flowers a friend bought me. The restaurant that kept my phone safe when I left it behind and posted it back to me. The kind compliment someone gave me when I was out shopping. All these things contribute to my blessed life.

Back to Mondays.. you know its a wonderful thing to have a job these days that provides all that I need in life..and working from home, is pretty blissful when the rain is splattering against the windows, the heating is quietly chugging away and the radio is full of traffic reports…  guess that makes every one of my Mondays wonderful…

wishing you happiness .. right here right now..

ttfn.

life lessons

A good start

 

A good wake up in the morning!
A good wake up in the morning!

I have been looking at several different approaches to health recently, it struck me that so many of these diet books or even worse ‘diet tricks’ appear to view the body as something to be ticked or overcome in order to lose weight.

I have over many years felt the need to cut down when my body has been rather bigger than I would like, but I don’t have the tenacity to stick rigidly to a diet or a exercise routine for long.

I have visited gyms but it feels as if you are trying to punish the body, with the emphasis on ‘no pain no gain’ and other such mantras, what I could not help but stop thinking was that I am sure our bodies have a shelf life. What if we were using them all up on a mindless running machine, where we are mesmerised by the big TV screens counting down the time.

 

4fda4-susie-1010539

 

Being the perverse person I am, I asked myself that maybe the answer lay not in ‘disconnecting’ from the body, but connecting, feeling the sensations and messages sent to me every moment of the day? What if instead of just eating chocolate because I was bored, chomping it down while I surfed the net, I stopped and firstly asked my body if it was hungry? What if I discovered my body desired something else like a nice cup of herbal tea?

Lemon and Ginger tea
Lemon and Ginger tea

 

I began this process and discovering a  preference of Green tea over black tea. I became aware that every time I drank black tea it made me hungry for something sweet. When I drank green tea I hardly felt hungry at all. Concentrating when you eat can be an amazing experience, eating chocolate becomes a whole new sensory adventure when you  focus on the sensations of the tongue, feel the hardness melt and savour the taste.

This mindfulness has created a connection not just with how I am feeling, but what I need. So much eating is done because I craved love and it can be surprisingly liberating to discover spending ten minutes gently stroking my arm gives me a greater sense of love and affection that can ever be in an square of chocolate. There is science behind this to back it up, stroking the skin produces a hormone that gives us a sense of wellbeing and love. Babies produce it when their mothers stroke them or feed them, so it is deeply ingrained in our psyche.

all is well

I believe that when the body feels safe and loved, it will not need to store up reserves, that being loved and safe is key to letting go of all that. Loving yourself is difficult at first, we English are so afraid to be bigheaded that we are resistant, but I feel it is at the very core of our being and essential to living.

It is always great when I find my theory is reflected by others and I came across Louise L Hay’s book heal your body. She talks about nutrition and nurturing the body, as well as connecting with it.

beauty
beauty

Connecting with your body is not just about food, its about listening. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in the project I am doing that I ignore the cramp across my shoulders, or the numbness of sitting for too long. I realise that my body tells me its time to do something different.

When I was a girl I loved dancing round the room to classical music and I find as a woman in her late forties its still a great thing to do. Try it yourself, next time you are in the bath or shower, as you soap your body, think tender thoughts and feel the sensations.

A few months ago I felt sluggish, exhausted and was struggling with joint pain – although my thyroid levels were borderline, I felt my metabolism was slow and I was cold all the time. I started to consider foods that warm the body and started to drink ginger / lemon and honey tea. I found grated ginger was the best, but it was a pain to peel and grate every day.

instant fresh herbal tea

One day I hit on the idea of putting all the ingredients together in an ice cube tray and hey presto, each morning I have fresh ginger and lemon tea without the hassle. I have also made mint tea this way too.

 

Instant herbal tea

 

Just pop one or two in the cup and pour over the hot water, perfect!

Someone far wiser than me told me: love your body, its the only home you have.

ttfn

1940's, Adventures, domestic, domesticity, environmentally friendly, happiness, healthy, heart and home, home craft, home made, home making., Idealism, interior, kitchen, life lessons, make your own, museums, natural cleaning, pantry, re-framing, re-use, Uncategorized

Falling in love with shiny!

 

I am not a Bree Van-de-Kamp, the Desperate Housewife with the perfect home, but there are times when I realise that I need to do something about the layers of dust and the kitchen floor appears to be changing colour!
 Housework is something that I seem to avoid – yet oddly enough when I spend time cleaning I actually find I enjoy it. (yes you did read that correctly, the word enjoy and housework in the same sentence!)
I have fallen in love with sparkly, and it is very easy to achieve, takes no elbow grease and is not hazardous to health. It is a simple mix of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

 

This is not my kitchen but one that is set up in the grounds of the Weald and Down Museum in nearby West Dean, I thought it illustrates to me just how much simpler and easier housework has become. Hot water at the turn of a tap – washing machines and electric kettles, it has never been an easier time to be a housewife. I believe that simple household products that have seen years of use. This little kitchen set up goes back to early in the 1900s.

 

Looking at the simple ingredients that were at the disposal of the housewife in her struggle to keep the house free from infection – it  made me ponder just how far we have come to rely on the ‘selling power of science’ We trust the cleaning products that abound on the supermarket shelf are safe and effective to use.These companies are in business to make money, they use enough science to convince us that their product will be the best, and easiest to use.
There are no restrictions on cleaning products for the home it may surprise you they are able to sell these above what would be considered a health risk if it were sold commercially. There have been links with air fresheners and cancer risks, and I believe that if our bodies cough to expel something that has been sprayed into an aerosol into our smallest room then it is pretty likely the substance we are ingesting might not be in good health.
Its easy to get everything sparkly, just spray with vinegar and sprinkle over bicarbonate! You can scrub a little, then wash down with water. Buff and sit back and admire a lovely shine! It lasts for a few days too. No coughing, no nasty chemicals, gentle on the purse too!

ttfn x

changing seasons, life lessons, making the most of life., poetry, time

Time slips by ..

I woke up this morning with this poem running through my head. I met my children for dinner yesterday, it is so strange to think my daughter is a married woman now. Motherhood is very strange, if you are doing a good job then you are hopefully making yourself redundant – that they can live their lives independently. But I find it is mixed, sometimes they seem so grown up and responsible, and then they seem like little children again, in need of love and encouragement. One thing I do know, is that they make me proud every day, and I feel it is always good to let them know.

The Lesson of the Water-Mill

by Sarah Doudney 1841-1926 English poet and hymn writer. 

Listen to the water-mill
Through the livelong day,
How the clicking of its wheel
Wears the hours away!
Languidly the autumn wind,
stirs the forest leaves,
From the field the reapers sing,
Binding up their sheaves;
And the proverb haunts my mind
As a spell is cast–
“The mill cannot grind
With the water that has past.”
Autumn winds revive no more
Leaves that once are shed,
And the sickle cannot reap
Corn once gatheres;
Flows the ruffled streamlet on,
Tranquil, deep, and still;
Never gliding back again
To the water-mill
Truly speaks the proverb old
With meaning vast–
“The mill cannot grind
With the water that has past.”
Take the lesson to thyself,
True and loving heart;
Golden youth is fleeting by,
Summer hours depart;
Learn to make the most of life,
Lose no happy day;
Time will never bring thee back
Chances swept away!
Leave no tender word unsaid
Love while love shall last–
“The mill cannot grind
With the water that has past.”
Work while yet the daylight shines,
Man of strength and will!
Never does the streamlet glide
Useless by the mill;
Wait not till to-morrrow’s sun
Beams upon thy way
All that thou canst call thine own
Lies in thy “To-day”‘
Power, intellect and health
May not always last–
“The mill cannot grind
With the water that has past.”
Oh, the wasted hours of life
That have drifted by!
Oh, the good that might have been–
Lost, without a sigh!
Love that we once have saved
By a single word,
Thoughts conceived, but never penned,
Perishing unheard;–
Take the proverb to thine heart,
Take, and hold it fast–
“The mill cannot grind
With the water that has past.”
Sarah Doudney wrote this when she was 15 years old.
body confidence, body shape, dressing, dressing up, fancy dress, fifties, life lessons, sewing, steam punk, style, vintage

Style with a smile?

I was reading Afua Hirsch’s article in the newspaper this weekend and I was completely in agreement with her, in this country we all try and alter our body shapes to fit clothes that often don’t flatter or simply distort our shapes and accentuate our least loved features. What madness is this?

Where did we get to this position where women really struggle to accept their bodies and love who they are? I have to admit I often visit clothing stores when the season’s change, just to keep up with what is on trend and often I leave without spending a penny. I look around and see women wearing ‘this season’s colour’ or ‘this seasons’ look’ without giving it any regard to whether it enhances her or not.

I am not bashing women and what they wear, I feel saddened that we all have pressure to fit in, I remember my svelte daughter wearing low slung jeans and a teeshirt that exposed a middle that did absolutely nothing to enhance her beautiful shape, it just made her look like her body was spilling over.

Thankfully the current trend for retro styling has allowed women to express their own sense of style – even if it is the vintage forties with victory rolls, rockabilly chic or fifties flair. There never is a better time to sew because not only can you chose your clothes and fabric that reflects who you are, but you can make clothes that don’t make you feel like you are ‘too big on the hips’ or ‘too busty!’ which is often why I have to return lovely summer dresses, they simply make me look trashy!

The great thing about making your own clothes is that you can choose everything right down to the cut or the weight of the fabric. It takes me back to the dressing up box and the most favourite item of all, a circular elasticated waistband skirt – the waistband moved with me, and it was simply glorious to spin and feel the fabric flow around my legs. That is how clothes should make us feel.

I am just back from Austria and came across shops full of dirndl dresses when I put one on it was like a childhood dream come true! I finally had a dress that I spent my childhood drawing after reading Heidi!  Not only that the blouses can solve my summer dress difficulties, they look gorgeous and feminine without exposing more than I am comfortable with.

My daughter got married and had a ‘steam punk’ wedding it was terrific fun, everyone dressed up in what they wanted to wear and I have never seen so many broadly smiling faces! We all went to the park after the ceremony for the pictures and many people thought we had come from a film set. Dressing up is fun!

If there is one thing I am passionate about it is the desire for every woman to dress to please herself and we can all take part. Next time someone is dressing ‘outside the norm’ encourage her confidence! it might just be me.

being single, book review, Books, dodinsky, empowerment, encouragement, Garden of thoughts, Kim McMillen, life lessons, love, self acceptance, self love, soul food, when I have loved myself enough, wisdom

When I have loved myself enough….

This beautiful picture is from the artist Irina Vitalievna Karkabi ,  the state of bliss and contentment is so tangible; it has resonance with the Art Nouveau artist Klimt, there is such delicacy and beauty, she is breathtaking it uplifts me every time I see it.  

After the cold bleakness of Winter, Spring bursts forth in new growth and renewal. Everywhere bulbs push though frozen ground to bloom and brighten our days, daffodils dance in the March winds and April Showers. I have been through a similar process of renewal – having time to myself has given rise to one of the biggest areas of growth in my life so far. I want to share some of the great things I have learned in the last few weeks not just beautiful art but two wonderful books that heal the soul.

This little book, is simply a delight – written by Kim Millen and published by her daughter Alison. The wisdom between the pages offer an opportunity to really touch base with your soul. Each page begins with ‘when I loved myself enough… ‘ and follows truths that also soothe the soul. Such as: ‘When I have loved myself enough I learned to meet my own needs and not call it selfish’. Or ‘When I have loved myself enough .. I stopped fearing empty time, and quit making plans, now I do what feels right and I am in step with my own rhythms. It is also worth reading the introduction and the postscript by Alison. 
You can buy a copy on amazon or you can support your local bookshop – either way it is a wonderful gift to give yourself. 
The other book is also about self acceptance – Amanda Cass’s illustrations enhance Dodinsky’s wisdom that takes you on a journey to loving who you are and accepting yourself. It was while reading this that I had a real ‘ah ha’ moment; it felt as if the ice and chill of winter had finally begun to thaw and the sun was breaking through – ‘love yourself better’ – I like the way you can enhance different meaning in that one phase, it resonated with my soul, because until you can love and accept who you are – can you begin to understand that you are worthy of all good things. 
My life has been transformed in the short period between my last post – a personal journey but I wanted to share a small part of it here.