Decluttering, heart and home

Autumn – letting go … why reducing your stash might increase your creativity

 

Sunday sevens - playful

We live in a time of peace and plenty, thankfully. I can buy not only what I need, but every whim and want is just a click away.  The downside is that I no longer have to problem solve, fix or make do, but hold on –  isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

We are born creators, great if you were living hand to mouth or living during the war but it comes with problems in our modern world. My creative imagination wreaks havoc not just with my crafting,  but with spending.  I get carried away at supermarkets so much so that I avoid them. I know a week later and I am throwing out rotting vegetables that never materialised into the hearty soup of my imagination as I zipped up and down the aisles one idea after another. Craft stuff doesn’t have an expiry date.

My creativity drives a lot of buying because I need to pursue an idea – but when you are really creative, one idea spins on to the next and before I realise I am looking at a mountain of stuff.

I felt stuck recently – uninspired and uncreative. I haven’t been idle though – being at home all day, has made me realise that I need to get my house in order! I won’t share my shame… the craft room was an utter shambles and not functional – littered with boxes and items stacked up high. My sewing machine lost among an assemblage of… stuff!  I had to wipe dust off the cover! But I am being honest with you about my creativity because its time blogging was about honesty and not just the illusion of perfection I felt obligated to maintain.

Quote of the week

Autumn is the perfect time, after all aren’t the trees getting ready to let go and do it in the most spectacular style?  Sorting through my stash slowly and methodically –  has been a bitter sweet experience. There have been half completed projects that I have thrown out, partly because they haven’t worked or that they just don’t inspire me to continue. Sometimes that idea has come from a Pinterest pin – or a magazine article but what I discovered going through my piles of UFOs is that it was those projects I most regretted.

It has been challenging, because I have been confronted a whole pile of failure – not to mention the cost of materials involved – laid to waste.

It isn’t easy to confront your own impulsive buying and creative projects that have ended up disasters. To open up yet another plastic bag of half completed stitchery – that seems beyond redemption, but it is worth doing.  Disposing of these items is cathartic, my creative space is no longer plagued by ghosts of projects past.

There is a lesson I have learned since having my own studio space

shops are not the best place for creativity to flourish

When I had my first studio – I wanted it to be my very own store, where everything I needed to create would be right at hand – but that was a mistake.

  • I ended up focussing more on acquiring than I did on creativity.
  • As the stuff piled up – I had less time for creating because I had to keep on re-organising my space.
  • All that stuff became oppressive – the project inspiration seemed to evaporate as a new idea or a Pinterest pin, seemed more exciting.
  • My bookshelves groaned as more books and ideas were added including more ideas.
  • I spent all my spare time stocking my shelves little realising I was actually putting off being creative.

The reality struck me that I was surrounded by broken promises and my sanctuary became full of ghosts which filled me with shame.

Each project was a promise – time for me to express myself, time to be creative – but each time a project was snuffed in a bag, or hidden away in boxes, I was actually breaking my own promise to myself that one day I would be give myself permission to sit down and create.

So these ideas have re-surfaced, uncovered among other debris – and they rise up to challenge me – are you actually going to do this?

I cannot ignore that I am floating in the wide river of consumerism that surrounds me, it is our modern world – we can’t escape it. Beyond the frenzy of buying I was raising my eyes and wondering what is going to happen when we discover our resources are finite.  Nor can I ignore the pictures of the debris floating in our oceans.

Will we look back at this time and see all the waste for what it is?

There is a little stand outside my front door where people donate things they no longer need and it is rare that I walk past without looking. Perhaps this desire to make something beautiful out of objects that would end up landfill is my own small way of saving the planet, giving purpose to my creativity by re-inventing something to being useful again. From now on, when I take or buy something – I label it with an expiry date. If I haven’t done it by then, then it is time to let go.

I’ve unearthed  a thick stainless steel tray, scratched and boring – in my minds eye, would look beautiful decorated in barge painting – I see it  all pastel greens, pinks, yellows and blues. I have to admit, my barge painting skills are definitely not up to the standard of my imagination, but I can give it a try. It has an expiry date of the 30th September!

Letting go – is liberating, not having these unfinished projects lurking like ghosts – clears the space and frees up the mental chatter to begin anew.

 

you have to begin with a blank page

Every artist begins with a blank canvass; what I discovered is that to be creative you just need a clear space on a table – not a whole room or a studio or a library, just enough space to be. It’s something I had forgotten – when I had kids growing up – I made a little space here and there. I dreamed of having a whole room for years and after having a whole room for years – I know it doesn’t make you any more productive.

Letting go makes so much more sense doesn’t it?

Having my creative space back has lifted my spirits, having tools in one place has meant I save time and money –  I don’t spend ages looking for it – and I will be honest here, looking for it meant confronting a heap of stuff – so clicking to ‘buy one’ always seemed the better option. It is why I have a pot full of scissors!

Projects grouped by subject has re-connected the inspiration – I have unearthed beautiful fabrics, re-united inspirational images and patterns that have been stacked away out of sight. I have found all my scissors, needles, seam rippers (I could never find one when I needed one!) spools and spools of thread in bright shades of the rainbow – there is a basket of wool in colours that make my heart sing.

I have challenged myself to make something out of all the items in my stash – before moving on to new things. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

I have promises to keep and long evenings to relish; winter is coming, but Autumn is the ripe time for letting go.

 

contentment, life lessons

Promises, Promises!

keeping promises

I expect you are, like me, extremely good at keeping your word to friends and family. I know there have been times when I have done something, through gritted teeth, because someone has asked me and I am not a great person for saying no.

In reality, this weekend I was shocked to discover that, actually, I was terrible at keeping promises; in fact I habitually break them at least ten times a day!

Does that shock you? Well ask yourself that question again but this time think of all the promises you make to yourself?

Quite a different question isn’t it?

I thought I would monitor my promise keeping… all was revealed in a couple of hours!

Saturday I got up quite early, I love that feeling of having the whole day ahead and time to fill any way I wish!  I wanted to do a little sewing Mr D had plans for reading the paper making a light lunch and then watching rugby, so I had the whole day for stitchery! Yay!

While I was waiting for the kettle to boil for my first cup of tea, I decided to empty the dishwasher, then I thought it would be great to put a load of washing on and before I knew it, I was dusting and cleaning through most of Saturday morning… all the time telling myself that when it was done I could have fun sewing. But each time I finished a task, I would spot something else, that wouldn’t take five minutes…

So it was no wonder that by lunchtime my mood had altered from sunny to grumpy!

WalterBaumhoferTeaPot

I cannot believe how well I scupper my own chance of pleasure, I can’t quite understand where this behaviour came from, only some distant memory of being guilt free some time Before Children.

I cannot take credit for these shocking revelations, I had been reading Leo Babauta’s Little book of Contentment and this little thought was in the first few pages. It is a delight to read and only 99p in the Kindle store.

Little book of contentment

So yesterday, it was a glorious Autumn day, full of blustery wind and sunshine – I picked up a few leaves and items on my nature walk, as I have done many times before, but this time I stuck to my promise and spent a happy hour sketching with some crayons and pencils, at the end of it I did feel content, so thank you Leo Babauta.

Do you keep your promises? How do you balance everything so that you can mix pleasure with a to do list?

Susanna Signature

changing your life, life lessons

A life observed – Journal writing: why it is so good for you and where to begin

2-IMG_0347

I have been writing journals most of my life and have found them to be the best tool for putting life in perspective and order. While photographs record a moment caught in time, it is just the external captured for that single second – a journal is a record of the inner journey – thoughts, emotions, fears, joys.

It is how we experience our lives, how we reacted to what was happening and what was important – on that one particular day.

If you have not kept a journal – I hope that this blog post will convince you of that journal keeping is worth the small investment of time.

a journal is your dearest friend

A journal is the best friend you can have

Make a pact with yourself – that you will never allow anyone else to read what you write and you will discover a sacred place where you can be yourself and where your soul finds its voice.

A home for your wildest dreams, your ideas, hopes and plans.

A journal is a gift you give yourself, it is your kindest, most patient listener, your loyalist companion and your tolerant loving confidant. It is a place you can go any time; day or night – where you are never judged.

Captured within the bound pages of a journal –  is place of safety to pour out your heart, express your fears and record triumphs.

Those blank lines can hold all the emotions that course through your veins – the disappointments, the jealousy, the rage,  once expressed, have a tendency to lose their potency. You can lay bare – the thoughts and feelings that could not be discussed with another living soul.

life is fleeting

It gives your life perspective

I have been journalling over twenty years, there are a stack of books that represent my life so far, not the external –  photograph albums but the internal – thoughts, emotions, reactions and lessons.

Life is fleeting, days fly by and before you know it years or months have passed, a journal is like catching each day, and preserving it.

At any moment I can travel back to a particular day and read what was on my mind. It helps me to see each day as a page in my book of life, one that moves the ‘story of me‘ – forward.

I have the photographs of my daughter’s wedding, but I also have my joy recorded in the pages of a book, the elation, the laughter, the pride – the preparations and small incidents noted that would be forgotten. Any day I choose, I can go back and re-live that moment of triumph- preserved forever.

Journalling gives perspective

It helps us to solve problems

Life gives us lessons, sometimes painful lessons; our journals can be a place where we can record how we react, but once the emotion is spent, we are able to discover our own inner wisdom.  It can be where we reflect and explore strategies to handle similar problems in the future.

We can re-read the some of the darkest moments of our lives with the benefit of hindsight – the fear that gave us sleepless nights – resolved itself eventually.

We can read how we were knocked back by life – and yet, slowly, day by day, got back up and began again.

Hopefully – when the same lesson presents itself – we know we shall survive. We are able to see how much we have learned, how well we handled the situation – and how much faster we recovered.

Arguments and disagreements feel like monumental events – but  as time moves on – they change,  incidents can lose their importance. The argument with the woman you work with – years later is someone who’s name you had forgotten. The period of unemployment – was an opportunity to review your career path and a change of direction.

words have power
Kipling

It puts you in control

If the past is still haunting you, a journal can be a place to re-write the story; laying events to rest so they don’t overshadow the present. You can record all the great ‘come backs’ you could have said, or write an ending where you come out on top. The job you didn’t get – can be a blessing.

Just the act of writing these things – helps us to release the grip of pain and regret so that they don’t take up any more of our lives than necessary.

Simple Abundance Companion - Sarah Breathnach
Simple Abundance Companion – Sarah Breathnach

This lovely quote from The Simple Abundance Companion always fills me with joy – words have a tremendous power to change our feelings, change our perceptions and alter the course of our lives.

When you write in a journal, that power is in your hands.

the power of the pen

It makes you happy

We live in a world full of advertising – bombarded on all sides with glimpses on a better life that are designed to make us dissatisfied with what we have. A journal can be a place to record all the blessings we have which give our lives balance.

Happiness comes from within – recording just five things that you are grateful for every day – focusses your thoughts on what you have. It can turn the worst day, into one where it is good to have a warm bed, good health and something to eat.

It helps creativity

As the digital world takes over, written documents are becoming increasingly rare. Handwriting becomes an exercise in mindfulness, it slows your thinking.

The Artists Way advocates morning pages – three pages of stream of consciousness writing – it gives an outlet for all the thoughts running through our heads, clearing our minds for creativity.

Ideas can be captured, expressed and developed – all within a place of safety, until they are ready to emerge.

Anias Nin Quotation

Journalling is accessible and affordable

I tend to use blank journals, a diary has limited space and if you are busy there are no empty pages to greet you when you return. Some days I can write night and morning, or I will miss a week or two.

You don’t need an expensive notebook, some of my early books were simply exercise books – you need something that you aren’t afraid to ‘spoil’.

Journals are your very own story –  recorded in your own hand – who you are and the life you have lived.

journalling

Why not start writing your story today?

Here is how

Or here are some great books that will start your journey into finding your authentic self, click on the pictures for a link to purchase. (I am not being sponsored for these clicks!) they are all books that I have found useful.

kindle-book-heal-v2-2

Simple Abundance Companion

Peace and Plenty

The-Artists-Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

life lessons

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep calm and put the kettle on

Churchill might have spoken about fighting the enemy on the beaches, but I have determined that my front door is where I shall start, swiftly followed by my router and finally the TV.

No you haven’t missed something, we aren’t at war, but I am beginning to feel as if I am in a constant battle for my sense of well being.

During the war – the morale of the people was a consideration, news was suppressed and for good reason – imagine what it would have been like if they had gone into the in depth analysis and commentary that we have today, when people were dying every day on our streets?

reality sucks

I am not suggesting for one minute we suppress information, but wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where it was limited to facts and not the mountains of speculation.

I can’t control the universe or this country, terrorism – the very name of it, is all about inducing fear, but I can firmly put it in place by simply not reading about it, not listening to it – and not engaging in the collective sense of foreboding, propagated and stirred up by the media.

Yes, that is me in the corner singing with my fingers in my ears!

Let’s be honest, life doesn’t seem to be all that fair does it? There are some truly horrible things happening in this world – I can’t control any of it one iota, nor do have the resources to level the playing field – so I am making a stand – holding back the deluge of misery and mayhem that pervades and sucks the life out of anything remotely cheerful.

I need create a sanctuary of safety for me.

Call the midwife

Call me deluded, or an ostrich about to get a bite on the bum, but I need to feel safe – its the basic necessity according to Maslow, for me it’s about not letting the screws loose and keeping me on my rocker as opposed to off it.

When I had my first gorgeous little girl – I went a little bit crazy, well lets be honest about it I did go well round the bend to la la land, (I think sleep deprivation and hormones were partially to blame). When you hold your most precious beautiful baby, you also become aware of just how dreadful and fragile life is.

Alice in Wonderland

I censored my TV viewing, I could no longer watch casualty because the characters were always blissfully unaware of the accidents that were set to befall them – it just appeared out of the blue, with no warning! My mind could not come up with a way to protect me from the randomness of accidents – so instead it would simply go round and round in my head. I would be driving on the motorway, with a feeling that at any second my life could be different, that an accident might happen just two seconds away. I would be driving along with sweat on my brow and fingers gripped firmly – holding on to dear life and ending my journey feeling like a wet rag but grateful to be alive.

I had to learn, sometimes going through minute by minute, how to keep myself calm. How to balance my fear – how to get beyond the door step and walk down the street without feeling as if my heat was going to explode through my chest.

life is fragile

So that is why, years later, I am a little protective of what I invite into my home, I don’t let anything pass through that will feed the fear monster that sleeps like a giant only to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning.

There is a certain snobbishness about television viewing or lack of it – I do believe it has a real value in glueing our society together; remember the pride filled days of the Olympics or the sense of pure Britishness that the last night of the proms conveys. It gives us a way of connecting through a shared experience, bonds us all together – its so much easier to chat about the latest dilemma in a soap opera than discussing personal matters in the office on a Monday morning.

There is already so much stuff in the news that we don’t need lathering it on when we turn away from the real world into the realms of fantasy. I fear I am slipping into the comfy armchair of Mary Whitehouse at times! TV is full of murder and it appears to be more explicitly gruesome. Is it me or don’t people have relationships anymore? Just random sex and the women have to be single, and seeking unattached sex? New relationships, but it has to be odd to be interesting, homosexual relationships are passé its about transexuals,  government conspiracy theories, terrorism.. etc.

what is a weekend?

Ok, so that last paragraph has proved it, I am Mary Whitehouse re-incarnated.. but the point I am making.. (badly I know) is that at a subliminal level all this is having an impact on me, on my view of the world. If that is so then I want a view of a lovely country field rather than the mean streets of a inner London estate.

I am not against the media or television or the internet,  technology today gives us so much more control than the three channel viewing of my childhood spent watching programmes my parents chose because there was only one TV in the house. Remember all those terrible Saturday Specials or the Miss Worlds or even the Eurovision that kept us gripped to the edges of our seats!

I love some of the fabulous drama that has been on recently – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was simply fantastic, as is Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and of course the bake off that is starting again soon.

chummy

But by far, the very best and most wonderful resource, is BBC radio,  the envy of the world – if you haven’t explored the BBC radio app then you are in for a real treat. Radio is not as demanding as TV, you can busy yourself sewing or knitting while at the same time being transported to wonderful places and adventures. Our imaginations are far richer and deeper than any high definition screen. Somehow the radio experience, like a book feels like you are in the story rather than watching it.

There is no product placement,  blissfully no shouting adverts, you can add programmes to your favourites and listen anytime.

The Girl on the Train review

At the moment you can catch radio 4’s book at bedtime which is the brilliant Girl on the Train – what a great combination!

Radio 4 extra has some fantabulous programmes and radio drama that makes any household task a breeze. For me, it feels so much more intimate – cooking while listening to authors in the book programme, or relishing the book at bedtime while I soak in a candle lit bath.

There is nothing safer and more cosy than listening to the shipping forecast while snuggled up in a warm bed on a winter’s evening – imagining fishing boats bobbing about in Moderate North Utsire, or gale force in Fair Isle?

ahh, I feel better already… anyone for tea?

x

Adventures

A seat with a view – perspective on being in a wheelchair.

Susanna Di Milo

One of the most profound experiences of my life was being in a wheelchair for 8 weeks.

 Before my injury, I thought wheelchair access was over the top, political correctness gone mad. I used to see all those empty disabled access parking spaces and tut as I drove round trying to find somewhere to park. Or the ramps that seemed to be here there and everywhere, costing thousands of pounds from local councils.

I imagined I was sympathetic for people in wheelchairs, I try and make room for them as they pass,  but I never gave it much more consideration.

From a sitting perspective it is quite different.

I remember the first time my daughter took me out in a wheelchair after two weeks of loneliness, it was odd to be in the world again. But I remember we laughed a lot, she nearly tipped me out of the chair when the wheels caught on a tiny bump of a dropped curb.

it was surprising how different the wold could be from a sitting position

I lost count of the number times I was hit in the face or shoulder by shopping bags – you are invisible – eye level with children and dogs.

I was in a busy shopping centre in an electric wheelchair. I noticed I was on a collision course with a young girl who was looking at her mobile phone and not where she was going. I could not go left or right because of the crowds around me. A instant before we were going to hit, I must have caught her eye – she looked up and had to step aside.  Astoundingly, she then spent the next few minutes (which felt like an eternity) swearing and cursing me for getting in her way!

Another time I was being pushed in a wheelchair and we had just come out of a museum the dropped curb was a few feet away and as we headed towards it a delivery van parked over it. When we pointed out to him that he was blocking our ability to cross the road, he told us he would not be long, got out of his van and disappeared for 5 minutes. We were left waiting for him, he could have parked a few feet forwards or backwards, (There were no other cars parked at all) but it was too much trouble. I had never realised before, just how essential these little dropped curbs were!

Of course it wasn’t all terrible, I met so many kind strangers, who were always willing to offer support.

Using electric wheelchair from a fantastic organisation called Shop Mobility, I was in Ikea and discovered I could not open the door to the disabled toilet –  door opened outwards but at an angle, the wheelchair could not go sideways. I was stranded until a lovely lady came and opened it for me. I remember crying in that toilet, because it was the first time I had to depend on a stranger for something so basic, it was humbling indeed.

I spent a lot of time with my daughter, I don’t think we laughed as much on any other shopping trips!

There was the time that I rode the lift up and down three times because i could not back out of it quickly enough before the doors closed on me.

Or the time I was exiting the shop not realising that I had hooked several handbags on the handles of the chair! Thankfully my daughter noticed and stopped me from going out of the doors.

Being in a wheelchair was the most valuable experience in my life and the thing that kept me going was knowing I would eventually walk again. Others don’t get that option.

Have you had an unpleasant experience that changed the way you see the world?

Family

This is what I wrote at the time of the injury, way back in 2009!

Gastrocnemius tear and tips!

Well, it has nearly been six weeks, and I thought I would share a few things I have learned since tearing my gastrocnemius. The first lesson was knowing I actually had a gastrocnemius, realising it was in my leg rather than a word to describe someone who enjoys their food, or a posh way of saying you have been on the loo more than usual!

If you are reading this because you have torn your gastrocnemius muscle then you are obviously sporty! As this usually occurs during sporting activities! (you can’t injure yourself while sitting on the sofa!) Although government guidelines state you should participate in 30 minutes exercise a day, most hospital  casualty departments are filled with people with sporting injuries, so you decide!

I could go into some brilliant description about tears, first aid advice etc, however, there is a brilliant website dedicated to the medical stuff, http://www.physioroom.com/injuries/calf_and_shin/calf_strain_full.php

Anyway this blog article is really support to help someone who is looking for advice once they have their diagnosis!

How I found my Gastrocnemius

I was dancing, well technically I was actually walking, when I felt a sensation similar to an elastic band pinging on the back of my leg, followed by the most awful cramp I have ever experienced! Now my first real piece of advice to you is not to do what I did immediately afterwards. I had just asked someone to dance, a rather fast rock and roll dance and my gastrocnemius chose the moment I was walking onto the dance floor with this young man. (he was rather good looking but that is another matter!) The fact was I did not know him well enough to turn round and walk off, or to explain that I had hurt myself. So, I actually danced, well rather hopped through the dance while leaving my foot firmly on the floor. It must have been the worse dance in the world, but the man (obviously a very polite gentleman) asked me for another . I declined and slowly, trying stupidly not to limp and pretending everything was fine (Embarrassment can be a dangerous thing!), I struggled off the dance floor.  Reaching my long suffering  partner, I told him I had hurt myself and scuppered his chances of actually enjoying the pint he had to his lips, explaining, in what was to be quite an understatement, that I thought I might not be able to drive home. The understatement became apparent when we got outside and I admitted it was actually agony to walk! I managed to hop, using C’s shoulder for balance all the way to the car! I got to bed, by going up the stairs on my bum, hoping that all would be well in the morning after a dose of the strongest painkillers in the house! Sadly, we found ourselves among the footballers and pub brawlers the next morning at the casualty department! That is when I discovered I had a second degree tear on my gastrocnemius! And luckily for me I had not ruptured it, or the Achilles tendon!  So we returned, armed with crutches, a sick note and some small round tablets called co-drydamol.

So now you know how I met my gastrocnemius, I would be interested to hear your stories! 

Actual Advice 

Well, that was six weeks ago, I am still on the sofa, (sorry to disappoint you it can take up to eight weeks!) hereare my tips for anyone surfing looking to benefit from someone else’s experience (mistakes), while recovering from a tear in their gastocnemius!

Rest

When they tell you to rest your leg, that actually means sitting on the sofa with your feet at roughly the same level as your hips. It does not mean you can climb stairs, do housework or stand up to cook a meal, try and feed chickens or bake cakes,  it actually means REST. This may be the only time in your life when you can justifiably leave the housework! Horay!

Rescue and old bag!

It is a good idea to carry a bag around with you, as your crutches tend to take up both your hands! (this does not work with a cup of tea!) It is also advisable, (sadly it took me several days to realise this) to bring all objects down with you when you come down the stairs in the morning! (glasses, books, etc! Are best brought down together rather than one at a time when you remember!) This of course won’t be a problem if you live in a flat!

Billy don’t be a hero!

Or heroine! Call all your friends, get as much sympathy as you possibly can! After a couple of days you will find you are drifting into a world of Jeremy Kyle and GMTV, the four walls will be closing in on you and your brain will turn to mush! You will need your friends to keep your sanity! It is difficult, I know, to ask for help, but remember how good it feels to actually help someone? Don’t deny your friends the chance to feel good!

Take pride in your appearance

You might be a little more sternly built than I am, but after a week or so, you may find you are wearing soft stretchy sportswear, comfy clothes that are the equivalent of pyjamas, or they are actually pyjamas!  This is not good for your self esteem, with no work to dress up for, you may find you haven’t worn make-up for weeks, (or if you are guy, you might consider growing a beard!) Take a firm hold of yourself, and pick at least one day a week when you are dressed, spruced up and ready to go! Even if it is another day on the sofa with loose women.

Seize the day!

You can take advantage of services for the disabled even though it is only temporary! (sadly not a blue badge!) but enjoy parking in the disabled bays at your local supermarket! Watch as people wait and spy on you to see if you really are disabled! Then get out your crutches and go for it! Some supermarkets actually have electric wheelchairs! Go on, you have been dying to try them. There is a great organisation called SHOP MOBILITY, http://www.disabilityuk.com/mobility/ambilidx.htm They usually operate in most towns and they actually let you borrow an electric wheelchair or a mobility scooter! Yipee, this is fun! They will also stamp your parking so you park for free! However, be warned, shops, lifts and people are really hard to negotiate! Fortunately the shop mobility people cover you for insurance!

You will encounter two distinct groups of people as you make your way around the shops, hostile and friendly!

Hostile people will swear at you, walk directly in your path and then shout at you if you narrowly avoid hitting them by performing an emergency stop procedure. People will hit you with their handbags, as your head is now at just the right height. There will be hostile stares as they try to work out why you are in a wheelchair and not dribbling!

Kind people smile at you! They will press the floor numbers on the lift and risk white finger by holding the door open button while it takes you ten minutes to reverse out without hitting the side doors! They help pick things up when you have knocked them off shelves and still smile at you! (perfuse apologies are a really good idea at this point, don’t lean out of the chair, as you could actually fall out of it with the chair on top of you!)

Manage your pain

Although they give you really strong painkillers, take as many as you need to help with the pain. Even though you can have six co-drydamol a day,  you can actually lose days or even weeks if you do this! (I lost a whole day and I only took half the recommended dose!) I might be going against medical advice, and I am not advising this for anyone here. I am an ants in the pants sort of person, when I took the painkillers, during the time  I was not comatose, I did stupid things, like walking in the garden etc! I think pain is actually my body’s way of telling me to sit on the sofa and be nice to gastrocnemius. So just because I preferred to be awake, I did not take the painkillers all the time. As I was in some discomfort I did not feel up to chasing the chickens or mopping the floor!

Keep busy! (A blog challenge!)

You will be aware of many things you are no longer able to do, while you are resting and being really kind to your gastrocnemius! I have started a little list of suggestions, but I am opening up to you guys to come up with some ideas of your own!

  1. Complete a crossword, Sudoku or even a whole puzzle book
  2. Write a blog
  3. Write a book
  4. Learn to crochet,
  5. Meditate
  6. Plan a holiday for when you are fit and well again
  7. Shop on line and get it delivered to your door
  8. Write a letter, (or thank you cards for your friends)
  9. Read a book (this site is a great way to buy books cheaply and save the planet!) http://www.greenmetropolis.com/index2.asp
  10. Come up with your own ideas and post them here!
  11. Tell me how you got to know your gastrocnemius and post it here!
  1. Take out the whole series of Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives or lost (it might make sense if you watch it all together!)
Adventures, blogging, heart and home, promoting, published, writing

A little bit of honesty and hopeful encouragement about blogging

I am going out on a limb today, try to write honestly about my roller coaster relationship with blogging. Bekki (at the Creativity Cauldron) has some great advice about asking questions during creative process,  I find this is a marvellous strategy especially when I am encountering blocks.

I have been struggling with this blog recently, mostly because I feel torn in several directions:

When I first started my blog I wanted it to be an authentic space, where I can express who I am.

Over and above that was an opportunity for interaction with others –  to have a discussion about the things that matter to me.

Since I wrote stories in school, I had a passion to be a published writer – back then it would have been an incredible feat; now it is easy.

It still gives me a little thrill to click a button that says publish! I can get my writing out there for people to read: how great is that? To be noticed – to have an audience. I want it out there.

My little web within this massive world wide web that says

hello this is me

But…After a few months I realised I want a successful blog, I would read other blogs and notice that they had hundreds of followers, or comments!

(Comments were as rare as hens teeth  on my blog for well over a year!)

Isolated among the world of bloggers

It was not enough to write and be published, I wanted a response and so  I had to get my voice heard, attract followers, get noticed – get something back.

With all this connectivity, it was no longer talking within my circle of friends, or at my local ladies group or even in my community.  its like getting my voice heard globally, among the whole world of blogs, and honestly, sometimes I feel as if I am competing to be heard – while everyone in the world is singing ‘I’d like to teach the wold to sing’ (you have to be a certain age to remember that coca cola advert!).

I started to read about blogging, actually laying out funds for books like…. ‘In order to have a successful blog I should be doing…. x y z’ – or an on line course… your guide to the first 1000, followers.. after reading all these my blog felt like a job in itself and not the fun I thought it would be.

The advice suggested my blog should be different:

  • I needed to focus on one subject matter.
  • I should be mindful that people needed to be motivation to read my blog, I had to give them a reason to read.

My blog was no longer about me and my voice but pleasing everyone else..  you know the saying … you end up pleasing no-one and driving yourself crazy in the process.

sigh – back to the initial question,

Why am I writing a blog?

(I made a mind map…using colourful felt tip pens, a big piece of paper and a great deal of writing I came up with a few reasons)

One of the first thoughts was that blogging has dented my confidence at times.

While my circle of friends are encouraging about my creative endeavours enough for me to want to share it with the world, it has been daunting.

There are lots of talented people on the web, with quantifiable numbers of blog followers blinking away on screen. There are times when my efforts looks so small, especially when its followed by a deafening silence.

I realised I need a strategy to make me more resilient to maintain a balance and perspective. Nothing more than a way to re-frame thinking and curbing my competitive nature so that I still feel I have something to add to this global creative soup.

I need a strategy

Advice tells me to stick to one subject yet I resist; restricting my blog to a specific theme goes against my desire to express myself feely – yet it does make logical sense. I would not like to pick up a magazine on crafts and find articles about motor bike repairs!

I live a varied life, with many interests – narrowing my blog means choosing!  Do I start multiple blogs about different aspects of my life?.. that would require a lot more time and makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

The process highlights that I need to separate the business aspect of my life, to support my classes and my writing. It thrills me that students ask for details of my blog but I hesitate because it is so personal. So I shall be maintaining a blog about my sewing – and maybe a second for all that is left over.

This questioning session has been useful, I need to create a balance -decide how much of my time and effort I wish to give to this process realistically. There is only so much time you can spend recording and cataloguing your life rather than simply living it. This post itself has taken me the best part of a working day to compose.

The overwhelming conclusion of all this pondering is that I love blogging, despite its ups and downs.

I read a lot of inspirational blogs that are thankfully honest about their journey; they have written posts about how difficult it is at the beginning.  Some have generously shared their process. Some allow a peek behind the scenes to a more balanced perspective from the blog ‘shop window’ with their beautiful photography, lives of blissful creativity and blog following counter in three figures. (Numbers are so quantifiable that it is hard to resist the comparison)

As  I follow other people’s blogs I am privy to these lives, I learn about the positive pregnancy test, the trips to tea rooms and valentines meals, the creative up cycling or revamping, the adorable crochet hat for a newborn nephew.

A notification about a new post, feels like hearing from a distant acquaintance – over time a new type of friendship develops as I follow the journey they are on. Their advice or experience is often a nugget of wisdom that carries me forward on my journey. Can I really have that type of relationship with thousands of followers?

Blogging transcends borders and is a pleasant place to hop around the globe! 

I can read about women in other countries enjoying the same small joys of living every day, in a different climate or culture; they are usually upbeat. We all struggle, we all strive for greatness and we deserve to tell our story.

Reading blogs is positive, for example Jen was posting on her blog (Make do and Mend) about the little libraries set up in her village, it is such a delightful idea. Reading about these positive things creates a balance towards the wonderful things that are happening in this world – an alternative to the catastrophic dismal tirade that is ‘News’.

In this enormous crowded world wide web where it can be surprisingly lonely – I have been profoundly encouraged by my blog readers, especially when they take the time to comment.

It is with that in mind that I try to do the same, because I know how much those few words at the end of a post mean.

In writing this honest account of my struggles, I hope that it encourages others who might wrestle with their blog, or their creativity – to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Perhaps  someone else is reading this and has strategies that has helped them overcome these barriers, I hope they are willing to share here or point me in the right direction.

No matter what, it feels good to be writing and pressing that little button ‘publish’.

ttfn.

Decluttering, Decluttering list of items, Rhonda Hetzel

Less is more

Around six months ago I also become aware that my chaotic approach to finances, meant I had very little idea where my money was going, and I was slowly sliding into debt. It took a great deal of courage to finally face my situation and it was worse than I imagined, but it felt liberating to be in control. It wasn’t until I was out shopping one day and I realised that I could buy something if I wanted it, without the huge stack of guilt on my shoulders about buying – it was wonderful to know that I had money to pay for it, rather than hoping.

I read Julia Camerons – Prosperous Heart,

Prosperous Heart

She was very open and honest about her journey, it made me feel that I was not the only one! that was a huge weight off my shoulders.

The book is very good, it gives workable steps so that I felt I was moving forward. She discusses the concept of getting the right payment for artistic endeavour and helps you to evaluate your spending ‘personality traits’.

One of the big revelations to me was that I could not afford the ‘bigger things’ I desired, so instead I was compensating by purchasing lots of little things, especially when it was ‘charity’ shops. Yet, if I stopped these purchases and gave myself time to consider what I really wanted, and why I wanted things, I could actually afford these ‘bigger’ things. I felt as if everything was within my reach, more importantly I began to feel blessed. I also used affirmations to enforce the belief that the universe provided for all my needs and wants.

The first month was really tight, I had overspent the month before so had to manage on a tiny budget but I was determined to do so. Instead of focussing on the ‘lack’ I began to pay attention to what I had.

I live in a fair size two bedroom flat and when I moved in I was creating a new home having been living with friends in the interim. There was a lot of space, but there were a lot of boxes it took me six months before I finally emptied the last box. In the three years I have lived here, my magpie tendencies has meant my little home has become full of ‘suff’.

lots of stuff

I spent a Sunday afternoon going through my larder, my freezer and my fridge – as I made my list I began to realise that I had a great deal of food and could manage to feed myself for quite some time without needing to do a big shop. I also realised that I was still in the habit of buying for a family even though I lived on my own.

When I began to look around my home all the stuff was making things difficult, to get a saucepan out of the cupboard I had to remove other pans, cooking pots everything in my home was like that. I began to question why I had so many pans when I only really used one or two. Since then I have been slowly, systematically, working my way through my cupboards and bookshelves – considering if I really need it. Once I realised just how valuable my space was, I began to make decisions about wether or not something deserved a limited resource.

glass and china

I had a whole glass cabinet full of so many glasses it was difficult to find the right one. I ended up taking two huge boxes to a local Charity shop. Having room to display the items that pleased me the most gave me immense satisfaction.

My bookshelves were full of books that I had read and would not likely read again, so I took those away and now I buy kindle books because they don’t take up any room.

Its a slow process, one that I do when I feel the moment strikes, I’ll do a shelf – or a cupboard and then rest. If you do too much its overwhelming.

I had three cake stands so I listed a glass cake stand on a Facebook group, offering it for free, and spoke to a fabulous lady miles away who was very much looking forward to owning one. She was arranging for it to be picked up so after finding a big enough box I realised that I could wrap it up in some fabric – I no longer wanted rather than bubble wrap. (We both enjoyed sewing!) and I also found a three tier cake stand that was also a duplicate and that also fitted in the box. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to be able to give things away, knowing that they would be valued and appreciated.

I have been reading around this subject and have found some other wonderful inspiration that has helped me enormously.

The simple Life

This is a wonderful book, Rhonda creates a warm cosiness about her lifestyle, contentment drips off the page. It made me yearn to have chickens and a veg patch. She has links in the ebook to her online community which is full of more great advice and like minded folks.

There are some very good questions that help you to re-evaluate what is important.

Well worth a read you can get it on amazon for as little as 60p.

 

It seems that clutter is endemic according to the BBC and it is affecting our health. I think that there is more to it than merely space, its stressful when you have to unpack a cupboard to get something out, or that you cannot fit all your items in your cupboards. I believe it affects our energy flow as well, living in a cluttered space does not give us the ‘white space’ to relax in.

I would be interested to hear what you think!

In the meantime I shall create a list of things that I have given away.

ttfn x

So far:

2 boxes of glassware

1 glass cake stand

1 Three tier china cake stand

1 Vax upright hoover

A set of six willow pattern dinner plates and bowls

A potato ricer

Two carrier bags of reading books

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.