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Monday, 30 September 2013

i remember...

when i was a teenager i painted my bedroom walls. not like my cousin did - black and white parallel lines to imitate blondie's record sleeve - but huge faces of my own design. i remember my mum not being very happy about it but my dad okayed my expressing myself so off i went. they were segmented pictures - at that point i was excited by screen printing and all my artwork was thought out with the process of cutting the film forefront in my mind, the blank space forming part of the picture. i can't remember when i stopped painting them but i do remember when i did i painted all the walls brown and stuck up a "feed the world" poster as decoration. yeah, i'm guessing i was a lot of fun to be around then too.

i remember exactly when my creativity got thwarted.

i was fourteen years old and taking my options at school. out of everyone that wanted to take art in our school i was the only one who selected the option to do the printing class. i was told they couldn't run the class just for me so i was put into the fine art group. i went from being happy and expressive in my art class to being miserable and under achieving, there was no encouragement only mistakes hi-lighted. it was clear from the start my teacher didn't like my style and i didn't have a clue how to paint in her style. this continued for two years. unlike my dad she didn't believe in me. i passed my exam with a b grade, i have always wondered what i would have got if i was encouraged.  

i graduated college, got a job, got promoted, bought the car and the house. all this time the pencils were down - abandoned on the road to what i thought success looked like. and abandoned there too was myself - frustrated, uncommunicative and alone - all dressed up in a work suit accompanying a newly renovated house. for nearly eighteen years. as so often happens the epiphany comes at your lowest ebb - i was no exception - but with the unravelling came the realisation: you are not the sum of what you own, you are the sum of who you are. and who i am at a soul level is creative. 

i picked up my camera and took more pictures. slowly i found my photographic eye. my best friend asked me to start a blog with her. slowly i found my writing voice - am still finding it. i joined a choir with another friend - as my vocal muscles returned i remembered anew my love of singing. i breathed deep and embraced my god given talents. slowly i threw off the fear of stepping out not always to do something new but to revive the the art of something forgotten. remembering was a gentle blessing and the happiness it brought made me want to remember more. 

i have found that creativity needs room, space to circle you and draw you in. more than that - you need space to embrace it - be it physical or mental. i have often wondered how i let go of my creativity and have realised it was gradual - i let it be eroded not just by teachers who didn't encourage nor by expectations of what success looks like but also by maturing and losing my ability to play and dream. in my naivety i thought you could only be creative if you made that work your living. nothing could be further from the truth. 

will you let creativity court you? will you play and have fun and step out of your comfort zone? will you make enjoyment a priority regardless of what it looks like to everyone else?

i can guarantee you won't regret it.  


linking with the writers at living the story on their theme for the month: create.

Friday, 27 September 2013

six things i learnt in september

i'm a sucker for beautiful stationary, pretty cards and notebooks.  I'm old school like that, I like to send mail alongside the instant gratification of email and i like to write in a notebook not just type a note into my phone. 

september brings the start of the new educational year. when i was a kid i used to love shopping for new school supplies - picking out which pencil case i was going to use for the year and the best part - selecting what was going to go into it. even now i can lose myself in a store dedicated to stationary.  september also brings a change of season and this year i was not ready to let go of summer - with its warm relaxed outdoor months i found myself craving more of the same. but the one thing you can rely on about change is that it comes at you regardless of if you are ready or not so here we go six things i learnt in september.

1. when you are not feeling the season - embrace the future season to pull yourself into the current one. i aired and washed favourite blankets and throws, lit candles fragranced with cloves, mandarin and cinnamon and ate tangerines. 

and speaking of eating:

2. if you want your souffle to rise perfectly straight go around the outside of the ramekin with your fingertip to create a clear clean edge. when chatting to a friend about this she told me it is a similar thing with scones - when you use a cutter to shape the scone do not wiggle it around in order to release it from the mixture - that action stops it from rising while it is baking. 

3. when you are baking if you get eggshell in your bowl don't rescue it using a spoon, dip another piece of shell into the bowl - they stick together like magnetic magic.

4. while embracing the new season using food this month this fish stew was the best recipe i tried.

caution was thrown to the wind and the anchovy and chili proportions were upped but i recommend you try increasing them too - you won't be disappointed - with monkfish it was beautiful.

5. something i learnt about myself this month - i get anxious when my camera battery is about to die - turns out my new camera needs to be switched on to charge. i had to remind myself to live in the moment and not always be the one capturing everything. just because there isn't a picture doesn't mean it didn't happen.

6. something i learnt about hairdressers - they only suggest a total change of hair colour to clients they think will be able to carry it off citing my personality and "quirky" dress sense as their reasons. after a quick confab with those who know me well i concurred. 

i work in an office dominated by men as yet no one has talked to me about the change - i'm not sure if that's down to lack of observation or the fact i am now grey. six days in and i love it - of course half my wardrobe now doesn't suit me but that's a problem i will have to address next month.

this is the fourth month i have linked with emily freeman over at chatting at the sky sharing the things we've learnt in the month. emily's new book a million little ways is released next week and in october she is writing a series entitled - made for this - 31 days of artful living.  she's insightful, honest, a great storyteller and funny too - click here to check it out.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

thankful thursday

this week i am thankful for things money can't buy; sunshine in september - casting its long shadows and stopping me from putting the central heating on constant just yet, restorative benefits of rest - feeling so much better for stopping and recharging, friendships near and far - having the honour of observing my best friends friendship group grow into a scene from friends coffee shop but with kids. this weekend i join in the chorus of goodbyes as a family from the group embarks on the next stage of their life journey, family - the smile between my nephew and my sister as her three year old asks over dinner "mummy what was your best part of the day?"


Monday, 23 September 2013



tonight i have arrived home from work to find a beautifully coloured feather abandoned by its owner, have watched a bee get his fill from my fuschia plant, clean himself off and go back for more and have realised now that i have finally taken home the picture my niece drew for me last month that actually it's not just a heart but a face. love it.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

thankful thursday

truth be told these last few days i've struggled. the fog of illness - the kind that wears you down without actually knocking you out - making the everyday things feel like major chores. presently i feel as if i could sleep for britain and still wake up exhausted - you know that feeling too i'm certain. the weather hasn't helped either - so far this week i've lost count of the times i am in one place and my umbrella in another. none of this has helped me feel thankful. but you know what? this week i am thankful for hope. hope tells me that one day soon going to bed early every night will pay off and i will feel better. hope tells me that soon i won't get caught in the rain each time i step outside. hope tells me that the weather forecasters might be right and this weekend might be the indian summer they are predicting. maybe then i will be able to let go of summer and embrace the start of the autumn show. 


Monday, 16 September 2013

a wet play date

sunday was grey, wet and windy - exactly the kind of day you want to stay indoors and keep warm. but sunday is my day to do something different from the rest of the week so getting away from the nag of jobs to be done i went to see an exhibition i had meaning to go to all summer. harry goodwin was the stills photographer for the legendary bbc tv music show top of the pops during the 60s and 70s - he got paid £30 a week to photograph the likes of the beatles and the rolling stones. his photographs are now in some cases all that remain of the history of the show as film recordings have been destroyed or recorded over. it was a good way to play on a sunday afternoon. 


the full cast list of who appears above: john lennon, ike and tina turner, barry gibb (no didn't get him without his beard either), shirley bassey and the ronnettes. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

thankful thursday

this week i am thankful that i am loved and that i love. i am thankful that small family members live close by and have no hesitation in showing me love each and every time i walk through their door - even though as my sister said to her 18 month old this week "sometimes it's more like a wrestle than a cuddle" i am certain she wouldn't have it any other way. children can be great teachers. so many expressions of love are wordless - a knowing look, a hug given, a dinner cooked, a listening ear all quietly living with intention. from small actions great things come. love is so much more than a three little word expression.

while working in my office this week i have heard this record twice over the airwaves, twice i stopped in my tracks to listen to it, its simplicity standing out from the noise of the crowd.


Monday, 9 September 2013

snapshot of a week



last week i felt out of sorts, no reason for it but yesterday when i found myself looking at storage options to organise my clutter i realised - september is here again. the days are cooler, some days cool enough to put the heating on. my newly laid lawn doesn't always need daily watering thanks to mother nature - i lay in bed on friday morning listening to the rain sheeting down - one of my favourite things to do. the sun is still making an appearance and when it does it is warm and a welcome relief on the days when i have chosen to still wear sandals, refusing as yet to conform to the requirements of a new season. the wardrobe has been looked at - black in the summer feels chic - black in the autumn feels, well black. the seasons are merging preparing for their handover whether i'm ready for it or not.


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Making the most of the hedgerows

Sunday afternoon and the sky was grey. With nothing to do and an hour spare we decided to doge the showers and go on a blackberry hunt...........

A pot of blackberries later we took a side track on the way home, and then something red caught our eye from the tree......we ran and looked. A red hand knitted heart swinging in the breeze, with a note saying we could steal it away if we gave a donation to the British Heart Foundation. We have, but my mind can't help wonder about the person who knits them, and then comes and hangs the gifts. I hope they know the pleasure and excitement it brought today.

Back home crumble was made. It always seem extra special when the contents have been hand picked. 


Friday, 6 September 2013

Taking advantage

So, whilst I didn't return from holiday with a list of resolutions (believe me I've done plenty of those in the past inspired by sunsets and wine) I have come back feeling refreshed and with the clarity of thought that only comes when you've had some space.

So I thought I'd share with you my list of little things I've done differently this week 

1. Before going away I have a confession to make. I was addicted to flicking on my Facebook newsfeed. Now whilst I knew this, I didn't do anything about it. Time away with no easy access to wifi meant cold turkey, and no flicking. In the gap I realised that it was actually good not to know every update the second it happened, and actually made things less frantic. I've come home and am not flicking. Release.

2. Second confession (and sorry this is a bit personal) after weeks of wearing flip flops my feet look and feel like I'm 92. The cracks and crevices are actually making walking painful. I never really pay attention to my feet and now you can tell. This week I went and bought some magic cream and have cleaned my feet every night. My husband was so shocked he reeled when he saw me and thought something was wrong. Need I say more?

3. Back from holiday and out of work the emails come in with additional demands on my time. One email arrived this morning, and my natural reaction is to respond immediately and squeeze in doing something else between two other things I'm already doing. Then I stopped and remembered I'm trying not to do as much. Rather than replying instantly I've paused, and though I will make time I didn't add it in today where I was already doing enough. My usual reaction is to respond to everything immediately till I'm exhausted. Today I didn't and it felt good.

4.I haven't picked up all the clothes, empty dishes, and bits of paper that everyone leaves everywhere. Instead I've got those members of my lovely family that have dropped everywhere to pick it up. This has included showing my 15 year old that he does have a towel rail in his bathroom rather than a bedroom floor.

5.I said I'd go to bed by 10pm every night so I got enough rest. Ok then I was only two hours late most nights with a midnight average, but you can't do everything.

6. I've enjoyed having space to write on here again-at heart I'm a creative soul.

So what have you noticed that's different after the summer? Were are you feeling the benefits that rest brings? I'm making the most of it whilst it lasts. And I haven't yet told you the best bit.......this week I've signed up to having piano lessons. And I'm excited.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

thankful thursday

this week i am thankful for the world we live in. three times i have marveled at creation - be it a random roadside sunflower, birds glistening in the changing light of the sun setting - playing together as if dive-bombing with friends at a pool or a vast expanse of majestic red and gold sunset which upon seeing i couldn't help but sing praise. i am thankful for a full schedule that made me realise i had to get up early if i was going to do a thankful thursday post today - those who know me know that i am a night owl not an early bird - i was rewarded with the beautiful light of a pink morning sky - i was thankful the twilight directed me to look up.


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

All Change

So to-day it finally happened, my youngest started secondary school.

The crisp, perfect uniform was taken out of the wardrobe, hair neatly tied back, and unscuffed new shoes put on. My stomach churned. I can still remember my first day of secondary school, the feel of the new blazer feeling heavy and awkward, the uncomfortableness of not knowing your way round, the strange new faces in the classroom. The questions of will I fit in? Will I make new friends? What will happen at lunch time? And worst of all that first walk into school, a knowing you have to go, but everything within you wanting to run the other way.

This morning I could see those same thoughts racing through Ellie's head, as she tried to eat her breakfast. As I watched her leave the house coming the other way down the road were children going to primary school. You could not help notice the poignancy of the walking in the other direction.

And now at the end of the day? Excitement, relief and so much to talk about. Possible new friendships, of getting slightly lost once, and working out from the map what rooms to go to tomorrow. (Plus getting to buy a salad and pasta at lunch:))

And I'm reminded, that's the thing about change. The bit before the change actually happens is often the worst part. My mind goes into overdrive of unknowns, of trying to imagine, and not in a good way. Yet once you are living the change it's so much better. Not necessarily easy, but at least you can get your head round what it is.

I'm feeling on the edge of change with a few things at the moment, and it's not comfortable. To-day I was reminded that the edge of change is the worst, then it's ok. I guess that's part of learning not to hold on to things so tight.

And did I mention within all of that the best bit of my day was a tin that arrived in the post? The plaque tells me its 135 of 1500 made to celebrate the birth of a new Prince, now thats exciting.

Thanks Em.