Chez Nous

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….

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(Not in the sea)

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It just had to be magical .

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An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..

 

So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent)  /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..

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My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.

 

We imagined…..

A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)

Image result for ultramarine blueI knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together  and we had faith in finding our home.  We knew it was here.

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As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..

…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !

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We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .

Day one.

 

Day two.

So.. here is our home…Image result for heart

 

And the stripey detail drainpipes..

And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.

And the beach blue windows..

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And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…

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And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…

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And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)

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That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…

Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!Image result for lifebuoy

I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible xx

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Love Liz

And six year old Liz xxx

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A little light on pain

Hello friends..

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For anyone you know, care about, or look after with a pain related illness, a widespread arthritic condition, fibromyalgia, M.E. or similar long term “chronic” symptoms.

Most of us would probably agree on one or two things.

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The term chronic is an unhelpful and misleading phrase, which lumps people together who simply have had an illness a long time. Chronic reads tragic, a bit sad and not quite figured out. The n.h.s, due to its inability to treat the whole person, fragments their parts to far flung departments, the more parts going wrong,  the more departments acquainting themselves with a version of the person they treat for 30 seconds.

Nobody ever seeing the whole picture and joining up the dots.

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When your body doesn’t work it leaves you frustrated, and struggling to know where you slot into a world you could previously easily move about in.

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You either sink or swim. And frankly some days the tide is against you.

Pain and immobile joints are exhausting. Being tired and feeling like you have flu, without the runny nose is common feeling, some days rendering you unable to lift limbs or keep awake until teatime. You know it will be different tomorrow, and you hold onto a fluttery butterfly of hope that the pain volume will be back down a bit. Those days are the toughest and might make your person sad. It is also really hard to describe the level of intense pain you have, to anyone who hasn’t felt it themselves. Similarly, if you look relatively ok, being believed and understood can be tricky. If your person has mental health or social anxieties as well, they might struggle to articulate the circle of needs they have and how people around them might help.

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Feeling you can’t mange physically can be very isolating. Seldom is there support for the feelings this can create. Whilst we try to create that in a practical way, it is different behind closed doors. Your partner and your children know you so well that they might not notice your day to day changing needs, or have the ability to understand them. Some friends might not see you in six months or a year and can’t be blamed for not knowing your deterioration and escalating needs. Check with your poorly person exactly what they are going through. It is a sure thing they haven’t wanted to bother you with the details.

You can guarantee your person doesn’t tell you a fraction of the times they are in pain. Not even close. So when they do, the Gods just turned the switch to mega-high and now, they need you to listen.

If they have a you to listen/help/share and support, then they are really really lucky.

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It is incredibly hard for your once independent loved one to ask for help. Nobody likes to feel they can’t be superhuman. But being human can sometimes feel like an enormous struggle too. If they ask you to help it might have taken a lot of biting back of their dignity and sense of self. Be kind and don’t stick an arrow over their heads reminding them of what a big favour you’re doing.

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Please don’t make your person feel guilty if they can’t make an arrangement, climb a hill, drive to a venue, stay awake past eight pm, or in my case sometimes even get from my car to the school door. Some days our bodies are letting us down badly, and to feel we somehow let down other people because of it, is a load too heavy to carry. ( Especially on crutches!)

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Hands, hips, knees, spine.. Every day can be a lottery, especially when it gets cold and damp. I am time limited with painting, to the sunny days and months.

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If your loved one uses a wheelchair, it can be a whole other set of issues. Being looked down on can feel like you are being ignored or bypassed when decisions are made. In crowds it is really hard to be pushed slowly like you have lost your va-va-voom and watch life zoom past you. Be aware of your friend or partner if they sometimes need help to get around, it can make them feel less than the person they used to be and humiliated to ask for support.

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Having to ask repeatedly for help is really tough. You kind of need someone to know, and not to dramatise it. If you can help someone, just be a subtle superhero.

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Without good support, I have seen people stop asking for help, creep slowly into their shells and stay there. In winter, when pain gets worse and bodies play hard ball, this can lead to people becoming terribly isolated and introverted. Then depression hits and you know how hard this can then be, impacting on health even more.

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If the person has a carer, especially if it is a younger person, they are connected in a way you might find hard to understand. Little things are big things to a person who can’t bend/walk/stand for long/use their grip or put their own shoes on. Quite rightly that carer needs support and their own space, but your friend will have a gap in their abilities to achieve certain things that they are used to getting help with, if that carer is away for a while. It might take much longer for example to get dressed, get the pets walked and fed or clean their shared home. The carer too has massively mixed feelings about their charge. Whilst carers can get a break, the guilt/co-dependence and shared care people have in their micro universe is tricky to unpick.Image result for carer

Your friend will simply be grateful you still see them as them, without the chipped away bits, the essence of who they were before disease or illness struck.

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For someone in pain, everyday activities they used to take for granted are like mountains and therefore it is incredibly important to respect how they still keep themselves tidy/organised and want to do normal stuff. And achieve their creativity or work.

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For example. It will be painful and arduous to Hoover carpets, get to the back of a bath or under toilets, under kids beds to clean out the mouldy plates. It will be very hard to carry laundry, sometimes carrying food to dinner tables, making beds or doing up buttons and opening jars. Any help is good help, as long as the assistant doesn’t make their mate feel guilty or that they need to ask. My best friend just grabs things off me and organises my fridge. Another put my entire post barbecue leftovers in Tupperware, housed all the cushions in the bunker, folded the chairs and stashed the wine bottles in the recycling. All tasks which would have taken the most part of a day to unpick.. She did it in twenty minutes whilst ordering me to drink tea.

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Your person is probably over compensating in some ways, because they can’t do other things. Let them. It’s their way. And their gift. Sometimes they might not say the thing they wanted to, or ‘be’ the person they hoped they would be that day. All a person in pain and illness wants, is to be treated with respect and to be quietly supported. If and when they can show their love back, it is almost certainly with utter gratitude and a deep deep relief that they have you in their life.

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To my friends now and in the future, thank you. I am very lucky to have you, and (most days!) my small person is my absolute rock. Creating an environment which welcomes folk in need of a bit colourful distraction is the start of our journey.  I wanted to share this as I am in the position of both being and supporting disability in different ways. In the act of helping in whatever way we can helps us too, and makes us choose gratitude over giving in.

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See you soon. Look after yourself and each other xxx

Liz

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On Being Nice..x

 

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I am realising that it is often hard for people to believe in goodness. Or people just being nice.

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So much so, that we can easily destroy the vital essence of giving,  without needing anything in return simply because someone can’t cope with our gift.

And we end up apologising for our choices and kindness because of the recipient’s interpretations and choices.

 

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It is a destructive cycle.

“Surely someone can’t be that nice to me!” …” I’ll check by kicking them. Oh look, they’ve reacted.. not so perfect now, in fact.. maybe they weren’t REALLY so kind in the first place.. Ha ha. Caught you, human like the rest of us and you’ll never be kind to ME again. Ha, that will teach you….”

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And then we can so easily get so disillusioned about showing love and kindness that we just don’t bother next time.

What is the point?

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But then we remember. Nobody forced our hand to buy that food, or create that perfect party or present. We enjoyed doing it. We loved the process, and the gratitude we felt for who/ what we were doing it for. If the recipient meets the gift or the affection you show with a brick wall, it isn’t because of your failing. Or theirs. But the choice to respond to a situation is out of your hands almost as soon as it is dreamed up.images (12)

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Which means you are free. Free to keep creating and loving and making gorgeously crazy unique gifts of love in whatever way you see fit ,

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because that is who you need to be. You can lead a horse to water.. But you can’t make it put on the jumper you knitted or eat the salt beef and horseradish foccacia which you copied from the latest Jamie..

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If you can look in the mirror and say I am NOT hurting anybody and I am listening to my friends when they say they have enough handbags/picture frames/jars of pickled vegetables/ dvds of old movies stars/ vintage embroidered kerchiefs…..

Then keep being you..

This summer there have been a few unforseen changes of plans. From family to health to eating through a fridge full of food intended for guests who never came,

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  and the roller coaster  journey of a small person with attitude.

 

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We had usually been somewhere hot over the holidays, but having been to Spain twice earlier in the year and having no options to stay elsewhere,   there was a delicious and almost rebellious joy in going nowhere in particular . Instead of rushing to be everywhere for anyone who suggested anything, my body dictated we stood still for once. A hard thing to have faith in, but sometimes there’s no choice.

When we first came here I introduced myself to a particular fellow, the grumpy cat of the village.. or so I thought. Our first conversation resulted in him telling me he didn’t want any more friends as they only let you down. .. Oookaaayy…

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Fast forward to this week, we just installed my new dustbin holder, which he made and I painted. For which, when I thanked him, I got a huge smacker on the cheek.

We just discussed a project to make my gate look like a bit of an old shipwreck and some collaborative boat ideas. He is lovely. So is his wife. Your new friends can literally be anywhere.

All we did was keep being us. TDDS_DS-Be-Nice-TT_1024x1024

Sometimes that is so hard. Sometimes you’ll get a reaction like I had this week from someone I am related to, that the love and kindness shown them is just embarrassing. Thoughtful presents and time taken over making memories was (translated as) an act of self gain.

In the past, I would have automatically crumbled and felt terribly guilty (not even knowing why. But stop. Nobody has to bother to be kind and if you are, nobody has to bother with accepting your kindness. You aren’t forcing them. You and they have choices. Good can be overwhelming, if somebody isn’t able to accept it at that moment, back away but  never let it stop your true essence.

It is so easy to internalize a rebuke or a put down. But think about it a little bit more. What does it say about the recipient? It is just as much of a skill to receive a compliment or a gift as it is to give it. Sometimes a negative reaction can be about a different thing entirely. Probably nothing to do with your big, ranbow heart gift wrapped upon your sleeve.

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Leave them well alone and tiptoe away.. until another day/person/scenario has a gap in their sleeve befitting your heart perfectly…

Who wants to live their life fitting in to the mould of how appropriate the amount of kindness you show should be?

Last week, two amazing people spoke to me over the fence and said they loved our garden. They were staying in the  big house round the corner and had loved what we are doing here. ( It is safe to say it is a bit different.) We swapped numbers and details and the lovely lady gave us a bag of organic salad and healthy foods that they couldn’t take home. Today I also got a wonderful letter from the ladies’ friend who himself is an artist, and has had support in mental heath Arts. I was so so chuffed and overwhelmed. Lovely people.. just being kind, tapping into a two-way gift of being nice. Fabulous.

( He did this!!!! How amazing is that !!!)

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Our gifted bag of goodies!

I would rather be understood and accepted by half the people I ever meet by being 100% myself;  than tolerated by everyone, so that we don’t stand out too much. Who wants to be beige.

Niceness, being kind and open is not a disease. You’ll not catch it, unless you want it to rub off on you. But it can be a pretty nice state of being. And you never know where it might lead you or what lovely people will enter your life.

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But who knows what and who you might be missing out on xxx

 

 

The Beach Hut Lady

I have finished the beach hut.

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My friend Margaret came the other day and helped with the high bits. Other friends have also helped me make furniture, paint windows and do the stripey bits. I do sections, stop when my hands hurt too badly, and begin the next day again.

This is the room I always wanted, but I didn’t have the time, the freedom,the confidence or the separation from my small child I needed to create it.

There were no gardens in the place we escaped to!!

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Its lovely. And its mine.  ( ours!!) Now I’m going to make Art in it. The leftover teaching supplies I no longer need are gone, the rest are boxed up in the shed with wonky labels on . The things I want to use in the community art groups get slung in the wheeley bags my lovely group help pull about and there are no to do lists left…I’m on the home front…’

As the final brush strokes were completed there was a call from over the fence.

That lady I told you about in the gala day blog, the one who had spoken to me at her charity lifeboat stall last week.. she was there calling over the sunflowers…..

‘I wondered if you would like my collection of beach hut memorabilia?’ she said.

Ermmm……

‘I  love your house, you were really nice and you said I could take photos of your house. ‘The beach hut girl’ ..I tried to look you up, but I decided to just come by instead. The beach hut I was going to have, never materialised and these things should go somewhere to someone  who will appreciate them…’…

Bunting, tapestry, tins and wooden huts….

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So they did.. they went straight into the newly completed perfectly ready beach hut studio. They fitted perfectly. Like they were made for it.

Cool huh…!!

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It was a lovely and generous surprise. She will of course become a friend. She has to! We Seem to collect cool people around here. Holiday makers and stall holders, artists and neighbours… The melting pot of open, friendly, creative people, willing to share.. in whatever way that will be..As time has gone by, and life has become more distilled.. the people we spend time with, however fleetingly, become more and more important, and valued. I liked her immediately because this lady wore her huge heart on her sleeve and valued friendship over profit. That’s who we want in our corner and in our beach huts.

A few Summer visitors

There is still magic out there . There are still undiscovered treasures. Friendships and connections waiting to grow and flourish if we look under the rocks and between the  lines… and not always who we imagine. It’s fun,  wondering who might pop up and surprise you. Age, country, job, it isn’t important. Leave your armour at the door and your heart open….

And I might never have known so many amazing people.  I might never have got here to our forever home. The studio might never have built.. the friendships never seeded…

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A couple of years ago something happened which could have blown the whole thing out the water.. Nobody knows when these things will strike… mine struck when my cat knocked over all my tablets…

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A combination of stupidity and time short muminess meant not checking what was now in the tub of tablets, I then scooped up in haste…
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I took what I thought was the usual combination and ended up in an ambulance. The mix of meds was not good for me, and I had a really bad reaction .

I was really unwell and it could have been the end of me. I called my best friend. Devastated, I told her the saddest thing I felt was that I had lived for sooooooooo many years already but that I  hadn’t even started to live yet. I had so much more to do. I realised, that if life was snatched now, I wouldn’t be ready. I had things to do and a child to love.

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As I wondered what damage the medication was silently and corrosively doing, I thought of the krypton factor which my life had recently become, the massive mountain we had literally just climbed off, and the dreams I still hadn’t un-boxed.  The reasons I still had to get out of that hospital in one piece.. We had come such a long way and I was not giving up . How anyone could intentionally inhale a box of paracetamol was completely beyond me……..Image result for dont give up

 

It was a close call and a reminder of how fragile life can be. I was dangerously allergic to the combination, and I had half an hour to fix it……

From that moment on.. I knew that if I was ok, I would take the cards dealt with my health and double what was possible to do in my life.

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Not many people knew that story at the time.

I felt a bit stupid….. 

Image result for onwards and upwardsIf it had worked out differently, Nothing that followed would have ever begun. Our friends, our home, and our beautiful, creative journey.

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We are all fallible, and stupid sometimes. We all make mistakes. Some worse than others. Some thankfully, enable the gratitude we feel to be sweeter and more poignant. And the colours we paint to be that little bit brighter..

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Thank you to the beach hut lady, thank you to my daughter who called the ambulance that day, and thank you in advance for the strange and wonderful life we made.

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Much of our dulling down comes from the belief that other people’s perception of us is true. It can be a choice to believe otherwise. Everyone messes up. Humans need to.  Learning from what happens next is to value ourselves a bit more. Give yourself a break. If we can still believe in a sprinkling of magic to chase the past away, who knows who might be leaning over your fence soon, and what they might bring with them.. and what colour you’ll ultimately decide your fence will become.

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Here at Skye Blue House ..We choose rainbow.xx

Image result for heartLove and hugs, Liz xx