Autumn hides the cobwebs just as spring brushes them clean;
Subscription to the promise of a new you yet unseen.
Starting fresh sounds simple, leave the ghosts behind.
Clear the debts from credit cards, from lovers, heart and mind.
Open up the blinds again, paint the rolling view,
Truly understanding what it feels to know your you.
Hold your nerve a little longer, time is still at play
You got through the hardest part, first few steps, first day.
All the courage you require is curled up in your heart,
Every move in this game now awaits your hand to start.
Who could squeeze their life inside a tiny little room? Make their food with dolls house plates, a bucket and a broom? Trust in friendships lasting from another place inland Feel that even far away, their hands are in your hands?
Looking past the clutter, seeing what’s beyond. Pushing through the brambles to the lilies in the pond. There’s a view beyond the spot we stand on in the rain. There’s another path beside this bumpy, strange terrain.
Keeping safe your mindset when the noise is getting loud, Standing still and centered in the roaring gush of crowd. Slowing down each racing breath, finding space inside, Moving air to crushing lungs where fear is trying to hide.
Starting life in places new, without an anchor firm, Centres you from deep directions, ones you’ve yet to learn.
Sometimes taking one more step beyond our comfort zone Further than we ever dared, far away from home;
Distils every drop of courage, cleaning jewels of fate Suddenly where once were walls, there’s an open gate. Suddenly where once was distant; brush it in your hand. Suddenly no longer dreaming, walk on soft green land.
Take this moment look around, all the steps so far, Nothing vital left behind, perfect as you are. Friendships travelled with you, words and thoughts and line, Breathing slowly when you feel, nowhere close to fine.
Every gloomy hurdle, every battle won, Finds your light the brighter, closer to the sun. For every moment conquered, everything you feel
Shapes the life you’re made for, every dream made real.
Since I can remember I have had a feeling that the universe can contract and expand on the turn of a card, a moment’s fortune, a wind change.
There are times where everything and anything is possible: the whole whole world is at your fingertips. You can do and be anything . Not simply in this life but beyond in all directions . A deep dive into a connection on a cellular level.
Sometimes the journey is so smooth we wonder what the catch is. Sometimes to simply stand still involves an awful lot of running on the spot. It feels never ending. We wear out many pairs of trainers.
It feels like one stupid challenge after another . It feels like there isn’t enough power left to achieve even a bit if it.
We need to be grounded.
And it can feel almost impossible sometimes, to have patience and faith in who we are.
This is no vanilla life. I have performed to thousands, and felt kinship with something bigger than all of us, lugged boxes of paint to tiny halls and felt something just as awe inspiring in teaching art with incredible people; lived in a 13 room house and been deeply lonely yet created a wonderland of fairy lights in an Edinburgh one bed: travelled the world seeing famous sights yet most gripped with wonder at the tiny hand holding mine after ten years of waiting for my angel to appear. I have seen New York at midnight, soaking up the atmosphere of a jazz club, thinking at the time I’ll be back soon. And then life got in the way. And the big things we think we can choose, aren’t so easy to just hand pick.
There is much I could tell you about the tribulations over the last few years. Of those who didn’t appreciate Artists in a traditional place, of those who use control or try to dull your shine. But this is our happy space, yours and mine; and quite frankly it doesn’t belong here. Thankfully, with our zoo family and belongings in one piece, albeit in storage, back of car or in a selection of tiny boxes; we no longer need to close the curtains mid afternoon, because we held our nerve and travelled quietly to a different universe.
You forget.. all the little things you know, when you are used to functioning in your spot on earth. Places you get food, places you put your rubbish, post your letters, buy your guinea pig hay…Tip the floor a little, slide a few hundred miles and see if the same rules apply, the same shops exist, the same customs surprise, delight or horrify you ! We might all drive on the same side, but I am sure the roads change shape. In a new territory with a co-pilot intermittently checking a snap map and her messages, it was easy the first few days to feel like we were on Mars! .
But there was no doubt it was ever so pretty. ! Once we had figured out how the ferry worked and how to feed everybody the rest sort of fell into place….
A different view around every corner kept us driving that little bit further .. from a quick pit stop at Blackpool sands on the road through Torcross.
Followed by a drive through Kingsbridge and onwards, ever tempted to pull over with another beautiful view…The vista is beginning to open up once more..
Picture perfect Salcombe with its crowded slow squeeze of an arterial main town road to drive you and your car bonkers! Next time we’ll take the private jet. 😉 but the riviera yachts : how like the vintage posters we’ve loved for years!!.
Kingsbridge, Torquay, Paignton and back to Dartmouth; every stop a different energy under a blue sky.
And behind the scenes….
What they didn’t tell you about the old woman who lived in a shoe; was that she was only in fact 19. The shoe was a chalet in Dartmouth and there was so much daily messy zoo funk, that she spent most of her time, carting bin bags in a wheelie bag and cleaning in ever decreasing circles She just looked 100. !!
All along, at every stage; underneath piles of boxes, sleeping on an air bed in my living room, both of us having to whittle our existence down to a teeny percentage of our stuff, our selves, not having anyone apart from our closest friends to tell our plans to, we kept the light on in our dream. Belief and trust were fed; and we smelt the coffee every day.
Doors may open, they may close, cards are dealt. When all is bleak you get more thinking done, or more creating done. You use it for planning or stopping. Nature abhors a vacuum. Once you make a big life change, in it comes; whooshing back in, possibilities, smiles from strangers, new things appear to see and explore. Our movements feel freer, like a holiday us. When I was asked why I wanted to move, my answer was, I needed to be more Liz. For all of us, our surroundings, our climate, our needs are our daily fuel.
Only you can know what makes you happy. (or what doesn’t )
Our feelings become painted over, like layers of armour. Daily pain, tolerating bad behaviour, or sadness or fear. Sadly, we get used to a version of ourselves, we think is us. My daughter and I knew changes were coming.
Change can be scary, but it can and does, gain us friendships, experiences, joy, and love. With a little patience to ride the waves of all this, the card games are exciting and different each time . I sit right now in a not quite knowing what will happen next space. In trust for what we’ve done so far, in what is to come. And that’s alright with me. Doing nothing? No thanks..
If you can see it, you’re a step closer. I am coveting this Moggy we saw , a beautiful very old lady! As some of you know my first car was a Morris Minor , a turquoise police car called Marmalade. One day, if I wish reeeeeeaaaaaalllly hard…!!!
In fairness, I am already pretty happy….
So as the journey continues its path , and as loved ones are missed, art supplies are stored, and classes are on hold; know that there is still eating well, exploring to do, and finally a little freedom to enjoy, fun as well as the frustrations; and with all these eggs being cracked, it’s promising to be one hell of an omelette.. xxx
This little house will be loved by someone new soon.
Skye blue House or whatever it becomes will soon belong to a new family who will print their chapters into its story.
This house has served us well, a solid and warm place to be and feel, creative, a home by the sea with lots of potential and bags of charm. In five minutes you can walk to the beach, three minutes you can enjoy St Abbs harbour and a mile and a half walk to Coldingham, where a variety of community groups and activities await.
This little house served us well.
A lot of charm, a lot of memories
Nestled in a village of dramatic and beautiful landscapes
We celebrated five years in Skye Blue house recently. Five years in St Abbs. Five years of watching my daughter turn from a child into a beautiful young woman.
Five years of furry feet, blue paint, furry feet in blue paint, and repainting blue paint before furry feet go back outside and make blue paw prints .
Five years of weathering the storms. All kinds of storms.
Five years of isolation. In the cave on the cliff in the wind, five years of intense Artwork and writing.
Five years of healing. Five years of waiting for the wind to drop. Five years of waiting to hear from rheumatologists what the body knew already; that this climate often makes your condition more painful. But five years of the best tonics, moments lost in singing, laughing, planting and growing and creating with, and for others.
All journeys create possibilities, for friendships, opportunities, detours and adventures. On ours here, many have been shared in stories online, and turned into poems and illustrations. Best of all has been the friendships grown through teaching and sharing in Art, with our choir buddies and drama buddies , friends who will now last a lifetime. Friends who leave precious memories.
Our home has undergone a radical transformation from it’s old self. A Fireplace was put in, thank goodness, as it saved us when storm Arwen hit. Although not much else was saved. A caravan upturned, blew its windows, took its contents and spewed them back out, Christmas gifts, vintage china and sewing supplies landed all over the garden whilst two shed roofs were ripped off and trees disappeared. A home here, was going to be interesting, little did we know it would involve a brand new skillset.
Walls have held murals, garden stones have become colourful pathways, fairies hid in corners, flowers bloomed and Art was made in one of three stripy beach huts. Very few months, even in Summer, stay warm consistently, so when it was good weather- all outside jobs had to get done at once!
It may sound far-fetched, but the climate impacts hugely on joint pain and arthritis. Something happens inside the bones, inflaming the pain, pressurising nerves, slowing blood flow. When temperatures drop even a little, when air pressure changes, when it is both damp and cold there is a shift inside, almost like the body knows it must protect itself from unnecessary movement. Walking, bending and getting out of bed becomes harder, fatigue (annoyingly) wins out just when you’re having fun. After about August, there are less and less usable hours of the day (in the North!), and this means that from late Summer onwards, a more insular lifestyle once again looms because you feel cold. Needing more rest, (no matter how much you do to combat symptoms) , winter becomes a necessary retreat.
Positivity becomes a necessary armour, a way of life to balance the enormity of this struggle. Certainly some days are easier than other days, but the common link for most sufferer’s wellbeing is warmth.
Every year, in this cycle, there is a time portal where new ideas can become new realities. Those – keep – you-awake-at-night- ideas that might, seed and grow into real flourishing, exciting, life enhancing adventures. Activities that if you try really really hard can be organised and achieved whilst the sun is out and the bones are a bit less creaky. This is, on average, for us here, three or four months. ( I know this because it is how long the heating isn’t on full) Perhaps only a few days of that time are really warm.
This time pressure is both exciting and utterly crazy. It makes it impossible to plan things around the year, because there is no pacing. Adrenalin works all the harder for completing projects in warmer times, ( think what you’re doing right now, what your days are like in this sun.) For most its a time to lie on a deckchair with a good book, or avoid the heat altogether. If cold is the enemy, precious hot days can cause an ironic over exertion and subsequent fatigue. (This can also appear that you have no mobility problems, and impact on the support you need) If only that were true, as you crawl into your bed while the day is still light and the birds chirp happily; but at least the chair is painted and the pots are de-weeded.
Nature’s paint box on a sunny Day
Last Summer we considered a move to a warmer climate. Our road trip adventures were planned for months, and we manged two long, long journeys to the South of England and back again with carloads of belongings, and an assortment of animals of all shapes and sizes. In case you missed it, here is a link to come back to.
We needed a lot of belief in what we had planned. The countdown began, the boxes packed, the maps unfolded. Post Covid, we were all stepping gingerly into the unknown.
But, the best laid plans…. Just when you think life is going in one direction…
For reasons best left to history, and after a lot of deep breathing, praying and motivational speaking by a too-wise-for-her-years young companion…….
Our journey then, ended where it began, back home . (which now, thanks universe, we appreciate!)
We squashed back into the car, all seven of us, two car loads in one, all the paws and madness, and drove back to Scotland after arriving the night before. With no school clothes organised, she started back the next day, and we crash landed into life as we knew it . I set about unpacking the house again, repainting the walls, throwing energy into teaching my lovely Art classes and spending time with those we love. We were and are seasoned pros at getting on with life.
In these last couple of years, we have had the fortune to know and care about such lovely people.
So much artwork has been created, shared, and inspired us all to keep going. And we will continue to do this remotely and together online throughout the Summer and beyond.
These memories and connections are a part of something very special, and sharing artwork on our seasparkle site has created an ever expanding exhibition, no matter the experience or theme.
This little village holds its magic if you know where to look.
A bounty of ideas for any creative
During this last year, we have all learnt so much about our own resilience and ability to just cope. In life, it is often very difficult to gain approval from everyone, or move forward without having a consistent network to support you.
But the greatest thief of living life is fear, even if it comes from a place of love. Often we are numbed into a paralysis not only by our caution, but from those around us. And sometimes, we just got to trust those instincts. And the ones who have been there all along.
This time we are feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It has been a long time coming, this journey of ours. Freedom to seek out the sun and find our true colours. Freedom to explore and take what we need to where we choose to go.
And after months of planning, this is Our Big Adventure – part two..
In a few moments time, we are going on another road trip.
For weeks we have been living like students surrounded by bags and boxes, with ever shrinking space inbetween.
The juggling of Life and Art was a bit of a challenge! Making stuff takes… well a lot of stuff….
As well as the concert, there was a fashion show
A Craft Fair
Three Art Workshops,
A Book Illustration
And a holiday to Turkey
All in the middle of the chaos.
For the zoo, as long as there was cuddles and food, life remained the same in the nest. The house might have been a Rubik’s cube of boxes and huge bags, and the space between shrinking, but food and love still got delivered.
The future is an exciting blank canvas, thoroughly primed, brushes at the ready…
The caravan left yesterday to its new home…
We are getting the maps out..
The excitement is mounting…
Books and Art and all that “crap you’ll have trouble ever shifting ” is safely sorted, and in storage thanks to months of hard work, patience and help from one or two angels😇
Six months ago all of the above were just ideas, conversations, which became plans. A lot can happen if you believe it can !
Every scrap of kindness will be with us always.
A few goodbyes with our favourite people before our journey begins.
And now.. before the next chapter starts all that’s left is to sprinkle a little glitter
and thank the universe for all that it has given …
See you on the other side!! All our love, Liz and the zoo xx
Travelling anywhere now feels like such a blessing. Grateful for every new avenue that opened up, we all yearned for so long to be, not only; anywhere-but-the-village; but anywhere-but-the-sofa. The world had closed it’s pathways, as we peered through windows, marooned, masked and frightened, shrouded in uncertainty as to how we might ever explore distant shores again.
Time inevitably stumbled on, pandemic, what pandemic?
Here we are now in Antalya, Turkey . And as far as we can see, there isn’t a mask in sight, There is no social distancing and no body parts have been sanitised.
It is quieter than expected here. The British school holidays haven’t begun yet, impacting on how many older children there are here. A bonus in swimming pools to oneself!
This is an all exclusive offering all the usual facilities, a very smart and organised hotel. It is beautiful, one of the cleanest and friendliest hotels we have been to. And it is is enormous. There are several pools, the hotel has its own beach and jetty, and there are even a selection of hotel cats who are allowed on the furniture.
Nobody has body swerved us in a queue or ducked away from a tickly cough. It almost feels as if, life has pretty much gone back to normal for a traveller. Only of course if you travel with mobility issues: you are often still faced with exactly the same old problems.
This holiday began well. Newcastle Airport was brilliant. The lady at the car drop off offered to take our trolley in for us, the desk wasn’t open but the staff offered alternative seating and the assistance service was as usual kind and efficient. The man pushing the wheelchair even waited for her majesty to choose perfume in Duty Free. (no, not me) Now that’s beyond his usual job remit!) .
Just like Covid19, an illness, pain or a disability can be invisible until it isn’t. People easily make snap judgements on your demeanour and your look and often don’t know you are sore. Yes, that’s a compliment in a way, but it is a constant red herring. The invisible smiling armour you must apply can wear thin very quickly as fatigue and pain begin to creep in. Travelling is way harder with mobility problems.
Maintaining your own style, your personality, your way of keeping organised is essential for anyone’s self respect. Which as we all know is a full time job you have to make look effortless. While most people are contemplating their airport look, the newest novel, the newest sunglasses ear buds and phones, your average immobile person is hoping not to miss their flight as they navigate the airport obstacle course. And still attempt a smidge of dignity after being wheeled about the concourse, riding the conveyor belt of chance and loss of personal control.
However, the important thing to remember is not the cards you got dealt, but how you play your hand. Managing being in permanent pain, being unable to simply do what others around you can, takes all your will power not to be sad about. Feeling powerless can be a choice though. To travel happily, one must accept our changing needs and how to best accommodate them.
Unless people know you, if you look well, you might look like you can manage.
When I first got ill, it was confusing. Even family ignored the level of pain I was in and the various and contradictory diagnosis I was receiving. If you don’t have an obvious fixable thing that can be operated on, many people believe you are simply making up your illness. Auto immunity conditions, rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, lupus these are real and they really do hurt. Operations leave scars, scrape bones horribly, leave us needing more support as joints deteriorate. Unfortunately much of the change is internal and tricky to fully fix. At best we create a damage limitation plan, at worst if we aren’t careful we can easily give in to its decay. For me that was not an option. (Although some days are far far harder)
Somehow, accidents and operations are easy to give empathy for. The stealthy, creeping deterioration of disease is a greyer area. It is hard to describe how I can’t walk more than a few feet sometimes, and with warmer air and another day I might get around the block with my sticks and our dog, Bear. It isn’t very sexy having an arthritic condition. Almost without warning your day’s potential changes; from looking not too bad and covering all with a smile to a sudden crippling fatigue leaving you stranded in pain, and making you want to weep. But it is true to say, the weather helps and a holiday was essential.
So, we arrive here having requested assistance at each side of the journey. The airport assistance had pushed me with one hand whilst pulling another man with his foot at breakneck speed through the airport. Whilst she ran to keep up. He then tipped me out at baggage reclaim. Once we had finally found our cases, sadly trundling about last (as we were first on) , we made our way to the door, having been told a rep would great us there and help get us to the hotel. There was no rep, it was midnight, hips had seized up, and everyone but us was running towards a coach.
The distance was horrendous, far longer than I can ever walk. But to add to the pain, a coach of waiting tourists, an anxious child running back to me every five minutes to check and the knives in my hip bones, found me eventually in my seat in tears. This wasn’t how I intended to start my holiday.
Having to ask for help is the worst thing when you actually need help. At your lowest, the absolute last thing you want to feel is that you have no power left, no dignity, no ability to care for yourself. Unfortunately, some of these things can be true, and what you need more than anything is a mind reader who knows your needs before you do, sees you as a real person still and does not make you feel guilty for asking for help. The trickiest of ages for a carer is a teen . Without going into detail, let’s say their heads are elsewhere and the world only includes their own image. A natural stage indeed but travelling with one relies on a travel structure as well as teenage hormone fluctuations.
On our way to the hotel There was no actual rep, just an envelope thrust at each party. Perhaps this was the new normal? Maybe things would be alright once we could finally unpack.
Once in the hotel, despite having organised a disabled friendly room, one near a lift, in the main block, we were told it was (vague hand gesture outside). We were led through acres of garden, the walking sticks making little difference to our young bellboy, to a very far away building at the edge of the complex. The young lad pulling our cases was nice enough, but it just felt like again, I was apologising for being slow or unable and it was agony. The moment the door closed was the last straw for us both . This room if it was kept would be a prison- too far from anything to enjoy. Cue a meltdown of epic proportions ( both) although mine was rather less blasphemous) and a promise that this would indeed not be our holiday spot.
But it was one o’clock in the morning and, “Yes, I know we can’t fold t shirts into cubby holes, and put our make up on the counter, but that can wait a couple more hours; now stop shouting and go to bed.”
The next day took another six hours to rehouse us. What that meant was not being able to properly access medicine, toiletries and swim stuff, and not relax into the holiday. And that isn’t good enough. Because there are thousands of spaces in this hotel, and (from what I could see) very few people with additional mobility needs. This had been booked due to the proximity to facilities, and I had specifically asked for assistance support. She had to get special permission to be out of school as a young carer too.
The new room was exactly what we needed and finally we could get settled in. Any complaints fizzled out as the staff throughout the week were attentive and polite.
Drawing attention to what can go wrong for a traveller will. I hope, make organisations better listen to us. Luckily, on this occasion it was tiny details in the big scheme of things which could have improved our experience massively. The holiday company booking us were asked all the right questions and knew specifics.
For example, there is a steep set of stairs here to the low pools and beach. Although the hotel has every available amenity; most involve walking. There aren’t very many accessible poolside loos, meaning one must plan for each potential route each day. As a self service all inclusive, it would be helpful to have ways to carry food to tables in the restaurant, or to make accessing the various food and drink spots easier for anyone not able to traverse the resort. To enjoy an evening drink in the room involved a complex system of separate ice, mixer and vodka, and a (not always) compliant assistant. Although a little sugar bribery goes a long way ..
Tracking down our rep by phone eventually, we asked for trips suitable for low mobility guests. Initially before he met us in person, he said there were none. ” Only if you can walk. ”
It is easy at this point to just give up. But lying in heat all day doing nothing is not our thing. So we met the rep in person and he got more of an idea of our situation. We booked an excursion to various stops in one day, including a river cruise. By the end of the day, I truly could barely move, but we saw enough sights to justify the pain, and managed some discount shopping too.
The hotel offered a spa service with several types of massage. When letting them know I needed a gentler type of massage, they insisted it would cost double because it was a special child’s massage because I am disabled. I cancelled that reservation. Paying double for half an experience seems daft. So instead we went to a traditional Hamam and had the full Turkish Bath experience. I declined the hot stone extra that could fix my arthritis for an extra £35 euro.
A few tips on travelling with health or mobility issues
It goes without saying that most people managing an illness or disability have to be fairly organised. Or they have a carer who is. Making sure everything you need for the day is not only packed but accessible. If you were your carer what would you give yourself?
Traveling is a great way to discover different areas, cultures, and cuisines. When it comes to traveling with mobility issues, planning a trip can feel overwhelming; however, it just takes some planning in advance to set your travel concerns at ease.
Plan in Advance
Call your airline, bus, trains, and hotels ahead of time to discuss your special accommodations and figure out what amenities are offered. By calling ahead, you’re able to gain more information and be proactive about preventative issues that could occur.
Factors to consider
Reserve a seat ahead of time
Call and discuss disabled accessibility of platforms/lifts/facilities
Request a seat close to the bathrooms
Ask about storage for any special equipment you may have
Questions to ask when finding a hotel to meet your needs:
How are the rooms set up?
Is the bathroom accommodating to prevent potential falls/slips?
What in-room guest services are offered?
What additional amenities will be provided to ensure your stay is as relaxing as possible?
Additionally, consider what special equipment you’ll need, the stamina and needs of you or your caregiver, and the accessibility of sites; planning these factors prior to your trip will help eliminate hiccups.
Traveling with mobility issues can seem overwhelming when you think about all the factors at once; however, when you take the time to plan in advance, you’re able to accomplish one item of your checklist at a time and successfully plan your trip.
Knowing what help you need to ask for can be hard. Especially if you look relatively OK, sometimes pain and limitations are not so easy to see. But a break away from it all can be possible for you.
Making sure your holiday team are briefed to enjoy all aspects of your trip.
Travelling full stop relies on several things for the monkey and me. Planning, belief, patience, acceptance, and a vision of an an end goal.
To have a mobility problem can affect your sense of self. But letting those fears win is losing your ticket to adventures and possibilities. Yes, you might need help, but you can chose to how and what to accept with gratitude and know it does not lessen you as a human being.
A kernel of power still burns inside on your pain days, frustrations when you can’t access freedoms like you perceive others can, will pass and new avenues will open.
Those initial hours in the resort could have been the undoing of all the hard work of getting abroad for the first time in four years. But so too these things will pass. And each day thereafter staff were aware and helpful. Managing to get around the resort with the help of the photographer, even resulted in some pictures of us, for once not looking cold and windswept!
We all need to remember that we can make things happen if we really want them. Everyone needs help sometimes, and by letting others help you; it becomes so much more possible for them to see what you are giving to and being in the world. Pain might be your constant companion, but it can sit and wait while post Pandemic life gets a chance too.
When we are young we yearn for something dangerous, alone.
Miles from all the sanctions, structures, household rules of home.
Tempting shiny worlds appear, round corners to explore.
Day by day we inch our way, bags packed at waiting door.
Not knowing is intoxicating, Sleeping when you can.
Eating when you're hungry, only, Fleshing out vague plans.
A Catwalk of exotic friends, March in and out of view.
They draw a new exciting line, A portrait sketch of you.
As time speeds up our faces hold, Our joy and pain, our fear;
In ever darkening outlines, New lines drawn year by year.
We seek to see in strangers, the language bodies hold.
The Holy grail of loving; The rainbow pot of gold .
And searching for our tribe, We gravitate and hone-
The pack of cubs we recreate, In our revolving home .
In times on earth, we're lucky, To experience the deep,
The treacle pool of liquid love, As through our blood it seeps.
Yet I have heard from wise ones, who live a thousand lives;
That seeking self in others, is both tragic and unwise.
Inside the mirror always, From that adolescent child,
Was everything to blossom, From scattered seed so wild.
For love is pure and boundless, When given free and kind.
And holding your own value, makes love more rich, less blind.
Be loved and let the light in, Be all you want to be;
For love and life is truly lived, When your own heart is free.
It was wonderful to have a spot in a Spring craft Fair last month, dusting off the labels and the boxes and showing a range of Art prints, cards, cushions, mugs and brooches.
Storm Arwen took it’s toll on the caravan which now needs a replacement for it’s steampunk metal windows. (which I quite like!) The caravan is too heavy for me . So it has been cleaned up and is now for Sale. Do let me know if you are in the area and fancy a Summer project!
I am delighted to be able to tell you about my upcoming exhibition at Coldingham Village Hall over the next couple of months. The work will be hung over several weeks as events are on in the hall, and will culminate in a private view at the end, where sales can be taken home straight from the wall!
The Art club were asked to make a piece for the Jubilee. I gave each member a different letter to create their own style of Artwork. These were then put together as a collage on board and will be displayed in Coldingham Priory.
It’s been nice to see faces again.
Nobody is an island. Our place remains full.
Artwork was made all winter, along with many poems written. New pieces have come back from the printer to become prints, cards as well as originals.
There was even a little drama. …..
After three years, The people of the Sea Eyemouth project, finally came to fruition and we performed our show, including the film created in lockdown and Artwork made by yours truly.
And here is our art group’s display in a shop window in Coldingham.
We have new plans coming soon, but until then sending you all a big Spring hug x
Many readers will identify with the painful to watch Versus Arthritis adverts on television . Asking viewers to pledge support for those in severe chronic pain. For those suffering a myriad of fatigue inducing symptoms. I imagine these adverts are met with a variety of responses. Each according to life experience. If illness for you has come to mean an easy, specific and named condition, with a sociably acceptable set of treatments, this no-mans land of auto-immune symptoms will make no sense. Those of you with friends or relatives who have arthritis , may become interested, hoping to gain insight and understanding.
Perhaps you are untouched as yet, and believe the afflicted to be exaggerating. Perhaps you feel a few twinges and you have already begun to feel less mobile, a little weaker, and not so certain your g.p. understands your needs. How much worse does it get? What happens then?
And for those affected personally with a degenerative condition, a body that is consistently affected by weather, a slave to daily fatigue and is aging years too early; maybe your heart breaks just a little bit to see that pain, because you know it yourself and live through it every day.
Living with disease and pain is exhausting. And debilitating in more ways than just your illness.
Bad enough are the daily rituals of pain-easing strategies and positive, life affirming reminders on the fridge, when you can’t now reach the bottom shelf, but sometimes more crippling is the lack of understanding by many employers, friends, colleagues and even family of how to live with and even love with the cards you’ve been dealt .
Unfortunately, it is often those closest to you who can lack belief in the validity of your pain, or why you can’t join in family activities. Employers might lack the understanding of how to incorporate chronic pain into a hard working professional’s life, and therefore write them off as lazy or ‘milking the system’.
A lack of effective financial support, twinned with a lack of information to guide the affected in the workplace, can create a lack of respect for our still beautiful and resourceful bodies and imaginative minds that still desperately want and can give something valuable to the world.
Do you tell ?
Ironically I often see people desperately trying to prove themselves still able, by achieving double the output of creativity, in half the useable time of an average person; before weariness once again steals their daylight hours.
And although we educate our children in schools, in a plethora of differentiated ways, owning our healthcare needs as valued adults seems to be a different matter. In my classroom for example, a movable trolley with wheels, spaces between desks to navigate my sticks, an ergonomic chair and access to the lift would have saved my early retirement .
Without support to maintain a normal work/life balance and earn a competitive salary, those with a chronic condition are often forced to rely on disability payments or p.i.p.
This does two things. It labels people as permanently unwell, and keeps them in a state of limbo. As an ‘ill’ person , they might feel highlighted under their disability or condition before they are themselves, their old, ‘professional’ self . It can be incredibly difficult to convince the world out there ( and ourselves) that you can be both a, suffering from a degenerative condition and b, you still want to be, or are able to be the same or even better version of YOU.
The second thing that disability payments (or the equivalent) can do, is to minimise the quality of creative life you might get to live after your illness. An artist wanting to make money after being struck with a chronic and degenerative condition had better make A LOT of money at once or not at all. Because sometimes, making small amounts can cause more hassle than it is worth. This is of course, ludicrous. As a consequence thousands and thousands of amazing people who still have incredible creativity to offer the world, are stuck. Stuck earning too little to live on with the usable hours of their day or week. Having to declare any profit on a piece which might have taken months at an hour a day and then potentially losing financial support because they might be deemed able to work.
Sadly, sometimes, others are stuck being dependent on caregivers at home who might not be treating them properly, either emotionally or physically because their illness is not taken seriously, or they become stuck in a cycle of believing that because of their illness, their life force has also diminished. As parents our needs often come last on the list. But truly, unless you take decisive action to get as well as you can, your dependents won’t have the best of you, the rest of the time. Your life force is still there . It just needs a nap.
When you feel in pain, are tired and your va va voom has disappeared, it is almost impossible to tell yourself it will be OK. Prepare a box of nice things, a book, whatever food you love, new pj’s etc. Wrap a couple of presents for yourself. When the day gets really rubbish it’s there as a gift. The white knight might come charging, but in the meantime be your own.
When you live with chronic illness, you are often looked over as unsociable or underachieving because you can look well. That is until you move, or bend or try to walk.
For many people it can put an end to their chosen careers or dream path. Not only because their energy has diminished but because others see their failure and think it is best for them that they give up their crazy ideas. At best this might be justified as being for their ‘own good’. If we see pain, we often feel the need to just stop, not continue and give up for an easier life. But sometimes, your continued belief in your dream scares and intimidates people. How can you still have the audacity to do a brave thing in your condition when they haven’t? We know people react out of love or fear. That’s their fear talking. There is no room for a different, braver version of you. And the longer you’ve been ill, the wearier you will be. It wears you down. It takes an enormous amount of resilience to look past your pain, or your illness, the negativity of others and see yourself still sitting there.
Of course, there are other reasons that domestic situations might be difficult. If you need help with more specific issues click on my blog here :
Imagine a kindly hand in yours, telling you please be brave. On the journey through pain management and recreating a new life there are so many blind alleys to go up , promises and pastures new, magic fixes, gurus, and snake oil. Or you could drown in daytime tv and wine, buy new outfits you might wear if you could only bend your arms a bit more. Or like most of us, swing from one extreme to the other, like a giant pendulum until you rest on where you’re meant to be.
In the heart of it all is your key. The only key you need to navigate and know what you need. How to eat, what to wear to be comfortable, what makes you happy, what you have to offer and who you are, You.
On my journey to this page, I have battled heads of teaching departments, g.p’s, psychotic ex husbands, surgeons, solicitors, the weather and less than sympathetic relatives. But the biggest battles have been with the deterioration of a pandoras box of connected diseases- glandular fever, meningitis, arthritis, endometriosis and lupus. All of which have ebbed away at my energy, my career and my ability to live a pain free and operation free life
But. Those battles, the lack, became my drive. For my sense of self as an Artist, a single mother and a human being; I kept putting one foot in front of the other and vowed to create something every day. To that end for ten years since Escaping, I have written 100 blogs posts, ( today is my 7 year Blog Anniversary)❤ written 40 poems, drawn 200 illustrations , taught hundreds of community art groups, supported individuals and groups in the pandemic, completed hundreds of drawings, paintings, prints, cards and products. And I don’t think I’ve even started.
And I have learnt
Our bodies are telling us loudly what we need. Keep moving towards those things. Keep communicate those things to your doctor.
Know your rhythm. Completely be ok with it, even if the rest of your tribe think you are bonkers. Today is Happy day. Happy day is the first day of the year when there is enough sun to be outside for more than five minutes. I’ve waited six months. The cold is my kryptonite and grips my veins until I cry. So I did too much today. And it was worth needing to rest all afternoon. (which is often my rhythm anyway) At least there was Achievement too!
Accept your uniqueness. Having a chronic illness of any kind can feel like a ticket to a club you don’t want to be in. Let those that love you know what it means and concentrate on what you can do.
Accept help without feeling like you are helpless. There are plenty of positive ways to share skills.
Let go of activities taunting you because you can’t do them anymore. Who needs to paint on rice anyway?
Eat your greens, take a shed load of vitamin c and keep warm. Wear lots of thin layers and use heat patches.
Don’t be alone in a world that has become so isolated, but has so much potential. If you are housebound, volunteer as phone befriender for the elderly, find a local group or if you need support in your pain, locate a pain clinic. (These are groups set up to help find ways to manage and understand pain, and meet other people)
Rest. When you need to. My dog and cat now get grumpy if I don’t, as we all pile in a heap together.
Talk to someone if it hurts, if you’re sad, if it’s a bit rubbish. We all need that. And they might need it too.
And obviously, the most important thing is to make some art. Or create, or sew, or cook, or felt, or knit, or grow tomatoes or ANYTHING you can see taking shape outside yourself that expresses joy. Re-wire your brain in this meditative way as often as possible, listen to story tapes, not news, music not noise.
This drive to let the work blossom gives a perspective to my physical pain, and allows me to empathise with others in the same situation. Working together has been my joy. Without the groups and individuals there would be no Liz at the Beach Hut. We inspire each other. Being alone in pain is no use to anyone, but being silent amongst friends is a blessing. Press the link to the next page to see a selection of some of my own work, some of which was achieved on crutches (five years) , with a face full of skin cancer stitches and with a combination of early onset arthritis and lupus.
It took my health providers years to finally unpick my particular selection box of goodies, and along the way, I missed school exams, college terms, weeks of work, almost a lifetime of fatigue, joint problems and pain and digestive problems. I have had 18 operations and endured a ten year fertility battle with multiple losses. It took the longest time, but I refused to give up. It was simply because I wasn’t the norm, an easy fix, and I didn’t always look ill. When it was suggested I take early retirement because I was on crutches, when I wondered if this body would stop me moving forward, I let momentum and trust take me to the next destination. It has taken me far longer than I imagined it would, as a healthy twenty something leaving Edinburgh Art College. But I now know, that my journey to get here has been rich and rewarding, a parent, a teacher, artist, writer, and a person who exists.