Winter months are a good time to reset, remember, revisit and recollect. So often, when we feel it’s an uninspired time, we sweep aside how full the journey has been to get to where we are now. Discover again your forgotten gems, past achievements and unrequited ideas. And wherever you may be right now, keep your creative journey alive. Here are a few things done by yours truly over the years, from craft fairs, community Arts, Artwork and classroom teaching . Determination to keep making and to inspire and be inspired by others continues to be the best medicine I can find for chronic pain ! A snapshot so far
Between rest and rain the words come,
and drawn lines stroke my page.
Though chimneys howl and waves are fierce
your colours block their rage.
I thank you friends for sharing ways
to open up your hearts
your palette of our friendship
your gestures, lines and marks.
Catch your worries, leave them
unwind slowly, shut the door.
throw the clock out, see your hands move
see what’s not been seen before.
No-one’s watching, it is magic,
Doesn’t matter where you start.
Looking, laughing, making memories,
Making joy and Art.
Thankyou so far you fabulous Artists for being my inspiration! xxx
If you rustle up a pan of eggs and one or two go a little wonky, who gets the bad eggs? Who gets the perfect ones?
When you have a choice to give or keep the best of things where does your heart go? Does your head agree? Do you find conflict there?
Don’t all eggs taste the same ?
We recently visited a favourite charity shop .
Ten years ago the man who ran it helped us rebuild our home.
From bin bags of ridiculously bargain priced build- a- bear treasure , for a wide eyed little girl, to cosy patchwork blankets, and spotty teacups , wellies and mittens, story books, props to draw from in art classes ,warm woolly jumpers , and glittery vintage handbags at a fraction of what they should cost.
Steven saw us coming and saved us lovely things. He quartered the till receipt. And smiled his lovely big smile as he loaded our bags into the car . He made us feel like we were special and that money changing hands was less important than us having these new shiny belongings.
And as we absorbed and marvelled at this incredible warmth, we realised that it not only radiated to us, but to every one of the customers and strangers entering the shop. Like an octopus with supersonic peripheral vision, he juggled new and old faces, their questions, needs, and deliveries with the same joy and kindness. Steven was just kind.
When we moved house, most of the belongings we no longer needed were returned as donations to the shop, and it occurred to me that plenty of loyal customers must circulate their things, feeling as we did that it a gave a little of the positivity so freely given by Steven himself.
Then sadly, a couple of years ago, after being out of the area for a few years, I heard that Steven had passed away. This legend I’d always imagined saying hello to another day, popping in next time we visited the town, enjoying another wonderful rummage in his Aladdin’s cave, this lovely person was just gone.
Tragically Steven’s smile and energy masked his underlying health conditions and a weakened heart . Hearing this news felt like there was a gaping gap in the universe where his enormous kindness and thoughtfulness helped so many people .
Why am I telling you this now?
Yesterday we went into the shop for the first time in about five years. It was quiet and neat and tidy. A lovely lady asked if we wanted the light on in the changing room, and was attentive and helpful
At the desk with our purchases , she enthused about how nice they’d look. I took the opportunity to say how sorry I was to hear about Steven, their colleague. The lady nodded and breathed deeply. This smiling welcoming woman was Steven’s mum. We talked and I told her how proud she should be of all the joy he brought, the lives he impacted on and I probably only knew a fraction of his legacy. She gave me a hug, both of us barely holding back the tears. But, rather than sadness, it was joy she felt.
She told me that conversations like this one, (because I was not alone in my impromptu affection) A lot of customers loved her son; and knowing she was still living how he lived was her tribute to him, and how she could get up each day and feel him with her. She was a wonderful lady, of course she was, she had to have been. And we were sad to leave that day.
In life we are thrown the challenge of every possible personality type to try to understand, appease, blend with, help, teach, parent, care for, love, respect or fear. People don’t come with rule books and often wisdom; so innate in the young is lost somewhere in the middle of our complex lives. Within homes, friendships, work situations, we can battle on, trying to impress those who have chosen to look the other way. People who for their own reasons try to dull our light.
Sadly, we can often find pivotal relationships some of the hardest. The big ones are the make or break of our foundations, which we either model our behaviour on, or endeavour not to mimic. These relationships should be the glue in our lives. The mortar to our bricks. There is often a sense of power in the mix somewhere. It is no surprise then, how hard it is to walk away.
Positive energy is infectious.
Unfortunately so is the opposite
Once the floodgate opens to negative flow, you don’t want to stand underneath.
Just as good stuff grows, so does the bad. Affecting us physically and mentally..
My studio ceiling recently spring a huge leak in the storm. KP has spent days scrubbing away at the black ceiling. Horrible stinking mould spread in blossoming storm clouds and it stank. The damp air crept into bags of art materials and fabrics. Without his intervention and no nonsense attitude with bleach and gloves, the mould would have killed everything in there.
Positive and negative energy from human beings is not dissimilar. Would you rather stand down wind to a bucket of mould spores or a packet of wild flower seed?
So let’s reflect upon the often very difficult decision to redirect our good energy. The shedding of harmful characters in our lives, even those we might be related to , who perpetually feel the need to squash, scar , crush, and undermine us, wrapping their beliefs up in love. Those who mask bad behaviour as love.
A healthy respect for another’s existence and ways is a wonderful thing. Providing space to flourish and develop as a human being is how we begin , how we then teach, write, get out and do things and establish another generation of grounded humans. As an adult, we get to re create some well walked paths, especially if they weren’t as solid as they could have been. Now, if a battle ensues when you look nice or have a new idea, or create a piece of work or express an opinion: causing doubt in your own beliefs and identity, are you sure its you that needs tweaking?
Love does not judge. We can spend our lives trying to attract the attention of a ”loved one” or an audience still crammed into plastic school chairs. Waiting for the moment when all our frantic waving and performing, on the literal and virtual stages of our lives , is met with loud clapping sounds and roses. Waiting for the loudest clap of all from the ones whose backs are turning to leave. We can wave until were not waving anymore, we are drowning.
Love isn’t rationed by your worth. Appreciation of you is reflected by the company you keep, not the stick you bet yourself with. You were put here to have choices. And to believe in them.
Imagine not lugging around that feeling of not knowing if you’re good enough. (because somewhere deep down, you really know you are). Of trusting yourself and your choice of company because you realise most people are kind. And some are wonderful.
We often don’t notice the kindest souls, the shining lights, the inspiration right under our noses because our minds are spiralling off on tangents about a tiny fraction of the company we keep ( possibly with the biggest ability to steal our thunder and joy. ) At the root of many of these waspish hurtful relationships is a common thread. We want to please these people the most. We are in that nativity inside a cardboard costume, jelly-like, reciting the line we’ve practiced 100 times to all the neighbours and all our patient pets. And euphorically searching for a pair of eyes in the audience squeezed onto those tiny chairs , when we remember our words and want to validate our moment of glory.
Why don’t we notice the discrepancies? Because important relationships are meant to provide a mirror for all that you are. They might not agree with you, or approve or even like what you do. But they should respect your life and what you add to theirs. If an adult hasn’t been taught these fundamental skills, it can sometimes be like being parented by another child. You may find that a person meant to be in your corner is unfathomably jealous or angry when you get shiny and show your colours. Contrary to how it feels, this isn’t to keep you safe or crush your spirit intentionally. Although this might happen anyway. Fear drives others to halt our flow of joy.
They see you, but they choose not to let you know that. And all a child wants (needs) is to be seen. Recognised as part of something difficult to describe, safe, loved. Without judgement, a parent (or care giver) sees and nurtures that light. The opposite of this is a sort of resentment and pushing away. A jealousy maybe, or inability to connect. A child cannot solve this riddle, and internalises this struggle as a personal failure.
Sadly, without a willingness to understand ourselves or others, the status quo remains, worsens, and becomes toxic. If a solution can be found through mutual effort, it is obviously of benefit to everyone. But, changing a conditioned behaviour, or a belief is sometimes incredibly difficult. Ways of perceiving can go back generations, and if you asked why exactly you aren’t allowed to wear those clothes, be gay, go to church, dance on a table, climb a mountain, start a circus, write a novel; the answer would be vague. Because the belief isn’t theirs. It has just always been there. Like the smell of boiled cabbage.
Fixing anyone causing sadness in your life isn’t your responsibility. If it keeps harming you, and you feel you have ticked all the strategies, choose you. Years can go by trying and failing, waving more frantically . That old adage of there’s no pleasing some people is very true. Sometimes, you’ve done all you can.
Sometimes doing more is perpetuating a vicious cycle . And to do the turning away yourself starts to heal, not only you, but them too. Our own responsibility lies in breaking the negative pattern of pain and not creating more.
The trick to happiness is gratitude. Closing a door is very scary to start with. But on the other side is so much more. Without unhappiness getting in the way, there is space to savour people, taste, light, beauty, ideas, and new shoes. Carry this with you. Be kind first to yourself in a way that you haven’t been given. An exchange can be given to a stranger in a word or a glance or a gesture. Or you may find it in a lifetime of acceptance and listening with one lovely soul. Trust your instincts to know who has your best interests. Surround yourself with good people.
When you know your own kitchen you make the best eggs.
And when life enriches our world with positive people, we too become richer. A way of thinking that builds us, not breaks us. It gives us strength. If we are positive even when we are scared, amazingly it still works, vulnerability creates action and becomes catching, other doors open, your tribe will come along.
Ten minutes in the company of someone like Steven, was a true blessing. His kindness, and selflessness was unique. Making someone’s day with your own particular magic wand is never wasted. There are amazing people out there, who can change your life. I know Leah and I won’t be alone in feeling so glad to have known and been inspired by this lovely man.
Get back on stage, no matter who is watching. Blast your words from the heart, share your ideas, share your creations, share your skills. Trust someone. And see what happens. Look up. It might be your audience have been there all along .
The thing is with eggs, that like life, we all mess up getting the perfect centre. Look a little closer and there’s enough to go round. Mix it up. Add in something extra. Better to scramble with everything you love thrown in. Share and enjoy xx
A blanket covers fields and streams,
Stitched finely with gold thread.
As night descends we sink in dreams,
In patchwork caves of bed.
The winter hills and earth and trees,
though simple dark and bare,
Are sheltering the mystic creatures
Snowy owl and winter hare.
A glimpse is all it takes to know
We aren’t here all alone.
That fur and hoof and feathered beasts,
Are slinking back to home.
A frozen face, weary from storm
Patient winter cannot sleep.
Her eyes are sharp her cloak is warm,
Her shelter hard but deep.
With years of life and etched in time,
Her fields and hedgerows stand.
Embracing tiny babies
With her gnarled and gentle hand.
In beds of straw and hay and scraps,
All stolen from the yard.
The mothers strive to keep at bay
A winter long and hard.
And with a wing and paw and nose
The outside pushed aside,
'Til spring time scent wafts nest and air,
They curl and snooze and hide.
And all we see is cold bleak earth,
No colour life and sound.
Imagine all the hidden hearts,
Still beating underground.
As we look past the storm damage and the winter garden, bereft of it’s colours and usually dug up by four giant paws …
We could be sad and ponder all that was lost, and is gone: lament the landscape of change.
Or we could take a moment to celebrate all that has been and the journey through this last year, the people we met on the way, the new friends, the furry feet, the help we prayed for and received miraculously.
The beach hut is a movable feast. It goes where we go, for as long as it needs to be there. We all have a beach hut spot in our hearts. Who knows where ours will go next.
Skye Blue house was named after our beautiful Skye and the Blue of the sea and my daughter’s eyes, of all things sacred and beautiful in nature and in art.
Latterly life might have thrown a few curve balls, with health and weather, goblins and ghouls; but in our time here; we made fairy gardens, and a pond, had chickens that laid blue eggs, had garden parties, grew lettuces and fruit, painted a lot of furniture and made a lot of art.
Life is a series of moments strung together with spiderwebs of time. Every day adding brushstrokes to the painting of our life. The point isn’t to finish the picture, but to keep painting.
Happy New Year wherever you are, and love and blessings from all of us here ❤
If all we have is here and now, wrapped in the moment's arms
To see the line of sunrise bleeding inky peaceful charm.
To crush the darkest fears at night with fingers laced in mine
And deep in your blue eyes I see your joyful vibrant shine.
To wash away the worry of the meals and plans and musts,
For this is all that matters and you've given me your trust.
By candlelight we laugh and shout and eat toast by the fire
And find the spaces in between the gadgets, noise and wire.
A thousand seconds just like this, made Christmas warm and good
No power, rules and structure
No doing what we should.
In gratitude we say to darkness smothering the scene
with no distractions light Shines brightly, from a new formed teen.
How you are is my best gift, this year: and all to come.
I humbly write my thankyou card, I'm blessed to be your mum .
This is bonnie. When something isn’t right she stands very still and shuts her eyes . When she is scared she freezes.
Until the storm passes.
Often this becomes our default. Things get pushed aside to deal with later, lists are made and lost, promises made and broken. Mañana Mañana..
A happy medium between awareness and being able to just be in the moment. A recipe this lot have nailed.
There are jobs that simply have to be done like tiny claws that need clipping.
And preparations for events which will not be repeated, no matter the weather or budget
Just when, the Christmas food was safely stored in the bulging freezer, the presents wrapped and stored in the vintage caravan, which doubles as a place to stay in Summer. Just when the the Art studio was packed away for winter and paintings stored in Leah’s old Summerhouse. A storm blew in. Storm Arwen
⁹Thinking we were being burgled I headed out at two in the morning to find the contents of St Abbs and our garden flying mid air. Roof tiles, chairs, guttering, bins, pots and trees, whipping the walls and smashing everywhere. I frantically looked for something to wedge the windows shut and stop any more breaking glass. There wasn’t time to be scared though, it all happened too quickly !
We had already had the beginnings of a blackout, the night before so there was no hot water or electricity, and the storm raged on. The next day and the coming days, what happened was a kind of auto pilot for most. You Just got on with the immediacy of rescue, saving what could be saved and surveying the damage. When you have no choice but to boil water for a wash or lukewarm tea in a pot on the coal fire, there is nothing to butt against. Nobody to waste time arguing the pros and cons with in your head. Nothing to bury your head for. Real life decrees action.
The storm blew half of what we had away. It was the same and worse everywhere here, and I know that insurance companies are not picking up their phones still so the task continues . The caravan was hit hard with windows smashed and contents broken, including many Christmas presents which got wet in the rain or sucked out and broken on the ground. My Art studio roof tarp came off and water damaged the mattress, bedding, floor, artwork and sketchbooks, fabrics, and materials. Fences came down, were wrenched up by rope and wishful thinking; and then; went down again, the fridge and freezer contents were lost including seasonal food ; and any garden furniture and contents are now broken.
But thankfully, nobody was hurt. The damage to Skye blue house was minimal. A drastic cull of possessions wasn’t in the plan, but with little to be done, it was a done deal. The blackout lasted last for next 5 days.
Thankfully, we have a coal fire. A very precious commodity that week! So much so that half a pile of our logs were pinched ! And they just had to ask ! We were so grateful for the ability to boil the water, and cook french toast, to take flasks round to our neighbours, and for it to heat us ( at least in one room). We all stayed in there, guinea pigs, cats and all, and by candle light played cards and monopoly. It was a weirdly calm time, wearing all our clothes in bed, the smell of hot water bottle childhoods and the weight of twenty eiderdowns. My daughter was hilariously entertaining with her stand up comedy routine. I had no idea how funny she was, away from her phone! .
When we dared to look again, when the lights came on, it showed how much had to be done and what would have to be thrown away . Shed by shed the realization was clear. The storm was a gift that kept on giving as more soggy or smashed things were found. The full Christmas food stuffed freezer, the fridge just having been filled, Christmas presents soggy from storage in the caravan. Vintage China and bedding smashed, ripped, and mouldy. Pools of water on paintings.
All the artwork had to be rewrapped and dried off, brought inside and re-catalogued, the emergency boxing up of possessions will need to be redone but, as all the fabric casualties have been rescued and washed, paper and card objects fanned on radiators for weeks and bubble wrap is Bear’s new favourite thing; I think we might get through Christmas before tackling anything else. In an emergency you rescue what you can, without thinking. Grabbing the most vital, the irreplaceable, in a supermarket sweep of mad energy . The first morning post storm, the wind was still howling, and there was no choice but to keep going . Some kind of otherness forced me on. Grabbing armfuls, boxfuls, and bag fulls and piling them into the biggest hut, my studio. Two days later the rain went through the roof in there too. So, they got moved again. There was no choice but to make some serious snap decisions about what to keep. I found I didn’t mind. Our perspectives change in stormy weather.
In the worst of times a quiet knowing un-freezes you and gives you fight or flight to cope. The last few years have not been easy, but knowing how futile worry is, gives us power over the immediacy of today. Life can challenge us with hurdles, biblical in their trails. One by one testing areas of faith and resilience, emotionally, financially, with relationships, health conditions and work and lifestyle choices. To tell you not to worry isn’t dismissing your anxieties, but perspective can become clearer when things get shaken up.
Smiling is still thankfully free
A massive amount of support and help has come from outside of the village. We have been so lucky to have friends in our Art group, and a resilience team who have gone above and beyond to help patch us back together. Below are a few of the drawings by my group . Head to seasparkle.org for weekly gallery updates 💙🧚♂️
Knowing that while things may come and go, and others might challenge our perceptions, beliefs, things; we can weather the storm, however, whatever and whoever we chose to live as or with.
As I unearthed the boxes of paintings in the shed, hardly daring to see the storm damage, Artwork hastily packed in during lockdown, I realised how much has been created here. How the insular life through circumstances out of our control, has fuelled a chunk of creativity I had never been able to access before. When neighbours were cruel, I worked on art, and wrote blogs in the bath, when pandemics were rife, we made bags and jewellery and Art every day with other people, and turned it into prints and cards, and did Zooms to keep spirits up and WhatsApp classes to connect with friends. When pain was at its height I drew in bed, or in hospital. My daughter said that the pandemic was one of her happiest times, with a bubble of positivity and making, and everyone else staying home like we often do.
Sometimes in life all that we show to the world is our bottom sticking out of our hutch.
When actually the solitude is the space we’ve needed to heal
And get back out again with a whole new set of super powers we never knew we had.
When the Gods force a storm upon us, we have less time to overthink what is collateral damage and just resign stuff to the box marked ‘chuck’. We can also see clearly who and how to treasure. To appreciate who we have and to stand in the now with them, in an authentic life we choose.
The zoo will get fed
This world is changing and will continue to do so. Changing weather patterns show us just how adaptable we still need to be. Despite technology trying to disconnect us with virtual communication and cyber shopping, we still need to know how to cope using core skills, to be part of a community. Adapting and honouring your personal skillset, and knowing how unique you are, no matter your age and mobility, gives you purpose and belonging.
There is always a friend at the beach hut. You can come out now!