Battle

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.  

Then you’re still at the fence

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.

Every obstacle an opportunity.

And always with my trusted companion !

You can do anything.

Just do it your way

xxxxx

All our love, Liz at the beach Hut x

Art folio

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

P.G.C.E Moray House Artwork with Primary and Secondary Schools
Henry Moore Secondary Art Class
My ‘Superhero’ group by one of my Art Class
Art with Dementia
Felt Wallhanging. Old School House Exhibition
Detail of Felt
Canvas Wall Art
Detail
Dalkeith Arts press release
Giant paper mache shoe for theatre production
Alien carnival float designs
Kids ‘Create’ Art classes Lasswade Leisure Centre
Primary school Nativity Backdrop
My classroom Ross HIgh School. Recognise my tiny assistant !
Dalkeith Arts Co-ordinator
Degree Show Edinburgh Art College
Handmade felt wall-hangings, ‘Creatures’ and drawings.
Felt commission
Small felted pieces
Felt commission
Making Felt. Always with an animal about!
West End Craft Fair Stall in the 90’s and Artwork Maison Hector Stockbridge
Kids Summer School East Lothian
Felt purchased by private Leith Home
Summer School
N.E.C Birmingham
Handmade cards
Felt cushions
Personalised Blankets
St Johns hospital Livingston
Detail
Pencil pots
An artist never travels light
Art Bags for individuals in the pandemic
Collating Our Artgroup’s Artwork for display
Classroom
Many many folders!
Much work done
And many labels!
A life in colour

Art class

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

Liz at the Beach Hut

Limbo

There’s a place called land of Limbo
On the outskirts of the town,
A place where friends are seldom made,
In case you let them down.

In case the big black dog returns
Claws sharpened on your door.
And all the bags stored under beds
Are hurled in cars once more.

In case the roots you want to grow
Entangle up your heart;
And all the dreams they cut from you,
Will never get to start.

In Limbo, safely nurturing,
Your life behind the hedge
A world away from breathing deep,
And stepping from the edge.

A world away from what you were,
The girl whose almost gone.
Before the tiniest of smiles,
Was painted daily on.

Cross the tracks to Limbo land
The hardest place to find
Routes are snared and treacherous,
Especially in the mind.

Limbo isn’t on the map,
Or on the subway line
Destination, final stop; keeps
Changing all the time.

In real world , time is still sometimes;
A breath deep, drawing, peace.
Surrounded by the simple pleasures,
Books and flower and leaf.

.

Feet are anchored, roots are long;
Earth’s rich, musty loam,
Precious heady, springtime mornings
Finding our way home.

There comes a moment when we turn

to see our shadow roam,

when all the holding fast is done,

and we can feel we’re home.

One day the door of limbo land
Is left wedged open wide,
And finally the everywhere
Comes tumbling in outside.

In Seeking , travel is a choice;
To step along each track.
And find exciting different routes,
When its time to go back.

No need to drag out dusty cases
Hidden under beds.
You’re here already,  listen , hear
What all your friends have said.

A spell in Limbo is essential
Patch up broken wings,
But wings and meant for flying
And your soul now needs to sing.

And if we see as wise ones do,
Life not in black and white.
The jewel colours swirl freely,

On the silky tails of kites

For all the beasts who gave you strength

showed what was never you,

And made a life outside of Limbo

feel so fresh and new.

Take respite under limbo ‘s spell
A warm , soft, heavy blanket
Then, Hear your instincts loud and clear
Trust what you love and thank it.

And where you land, the route you take,

hold onto all you’ve learned.

Your self respect and courage now,

is well and truly earned.

LW

Thankyou

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.

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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.

Take a moment to guinea Hygge from time to time
Notice wonderful things
Celebrate and dance whenever possible
And keep a chair ready and the kettle on for your next best friend to appear.

Happy New Year wherever you are, and love and blessings from all of us here ❤

Love, liz at the beach hut 🧚‍♂️🎄xx

Her

There was a girl who looked like me She followed me close by.

If someone hurt or saddened us She hid away to cry

She weighed as heavy as a rock But couldn’t quite be seen

She sometimes almost went away But reappeared in dreams

She often spoke in voices Quite like those I knew so well

The tag team of complicit pain Who cast their icy spell

We look inside the mirror Thinking we know who we see

But now I know that who I was Was not always just me

We see the version of ourselves That we accept as truth

Honed out of mixed perspectives Thrust upon on since our youth

The saddest waste of life is what We all can sometimes do

To trust the doppelganger who is walking next to you

Go back and hold your own hand In the places, times and hours

When your wondrous thoughts and feelings were swamped by other powers

Refocus where you stand today Right now and ever more

The person who can walk alone A giant through the door

Without the weight of what was then And who you never were

But all that is ahead for you For you, but most of all for her.

LW

Paw me

It was all a bit of a mad dash, with not much time to panic as it was a cancellation. But the surgery was very much needed as the drawing hand was really struggling with bad arthritis and pain. A massive thankyou to my friends and even to people I know only a little, for being so so kind, positive on facebook, offering lifts, chocolates, flowers, getting easy to cook groceries, gifts and the all important loo rolls! We have the loveliest people in our lives.

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Anything is possible with a little patience, trust and chocolate !!

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Back soon with words, all our love, Liz and the zoo xxx 🙂

Drawing on


Hello yellow light and hopeful thoughts wherever you are.

The first ray of morning light through my window… – earlymorningchic

In these ambiguous months of daring to hope, but not wanting to feel any more disappointment, we stand on the edge of a life we might step into.

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For some of you, your path might have turned a new direction entirely, leaving you a bit floaty. Reality hovers in a hazy cloud of internet balanced with the real life intense everyday dramas played out in our homes, and nobody knows what the next move will be.

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Thinking about most things only gets us so far.

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Trying to make sense of the changes and losses, and staying positive has been tough. Our sparks of hope might have been dashed too often to stay upbeat . The mundane has taken centre stage over bigger rewards and adventures, pools of simple pleasures between the TV shows and endless meals.

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We have found new ways to make the usual , unusual. Our minds have been busy balancing coping strategies, in essence, the left brain trying to make sense of what is a global unfathomable phenomenon with analysis and logic, whilst the right communicating it’s emotional response through creativity and self expression.

This tender balance of logic and free creative will, is an essential survival recipe , and a basis to nurture your creative process.

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The vastness of our choices, our decision making skills (or not) and freedom of expression shrank in almost every area in the last two years, going out, meeting people, communicating normally, feeding our souls with new wonders and different visual excitements , our vistas shrank. Our pools of reference and the connectivity which established where we were at that given moment was suddenly much smaller.
And what can happen if we are not careful, is we start to forget the things that mattered to us in the time before. Think about when lockdown first happened and you looked trough old photos, reminding yourself of old clothes and cars you loved, people you cared about and lost touch with. It is the same process with the things that you love to do, that enable your voice to sing.

Whole chunks of important fuel for the spirit which we aren’t able to taste for months and months. We forget what beauty and drama is out there as our lives begin to curtail us layer by layer.

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We forget how to express joy at this wonder, because the powerful surge of happiness that comes with that freedom feels like it has gone, or is not as urgent.
But this is when we need it most.

All your thoughts are magical possibilities. Catch them quickly…


Your mind is amazingly curious. Casting out a net of constant questions, and catching all kinds of fishy thoughts, from tiny quick darting silver ones you hardly have a chance to grasp, to thundering great chunky ones that sit in the net taking up space and not letting new ones in. When I was little I asked a lot of the usual questions children do, but was often told to top being silly. So I found listening ears in older relatives who loved to talk, in looking after other people’s children as I grew up, small curious beings who saw the magic in life still, I read and read and found myself down rabbit holes and in faraway trees and
I drew .

And a dialogue of sorts grew in the observing of everyday things around me, seen in a different light. People were fascinating to me. And when I realised that some of them not only talked back but had questions of their own, thanks Gilda. For my introduction into kitchen philosophy at a tender age over a cup of tea.

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Our thoughts like our ideas, our appetites, come in waves of intensity. I can often pack away a problem into a small case in my brain somewhere for days, only to give it a whole unadulterated day to itself later. Have a sketchbook or notebook handy Always!
Art is truly made in the cracks of the day. Padded out from a scribble on a paper napkin or a voice memo in the bath. Catch your inner ideas, they have to battle with a lot of boring rational thoughts. There will never be a perfect time to create.

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But putting together twenty scraps you’ve made over a month in ten minute bursts after the house is quiet in the morning, becomes something real and alive.

What I have come to appreciate is the value of intense creativity. In the central vortex of the act of completing a piece of work, I am lost and meditative. Words are gone and instinct takes over. I knew it was something I couldn’t do when I had a very young child, but you might be more disciplined than me!

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To get to this sweet spot, is a luxury I have learned to value drawing again throughout the pandemic. The child and Bear seem to have developed an understanding of my mental disappearance whilst still being in the room. After 12 and a half years of my ‘mum brain’ being on high alert, and 12 years of being a Stepmother to two small boys before that, it is a lovely escape. Even better because it is shared with others . And all of our life experiences so far feed into those simple drawings.


Sometimes you must put in every tiny scrap of detail in a piece of work

Sometimes the detail speaks for itself and is of itself without words

I know I need to be both of these Artists

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That without one type of creating, the other makes no sense either.
That all these years having to decide which artist I was: was a waste of good thinking time, or maybe it was the path to truly knowing my path.

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Going to an academy or school which pigeon holes you into a type of artist can be a wonderful thing. But it can also deter you from ever trying anything new
My favourite accomplishment of the few years since retiring from teaching art has been to actually finish a painting. As a teacher, every day I would begin a demonstration for each class, sometimes eight groups and new projects in a day. And I would promise myself that some day there would be actual paintings from all these starts. Sketchbooks held a vast ocean of possibilities that I would create someday in the cracks of my life somewhere. These cracks were stuffed with ideas and promises, and inspirations which kept me moving forward.

From stairs in my home

I painted walls for my children, my own daughter and my stepsons. I painted on flower pots and murals and birthday cards and designed things for people. I didn’t understand the frustrating pendulum which kept lurching me from intense drawing to free abstract work.

Murals and classroom walls (below)
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How could you be someone who thinks so much, has so many ideas and also this flowing mass of colour reacting to life through instinct.?
I was, I am still years later. Back in the teaching years it was squished into the clothes and resources and pupil work and in the details, but it was still there. Our true essence is always there.

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We are all many characters depending on which chapter we are in.

There is a wonderful freedom in not abiding by one set of rules for your work. A freedom to experiment with different media and applications.

All the work you do has your stamp on it, and the more you do, the more you you’ll see patterns and rhythms even if every piece if different.

Enjoy your seasons!


Never apologise for the many ways your mind needs to express itself. Or the contradictory ways that joy comes out. My big friend Jim makes fairy gardens. And knits hats. He looks like a biker. His artwork is unapologetic and fun, colourful and so clever. Although he has given me permission to use his pictures, he doesn’t really show his work. The joy that one or two people get from seeing it or getting a gift from Jim is enough for him.

Yvonne teaches English after a career in teaching history, knits, sews, bakes, plants and writes a blog all with the same humble but consistent enthusiasm. Until recently I had no idea she could do half this stuff. The hidden craft skills and beautiful objects she has created is inspiring. Again, mostly for family and only on here because of arm pulling.

Both of these friends are inspiring to anyone who thinks you have to have training, or only do one thing and excel at that and then it only matters if the world sees it on Instagram. Each object they have made is pure and of itself. I think the troubIe many people have is muddying one area of skill with another and trying to cram too much into one idea.

It took me a while to realise with my art that wasn’t working; was the paintings I was trying to put both sides of myself in at once . There was the patient ordered one, who interpreted an object , albeit in a Liz way, and there was the wild one, who was quick to mark make and needed less permission. Once the pressure to perform goes, the freedom to immerse fully in the artwork is wonderful.

It was like trying to please both children with one present, but what was needed was to give each of my creative sides time to explore their path and let go as individuals. The critical voice I heard telling me to choose, from my training at Art College, my familial conditioning, those that sought to understand the work; (and in doing so, silently slightly pigeon hole it) , had to have the volume muted.

And I can tell you, the freedom to do that, although it has taken nearly fifty years is wonderful. I always loved to draw, details, to absorb what I saw and explore the essence of an object in itself. But I also could create artwork which was in itself the rhythms and textures and colours of the thing too.

garden theatre - Click to view full size photo


We don’t need permission to express multi dimensional joy . Sometimes having a shake up in life is an opportunity to question how and why we go through the day in the way we do.
I’m not going to lie, this last stretch of lockdown, in less than sunny Scotland has been by far the hardest for me. In previous months, the enormity of what stretched ahead was made easier almost by the challenge of it, and what and who needed looking after. Ever the land girls. We just buckled up our cords and braces and got on with it. Not really giving too much thought to the fuzzy future, until the daily chores were done and everyone was schooled, fed, cleaned. Medicated or entertained!
We’ve all been doing that in our funny little bubbles..

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It has been like sleepwalking, living through these months with a fraction of the ingredients we had, and only a few of the loved ones we care about.
But because we have stoicism, hope, resilience, imagination, strength we know we can get to the other side. I have just watched the film birdbox. Sandra Bullock out on violent open river with two four year olds, escaping the end of the world, rowing for their lives, all three blindfolded . Trusting only instinct to get to the place of sanctuary where they will be free.

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Those of us still waiting for injections, still waiting for permissions, for medical procedures to start, for the goal posts to remain still, rather than keep moving, are on a treadmill. The ground feels unreliable. Dare we trust it?

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We just want to get off the roundabout and for the world to stop spinning random poker questions about our healthcare.
I had a bad day. I don’t often get a bad day truth be told. So it was allowed. It was all Facebook’s fault. They chucked up a video post of my Stepfather who died last year. Of a happy pre-Covid Easter where we all fed lambs and chick’s and sat in the sun in their garden. I felt a surge of loss but in a strange way, a renewed gratitude too.

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Very soon, life will resume something different but new. We aren’t the same people we were going in. Some of the ones we had in our world are sadly no longer here. Some people might be less able. Some are suddenly much older, some have left our lives for other reasons, some of us might want to stay where we are, or enjoy it in a way we hadn’t realised. We might not want to do things the same way. Or at least we might want to be more mindful, more selective.

What is clear is that there is no excuse not to be happy in our pursuits.

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I knew I couldn’t do things the same after that day.
Or if I did, I had to know why
Sometimes we have to question who has made the rules we live by, why we do things. Where they come from.
I felt I’d entered the upside down.

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So I decide to give myself

Permission to STOP

NAP

THINK

PERUSE THE AREA
Permission to bathe ridiculously

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Permission to say to oneself …. Really? Do I really want to eat, read, wear, go to that?

To check my thoughts as I did things, and ask if I really wanted to for me?.
To make art at the living room table for 6 hours and watch films at the same time
To reverse all the meals in the day

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To do things in a different order
To stop thinking about everyone else just for five minutes.
What happened? Nothing.
Apart from a feeling like I had the best pair of comfortable big earth shoes on.

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People that know you best might ask if you are ok, but probably nobody will notice.

Most to do lists are only in our heads.

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Moving through the days with an awareness of why made me realise
that I actually do prefer most of the things the way I was already doing them, but now I feel much less like life is on autopilot.

We made it that way because we like it and it works.


In order to get out of your own head for a bit and see if you still fit your seat. Imagine you are in a car, instead of being in the drivers seat, you are now a passenger.

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You are free to watch the road, look ahead, see what’s coming, read the road signs and enjoy the view. You don’t need to be behind the wheel to be on a journey.
Whatever you believe in, and it’s a personal box of magical ingredients for every soul on earth, you’re not alone. There are people on the road with you. Give them a wave as you amble along.

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Being upside down is often the first step to being firmly rooted. Rip up the rules

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Make art that makes your soul sing, making nobody but you happy. And get back in the driving seat of your creativity.

This blog post has taken a while to write as my hand is now cripplingly painful. The bones are fusing and I have to stop regularly. However, finally the fairies have woven their magic and surgery is extremely imminent. I am getting bones removed next week from the drawing and writing hand to make it , hopefully, less painful. So. All this, means I not only have faith in all of you, but in the universe too and in me, getting back to some new creating in a little while, in whatever way we all can!!

Wish me luck my lovely friends!

All our love, Liz and the zoo xxx

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January Blues… and pinks and purples


I have just wrestled a feather bower out of my puppy’s jaw.

🎨🎨 | Vintage dog, Dog photos, Animal photo

This sums up life at the moment. Anything might happen. And usually does. As the days open and close in perpetual motion and seem to be on an endless loop, what we can choose to see as groundhog day, still contains the unexpected, bizarre, sharp and shocking moments as flashes of life affirming mini dramas unravel one by one. The mundane doesn’t stand a chance when our days are spent in a daily land-girl battle, not just against keeping the indoor life flowing, but keeping well, keeping everyone alive and keeping us all from going ever so slightly insane…

100+ THE LAND GIRLS ideas | land girls, women's land army, wwii women

In my life as a singe parent, a Teacher, an Artist and especially in current circumstances. I have an understanding, as I’m certain you do, of the value of routine in our home, week, and in each day. It’s what we all need to feel safe and sustained. Without an internal clock, a pencilled in timetable, no matter how flexible, we lose track a bit, lose purpose and even stop eating or sleeping properly. Nurturing everyone, even your pets, needs a tiny bit of stage direction. And a lot of appreciation for the unexpected quiet bits twixt the chaos.

This routine will be hugely different for you, your neighbour, your partner, your friends. Its personal. But stick to the bits that are working at the moment. Instead of letting frustration creep in, keep forcing the legs out of the duvet at the same (ish) time, go with the flow of however this is for you. It won’t be for ever. But the skills you find to cope, they will last you a life time

23 Inspirational Self Care Bullet Journal Page Ideas | Masha Plans
There is a lot of information to support healthy choices. Rake through what resonates, decide what you love , without any guilt, move on at your own speed.

A day in the life here can be turned on its head very quickly. One or more of this lot can sustain an injury, have a tantrum, break something, cover the floor in mud, escape or need sustenance
So my daily life is an extremely loose plan. My favourite and quietest time in the morning, is early. Everybody is either asleep or sleepy, including most of the world. Working on Painting or writing then, my head feels calm without the family zoo soundtrack in the background. The flipside to this at the moment with chronic fatigue is really early nights . But again, for now, this is ok. And gets the job done.

How to Fall Asleep Fast in 10, 60, or 120 Seconds

The morning begins with the all important cup of tea and half hr of TV. I like to draw or yank pictures from magazines, or write notes for an idea. This time is so precious, it gets super-multitasked! I usually end up with a dog on my sketchbook. Currently, there is a cat in my armpit. This lovely morsel of daytime quickly starts to need fuel so I graduate to very strong black coffee, without which, no limb would unfurl at all, and I would still be on the sofa at teatime.

One big mistake you're likely making when you brew coffee — and the easy  $15 solution - MarketWatch


There is then a lot of chopping vegetables for Guinea pigs, plus more for our dinner, whilst simultaneously refereeing excitable in-house paw to paw combat.. collecting up random strewn objects, changing everyone’s bedding, tidying up, and organising the creature from the black lagoon…I may have a bath which doubles as my ten page a day of reading time- any subject I am currently looking at. If it isn’t a high pain day, I will accompany the morning walk or try to stretch within pain limits.

Danielle Morgan (Flax Fox Designs) - 'Gentle Stretch' Yoga Gicleé Print

Finding ways of coping, with day to day health symptoms has become tough for everyone, with most routine care being cancelled or postponed. For those suffering with auto immune conditions, many are simply fending for themselves as not all are categorized as worthy of priority. But ask anyone with arthritis, m.e, fybromyalgia, endometriosis.. what having flu would do, on top of their already fatigue blasted system and they will agree it would make sense to include them, especially if they are also a parent.

The general attitude of many gp’s and consultants over the last five years has been to override what I knew and trusted about my body’s decline and symptoms, and to assume it must be in part negligence, an attitude of negativity and focusing on the pain itself or having nothing better to think about. This is quite hilarious, but also quite frightening. Frustratingly, it was looking like I had finally got somewhere, pre lockdown, after years of separate operations and worsening joints and mobility, it now appears that it should have been diagnosed as Lupus. Much like the p.d.a. diagnosis for children, the years of discomfort and fallout could and should have been seen. Standing in the way is the trust by our healthcare system that many of us DO connect the dots ourselves and know that we are not all suffering from a collective mania.

I know many people now struggling to get treatment. So it is imperative to be doing as much as you can for your own self care, investigate your condition and live well between appointments. If I have learnt anything is to be clear with your concerns, ask for what you need and keep on top of your pain with medication. Stay warm, wear pain patches, stretch, take vitamins and trust your own pace. Help is still there if you ask,

6 Self-Care Habits Of Happy Women | Glitter Guide


Next is emails, sorting the latest pictures to upload onto various pages or writing blog posts. Drawing to share with groups or for a new project, such as a commission. I listening to audio c.d.s from the library van usually, with one finger hovering on the pause button anticipating a disruption to the story every 29 seconds !! If this sounds idyllic, believe me, a run of peace to finish anything is rare . Once the Bear starts to wake up, I Manoeuvre a pre teen out of a pile of bed covered in old crisp packets, squidgy toys, and the folded washing that was supposed to be hung up yesterday; (to much gurning and grumping), the sun rises and the day’s particular subtleties begin. It is like getting on a bus ride on an American Highway with no toilet stops.

Asking for a Flexible Work Schedule: One Woman's Experience | Time



Medicine and pain patches keep the inflammation down somewhat, but winter isn’t easy for chronic pain conditions. Being cold, especially damp cold makes things worse. There is very little one can do about the exhaustion. My philosophy is to ensure most of what I eat and drink is healthy, adhering to what I have learned about my system. Which makes room for a square of salted dark chocolate, a dollop of mayo, a bagel once a week or a glass of vodka. Diets fail because in absence the mind creates a vacuum . Which naturally fuels desire. keep it topped up just enough to feel you’re still alive and you can concentrate on living.
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Jobs get done at Skye Blue house between hauling the child and pup into fresh air, and I survey the damage created in a short but fraught hour !! I then try to get any Artwork done in the morning when Bear has a post walk nap and Leah is either at school or now at home school..

By the afternoon, the limbs and eyes are painful, and my energy nose dives, so having things prepped like wood for the fire, having tea ready, and chores done is a useful routine.

These pictures show the little shed gallery I had intended as a presentation space as well as where my work was stored initially in lockdown. As more and more things have had to come back from galleries and shops, as will be the case for so many artists, I have taken the decision to store some of it, until such times as it can be seen together. However, a huge selection of prints and smaller, post friendly new artwork is available and I will be bringing you information about that soon .There is no stable source of sale flow for artists that feels safe. Other than online. And separate avenues are blossoming in an organic way which is lovely. I look forward to showing you a new website for these in the near future.

Having a bouncing pup and a child off school makes it quite tricky to achieve the quantity of Artwork which had begun when I became a full time Artist. ! It has been a transition time for us all. And that’s OK. . A good friend of ours Phil, a print maker told me once that good things grow in the gaps between times. And that always struck me as true. Often more is achieved drawing in a sketchbook than sitting in front of an empty sheet of paper for hours. And there is a lot to be said for the self discipline of accomplishing a small task a day towards each of your dreams- one drawing, or one box of sorting things out, or one page of writing, or one shelf in the shed. Sometimes any more is too hard. But chip away and your acorns do grow.

From little #acorns grow big oak trees on #mitchamcommon – Friends of  Mitcham Common


Artwork is done if possible, poems written in the bath, or at the sink, and in between the laundry is done, the shopping ordered, the post posted. Every day the whatsapp groups begun in March are chatted to, drawings are shared, and connections maintained. A couple of times a week we check on neighbours and add things to our shopping for them if needed.


If we’ve had to get food shopping, we go at 7.30 in the morning, and it is always a struggle for me. The tiny trolley overflowing as the large ones are too low for me to reach down into. Juggling, A toppling trolley, usually a random huge thing on top and on crutches. My hands are extremely painful at the moment, so packing things twice is also way too hard. However, the staff in Berwick Aldi often open a checkout so I can unload slowly before someone goes onto the till. Which as we all know, with Aldi express checkout skills, makes a massive difference. I want to thank the Aldi staff in Berwick for always being so kind to us, and making us want to recommend them.

ALDI BERWICK-UPON-TWEED | Neighbourly

Our other favourite places to shop in Berwick are for the zoo.

Direct Pets and pets at home in Berwick, both of whom have made us and Bear so welcome. So much so that on one very memorable occasion when I opened the car, bear clambered onto my head, jumped off, ran into the shop on his own, springing the automatic doors open. Luckily they knew him and gave him the biscuit he was after.
(Yes, I was ready next time.)

They took this picture of him for their facebook page, choosing his new bed. Look at this contrasting post from the Pets at home page in August…

Here at Pets At Home Berwick, you know we love a puppy!🐶This is 8 week old Bear having his first trip to pick his bed and some toys! He is a Poodle, Lurcher, Collie and Deerhound cross, and how beautiful is he😍😍

Image may contain: dog

Image may contain: dog


We are indebted to the lovely people everywhere that are kind, see a need and just help. Those opposite types are thankfully rare. And like certain public figures eventually their devious traits become obvious.

So, after wresting my slippers from bear’s mouth, cleaning the fire out, resting, feeding everybody again, and shoving child and animals into any available sunshine or box, artwork, writing, laundry and cleaning gets done in no particular order, until pit stop for lunch.

Afternoons are either hibernating, or occasionally out for a little vitamin D. One of the best places to take the Bear is our beach. On this particular day it had been lousy weather so we had it to ourselves, and then this gorgeous light washed the picture in psychedelic colour. We are holding on to these moments between the news bulletins, the sunshine between the storm clouds, even for a few minutes between naps…

Watching old home movies, finding colour and patience and snippets of funny kept us entertained over the festive season, and although I am not keen on too much technology for kids, it keeps us connected, and able too laugh with those we care about. As long as there is still a fire, boards games and a little conversation!

We move through the treacly days with as much energy as we can find and source little pockets of joy in between the have-tos and must -we- reallys…

We can’t do much, but we can make the most of what we have right now, we keep teaching our groups in this annoying technical format until we can make proper hand prints and sandwiches and hear the soft rumbling of pencils on paper and Radio Paradise in the background. And we yearn for the day when we are wrapped in so many bear hugs by friends we forget to draw at all.

Why You Should Get (and Give) More Hugs

The universe is certainly dealing a tough hand , reminding us we don’t always hold all the cards. Much as we like to think we do as a species. I know that my wisest and dearest friends all hold the common hope that we might just hold onto a few of the better aspects of having life as we know it being put on hold. There is still choices in each minute by minute we live through, and we have the strength of spirit we need to stay ok if we hold on .

Thankyou for sharing our day and sending you whatever superpower you most need to get through.

Rosie the Riveter's bandana gets a redesign for the COVID-19 era

Stay safe by listening to yourself. Much love,

Liz at the beach Hut xxx

May the force be with you

Dear friends. Another couple of weeks in. How are you bearing up? Are you surprising yourself with your resilience in this strange new world ? Or are you struggling with groundhog day? Maybe a bit of both, with the scales weighted drastically in different directions depending on the weather…. Like the radio broadcasters we listen to on waking, talking about their outfits and their breakfasts, (instead of their premiers and parties) : we are all now more aware of the details, because it is all we have. Here are some of our moments, from scrapbook trawling, to unwrapping childhood wigwams sent from Grandma’s attic, savouring the last few Christmas soaps, quiet studio moments, learning how to cook and appreciating the time to get a few pieces of artwork finished.

Our mornings have slipped into a routine between animals and the dreaded schoolwork, which actually, has been mostly excellent, although the uploading to a required forum, not quite so easy! We keep on drawing, and stitching, and talking and trusting and hoping and believing in the things we love ……. Every day I draw an object and share this idea to a couple of groups, on facebook and whatsapp… who.. in turn… draw, or share their artwork, and in some cases, haiku, sewing or poetry . It doesn’t matter where each journey ends. The huge thing for many people, has been regular contact, communication between others in the groups and lessening the feeling of only having your own ideas to dwell on. Uploading the videos I made seems to have foxed our local internet provision. So these early morning scribbles have become a new habit for us all.

For animals, life is better. They have us all the time now. Perhaps it was a conspiracy ! This week has included a spa for dogs and the chicken, including all of them being read to…and Skye’s daily walks with her boyfriend Glen. Molly and Max do what cats usually do.

Our usual noisy places are quiet. There is an eeriness where there is usually kid’s laughter. The seagulls are taking over the park as well as the overflowing bin bags from the nation’s decluttering.

We all have pain and anger.. Several people have alluded recently to positive posts or brightness in the face of adversity. It can be extremely easy to see what we want to see, when those things are what we feel ourselves. If you fall in love, love is everywhere, every flower shines it’s happy face in your direction. Currently, nobody really knows how to feel. And time spent staring into an abyss of different opinions online or listening to rumours won’t help you. We aren’t exempt from feeling sadness. Or frustration or fear. There have been tears and tantrums here, and not just Leah’s.

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We have been more aware of our isolation here now than at any other point. The brighter you shine, the darker the edges of the crowd. Usually we absorb the benefits of energetic, inspiring people around us every day. Your Vibe attracts your Tribe' - Brigitte Riley Yoga
And if your tribe aren’t about… you become more aware of those less positive vibes surrounding you. It takes a shed load of will and self preservation to maintain good mental health, and a positive life for another small human, when you live amidst some negative people. In past circumstances, I know, I have been guilty of believing the cynics, and the gas lighters. We all know people who prey on those who are less grey, unkind, self loathing than they are. Because to turn the mirror the other way , on themselves, would be too hard. So they attack other people.
The Owl and the Pussycat by Anne Lambelet
But one learns that serves no-one. I teach my daughter that we can choose. To be goaded into a response or to stand still, or float in your colourful boat in a sea of colour until you hit an island where your tribe are waiting.
At this time all our reserves are being stretched as far as they can go. All of us. .The European Central Bank Is Being Stretched to Its Breaking Point ...

We can’t replenish our soul with our friends smiling at us, our voices can’t soar in our choirs, we can’t drive to our retreats and our places of comfort. So all of that has to be done in our homes and within ourselves. It is a tall order . For us, we have terribly sad things happening in our family, which like for many of you, we can’t do anything about, or travel to be with the people we love. .

All we can do, is to carry on carrying on being there for each other and being positive for the art groups, our mental health group and our friends, to share some colour and kindness; even on the dullest day. There is another day tomorrow. There are new skills to learn and grow. If you don’t like it, don’t look. !

Book Children WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? 1954 WONDER BOOKS Mid ...

I made this week bird week. This was for my mum. A prayer for the things she’s going through and I can’t be there for. She loves her beautiful garden and her birds. My friends were asked to choose their favourite bird on different days. In time, these will be prints and be shared as a tribute and as memories of this time.

As you’ll know, we recently lost our beloved friend Pumpkin. And in these times of lockdowns, no travelling, no school friends to knock about with, there is a huge surplus of hugs to contend with . So, on the first day of the pet shop opening in Berwick I had an 11 year old trailing her parent with fingers glued crossed that they had what she hoped for, then I was dragged to an x on the floor to sign a few virtual crosses for pet ownership…. and then this happened……

Meet Bonnie and Bumble. 9 wk old balls of fluffy gorgeousness. In a cage of many fur balls these two stood out as perfect for this home. They picked us . The most beautiful little guinea pigs you ever saw. One each, so no squabbling . They are already at home in Leah’s hair, and have become part of the Skye Blue zoo within hours. The cats have already given their approval. Skye loves everyone. So that’s that. The zoo is back . Bumble is sitting on my lap as I write. These days, multitasking is all…

How to Home School During Coronavirus - The New York Times

When you only have the people and creatures and thoughts that matter, choose them wisely.

Hugs Are Important! Its Proper Science! - The Shona Project

Well.. we’ve got carrots to chop , paints to squeeze, neighbours to annoy.. and glitter to sprinkle .

freetoeditedited #freetoedit #swirl #sparkle - Transparent ...

Lots of love in lockdown, xxxx Liz and Leah!!!!

A personal tour

Hello everyone and welcome to your tour. ! As you can’t come to us, we thought we would bring Skye Blue House to you and share a little of our world and various Art Spaces. In the three years since we have lived here, we have transformed every inch of our little kingdom. And in Summer, the window of opportunity to be outdoors is small. So celebrate we must.

Firstly, our vintage caravan. Crammed full of shabby chic, enamel picnic wear, cosy rugs and blankets and simple magazines, perfect for inspirational ideas while you’re drinking tea under the fairy lights.

When we came here, there was just a square of garden. Now three years on, we have two apple, a pear and a cherry tree, various acers, a willow, rowan and a multitude of flowers and plants bursting through every bed and border. My impatience for planting outweighs my knowledge of each specamin, but I instinctively plant, feed and nurture them and something is working. You can clearly flourish without knowing all the rules sometimes. . This period of time we are currently living through; a timetable without limits and these few months of a little more warmth on the body, has enabled re-painting of some of the murals and colourful paths here. Most of these are done with shed paint. I favour cuprinol for its intense colours. (But other garden paint is available!) It might not last forever , but if the look you favour is slightly weathered, that’s fine! I have been fortunate to have a friend make me some sturdy bin, log holders, gate and seats. Wood is far more coast friendly than metal.

And it isn’t just humans and animals that have somewhere to live here. Parallel to our kingdom is the fairy one. In amongst the alpine plants are tiny houses, tables and chairs, a beach, a church, even a circus… And when the lights go down at night….

No paint is safe here… Odds and ends can be used in various ways, but this time, the scraps went to create a garden Art chair, out of an old bedraggled child’s armchair.

As our galleries aren’t open just now, there was a slight issue with storage and trip hazards of pictures all over the place.. my sticks, speedy 11 yr olds and ploddy dogs. Solution? Build a gallery in your shed. This space was a camp last week, but the thought there MIGHT be a spider in there was enough to prevent it ever being used as one by it’s young owner. So mum, ever ready with a plan, presents to you… The First of our galleries. This one is called Rose Cottage, Named After Mopsie (my Grandmother’s) house. Next, will be a real one hopefully!

In the larger of the beach huts, there is both space to work alongside someone else as well as a space to sleep. It is only really a summer space as it gets so cold and windy here on the cliff, and I find it harder to be outdoors after October. But here are all the beach hut donations given to us by our mysterious annual gifter. Every Summer, new arrivals appear for the Beach hut lady, by a collector of beach hut paraphernalia. And are extremely welcome and well loved.

This is our garden room hut. Memories are everywhere here, peeping through from between pages in vintage books and in drawers and print blocks. Childhood games and gifts, tiny treasures and letters. A most relaxing hidden gem. This room beckons you in and keeps you here for hours.. Anyone who has ever read an Angela Carter novel will get this space.

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I did the same as a child in the dappled light of Mopsie’s garden.

Planners will defend Woodcut site appeal

Suspend your sensible mind for long enough to have some fun with your things, while you have this time . Look closer. Who knows what or who you’ll find. xxx

Give a green heart this Valentine's Day - Natures Home magazine ...