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.
Anything is possible with a little patience, trust and chocolate !!
Back soon with words, all our love, Liz and the zoo xxx 🙂
Hello yellow light and hopeful thoughts wherever you are.
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.
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.
Thinking about most things only gets us so far.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
So I decide to give myself
Permission to STOP
PERUSE THE AREA Permission to bathe ridiculously
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Being upside down is often the first step to being firmly rooted. Rip up the rules
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!!
I have just wrestled a feather bower out of my puppy’s jaw.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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. l.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
At this time of year we usually start gathering up memories of all the adventures we’ve had, the travels we have been on and the places we have explored. Scrolling through our face book feeds , we get used to being taken from country to country and restaurant to restaurant.
This year we were more likely to have been transported into the living rooms and opinions of celebrities, old box sets and adverts for things which we might get back to, dreams to purchase or get a buzz from .. one day… one day …… Our t.v and actual diets have had to adapt, due to the limitations of the pandemic.
My art group and plenty of organisations supporting those with mental health issues or, indeed, having mobility problems themselves; are pretty used to this need for acceptance and flow. In our conversations on the phone or during online get togethers every week for this entire year : although there have been a myriad of concerns, feeling isolated, having to be patient, waiting longer for someone to help because the usual support network isn’t there…. the skills gained from long term health conditions have primed many people for further isolation with a spirit of making do.
Throughout the year, numerous artworks have been achieved by you, from everyday drawings in lockdown which you used as inspiration and which generated a wonderful community group, to the Artist’s collaboration with my poet friend Ruth which rippled out across several regions and included both written and painted work. Even a little science.
Please visit our site SeaSparkle. Org to see all the artwork achieved by Artists, friends, clients, and groups this year.
In a year which created bubbles out of our houses and complicated rules for how to tango around a friend in the street with a mask on, one constant was our furry friends for company and good hugs. We lost two of the best you could ever hope to love , and still miss Skye and Pumpkin dearly. (see earlier posts) But these three cheeky faces have been a distraction and very welcome company, especially during these months stranded with no family on a clifftop!
We had a recent scare with Bear having a serious injury on Sunday , and cutting an artery in his foot. He needed emergency surgery on a Sunday no less.. An expensive fright. It has been incredible to receive all your support and we are very grateful.
He has made a good recovery and is milking the cuddles for all they are worth. Max and Molly the cats, and Sugar the chicken have accepted the newbies, and the evening love-ins on the sofa are a welcome end to the day, especially after yet another teenage bedroom battle.. and once I figure out how to dog proof my flower beds from the Bear, and my builder finishes the decking, (only ten months Dave) !!!! life and the garden will resume some kind of normal, in an un-normal time.
Scrolling through the ipad, we read another post on self improvement..
It makes us think of so many people in charities, groups, churches, food banks, community groups and neighbourhoods, working silently with no recognition or gold stars, no clapping or extra pay. Or even pay at all. The thing is, that people are actually doing incredible things everywhere and have either no time or no inclination to tell the world about it.. Thankyou for the kindnesses we have received throughout the year and for the people who have swept into our lives just as we’ve needed help most.
It is the loveliest feeling in the world when children start mimicking the positive things that adults do, and can still feel empathy when they have been let down. In a world that can seem hard to understand, lets hope they come through this being a little more patient and kind to their neighbours. They will certainly have gained endurance skills we can only marvel at, in this adapted world.
The two of us have had a busy few weeks, making art for the local notice boards, putting together cushions from scraps sewn by a friend with dementia, helping a friend to still have Christmas when her festive things were in boxes from a house move, and surprising her with a secret tree, food and decoration delivery, and keeping up community art zooms and daily whatsapp chats. recording an online zoom nativity, and finishing off small bits of art for friends. If a few small acts of kindness became second nature even between teenage meltdowns, (one of which left a crack in the back door) something is going in!! ..
This year has seen a deterioration in my personal bone health with less hospital and go access than ever. It has now taken two years to get treatment. I’ll spare you the details but instead, focus on the lockdown art and what we’ve made from it. It makes me proud to show you the outcome of those months, time spent every day super early drawing so that other people could later join in too. Banking a range of pictures and paintings which have now become prints and cards.
It has not been an easy year. Several times our only plans have been cancelled. We were meant to travel three times abroad and couldn’t, have guests to stay, and couldn’t, go away for birthdays and couldn’t. As a young carer the events and groups were cancelled for her and replaced with a noisy but fun sounding trumpet lesson! We know and trust change is coming. The faith in ourselves and our stamina, our plans and what comes next.. have kept us warm and moving forward for many months. I feel certain you like us have felt a rainbow of emotions this year. Patience has been hard to come by when the timescale is a moving target.
We are all learning how resourceful we are and finding joy in the details of life
Making and appreciating new friends has been a great benefit of this year. Sadly not every friendship we have will go the distance especially in a changing world as we evolve and grow into ourselves. And actually that is healthy. If being around a person in particular makes you feel flustered, sad, anxious, or scared; Take steps to remove yourself from that relationship. Even a regular friendship can lose its way sometimes, leaving the door open for new conversations. Making space will always create opportunity.
We were extremely fortunate to meet a great group of women in the Cedar programme this Autumn. Our lives can always squeeze in a supportive circle of folk who truly get what you experienced. I have learnt that by being open, we enable this process in others and this gift can come when someone least expects, but really needs it. Please do reach out and speak to someone if you or they are struggling.
We all live our lives in our little houses. our little universe… but those friends that you meet along the way, that you bond with; especially now, hold on to them. They showed up .
In the next year, we will pursue plans to extend sea sparkle art and wellbeing classes whether that continues to be online or together.
and who knows what else might be up our sleeves
As we move into the next chunk of time anticipating or dreading Christmas, depending on our health, tier, situation, or circumstance we can reflect on one or two fundamentals….
Nobody ever got richer or cleverer sending mass messages to everyone on their friends list that need ten replies before sundown. Choose your scrolling wisely.
Charity shops can no longer shift your stuff, so there is no point clearing out everything you own because a minimalist Japanese lady tells you to. Although, there is sense in a calm space.
You already know what food makes you sick so stop eating it and wasting time going to appointments relearning the obvious. There are no g.p.s so use them wisely. Your stomach does not know its Christmas.
Not everybody will approve of your taste, style, decisions or way of life. So do stop trying to please them all. This pandemic gives us a global and a personal amnesty on all previous self sabotage. Check into a tribal bubble that has your back.
Your glove will find you. Your calling will come. The tiny beautiful things you do today will move mountains tomorrow
Eat slowly, light nice candles, hug something, read all the things you always meant to, remember most things we need don’t cost much , see the top half of the glass, breathe slowly , write or share your thoughts, and remember to laugh. Wishing you the festive season you want and need , whatever that looks like. Thank-you for being a support for Lizatthebeachhut and Seasparkle this strangely shaped year.
The light around here has been incredible recently.
As I Flip through Facebook posts recently, I have loved to see the many walks my friends take and the things they see along the way, things that my legs don’t get to. Some of these things I saw before my body stopped playing, some I may get to one day if I win the lottery, and some of them I will never see. All of the above are ok with me.
We can travel the world to see the most glorious of sites. We can trek up mountains to see a new perspective we yearn for. Potential and adventure is wonderful. But if limitations are set, it doesn’t mean that life has to be less stimulating.
If circumstances change the rules, as they have for everybody at the moment, our fun radar has to look closer for things to appreciate. And for inspiration.
I got asked by a woman over the phone, filling in a medical form how many buses I could walk. ( length of) without stopping, and with sticks .. If you’ve never tried answering that one give it a go. I can walk 2 buses.
But, walk two buses, take a photo or two and then walk a couple more. You can get somewhere, or to your car, and then a little further… And then moments as incredible as any rare truffle are waiting. If your deely boppers are on.
And if that has to suffice until surgery or vaccinations happen it is a start.
The new normal looks different for everyone!
For some the routine has stayed reassuringly familiar ……..
And others of the more active variety have been growing like weeds…
And art has been created in the spaces created like little yawns in the day… where children or animals are sleeping, eating or otherwise occupied .
Next year will be a big birthday for me, and although I could probably still get asked for i.d without make up, due to being partly of the faery variety 😉 It will mean that, including teaching in America at 20, I will have been teaching art for 30 years. It has been a rollercoaster, not least for health reasons. But always the best part, the only part that mattered was giving something to kids that they did not have before.
My first teaching job was in a tough school. some of the kids (and staff) were hard work, and I was going to work full time whilst looking after two young stepsons and a big house. I was keen and sparkly, but at the time, was being knocked in more ways than one, both at home and at work.
Now I think that girl was amazing. Then, I taught my socks off in a blur. I didn’t know what the kids saw. But I knew I gave them everything because I always will. And I loved their inspiration as much as creating with them. Eventually the politics of that post got too much. So I moved schools. Before arthritis got the better of me and I taught in high school for 18 years.
Out of the blue last week, I received a message on facebook from a great big bearded man, who I didn’t recognise. The picture showed him on his wedding day. He just wanted me to know, he said, that I had been an amazing teacher. That he still remembered what I taught him 20 years ago, and that he still tells his niece about being taught art by me. How incredible. This was not something this man needed to do, or gained anything by doing. But I did. And how lovely to gift those words to someone years after they knew you. In a time where our identities are in question because we can’t be fully ourselves, always speak kind words when you think them.
Thankyou to the wonderful Mickey. Keep doing those little things, especially in your own home. The universe and your wife will thank you! I know I do.,
This poem was written for all of you who take the time to read this, for your heart and for your own self care.
In amongst the day to day routine keep an eye out for flashes of colour, a chances to reflect on the details when the bigger picture get too overwhelming. Savour every colour. They are only for you.
Children and seasons will change, so will this situation. For a long time my mantra has been to keep going. Clichéd maybe, but sometimes it is all you can do to put one foot in front of another.
Or one bus
Something today matters for a reason you don’t even know yet.
I am so proud of my groups, friends and some of the community helping one another to stay positive. To see artwork, share your Ideas or experiences with us.. go to facebook, liz at the beach hut and sea sparkle.
One day last week I found a pair of new knickers hiding in the drawer. Saving themselves for an occasion worthy of their debut. For a fleeting moment I almost put them back and then didn’t. And all day, because of my discovery , it felt like I was wearing diamonds..
Often we keep our finest indulgences for such times that we feel they are more deserving than right now. And we create subliminal rules for our hoard. -A magical time in the future, when the perfect us will appreciate and deserve luxury, and step into the limelight to a roar of wolf-whistles…
Our nicest clothes, our best cups and saucers, our Christmas toiletry sets , indulgent hobbies we will do- one -day- when -we- have- time: even friends we promise we will catch up with one of these days -all are placed in a box marked future.
Precious, abstract , future bubbles…… Thing is, such perfect time capsules do not exist; because the tides of life just keep sucking us back, against the shore of good old fashioned normality and remind us what and who we are, and what else is in the flotsam..
There is no perfect . Whether in your longed for acceptance of self image, in the mysteries of your family , your crazy circle of friends, or the situation we are all in right now and how that impacts on the immediate world you had.. A lot of our choices are out of our control because they are too enormous. But what we can do, is choose some of the smaller things to keep or lose.
We have our bodies, in all their states of health and shapes and sizes and the choice in how to dress and celebrate them..For many of us, our clothes have become a uniform; whether through comfort, suitability for lifestyle or because they don’t suit us as we change in age or outlook. But sometimes, we simply forget what is under the pile, always choosing to skim from the top. It can be amazing to find what we used to love, or how good a well worn garment feels on your skin
Every day comes with its surprises at the moment. Today, bumping into an old friend was literally overwhelming and so poignant and lovely. Neither of us could speak but the silence was crammed with a thousand words which we both understood. I know it will keep me going on days when I hear no voices other than a pup and a grumpy pre-teen. So much emotion in those few seconds, and an elixir of wellbeing, much needed.
The now is all about seeing what is under the surface and try to still hear the music
Keeping good clothing and never wearing it is like advertising lunch for critters and a bit like keeping a freshly made loaf of bread and waiting two days for the first slice. Sometimes at the back of our cupboards, are gems that are perfect now. that still fit, that are desperate for daylight
Because, come the time to use your perfect China, the cracks may have appeared in more than just the saucers. You should eat well, off the nicest plates and savour each morsel.
Take yourself on a picnic while the sun shines and your legs work.
Bear and I discovered that was just what the doctor ordered, when the day was dragging and my hands hurt too much to keep drawing. Ginger beer and a fresh socially distanced prawn sandwich , a few doggie hugs by the harbour, and a chat with a lovely old couple, and the sun came out literally and metaphorically .
Things are losing their importance more than ever. We can’t ease our stress with travel, or quick fixes. Internally we are battling with a fight -or- flight response versus the desire to sink -into- the -sofa- with- a- cushion- over -our- ears. Anything written about being in the moment might sound cheesy, but it really is the most important defence mechanism in your arsenal. Our Stuff should be enjoyed, have a place to be stored properly or shared with others. Loved or left go. We are living through a time where our values are changing, our perspectives are distorted like looking through a glass.
Stand still and see what is right there as your own personal gifts.
Children and animals teach us to live in the moment
This strange and frightening pandemic is creating huge uncertainty. And causing everyone different concerns, and fears. Not knowing what will happen in this story is becoming frighteningly familiar now. It is understandable that we feel angry or sad. The loss of the contact with others, pleasurable activities, financial security, freedom to choose, is a grieving process. But because it is ambiguous, there is no finality, we can’t put anything to rest.
To deal with Life right now, it is essential to limit the time spent catastrophizing on what may or may not happen. Things change all the time. including the rules on what can or can’t be done. As these things are out of our control, all we have is what we can do for our immediate world and , find the magic of everyday life, whenever we can. This doesn’t mean we don’t care, it means we care enough to keep going.
Don’t save your Sunday best for Sunday
We didn’t know how lucky we were before. All those adventures kept for the future that are now much harder to plan for..
Life has stopped going in a straight line, and is more like a plate of spaghetti with more twists and turns than Sherlock Holmes. So now, more than ever, we have run out of excuses to save our best for a rainy day. Today’s rainy day is merrily chucking it down and we have little choice but to get out and get our feet wet. The time is literally now.
Treat your self like you would want to be treated at the best hotel (In place of actually getting to one). If you were manager what would you say about a room with crumpled clothes or toppling boxes , and its effect on your customer’s well-being?
My clear out has begun in earnest with a huge clear out of paper teaching resources and old paints etc. Teaching creatively is changing and hanging on to paper teaching resources is becoming harder. Most people I work with have their own equipment and we are on regular zooms.
However, There is no danger of us ever becoming minimalist
Just let’s be more organised hoarders!!
Let’s chuck out old drainpipe Trousers, which will never go over our bottoms again, outdated slogan t shirts, most things with acrylic on the label, anything not loved, useful as hell or utterly fabulous or worth a mint ( ha ha) books we will never read, shoes that are too tight or too boring, broken things, things that should get fixed but never will… All got to go.
Let’s make do and mend a bit more
Things require attention and the more you have the more time they take up. It is far more rewarding to spend time fuelling a pet or a skill than a shopping habit. And slightly less waste disposal.
Personally of late I have had this constant feeling that I’ve forgotten something. Has anyone else felt that the lists we had whittled down to a fine art before, have gone out of the window, and even the days of the week are confusing now !!
The simple fact is, most of the normal, planned activities, groups and connections are on hold.. So the requirement is to just be. And it is the hardest thing in the world to step away from the conditioned responses we have to our feelings and our desires. Our guilt to please the people we have already created a link with, on our journeys so far. To move away from should and towards couldif you want to, that takes courage. We are so conditioned to our structures, our ways and our safety nets, and feedback from other people. These responses validate us. If you have stopped working, you might be losing more than just a wage. People around you every day remind you you’re still alive. Now you have to do that for yourself.
This virus has changed things in strange ways. With far more emphasis on your own personal wellbeing, you will be able to potentially reach out your new found skills and resourcefulness like ripples in a pool into your future. Right now, tread water, steady your breathing and clear your mind as well as your cupboards. Swimming alone is scary, but opens up a whole new peaceful horizon .
Time to take the arm bands off
We are a resourceful lot. Perhaps finding out for the first time what exactly we are made of. What still fits and what we’ve grown out of . Or who.
Are there people around you who you expected to be in contact with and who have disappeared? Is the new world looking a little lonely?
It has surprised and bewildered me how the playing field looks right now Some players in the game have walked away, off the pitch or are sitting on the bench. Some have moved to another team altogether. But I know the team that we have now are the ones we are blessed to have. And those that have gone before, have been important chapters in our story.
Perhaps it takes a pandemic to know who you’re tribe really is. Who has phoned you recently? Responded to your Facebook posts, asked you on a zoom date, left soup at your door? Sometimes we need to let go of the old Christmas card list and be aware of who is showing up now. With an open mind and a willingness to see the glass half full, you might be surprised.
To simply be, ok with your quirky bits, immersed in your own ideas, is your permission to be positive while the world does what it does. Whether blending in…
Or standing out…
Most people yearn for a different version of themselves in some way. It is what advertisers rely on and the diet industry swells its coffers with. But as necessity overrides luxury, it gives us a chance to see what we already have, and what , if anything, we really need. Under current circumstances, enjoying ourselves feels a bit sinful, but in actual fact, with limited access to the network of well-being services at your disposal, support groups, social groups and shops! there is no better time than now to stop being so self critical and celebrate the details of the unique collection of things we already have.
A friend of mine never ceases to amaze me with her self nurture skills. She meticulously plans out her outfits , and in particular a fabulous pair of shoes , does her hair and make up and is a catwalk dream. Only, her audience is a zoom group , and in her day to day life, she is struggling with several medical and psychological issues. She hardly leaves her house. On our zooms, she chats from her bed.
It would be so easy for all of us to give up trying. Instead; giving yourself a few small moments of fabulousness will become an intrinsic part of the you going on your journey recorded for future generations as the hero you are. .
In the absence of a network or a way of life which gives you compliments, you must make your own..
We can’t know what this story will become . We aren’t used to not getting what we need quickly. Our seasonal adjustment disorder has gone wonky, with virtually no normality to Summer (apart from the changeable weather) It is tricky to feel grounded by the things which made us feel safe before…
This of course is different for everyone. But at the same time, is exactly the same for everyone. We need things in our peripheral vision that give us hope. If nobody else can do that for you, you owe it to yourself to grab your best knickers, and stop over thinking. The only way to make sense of the biggest things is to go into battle with a steady hand, and good pants. Surrounding yourself with what you alone love.
You know who you are, what you can do, and what you’ve always wanted to do . Now, there’s slightly less reason to worry what anyone else thinks of that. And make it happen.
Trust your gut
Consuming and then having to find space for more and more things is a distracting cycle. And somehow doesn’t feel important any more.
The diva, her pal and I went on a road trip at the weekend. We went shopping for a couple of gifts for various birthdays before the rules state we can’t drive more than five miles again, we had treats in food places certain to leave us sugar tongued and bloated . Delicious. I sat in the cafe while the girls looked in the shop next door . Every second of it was special. Already in the country, there are places where people are not able to do this. Already it is getting closer that an going an hour away could become a universe.
There was an intensity to the day. The Starbucks was a minefield of masks and form filling, door codes and queue stickers… The atmosphere wasn’t condusive to staying a long time, food given out in paper bags, no listening to jazz or wiling away the hours on a laptop with a cappucino.
But still, the sun was warm on my face through the window. I wrote this to you. My coffee tasted delicious and my cinnamon roll felt devilish and doughy and stuffed a gap in more. than just my hungry belly I wore trousers I should have worn on the beach. A dress bought for a holiday, twice cancelled. Thankfully it still fitted.! Small blessings. Good job Starbucks is so far away.! It is more important than ever to make things count wherever we can from our knickers to impromptu picnics on the park, as the girls did with their pizza and chips on the swings last night. Packed into paper bags like Deli food. Memories are cemented by fun versions of the usual stuff..
There is a feeling in the air that these normal experiences are not to be taken for granted. We ate lunch out and dragged bags and weary bodies into the car, grateful, tired and very aware that this wasn’t going to be repeated for a while.
Entering an Autumn cautiously and feeling grateful, we are mindful of the difficulties that these experiences are now attached to. Having looked forward to our trip, I have to say we are equally pleased to be safe at home. Find new pants if you feel a bit pants; the maddest pants you can find and flounce in them like there’s no tomorrow. Even if nobody ever sees them. Before your knees go.
If things don’t fit today, don’t wait until they do. A pile of things in your peripheral vision waiting for when you are smaller, healthier, fitter just gives you a headache.. Charity shop or dump them.
If like me you have a degenerative condition, or something affecting your immunity, time is always your nemesis.
Covid or no covid, there are rhythms to your day and year which affect how little or how much you can get achieved, with a body that won’t play nice. Sometimes it feels like a race to complete as much as possible on a sunny day, with the clock ticking on the seasons and the unpredictable weather. Flare- ups and immobility go hand in hand with the cold. So having less stuff that requires attention is important.
Although here at Skye Blue House, life will never be minimal
Finding ways to minimise tasks or get help with hard to do jobs is essential too. I am at the moment, indebted to my new gardener, chopping and cutting things my hands won’t manage, and many offers of doggie walks with Bear. This virus doesn’t get dibs on being resilient- ask anyone with arthritis!Go on.. Put on your best hat on. The winds of change might blow away everything away tomorrow….
but then instead, let your hair go free
The future you will buy new clothes, meet new faces, learn different skills. and be eternally grateful you held your nerve right now whilst looking fabulous. The future is an unstable ground to build a plan on. But it will still be there hazily greeting the morning sun. The irony is, the more you make of this moment, and it’s set of limitations, the wider your path will eventually be.
This painting was recently finished for Mum. After my Stepdad passed away. It is a fantasy place of lots of different bits of Greek islands they went to. Although she knows she can’t go back, it will take her there with him whenever she sees it. It, like everything we need to do now was achieved bit by bit, until it was complete. With painful joints, a final outcome was the top of a mountain I knew was there beyond the clouds. And yes, swearing is fine too.
Stay safe and keep your dreams fed and alive. Style it out and trust what you already know
Lately I’ve been watching how our old collie has masted the art of semi-sitting. If she knows she will have to get up any time soon, she parks just her front feet in a lying down position. The bottom stays where it is. In the air. She’s in pain. But she has figured out how to use her body.
She trusts herself. And the signs around her telling her if food or walking is imminent . She trusts us and the decisions and choices made to keep her safe.
As adults we get to a stage where that luxury is not so consistent. In lockdown it is harder to source comfort when we feel sad or unwell. The initial good intentions of neighbours and communities are either in place or not and we are now more self sufficient than we have ever had to be. Trusting in our intuition, our oldest instincts .
A few wise words well chosen can change so much more than just five minutes of reading
Often when I see posts or messages by my dearest friends I am compelled to channel this trust. If communication has dried up, changed direction or has developed a new rhythm, it is a different language to learn in this new landscape, with mutual trust and hope.
We are all here, missing so many people we have known, or yet to know. But trusting that when the channels open once more, the perfect people will be in your life at the perfect time takes a huge amount of faith. And Those that have been loved by us along the way but chosen another path will journey on in another direction.
To run a dialogue with everyone you care about whilst providing yourselves with care would be like asking poor Skye to get up from a seated position over and over again. Choices have to be made about where to plant little trust trees, and watch them grow.
We are re-finding our way as families, communities, societies . And there are so many voices distracting from the inner one we need to stay grounded..
In a recent letter from my best friend I was immersed in her detailed dream of her perfect home. It was beautiful and complete. I could smell the air coming through the windows, not yet built, feel the tiles under my feet, taste the drink in my hand and hear her laughter. Her vision was so clear and so sure. We worked together in business understanding the process of abandoning the rational mind to creating and believing. She and I both found the courage to sell up and move home, city, even country for her, despite knowing there were fears pinging at our brains from everyone like heavy rain on tarmac.
She did it once, and she can do it again. We all can. Right now like you, trust is something I have felt more than ever before. Like most of us we have spent weeks chipping away at projects and ideas, enjoying perhaps the expansion of time. But not having the press of it. We will look back after the storm has passed and see the enormity of our achievements. But it can be hard whilst being in the centre of the whirling weather.
We are taught to hold ourselves in the present in order to achieve the most beneficial state of positivity. This is true. Dwelling on past failures or journeys, fears, pain and loss can do little to build the new steps ahead of you. It is essential for good health to be present. But having a sudden loss of structure in life has caused a lot of human frustration and resentment. Look anywhere online and the safety valve has popped off . The brain needs a level of stress to perform a series of tasks each day and week. Having a focus is what drives a human.
It just matters what you choose to clutter your life up with. Clearing your inbox of emails, chucking them into folders feels proactive and organised. Yet the moment the empty space of a yahoo inbox is enjoyed, it is once again full of pops-ups of toothpaste videos or celebrity gossip.
Your body, in times of stress is still with you. Remembering how to use itself even when it is deteriorating. The vitality we need to find purpose is lurking inside like muscle memory, it will fight on if we trust it. And only you know when to slow down or stop.. For me, on a personal level, the stubbornness not to give in is what drives me forward. Trusting that there will be a cure or at least some better healthcare management, stops the mental road blocks and enables some progress.
We all need a plan.
With enough B roads in it to take the scenic route every so often..
Enjoy a few funny little conversations with the universe .
In the last few weeks, the gloom, has been balanced by some amazing conversations about new art collaborations and adventures. It has been a no brainer what to get excited about.
Humans can make choices. Believe in the dream doubters and let them stomp on them on your childhood story……
or let them be your touch paper to something marvellous.
I celebrate you doing it anyway, creating, smiling, persevering, finding your tribe, sharing your skills, and keeping moving forward. Each step a chapter of your story.
Nobody would argue that this hasn’t been the hardest few months for most people ever. I wish we could speak to each of you individually and have you round for a coffee! Human contact is the most highly sought after commodity right now. Yesterday a friend of mine came for a cup of tea. We haven’t seen each other in a couple of years. I sort of expected a distant coffee in the garden and was overjoyed by the bear hug I received. It was so much sweeter as it was the first non -11 yr old cuddle in as long as I can remember. (And was given rather than taken!!) I know it isn’t the same, but to all of you who religiously read our stories and share our journey, that hug is for you as well.
In a few weeks this girl of mine starts a new chapter as a high school student.
But we wouldn’t change any of it. Because she is the sum total of everything learnt and more, and has so much more to know and be. She is a fabulous human and the best daughter in the world.
Our vet has given our lovely Skye a reprieve for a while with some medication to take her pain away from the two types of cancer she now has. Before any new rules are imposed on social distancing, before any more body parts completely seize up.. it is time to Thelma and Louise it to England with a car full of animals to visit family before the next big chapter begins for everyone….
Our imminent road trip commences tomorrow and will be arduous and long. We will take guinea pigs and Skye, and enough medication to stock Boots. Daily art will continue from Grandma’s garden….
Without danger life is not life. Without trust in the getting there, the journey isn’t as much fun. It will be fine. It will be painful. It is anyway.
Having a plan is what makes today do-able. Being told it might be hard makes trust in ourselves and the stuff of life even more vital. Never give up if your desired outcome doesn’t happen today , it might be that it is meant to happen tomorrow.
Now things are changing it is more essential than ever to make choices on the contents of your physical and virtual inbox. In every way possible. Most people have had time to consider what has nourished them throughout this, and what is no longer important. Ask yourself what do I truly want? Trust that the things and the support you need, will magically appear at the right time. Your fears are fed from the fears of others, often generations back. If you are told you should not do something, unless it will physically harm you, prove to yourself and the critics why your instincts to take that chance are right.
Getting anywhere with healthcare right now can be tricky, but if you don’t look unwell, it is harder than ever. Look around Skye Blue house and you see a world of colour and vibrancy. It looks like it was built by a makeover tv show that I gave my sketchbook to . Throughout the year, there are probably about 20 days where the heat is strong enough to work outside all day here, where the bone pain eases a little bit. Where the washing up might stay in the sink and the vision of painted pathways, abundant borders, and stripey beach huts overflowing with a cornucopia of fun and magic is created, hour by passionate hour. For plenty of other hours, the wind is too strong, or the damp too invasive to move freely, so the pressure to spew rainbows is almost insane.
It is wonderful . Days where life is precious are a gift. Onlookers judging the results are seeing the joy and the result of painful but passionate marks and planting . Sometimes, however, it can take longer to be ‘seen’ or treated. If your healthcare is based on your garden’s prowess however, there is something very wrong with the nhs. Personally, drawing until my hand goes numb and I cant open my fingers is far more honest and preferable than watching both the grass grow and daytime tv.
No matter what comes along, there must be trust in it being only a temporary state, in your willpower, in your teamwork and in the universe having your back. For us, also in the friends showing up at the exact moment with bread, with garden strimmers, with books and art equipment for classes.
Know what you want. Who you are. Let your imagination open doors. The more you hold on tightly to one perfect vision, the harder it will be for your instinctive sense of wonder to flourish.
Keep looking, moving, enjoying the gifts that are presented and appreciating the help given. Having an adventure or two, making some plans, but knowing when it might be the season to slow down and rest.
Skye, our guinea pigs, Bonnie and Bumble and us girls will be travelling to England as you read this. Slathered in pain patches, and propped up with cushions, we will sing loudly, and pray even louder.
Trust your quiet self. Then shout your plans from the roof-tops
What we don’t hear, we make up. What other folk don’t tell us, we tell ourselves. The human brain is like a empty pool. We can clear it out, and make it shine , but sooner or later it gets filled right up again with stinky old rain water, slime and frogs… read self destructive old ways of thinking, slimey left brain doubtfulness and the clammer of not only poisonous frogs, but a whole pond of unwanted dirge. Especially if you can’t vent your issues in the pub just now..
Unless you say nice things to those closest and to yourself.
Unless you become your own personal pool cleaning system…
How will your kids, friend, neighbour know you love the way they wear their hair, that you think they have a kind heart, that their gentle spirit is uplifting and makes you feel calm to be around. What if nobody ever told us that the lines on our faces outline our best features and illustrate our unique stories ?
Kindness, compliments and praise are contagious. and practicing gets easier, the more you do it. So if you are able to offer up your feelings of awe, love, inspiration to someone, they will take that gift, feel better in themselves and share it . Turn the mirror round.
Some things need to be said to those you care about. ‘You are doing brilliantly, you look amazing, your creativity is awesome, I love you.’
The gaps where we wait to hear those things are like chasms in a time where a lot of people are on their own… And no contact makes those things even harder not to hear.
Say them. Say them a lot. Our childhoods in the 70s and 80s were huge voids of things not said… our schooldays were chock full of compliments we never heard from teachers. Many people I know now as adults were never told how good they were at their art and were never able to nurture their unique style.
Let use this time to start saying what we mean. And stop saying mean things. Let’s forget about the digs, the critics, the gaps where love should have been. If someone hasn’t told you the thing you long to hear.. you have permission to say it to yourself, and to mean it.
Rules to live by
Stop watching other people. The worst thing you can do is to compare yourself to someone else at the moment. People are all interpreting the current rules and their acknowledgement of them, in a different way. Your life is as meaningful as theirs. Just cherish your routine in every way you can. Anyone being unkind or unfair is throwing their fears at you. Don’t play ball in this particular game.
Stop thinking that there is a magical vat of advice that will make things better or easier in a magazine, video or app. Nobody has the answers except for you, for you. Look closer to your instincts and your skills. I had a pile of magazines that I subscribe to, next to the bath. I kept meaning to read them. You know how it is. you never quite get round to those nice things you promise yourself once the chores are done.
And then you finally have all these hours to fill …. And suddenly, you read all these magazines, with the advice you had waited so long to absorb.
And you read and you think. It’s all the same advice. Everything you should say to yourself but don’t. We already know a lot of the best ways to self care. But, I know, and you know we also like the pictures.. and the smell of new magazines! .
We have the skills and the intuition and the fundamental stoicism to get through anything. If we look to what we learnt so far, in life, but also in this strange, twilight time; remember what our grandma taught us.
Stop imagining the image that others have of you. People will think what people will think. Who cares? You cannot control others opinion of you, so why bother? It always strikes me as strange that anyone has the time to think about anyone else’s existence. Isn’t it better to put our energies into our own camp?
Stop getting rid of things. Charity shops are going to be seriously inundated. Who knows where or how we will shop in future? Just keep your stuff! Change it up. Add bits, decorate stuff, put it in a zip-lock bag marked ‘when I’m a size 10’. This saves you buying it when the stress of all this turns you into one x
Stop eating in ways that hurt you.
By now, there aren’t excuses for eating the foods that make your body hurt. But it can be tricky to maintain an allergy free, virtuous diet when you have less money coming in, or significantly diminished places to shop. Vary what you eat, and use your instincts for what you need rather than a generic diet plan. Better to have a few treats during these times than deny yourself followed by overdoing it.
Forgive or forget . (Others) Sometimes in hard times, we all assume people who are not in contact are too busy , or the mind fills in the answers to our questions by telling us negative stories about where relationships are at. Truth is, mostly they are exactly the same. Dealing with the day to day has scuppered some of the usual communication channels.
More often than not, those who have cared, still do. So if the absence is mutually felt, someone has to make that connection, maybe it could be you. Except, occasionally, there is a feeling you can’t shake. Listen to those few times the relationship expiry date is up. You deserve to be treasured.
Make use of what you have now . Trying to get any work done whilst schooling your child is like splitting yourself down the middle. As soooo many of you will know at the moment. So don’t. Find your gaps to create at other times, and be present for the time you are having together. This won’t be for long. Mine is growing before my eyes. And yes, is nearly as tall as me. We still need to be us as well as parents though. I carve a netflix and drawing session first thing into the day. Our whatsapp groups have followed with their own art based on weekly ideas and mini tutorials.
Make use of who you are now and like who that is. Someone said to me the other day, that we were so lucky, he and I, not being too affected by all this. It is impossible for anyone to know that for you. Frankly, we are all affected. And it isn’t always obvious what the fallout is. If your network isn’t there for you, be one for someone else. Be one for yourself and speak up if you need help.
Trust your instincts . A blog post in itself. Use it for purchasing impulse stuff. Are you ever going to use that bargain mini cupcake making machine from the middle aisle of your supermarket? If things aren’t being used in the home now, they probably won’t ever be!
Turn off the internet and shouty tv. Most of the important news information can be sourced directly and succinctly on a sensible web page. That way, you can hear the birds at the same time.
Don’t believe your inner critic, who probably has waited for a time like this to haunt you good and proper . He or she is the little voice that commands you to be more, do more, feel less, speak differently, wear different clothes, stop expressing yourself, or indeed express yourself more because that’s what is expected.
Sometimes it’s hard enough fighting your own battles, without feeling the pressure to jump into someone else’s fight. It doesn’t mean you agree with the person who started the thread..
Eat the frog first. Great life rule… Please don’t eat an actual frog. but the point is, you get the biggest, hardest task achieved before you settle into the more comfortable routines of the day. Get all the irritating things which take time done while you are awake for example first thing…., and at the same time. For example, chop all the fruit and veg for humans, animals, all the meals in a day at once in the morning. Don’t re-visit the same job over and over. The boring bit of the day can already mostly done by nine in the morning. Then you can focus on projects, government approved dog walking and shouting a conversation over the fence…
Make a plan of meals while you unpack the shopping. This saves thinking about meals all week, and stops you forgetting what you bought . My daughter says, it is now like we have a strange round the world restaurant.
Treat your house like someone else is having you to visit. How would they make it feel for you? Today for the 90th day I will still put my make up on, light incense, brush crumbs off the sofa, make my bed and wear perfume. In the absence of outside you got to be your own deli, your own independent cinema, spa and source of soul food.
Learn to be ok with being ok. And it takes time to be ok with that. For our whole lives, it feels that we aren’t meant to feel happiness in times of trouble, or until we have earnt it. Right now, who feels they have earned a good night in? or a glass of wine, time to potter in the garden, or an online spending spree on ebay, or even just to soak in the bath and feel relaxed.? We are so used so doing these things as a reward for hard work, we were in danger of waiting until we were 90 to ever use that bath oil. The thing is, life doesn’t work like that. Take it from someone who knows. I was going to climb mountains after my divorce.. but my bones had other plans. The time is now to be you. Enjoy your health. Enjoy your surroundings. If it helps, pair up all your socks first.
Supporting a cause and a campaign is worthwhile and we like to feel part of a wider tribe. It can be reassuring to feel less alone, reassurance that what we feel is justified, and heightens our life experience. Many people jump, and keep jumping onto the next headline however, and often online platforms are filled with the extremities of our rage and sorrow and anger. There is a pressure to paint a rainbow. And painting rainbows is wonderful. But you should wear your own colours with style, not squeeze your colours from the tube.
To be thought of by others is a gift. But I wonder if a lack of comment on particular issues makes us seem uninterested in them? I, like many just choose not to get into the current debates. Because I work with people who are vulnerable, there are certain things I choose not to discuss.
What we say, do and give should be authentically us. And only what we feel comfortable sharing. It is more important to learn what we can from our experiences, and teach those skills on, than to dwell on the negatives of the past, or immerse in how unfair life is.
Good friends have empathy and compassion. Anyone saying ‘me too‘, every time you speak, might need to hear a little better.
Some things are better not said. Or just not shouted about all the time.
Facebook or Instagram pictures are wonderful for sharing the edited highlights which show no matter what life throws at you; you can choose a positive recall on some of the tough times.
Because what you do at the point of being asked how you are, is to find a few things you are grateful for. When writing your diary, listing a few things which sum up the best parts of the day paints a picture which starts to become positive. Sticking pictures of images which make your soul glow, even just celebrating somewhere that you see every day. Soon these images become your memories.. It sounds cheesy, but be grateful. Tell people what is good. Tell yourself what is good. Stop and look at the day.
The things that hurt, make you curl up in pain, stop you being who you want to be, whether there’s a pandemic or not, are still there. They still hurt. They still stop you in your tracks, make you sad, angry, frustrated, make you stupid tired, lonely, scared. ….
But they don’t define you. You’re not your pain. You’re not the way you feel about what is going on in the world. It isn’t obligatory to tell strangers your political views, your top ten records or holiday destinations fifteen days in a row. You are your smile, your laughter lines, your wonky fabulous view of the world, the snapshots that conjure up little moments of magic, the traits that your friends love. And those things are what your kids and friends see in you.
All else is fluff.
Hold on. You got this, and you are so much stronger than your inner voice thinks. Eat your greens, sleep long, breathe deep, love deeper, laugh at the random thoughts of small people, create lovely things and celebrate all parts of you. Loving what you have around you, doesn’t stop you wanting more from the future. It just means stepping into it with grace and dignity.
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.