Once upon a time there was a magical garden.. full of real life fairies….who made real life fairy houses and believed in the power of their sparkly imaginations…
Most fairies know that the best magic is somewhere between what we see and what we believe… …
Hiding in the laundry…
Behind the flowers at the fishpond…..
But especially in the magical old hut at the bottom of the garden…
So, despite, every other grown up thinking they were a tiny bit mad.. one big person decided to make a new village slightly closer to home.. just in case any visitors happened to fly by..
After two years of .. er….mishaps.. there were plenty of mosaic pieces to pick from….
So with patient neighbours and a big hammer they began smashing and sorting…
A fairy path was picked out with different stone slabs as well as treasured shells, seaglass, marbles, stones and other magical finds.
A rare and deliciously indulgent zone was entered into, on and off for a few days, in the gaps between children and animals who needed food and attention, and the body parts could relax in a rare moment of heat from the sun.
After a little bit of internet inspiration……
Tiles were covered in broken china, and an initial plan of colours and design attached with waterproof tile adhesive..
Next the tiles were grouted with weatherproof stuff!! And then the village was patched together with areas of fake grass, coloured stones from the garden centre, to make paths and rivers, and painted in places to create pebbles, rocks and grassy banks. The paint used was acrylic and the coloured shed paint stuff used for the garden path. This all took a while to do, but by doing things properly.. getting each section into a seperate colour, texture and knowing what your plan for a design along the way gives a better finish and confuses the fairies a lot less.
There is a beach with fishermen…
These little folks, collected by a well-wisher were donated to The Beach Hut lady last Summer at St Abbs Summer Fayre!
A Circus with animals, optical illusions and a glittery tent. We are sure this becomes a den of iniquity after lights out…xx
There is a Park with trees, picnic tables and a bridge over the path..
A playpark with a pool and fountain, a glittery elf and a ladybird convoy…
A duck-pond with benches and real ducks….
A church, with a green man and fairy gravestones..
Various houses including a shell house and the woodland pixie’s house. Already there are signs of life….
There is a bus to get about in…
And a gate for well meaning non-fairie folk…
And a fairy hill..
The grown ups and small people around here are waiting for visitors -winged or not..
This is a village which will keep on growing.. Night and day xx
A few more details…
Re-painting Aldi fairies !!! , Tiny tiny tables and a bridge for beetles!
I was a little taken aback recently. It was just a few words, but you know how they can be. Little bowling balls aimed in the right direction striking misery into our well crafted lives and crushing our faith and confidence.
Same things different decade same hope that being would be enough.
Only difference now is, I know it is enough. And always was.
This is my daughter and our dog . They had just won sixth prize for waggiest tail and smiliest eyes in a country dog show.. ( the dog not the child) They were the happiest creatures in the world and I cried like an idiot seeing them jumping up and down with pleasure..
It was just pure joy.. My pride for her was physical. As lovely as ice cream.
This is her winning entry for the Borders Art Fair, kid’s Art competition. (Bit of a theme here) and same utter pride and pleasure in their success…
Taking pride in anything we have courage to do, should be shouted from the rooftops. Happiness in our achievements can be celebrated in a whisper or a scream but should always feel deserved. When you find it, remember to feel it, snapshot the moment, breathe it in and keep it close. I loved that there was such delight in 6th prize. As they had stood in line patiently waiting for any colour of rosette, watching other dogs take the stage, having any colour at all was perfect. There is plenty of time for being competitive in life. As human beings we spend our lives comparing ourselves. How lovely it was to simply be rewarded for being.
Friends. Use your imagination and energy for one thing and one thing only….. being colourfully creative.. Everything else is a waste of time.
On countless occasions recently I have seen and felt the aftermath of hyped- up imaginations going on overdrive and wreaking needless havoc for non-existent problems and comparing lives, pointlessly. Why is it so hard to believe that there are still people worth believing in? Why do we see a set of beautiful paint colours and insist on meddling it into sludgy brown.
Seriously. Are we looking for reasons to prove the world is flat?
Stop talking about each other and talk to each other. Appreciate that there are things you won’t understand about everyone and that we all have failings but leave theirs alone. Gaps don’t need filling in every silence.
Our spiralling thoughts can be our own worst enemy.
Damaging potentially gorgeous life experiences with questions and doubts.
Especially if they loop into the weave of things which are not of our control. Or things which are none of our business.
Believe that you matter.
This doesn’t mean you don’t care for those that you love and care for. But absorbing the weight of everyone’s problems without first knowing that you are ok, will leave you without a shield and that doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes people aren’t ready to know your stuff without bringing theirs to the table first. You won’t know this until you start talking, so choose your tribe wisely giving yourself permission to edit when people ask how you are. This is another reason for self expression through any activity which gets your fury out.. get digging in earth, get dancing, get making. But don’t get lost in the rejection you get if you don’t get heard. It’s not because you didn’t shout loudly enough. It just fell on deaf ears.
Perhaps enabling your troup with a balance of expression, nurturing and inspiration is a good start. when I was told recently that not everyone could be as positive as me, I didn’t get the chance to say this. “Nobody is positive all the time. Pain kinda does that. So does being a mum to an interestingly expressive wonder-child. But we are learning together our route through this chapter. And actually, what we doall have is a choice to go ahead or go under.”
And to be able to survive both your own path and help other people, be very careful of judging those who always have your back. You never know when you’ll need each other most.. A good team is crucial. They are sometimes unexpected and wonderful.
Be the enlightened creative version of you. Float above the dramas created by those on your path, tempting your attention and energy. People may be a bit confused by your apparent refusal to absorb their barbs but.. its a destination choice not your forever home …
You must consider how best to serve your best self.. your imaginative wonderful creative self. The one that if you were the best parent ever, you would be advising yourself to be. Make stuff. Do stuff, meet up with other people and then scoop up the ones who need your help and find out what you can achieve that you were always told you couldn’t. To help others do the same. Also, in answer to the previous question, I know that positivity is contagious. That every single one of the brilliant people we come into contact with in our classes, are closer to being able to help others, and by knowing that, are stepping out of behavioral patterns tying them to medication or worse. We are building far more than a portfolio.
And that gets us all out of bed.
All we ever have is ourselves and our unique gifts.
Seeing you thrive, develop, be your most colourful self is what your family and circle of friends (should) want for you.
Setting you up for your own adventures…
It is a joy to get older and wiser, accruing and cementing values and idiosyncrasies If we waste our time picking holes in what other people are doing, saying, thinking, wearing, watching, reading, painting, believing, what are we giving up in return?
The freedom of peaceful non judgemental thoughts?..
And the right not to be judged in return.
Our life is like a story. Each chapter unfolds as we go. Some chapters are harder and longer than others and seem to go on for ever. If we use up our precious reserves of energy by fuelling animosities and looking for reasons why other’s are failing; our focus shifts away from the story we are in.
And the stories we are telling with our hands, hearts and voices aren’t nearly as much fun as what we could be getting up to..
I have this weird and indescribable belief that there is a truth, and a reason to do what we do. Nothing to do with religion or karma, but an instinct which is strong enough to keep us safe, fed and moving through each dark passage. It is the picture in our heads we keep safe until we get there. And it works.
Believe you are worth something wonderful, that your burning desire to make and write and grow another world for people to smile at, is why you are here. It isn’t easy for someone unhappy to let you live that life. In the hope that you’ll pop back in your neat little box and cause no embarrassment , they might pick away at you until you stop, or ignore you completely.
Ill health and joint immobility have done their usual over winter, and still we are in limbo with several surgical procedures to come..
But as we drove away on a recent epic drive, which was both long and painful, surrounded by cushions and in an automatic car.. my awesome daughter reminded me that this wasn’t the moment to simply survive, but to flourish. We channelled a flourish for 600 miles..
And that’s the thing.. if you’re going to be in pain, better to (where possible) try and distract yourself by not being alone, try and create at least some memories despite what the Gods have shoved in your face… The things we do can be ploughed through , enjoyed or celebrated and rejoiced for the happiness they give us. Life isn’t a list. It’s a chance. People fortunate enough to be on your path, your offspring, your friends.. they are lucky to have you, your crazy colours, your big heart..
and all your creations !!
So me and my dawg and our arthritic paws will carry on being positive . Who knows which one of us will get a waggy tail prize next time .
It’s hard to describe in words what and why our favourite memories are so important.
Every story begins with a single moment in time..
Every night my daughter and I write her diary… If it was up to her we would write the repeated sentence, “We did maths”……..
But what if she peeked a bit further into her memory lunch box?
So instead, as she comes in the door, I make a mental note of the trials and tribulations of her day… the playground dramas, the hay bale climbing, the secret societies being made and broken over a packet of crisps, and the shyly given piece of information of a boy smiling who smiled at her…. Next year these things will make her laugh and capture the essence of this day… far better than if it was listed or written by a well meaning but unobservant adult.
Last week it was my birthday, we ate amazing food and stayed in our favourite hotel. I had wrapped up gifts I had bought over the months leading up to the day itself… and the ironing was done well in advance… But what I remember most about the day was the silly moments, the spontaneous stuff and the effort made by other people to show their kindness- the candle lit cupcakes brought out by the kitchen at breakfast and the spontaneous happy birthday song from the rest of the guests, and the handmade frame lovingly glued together over several nights by the monkey in our neighbour’s shed .
To begin the week we had gone to a quiz night at the local community centre. I had naively thought this was an easy-ozey fun affair, where locals caught up on the week. Ha,… On stepping into the room at the exact moment of the arranged start time, pens were poised and papers grasped in the ‘ team-captain’s hand and tumble weeds slowly ambled past, as us two -and- a -half -humans appeared in the doorway looking for spare table room…oops.
We were seated with three serious looking folk who for a long time wouldn’t let us answer many questions in case we were in fact as daft as we looked. Hilarious.
But as the evening, and rounds wore on, and the drinks in paper cups were downed, the table softened and we began to see between the lines on the paper… to the people who were there…stories unfurled and lives were glimpsed. We dug a bit deeper and realised it mattered so much more that you could catch the wave of this strange combination of people, mid mad discussion, sharing old and possibly half invented tales… than it did to know the answers to the questions… Thankfully!!
Memories- elusive little creatures.. what makes them park up and stay?
I’ve stayed in many countries on holiday in my previous life, enjoying the generic pleasures of hotels by the sea, but truth be told… I get them muddled up in my memory banks, because many places are awfully similar, catering for what us humans believe we need on our wish list, to make the perfect setting for a perfect break. Although grateful to have travelled, and having had the means to, if I had the chance to tell my more agile self anything, it would be this; get off the beach and do yoga up a mountain. There are only so many plates of all inclusive combo you can eat after a night watching parrots in national dress…
And all these things makes me realise that the key to memories that matter isn’t where you are, it’s how you are when you’re get there… What you let in. The truth is all in the details. Illness or disability might try and take something away; but, if you let it, it can be the beginning of delving deeper into life’s potential. And I have decided if.. sorry.. when they give my wonky bones an oil change… when my hair is blue and I am in motorbike leathers, then I will not be on a cruise, I’ll be doing yoga up a mountain.
Sometimes the magic of adventure can literally take your breath away. Twenty years ago I stepped off an Italian bus one early misty morning and turned down an alleyway into a cobbled and arched Venetian street. It was a faded sparkly quitely lapping wonder. I Stepped through a cobweb of treasured stories read in adolescent novels, and inspirations hungrily devoured at college. It was real. I was finally there, breathing it in. It was all my senses at once. A perfect moment. And like a camera click it is still there caught in my memory bubbles where I shall feast on it always. It made me cry. As did the moment my daughter was placed in my arms after ten long years of not succeeding in that particular quest.
Roll on plenty more road trip adventures of all shapes and sizes please. x
( But one drama queen is quite enough…….!!!!
Memories are bubbles of fabulous experiences that matter. They don’t need to be cost dependent but they should definitely be valued and treasured. For those of you not exhibiting in the Tate gallery.. Making Art or a craft are valuable ways of capturing something you want to remember through your own unique vision. The simple act of looking in more detail without judgement or filter encourages a better connection, whether you are drawing your favourite surroundings, your aged pet or your dreams..
St. Abbs Harbour Sketch from a moment on the way home from Brownies!
…..Make something… Anything…Or help someone else to..
True love and friendship.., your forever home, the perfect moment, a deep connection… none of these can exist without the ability to appreciate or stop long enough to look a little closer…
We had entered the quiz hall feeling that we were outsiders in the big scheme of general knowledge and random clever-clog-ness and realised that the emotional intelligence it takes to connect with your immediate tribe is far greater and richer. Shaking that need to win, find reason, meaning which determines our greatness sometimes gets in the way of good old-fashioned joy. ( And despite the hysteria, we did still manage to get second place!
So do what kids do…
I get told off by everyone I know for having too much stuff in my car, but being unable to dash off and quickly gather a deck chair/dog blanket/set of paint brushes or emergency outfit for a mucky kid has its disadvantages…
I pack them just in case. And for the many, times now that we have surprised, comforted, calmed and quietened the folk we have met up with, I know we do the right thing..
And I do so with no shame anymore….
Because, my picnics are legendary, I can always provide an activity for a hyper child and if you got stuck in traffic, you could at least eat your limp sandwiches on an M and S retro plate. And these things make certain happenings…. into magic moments. Trust me.
You do what YOU can. Someone else can run to the shops for the prosecco. I will be on the beach with the cosy blanket and salmon bagels…hoping I get into my small person’s diary once in a while…Ooh pick me!!!!
As we spent the day painting pebbles for a charity day in St abbs recently, I wandered around chatting to the fellow stall holders One fabulous lady whom I bought a few beachy bits from, said she had waited years for a beach hut , but it went to her relative and so she was selling her stuff for charity, the lifeboat here in the village., …. Guess who was happy to give the seaside paraphenallia a good home !!!
I got our things and she asked me if she could photograph my garden. She had walked past a few times. she knew it was mine she said … It had to be !! I was touched and thankful. It was of course, really complimentary. And they were a lovely family. They are in the gang..
Another woman walked up to the stall. I had seen her about in the village.. I knew that perhaps we had a similar taste in planting as both our gardens have thrived in the summer heat. I complimented this lady on her colourful skirt and top saying she looked nice and bright.. Imagine.. the surprise when the reply was.. Well I wish I could say the same about your house.. Ohh!! well, ‘That’s me told…….’. ‘Yes, she said,….. ‘I don’t like your house !!’
It isn’t what everyone has but really? Would you say it out loud!!
How easy would it be to wipe out that earlier lady’s comment? Or all those other nice comments we hear from people all the time? All the photos we get asked if people can take.. or the joy we can see when people see the achievement , just because of that ONE negative perspective?
BUT we do..
We all do. All the time. The tiny tiny bad bit becomes all we think about in the big scheme of things and it is madness. ( But normal!) We are so much more than the jealous, or sad, or lonely person who chooses to voice their feelings in that way and we happen to get in the way at that moment, on that day…
The other 67843 lovely comments are still true.. REALLY. !!! And at the end of the day.. Do I like my garden? Yes.. Does the kid growing up in it feel happy in it .. YES.. !!
Having gone through a long term situation where there was a LOT of negativity.. I try to remember how fleeting these random commentaries are.
The opinion of those we love.. yes, to a point.. but mostly if we are looking in the mirror and the person staring back is ok with the stuff we are doing/thinking/being… it’s probably enough..
Because I just don’t want to be anyone else.. And neither should you . All things which are different create a reaction..If nobody is harmed, affected or comprimised by your flourishing.. carry on….Be your own reference.
If you get negative comments….Don’t go back in your shell… Decorate it !!
There is a feeling of inadequacy in certain circles if you aren’t going at a rate of knots and cramming as many experiences and selfies in as you can , you aren’t doing life properly .
On holiday in Spain recently, madam and I watched as Montserrat was viewed , not in awe through the eyes and ears of its spectators , but through a couple of thousand phone lenses . In the cathedral chapel , a precious choir of Angelic boy’s voices , who only sing for a few moments per day in solemn and beautiful prayer was drowned out in clicks and buzzes as the stretched out arms of selfie sticks , rose above the crowds to ‘capture ‘the magic .
Once sated, the crowd , en- masse, shuffled into each other to escape , whilst the singing was still continuing, and began queuing for their next picture … to kiss a statue .
It’s true .
There were very few who were actually really there .
So it made me think about how we have to be more than tourists in our lives . There are moments everywhere to be appreciated and knock us out in wonder, to balance out the worst (in most… ) situations, if we look hard enough: and trust in something bigger than ourselves .
Some of you will know that my small person can struggle with certain emotions, as a young carer and just generally .. !!! I recently posted this on my fb page :
………So today I was at my at my wits end.. a strop from madam , whilst I was in the wheelchair , her refusing to move … lashing out at the wheels , quite quite horrible and embarrassing , at a sacred site in the rain …😫… oh dear … but ….. tonight 💕an elderly Irish man came up to us at dinner and said .. I just wanted to tell you both how amazing , and brave and inspiring you are. ( he got a kiss ) and a little faith and equilibrium was restored . When the chips are down , even if one person sees things, and your loved ones the way you can … well .. that’s enough for me ♥️♥️♥️ xxx
I posted this, not to receive the ..(very, very appreciated !!) comments, but to remind myself that I had substance still. I was more than the sum of my legs in a wheelchair or on crutches, and wasn’t an ‘imperfect’ parent because I couldn’t do what other parents (look like) they can do. And to notice that moment and celebrate it. I may never see that man again, but his kindness will stay with us always.
I had got us to Spain for heaven’s sake and up a mountain in a cable car . Maybe the disco would have to wait until I get some new joints, but there is always a way to have fun.
We stayed to hear the choir, whilst being bumped and jostled . It was incredible .
Fruit is clearly made for making faces.. and at home we watch as our starling feeds his wife and babies at our kitchen window ( and someone else’s babies too I think ! )
And we will carry on noticing when nice things are happening under our noses .
You are lucky . You might not know why yet . In an art class recently one of my wonderful group was making a word picture . I asked him to think of his favourite person . I wasn’t expecting it to be me. I was humbled that the couple of hours given to my group had netted me that honour. Every day someone might see you in that way.
Remembering that you might be the only person someone sees today and something you say to them might wake them from their doldrums or turn their world on its axis .. simply by you noticing them ..it’s a powerful reason to notice your own good qualities and the small but wonderful things only you can do .
Many of our community classes love to see their artwork on line and celebrated on our Facebook pages . It is lovely to see finished projects and pull together a series of finished art projects .
But sometimes people and classes need to be quiet.
Contemplative……………, of the moment and about the moment …………. Some days photos aren’t needed. Some days the process and the company is enough, and provides a safe and assured space to just be . Some artwork never goes on the wall .
It’s enough to be fully in a moment and record that moment it in a way that will stay in your heart – in whatever makes the most sense to you. I love a good selfie, and you know I am attached to my camera like a third arm! But for us, they capture more than a pose … Our pictures capture all the patch-worked fragments of the magic we couldn’t paint / photograph or write about at that time. And when we see those pictures they will come with a soundtrack and a sensory record of what daft conversations or creative experiments we were in the middle of.
Share everything you feel you want to, never let it feel repetitive, but most importantly, slow each precious moment down to a snails pace for future joyous repeat performances.
Every day I feel the need to apologise for something or other.. Usually for reasons I have conjured up from my perception of other people’s feelings..
No idea why!! But We ALL do it..
It’s human, and so so tedious!! We spend our lives being good parents, friends, work colleagues and children, and most of us strive to do good in the world. Yet, somehow, all the wonderful, creative, kind, selfless things have bypassed our self -back -patting buttons and our focus crashes into… the slightly odd conversation with the distracted friend we met..(Must be our fault), the letter we haven’t written yet, the cupcakes the school expect, the dust not swished, the family feud not resolved..
Negative voices get in the way of a peaceful existence. That’s a little bit of a waste of precious head space.
In my work as community artist and in mental health, I have seen firsthand how quickly negative self talk can destroy our abilities to function, let alone create. We can literally paralyse ourselves.
The creative process works best when our brains are free to explore and intuit, rather than stiffly attempting to produce under the harsh scrutiny of our own, or another’s glare.
For most of us, this inner critic began in the classroom when we decided at five or six that we couldn’t draw, and this belief became conditioned in us from an early age. We were then categorized in school and out into bands or grades, creating was about ‘having-to’ draw like a photograph or else you were rubbish at art.
It is wonderful to be able to draw, and to acquire the patience, dexterity and focus to copy a photograph. But not everybody can do that.
It is clever to be clever and intellectual and have such great ideas that corporations pay huge amounts for concepts and installations.. But rarely do artists make livings producing and sustaining these works, and not everybody understands (or chooses to) understand them… There is a lot of Art out there….
There is a feeling surrounding ‘making’ that it is an exclusive domain of the already talented. However, Being at peace, Creating Art and learning craft skills are not mutually exclusive. They are all very much interlinked and they are your tools to learning how to communicate a, to yourself and b, to those around you.
Play first!! What our groups focus on is what young children do. To understand materials and explore the potential without judgement or (and most importantly) without expectation of an end result. Letting the therapeutic experience of being amongst friendly people of different backgrounds, building confidence and leaving judgement and worries at the door.. Lets the creative genie in. And then anything might happen. There is teaching. There are exemplars and inspirations to follow if you want to. But it’s a choice and a starting point.
The blank sheet of paper metaphor for life is the stumbling point for so many creative and inspiring adventures we could take. Guilt for more worthy things instead, fear for not being good enough flank either side of our poor little brains.. Then we think…”What’s the point.”
Easier to dust…..
Except, you don’t make friends by dusting, or chat through the feelings you’re going through or learn something you might actually love doing and benefit from .
The first creative endeavors you twiddle with when you start exploring are never going to set the world on fire.. Who cares! Starting somewhere is the important part of the journey. I still have feelings of guilt every time I step into my studio. But here what I’ve learnt. Those feelings are normal, and ok because it means I care about the people in my life and I have a conscience. However…
What about… If you Feel the guilt and do it anyway….
I now know; that everyone in my life who matters and who has stayed with us on our journey/met us on the way understands that we (mini me and I) are as we are. Juggling disability/single-mumdom and life in the wilds/childhood traumas/village life and days where limbs don’t work. ……They know that our hearts are firmly on our sleeves, and we value our extended family of friends to the moon and back, so lapsed contact is usually for a good reason. I am getting better at sitting still occasionally, and not giving all my time/money/stuff away. Actually not leaving my artwork until I am too knackered to give it the attention it deserves; because I am realising that a guilt free, better-rested me, is able to ultimately create more authentically, and connect more deeply.
It is so worth challenging those guilty feelings and asking why and who makes you feel that way?
TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER… It is ok not to be glued to the demands of replying to other people by email or message. They chose to communicate at that moment.. You choose when/if you want to reply. Pick a time that suits to do that stuff and have a list, or you’ll get lost in technology land.
It is so so easy to get trapped inside your house. Even for the most confident person, self talk will flood in and take over. It is ok to be anxious after illness, but getting to a creative and easy going space will do wonders for your heart. SPEAK TO SOMEONE YOU FIND INTERESTING AND COMPLIMENT THEM. Immediately you are not defenceless, you are powerfully giving, and can save the world with your loveliness…Have no expectation other than to keep breathing…
TRY SOMETHING YOU FEEL DRAWN TO, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS; There is a nagging thing in your head that you know you want to do. Do you really want to be wishing you’d tried in twenty years? If it’s your parent’s voice telling you not to.. (That’s a whole other post) but it’s their guilt/ fear and anxt they’ve passed to you… Feel the guilt and do it anyway, then stop feeling bad because ….nothing bad will happen (there are exceptions to this obviously… but I am assuming I have a certain calibre of audience!!)
Nobody has it perfect before they start.. If you wait until it all comes together before you step outside/breathe life into that project or plant that space… the day will keep magically getting further away. When we put our house up for sale last year, it sold in a week, we had 12 weeks to move a lifetime of home/teaching possessions , buy a house, ( we didn’t know where,) find the money for a mortgage and I wasn’t working as I had retired from my teaching job. I was literally winging it….It took an enormous amount of belief..
I felt a bit guilty. I had visions of having to saw my crutches in half to fit in the cardboard box I was certain me, my child, our dog and two cats would be living in!!
But I also had a massive amount of faith in it being ok. And it was in the end through sheer grit that we sunk everything into getting here and making it happen! Our friends are thankfully now able to visit an actual house and not a cardboard box, and one by one the have-to’s and musts are being zapped to make room for want-to’s and love-doings… I’ll post updated pictures next time. If you can think it… anything is possible. Pop the guilt balloon. Come and play. Share what makes you tick, and you might surprise everyone, not least yourself.