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.
Sometimes life stops you in your tracks. But sometimes it’s a handy way to look at the view while the lights are on red. To take a moment to see who you are listening to. Is it your own wisdom, the intuition you were born with or the mumblings of other voices ?. Everything we do comes from a source of love or fear, and the option you have is choose to absorb only those who want to share the former.
It can take a long time to unravel the conditioning of a lifetime’s habits, a familial pattern, a marriage, a community belief system. But if a structure starts to jar, and prevent your creativity shining through, perhaps it’s time to regroup. Close your head to the noise everywhere around you. Break life down to its component parts and change, if change is what you seek, one breath, step, or thought at a time.
When we moved to a tiny place to start over, I made deliberate choices to simplify things financially and pressure wise. It isn’t easy to do this and it is a hard thing on your own. But at every junction, a new skill or resource, friend or doorway appeared when we least expected them to, and there was always enough. (That isn’t to say things haven’t been a challenge.) but there were very few moments to doubt that there should be trust in the bigger picture. And our abilities to navigate life’s ‘B’ roads.
This was us three years ago today. Before building our new home here by the sea.
You look back at things you do sometimes and wonder. How did I get here? How did I manage that? The house was only on the market one week. generally the best things we do in life are things that happen through a sense of pure will and determination, perseverance and intuition that it is simply what has to be done. We get our heads down and get on with it. finding a drive fuelled by a belly fire.
The night before News Years Eve our favourite place to stay told us last minute they had a cancellation. Already nearly ready for bed, we were at the time struggling to get a 2nd hand charity- shop games console to speak with and work on the TV. It was driving us both a bit doolally. Out of nowhere a text arrived from the b and b . It was a lifeline out of the doldrums, an injection of adventure we both needed. The house suddenly became a mad frenzy of hovering, packing, sorting out animals and arranging the details with neighbours..
We made it happen in a couple of hours and more that, nothing dreadful happened because it wasn’t in the plan. Sometimes the plan appears to be no plan. But we know deep down, there’s been a plan all along.
But I believe there is more to it than that. Looking out of the window at the garden, it’s so hard to believe that there will ever be blossoming plants and grass that never stops growing. It happens like magic. Just as our kids grow… And keep growing and changing, non matter how much we keep a snapshot of their baby faces on the mantle piece.
What we do with the time and resources we have then becomes a matter of not only trust but personal intuition. Right now, she’s cleaning her room, but she doesn’t know she’s doing it. My girl is ‘looking through’ some old toys, and thoroughly enjoying the process of re discovering, memories and finding lost treasure. There is singing, that’s a good sign.
Making a creative – being go from a to b, in a straight line can cause huge stress, and disarm their natural instinct to tweek, nibble at, shuffle around and sidelong glance at a project before jumping in ; And almost put out the fire of passion before it has begun. These spectrum based qualities can become clearer once labels start being given, especially when diagnosed with various types of autism. But this can take years. We know instinctively if our children need more variety in their learning, or a work better with a hat on, or sitting on the floor.
How many times a day do you rebel against yourself? Or someone else? This time of year, with the pressure of change and renewal , being better, living better, morphing into a new version of the old creaky us, can create lists of to do which hang heavy. The thing is, these lists aren’t created out of badness, their heart is in the right place. For instance, making new crafts, eating better, finding new love, clearing out the garage…its just.. all good, its just.. a big old excuse always comes up . We will always as humans want to do the opposite of what we tell ourselves we should.
Its actually not the worst thing we can do. Making excuses, being a little bit different to the expectation makes it far more likely to find a way of living, loving and being that is really you. I Was the kid in school dreaming out of the window of running across the fields out of he window, wearing nothing but a tutu and a huge straw hat.
In order to get the most out of ourselves we need to feel we are cheekily being slightly bad at the same time. Life should definitely not feel like we are colouring by numbers. Dry January should surely wait until such months as we are outside enjoying the spring sunshine (not needing a warm fire and moonshine)
I could have been only seen as a dreamer, But somehow, the gaps between the dreaming, when no-one was looking enabled productivity and studying. Squirreling away multiple projects and coursework at once until such times as a ta dah moment was needed. Reading through a leaflet for the village hall fair competition I came across recently, I was gobsmacked at hw many prizes one child could win with a few sticks of corn, potato printing and plasticine ‘Morph’ people in a shoe box.
And when at college I after bashing away at a project all morning in a flurry of paper and sticky back plastic, I was told by a student teacher , that the ‘mess’ was not the outcome of a perfectionist , as I was explaining I was; I took great delight in finally showing her the finished sparkling object.
Nobody should judge your process. And your process is special to you. No matter what it is you are trying to acheive. I am finding more and more that with arthritis in my hands, the limit for specific tasks is short.. So working with that, I might paint one area of a picture, and then using a different technique ( and hand movement) maybe work on something which doesn’t need a pincer movement! In a way working within your health restrictions, creates a different way of thinking and maybe new skils to try.
In reality this looks like various random piles of things. To paint a whole wall in one go is too painful, so there is some paraphernalia waiting to be completed in the hall.. slowly but steadily getting its Spring facelift. Many ideas have late have hatched little design chicks in Skye blue House. Some are harder to make than others, so need a blast of energy and a rest, some need passion and a breathing space from their grip and some are old friends which can be tinkered with and finished between the crafty imps of art which tear but fill your heart. 😊
Such is the tug and the drama and the pain of needing a physical body to make what we crave. Almost every activity needs some physical dexterity . But not finding it easy doesn’t mean stopping altogether
It is so easy to forget who we truly are. Especially if illness or fatigue creep in, when then destination we work to reach seems to get further away. Just like a never ending horror hotel corridor. Your tropical beach will I promise await you.. perhaps you just have a few things to organise first. But if you can see yourself there, you’ll be there. With an extra large tequila sunrise in your hand.
A strange things happens when people see you happy, especially when we shouldn’t be . When the odds look like they are stacked against you, but you strive anyway..Distracting your pain or temporary immobility with your permanent rose coloured specs. You will notice that your life becomes a story book..Witches and trolls will thwart your progress and joy. (banished as they are to their own lands of permanent misery) and their barbed comments will chip off your varnish . If you let them.
Forgetting to trust the process which has got you this far safely and creatively. lowers your resilience, stops you making, opens up your heart to hurtful jealous noise and ultimately proves your doubters right. If you start to see the creative unfinished processes waiting to be completed as shabby, you let other people’s negativity, pour doubt on your story.
Its not shabby. Its Shabby chic.
Having questions and consistently being aware is good. Seeing yourself through the judgement of others isn’t. Be grateful for this negativity though. Because it reminds you how much we can all do to use our obstacles as reasons to push further on our journey.
Bits fall off, bits gets broken. bits stop working. You can still be seen. Find the right people, find your process, find your passion and a way of showing it. If weeks and months have to go by with piles of half finished work waiting for warm weather, more money, finding your muse.. ITS OK..
For me, I have found that I have to creep up on finished tasks, by doing several at once. this not only gives an element of variety to the job, but stops it feeling like one huge mountain. If you can get past the ‘one- thing -at -a time- rule’ which is drummed into us from an early age, it can be liberating to challenge several tasks into bite size chunks, until they all get done. Its what we do in daily life anyway, why not throw in a few things that we love too? Stir your pot of homemade soup while listening to a story tape, paint a strip of wall every day until you finish the whole house, keep chipping away at your beautiful ideas and keep them alive.
And never stop believing that your instinct is 100% right and what you must do ..
Because, if you don’t, who else will ?
At our most taxing time, a time when I was literally frozen by fear, and by another’s control, I did the following. Every time I had an idea, a dream, a sketch of a plan to make a new life, I drew it and put it in an old carpet bag. I thought of the bag as a kind dragon that I had to keep feeding. Pop the morsel of trust and instinct in its mouth and it would keep growing.
This kernel of knowing you have it in you, is what keeps you safe, creative and moving forward. Every aspect of our home and the life we have now has come alive from seedlings in that bag. The big friendly dragon is more likely now to be a chicken or a soppy collie, cat or guinea pig. But even they have their own self affirmations in their bedrooms…
Stay cosy and warm, especially if you live somewhere cooler! and use the time to gather resources, potter, paint and plant those seeds.
This year has floored me, and thankfully after months of persistence and perseverance things are starting to happen now on the medical front, although, they are far from resolved. Tomorrow a knee operation will start things off and then hopefully the long-awaited tests and mri’s we are waiting for will get organised. It has been much harder being on crutches when another area of disease attacking the upper body has spread.
However, dwelling on the pain and things we can’t do isn’t what we are about around here, and helping each other out; making activities possible is not only what we do, but what we want to continue to build for lots of other people. Right now my gratitude overfloweth..
We have some amazing people in our lives, some who we see once a year, appearing with beach hut goodies to build our vision, others who donate lovely art materials for classes to use, others who collect stuff to draw, or help set up tables and carry bags and others who just are kinder than kind with their offers to be available to help.
Post op, we are pulling together our plans under a second blog- a seaside vintage community arts page which will celebrate your achievements, show our progress and tell people our ideas.
We would really love your help. If you would like to be a
trustee right at the start of this exciting project, please contact me on email@example.com. We
need people who have experience in funding applications!! And generally nice folk
who want to help people less able to be creative at the coast.