If all we have is here and now, wrapped in the moment's arms
To see the line of sunrise bleeding inky peaceful charm.
To crush the darkest fears at night with fingers laced in mine
And deep in your blue eyes I see your joyful vibrant shine.
To wash away the worry of the meals and plans and musts,
For this is all that matters and you've given me your trust.
By candlelight we laugh and shout and eat toast by the fire
And find the spaces in between the gadgets, noise and wire.
A thousand seconds just like this, made Christmas warm and good
No power, rules and structure
No doing what we should.
In gratitude we say to darkness smothering the scene
with no distractions light Shines brightly, from a new formed teen.
How you are is my best gift, this year: and all to come.
I humbly write my thankyou card, I'm blessed to be your mum .
Some people believe, that every person or animal that crosses our path does so for a reason. Sometimes it is very brief moment, a look, an interaction, an understanding, or sometimes we stay longer with one another.
Although we can probably agree that the pull of animal company of some kind is often felt, everyone has a definite tolerance level and relationship with certain animals and or species of that animal. ( and yes, occasionally, there is the a heart which not even the fluffiest puppy can crack)
So why do we choose a particular pet? What are we seeing that makes them stand out, hum, reverberate, send out little ‘you need me‘ signals to our brains? I have often wondered why the animals we have are so uniquely ‘ours, who does the connecting?!.’
There seems to be something inherently positive about being in the close proximity of other thriving living things, as we can often see from animal assisted therapies. Their key focus is to improve human psychological wellbeing.
The Medical News today describes the Benefits of animal assisted therapy as;
increasing movement and activity through walks and play
providing companionship and decreasing loneliness
increasing social interactions
improving mood and general well-being
By doing the following
providing comfort and reducing levels of pain
improving movement or motor skills
developing social or behavioral skills
increasing motivation toward activities such as exercise or interacting with others
Having worked in mental health over the last few years, including teaching in care homes; I have seen the joy first hand of how animals can pull a patient back for a few precious moments, in the way music often can, and give such pure, immediate pleasure. I have taken dogs and guinea pigs into classes with me, seen Shetland ponies in dementia wards or birds of prey help to calm adults with long term anxiety issues. .
During the last year, for many people I know, including us, animals have featured in their wellbeing. From caring for pets, as a reason to get outside and shop for food, to get exercise, for children to do the same, an excuse to meet with a friend for a dog walk or run (as essential exercise,) watching wildlife in the garden and enjoying the small but incredible pleasures of hatching eggs in nest boxes, hedgehogs in homes, foxes wandering freely, and seeing on the television animals reclaiming areas once lost to man. We hear some horror stories too, of dog snatchers and fly tippers blackening natural habitats for natures creatures. And we care. Our children’s generation can know every inch of every creature if they choose to from the plethora of information and documentaries available.
Facebook is full of animals. And our houses are. Unlike our actual families though, we get to choose which ones live with us. Our very good friend David lost his beloved Dog Glen last year , and will be the first to admit that the gap left by his best pal broke his heart. But the universe had a plan. Despite doubts that there would ever be another dog as perfect, Glen sent Kiera. A rescue, patiently waiting in the wings at a rescue centre. After a few lockdown hoops to hurdle, David’s perseverance paid off. Kiera recognised him the moment they met. She hung on his every word and gazed at him with pure love. I have never seen a dog that knew its owner so immediately and why they were destined to bring a smile to each others lives.
So why and how do animals trust us?
Many dogs are happy-go-lucky, love everyone and are happy to greet people they meet with a happy wagging tail. But there are also a lot of dogs who appear to like some people, but not others.
Does your dog like everyone he meets, or does he gravitate towards some people and not others? We certainly notice how similar our dog feels about people in comparison to how we do. He can sense fear, ambivalence, or joy, and if presented with an air of calm authority, slips into the role of obedience he feels comfortable in. When people give mixed messages, he doesn’t understand the rules.
Because the rules are clear and body language is calm around all the animals , at the same time, it has helped integrate them into the household together. Bear and Max ( a male cat) could easily have been at each other’s throats, and started out as natural rivals. But sitting with them both at the same time, giving them equal attention, soothing movements and an escape route, slowly got them used to one another. and now they are all pretty good at sharing our attention. I just have to watch that Bear doesn’t lovingly leap on my lap to cuddle the guinea pigs. He still thinks he is a puppy.
I watched as my daughter, already (and this pains me ) she is taller than me.. lolloped down the road with our Bear recently….Far from being an aberration, (which having a large dog one is often made to feel that he is;) he looked, the perfect size for her growing gait. She needed a big dog. I watch them playing together. She needed him. At first their bond was tenuous. She wasn’t sure. He wasn’t the same as what she knew. But now she won’t get up unless he’s had his morning cuddle.
Have you ever met a dog that looks and behaves a lot like their person? The saying “like attracts like” applies to dogs and people, too. Dogs often choose a favourite person who matches their own energy level and personality.
Some dog breeds are more likely to bond with a single person, making it more likely that their favourite person will be their only person. Breeds that tend to bond strongly to one person include:
If you are interested in this subject, and for more information on suitable dog breeds
Looking back on Bear’s early months, is like a film reel, much like bringing up a boisterous child, it flashes up in memory scenes of carpet scrubbing, doggie howling, great escape attempts, ( and victories) pining for company at night and the ever present danger of the gate being left open. At least with a child there was always soft play on rainy days.
Time races on, and if we aren’t careful we lose the magic of the best times inside the worst fragments of clutter, the mess, the noise. the lack of sleep, no routine, lack of control of no kind of order ever again. We yearn for a different life, another one we saw somewhere online, where other people’s kids and animals always behave. We forget to remember the choices we made. And why we and they are here.
What if the animal with you is teaching you what you need right now. What if the lessons being taught by daily experiences are showing up to enrich the life we can sometimes take for grated , and create new directions we hadn’t planned. Because we forgot there was more than one path to go down?.
Our old dog skye was the gentlest calmest dog on the planet. She needed no lead, she just stayed by my side. She was so soft that Guinea pigs could sit in her box with her and be left there. She left the chicken use her as a sun block. Her soul was so pure and kind. It reached out to everyone that ever met her and we made friends through her as soon as we moved here. She was easy to take on holiday and we could leave her for hours quite happily, with food and toys. Building a life and painting things, creating art around Skye was a joy. She was like calm air next to you.
So; losing her was devastating. You’ll know yourself if you love your animals how much of a gap they leave. And out of the blue quite unexpectedly came a message on Facebook. My friend has a puppy. ‘She’s very cute,’ I say. ‘There’s one left in the litter’ Emily says back. Crap It wasn’t the plan. We were going to get the same dog again. Exactly the same dog. But it was what was meant to be.
This little black thing was put in my arms and nestled in. My friend helped co-ordinate the surprise for Leah, and it was wonderful. He was so small and fluffy and had big paws and a little round tummy.
And then the reality sunk in. He was also mad And was not calm air. He was a cyclone.
He didn’t stop. At all. And was very smart, working out to escape out of things very quickly, he literally had me cleaning carpets all day whilst crying for attention. He shouted when I wasn’t in the room (lockdown baby) and he needed a lot more love, moulding and effort than Skye ever did. In short this soul was sent to try us.
It was like going back 12 years with a small needy little baby and no support network to swap mum stories with.
However, we persevered. Through a mix of wierd trickery that dogs are expert at, love that can’t be explained , determination to get some sense into him and a bit of structure back. Two out of three isn’t bad. He has taught us to be in the moment He has been a much better guard dog and actually is helpfully instinctive about people. Although he is very gentle, he can still shout.
He has brought challenges which needed to be overcome, and is very good at receiving and giving hugs, which we are all desperate for just now.
Dogs need fresh air regardless of the weather, and we need reasons sometimes to keep getting outside and breathing it, especially if, like me, the cold affects your body. The days are planned better with the sun grabbed like a precious jewel and savoured between days and months at home.
His presence has encouraged a mindful way of living and possessing things. We have had to have less clutter because he eats it. There is less of a concern with the perfection of our space (not that I was ever Mrs Bucket), because two minutes hater Bear will have charged around like a race horse and messed it up. Just like a toddler he has no concept of what is his to use, as I recall various lipsticks Leah smeared on her cheeks and shoes of mine she plonked about in. It’s ok. This will not be this way for ever. Already he isn’t the same as he was two weeks ago. What you get is to be in the moment with a dog. This was his very first moment of a play date.
Writing this morning there is a big dog lump on my knee, having his morning cuddle, being gentle with the other animals, going through to Leah’s room soon for his morning leap on her bed, I realise he was exactly the dog we needed. Bear fits us all.
Time is spent more wisely when you have less of it, when incorporating a new element into the routine, almost like having a new born again. I had to make art when he napped, clean the house when he was out for a walk with Leah , keep things simple both in structure and in terms of what was around us physically. It was a daily battle. But it also provided a pretty great distraction from all that was awful in the world. Or at least somewhere to put all that love we seem to have around here.
Between a child that is naturally messy and a dog that eats everything on earth, it is a daily ritual to scan everything ALL the time and has been since he arrived. . Socks, books, coal, Lego, plastic or wood of any kind. All small objects below waist height were up for grabs. As he grew, so did his range of edible delights and the strain of hiding more things. Or throwing them away. But in doing that, another thing happened. Selections were made about what mattered and what could go, or be safely given as a new toy, or be saved.
Things become less precious when you keep having to throw away cushions that get eaten. And I love cushions. But there are years of your life that are scruffier than others, more dog eared, more selective. He was in affect, the doggie version of Marie Kondo.
And once he started it became a bit easier to keep clearing out and taking stock of what was precious and needed to be hidden for now!
There were months of stressful bits, but it wasn’t the whole story. Leah magically captured the real Bear so far here .
It was never my intention to have lots of animals! Your heart seems to expand the more beasts and children you squish into your life. From the multitude of cats and dogs, to the guinea pigs, fish, and chickens who have lived with us, all of them have been loved , valued and treasured. However long an animal is with you, if we respect its temperament and fears, the rest follows. And hopefully the time we have together teaches us to slow down and see life through our pets eyes..
I have lessened the time spent online recently, pouring energies into the immediacy of home, creating, animals, future ideas and health. But this quote I saw on face-book captures what animals teach us to do by proxy, and returning to life after the pandemic, I hope will teach us the same.
Even if you don’t have an animal yourself, but enjoy the company of other people’s, there is much to learn from how animals learn from us and how it is possible for us all to co-exist peacefully, slowing down and using our instincts wisely. And maybe oiling our hearts in the process.
I was noticing how much time I am taking up in the last week or two, and decided to write on behalf of my household. It is quite clear I am pretty much in charge these days and fill in the hours that must have been so empty without me by creating a never ending need for the carpet cleaner and a discerning taste for pyjama hems and ankles. I have a feeling that stuff must happen while I am in my fluffy bed, because it all looks different when I wake up . The big one that feeds me when I sit next to my bowl , splashes a lot of stuff out of tubes in the mornings. I tried tasting it but I just got a blue moustache and a telling off ….
So, as usual, I am in charge today. Paw in hand I am giving Mum a break while she tries to explain to the smaller one (again) why coal, pencils, socks, cheese string wrappers, slime tubs, lipstick, hair bands and crisp packets are very delicious but I’m not allowed to eat them for some bizarre reason…
Still… being a good boy (or girl) does have it’s advantages.. There are some pretty good hugs around here.. And the food is excellent. I would like to present you my first poem in appreciation of my new home. Hope you like it. x
Poem by Bear
. There once was a puppy called bear Who lived in a home with sea air His days were filled up with learning to know which was the carpet and where not to go
He tried to make friends with the cavies and cats And chewed all the corners off tables and mats
His paws were huge and his fur was all tangly His eyes were like buttons, his legs growing gangly She grumped in the morning when ankles were bitten And thieving was common of socks, homework, mittens… But end of the day when school end was done It started to sink in that this was quite fun,
Big paws are great for a play and a cuddle They make the room fun when parents see muddle They take you for walks when it’s rainy or fine
and they curl up inside a warm bed around nine
It’s good being small you can hide under dressers And shake all your toys till they spew out old feathers Your mum feeds you lots when you do your big eyes You have to remember to sit for a prize
Love is so easy to give to your tribe They always still hug if you’re manic at five I’m learning that hands are better for pats My teeth are like needles, and humans hate that
My best fun is paper to shred into bits And icy cold carrots are a teething hit I love My bed best when a heartbeat I hear It makes me feel safe and I drift somewhere dear
I didn’t like feeling alone in my cave The hall wasn’t great for my nightmares and fears. Dogs are like humans, they need to feel safe we need you to know it can take many years
I am so excited for beaches and woods
for hugs with new friends and all that is good life’s big adventures, fun and travels to come But I like it best when I’m curled up with mum xxx
See you soon on the Beach ! Love from Bear, Mum and the zoo xxxx
Today my not so little girl, like millions of other children will go back to school. Its not primary anymore, where she is home by three and I go through her lunchbox , or the madness of home schooling, including the requisite ten spelling words and a project about the number of sultanas in a cake. This is the big.. Wide. World. Of high school.
Unless the government suddenly decide children aren’t safe there either and change the plans again!
I must admit to a tiny wobble yesterday… She is my right hand, (literally) my pest in a vest, my monkey, my friend. It is also wonderful and hugely exciting . We got through all these months, mostly on our own and we got to this huge day, with half an inch before she is as tall as me. . How wonderful is that. I might now get the occasional quiet thought …
Or ….Maybe not. After we lost our beloved Skye, the plan was to wait to get a puppy. A collie, a girl puppy. In Winter. Ha Ha.
We have been blessed with a teeny new addition around here. She is a HE. He isn’t a Collie and he is here right now, with his big fluffy feet.
More paws. !!
You see making plans is crucial, but so is being able to see when a more ideal surprise comes along… Waiting for the perfect moment, home, person, pet, set of circumstances to jump fully in…. means we often don’t jump at all.
Sometimes all of our real life stories read like a Christmas day Eastenders episode. We wonder what madness will happen next, what crazy character will pop up and demand we use our hidden superpowers? . We could never have known what was going to happen as we sat eating our Christmas dinners last December, making plans for Summer holidays, and adventures with our families and friends..We don’t really feel freedom until it has been taken from us. Or appreciate our health, until we dont have it, or how wonderful our connections are until we feel lonely. This has highlighted so much for so many. Not everyone has had the same experience, or network. But your inner resilience will be full. And has given us all a chance to think who was there, and what we truly need.
Throughout this lockdown we have held our loved ones so tightly. Consistently helped others, talked on zooms to maintain connections with groups and shopped for others who couldn’t get out. We have needed faith in there being an end to this , that there can still be learning and gaining positive skills from the limitations holding life back.
To sustain inner strength you need to know there will always be someone to hold your hand, or carry you..
Whether that might be through a friendship or relationship ending, circumstances of the pandemic, or through bereavement. Time with someone can still be cherished, no matter how the story ends.
In February, our charitable enterprise was in the midst of organising exhibitions, collaborations, venues for sales and ideas for projects with different groups. After lockdown began; almost every plan we were making was either culled or put on hold indefinitely.
It was just a different world and required a new trust. Between us we looked after the animals, and as a young carer, My daughter was great at helping with the weekly shop (the highlight of the week) and the dog walking. We drew, created, shared the artwork to the various art groups run with Sea Sparkle , did her homework, looked through old photos, fed our zoo, and each other and existed in our bubble.
Popping the bubble when we initially left the house after four months was a bit of a shock but a wonderful one. Determined to stop and appreciate the freedom of being somewhere other than the garden. Being unable to walk far, it was all the sweeter being able to drive to other places…
Throughout lockdown, conversations have been had making a plan or two for the future and these can now start to come to fruition. It takes a lot of faith to keep believing it will be alright. That the things we do every day, and chip away at, will bear fruit and blossom. They do, they will. It will be OK.
I have faith in the right people being in our lives at the right time. And that as life starts up, in a new way it might just be a chance to recalibrate.
We can soon begin to reach more vulnerable adults through our Art Resources and get on with the new normal. As our children embed new experiences and friendships, another Autumn term begins for parents too.
We will shortly put together a small exhibition on our sea sparkle page to show what everyone has created.
I hope that one day those of you who consistently read this will be at a table sketching and drinking coffee with us. That our shop becomes a physical one where your ideas also take shape.. All we can do is control our thoughts to be positive and carry on making baby steps towards our dreams. Being around close knit family recently might have impacted on these ambitions. Remember, even people who love you might not want you to succeed. There is safety in things staying as they are.
But do it anyway…
Because nobody knows what the future holds. Hold the present in your hands
Eat, Love, read and dress for you and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If this has taught us anything, it is not wasting time on anyone else’s fear.
I wonder how they are all getting on. Probably feels normal already. Kids have the fear thing sorted…
Dearest friends. How are you holding up? What strategies are working best?
Although not easy getting the tribe up so early, the pleasure of early sunlight and space to roam for ten minutes was lovely and worth every grumble. (actually, some of the tribe, the four legged contingency would eagerly beach walk at midnight; so ……just the humans.)
The thing to remember is that whatever you feel at the moment is normal because for a little while this is normal
A daily walk around the block with Skye’s boyfriend.
Everyone has a different coping strategy, mechanism and limit. We only have to look at a facility like Facebook to see how many different ways of communicating our ideas, ideologies, fears, thoughts, and needs pop up in constant noisy thread.
Some people post political views of the current climate, strong in belief and rightly passionate and outraged at an aspect of the world out of our control. Some use humour to cheer others on, or perhaps to mask their own worries.
Others share health ideas, creative ways of coping and managing. Practical in their approach. Within various art groups online we have been sharing a daily drawing activity. No pressure, particular style or time limit. Bringing people together in any activity seems to be helping keep spirits up and stops us all from feeling alone.
And all of the posts we scrawl through have a place. They all show the vital need to share, and are all part of the human condition. It isn’t compulsory to look at them all, or even see into the abyss every day.
But, being tolerant of one another’s belief systems, and sense of humour; whether it is a game obsession, following a style guru, following a meditation app, having a liking for role play, if your child, your family are safe in their different tastes, and there are time limits for being online, it is probably helping us all have an anchor. However. now that we are going inside our homes, our rooms, our minds, we are at risks of going inside our heads.
And this isn’t ok. When we go there the little questions, doubts and pre-existing anxieties start nibbling at our ears.
Human nature picks at the scab of anything it deems imperfect. This will be different for everyone. Unless you are truly at one with your inner self, it is very hard at times of stress to switch this little monkey off. We see people coping differently, in extreme ways which aren’t our way, and it makes us feel out of control and cross. In reality, most people are just doing their best, and we should tend our own garden first. .
We have expectations of the people around us in our home too. And in a usual pattern of time, we have the space to miss each other and come home after time away from a row, or after having experienced a day differently to one another with things to talk about. Being around these people ALL the time is like eating the same favourite dinner every night.
Sooner or later, there will be rebellion. Sooner or later, the entire world’s issues will be laid at your feet. Rage is inevitable.
Quite right. This sucks. However. reaching for the nearest object or wine bottle will only be a temporary solution. Calmly remind your child/ partner/aged relative; that you know what they must be feeling and acknowledge it. Tell them, sometimes that is what you feel as well and remind them how you are already both doing fabulously. Distract the energy as soon as possible by going into another room and doing a task they can join in with, or (if appropriate) tickling them or joking with them.!! This is just a blip. You can do this.
When we try and make ourselves feel better, some of the usual things might not work at the moment. There is a strange thing with not having structure that although we have lots of time, sometimes we get less done because the choice is too overwhelming. Humans function quite well under a small amount of stress to complete tasks, get organised and structure their days. If you think how much schoolwork a higher pupil gets done over several subjects broken down into hours, then over days, 9 months and see the result- they could never have believed at the start it was possible.
And although nobody wants a timetable for their home, it works to have a plan. Children naturally like routine, consistency and need gentle grounding. (They will of course tell you otherwise.) It might just be when they get meals, that they get a story at a particular time, or you make six o’clock movie time. This period of time will have lasting positive memories if there are things you regularly do. For a lot of our kids, their life got snatched away and like animals, will pick up on tension that things are just really really different.)
Hygge it out- Now is the time for lots of fairy lights.
And don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t work. Or things were planned get replaced with a day outside because the sun shines. Its all learning. Kids are learning much more important life skills, tolerance, patience, resilience, self motivation, self discipline… as well as having to think more creatively. And you are helping them.
Vintage jelly moulds with sparkly jelly -history and home economics in one.
And on the subject of guilt, nobody can like it all. Or be happy all the time, or understand the outpourings of others with sympathy every day. Suddenly the world is in your living room. You are allowed to switch it off. And if a type of post or programme is upsetting or creates disharmony, understand why. My two least favourite things are being asked to re -post round robin messages. (And this is tricky, because it will be dear friends who think of each other and are essentially saying a nice thing. But I find them a bit impersonal and I feel guilty if I haven’t done it. And my bug bear is if two lots of music play too loud at once. A vertigo condition makes it the world go wobbly. We all have our limits.
So, you send your troupe somewhere else to cavort about..
For me on a personal level, seven years of being on crutches after several operations and even now only just starting to manoeuvre with normal sticks, the world hasn’t been open and available for a long time.
The conditions of widespread arthritis and fibromyalgia affect every day. Self-isolation is an extension of what was daily life for most of Leah’s life. Other than driving to places, using disabled facilities and relying on help, we have had to be self-sufficient, and the world often felt like it was closed or off limits. But through this, we became very resilient in times where all we had was one another.
This current situation is how it feels for many of our elderly, disabled, and friends with mental health issues. Although, it is one thing being isolated, it is another not having the choice to be social. Or to have the support network you need possibly be there. Sometimes, it won’t be food that people need most, it is a conversation or a message. Never underestimate how important you are to your network.
We hope you like the post for the younger members of the family below this one. Lots of ideas for the younger members of your home . My kitchen is now a shared space where I have a new sous chef (and Sugar the chicken started laying on Mother’s day… )
Keep well, keep moving, keep talking
Watch all the classics
And we will speak soon xxx
Your friends, Liz and the zoo at Skye Blue House. xxxxxxx
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 .
On Boxing day, this was the outfit of choice.. and, if we were all really honest with ourselves we probably all wish we could wear every Christmas presents…. at once….
Abundance. The realm of the child, the lucky, or the wise….?
For a fraction of a second my daughter questioned the potential reaction of others, in the small village where we live. But this was swiftly replaced with a glorious freedom of spirit and self judgement. The vivid flourish of feathers, stripy wellies and clashing colours drew many compliments, smiles and probable envy, of being ten-ness from every grown-up on her travels during the doggie walk that afternoon…
I felt incredibly proud of her joie-de-vivre, and of how far our journey has taken us both; away from so many constrictions, and which, if you might have followed our story from the start, you’ll know , has been hard won …… Good for her.. but can it be good for all of us, to be a little more tutu?
It seems we operate as humans in most things we do, from either love or fear. At the extreme contours of our comfort zones
We don’t have a responsibility to carry the fears of anyone else. But we can encourage those around us to find a way to stick their fingers up at some of their conditioned responses to the rules. As long as we are kind, we can be colourful.
How often do we slightly recoil at generosity of spirit in some way? Perhaps you have been fortunate to have been shrouded in compliments but have told yourself they are ill deserved, gifts you feel are only given in anticipation of another in return. ? Of course, nobody can be that kind and want nothing back? Nobody can be that friendly and be trustworthy.. We are taught to be wary of change, differences and wonkiness of thought.
If you look for reasons to criticise… up they pop like weeds. But, if we look at say, a gossip mag, full of critiques, comments, comparisons and criticisms… we could be forgiven for believing we read the same one a year ago. It is all the same.. ‘This person doesn’t fit the mould, that person doesn’t meet our popular mass expectation, since they became; (pick one)- divorced/fat/poor/lonely/ill/uncool/no-as-on-trend..Very rarely do these publications value the integrity of the person or their actual reality.
And under all the stuff, all the things we move about every year, all the new things grabbed off sale rails, the virtuous bags of old clothes we shed to make way for a new version of ourselves.. we only ever have us.
We have arms, legs, eyes and a heart that sees, feels, reads , and loves with abandon. This is the part of our wardrobe worth holding onto and placing on the softest of padded hangers.
Push away kindness, push away the good stuff and keep up the cycle of mistrusting anything which questions what HAS ALWAYS BEEN, is like buying the same jumper that you just gave to a charity shop…
Take a new path
Sometimes, people do actually mean the compliments they give you, and sometimes, the invitations they make are because they want to share something amazing or they see something amazing in you . Choosing to focus on what is actually ok can make you feel richer and more complete, rather than trying to prove yourself right.
It is at this time of year that we all feel like getting rid of things. Eating less, chiselling away at bits of our bodies and sculpting a better version of ourselves. Chucking out the old clothes we don’t wear, and revamping everything from scratch.
It is well trodden path.. a seasonal rollercoaster
Nothing wrong with a good clear out, but what if your focus is at looking at how much you already have?
How does it make you feel?
What if you decide to make your resolution (your revolution according to the monkey..) to banish complete and utter abandonment of what anyone else thinks.
Because they will think what they think anyway!
On Christmas day, It is our thing, to wrap up pretty much everything we can find all year for next to nothing and spend a day feeling like we are Royalty.. Things in vintage shops, things we forget about, little bits of treasure and surprises. An abundance of little wonders and sparkly things. But if you look at one photo of our Christmas day, perhaps we look like spoilt rich folk. Hilarious. If only……
My daughter says her favourite part is watching me open my gifts and mine is seeing her face as she unearths a present I forgot I’d wrapped. Prolonging the joy is a lovely thing and it is valued by us both because we know how much it takes to make it happen..
Living as we do, is a mystery to some. And because of that.. will incur the odd question … Ooh you must be rich to have such a lovely garden/so many shoes/so many options of a flavoured tea bag….. No, I just go out on crutches and feed the plants every day March to October, cherish what is donated to the cause and treasure what is important .. and our classes are fired by pixie dust..( and willing and able helpers) … so that’s that taken care of…
WE are taught to reach for the stars.. to aim high.. to visualise our desires.. but people often don’t like to see abundance. The scales of normality can seem out of kilter with a balance of circumstances we don’t understand. If we see a person with colours, with happiness, with an abundance of spark and joy we feel that something isn’t right and we must crush it before it gets out of hand..
We can’t possibly understand everyone.. So let’s just concentrate on our own potential…
What if we let it be our inspiration? What if we see a lovely thing, and just let it be absorbed? Take from it what makes us happy, and let it float on past?
Having a lot of something isn’t something to be freaked out by. If you want it too.. work towards it. If it isn’t what is part of your plan, let the person enjoy their creation. Don’t belittle, demolish, crush, be jealous of or question what they are doing. Just ask them about it or walk on by!
I truly hope your New year’s Revolution is completely bonkers, and not to just be a bit skinnier. I also hope that some of you will be joining us in classes and at various events this year.
We are abundantly yours in technicolour.. to take into your next adventure.
I love this..
Let’s all be purple at least once a week
This is for G. You know why. x
Stay Warm and Bright, All my lopsided love, Liz xxx
Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.
A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.
Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…
Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.
Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…
And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..
And I was thinking…
One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be, to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.
Oh…… if only they knew…….
Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..
Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones …five, mouths to feed.
…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.
Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.
The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!
Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.
Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.
The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….
(Not in the sea)
It just had to be magical .
An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..
So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent) /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..
My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.
A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)
I knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together and we had faith in finding our home. We knew it was here.
As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..
…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !
We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .
So.. here is our home…
And the stripey detail drainpipes..
And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.
And the beach blue windows..
And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…
And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…
And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)
That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…
Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!
I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.
I am realising that it is often hard for people to believe in goodness. Or people just being nice.
So much so, that we can easily destroy the vital essence of giving, without needing anything in return simply because someone can’t cope with our gift.
And we end up apologising for our choices and kindness because of the recipient’s interpretations and choices.
It is a destructive cycle.
“Surely someone can’t be that nice to me!” …” I’ll check by kicking them. Oh look, they’ve reacted.. not so perfect now, in fact.. maybe they weren’t REALLY so kind in the first place.. Ha ha. Caught you, human like the rest of us and you’ll never be kind to ME again. Ha, that will teach you….”
And then we can so easily get so disillusioned about showing love and kindness that we just don’t bother next time.
What is the point?
But then we remember. Nobody forced our hand to buy that food, or create that perfect party or present. We enjoyed doing it. We loved the process, and the gratitude we felt for who/ what we were doing it for. If the recipient meets the gift or the affection you show with a brick wall, it isn’t because of your failing. Or theirs. But the choice to respond to a situation is out of your hands almost as soon as it is dreamed up.
Which means you are free. Free to keep creating and loving and making gorgeously crazy unique gifts of love in whatever way you see fit ,
because that is who you need to be. You can lead a horse to water.. But you can’t make it put on the jumper you knitted or eat the salt beef and horseradish foccacia which you copied from the latest Jamie..
One day your tribe will come.
If you can look in the mirror and say I am NOT hurting anybody and I am listening to my friends when they say they have enough handbags/picture frames/jars of pickled vegetables/ dvds of old movies stars/ vintage embroidered kerchiefs…..
Then keep being you..
This summer there have been a few unforseen changes of plans. From family to health to eating through a fridge full of food intended for guests who never came,
and the roller coaster journey of a small person with attitude.
We had usually been somewhere hot over the holidays, but having been to Spain twice earlier in the year and having no options to stay elsewhere, there was a delicious and almost rebellious joy in going nowhere in particular . Instead of rushing to be everywhere for anyone who suggested anything, my body dictated we stood still for once. A hard thing to have faith in, but sometimes there’s no choice.
When we first came here I introduced myself to a particular fellow, the grumpy cat of the village.. or so I thought. Our first conversation resulted in him telling me he didn’t want any more friends as they only let you down. .. Oookaaayy…
Fast forward to this week, we just installed my new dustbin holder, which he made and I painted. For which, when I thanked him, I got a huge smacker on the cheek.
We just discussed a project to make my gate look like a bit of an old shipwreck and some collaborative boat ideas. He is lovely. So is his wife. Your new friends can literally be anywhere.
All we did was keep being us.
Sometimes that is so hard. Sometimes you’ll get a reaction like I had this week from someone I am related to, that the love and kindness shown them is just embarrassing. Thoughtful presents and time taken over making memories was (translated as) an act of self gain.
In the past, I would have automatically crumbled and felt terribly guilty (not even knowing why. But stop. Nobody has to bother to be kind and if you are, nobody has to bother with accepting your kindness. You aren’t forcing them. You and they have choices. Good can be overwhelming, if somebody isn’t able to accept it at that moment, back away but never let it stop your true essence.
It is so easy to internalize a rebuke or a put down. But think about it a little bit more. What does it say about the recipient? It is just as much of a skill to receive a compliment or a gift as it is to give it. Sometimes a negative reaction can be about a different thing entirely. Probably nothing to do with your big, ranbow heart gift wrapped upon your sleeve.
Leave them well alone and tiptoe away.. until another day/person/scenario has a gap in their sleeve befitting your heart perfectly…
Who wants to live their life fitting in to the mould of how appropriate the amount of kindness you show should be?
Last week, two amazing people spoke to me over the fence and said they loved our garden. They were staying in the big house round the corner and had loved what we are doing here. ( It is safe to say it is a bit different.) We swapped numbers and details and the lovely lady gave us a bag of organic salad and healthy foods that they couldn’t take home. Today I also got a wonderful letter from the ladies’ friend who himself is an artist, and has had support in mental heath Arts. I was so so chuffed and overwhelmed. Lovely people.. just being kind, tapping into a two-way gift of being nice. Fabulous.
( He did this!!!! How amazing is that !!!)
Our gifted bag of goodies!
I would rather be understood and accepted by half the people I ever meet by being 100% myself; than tolerated by everyone, so that we don’t stand out too much. Who wants to be beige.
Niceness, being kind and open is not a disease. You’ll not catch it, unless you want it to rub off on you. But it can be a pretty nice state of being. And you never know where it might lead you or what lovely people will enter your life.
But who knows what and who you might be missing out on xxx