Cheese

Today I had to ask my friend what my blog was about.  It made me laugh. I found that summing up what we talk about in our classes and on here is too huge to put into a few sentences. When this started I thought it would be about  art, a little comment on arty things…

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Hmmm ..

Over time we have chatted about so many things, and often anything  but the serious concept of ART.. most times, a bit like an art group, we go off on a huge, huge tangent and never get back to where we started. a bit like being with your pals in the pub or like the fluid chatter of children.

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This blog isn’t about how to be the best artist or how to find out important political stuff. People get here because they find us, share us, become friends and become linked with our shared cornucopia of cauldrons boiling over with potions to try and help make human existence a tad easier.

If you can share what you learn with others , that makes life better.

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SHHHH!!!!!!!!!. Don’t tell anyone. But actually, not everything you see / hear/ read/  on the internet is real.

Except on here obviously. xxx

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The best things in life are very simple

Stand still. See what is right in front of you. Be grateful for something every day, Appreciate your environment and your tribe of people, know you have your own back, even though some days don’t feel that easy…

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The trick is to see that new and shiny is not always more beautiful..

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Belief… dreams.. faith in tomorrow and a resolute refusal to be a piece of someone else’s jigsaw puzzle, whilst doing your best for those you care about… is the balance we aim to find.

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Decent thoughts are like decent people. At first they pop up fleetingly, like good fairies.. You can choose to ignore them, act against your better instincts and the flow, but like a good neighbour, if the process you are ploughing on with, is the one you might learn from.. it will tap you on the shoulder again and again. Which is very good, if like me when you write you are also multi-tasking seven thousand other jobs simultaneously.

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So, I suppose this is a blog about all the best bits, which in this format we are fortunate to share. And some of the wisdom given to me to get us through the toughest times in our lives.

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A good stuff hamper

A few words and pictures to sit down and have a cup of tea with. Some sparkly bits, some inspiration and an extra hand .

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A reason to star in your own movie, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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Be inspired and be creative, adding to your own vision and story . Use a journal, a sketchbook, paper pinned together or an online scrapbook. Having something tangible and in front of you is far more accessible though, and  you can work in a power cut.

It has taken me to .. eeeek a few years away from.. yes  actually… my 50th birthday to look at what I do and appreciate it. To get to a point where all the ideas, sketches, skills, and ideas are starting to form a pathway to something…….There was never a choice for me to give up.

I did well in art at school, but had no confidence. (I sold a lot of artwork and my entire degree show, so my grown up self is saying Why?????? ) But, life was dropping huge clangers on the path to creative freedom along the way and I also didn’t have anyone telling me some of the really important things I have since come to learn.

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The experiences we have that shape us, are never wasted if they then become, someone else’s path to freedom.

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When I was little and I started to sing, I was laughed at or sung over. I hid in my room and sang and drew, and rearranged the furniture, hoping that I would be seen. I held open days to show the new layout of my bedroom to my uninterested brother and parents. I felt like an invisible person.

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I lost my voice for a long time . Or rather, I started something.. a beautiful painting, an idea, a conversation and lacked the strength of belief to see it til the end. The tapping on my shoulder of crushing depreciation or ridicule prevented strides being made into the unknown.

I stayed where it was safe.

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When I spoke, I told myself I wouldn’t get to the end of my sentences. So I panicked half way through and then couldn’t finish what I was saying.

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Later at Art college it was a whole new adventure, and I found my niche in felt-making and mixed media. I began to flourish with sales of new works, and commissions from my degree show and my first business Curious Creatures, was supported by the Princess Trust. But I found then, that working just on my own as an artist was never going to be enough.. being amongst people and sharing ideas was my best balance. And looking back, this window to grow my ideas and confidence was so brief given what was coming next..

A new, even more dangerous dragon was around the corner.. And this time.. fifteen years went by with virtually nothing leaving the house, including me.

This isn’t a sob story. It is my story. One human’s path. And it made me me. I fed my artwork baby. I kept my sketchbooks, my ideas and my heart somewhere safely tucked between the pages like a pressed leaf. And now my real (big) baby and I are safely in our Hansel and Gretel house.. those creative ideas as well as all their new friends can start to creep out and become real….oct-2018-049.jpg

One by one.

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We are who and what we surround ourselves with. Maybe it takes a lifetime to know what makes us tick, but knowing who and what we like, what is good for us to be surrounded by, what draws us out of our shells, our bedrooms, our heads is fundamental.

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Children already know . And we can find that magic again.  I am learning that gradually some people reach the same freedom when they leave relationships, work and sometimes outmoded belief systems behind. I wish I had a magic wand. I know a few people battling their own dragons, still singly quietly in their bedrooms.

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Believe that there is more. Keep going with your plans, and add to your good stuff hamper.

This blog is a scrapbook of all the incredible people we meet along the way. Some of the art we do, some of the stores we hear and what creations are born. And this is a blog about what you can achieve when you feel uninspired, tired, a bit rubbish and a bit lonely.

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When I started writing a few years ago,  I had assumed I was speaking to certain people in my life, and then anyone else that it reached was a bonus. The irony is that very few of those people read it. But, lots of other people do. And that is the lesson. That you can scream and shout and clutch your person’s arm to get them to notice you singing/ drawing acting out twelfth Night, but if it isn’t in their peripheral vision to see you.. walk away. And look at the queue of people you have somehow gathered around you who ARE listening to you. They are who matters. Thank you !

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A blog about the cheese

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without the stringy bits..

 

Love Liz xx

The Holy Grail

 Do you ever wonder what the meaning of life is?

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A few things I’ve noticed along the way seem to end up in the same spot.

Here…

Right back where you started

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This came about recently when my daughter was watching a series of life hacks for kids. It is a great idea, and the kid doing it was very confident and sassy.. showing lots of ideas on how to do things better. But it is the tame end of a generation in a crazy rush to create more, have more, be more, talk more …..

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And sometimes listen less.

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 Listening…

The battle ground parents and teachers spend a long time preaching about. But sometimes just watching and absorbing through copycat behaviour can be a bit less likely to have you reaching for gin.

We all had posters in our classrooms saying what kids had to do… But having a vision of how other people should behave is useless if they can’t see it. If nobody is listening to you, maybe they haven’t been led your  example .. yet…

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Watch the Animals

We can learn a lot from our pets… our dog Skye does what I realised I also do in life. She gets into her bed, twists round in circles, pulling at the corners, getting it right, flipping it up again and huffing a lot until it is the right shape to plonk her bones on.

Dogs are forgiven. They don’t really need much more than comfy spot, attention and love… you can see where I’m going here.. In life, we all do it. We strive and strive for a perfect, better version of the thing we want or people we think we need, or new styled version of ourselves which will prove to the world we have arrived.. again..

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We all love a good tweak.. , twerking may have to wait for new knees.  it’s the tweaking and the journey to getting that ‘us-ness’ right, that makes the final result so much more enjoyable..Think big life changers here…

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( Ok.. not that perfect..)

But some amazing things do take time.

Sometimes a Long time.

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Before I got my best bed ever comfy bed, I had given my daughter my bedroom in my last house, and gave a friend my bed frame because he and his girlfriend didn’t have a bed. The bigger picture of knowing the right one would come along at some point in this crazy story of ours. was paved with numerous nights of being crawled over by several animals and a small person who all thought it was quite hilarious.. But was worth it.

( And often very funny)

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No, not my bed either.. but isn’t this gorgeous! .

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And if your bed has a jaggy mattress or person in it.. walk away.. It can never be comfy.

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Go Big but love the little things.

Being ambitious and very easy on yourself at the same time in whatever the endeavour seems the only sane way to fly. Kind of knowing you deserve to look up but knowing the best things are happening right there under your feet , nose and usually in my case leaning on my lap on the sofa.

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Painting is a similar process to finding that elusive snoozing place. . Absolutely, striving for that perfect piece which sums up your creative  completeness is a worthy and wonderful endeavour. It is the botanical gardens of our green fingered efforts and should be pursued ..

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BUT,  if you want to deviate,  splattering ink and charcoals, drawing in the sand with a stick, and making a sandcastle in an expressive burst of creative passion do that instead..

This was done with  a piece of string, in a couple of minutes and probably just stuck in a drawer.. knowing the lack of ego my friend has, .. but it was just lovely.. Just twiddle some string and see what happens…

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When a friend is there. Be there too. Completely.

Hang on to your good friends, even if you deviate on life’s paths. Nobody will get you like they do or laugh at your strange habits… But they all know a different bit of you, like a perfect jigsaw of your complete self.

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And sometimes… the best and most perfect moment of connection can happen with a person we would never have thought of as a friend, or so briefly we blink and they are gone. A moment on the beach, on holiday, or a comment in the street . Cherish each and every connection as a true friendship. You never know who will be in your life and for what reason, or for how long. Take notice of the possibility in an exchange, and look them in the eye.

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Love your neighbours.

Having just had flu, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to mine. This week we were very fortunate to have been given Fresh mackerel from a neighbour and apples ( in a bid to make an apple cake for one of them I think..) In this village over the last year I have given, amongst other things, .. a bottle of bourbon, bread, a double ham and cheese toastie to a stranded winter holiday maker, and numerous cupcakes and seeds, lifts in the car, shoes, and many hours of village help in classes and at community events..No automatic alt text available.

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There is always something you can offer somebody else. No matter how rubbish you believe you are, in your current bodily state/mental state.. you are valuable to someone else. And they in turn will be pleased to know they can help you. But often when you least expect.542904819-612x612

Keep Learning

I am endeavouring to open my own daughter’s eyes right now to different ideas about religion, belief and opinion. So she might balance her thoughts with a good idea of different possibilities. It seems to me that at the bottom of most things is the essential message of being good.  That’s fine. But I will be telling her It doesn’t mean you have to be boring or feel bad.  You have to be present and kind. And for me it shouldn’t be about following a pattern. There are a million ways of being respectful but not brainwashed, and living with abundance without walking around feeling guilty about what doesn’t interest you.

And Don’t take people’s opinions of you too seriously…

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So…

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Key for me is this;

Listen Better

  To have a good friend, you need to be one . You switch this computer/phone/ipad off and you hear what is being said. How often do you find yourself mentally doing your shopping list in the middle of a conversation?

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Don’t moan about the weather

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Unless you land on a dessert island, there isn’t much you can do about it. And in truth, the cycle of the seasons keeps things moving in the garden, an excuse to raid the garden centre, and gives you the chance to wear different outfits. What’s not to like. If we constantly feel we want something different, we might never be here. Get soaked, get too hot, freeze, wrap up like a burrito, wait an hour and the weather will change anyway..

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Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today..

Enjoy what you have right now, with all you have, because it will change and there will be loss and seasons.  And nobody knows what will happen next. I’m saying this in relation to the weather, the person in front of you, the time spent with your children, the animal on your lap. It is precious

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Be Here Now.

Listen to the tap on the shoulder telling you to do that thing

I hope it is the beginning of something wonderful. 

Love Liz xxxx

 

 

 

A little light on pain

Hello friends..

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For anyone you know, care about, or look after with a pain related illness, a widespread arthritic condition, fibromyalgia, M.E. or similar long term “chronic” symptoms.

Most of us would probably agree on one or two things.

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The term chronic is an unhelpful and misleading phrase, which lumps people together who simply have had an illness a long time. Chronic reads tragic, a bit sad and not quite figured out. The n.h.s, due to its inability to treat the whole person, fragments their parts to far flung departments, the more parts going wrong,  the more departments acquainting themselves with a version of the person they treat for 30 seconds.

Nobody ever seeing the whole picture and joining up the dots.

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When your body doesn’t work it leaves you frustrated, and struggling to know where you slot into a world you could previously easily move about in.

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You either sink or swim. And frankly some days the tide is against you.

Pain and immobile joints are exhausting. Being tired and feeling like you have flu, without the runny nose is common feeling, some days rendering you unable to lift limbs or keep awake until teatime. You know it will be different tomorrow, and you hold onto a fluttery butterfly of hope that the pain volume will be back down a bit. Those days are the toughest and might make your person sad. It is also really hard to describe the level of intense pain you have, to anyone who hasn’t felt it themselves. Similarly, if you look relatively ok, being believed and understood can be tricky. If your person has mental health or social anxieties as well, they might struggle to articulate the circle of needs they have and how people around them might help.

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Feeling you can’t mange physically can be very isolating. Seldom is there support for the feelings this can create. Whilst we try to create that in a practical way, it is different behind closed doors. Your partner and your children know you so well that they might not notice your day to day changing needs, or have the ability to understand them. Some friends might not see you in six months or a year and can’t be blamed for not knowing your deterioration and escalating needs. Check with your poorly person exactly what they are going through. It is a sure thing they haven’t wanted to bother you with the details.

You can guarantee your person doesn’t tell you a fraction of the times they are in pain. Not even close. So when they do, the Gods just turned the switch to mega-high and now, they need you to listen.

If they have a you to listen/help/share and support, then they are really really lucky.

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It is incredibly hard for your once independent loved one to ask for help. Nobody likes to feel they can’t be superhuman. But being human can sometimes feel like an enormous struggle too. If they ask you to help it might have taken a lot of biting back of their dignity and sense of self. Be kind and don’t stick an arrow over their heads reminding them of what a big favour you’re doing.

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Please don’t make your person feel guilty if they can’t make an arrangement, climb a hill, drive to a venue, stay awake past eight pm, or in my case sometimes even get from my car to the school door. Some days our bodies are letting us down badly, and to feel we somehow let down other people because of it, is a load too heavy to carry. ( Especially on crutches!)

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Hands, hips, knees, spine.. Every day can be a lottery, especially when it gets cold and damp. I am time limited with painting, to the sunny days and months.

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If your loved one uses a wheelchair, it can be a whole other set of issues. Being looked down on can feel like you are being ignored or bypassed when decisions are made. In crowds it is really hard to be pushed slowly like you have lost your va-va-voom and watch life zoom past you. Be aware of your friend or partner if they sometimes need help to get around, it can make them feel less than the person they used to be and humiliated to ask for support.

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Having to ask repeatedly for help is really tough. You kind of need someone to know, and not to dramatise it. If you can help someone, just be a subtle superhero.

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Without good support, I have seen people stop asking for help, creep slowly into their shells and stay there. In winter, when pain gets worse and bodies play hard ball, this can lead to people becoming terribly isolated and introverted. Then depression hits and you know how hard this can then be, impacting on health even more.

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If the person has a carer, especially if it is a younger person, they are connected in a way you might find hard to understand. Little things are big things to a person who can’t bend/walk/stand for long/use their grip or put their own shoes on. Quite rightly that carer needs support and their own space, but your friend will have a gap in their abilities to achieve certain things that they are used to getting help with, if that carer is away for a while. It might take much longer for example to get dressed, get the pets walked and fed or clean their shared home. The carer too has massively mixed feelings about their charge. Whilst carers can get a break, the guilt/co-dependence and shared care people have in their micro universe is tricky to unpick.Image result for carer

Your friend will simply be grateful you still see them as them, without the chipped away bits, the essence of who they were before disease or illness struck.

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For someone in pain, everyday activities they used to take for granted are like mountains and therefore it is incredibly important to respect how they still keep themselves tidy/organised and want to do normal stuff. And achieve their creativity or work.

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For example. It will be painful and arduous to Hoover carpets, get to the back of a bath or under toilets, under kids beds to clean out the mouldy plates. It will be very hard to carry laundry, sometimes carrying food to dinner tables, making beds or doing up buttons and opening jars. Any help is good help, as long as the assistant doesn’t make their mate feel guilty or that they need to ask. My best friend just grabs things off me and organises my fridge. Another put my entire post barbecue leftovers in Tupperware, housed all the cushions in the bunker, folded the chairs and stashed the wine bottles in the recycling. All tasks which would have taken the most part of a day to unpick.. She did it in twenty minutes whilst ordering me to drink tea.

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Your person is probably over compensating in some ways, because they can’t do other things. Let them. It’s their way. And their gift. Sometimes they might not say the thing they wanted to, or ‘be’ the person they hoped they would be that day. All a person in pain and illness wants, is to be treated with respect and to be quietly supported. If and when they can show their love back, it is almost certainly with utter gratitude and a deep deep relief that they have you in their life.

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To my friends now and in the future, thank you. I am very lucky to have you, and (most days!) my small person is my absolute rock. Creating an environment which welcomes folk in need of a bit colourful distraction is the start of our journey.  I wanted to share this as I am in the position of both being and supporting disability in different ways. In the act of helping in whatever way we can helps us too, and makes us choose gratitude over giving in.

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See you soon. Look after yourself and each other xxx

Liz

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On Being Nice..x

 

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I am realising that it is often hard for people to believe in goodness. Or people just being nice.

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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.

 

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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….”

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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?

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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.images (12)

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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 ,

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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..

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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,

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  and the roller coaster  journey of a small person with attitude.

 

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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…

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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. TDDS_DS-Be-Nice-TT_1024x1024

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.

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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 !!!)

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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.

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But who knows what and who you might be missing out on xxx

 

 

The Beach Hut Lady

I have finished the beach hut.

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My friend Margaret came the other day and helped with the high bits. Other friends have also helped me make furniture, paint windows and do the stripey bits. I do sections, stop when my hands hurt too badly, and begin the next day again.

This is the room I always wanted, but I didn’t have the time, the freedom,the confidence or the separation from my small child I needed to create it.

There were no gardens in the place we escaped to!!

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Its lovely. And its mine.  ( ours!!) Now I’m going to make Art in it. The leftover teaching supplies I no longer need are gone, the rest are boxed up in the shed with wonky labels on . The things I want to use in the community art groups get slung in the wheeley bags my lovely group help pull about and there are no to do lists left…I’m on the home front…’

As the final brush strokes were completed there was a call from over the fence.

That lady I told you about in the gala day blog, the one who had spoken to me at her charity lifeboat stall last week.. she was there calling over the sunflowers…..

‘I wondered if you would like my collection of beach hut memorabilia?’ she said.

Ermmm……

‘I  love your house, you were really nice and you said I could take photos of your house. ‘The beach hut girl’ ..I tried to look you up, but I decided to just come by instead. The beach hut I was going to have, never materialised and these things should go somewhere to someone  who will appreciate them…’…

Bunting, tapestry, tins and wooden huts….

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So they did.. they went straight into the newly completed perfectly ready beach hut studio. They fitted perfectly. Like they were made for it.

Cool huh…!!

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It was a lovely and generous surprise. She will of course become a friend. She has to! We Seem to collect cool people around here. Holiday makers and stall holders, artists and neighbours… The melting pot of open, friendly, creative people, willing to share.. in whatever way that will be..As time has gone by, and life has become more distilled.. the people we spend time with, however fleetingly, become more and more important, and valued. I liked her immediately because this lady wore her huge heart on her sleeve and valued friendship over profit. That’s who we want in our corner and in our beach huts.

A few Summer visitors

There is still magic out there . There are still undiscovered treasures. Friendships and connections waiting to grow and flourish if we look under the rocks and between the  lines… and not always who we imagine. It’s fun,  wondering who might pop up and surprise you. Age, country, job, it isn’t important. Leave your armour at the door and your heart open….

And I might never have known so many amazing people.  I might never have got here to our forever home. The studio might never have built.. the friendships never seeded…

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A couple of years ago something happened which could have blown the whole thing out the water.. Nobody knows when these things will strike… mine struck when my cat knocked over all my tablets…

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A combination of stupidity and time short muminess meant not checking what was now in the tub of tablets, I then scooped up in haste…
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I took what I thought was the usual combination and ended up in an ambulance. The mix of meds was not good for me, and I had a really bad reaction .

I was really unwell and it could have been the end of me. I called my best friend. Devastated, I told her the saddest thing I felt was that I had lived for sooooooooo many years already but that I  hadn’t even started to live yet. I had so much more to do. I realised, that if life was snatched now, I wouldn’t be ready. I had things to do and a child to love.

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As I wondered what damage the medication was silently and corrosively doing, I thought of the krypton factor which my life had recently become, the massive mountain we had literally just climbed off, and the dreams I still hadn’t un-boxed.  The reasons I still had to get out of that hospital in one piece.. We had come such a long way and I was not giving up . How anyone could intentionally inhale a box of paracetamol was completely beyond me……..Image result for dont give up

 

It was a close call and a reminder of how fragile life can be. I was dangerously allergic to the combination, and I had half an hour to fix it……

From that moment on.. I knew that if I was ok, I would take the cards dealt with my health and double what was possible to do in my life.

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Not many people knew that story at the time.

I felt a bit stupid….. 

Image result for onwards and upwardsIf it had worked out differently, Nothing that followed would have ever begun. Our friends, our home, and our beautiful, creative journey.

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We are all fallible, and stupid sometimes. We all make mistakes. Some worse than others. Some thankfully, enable the gratitude we feel to be sweeter and more poignant. And the colours we paint to be that little bit brighter..

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Thank you to the beach hut lady, thank you to my daughter who called the ambulance that day, and thank you in advance for the strange and wonderful life we made.

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Much of our dulling down comes from the belief that other people’s perception of us is true. It can be a choice to believe otherwise. Everyone messes up. Humans need to.  Learning from what happens next is to value ourselves a bit more. Give yourself a break. If we can still believe in a sprinkling of magic to chase the past away, who knows who might be leaning over your fence soon, and what they might bring with them.. and what colour you’ll ultimately decide your fence will become.

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Here at Skye Blue House ..We choose rainbow.xx

Image result for heartLove and hugs, Liz xx

You can’t please them all…

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 !!’

OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAY …

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Ok.

It isn’t what everyone has but really? Would you say it out loud!! Image result for say it out loud

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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..

 

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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…

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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.. !!

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Well then.

Having gone through a long term situation where there was a LOT of negativity.. I try to remember how fleeting these random commentaries are.

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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..Image result for i like me more

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.

Image result for snails in shellIf you get negative comments….Don’t go back in your shell… Decorate it !!

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Love Liz xx

Belated Happy Retirement

Twenty years ago, in my friend Kate’s house in Granton, we sat on the sofa drinking wine, looking out to sea, and I decided I wanted to teach. I had always taught Summer school classes, adult education groups and worked with children making giant puppets, felt making and mixed media treasures; but this was being a big grown up teacher in big grown up school.

Image result for lonely artist garretBeing a lonely artist wasn’t working for me. I was creating colourful felt products in my ‘Curious Creatures’ Business and exhibiting at craft and trade fairs. I loved making and I realised I loved meeting people and sharing what I knew more.

From a naturally quite shy kid, this was a surprise to me, having not expected to find the guts to face continuous rooms of teenagers, most of whom  looked older than I did! But that firing squad was faced, time and time again.

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Anyone who ever did teacher training knows is not for wimps. Like dogs, Children can smell fear ! And being the new girl in a new school every six weeks, is hard.

The hoop jumping, essay writing, module passing, lesson planning, course writing, behaviour managing, crit enduring…

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But somehow you do it..

And eighteen years of teaching later, before my early retirement, I was still in the heart of of a buzzing and happy classroom so I must have done something right.

I loved my job, and had a great rapport with kids. My every waking moment was spent collecting resources.. from shells to pictures to art

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materials to plastic pots and cardboard, feathers,

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Grades were passed and clubs run, reward ceremonies organised, c.p.d done in everything from hat making to car maintenance, and thousands of children ticked and registered into a room full of colour, plants, masks, pictures, sculptures and ideas.

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It wouldn’t be healthy to be too negative about my journey’s end in teaching. I became disabled through years of surgeries and through falling at work on an operation site on my knee. Another operation didn’t work and I was left on crutches, exacerbating arthritis and causing deterioration elsewhere. It was a battle to continue in so much pain but for a long time, I taught on crutches and managed without any support.

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The last five years have taught me that the journey’s end you seek might not take you on the planned route. As I sat at my desk pre -disability, wishing I was an artist, living by the sea; I could not have imagined the dragons I wouldImage result for working on crutches need to fight on the way to get here. Having already done it once to protect my child, the momentum needed to carry on was huge. With Amazing union support , I emerged from that chapter, having won in one sense, but never having had a real story’s end. When you stand up for yourself, there is no carriage clock. Image result for retirement getting carriage clock

But… that’s ok. It wouldn’t go with the house anyway……… I had experience and a good career which was fulfilling. It made me laugh and cry and at times it was my respite from pain elsewhere. And after all this time, it is now a dim and distant memory, another piece of my jigsaw puzzle and a step into the future which brought us here and now. So, I celebrate my self, as I never heard the words from my friends in the speech I could have had. I was a fabulous, kind teacher and I loved my job! And it was an interesting, challenging and mostly fun 18 years! The other bits.. well. You can keep them. I’ll choose to celebrate the effort it took to get and stay there and the effort it took to get here too. Perhaps I should have been better at feeling proud along the way.. who knows. Age is a great one for giving us tools we could have done with years ago.. But then.. where’s the fun in that? Image result for retirement getting carriage clock

 Happy Retirement to me.

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Thanks kids and the true friends I made. You literally kept me glued together

Now for whatever comes next. See you on the beach .

Liz

xx

Do Sweat the Small Things

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 .
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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 .
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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 .
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It’s true .

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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 :Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

………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

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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 ! )
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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 .

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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 .

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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.
Be there with bells on.
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Liz xx

Stop apologising

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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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 .

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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….

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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.

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It is so worth challenging those guilty feelings and asking why and who makes you feel that way?

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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…

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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..

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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. images (4) Share what makes you tick,  and you might surprise everyone, not least yourself.

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Liz xxx