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Invisible stitching

When I thought about how to neatly wrap up this year in vintage Christmas paper…

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I found that this memory quilt of a year was made up of precious stitches, invisibly binding each remnant in place to create its magical warmth.

A patchwork quilt of a year

Simple joyous friendships, and perfect moments wove like glittery threads through the last twelve months, sprinkling their sequins on frayed patches of imperfection, and stitching together the best of the treasure from grandma’s button box.

I have great faith in the way of things. Just don’t ask me to name what, why and what the rules are. I believe it comes down to the same things, kindness, patience, tolerance and trust. The closer we are to the way of things, to let go of questioning , ( no matter how bizarre or tough that can be sometimes,) the more returns in just the right way.

People, things and experiences; sometimes we have less, sometimes more…… It can be so hard to know what the plan is sometimes. Letting go of the worry about what will happen next, where money will come from and if our seeds of dreams will ever grow to fruition takes a lot of finger ( and) leg) (and toe) crossing…

Between you and me, nobody would blame you for a few moments of doubt sometimes …

Perhaps we might unlisten

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Or choose a better soundtrack

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Trusting that we have all we need is the hardest of skills. Especially if you live near a good charity shop…
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When we moved here, we were told that if we didn’t tell the entire village our life story. they would make it up. Turns out there is some truth in that. But also, turns out , you get a little distance from your earthly self if you genuinely stop worrying .

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If I had a £1 for every time, I heard a rumour about either one of us, I could replace these old windows by now. The roof tiles I heard falling off last night would be magicked back on. Hilariously, the more proving you do to dissuade what anyone thinks, the more likely you are to underline their ideas. For two years my healthcare has been compromised because I wear bright colours and have stripy sticks. G.p.s see but dont hear what you say. A final funded opinion in a different region has finally hoisted us out of the quagmire of misdiagnosis. Having been pretty poorly for months, Someone listened.

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Sometimes we need to run out of words and block out the noise. Pick out the single voice that makes the most sense. Listen to the inner voice we had with us all along. The Robin on your windowsill isn’t bothered what the neighbours think and sings loudly anyway.

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Sometimes we need to unhear what the voices around us are saying. Take a moment and know things rather than aggravate and pick away at a worry.

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Listen. to the wisdom of the people put on our path. Someone and their wisdom will pop up when we least expect it.

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My family weren’t particularly religious. But I found over the years of my life that I knew a truth about things. At five I sat in a tree talking to the angels. . I truly believed there was someone there. There is a truth and an energy to a way of living life honestly, a way of treating each other, being in the moment, especially given how precious that can feel sometimes, Our connection to the local community in Coldingham has given us a sense of belonging I never had as a child and is creating a sense of family for many of the kids involved in activities in the village.

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Amazing groups of people nurturing each other with gentle humour and humble but heartfelt and genuine support; we feel blessed and included. I understand why my daughter loves Sunday school so much.

People will think what people will think. One day none of this will matter, why not make that day today.? Trying to teach our children not to mind what people think isn’t that easy. Your heart breaks for the loves and losses they feel on a daily basis. But it is a part of life’s emotional journey to learn through experience and feel every last detail. . Learning the skills of resilience is so hard but so crucial. That’s why; if you find a place to feel calm, centered, grounded and truly at home. Go there. Don’t question why. Breathe in. Be thankful. And listen to the one voice that makes the most sense to you. Unhear the noise that breaks in from everywhere else

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It might be birdsong. It might be a wise person delivering a speech, it might be your guru or your best friend. You might hear it in your own voice.It will make sense when you need to hear it. If you can blot out the rest of the noise.

 

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This year for me has been made up of millions of tiny perfect moments. Made more poignant by their size and calibre. From the glistening sparkles on the surface on the water on the pool in Spain, inspiring my new enterprise; to the profound pride in a class member for winning an award for endurance and growth , the changes in my ever blossoming wonder child and our hilarious and ever evolving menagerie. Each scrap reminds me that there is more than the sum of this moment. That it stretches beyond time and space and is bigger than pain and being human.

When you produce a baby in hospital, there is this thing that happens to your pride.. you leave it at the door…people poke and prod you. You are so delirious, excited, in ecstatic delirious trauma you forget to care. In a way, it a bit like that having a long term condition or illness. You become a walking episode of eastenders. Complete strangers discuss intimate bits of you they heard about in the playground. Breathing becomes something you have to remind yourself to do sometimes!!

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You listen to the soundtrack playing around you,. The big stories, the snack sized morsels of concern and guesswork; and you have to decide not to worry about it. The easy lifestyle you once had.. well that’s on holiday. for now your patchwork might be fraying, and your pocket has a hole in it, but your seams are as straight as ever and every stitch is in tact.

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Granny chic is all the rage anyway.

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Your style right now is in the smallest mother of pearl buttons and a hand painted vintage brooch

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Just before I had Leah I revamped my old doll martha. Martha was made by Mopsie, my lovely grandma. Martha was looking a bit shabby, and thinking a baby might like a fresher toy, I embarked on unpicking her insides with a view to re-stuffing her. Heavily pregnant me was therefore slightly horrified and also laughing deliriously to find; pulling out from Marthas tummy, like a string of sausages .. Grandmas old long johns and her post war liberty bodices… A time capsule continuing to make us laugh

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Sometimes the unexpected fabric of life is the most supportive.

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My inspiration this year has been in the detail and in you. Amazing things you all do, the attitudes of perseverance, keeping the fires burning with a touch of flamboyance. From Running an unruly choir despite your own pain, braving the fear of strangers to try new activities, giving things a go, just in case it turns out a bit less less scary than you thought. Carers and relatives of loved ones consistently trying to make life fun for you both, another couple who keep going despite the unfairness of it all but make it look so simple. Friends going through their own worries and offering lifts to hospital or just a hand to hold. You in turn enable the wheel to turn, for an unwell person to continue to have value for others. Amazing.

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The hugs and camaraderie that you might give so freely can occasionally be an answered prayer for someone in desperation. Never undersestimate the power of an act of kindness

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Like Martha, we repaint on our faces, refresh our dress and hair ribbons..

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But its the inside stuff that really shows what were made of. Ethnes hilarious ‘getting dressed backstage stories ‘ from her dance days ; told in the car on the way to choir; warmed up four strangers on a cold night and will keep her forever young and cheeky. Sharing a moment or two is a priceless currency.

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Thankyou to my artists. loyal and funny.. always finding new ways to bring out the best in each other I can’t tell you how proud I am of you all. Your amazing artwork and growing confidence is an inspiration. Teaching each other new skills learnt at the art table. we may have had a quiet year in some respects, but you are officially family now … sorry !!

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And of course my biggest inspiration is my darling diva. A tough year for her in some ways, she has thrived in so many others, with huge community support in doing her panto performances and singing firstly in the adult choir and now solos ( at any opportunity). I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming, and the achievements she has under her belt. She has a kind heart and a cracking sense of humour.

Quite like this wee chap too. I think I’m in love..

We at Skye Blue House hope you have a really happy Christmas with your loved ones and we look forward to sharing many more adventures with you next year.

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Much love Liz and Leah xx

And Pumpkin xxx

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Harvests and Hijinx

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A little light on lobster soup.

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Ever feel you might be cooking yourself in slowly boiling water without realising you left the cooker on? You shout for help but the people you call can’t hear.?

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A hand reaches in. It isn’t who you shouted for, but you feel this pure and honest friendship from someone you least expected. Up you come for air, and the world makes sense again. You just needed somebody to hear you, to matter enough to be rescued.

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Because you do matter. We all do. But being your own advocate is so often the hardest job. Often we are so busy hearing our own negative thoughts and conditioned responses in our self deprecating belief system, we forget we might be wrong. Actually, what if, all around you, there are real people bigging you up, believing in you and willing you to succeed?

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I often get asked why I don’t just do my art work and have a simpler life, not traipse about with bags of brushes and paint. Simple. How would I ever spend time with the most amazing people if I did that? And how, would inspiration and ideas flow between us all? The gorgeously creative people I meet, inspire me as much as I hope they are inspired; and we are growing a community of friendships as well as creating confident artists. And that is how and why we all keep each other afloat, in our pot of lobster soup, bubbling away and hanging onto the croutons..

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But , we all feel abandoned by something sometimes.

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Especially when we feel nobody is properly listening.

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Especially when our life map has turned into a soap opera.

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For ten months my battle with the nhs has raged on, causing much travelling to hospital ( an hour away) over ten times in one month, three stays this year alone and an operation which has taken five yrs. too long. And still it continues. But, as you know, it’s part of our story, and our journey here by the sea. What has been the hardest part of this recent chapter is being heard. New gp’s, a different area, fewer coffee pals! And the sinking feeling of going nowhere with ever decreasing energy.

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We all need to be heard, no matter how hard the conversation is. And it might be the most unlikely ally that becomes your rescuer, your friend or your spirit hoist. The big old hand that plucks you from your despair, smashes your boredom or challenges your bravery can be from the most unlikely source and to not feel gratitude would be pretty mad. I am blessed with a cornucopia of fabulous friends, most of whom live nowhere near us. But often the true hero is someone we might never even meet.

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One message in particular lifted me at just the right moment with a kind thought or two. True friends are simply people who get what it is you need and give you unconditional love at the exact moment you are breaking into pieces. If you live every contact that way you build your reserves of self worth brick by brick until you feel whole again.

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In a world where everyone wants to find a blemish and create the perfect background, why not pause and consider. how one small message or conversation you make time for, can make so much difference to another’s life. Imparting a sense of warmth and belief can then spread to all the people that that person comes into contact with, and that renewed grounding, calms and strengthens others. The butterfly affect. Cheers D.G

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As you know, this place, Skye blue house is an ever-changing Ark, on this clifftop and our latest little addition is taking our minds off things somewhat, with his ridiculously cute nature and doe eyes. His name is pumpkin. I might actually be a bit in love.

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He is however, making it very difficult to get any work done! Yet another creature to distract in the house of pets and panto rehearsing, paint and peculiarity…But…a very wise friend of mine, Phil said to me once that some of the best artwork created, can be in the cracks between the real things that happen in our lives. When we aren’t looking. The inbetweenie times, when you might be walking through a room and stop for five minutes, while the kettle boils, or scribbling on your napkin in the cafe while you wait for a friend. We can take the pressure off our bossy brains and let the flow back in, if we make every moment an open opportunity rather than a tedious task. These seedlings can turn into great forests. So between clinic appointments and trips to referrals I’ve done some artwork that finally got finished and set up a few new meetings for the community interest company I am building. Letting go of expectation and the imagined voice of criticism, or comparison has paid off.

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The forest is growing

If things are going pear shaped and the wolf is at the door, prowling and growling we can also allow the energy of the pain we are in, to fuel our creativity in a constructive way.  Keeping your hands busy and your heart occupied soothes your mind and gives you your voice. In turn you are a stronger you, ready to take on the world.

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Ten minutes here and there, half an hour in front of EastEnders, and lifting the pressure off one perfect piece at once, changes the dynamic of your endeavours to play at your own volume.

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There is always something you can do

And It is never going to be quiet enough

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So make the most of every opportunity

What you can achieve in short bursts is sometimes an accumulation far greater than one great big plan.

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I’m not alone. Women Artists throughout history have struggled with their combined roles as artists and mothers, wives and home makers. Often, we wait until the chores are done and the dinner is made, the kids are clean and in bed, or in school, the real stuff is done, before we allow ourselves the freedom of creating. Because, and I know this because I brought up two stepsons before Leah, made the perfect home, survived a rollercoaster marriage and held a teaching post at the same time; all the while I kept feeding my art in my sketchbooks and journals, on paper and in presents I gave away. I spent a huge chunk of my life, and still do, thinking and caring about other people. (sorry guys, I know there’s a few of you too)

Creating in the zone and turning off the time, the shoulds, the agendas, is utterly liberating and terrifying and wonderful. ( But when fully immersed, one never thinks about the ironing of school shirts or buying chicken feed…)

These pieces have all been completed over the last few weeks, bit by bit in the evenings between cooking tea and bedtime

So we have to learn to grab our tween times with a much passion.. Waiting for the perfect studio, unlimited blank paper and no annoying interruptions.. well, highly unlikely .. ever. But your art and dream can still breathe, grow and find its way, in the gaps of your real life, not instead of it.

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It, I, my drawings still existed. The living breathing artwork in you always matters no matter when you let it out, what route you take and how old you are when you finally fold your last pile of laundry

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It takes faith in yourself, your abilities here on the planet and the bigger picture you fit into, to jump. from feeding your dream to letting it loose…

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It is never going to be better than everyone else. Let it go. let it go.

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From here on in we are going to do a monthly diary on this blog page as well as our new seaside community art page blog Sea Sparkle. We hope you can sign into both and spread our ideas and joy!

So, we are now on Instagram as well if you want to say hello on there. Liz at the beach hut. And you can see our groups or Artwork on facebook- Liz at the beach Hut or Sea Sparkle.

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Right now I have a panto to help with…. Oh yes I have….

Lots of love and keep creating. Love Liz at the beach Hut. xx

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Bad Hair day

Ever have one of those? Ever have a grooming decision turn into another decision, until you find yourself back where you started.. or worse..

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….in a state of hair hell.? Because what you thought was going to be what you wanted, was actually somebody else’s idea of what suited you?.

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And you naively assumed your instinct button must have gone on the blink. It hasn’t.. you heard it all right.. you just chose to ignore it!! Nobody knows you better than you, so why do you keep ignoring your instincts?

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Do not get me started on my hair. In this instance, we’re talking one night of attempting blonde (ish). Four hours it took by a well-meaning hairdresser.

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This is not me

Only it turns out you can’t do it all at once and so I ended up stripey. And a bit orange.

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Bad hair moments, days, years.. woah!!! karma kryptonite . When your hair feels wrong, everything feels wrong.

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The next day, before my coffee had cooled, I had slathered on fiery red once more, and my head was once more mine. Too hard to explain why this is soooo important, because actually as my friend pointed out, I do cover most of it up with a massive scarf.

But I was back to where I started. My… me place. My comfortable spot. My – only- I -can- explain- why- this- is- ok- place.

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Again..

And now I’m waiting for it to grow……

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Again…….

Life has felt in the last two years like we were running to keep still. When your health isn’t playing nice and your mobility deteriorates, even the basic achievements often become horribly unmanageable . The last six months have been trickier than usual and our travel, adventures and plans curtailed.

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My head does big thinking, thank goodness, dreaming up schemes, tinkering at plans and knowing we have each other and our spirits to keep going. Leah and I are proud of our achievements at Skye blue House . And we love your comments over the fence! Curtailed by much movement this summer didn’t stop the fun .

When life gets a bit crap, it can give you the impetus to decide who you really are, what your passions are and what you want to say. If your audience isn’t listening, don’t stop talking, find another audience.

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Especially if we are curtailed by a set of directions, from a well-meaning (??) partner, friend or family. Don’t wait until an illness sets you free from the boundaries you carry with you like a script, decide to step into your honest self.

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Especially if we are curtailed by a set of directions, from a well-meaning (??) partner, friend or family. Don’t wait until an illness sets you free from the boundaries you carry with you like a script, decide to step into your honest self.

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The more people I come across and the more stories I hear, I realise that we’ve always known the things we wanted to say and do.. we just didn’t have the skills to communicate them. So we learn to make things, play games, sing, create and mould the world we know we should live in. As children all the ingredients are there to protect us from the future world we will live in.

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And then we unlearn it all for the next eight decades. We can all be our own tough crowd sometimes..

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If only we could take our small selves by the hand and urge them not to waste a moment worrying about the big bully in the year above, who kicked us for looking different, or from agonising over the meaning of a painting in Art college .

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When our choices are taken away in one sense, because we can’t do something it enables freedom of a different sort. Let yourself go with the new plan, no matter how temporary your illness is and work with the rhythms of the day or seasons too.

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This year began with drawing in a hospital bed, sketching in a village community class, and putting together these designs which then became prints. On other days photography was more immediate and I loved the immediacy of creating abstract snapshots from well known parts of the village. I was delighted to exhibit both types of artwork in a local art exhibition a few weeks ago.

In winter when the weather impacts on everything, fireside felting compliments the painterly work and a new cycle of creating more tactile work will begin.

Nobody will like everything you do, big and little kids can be critical. I realised one one of the reasons I had a desire not to be a red head which I’ve always been since the first forays into the henna gloop in the eighties, was a comment made an elderly neighbour of my parents . It was just Too much for the suburbs of Bognor. But when I look back at my photographs however, it was fabulous. All our younger, vibrant, freewheeling selves , no matter what colour our hair was , were wonderful.

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So life is going to be a roller coaster.

We had better enjoy the journey

Getting on the ride, any ride is going to cause some turbulence. But the thing with a roller-coaster is, you might get flung about, soaking wet, turned upside down, throw up, and lose the contents of your stomach, but then.. you arrive back.. where you started.. Because a roller coaster goes in a circle. You can get off when you like and the choice is yours whether to get back on again, or ..

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Do something a little more relaxing…

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Either way you’ll still be you

Today I went for a walk with two dogs, on crutches. Big deal. Right? As I noticed these Autumn shapes and the light playing on the sparkling sea, I realised something else. As many of you know, (because a lot of you have been providing us lovely soup in the last week) !! I haven’t been at all well of late. And there are things still to be done, diagnosed and mended. But …… I had been listening to a screaming noisy soundtrack for as long as I could remember and suddenly it was wasn’t there….. well, it was now quiet enough to hear the birds singing anyway. That extreme pain which blurred everything pre- surgery on my knee last week.. was at last significantly quietened. How fabulous to see the Autumn changes in such crystal clear brilliance without anything else in the way. You only notice how heavy something has been after it has been lifted.

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Six years of staying positive have enabled a trip back to where I began, almost like being a child again, having to relearn how to walk and use the limbs we all take for granted. This disability stole much of Leah’s active childhood, this daft crumpled knee, and my hard won teaching career- impacting on my other joints and causing further health conditions.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. This is just a celebration of a moment and a reminder that at any point something can fail, break or become loose in any of our well seasoned bodies! Getting back to a place that we started from, before we struggled is a bonus. And feeling grateful is important.

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Joy can last for a lifetime or lift us in a moment of reprieve. Somewhere long ago we knew the answers to what would feed our souls, no matter what outside factors tripped us up. That child in us still understands who we are and what we need.

My six year old self knew

and is Still rooting around in button boxes wearing a vintage hat..

Listen well to your small you .

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Unless they persuade you to dye your hair. Then I suggest you phone a friend.

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Don’t be too good, Much love, Liz at the beach hut xx

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Keep watering your garden

 I don’t claim to be an expert in anything but the contents of my own head and an awful lot of creative seeds…

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Here at the Beach Hut we make a real effort to rise above negativity that can impact day to day, because we are about being bigger than what life throws at us and using our creative superpowers, when our bodies are being temperamental.

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Unusually, twice this week, my daughter and I have directly heard some unkind and less than charitable comments regarding our creative hub and our enterprise..

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Apparently taking photos means you don’t love people, having a colourful life means you are  bonkers, and we are all doomed…Oh dear…… Best put the brushes away then….

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The enormous effort to not only provide a lovely life for a child after a horrendous journey to get there, to co-ordinate a community enterprise, create artwork, maintain a home, nurture animals and cope with disability is pretty flipping challenging .. on a sunny day. But add in any unwanted factor- the cold, pain, new disease, deteriorating movement, and it gets impossible. Sorry- we won’t tolerate nasty little stings.

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Buzz off

Joy is found more readily and genuinely in the little things if you are limited in your mobility or circumstances. Loving life and each other , and giving back that joy without counting a tally isn’t up for debate. When you really need an adopted family you might be glad you did.

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Creating something new, making your canvas and your garden takes time, trust and patience. And keeping your focus on the magic at the end takes an almighty sense of both self, and belief in something bigger than yourself, (whatever that is for you)  Your process might not make sense to everybody.   It doesn’t have to.

Creating, seeing things grow, making new from old and learning new skills, dress up our failing and tender bodies with layers of brightly coloured jewelled silks and help us float about like the real artists we knew we were all along!! .

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Many days have tested endurance to the absolute limit. Pushing past fatigue so strong all you want to do is sleep. When you are on the floor with exhaustion and you can’t move your limbs.. well you can at least sit in your hospital bed, plan world domination and doodle.

Your support network might think you are off your rocker but the laughing isn’t at you

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Kindness and cruelty to others have one thing in common, both can spread like Summer weeds in the right circumstances and create a huge impact on everything in their path.

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But even a few weeds can be pretty. A garden is always full of all kinds of hidden gems.. a bit like a community. And even the smallest contribution can be worthwhile.The magic is in the mix.

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If you’re lucky you’ll grow a few extra special orchids..

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Having been quite unwell since November and still having mega hospital appointments, it has been a tough few months, of uncertainty, pain and exhaustion . But, I am still able to do what we do – to create magical community events for charity, build fairy gardens, sing in the choir and push the last strands of energy in my daft body to bring a hilarious splashy inky splatty under the sea art experience to eight year olds in our art club, or support adults with mental health issues because it is brings true joy and because I have helpers. This domino of positivity helps me, all our makers, and the ripple effect of wellbeing for each family that they are encouraged to hold onto. It’s not just glitter.

All of these things experiences are non- profit, and completely possible only with the help of a ton of friends and volunteers. From small people pebble painting, friends offering gardening, and loads of donations of materials and hours of volunteering in the art club. And this month that help is extended to hospital lifts, after school babysitting and offers of putting pets to bed while we go away on a long awaited trip to enjoy some Summer heat. … I have so far this month agreed to two separate charity events, helped at another, handed out fresh chicken eggs to a few neighbours, agreed to a put together a new village help directory and lunched over a meeting of our fabulous upcoming Eyemouth Art Trail .. and fed most of the village in our garden in a Summer Tea party to say thank-you for our first two years here. .

No Bad Witches were allowed in…

Communities need each other. Sharing skills, ideas and being greater than the sum of its parts. Like an aging body, there are still things that each of us can do and swap for another gift we aren’t so good at.

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This may sound very obvious but it is as simple as a practicing saying hello and not expecting to give away a bit of yourself in the process.

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Enabling others to connect with the skills they have, share yours. Be the tribe you want to be in. Give as much as you are able and that you can balance with what you need to thrive.

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In contrast, like spreading sunshine, the ancient pastime of muck-spreading still continues in many rural communities, and not just in the fields.

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Thankfully, it is on the wane, as there is too much potential to share and achieve with other like-minded individuals, in person and online- no matter what your interest… Seaside communities have to work together to create strong bones, to hold their bodies together in the long tourist free winters. Many events, groups and activities cross pollinate in a delightful way and supporting each other’s causes can grow friendships, networks and future potential.

If we give people a chance, we can unearth the most unlikely and gorgeous friendships

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Us humans are generally all a bit wonky, and for some of us these differences show more than others

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We carry our emotional shopping bag stuffed full of conditioned thoughts, programmed responses to new things, and reasons why connection is BAD We hear familial ancestral voices, backing up these notions, from generations past and accept it as fact. But, unless we challenge these perceptions, nothing will ever change. Allowing ourselves to be kind, allows us to accept it back from others. We can choose to walk away from the undeserved or unprovoked snarl once in a while. Hurt people hurt people. But it is perfectly ok to have a limit . You can’t fix everyone. And as a random cross section of people thrust together into a town or village environment, it would be mad to think you would like everything or everybody. Tolerance and patience are key, keeping your mind free for getting on with better things.

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Be an expert on what you love. Only then can people know what they love you for. Keep the kettle on and don’t set fire to bridges.. limiting the support available if you really need someone is not a great plan.

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Spread sunshine not gossip, Gotta love your neighbour…

There are cracks we can’t fill , but they don’t need to be all we see.

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Let’s take our big stompy wellies on adventures…

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Because you don’t need to tread on someone else’s garden. No matter how full of weeds your own might be

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Have a lovely week my friends xx

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Love Liz x

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Girl Interrupted

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.

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Same things different decade same hope that being would be enough.

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Only difference now is, I know it is enough. And always was.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Seriously. Are we looking for reasons to prove the world is flat?

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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.

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Our spiralling  thoughts can be our own worst enemy.

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Damaging potentially gorgeous life experiences with questions and doubts.

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Especially if they loop into the weave of things which are not of our control. Or things which are none of our business.

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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.

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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 do all have is a choice to go ahead or go under.”

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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And that gets us all out of bed.

All we ever have is ourselves and our unique gifts.

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Seeing you thrive, develop, be your most colourful self is what your family and circle of friends (should) want for you.

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Setting you up for your own adventures…

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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?..

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And the right not to be judged in return.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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Ill health and joint immobility have done their usual over winter, and still we are in limbo with several surgical procedures to come..

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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..

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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 .

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Much love my friends,

Happy Easter xxx

L xxxxx

Uncategorized

Waiting Rooms

Who lives in a house like this?

No matter what your background, culture or situation, you might respond with an impact filled emotion to these amazing buildings, which could go one of two ways! Certainly, you would imagine that anyone creative enough to build their life outside of the flatpack universe, must have a certain amount of strength, energy and help to achieve such a lot of work.

If you wear bright colours, you paint your face, your sticks, your house, ..or around here …your path; you may find that you are seen as not really being that unwell . Can you hear your own doubting public !! ? You hear many things when you don’t always look unwell. That’s ok.. It is a choice to make. to not look ill. When a condition begins to darken the edges of your ability to manage normally, you either give in, or you let yourself be the real you. Trying to repeatedly prove to anyone you are actually unwell, is another level of frustration you don’t need. Wear a badge, hold up a placard but find the bit inside that still exists as the rainbow you.

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Some people choose to wear their faces like this… let them…

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Even medical professionals struggle to understand how someone can really be in pain, but still move enough to do positive things for themselves, and especially continue to do things for other people. In fact, often serious conditions are masked and overlooked when you have another chronic one that you are coping with over a long period of time. It used to make me sad, or angry or frustrated. Now I realise, that they are all part of a big wheel of never ending paperwork, and you aren’t that important, unless you make it your business to be. Quietly, calmly and consistently. And continuing to feel valued and worthwhile helps stop you sinking into that feeling of non existence !!

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The reality is, you can get more done when you ARE feeling worse sometimes; especially if you know you won’t always be able to .  You get things done despite your pain, not because you don’t actually have pain. You have no choice. For short bursts you can achieve amazing things.

  • A knowledge of your limitations creates a determination to push them further. Eek out a tiny bit more energy and drive until the job is done, even if it takes all night, or ten minutes every day. You tell yourself you can do it.
  • You stop thinking one negative opinion matters, you remember all the people cheering you on and offering their stories and admiration in return, or telling you how you inspired them to do similar.
  • You figure out and stick to the things you need to make life work- warmth, adapting your environment, lots of light, human touch, avoiding toxic people and food and spending time with delicious versions of both.
  • You keep your vision clear in your mind and don’t waver.
  • You stop telling yourself you are a fraud for being wonderful with a disability, a mental health issue, being in a wheelchair blah blah. And worrying that someone will catch you enjoying yourself and tip you out into the gutter.
  • You take up the offers of help you felt too proud to take up, and realise you would do the same for your friends in a heartbeat. And definitely will again one day.
  • You look around and ask yourself whether you are 100 % in this version of you, even if it isn’t gong to be permanent. Which means having only the clothes and things around you that you can wear, bear, or that make you feel like you aren’t waiting for another life to begin. Who knows what shape you might be in future?  Who knows what you’ll be in to? But if things make you sad, or make you perpetually feel like you’re waiting for a train to come for a station to the future. Tumbleweeds will knock you off your bench. And you might miss the great town you’re already in.
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I say this as someone who, currently can’t bend one arm, walk or wear my vintage dresses because they get tangled in my crutches. But. I am still me. I’m not chucking them out. (sorry!) They are mostly stored on a rail in the attic where if medical science catches up with my head and super vet takes on humans, I will shimmy down my ladder in my retro polka dots one day. or… my daughter may wear them to the prom. Either way. It’s ok. They aren’t taunting me when I open my wardrobe (s) ! I like my linen floaty stuff just as much.

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Resting up in hospital gave me time to get creative. I recycled all the medicine tubs on the ward to paint watercolours in, and spent a lovely time chatting to a wonderful lady next to me whilst tinkering away at these posters.

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These few months have been many things. I thought they were simply slow and painful at times, too cold to be in my beloved garden and to feel sun on my bones instead of these sticky pain patches! But on reflection each step has been plentiful, gathering momentum towards projects all over the place.

Flags for the village Green all now re-stencilled and painted!

Research for The Eyemouth Art Trail has created new friendships, unearthed a host of local information of local artists in the area, which I will chat to you about another time, and Artwork made which will be used for various things related to the campaign.


My community Art group have worked away at various projects over the winter, despite their own challenges, and we are developing a new relationship with a partner community group, who are lovely; and understand our needs as an entity! This is so exciting. People who can adapt when the teacher for the first children’s class ends up in hospital instead….. well they are more than ok in my book.

Winter has been drawn on and written on, when the joints have allowed, before spring comes and more time can be spent outside. Almost every weekend plan that was made was changed by various friends, they themselves having different complications, and that was ok too. So, this inside- the- house bit of time  for us was two months of preparation and of making new connections, facing the realities of what this new set of adaptions all means. But also enjoying the freedom of not caring what the imaginary little judge on my shoulder thinks.

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Kicked that little monster to touch.

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Taking on the bears

We gather habits, patterns of behaviour like we gather clothes and books. Thinking we will get the same from them as we always did. And they sit there in our lives staring at us, taunting us with their lack of commitment to the actual person we need too be now.

Sometimes the accumulation can be too overwhelming….
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Time to go easy on ourselves for a while..

Perhaps, without actually getting rid of anybody, it is time to ask who, in your current version of your self is bringing you a squeaky tea trolley of tea and biscuits? Or wine? Or who you feel like sharing your leftover Christmas stash with! x What things do you do that make you happy? If you are unwell now or if you were to be in the future, what would give you most pleasure to have around you?

Keep what and who you love close by and be grateful for what you can do, what you can achieve in a day and what your influence does still bring. Shove everything else in the attic. Keep smiling. Spring is coming xx

Or you’ll have hermione to deal with… xxx

Your Rainbow friends,

L and Lxxx

Uncategorized

For Z

november 018 039The last few weeks, a procedure on my hand has meant a  rest from all things requiring fingers and thumbs…which has limited my writing. Thankfully it is the singing and eating season so other bits of you get to be spoilt .The Christmas roller-coaster has begun in a joyful way with old and new friendships, very high notes thanks to the organist’s tendency to go up each verse.. as a wee joke… and a general spike of conviviality in the air.. Having joined the wonderful Echo Choir in Eyemouth  a few months ago, my new bunch of  ‘Leah’s  Aunties and I  popped up in many churches, priories and village halls – all of us a bit more hobbly than the next.. But helping each other on and off a variety of stages and podiums in our adopted new family..

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We were also special guests for the day at our previous group at Newbattle Abbey….The Rough and Ready choir. We were welcomed with a fantastic queue of hugs, many folk we hadn’t seem for a long time. It was really special, beginning the season with the assurance that true connections don’t break and it was a generous Christmas gesture which meant an awful lot. Thank you Marion!!

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Preparing for the entire Christmas magic and Santa as a single mum in a bungalow (with no spare storage!!) on crutches… And my handyman checking I’m not going up ladders…is not an easy task!

So my Christmas fairy magic has been set to highImage result for magic glitter

We have had a brilliant variety of meet -ups  with all the community groups we work with, or who share their time with us, for final pre-Christmas Art group lunches and sparkly glittery sessions..

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And it was all going so well…….

Whilst quietly, happily, juggling hospital treatments, school plays and life…From nowhere both of us found ourselves fielding off not one but two unwanted pests

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The festive melting pot had decided to add resilience, patience and (a certain amount of) tolerance to the festive the mix……

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But…Our ethos is simple. We have time for everyone.  Life has served us a few bruised old lemons and we have made limoncello..

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Most people don’t mean to be grumpy. It can be a cry for help, a conditioned response that someone is actually being kind to them, that they deserve attention or love, or they might be simply having an off day……

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However. Repeatedly being unkind and scary for no reason is not ok. Being bullied is never ok.

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And we all deserve to walk away from people who bring a suitcase of dog poo to our door.

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Big scary days will come..

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And go again…….

And before you know it the sun comes out ..

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It would be so easy to lose hope or faith..

But

How would that help?

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Our bodies, our finances, our ideas, our tastes in clothes, our children’s opinions of us, and all these things change

But our real friendships don’t

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In my strange week of joy, fear, worry, and also a weary, poorly wee one (who still got through her exciting and very well done school show with aplomb….)Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

A couple of unbelievably magical things happenedbook_letter_by_atilazz-d2zf8s41

Kindnesses from a couple of people believing in us and the Art hub we are trying to get started, invitations of friendship, offers of future support and a very very kind gesture of goodwill from a big heart who has made a huge difference. Because of you, we can make plans for after Christmas to help other people. You gave us validation and a sprinkling of magic. Thank you so very very much.

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Oh… and also someone gave us some chickens!!!!!

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A member of my group took the time to write a piece about our class. It was four pages long and utterly honest and heartfelt. In it she described her journey and first day, through to how much she loves the atmosphere and safe space in the room.

It was written from a true place of honesty and friendship… Z: I am in awe of your bravery. You voiced what many of our group want to say and can’t. You should feel so proud.

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You are an angel.

I came home, and stood in my kitchen and I wrote a poem thinking about you and all the amazing people we know..

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Because of brave people like you, like the amazing artists who come to the classes, or read our scribbles… our fears, whatever size they are, are lessened in company.

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Strong

On this day I would like to say 
That many people come our way , 
Some are amazing , fill us with joy
Lavish their time and their hearts employ 
Some inspire us , some make us calm , some are like blankets, our slippers, our arm … 
some will be there when the chips get all soggy 
Some will be there when the weather gets foggy 
But some try and scare us , or squash us right down, 
Some are so sad that they can’t help their frown
They won’t let you help them , you’re worn out just trying, 
Instead of your living your watching them dying 
It isn’t your fault , you only have you 
Make it your mission to make yourself true 
Stand in the mirror and tell those who scare you
I’m keeping my good friends 
Bully my tribe … how dare you ? 

To the very few determined to stay stormy….

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The rest of us;

Are, People believing in people.

You matter.

If you are in, or want to be in a group of like-minded humans.. You will find them.

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We are all about creating on a Monday to pay for people to create on a Tuesday, We smile through the down days because when we do, sometimes we realise the day isn’t as bad as we thought it was, and someone else is looking up at you for inspiration… You know who you can give your time to..

Z .You asked me who you can trust.  Now that’s a million dollar question. But stop panicking and feel. What are you seeing in a person’s eyes? Are they listening to you? Do they want to know what you feel, need, do, dream of ? If it is only on their own good days, it isn’t friendship.

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There are really people in the world that will ALWAYS have your back, even on their down days. They put them to one side for you. They half their meal and slide it onto your plate. Choose people who eyes you look into and see kindness.

 You have a million colours and there are people who want you to be a rainbow.

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Our ever growing family of friends, artists and makers are fabulous. We are growing strong roots from our hardy beans and I can’t wait to see what we all get up to next.

Until then, thank you from the bottom of my duct taped crutches for believing in Liz at The beach Hut, coming to our groups and classes, being so inspiring and kind to both me and mini and for reading our blog all year .Image result for christmas heart

There are new projects in the planning and we always need helpers!46960651_10156949153086869_5739689381208260608_n

Have a brilliant Christmas and we wish even the grumpiest of humbugs a sparkly festive time.

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Love and Hugs, Liz, Leah, Skye, Max, Molly, and now Sugar and Spice!!

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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! .

Keep loving the process of finding your comfy bed.Image result for comfy bed

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.

A surprise for someone is a good thing to do. (Just a warning though.. if you choose to  do something kind.. let it go once it is done. No gift should come with expectation. People can be strange and not everyone is conditioned to receive.. )download (1)

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

 

 

 

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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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