In this Moment

Dearest friends. How are you holding up? What strategies are working best?

Light on the sands at Coldingham Bay
Taking pleasures where we can becomes more poignant and vital when there are fewer. This was our 7.30 am dog walk..

Although not easy getting the tribe up so early, the pleasure of early sunlight and space to roam for ten minutes was lovely and worth every grumble. (actually, some of the tribe, the four legged contingency would eagerly beach walk at midnight; so ……just the humans.)

A Man Getting Out Of Bed, Vintage Line Drawing Or Engraving ...
It’s tricky getting used to a new routine .

The thing to remember is that whatever you feel at the moment is normal because for a little while this is normal

A daily walk around the block with Skye’s boyfriend.

Why is the heart a symbol of love?

Everyone has a different coping strategy, mechanism and limit. We only have to look at a facility like Facebook to see how many different ways of communicating our ideas, ideologies, fears, thoughts, and needs pop up in constant noisy thread.

Distraction techniques for pain management — artibiotics

Some people post political views of the current climate, strong in belief and rightly passionate and outraged at an aspect of the world out of our control. Some use humour to cheer others on, or perhaps to mask their own worries.

Mum, Mum, the toilet’s smoking…..

Others share health ideas, creative ways of coping and managing. Practical in their approach. Within various art groups online we have been sharing a daily drawing activity. No pressure, particular style or time limit. Bringing people together in any activity seems to be helping keep spirits up and stops us all from feeling alone.

And all of the posts we scrawl through have a place. They all show the vital need to share, and are all part of the human condition. It isn’t compulsory to look at them all, or even see into the abyss every day.

Cute bulletin board! "We are all different but the same!" | School ...

But, being tolerant of one another’s belief systems, and sense of humour; whether it is a game obsession, following a style guru, following a meditation app, having a liking for role play, if your child, your family are safe in their different tastes, and there are time limits for being online, it is probably helping us all have an anchor. However. now that we are going inside our homes, our rooms, our minds, we are at risks of going inside our heads.

Thinking too much by HelenaTheActress on DeviantArt

And this isn’t ok. When we go there the little questions, doubts and pre-existing anxieties start nibbling at our ears.

Ear biting GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Human nature picks at the scab of anything it deems imperfect. This will be different for everyone. Unless you are truly at one with your inner self, it is very hard at times of stress to switch this little monkey off. We see people coping differently, in extreme ways which aren’t our way, and it makes us feel out of control and cross. In reality, most people are just doing their best, and we should tend our own garden first. .

Vintage School Poster - Always Do Your Best - | School posters ...

We have expectations of the people around us in our home too. And in a usual pattern of time, we have the space to miss each other and come home after time away from a row, or after having experienced a day differently to one another with things to talk about. Being around these people ALL the time is like eating the same favourite dinner every night.

The Biggest Wedding Food Faux Pas

Sooner or later, there will be rebellion. Sooner or later, the entire world’s issues will be laid at your feet. Rage is inevitable.

Chewing on Giallo and Other 'Bites of Terror' with Cuddles and Rage

Quite right. This sucks. However. reaching for the nearest object or wine bottle will only be a temporary solution. Calmly remind your child/ partner/aged relative; that you know what they must be feeling and acknowledge it. Tell them, sometimes that is what you feel as well and remind them how you are already both doing fabulously. Distract the energy as soon as possible by going into another room and doing a task they can join in with, or (if appropriate) tickling them or joking with them.!! This is just a blip. You can do this.

8 Ways to Stay Calm During a Crisis

When we try and make ourselves feel better, some of the usual things might not work at the moment. There is a strange thing with not having structure that although we have lots of time, sometimes we get less done because the choice is too overwhelming. Humans function quite well under a small amount of stress to complete tasks, get organised and structure their days. If you think how much schoolwork a higher pupil gets done over several subjects broken down into hours, then over days, 9 months and see the result- they could never have believed at the start it was possible.

Can decluttering your house really make you happier? - BBC Future

And although nobody wants a timetable for their home, it works to have a plan. Children naturally like routine, consistency and need gentle grounding. (They will of course tell you otherwise.) It might just be when they get meals, that they get a story at a particular time, or you make six o’clock movie time. This period of time will have lasting positive memories if there are things you regularly do.  For a lot of our kids, their life got snatched away and like animals, will pick up on tension that things are just really really different.)

Hygge it out- Now is the time for lots of fairy lights.

And don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t work. Or things were planned get replaced with a day outside because the sun shines. Its all learning. Kids are learning much more important life skills, tolerance, patience, resilience, self motivation, self discipline… as well as having to think more creatively. And you are helping them.

Vintage jelly moulds with sparkly jelly -history and home economics in one.

Why is the heart a symbol of love?

And on the subject of guilt, nobody can like it all. Or be happy all the time, or understand the outpourings of others with sympathy every day. Suddenly the world is in your living room. You are allowed to switch it off. And if a type of post or programme is upsetting or creates disharmony, understand why. My two least favourite things are being asked to re -post round robin messages. (And this is tricky, because it will be dear friends who think of each other and are essentially saying a nice thing. But I find them a bit impersonal and I feel guilty if I haven’t done it. And my bug bear is if two lots of music play too loud at once. A vertigo condition makes it the world go wobbly. We all have our limits.

So, you send your troupe somewhere else to cavort about..

For me on a personal level, seven years of being on crutches after several operations and even now only just starting to manoeuvre with normal sticks, the world hasn’t been open and available for a long time.

Vintage Reversible Open/Closed Door Sign - Melody Maison®

The conditions of widespread arthritis and fibromyalgia affect every day. Self-isolation is an extension of what was daily life for most of Leah’s life. Other than driving to places, using disabled facilities and relying on help, we have had to be self-sufficient, and the world often felt like it was closed or off limits. But through this, we became very resilient in times where all we had was one another.

This current situation is how it feels for many of our elderly, disabled, and friends with mental health issues. Although, it is one thing being isolated, it is another not having the choice to be social. Or to have the support network you need possibly be there. Sometimes, it won’t be food that people need most, it is a conversation or a message. Never underestimate how important you are to your network.

Crayon Resist Spider Web - Lessons - Tes Teach

We hope you like the post for the younger members of the family below this one. Lots of ideas for the younger members of your home . My kitchen is now a shared space where I have a new sous chef (and Sugar the chicken started laying on Mother’s day… )

Keep well, keep moving, keep talking

Watch all the classics

Classic Kids' TV Shows That Still Rock Our World | Movies | Empire

And we will speak soon xxx

Your friends, Liz and the zoo at Skye Blue House. xxxxxxx

A spoonful of sugar …

Hello dear friends.

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Well, what started as a regular kind of monthly journal has become something very different this month. We truly hope you are well, wherever you are and send our thoughts to you in the world.

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As we all hunker down for little while there are some small things, we can do to stay healthy in different ways.  

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Firstly, this pandemic is all a bit like your mum turning out the lights while you’re still wide awake. It suddenly got dark. Nobody felt ready to just stop doing and being.

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But the thing to remember is how marvellous we all actually are in the face of adversity. soon you’ll get used to a routine and it will feel less scary. If ever there was an excuse to get your old teddy bear out of the attic it is now!

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A lot of folk with anxiety or who rely on social interaction and consistency in routine will need you to help them maintain this.  Perhaps this is you, or someone you love. It will be really vital to establish a structure of some kind in an indefinite time bubble.

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So, make sure there is some phone contact, post your numbers through the neighbour’s door, set up a time each day or week to speak. Routine for the vulnerable is really important. The world hasn’t disappeared. But for some, it might feel like it has. Please use this if you can..

    Hi, I am your Neighbour.
My name is:………………………………………………………………….
My phone number is:……………………………………………….
My email is: ……………………………………………………….
I can help you in an emergency with the following : …………………………………… …………………………………… ……………………………………. …………………………………….
I go shopping on ……………………………………………….
And I am happy to help if you need some extra things.
Let me know by ………………………..….………………………………..
I may need help with   ……………………………………………….. …………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………….. ……………
Use this space for your emergency contact instructions or information …………………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………………………….                              

If you have the facility to set up an online get together, or WhatsApp group make it an excuse for a collective chat and making session.  Social isolation can exacerbate old fears and self-destruct buttons. So, if you can be part of something for yourself, and each other it will help

My to do list will definitely include a pile of unfinished artwork!

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We will be posting lots of ideas on our Facebook pages over the next couple of months, and attempting videos … watch this space!!

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Don’t listen to too much news, don’t watch too much tv and scroll through endless pages on the internet. Limit your time to first thing in the day, and in the evening. Instead sit down and write all the things you never had time to do. If you don’t get them done at home in the next few months, you never will! So now is the time to crack on. create things, read your books, write a book! Colour in things, re- decorate, sew things, mend things, cook things and get outside and plant something, even in a couple of pots.

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All of the above can and should be part of your child’s home schooling, which most of you will have enforced on you as well. To make the day work as well as it can, structure a loose timetable to help them and you cope with what is happening.

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Definitely restrict screen time. Insist on this! But perhaps use it as part of a lesson to compensate.

Kids need a good breakfast and most work better on maths and English earlier in the day so pace their learning with short blocks of whatever they are studying. If they can check in with you often, or sit in an organised space they are more likely to absorb their task.

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Don’t reward each task with treats. The child wouldn’t get this in school and will otherwise end up the size of  a house! I am already finding the need for more stringent house rules on snacking.

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Even if I wasn’t a teacher, replicating school is never going to happen at home. Kids naturally don’t take us seriously. So, if we get a few sums done, an art project on alien virus creatures and you plant a sunflower, that’s enough.

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As for the more vintage of you, get a little more on top of the usual needs. Your doctor’s surgery knows everyone is worried and will expect you to place your prescription early. It might take a few days longer and if you are isolated ask a neighbour or in some cases they can deliver.

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For many people, in an emergency, there is an initial period of disbelief and then we go a bit numb. And this is when your coping strategies need to kick in, on behalf of those you love and yourself. If you feel you are safer at home, stay there. Feed yourself well.

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My friend said she found there was suddenly no flour on the shelves. Some of us might actually bake, but many people are buying in case they decide to! Think about the things which will sustain you, if you can’t get to the shops for  a week. What type of bread freezes best? (wraps are good) and go with a list to the shops. Because you will lose the ability to make logical decisions when surrounded by hysteria. Breathe, buy, head home and shut the door.

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Being indoors for a prolonged period isn’t easy, so make it your home your nest. Keep it clean and open windows to circulate air. Jiggle things around. use this as an excuse to do a drastic whatever.. Paint a wall, knit a rug, decoupage a dog bed… whatever keeps your hands busy.

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Watch things which take you to another world. Our minds need to dream, believe, trust and create hs yet to be explored. This cant be done by watching documentaries of people being evicted and soaps where everyone wants to sabotage one another’s relationships. . The same is true of books. Whilst an odd headline in a paper is ok to read, why not listen to audio books which teach you stuff, re- read a classic or read a story with your children. Or grandchildren. This can still happen over a facetime call. This might teach us all how to be story tellers again.

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I was asked to make something for a friend of mine recently. She knew of a couple who had a couple of old vases and they had sentimental value, precious to them. He broke one accidentally and threw away all the pieces . He was well and truly in the dog house. Could I do something with a few of the bits, so that he could give something back to his wife as way of an apology?

So I made them a picture ….. We await the result of his journey from the garden to the marital home! xxx

Broken things can be fixed, maybe not as they were before. But in a different guise and with a new mosaic pattern. Don’t throw anything away simply because it’s use isn’t yet understood. But don’t hoard either !! these next few months might make us all re-think what is important. .  

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Make the most of your cuddles, your animals and your resources. We are all fortunate in many ways still and have to be positive.

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So, over the next while, please do stay in touch on Facebook and here. Keep your minds healthy as well as your body and your space.

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We just learnt that Skye isn’t too well, so this time is even more precious. You my friends are an inspiration and this too shall pass xxx  Good luck, take a deep breath and know you got this ..

With huge love Liz and the zoo.

xxxx

Baby steps

This year has floored me, and thankfully after months of persistence and perseverance things are starting to happen now on the medical front, although, they are far from resolved. Tomorrow a knee operation will start things off and then hopefully the long-awaited tests and mri’s we are waiting for will get organised. It has been much harder being on crutches when another area of disease attacking the upper body has spread.

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However, dwelling on the pain and things we can’t do isn’t what we are about around here, and helping each other out; making activities possible is not only what we do, but what we want to continue to build for lots of other people. Right now my gratitude overfloweth..

We have some amazing people in our lives, some who we see once a year, appearing with beach hut goodies to build our vision, others who donate lovely art materials for classes to use, others who collect stuff to draw, or help set up tables and carry bags and others who just are kinder than kind with their offers to be available to help.

Post op, we are pulling together our plans under a second blog- a seaside vintage community arts page which will celebrate your achievements, show our progress and tell people our ideas.

We would really love your help. If you would like to be a trustee right at the start of this exciting project, please contact me on lizatthebeachhut@yahoo.co.uk. We need people who have experience in funding applications!! And generally nice folk who want to help people less able to be creative at the coast.

The project is called Sea Sparkle and if you click on the link you’ll see why. Hope you like it. x https://seasparkle.org/2017/09/25/what-is-the-beach-hut/

We are on facebook-

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*Sea sparkle

*Liz at the beach hut

*Liz Walker (request) picture of me and Leah

Your donations, your beach hut additions, your offers of lifts and volunteering, make activities possible. You rock xxx

But first.. Off to get a bit better…

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Better pack a bag and dream up new plans. More bits to follow, but for now, sending you all Much love,

Liz and the gang at the Beach Hut

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

Abundance

On Boxing day, this was the outfit of choice.. and, if we were all really honest with ourselves we probably all wish we could wear every Christmas presents…. at once….

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Abundance. The realm of the child, the lucky, or the wise….?

For a fraction of a second my daughter questioned the potential reaction of others, in the small village where we live. But this was swiftly replaced with a glorious freedom of spirit and self judgement.  The vivid flourish of feathers, stripy wellies and clashing colours drew many compliments, smiles and probable envy, of being ten-ness from every grown-up on her travels during the doggie walk that afternoon…

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I felt incredibly proud of her joie-de-vivre, and of how far our journey has taken us both; away from so many constrictions, and which, if you might have followed our story from the start, you’ll know , has been hard won …… Good for her.. but can it be good for all of us, to be a little more tutu?

It seems we operate as humans in most things we do,  from either love or fear. At the extreme contours of our comfort zones

We don’t have a responsibility to carry the fears of anyone else. But we can encourage those around us to find a way to stick their fingers up at some of their conditioned responses to the rules. As long as we are kind, we can be colourful.

Having courage could never be more important:

How often do we slightly recoil at generosity of spirit in some way? Perhaps you have been fortunate to have been shrouded in compliments but have told yourself they are ill deserved, gifts you feel are only given in anticipation of another in return. ? Of course, nobody can be that kind and want nothing back? Nobody can be that friendly and be trustworthy.. We are taught to be wary of change, differences and wonkiness of thought.

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If you look for reasons to criticise… up they pop like weeds. But, if we look at say, a gossip mag, full of critiques, comments, comparisons and criticisms… we could be forgiven for believing we read the same one a year ago. It is all the same.. ‘This person doesn’t fit the mould, that person doesn’t meet our popular mass expectation, since they became; (pick one)- divorced/fat/poor/lonely/ill/uncool/no-as-on-trend..Very rarely do these publications value the integrity  of the person or their actual reality.

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And under all the stuff, all the things we move about every year, all the new things grabbed off sale rails, the virtuous bags of old clothes we shed to make way for a new version of ourselves.. we only ever have us.

We have arms, legs, eyes and a heart that sees, feels, reads , and loves with abandon. This is the part of our wardrobe worth holding onto and placing on the softest of padded hangers.

Feltro e bordado enfeitando o cabide para menina.

Push away kindness, push away the good stuff and keep up the cycle of mistrusting anything which questions what HAS ALWAYS BEEN,  is like buying the same jumper that you just gave to a charity shop…

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Or…

Take a new path

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Sometimes, people do actually mean the compliments they give you, and sometimes, the invitations they make are because they want to share something amazing or they see something amazing in you . Choosing to focus on what is actually ok can make you feel richer and more complete, rather than trying to prove yourself right.

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It is at this time of year that we all feel like getting rid of things. Eating less, chiselling away at bits of our bodies and sculpting a better version of ourselves. Chucking out the old clothes we don’t wear, and revamping everything from scratch.

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It is well trodden path.. a seasonal rollercoaster

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Nothing wrong with a good clear out, but what if your focus is at looking at how much you already have?

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How does it make you feel?

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What if you decide to make your resolution (your revolution according to the monkey..) to banish complete and utter abandonment of what anyone else thinks.

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Because they will think what they think anyway!

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On Christmas day, It is our thing, to wrap up pretty much everything we can find all year for next to nothing and spend a day feeling like we are Royalty.. Things in vintage shops, things we forget about, little bits of treasure and surprises. An abundance of little wonders and sparkly things. But if you look at one photo of our Christmas day, perhaps we look like spoilt rich folk. Hilarious. If only……

My daughter says her favourite part is watching me open my gifts and mine is seeing her face as she unearths a present I forgot I’d wrapped. Prolonging the joy is a lovely thing and it is valued by us both because we know how much it takes to make it happen..

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Living as we do, is a mystery to some. And because of that.. will incur the odd question … Ooh you must be rich to have such a lovely garden/so many shoes/so many options of a flavoured tea bag….. No, I just go out on crutches and feed the plants every day March to October, cherish what is donated to the cause and treasure what is important  .. and our classes are fired by pixie dust..( and willing and able helpers) … so that’s that taken care of…

WE are taught to reach for the stars.. to aim high.. to visualise our desires.. but people often don’t like to see abundance. The scales of normality can seem out of kilter with a balance of circumstances we don’t understand. If we see a person with colours, with happiness, with an abundance of spark and joy we feel that something isn’t right and we must crush it before it gets out of hand..

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We can’t possibly understand everyone.. So let’s just concentrate on our own potential…

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What if we let it be our inspiration? What if we see a lovely thing, and just let it be absorbed? Take from it what makes us happy, and let it float on past?

712ryq2h1ql._sy450_Having a lot of something isn’t something to be freaked out by. If you want it too.. work towards it. If it isn’t what is part of your plan, let the person enjoy their creation. Don’t belittle, demolish, crush, be jealous of or question what they are doing. Just ask them about it or walk on by!

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I truly hope your New year’s Revolution is completely bonkers, and not to just be a bit skinnier. I also hope that some of you will be joining us in classes and at various events this year.

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We are abundantly yours in technicolour.. to take into your next adventure.

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I love this.. 

Let’s all be purple at least once a week

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This is for G. You know why. x

Stay Warm and Bright, All my lopsided love, Liz xxx

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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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If you find people in your life like that, hold on them.Image result for vintage hug

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 Blank Page

 

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Where to begin…. Again…….Image result for blank page

I’ll let you into a secret.. Blank canvas syndrome is an actual thing. Stalling at the moment of creative freedom is the hurdle of almost anyone who ever picks up a brush or a pencil. We imagine ourselves unable to do this massively hard thing which encompasses our genius in one monumental piece of art. Over and over again.

We stand enraged at ourselves for being rubbish before we we even start

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And then more often than not we don’t bother at all, because the fear of the creating bit is too big and too scary.

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There are too many choices

I have noticed this human tendency in many situations, presented with a wobbly, new or challenging step in our lives, we revert to our most vulnerable, smallest sense of self. Some people can overcome this through having had positive childhood  or life experiences,  conditioning from supportive friends and especially from family . But let’s face it, for most of us, there have been enormous gaps in our well-being feedback, in relation to most aspects of anything we put out there, on show to the world…

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If we can hide we often do

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We can lose confidence and momentum as easily as we gain it, because humans want to believe their flaws out weigh their fantastic qualities.

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Standing on the precipice of a chapter can be mind-blowing.Image result for standing on the edge

I know this to be true. You can fool yourself into believing there will be nothing there to fill the void.. you know nothing about his new thing yet, so how can you trust it? you will never reach the level of comfort you had before.. so best maybe to do what you always did.. and stay where you were ..oh so comfortable….

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and the magic and experiences waiting for you can never be.

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Life isn’t a straight line though,  like a bus chugging through the things we do, forgettable and then starting over again tomorrow. Your skills and wisdom back-back gets fuller as you go,  and you will only ever ripen in yer old age.. It doesn’t matter what your fears are.  Moving out of a loveless home, leaving a job, starting a new group or an activity you dreamed of doing when you were a kid.. If you need to do it from the bottom of your boots.. then the layers you have grown over your heart will turn slowly into your new jet pack.. and give you wings..Image result for flying person

Each day,  and situation isn’t a blank canvas .

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We are an accumulation of all that we have ever done so far.

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A million moments we either choose to remember, celebrate or let pass by..

Each one slowly feeds us and our mind absorbs the important bits , inspiring future ideas;  the big, important, or small, perfectly formed thoughts..the trick is to find your connection with what makes your hear sing;

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When we look for inspiration, or start a new artwork or project, we can be overwhelmed with self doubt .And we do the same with our own self image. We look at what we see in the mirror as less than perfect, swamping the whole picture , to reinvent ourselves once more and catch something new, which perfectly represents our ultimate ‘self.’

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Only , that particular fairy has wings. You’ll not catch her. She is a million fractured images at once, absorbed from past memories, experiences, joys and pain and can only ever be fleeting..  All you can do is be grateful for a good photograph occasionally, and smile as much as possible.. because it is the least aging facial contortion!

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As some-one who has been recently forced to look at  pictures of themselves less able  than they were, and not even know how lucky I was at the time, please take it from me that focusing on the perfections of what you look like NOW is so so so not important. It is about getting to know who you are this minute and to like them, trust your own brand of creativity without judgement, both in the mirror and on your canvas.

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Sometimes the more perfect we are the less we know ourselves..The more layers we apply to our guarded hesitant approach , the further away from freedom we have.

Enjoy your face but it’s what you do with it next that counts…

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Last week my daughter and I went to see Mama Mia at the Maltings in Berwick. We sat in the disabled bay with a man in a wheelchair. On paper tell me how fun that sounds?Image result for line of jelly babies

Well stop. Let me tell you, that between us, the lovely stewards (a very sweet couple) and a bag of jelly babies .. we probably had more fun than anyone in the cinema. Nobody cared we were singing and laughing out loud and we watched the film directly from the heart instead of from the perception of how it would look to others if we made a fool of ourselves. It was magical, memorable and we made three new friends.

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It is possible to enjoy yourself..

A surface of many types is just the beginning. Step one. The beginning of a chapter or an adventure. It is meant by its nature to be weathered and roughed up a bit, textured and aged until it’s true nature appears. If we know this we can see past the fear of the blank, because the joy of the process of seeking it out is part of the fun.

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 Let the magic happen.

And if it is your canvas giving you blank stares.. do one of the following;

How to Texture Your Painting surface

1 Cover the surface with pa and water, then tissue paper and then more p.v.a, flattening gently as you go with more gluey gloop and a big brush .

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2 Scrape a layer of texture onto your canvas,  using acrylic paints in either a rough approximation of your finished colour scheme or an opposite one ( complimentary colours can peep through your final work and look very effective.Image result for acrylic underlayer  on canvas

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3 Scrape on paint or an acrylic medium, or paint with a texture by adding sand .. then scratch into it with a card edge, tooth pick or press into your surface with bubble wrap or lace.

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4 Fill your surface with pattern and image from magazine cuttings,  in the same way as Idea 1, make sure they are nice and flat to work on. To make this slightly easier when you paint on top you can always glaze over with a very watery white acrylic wash 50% water/50% acrylic.

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5 After priming with a basic colour, draw on your canvas without looking directly at it. Do it with a really loose paint mix with a long brush or a stick with an oil pastel attached to the end. keep you marks really fluid and loose , enjoying the flow and rhythm of your idea without the constraints  of your four canvas sides.
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6 And when you start painting or applying your actual layers, don’t tighten up too much initially.. Try adding your detail with more tissue, or add torn -up older cast off artwork as an under-layer..

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The recipe for good things  takes time. Often we look at a person and their creations and think they appeared fully formed and gorgeous out of nowhere.. as if by magic. My guess is that they too have stood in new shoes..

Get your foundation right and the rest will follow.. Image result for good foundation

You wouldn’t plonk on beautiful make up without prepping your skin first .. to make it last, attach itself and shine out.  And the best faces, rooms, stories, canvases and relationships are built upon over time and with experience and wisdom . Trust what you know no matter what or who anyone else imagines you are.

 Artwork works when there is a  depth, texture and a hint of what has brought you to its creation.  Just please don’t confuse your surfaces.

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Its quite hard to eat your tea if your face is covered in magazine cuttings.

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Fill in the the blanks with your fabulous selves..

Love Liz xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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