Draw

Recently I started to go to an art class, as a member and not as a teacher. It is wonderful. Not only are the people running it wonderfully easy and friendly, open to you creating your own masterpiece instead of drawing their set-up; but the class members are as easy to be in a room with, as a warm fire and your favourite slippers. I love it.

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There was a moment in the room recently, where everyone was focused on drawing some Autumn vegetables. After a hub hub of friendly chat, a slow quiet descended in the village hall. Marks were heard softly being etched and traced over paper as curves and leaves of different shaped forms were followed gently by twenty pairs of hands and eyes. It was so still. there was no noise, verbal or otherwise. It was a no space.

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The silence was magical. I’ve thought about it a lot since and it was I believe it was a perfect combination of feeling comfortable, feeling unjudged, letting go and trust.

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Drawing does something to and for us.  When we look, we connect. As simple as that. If we can find a space to feel at ease to do that, it provides a magical harmony between us and the qualities of the object we are celebrating.

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You don’t have to be good at drawing to make that happen either, and if you try too hard to find it, you may be missing the point. The point is, not to try. The point is to be, to look, to feel and to get rid of the constant babble chat and judgement.

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The end results are not the point. The journey to get there is the crucial reason for picking up your tools.

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It doesn’t have to be drawing.. Image result for gardening toolsAs a very keen and recent amateur gardener, I can safely say that the same thing happens at certain moments when  your hands are in  soil , the sun is on your face and there is no such thing as  clock watching . Planting the seeds of an idea in whatever form you wish is still as magical..

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How to get the most out of your drawing

We all have methods we like and don’t like in art. The only way to know what you want as your style is to try many of them out and get to know what your style is.

Drawing is the key to everything. Looking at things around us us to get to know the things we see every day that little bit better. Like unlocking the secrets they were holding all along. Be your own personal camera.

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Keep it simple to begin with. Be comfortable. Alawys be comfortable. Whatever that mean to you. take off your shoes, sit on a cushion, sit on a bench. lie on a mat, play music.. My favourite thing to do is to listen to stories while I draw. This takes your naughty and argumentative left brain away from mocking your efforts and leaves your right brain to relax into creating..

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Be warm. Especially if like me, your joints are bad. Use your own set of pain criteria to establish your methodolgy. For example, I love detail, but it is soooo painful to do, so I can only draw like that every so often, meaning my style has evolved with my body. No point crying over split milk. I’m never going to do the splits either so I may just enjoy what I can do…

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Look at what you  are drawing. Not at your paper. Sounds silly, but how can you draw something you are imagining? Do you already know where the light falls on that shell? Where the tiny dots get smaller creating a rhthym to the shape? So look. Paper won’t go anywhere, but just in case, you can wedge it with an elbow.

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Begin really softly…….Sketch with a soft pencil. 2B or 4B.  They are easier to work with and you can make shadows, rub out and create flow.

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Make easy loose marks to start.Image result for loose drawing marks

Then as you start to work the shape, feeling the weight of your object, use different tones to show how much shadow is in one area compared to another. The darkest being under and in between . Press hard, light, loose and vary your pencil marks.

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Your line should start to feel like a natural progression of your eyes looking or your fingers touching the object. Vary the weight of the line you draw to convey a natural mark with depth of shadow within it as you draw.

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Keep building both these techniques adding colour/ a wash of watercolour or another tone to define and contrast, or use your sketch as a start for a piece of artwork.

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The point is that it meant to be relaxing. It doesn’t matter the tiniest bit if it doesn’t resemble the object.

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Do you know how many sketchbooks I’ve ripped up and rearranged? How many times I’ve started over? Keep your ideas, drawings, studies, and rework them into scraps for collage and tester pieces for other ideas.

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Never think that anyone else has the secret you don’t .

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Enjoy the journey and others on it. Where you get to next …. is anyone’s guess.

Here’s to your creative future.

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Love from your creative inner monster…

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And me xxx

 

 

 

 

 

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..

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire in your belly..

Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.

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A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

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Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…

Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.

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Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…

And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..

And I was thinking…

One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be,  to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.Image result for vintage woman fainting

Oh…… if only they knew…….

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Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..

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Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones  …five, mouths to feed.

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…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.

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Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.

      The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!

Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.

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Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.

The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.

Hold out on the over feeding…..

( except for your loved ones.. give them cake )

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Then you can set the world on fire..xxxxxx

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