Soup

As the temperature changes and jumpers are sought

We get to discover the sale stuff we bought

 Last winter from Next where we queued like grey dominoes

To purchase more clothes, where straight under the bed they go.

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And finding soft clothes fitting dark cooler days ,

Is akin to the lure of the slow cooker haze.

 And the scent of the fireplace of wood burning smoke ,

Follows fresh pairs of socks when your feet have got soaked

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In Autumn the promise of capturing friends,

 To nurture hot drinks and then start one again .

  Some bodies do well in the rain and the cold,

 Preferring to ski and go swimming -so bold

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On the beach, are the wild ones, I watch and admire

Whilst swathed in a blanket inside my armchair

For some, it’s a seasonal obstacle course to get through

When everyday life leaves your hands white and blue .

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Because your immunity loses all reason

And messes your energy most of the season.

This isn’t a tale about how to get fixed

 If this is reality, you’re expert in this .

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This is a hug for all those who dream

And whilst loving Autumn; still silently scream

 A hug for the days where the damp makes you weep

From moving the route you could do in your sleep.

May be an image of nature

In Summer your joints hurt but pain you just bear

When sun on the skin in the flip-flops you wear

And breezes that brush you like kisses from fairies

Don’t punch like six boxers in pub crawls gone lary.

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On wet days as two eyes gaze at leads by the door

And despite doggie patience, can’t cross one more paw

You battle the elements for today’s mini drama

Ignoring the pain in invisible armour.

Attempting the route which is suddenly hard

And crying a little while hips feel like shards

Of glass and things spiky : and push their  way in

And you must just make it to put out the bin.

And friends say how are you? And what do you say?

You’re fine on the outside, you say I’m ok

But all that has happened with wind, chill or rain

Has stolen your energy ,swapped it for pain.

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Immunity plummeting, temperature cool,

You’re a blood boiling, bone aching ,gland swelling fool

 Fit for your duvet and slippers and tea

Not out in the world where the others can see.

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 Except life can’t give us a six month reprieve

 From autumn and winter and all that she breathes

We battle on each of us: through knowing eyes

 Determined to catch at least one bright sunrise .

May be an image of twilight, sky and nature

We all know someone who can relate

To managing what life has plopped on their plate

But sometimes a gentle reminder or two

Shows us just how to walk in their old winter shoes.

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Is not such a bad thing For those you hold dear

Who bounce round in summer, but have now disappeared

 Know that seasonal changes, the glory of Fall

Can come with a minefield, not welcomed  by all .

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Like dormice, exhausted, curled in Autumn dens

 sometimes we exist to let friends down again

There’s is no timetable, days plunge into gloom

 And Covid was quite normal, spending months in your room.

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 If you know someone precious, and you care they stay yours

Their needs will be be different behind their front door

They might need more sleep at wierd times of the day

Or struggle to move in their usual way.

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Or feel guilty because they can’t be that friend yesterday

Who left you with this face, gone lifeless and grey

Social media will not show the fog Winter brings

The lonely months of time, before warmth of Spring.

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 Be kind, patient, knowing, we aren’t all made the same

For we all wish we could leap puddles in the same rain

Tomorrow will be better after rest, Netflix and soup

And soon we will feel human and be back in the loop.

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A thousand thanks for all the eyes that make my path more clear

 For dancing leaves and Autumn light which decorates my year

Our bodies aren’t so easy to decipher from outside

They don’t have labels telling us the things we often hide.

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 This season as the lights go down and you chop up for soup

 Extend a hand for quiet ones and keep them in the loop

 For as you’ll know they may not ask for extra love they need

So lay a spoon , a bowl and crust and give their soul a feed.

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From our hearth to yours, Liz at the Beach Hut xxxxxxx

Chance

Nobody knows what the road ahead will bring.

From an early age my philosophy has always been to prepare the way ahead, just in case tomorrow sends you a curve ball. Which we all know is exactly what life does in the most spectacular, ridiculous, heart-breaking or just plain annoying ways. Following on from our last post may we present the Art of recycling- what-was-either- being- sold- or-moved and the power of intention to flip the map upside down, and reroute the bus down a more scenic route.

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Life gives us lemon groves sometimes.

Deconstructed rooms, zoo on a road trip, painted garden bits flaking under constant scrutiny and rain, upended blue paint tin tipped over mural by designer dog who himself, having timed his burgeoning adolescence with the upheaval of travel; very nearly became one of the must-go pile!!!!..

Its easy to give up when things look like they are all going wrong . Understandable that what doesn’t look like its easy to fix gets abandoned. Easier to give up and have an simpler life.

But where’s the fun in that?

This is Skye Blue House. Nothing gets us down for long.  The mural needed a repaint anyway, work was then started on the rest of the path with masonry paint and blue shed paint, very early in the morning, section by section to avoid giant paw prints across the living room carpet. A ton of Scottish cobbles created a beach effect where a patch of grass was previously dug up by Bear under the old trampoline circle. This became a border housing the pot bound plants gasping for breath over Summer months with the addition of some perennials . Leah’s old wardrobe became a bespoke garden tool store, far sturdier than similar ones in the garden centre.

Since the surgery a few months ago to remove a bone in my hand, I am delighted to be able to paint things again without wincing. Arthritis creeps back and in my case it is sneaky and persistent.  So making hay while the sun shines is vital, before winter creeps up again making outdoor work too painful. And to re-claim the home we thought we would be leaving, two rooms were given a face-lift to satisfy that New -House itch and to let this house know we do love it it still !

Houses, like us, love to be loved and seep their pride into your (much anticipated and welcome) winter guests .Home ; a perfect blend of comfort, colour, you and spontaneous tea and cake. Disclaimers will include here the many blobs of paint on carpets, hastily cleaned up, ruined glasses I accidentally use for paint water, muddy dog paws on new Indian bedspreads, non compliant teenagers, weather, the bank balance …….

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This was an especially driven project for many reasons. Not least a big birthday. Which was date to have things finished by, and free up other head space to focus on bigger Art projects, pursue health options and enjoy the season with at least a few ticks on the list.

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Autumn will come with its own surprises so for today there is a calm quiet comfort in home . Which you and I know is in us all along

Thankyou for the Facebook compliments and the requests for outsourcing the old decorating skills… I think other than in advisory capacity over dinner, its back to words and watercolours for a while. One of the reasons to have moved was longer seasons, in a warmer climate which you’ll know yourselves makes a huge difference to the mobility. …

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And well; if we can’t have sun all year round, we’ll keep warm with quality friendship and cake xx

Love and positivity, Liz at the Beach Hut xxxx

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Baby bird

How old were you when you found your wings ? When did you first feel in control of your choices? Or grounded enough to let go of your fear? Whose fear was it anyway ?

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Did you climb a mountain in a sweltering landscape and peek at your new perspective through the gap in the clouds?

Did you find God one day while eating your toast?

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 Did you reach Nirvana whilst touching the high notes with your choir or dancing with your tribe around a flaming bonfire?

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Or understand fully one sunrise your need for grounding in earth, as you smelled the air and witnessed your hard labour flourish?

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Or maybe a little of all of these?

Did you then forget your epiphany as soon as you landed back on planet earth with a plop when someone needed you or worse, wiped your seed of new hope away ? Did the technicolour get switched back off ?

Did a voice in your head tell you how unrealistic your positivity was?

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When the clear glistening ideas in your mind unfurl, new and shiny and exciting, like a glossy tropical flower You just know that someone will come and cut your petals off. Often someone who in theory should have your back.

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This is the vulnerable point where many fledgling dreams die. Trying to push against the system which surrounds anything different, whether at home or work is often too difficult. It is easier to drift back and become engulfed in the ‘way it has always been’

Most people know who they are. What brings them joy and a sense of pure satisfaction. But we are fed so many alternatives to this core knowledge, and are often hungry for a little more validation. Sometimes these vital gaps in our unconscious self worth came from feelings we have when we are little and can’t yet fly.

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A Baby seagull made its home on top of our caravan this Summer. Nesting in our rooftop chimney, a fluffy little chick was waited on by a village of seagull parents; decorating its roof with hard to clean graffiti. Baby seagulls are very demanding. Screeching their needs very vocally for not only their parents but all adult birds within a two mile radius. Relentlessly they deliver takeaway delights to their offspring with their gruesome picnics, and swoop low and hard on any unexpecting human passers by.

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While we travelled this Summer, she stayed still and grew fat, filling out her fluffy edges with spotty brown feathers. And on our return, she was almost as big as her mum, and still, she cried and cried for food. Once fed, the crying started again with the rapidly less patient mum nudging her baby to move .

These seagull parents were getting fed up now.

Over the next few days, the crying continued. But nobody came. She knew she could fly. They knew she could fly. She realised food was going to be slightly harder to come by. So she cried harder. Her feathers were turning a lighter shade of grey. She walked to the edge and back again, and sat down. Her cries became more plaintive and although beady eyes watched from nearby rooftops, nobody came to deliver dinner. Until. there was nothing more for it. It was time….

After several short trips to nearby treetops and a couple of shed roofs soon all that remained on the caravan roof was the Jackson Pollock masterpiece.

There is a time, when nobody comes. Sometimes we wait a lifetime for that reassurance and feed, and believe we cannot function without it. We have a core belief that we can’t. … (fill in the blank) That a teacher, a parent, a partner, or any person we give permission to have (or had ) power over us, and once that is delivered ; we will then be whole.

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All living creatures have a right to love and nourishment but we know this is seldom true for everyone.

If we are fortunate, we are fed the morsels we need to build our strength, courage and resistance, to build healthy bones, lives, relationships and feel loved.

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It takes courage to say, thank you for feeding me, but I can take it from here. That I have enough belief in my self to choose whom to take advice from . It takes courage from those who love you to also let you go, make mistakes and come back, bruised but more wise. And when there is no Big seagull watching you must hear your own voice.

You’ll hear other squawks and caws, creating more choices, more distractions.  Jostling for attention and swaying your resolutions and ideas with promises. A person who fears change will fear yours. “Stay safely in your comfort zone that matches ours, think these thought because they match the system we created.”

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And on a superficial level we get thrown life changing ‘temptations’ “Be the best version of yourself with our new products. Buy a whole new set of clothes, get a better job, a shiny new car, and always a new sofa… THEN you will be the perfect person you always knew you could be! Hurry while stocks last. On sale now. a new improved you. No mess, no clutter, just competition ready human.”

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When it still doesn’t feel better, when we are still hungry for something else; that’s the gift of looking deeper into our own needs.

This Summer has given us a new perspective. One which we hadn’t planned, but clearly it was in the plan all along.

As an art teacher I have spent my life collecting resources for others to use, from shells to old objects, books, materials, plants, metal things, glass things, fabric things, beautiful shiny objects and tiny things that fit into the palm of your hand. A classroom was packed with labelled boxes and lovely stuff to draw from.

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When I left my teaching post through ill health, my huge supply of resources was lugged from house to house, into storage facilities and a basement, back to the shed and back to another art room. It was whittled down and down but at each stage of the life of the stuff, people were using it and creating beautiful artwork. It has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember. Collecting things for people to use makes so many people happy; it was never a question of not keeping things

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People donate art materials to you which is amazing and for classes an Aladin’s cave of colourful ephemera grows. Easily the bags and boxes also grow in quantity, and without adequate permanent storage- one becomes a permanent bag lady. This state relies on meticulous organisation, warm weather for easier mobility, an army of volunteers to help lift from the car and bend to the floor for any stray tissue paper and stray clutter, not to mention the energy needed to create in the first place.  The reality of wheeling bags of art materials in a force ten gale while a rainbow of pens skittles off down the road is highly likely.

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There is a time for everything

And a place too.

Yesterday, after making a decision to start focusing on a bigger project of my own, my remaining boxes were returned from the community centre where I was teaching . Oh no, boxes of stuff again.!

After spending a Summer literally throwing out everything I own and starting a home renovation now we are remaking our own home with less clutter, I could have wept! But I asked for these things back. Why on earth did I do that? Things just keep coming back, growing in volume.. again! .

In amongst the detritus of making equipment, there were sketchbooks and memories, boxes of collected resources, things donated and found. Things which will give pleasure again. Working in the art field always comes with a running commentary of ‘funny’ labels. Junk, clutter, crap, stuff or worse. But look back. Look at how that plastic became a dragon sculpture. Look at how that ink was layered in rich textures over all that scrap and made this fantastic collage.  

Our things, the ‘stuff’ we collate and have an affinity with, create a thread with others. When someone else decides to throw away, comment about, or sabotage our things without our permission, it makes decisions about what we need, and for some precious objects leaves a physical loss. In all of the Art spaces I have run, we have kept a wide and varied selection of materials for every project one could think of. Even though the hoard was very organised, being forced to cull occasionally is healthy! The eye of a non interested observer however will only ever see this, (below) and make that the excuse for treating stuff-which-doesn’t-slot-into-a-neat-category badly.

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Until someone tells them its ART , and then they pay ££££££££

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Indestructible Object Man Ray

Then, a week later, it happened again. More things were going to be travelling to us. Do you think the universe was trying to tell us something? This was the first time ever that everything I owned would be in one place. After my first reaction of horror, dread and wondering if I could crawl under the covers with a sketchbook and Netflix, this stuff was being given its own second chance, to fit, or not fit, for where we are now. Just like we decided to give this home a chance, despite a few crows pecking at our corn. For the first time, there was nobody telling us it had to go somewhere else.

The value we place on objects is so unique to us, an extension of our selves through our space and our clothes, our belongings and our creativity. If we don’t care about these things, or let others mock, its personal . Allow a child to love a rock collection and a row of conkers. There will be a time when we are gone and none of these things we own matter. But we do, and we live on in the worth we allow others to enjoy in us.

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I had been buying things for years and giving them away. Then, weirdly, a delivery of almost the same thing would come from somewhere else, it would come back to me in a different way, for example as a gift or a donation. Without realising it, I had been viewing my things through the eyes of my critics, slightly judgingly and disposing of them often because I could hear the voice..

There were sketchbooks or materials we could use with other classes. And although most of it went into the recycling. I enjoyed the little pocket of time carved out to really appreciate and look at how it got here. And what we need now. And what we don’t. Placing value on each item , purely based on my own voice, I have to admit was a lovely feeling. When we realise why we carry a weight of doubt, and for how long, it is a profound gift to let it go.

Looking through boxes of old teaching resources I was blasted back to that time, those energies and passions. Not just the resources used to teach Art lessons and critical work, but the drive to focus on particular artists, Frida Kahlo, Pierre Bonnard, John Piper, The Pre Raphaelites. The design lessons of masks for a Midsummer Night’s Dream, of world festivals, of Alice in Wonderland and natural form. A whole bank of ideas, images, interests and inspirations.  I still love all those artists. Drawn to since childhood, many Artists still resonate, and I find synchronicities and parallels with how I like to work.

Pierre Bonnard: At home with Marthe, 1937-1943


 In gaining the ability to throw away , we must trust the ability to keep. This pertains to any area of our lives- clothing, activities, foods that make us unwell. Whatever pops into your mind as you read this. What will come again easily is what you need and what is precious.  I should have asked myself at five or ten to tell myself now what I would like. Most of it would still be true.

Sometimes a journey can be much more than you imagine. The 3000 miles we drove to find a potential new home ended up with an appreciation of where we are now. Waiting for my seagull family to land with dinner was a red herring.

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There was however, a whole aviary of supporters in the nest

Whatever you might be not doing because you are waiting for permission; just do it. People can and do wait a lifetime for a morsel that never comes, a crumb for their inner baby bird. Approval is overrated. Do no harm to others and strive to enlighten your self.

Trying to apply your hearts desire against a soundtrack of criticism, whether ‘kindly’ unprompted advice or hostile, fear addled barbs; is like flying in a tornado.

We gave away all our food, drove 3000 miles, took five animals around the country, packed up our house and unpacked it again, closed off every avenue, and in coming home; found that all the people and paths that were meant to be for us, were still here, quietly giving us the thumbs up. Those who believe in you will do so no matter how you take flight.

Our Summer wasn’t what we expected but it truly was what we needed. We found strength and courage, and a bigger picture. . Despite the madness, I would do ( most of it ) over again. We could have chosen a whole new place but got to unwrap the gift of life here again. Much has been happening at Skye Blue house since we returned, with an almost constant paintbrush in hand. The next post will unveil all the hard work!

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Travelling helps root us back home and get perspective on the life and accomplishments we have achieved so far , with or without a team in the pits

So, replace that fear in your chest with a few helpful butterflies…Then Spread your wings and leap off the caravan roof.. You might not get where you thought you were going. … .but there is a big horizon waiting.

Tell your seagull self;

To live a life you’ve never lived; you must do what you’ve never done

Take one step towards the edge and the rest will follow

Tune in and keep your frequency high

Feel the breeze and soar

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See you soon, Love, Liz at the Beach Hut xx

Road trip

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Oh what we wouldn’t give

To have another life

One which has more sunshine

Where no neighbours give us strife.

Well here’s a little story

Given with a pinch of pride,

To tell you that you can indeed;

And land the other side.

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Not only as the self you were:

Bit all the missing parts,

The scattered bits you thought were left,

Like plasters on your heart.

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It started during Covid, when our patience , trust was tested

The art was made for future times, and painful bones were rested

Contact with the outside world was mostly done on zoom

While unkind eyes peered in through the curtains in the living room

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A goldfish bowl is what it felt, a sport for bored old men

While real life captured daily in the dreams of ink and pen

But sadness takes its toll you know,

Despite how brave you feel

Despite distractions, kindly words and never ending zeal

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All a human wants to do

is open their back door

To feel the sun on their bare feet

And let their spirit soar.

Pain is eased by warmer climes.

Where damp bones are less sore.

Where just for once a dress is aired

To float in at the shore.

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We packed the house with boxes

Planned a road trip for so long

Both of us excited, planning

Nothing could go wrong

We headed off to Dorset in a car packed to the top

And listened long to Audible and old c.d.s non stop

The B and B though lovely , was run strictly, and like school

Bear, in car at Breakfast , trying bravely to stay cool

Beaches were so pretty but a long way from the car

And a wander down to Lulworth Cove felt a step just too far

A hot and fluffy Scottish dog and 12 year old, to entertain each day

These trips should come with medals or a free spa by the way!

Next was a small chalet in a little place called Eype

Right next to lovely Bridport which was where we really liked.

We looked at lots of houses, thinking renting would be right

To see how life would unfurl and if this was where we liked.

We needed to be careful.

And that’s why we were quiet

The more they knew, the chance for damage

grew with every night.

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A plan was hatched to safely try another little boat

A few who knew could see how hard we’d tried to stay afloat.

All we needed was a plan,

of Epic size proportions

But, hey this is real life here, 

with all its mad distortions...

Returning back to where we live, my daughter would not go

Her summer was more summer if she could simply flow

So we returned, the bear and I, had just two weeks left to search

To look online for something new, in shadows of the church.

That time was peaceful, useful, long , she’d never been away .

And we both got to do the missing which we did, I’m glad to say .

Our house was cleared and cleaned and boxed and sorted every day,

But every turn produced a problem tripping up the way.

From nests of wasps which manged to escape their mortal trap

to blown up routers thanks to power cuts, needing several chaps.

Each new thing became a task though simply to sort out,

and spaces came with things that went, the things we dared chuck out.

If you think you are going, you clean out even more

your cupboards don’t have spices dating back to Eighty four.

So emails pinged and forms were filled

for landlords time again

Oh how we forget what its like to go through that in vain

To jump through hoops and hand out cash and prove our worth for lets

‘ No parking, fun, or children, and definitely no pets!’

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In summer too when every shed is sold as summer space

For one months rent , a car you’d buy or ticket up to Space.

The days were ticking past and I had to get my girl ,

my guinea pigs were down there too and this lot are my world.

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Bear and I however had managed something too.

Our goodbye lunches sparkled in the eyes of all the friends we knew.

We felt a tug of love, a lamplight in the gloam

The silent yet warm constant presence making home a Home.

We drove back down to England to continue with the plan.

A room filled floor of boxes to join us in a van

When two hours in a wobble veered us off the A1 road

And holding Bear in one hand, the A.A. man did unload

The boot packed full of random stuff and two cats ,mewling madly

Our tyre was worn but also had a cut which leaked so badly.

We made our way back down at 50 all the way

And 12 hours later we arrived, but no words could we say.

The best parts are the absences in an adventure story

The chance to miss and find again, your own sweet Jackanory

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Sometimes life can play a trick and you must listen hard.

Sometimes you must journey long to stay just as you are.

Sometimes you must see yourself as others see you first.

Sometimes you must love yourself the way you most deserve.

We used our instincts all the way and listened to each time

An obstacle would light each step and that this was a sign.

Not to carry on this path;

But see it as devine.

On getting down to Sussex,

where the gathering troups were held

The planned next manoeuvre

was far from being gelled

In England there was one month left til schoolterm did begin.

But Scottish schools returned in days, and time was running thin.

As things came clear for reasons I shall leave for just today

It came to me that this was time for us to be away

In one day two new tyres, new togs and food was deftly sought,

and all those things that previously for Dorset had been bought,

We’re swiftly and with Kondo grace stuffed back into the car.

Along with several animals and all the Art so far.

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And realising with lightning speed that this had been the reason

That fate had stepped in just before this new emerging season

And travelling back to where we knew were friends with open hearts

Was where we made our home and what inspired the Beach Hut Art.

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We made the journey home which made us feel quite glad

To unpack every box and discover what we had

To know the choices laid out bare and stand still any way

And re affirm what we believe, no matter what they say.

You run, and search for you we think is missing in your lives

When what you have is what you’d pay a leg for in St Ives

Off we drove at 5 am, stuffed up to our cars brim

Excited to be going home at last and not so scared of him

Guineas cage on top of cats and Bear leaning on me

A more comical carload you’re unlikely to see.

The school had left a place for her despite our prior chat

And lovely feels are happening when home feels where its at.

The boxes are now emptied, the feet are on the ground.

The Summer shed off more than rubbish,

Insight has been found

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We can save the rest for other days, as this could take a week

But trust me when I tell you that if Inner calm you seek

Step outside your comfort zone and leap into the unknown

Miss your loved ones Til you both want nothing but your home

Drive away and back again to see where you are now

Scare yourself a little while your body will allow.

Mine’s already creaking with the haar in every joint

The Autumn school term makes adventure hard now, that’s the point

A healthy body to ease pain needs the right amount of heat

And healthy minds need peace to live with earth beneath your feet

So, back to the beginning with a view I’d pay to have

To know the value of your lot and make your head feel glad

The chance to see what you would miss is if you let bullies win

They pop up almost everywhere so turn to them and grin

Your feet are earthing you wherever your two legs can be

And your two legs can carry you from shore to shining sea

And if like me, you struggle with this easy of all things

Three thousand miles proves your car can be your wings

The Gods were working with and for us on this magic quest,

This summer ended not as planned but worked out for the best.

For us, I know the following, and never will forget,

We like our house and won’t be pushed into an airbrushed let

where animals and children aren’t welcome on the floor.

It might be noisy but there’s always welcome here behind our door.

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A little word of thankyou too for meals made on our quest.

And barefoot caravaning tending truly was the best.

My bin man and our lovely gardener we could not compare

And A. A men with pet skills, well you got us everywhere.

We’ll love and richly leave you for a little while this time

But soon be back with drawings, stories, notions love and silly rhymes .

]

Leaving a light on,

All our Liz and the zoo xx

Getting rid of the old.



Emerging like dusty blinking cave people…

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I don’t know about you but I am in a strange place with my stuff. Haven’t we had to get far more bored with our things recently!?! In our case, the house has been chewed and nibbled to extremes and needs a tv makeover, thanks to the wonder who is Bear.

Having lived in houses large and small, cosy and grand, but always creative, organised and usually pretty clean, no matter how much stuff there actually was; it was always pretty much in its place; so to see mass destruction has been hard! But, in the ebb and flow of life, there is a natural way of stuff.

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It comes to us, like a tide, washes up on our shores, people give us things, we own them, take them in, pluck them from the swirling seas, treasure and cherish them or we watch as the shoreline recedes and the stuff goes away again. Back to others, back to charity, turned into something else. It is just stuff.

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When we look around us at all that we own do we see our achievements and fruition of our hoards? A stack of accomplishments through our possessions? What is it that makes us happy about our things? I recently came across a picture of a soulless home for sale, no plants, trees, pictures, cushions, colours. A black hole of life. I felt my painting hand physically twitch. But for someone, it will be the perfect home, or at least the dream of one as a new life, before the ephemera of family life bathe it in a unique personality.

How much choice do we feel happiest with? Spoiler- This isn’t a post about owning one black dress and a futon. I personally LOVE textures, colours, life affirming words in stories, things I can offer tea to people in, plates I can bring out for high tea, special dresses I might yet wear, vintage French coffee pots. The point is that there is a balance in the perfect amount, for the right amount of comfort , before it turns to clutter and chaos.

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Spring and early summer are traditional times to let go, clear out, rethink and clean our homes , as all around you there is evidence of new life blossoming, and the warmth to let the light back in .

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New light through the window bounce off dust motes hidden until those first summer breezes gently stir their glitter.

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We are like this too, slightly bleery eyed and not quite primed for our close up. Add in, months of staying close to home; a home that has seen nobody but us, and it is no wonder there is overwhelm and a slight feeling of panic.

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Firstly know this though, that most people are so happy to be let out, they couldn’t give a monkeys about the state of your fridge. And their fridge is more than likely the exact same. Since contact is safer out of doors, you still have time to make the changes, if indeed there needs to be any.

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Start with your animals. The very first thing a house has on entry is its smell. Cooking and animal smells start to go unnoticed in our own homes. But to another nose might be a different olfactory experience. Keep inside animals clean and carpets hoovered. Try and get windows open, light incense, candles or boil leftover citrus fruit to make the house smell good. Or use a diffuser with essential oils.

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Look at your plants and check they are breathing still! Dead head old leaves and spritz them in the bath with a showerhead to give the dust a rinse off.
Although not a big chemical fan, I like a bit of spray bleach for the worst of the grime. But baking soda and vinegar is a cheap and easy alternative to expensive cleaning products. It is amazing on the glass of cooker doors. Just rinse them well.

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What can you do well?
What do you need help with?
What are you good at, and can manage without pain and what can you pay someone else to do in a fraction of the time? Consider help occasionally to free up time and impact on your sore bits.


Clothes

It is so very hard with clothes, especially now. Re-entering the outside world, you are possibly a different shape and size, especially if you’re a teen And growing like a weed suddenly nothing you own is right. All the things we had before seem old or aren’t as comfortable
As someone who loves clothes but struggles to get in them at times, due to poor joints and sensitive inflamed nobbly bits: here is my go to list of how to like your clothes.

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Only throw away what you genuinely don’t like or need.
If you bought something because it sang showtunes to you in the shop, it was meant for you. Are you still waiting for the perfect moment to wear it? Are you worried what people will say? Unless it will scare small children, put it on. Enjoy it. There are dresses I can’t wear because at the moment they get caught in my sticks. I wish I’d worn them more to Tescos . ( but I am keeping them. Nothing in life is static. Your health changes, I might find surgery that works , or I’ll wear them for parties.
Instinct is everything. Touch fabric first in shops. Buy only natural if possible. Most man-made mixes look fine before they are washed and shrivel up the first time they hit a spin cycle.

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Your skin breathes better in cotton, linen and wool plus you’ll be dressing like a French woman.
Speaking of which, always imagine that you are in your own shop in the morning. Pick out things as if you really like them. You did put them there after all. If you don’t love them any more, give them to charity.
It has taken me nearly 50 years to find a pair of jeans I like.. But they are out there. Get ones with a good stretch, that you can put on with literally any other garment without worrying if your bum looks big. If you find the perfect pair, maybe get a back up just in case.

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Sorting out your clothes can be a nightmare which leaves many screaming for a lunchtime gin. In this section however, one most really rely on instinct. Do you actually still believe that if you lost 4 stone you’d wear your 80s pencil skirt? Do you really like the feel of synthetic fabric even if it hangs well in the shop? . Do you avoid it in the wardrobe because it’s a mare to wash.? I have a lot of clothes, I’m not going to ever stop liking clothes. Having sticks has scuppered the wearing of swishy skirts and living in a cold climate, many summer layers have been relegated to the attic, but the ones I keep, fit me and can be worn; should the inspiration take me… !! 😎

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They resonate or still buzz with a particular pleasure and specific ownership to me. If the ceiling started to cave in under their weight I might think again. But clothes are worth hanging onto if you can genuinely rejig and repurpose their existence in later life. You never know, they might become heirlooms. Or at least fancy dress

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Books

Oh dear. I should probably just stop there. Books are my downfall. Fresh, crisp bookstore scented pages nobody can open until I’ve cracked that blissful first ‘New’ moment: the one savoured from the second the book was stealthily shimmied from the bottom of the toppling pile on display.

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To the drawn on charity shop kids books, well thumbed and loved, and lovely vintage books of beauty with paper thin pages and gold edged illustrations. All books have their own identity. Books calm us, take us places teach us, absorb us , remind us of other worlds and stories, histories and ideas. Keep whatever order you like, but look after your books.

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I have amassed a pretty comprehensive library on most subjects, and while I still have the space for books I’ll choose books over a virtual library anytime. One whose treasures arent fleeting and not subject to cloud space and weather conditions. Bad weather is the perfect reason for a real book. Feet up, clock ticking, firelight cackling and cats purring. I love a book on just about anything I am doing, or writing about, or subjects that are fascinating, old books. Pristine gorgeous smelling new books that nobody can touch until I’ve opened them, old vintage books with past lives in school trunks and dusty libraries, imagine all the lives that have crossed in the keeping of the book. And who doesn’t love an art gallery shop with it’s glossy books you have to buy and rarely look at again, but proudly display on your coffee table . I am rather partial to a good magazine too. They plop through the door with regularity and I then spend ages not having time to read them ! However, eventually they get added to the daily ritual or cut up and used, recycled for drawing ideas and cuttings. Or the privileged few get to be kept on shelves as resources.

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Stationery

This is the nemesis of almost every adult female I know. Harking back to the eighties where it began with Hollie Hobbie pencil cases and strawberry scented rubbers, the joy of Saturday pocket money spends. And it never goes away, that thrill of new adnin supplies. . That love of a crisp new empty notebook, journals if what has been, or the promise of new projects and ideas, journeys yet to be taken, lists if things to buy, make, do and new stuff to aspire to, all stuck and pasted onto fresh clean pages helping us feel renewed and full of hope.

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Toiletries

I love packaging. Its very superficial of me. But its just so much nicer when your stuff looks nice. However, not everything in a sparkly bottle is good for your skin or your wellbeing. Your products should be kind. I seem to be amassing a rather good blue bottle collection, and love that they can be recycled afterwards all around the house!

The tower of guilt.

Like most people I used to pile up books to read, clothes to still get wear from, chores to finish etc We go about our daily business and every once in a whole these silent niggles dig into our peripheral vision. They get louder. Finish me, read me, sew me, clean me, sort me, and before you know it you have a household orchestra of errant errands playing on a loop in your ear like an ear worm at a rave.

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You see, if I can see a stack of things I haven’t read, looked at, given time to all , and I see it all at once, it becomes insurmountable, whether it’s sewing, reading, art projects, letters to reply to.. . And then it feels I can’t approach it at all. These are all pleasurable things I do after the work, chores, and essentials have been completed, but often the perfect time for the fun things has gone, because we are too tired and numb by then. Too much overwhelm and anything becomes another job. ( if you have an autistic person under your roof times this by a thousand )


I have learnt, that with pleasurable things we must find ways to make them pleasurable.
We must sneak up on ourselves and engage in the art of pleasure, with excitement. Grab a book off a shelf and slip into the garden for half an hour. How much greater is the whole feeling when we can immerse in it. Don’t plan all your meals, wear three different colours every day, start a really mad collection of things to display that everyone else is throwing away. Enjoy the choice. But do these things from a point of calm and organised space first or your head won’t let you immerse in anything fully, one leg will always be in a pile of clutter
My books are on shelves with a specific one for new magazines and ones I haven’t read, like a shop. A piece of advice once given to me was to read ten pages of good literature to expand your mind, or to enhance your pleasure every day. My daily choices come from the library of bought books, magazines or books I am studying plucked and read in my bath office every morning . The only place where the rest can wait their turn and I get peace. .

The pleasure of an unexpected choice, a gift to myself , is lovely. And there is always another lined up. I no longer think of them as a list. Because I chose these things in the first place. And all that we choose, we have the power to un-choose or weave into our lives in a way that suits us .

Make art from your fragments
Bath office


This last year has seen me pack more and more of me away in boxes. Artwork, possessions, childhood memories and photos rifled through in lockdown, clothes for another climate, holidays we can only dream about and projects on hold for now. As the small person grows from a child to a young lady too, so do her choices in stuff. And teaching 12 year olds how to actually maintain the dream room whilst not living in a pile of crisp packets and old socks, we came up with the list…

A rare and blissful moment….
Look familiar?

How to declutter

Keep like with like. Most things are easier to organise if you keep them together. Cables, bed linen for specific rooms, spares of things like batteries and bulbs. Dedicate one place where you know they go. And make sure they go back there !

Be realistic about how many of each thing you can really use. Unless you have fifteen children or run a b and b you night not need 25 duvet sets.

Do one section at a time. For example pick just all the plastic stuff, or all the shoes or papers or music. Whilst starting this with the smallest and working up is often easiest, it’s not the quickest. To get stuck in, eat the frog ( do the hardest thing first). (Usually clothes). Next – bag up charity bags with one category at a time, phone them ahead to book a drop off if you need to. Don’t trust charity vans unless you know them. Twice I have had goods taken by thieves pretending to be a genuine charity. These muppets find out when the real ones are coming and drive around the neighbourhood first.

Only buy what you really really really like, or know someone else will love as a gift. Often bargains are marked down because they didn’t sell. For a reason.

People often offer things as unwanted gifts because they are decluttering. You don’t always have to say yes! Also don’t feel obliged to keep presents you aren’t fond of. Be grateful and find a loving home for it elsewhere, without causing upset to the person.

If you feel someone else is making you do something you’ll never 100% give your self. Own your space and your stuff and how you look after it.

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Your journey can be as light as you like. MOST weights are ‘to do lists’ , the piles to sort, the immovable and never ending -‘why cant I get there’ feeling. Removing the clutter from our peripheral vision gives us a clear horizon.

Decluttering is a lovely feeling. But so is re-establishing the bond with what you already have. Going through your possessions one set at a time, looking for small gaps, or throwing away multiples gives your home a chance to breathe and makes space for your next purchase. And it makes peace with the space you’re in right now.

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Make space for things

Until such times as a distraction from table legs is in place, alternative dining sets are pointless in our house

But like those years with our chocolate covered toddlers, we relish the short time our control is lost in favour of daft moments

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One must find newness in other riches too. A moment of blissful peace in my garden recently.

So while the sun shines, we will chip away at this lifelong task and plant seeds for our next fairy House.

But know there will always be a vintage tea set ready for your arrival..

With love and deep breaths on your next steps, wherever you are.

Liz and the zoo xxxx

What dogs teach us

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There is someone for everyone


Some people believe, that every person or animal that crosses our path does so for a reason. Sometimes it is very brief moment, a look, an interaction, an understanding, or sometimes we stay longer with one another.

Although we can probably agree that the pull of animal company of some kind is often felt, everyone has a definite tolerance level and relationship with certain animals and or species of that animal. ( and yes, occasionally, there is the a heart which not even the fluffiest puppy can crack)

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So why do we choose a particular pet? What are we seeing that makes them stand out, hum, reverberate, send out little ‘you need me‘ signals to our brains? I have often wondered why the animals we have are so uniquely ‘ours, who does the connecting?!.’

There seems to be something inherently positive about being in the close proximity of other thriving living things, as we can often see from animal assisted therapies. Their key focus is to improve human psychological wellbeing.

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The Medical News today describes the Benefits of animal assisted therapy as;

  • reducing boredom
  • increasing movement and activity through walks and play
  • providing companionship and decreasing loneliness
  • increasing social interactions
  • improving mood and general well-being
  • By doing the following
  • providing comfort and reducing levels of pain
  • improving movement or motor skills
  • developing social or behavioral skills
  • increasing motivation toward activities such as exercise or interacting with others

Having worked in mental health over the last few years, including teaching in care homes; I have seen the joy first hand of how animals can pull a patient back for a few precious moments, in the way music often can, and give such pure, immediate pleasure. I have taken dogs and guinea pigs into classes with me, seen Shetland ponies in dementia wards or birds of prey help to calm adults with long term anxiety issues. .

When the world gets too much, to know there is a paw, a furry little face or a pair of sympathetic eyes to absorb your woes, is often a much needed gift.
Eventually everyone becomes your friend, whether you have any choice in the matter or not!
Reading to your dog and chicken is important!!


During the last year, for many people I know, including us, animals have featured in their wellbeing. From caring for pets, as a reason to get outside and shop for food, to get exercise, for children to do the same, an excuse to meet with a friend for a dog walk or run (as essential exercise,) watching wildlife in the garden and enjoying the small but incredible pleasures of hatching eggs in nest boxes, hedgehogs in homes, foxes wandering freely, and seeing on the television animals reclaiming areas once lost to man. We hear some horror stories too, of dog snatchers and fly tippers blackening natural habitats for natures creatures. And we care. Our children’s generation can know every inch of every creature if they choose to from the plethora of information and documentaries available.

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Forbes 2020

Facebook is full of animals. And our houses are. Unlike our actual families though, we get to choose which ones live with us. Our very good friend David lost his beloved Dog Glen last year , and will be the first to admit that the gap left by his best pal broke his heart. But the universe had a plan. Despite doubts that there would ever be another dog as perfect, Glen sent Kiera. A rescue, patiently waiting in the wings at a rescue centre. After a few lockdown hoops to hurdle, David’s perseverance paid off. Kiera recognised him the moment they met. She hung on his every word and gazed at him with pure love. I have never seen a dog that knew its owner so immediately and why they were destined to bring a smile to each others lives.

So why and how do animals trust us?

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Many dogs are happy-go-lucky, love everyone and are happy to greet people they meet with a happy wagging tail.  But there are also a lot of dogs who appear to like some people, but not others.

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Whenever I am sad, my dogs or cats never fail to sit by my side, put their heads into my lap and bring comfort. Conversely, when one of them has done something naughty, a dog has the uncanny ability to slink away as soon as you look at them, cats, not so much.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20201212_163710.jpg




Do you ever feel like there’s a dog sixth sense that allows your dog to read your moods and react accordingly?
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If you have ever wondered about this phenomenon, or if you like you are losing it for thinking that your fur friend has supernatural dog senses, you are not alone. Pet parents across the globe have the same question: Can dogs pick up on our subconscious cues, and essentially, read our moods?Dogs, who have been evolving alongside humans for thousands of years, have clearly demonstrated an ability to recognize and respond to human emotions, and scientists now know that they use ordinary and extraordinary dog senses to do this. A 2009 study found that dogs gaze much longer at happy versus sad human faces, indicating that they may be sensitive to human emotions.
Dogs preferentially look to our eyes to read our emotions, and the hormone oxytocin is also involved in this connection. Secreted by the mammalian brain, oxytocin is nicknamed “the love hormone,” and it affects social behaviors and cognition, among other things.Another study, published in 2016, found that dogs process human emotions from gazing not just at the eye region, but also the midface and mouth regions. Dogs are a highly social species, and they are evolved to evaluate social threats rapidly, including threats the come from humans.
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Does your dog like everyone he meets, or does he gravitate towards some people and not others?  We certainly notice how similar our dog feels about people in comparison to how we do. He can sense fear, ambivalence, or joy, and if presented with an air of calm authority, slips into the role of obedience he feels comfortable in. When people give mixed messages, he doesn’t understand the rules.

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Animals like humans learn to co-exist by trusting the boundaries and one another

Because the rules are clear and body language is calm around all the animals , at the same time, it has helped integrate them into the household together. Bear and Max ( a male cat) could easily have been at each other’s throats, and started out as natural rivals. But sitting with them both at the same time, giving them equal attention, soothing movements and an escape route, slowly got them used to one another. and now they are all pretty good at sharing our attention. I just have to watch that Bear doesn’t lovingly leap on my lap to cuddle the guinea pigs. He still thinks he is a puppy.

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I watched as my daughter, already (and this pains me ) she is taller than me.. lolloped down the road with our Bear recently….Far from being an aberration, (which having a large dog one is often made to feel that he is;) he looked, the perfect size for her growing gait. She needed a big dog. I watch them playing together. She needed him. At first their bond was tenuous. She wasn’t sure. He wasn’t the same as what she knew. But now she won’t get up unless he’s had his morning cuddle.

Have you ever met a dog that looks and behaves a lot like their person? The saying “like attracts like” applies to dogs and people, too. Dogs often choose a favourite person who matches their own energy level and personality.

Some dog breeds are more likely to bond with a single person, making it more likely that their favourite person will be their only person. Breeds that tend to bond strongly to one person include:

  • Basenji
  • Greyhound
  • Shiba Inu
  • Cairn Terrier

If you are interested in this subject, and for more information on suitable dog breeds

How Do Dogs Choose Their Favorite Person? | The Dog People by Rover.com

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Looking back on Bear’s early months, is like a film reel, much like bringing up a boisterous child, it flashes up in memory scenes of carpet scrubbing, doggie howling, great escape attempts, ( and victories) pining for company at night and the ever present danger of the gate being left open. At least with a child there was always soft play on rainy days.

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Time races on, and if we aren’t careful we lose the magic of the best times inside the worst fragments of clutter, the mess, the noise. the lack of sleep, no routine, lack of control of no kind of order ever again.
We yearn for a different life, another one we saw somewhere online, where other people’s kids and animals always behave. We forget to remember the choices we made. And why we and they are here.

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What if the animal with you is teaching you what you need right now. What if the lessons being taught by daily experiences are showing up to enrich the life we can sometimes take for grated , and create new directions we hadn’t planned. Because we forgot there was more than one path to go down?.

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Our old dog skye was the gentlest calmest dog on the planet. She needed no lead, she just stayed by my side. She was so soft that Guinea pigs could sit in her box with her and be left there. She left the chicken use her as a sun block. Her soul was so pure and kind. It reached out to everyone that ever met her and we made friends through her as soon as we moved here. She was easy to take on holiday and we could leave her for hours quite happily, with food and toys. Building a life and painting things, creating art around Skye was a joy. She was like calm air next to you.

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So; losing her was devastating. You’ll know yourself if you love your animals how much of a gap they leave.
And out of the blue quite unexpectedly came a message on Facebook. My friend has a puppy. ‘She’s very cute,’ I say. ‘There’s one left in the litter’ Emily says back.
Crap
It wasn’t the plan. We were going to get the same dog again. Exactly the same dog. But it was what was meant to be.


This little black thing was put in my arms and nestled in. My friend helped co-ordinate the surprise for Leah, and it was wonderful. He was so small and fluffy and had big paws and a little round tummy.

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And then the reality sunk in.
He was also mad
And was not calm air. He was a cyclone.

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He didn’t stop. At all. And was very smart, working out to escape out of things very quickly, he literally had me cleaning carpets all day whilst crying for attention. He shouted when I wasn’t in the room (lockdown baby) and he needed a lot more love, moulding and effort than Skye ever did.
In short this soul was sent to try us.

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It was like going back 12 years with a small needy little baby and no support network to swap mum stories with.

However, we persevered. Through a mix of wierd trickery that dogs are expert at, love that can’t be explained , determination to get some sense into him and a bit of structure back. Two out of three isn’t bad.
He has taught us to be in the moment
He has been a much better guard dog and actually is helpfully instinctive about people. Although he is very gentle, he can still shout.

He has brought challenges which needed to be overcome, and is very good at receiving and giving hugs, which we are all desperate for just now.

Dogs need fresh air regardless of the weather, and we need reasons sometimes to keep getting outside and breathing it, especially if, like me, the cold affects your body. The days are planned better with the sun grabbed like a precious jewel and savoured between days and months at home.


His presence has encouraged a mindful way of living and possessing things. We have had to have less clutter because he eats it.
There is less of a concern with the perfection of our space (not that I was ever Mrs Bucket), because two minutes hater Bear will have charged around like a race horse and messed it up. Just like a toddler he has no concept of what is his to use, as I recall various lipsticks Leah smeared on her cheeks and shoes of mine she plonked about in. It’s ok. This will not be this way for ever. Already he isn’t the same as he was two weeks ago. What you get is to be in the moment with a dog. This was his very first moment of a play date.

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Writing this morning there is a big dog lump on my knee, having his morning cuddle, being gentle with the other animals, going through to Leah’s room soon for his morning leap on her bed, I realise he was exactly the dog we needed. Bear fits us all.


Time is spent more wisely when you have less of it, when incorporating a new element into the routine, almost like having a new born again. I had to make art when he napped, clean the house when he was out for a walk with Leah , keep things simple both in structure and in terms of what was around us physically. It was a daily battle. But it also provided a pretty great distraction from all that was awful in the world. Or at least somewhere to put all that love we seem to have around here.

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Between a child that is naturally messy and a dog that eats everything on earth, it is a daily ritual to scan everything ALL the time and has been since he arrived. . Socks, books, coal, Lego, plastic or wood of any kind. All small objects below waist height were up for grabs. As he grew, so did his range of edible delights and the strain of hiding more things. Or throwing them away.
But in doing that, another thing happened. Selections were made about what mattered and what could go, or be safely given as a new toy, or be saved.

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Things become less precious when you keep having to throw away cushions that get eaten. And I love cushions. But there are years of your life that are scruffier than others, more dog eared, more selective.
He was in affect, the doggie version of Marie Kondo.

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And once he started it became a bit easier to keep clearing out and taking stock of what was precious and needed to be hidden for now!

There were months of stressful bits, but it wasn’t the whole story. Leah magically captured the real Bear so far here .

My hearts

It was never my intention to have lots of animals! Your heart seems to expand the more beasts and children you squish into your life. From the multitude of cats and dogs, to the guinea pigs, fish, and chickens who have lived with us, all of them have been loved , valued and treasured. However long an animal is with you, if we respect its temperament and fears, the rest follows. And hopefully the time we have together teaches us to slow down and see life through our pets eyes..

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I have lessened the time spent online recently, pouring energies into the immediacy of home, creating, animals, future ideas and health. But this quote I saw on face-book captures what animals teach us to do by proxy, and returning to life after the pandemic, I hope will teach us the same.

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Even if you don’t have an animal yourself, but enjoy the company of other people’s, there is much to learn from how animals learn from us and how it is possible for us all to co-exist peacefully, slowing down and using our instincts wisely. And maybe oiling our hearts in the process.

With love, fur and feathers, Liz and the zoo xxxx

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Mountain


When I grow up I’m going to be an astronaut. And a policeman and have a zoo. Yes dear. Now. Eat your shepherd’s pie.

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When I grow up in going to be a ballerina with a health food shop that helps refugees and run for local councillor.

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Darling that’s amazing, you’ll need to learn lots of interesting things, keep focused and believe you can do it.
Because you can do anything. .
As long as you don’t take advice from anyone else.. ever!!!!

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Or at least keep a very open mind about what motivates us humans to fear the goals, dreams and aspirations of others.

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Achieving and believing in ourselves was a pool we only dabbled in the shallow waters of as children;

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The deep end. we were mostly conditioned to believe was for a vague group of other people . Braver, better, richer, cleverer, more well rounded humans who buy some trick of osmosis had known from birth that they were awesome. Many of the people I speak to in art or mental health group have a real fear of success in their work, or to see their ideas flourish. What if they fail. ? Where did that seed of doubt germinate?

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We all yearn for our mountain even if our mountain is a clean fridge and a feeling of contentment as our carrots grow.


Throughout this pandemic our relationships have changed, not only with each other but for many facing inwards for the first time since they could tie their own laces and run out of the school door, they are now having to see themselves a bit more up close and personal. (Including I might add the tedious rigmarole of self hair cuts and eyebrow plucking. )

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Impossible without your glasses on


Some of you might be closer to people than ever before, some might be struggling because of a lack of trust in technology. Sadly, I can guarantee that despite always writing and creating with my own mum in mind, she will always refuse to switch her computer on. She has one, but claims it doesn’t like her and no amount of help, instructions with diagrams or gentle guidance whilst on the other end of the phone line will convince her otherwise.
‘I know what you look like,’ she tells me, at precisely 9.15am every Friday on the phone. There is no changing her mindset. That is how it is and that is how it stays.
I suppose I actually could have a monobrow by now and certain people on the Christmas card list would be none the wiser!!

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Some conversations are never had in the way we would like or need. My mum makes me laugh now, but all of us are fundamentally the same, even if we say we don’t want or need approval or love from anyone else. From birth all children want is to be seen. Before it was crushed or squashed or side-lined by your family or ignored you were a little wriggly star. A perfect sponge and mirror to the world around you , mimicking nature and making it your own… ( I’m getting vague memories of sitting in a tree talking to fairies, and no it wasn’t last week…) You didn’t know any better than to show the world you existed in your own wonder and didn’t give a fig what anyone thought. Until you became conscious enough to name those feelings, until you understood you had a place , and kept ending up there.

To be seen isn’t the same as being praised. To be recognised in all your colours, all your YOUNESS in the eyes of your closest ones is your mirror. Their acceptance and appreciation of you as a package, and more than that, their pride in that package fuels you, and nurtures you. You are free to stop wondering if you are good enough. That is the gift of recognising others and why we must tell them

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If this becomes lacking, we have to learn to give ourselves or the people we love the gift of being seen. And definitely not become the perpetrators of what we hated to feel in our worst memories..

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It is an vital part of your health in every sense, but especially at the moment, to feel at ease with your essential self. To be the person you weren’t taught to be by watching your parents or siblings or the dynamics that crushed many in the classroom or office. It is far better to have a child that wont stop performing in the living room, than one too scared to tell you their fears.

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What was school like for you?


For many people, this insular period in time has been a good excuse to rummage in drawers and in attics, throwing up objects and photos from our pasts that have led us to where we are now. Positive Reflections on the huge and varied lives we have lived is a good thing. We don’t often get to stop and check in like this, taking a pause and a breath

Are you reminiscing and remembering the freedom of all that life could offer. Can you recall how you felt as a child?


Many of you have learned ways to compete with boredom or fill your time, or learn a new skill or study for a different type of job. For some tapping back into that hobby from 1989 has proved joyous and become a much needed focus for the long winter days.

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I put a post up on my face-book page asking people to tell me what they had been up to, or made, or created that they were proud of during these isolated 18 months. I didn’t really think much about the question, and expected a whole lot of replies as usual.
But, it was surprising how few of the creative and talented, amazing people who inspire me every day, didn’t offer anything about themselves in return. There were barely any.
One response that surprised me said they were told ‘Pride comes before a fall’ .

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I couldn’t find many pictures about this that were up to date, which was interesting. Most were biblical and basically agree that being haughty isn’t good.


I lay awake thinking about pride, and about the preconception
that being too happy with an accomplishment creates a vanity which in turn creates the likelihood of a well deserved topple.

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Perhaps This is better

And I realised that we might have an instilled sense of that rule from somewhere. About being too pleased with ourselves, in case we are seen to be showing off. And I remembered why I left home. I was painting art in my bedroom, at 18, with the neighbours children attached to me like limpets as I was babysitting. I was maybe singing. I would definitely have been friendly. A family friend of my Mum’s was round drinking tea. Afterwards I was summoned and told I was too happy and sparky, (the friend had commented, and it had made them feel ashamed of my ‘differences to everyone else’) To this day I remember the stone sinking in my chest, that feeling of horror, and appalling realisation that they cared more about a virtual strangers flyaway opinion than the creative, but really quite nice person their child was growing into.

It took me a long time to understand why, that it wasn’t really their fault. it was their own conditioning and fears of standing out that drove everything that wasn’t beige to have to be rubbed out. I just knew I had slowly begun to fade there too, so I had to go. Leaving home, travelling to New York to nanny, going off to Art school and being free was the start of adult life. Unless we challenge these misconceptions nothing changes for anyone, but it isn’t always possible to do that straight away. Facilitating positive mental health routes for others motivated me, and I always say there is no better teacher than helping others through personal experience.

Impossibly young at MOMA

Our own generation began to understand that it was alright to flourish a little bit… I still think we are carrying the weight of the ages, but we are doing a better job at not passing that on. If we look at the way our children’s generation are able to self publicise with their tick tocks and insta posts, that is. For so long we collectively carried the residue of our parents fears of standing out for being different, daring to try, daring to try, fail and try again.
If we live with a negative person, someone who is scared of seeing us succeed, in case their failures and lack of insight or imagination become apparent : we will be met with a lack of interest, or worse an uninvited actual critic. But if these people are important in our lives, their opinions matter. They are the rocks we build our sense of self on. Or not.
And so, without the right cheerleaders, we believe we are useless. We make half hearted creations. We prove ourselves and the world and them right. Pride does indeed come before a fall. But it isn’t your pride. It is the lost pride that should have been readily rained down at the breakfast table.

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Flourishing against any kind of negativity in our lives is like swimming against the tide. I spent the last three months of my degree in my lovely big shared Edinburgh flat, getting a ridiculous amount of artwork created. Gone were the voices and critics which I was sensitive to after my upbringing. I flourished. And I sold out my show. This was my West End Craft Fair Stall in Edinburgh with set up help from the Princes Trust.


Where there should be an unspoken supportive hum in your head because you know how much you are valued, and there is nothing but the roar of self doubt, this can paralyse us . OR

It can be our motivation
When we as humans find our gifts and skills, our joy and ideas we desperately want to share with the world, to not be able to share that is tragic.

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Where would we be without the passion to design, draw, write, make music, cook, open conversations about new adventures and new thinking, to paint, to decorate, to get fit, to raise money, grow beautiful gardens, photograph the bounty before us and share it with the world.
Almost none of these things, done by anyone I know, or by anyone I’m guessing you know either, is done solely for a prize or recognition. To Create is like breathing, like a desire, a passion for life, which has the most marvellous of outcomes of making other people happy too.
We cannot be held responsible for anyone else. We can offer our stuff to the world, we can do our best. It isn’t your burden to live another person’s life for them. Making the hugest deal of your life though will impact on those around you like ripples in the ocean. All we can do to live a best life is to be mindful of how we do that, what we put in the world and why we are doing it.

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A few of my friends have gone through huge journeys to find the confidence to do things like this. Perhaps it is the upside of not having support, that we learn to push ourselves that little bit more. To reach into a place where you find contentment that much easier to grasp.
It literally makes me grin so much when I find out that David our friend with the dog has also been a poet and showed me his published books. His hidden tender depths are astonishing. ( Get well soon by the way ) Dear Rob, my lovely friend, who had a stroke, and who I taught art to and whom I met his lovely wife Ruth through. She and I are now great friends, she creates the most stunning quilts you’ve ever seen, and not only that, most of the things she makes she gives away.

Claire patiently making her beautiful cross stitch for her lovely family. Claire and her husband and children helped me every single week at an art class I ran in Edinburgh for children, taking boxes to the car and cleaning tables. They are so so kind.

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This post was originally inspired by my bin man. He casually told me once that he was also a singer and actor. Oh and whilst driving the truck takes these lovely photographs ! In lockdown he and his team have stayed upbeat, vans breaking down and everyone’s rubbish piling up sand dunes. It is a lovely thing to know how people celebrate the gaps between work and sleep and who the real people are. Well done Douglas and team. You guys are amazing, thankyou.

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I know Artists, some famous, some scribblers, writers (likewise,) nurses, teachers, holistic practitioners, mums, crafters, singers, and even nuns.
And they all have skills I didn’t know about.

Today I wore Channel no 5 to Marks and Spencer’s to buy food for Mother’s Day with the monkey. I haven’t worn it in a year. Before it turns to vinegar, it was a lovely feeling to smell and feel a bit like my old self.

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Doing things which evoke a particular sense of pleasure which resonates in only you cannot be explained or should be justified. The reason it is so hard to celebrate yourself is the mindset that at any given point we are doing things to please someone else, or gain approval. Saving things for best might mean you wake up one day, and your best is behind you.

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Because we need someone wiser? older? more experienced ? to tell us our choices are worthwhile beautiful, meaningful in the world. If we stand up and fail what happens then?

Actually not very much…

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I was asking my facebook question because I saw the quality in the things my friends do all the time, not because they are vain or pompous or climbing a ladder to success in a sharp suit smashing everyone in their way…
But because they are gentle, quiet understated and mostly never tell anyone else what they get up to. Many beautiful things go unnoticed and uncelebrated. And either way the creator has the same relationship with that exercise. It makes them happy. And they are in a place, for some, finally where they are allowed to be.

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Its the things that people don’t ask for recognition for that makes my heart sing.
My 106 year old nun doesn’t want it for her artwork. The care package sent by one of my group as their teacher, was not done for thanks, and took the giver completely out of their comfort zone to make it for me. That is a mountain and I am filled with gratitude.

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For me I only care about the genuine kernal of appreciation I now can say I have for myself, my journey and my daughter. Some things work out, some don’t, but to live a life which feels instinctive and has hope, is way better than living by the rules of another.
Any one of your creations, your meals, your walks, your photos of dogs, your haiku poems, your folded drawer of t shirts. You made something that wasn’t there before.
And that is a tiny bit marvellous
Perhaps tomorrow you can study to be an astronaut

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You all have unique skills and the creative strength to keep going. The hidden gems you planted a long time ago in a pocket somewhere, may well be fully grown sparkly trees by now. What has struck me recently, is how my intelligent, wonderful, creative students, friends, and those people I have continued to admire over the years have all maintained an aspect of learning, and have an open mind to other’s ideas. You are like collages of your years in the world. Evolving and growing in wisdom, shedding off out-grown ideas like skins and staying open minded, unafraid to travel forward

. It might sound cliche but I feel proud of all these amazing people educating, writing, creating, still learning skills, making the most of this time with their children and animals. Your resources are limited, but your wills are stronger than ever to finish what you started.

Every week amazing people do ordinary things which keep other people going, making sure we are all ok and for this I am grateful to be part of so many positive connections.

This is Jim. Jim is the star of our zoom every week with his technical green screen wizardry . He has taken huge steps , not least trusting and using a phone, let alone all this newfangled cleverness. We are in stitches and nobody looking in would guess your mammoth journey. Thankyou so much for keeping us all entertained. And to all my group, you inspire me and one another to remember we are all a puzzle piece in a bigger jigsaw. You just need to find the right box.

And this is Isabel Robb, working hard for a Brain Tumour charity by pushing herself with her ten thousand steps a day. This is Amazing. Isabel brings up her son with additional needs as well . She is a kind and selfless wee diamond. 🙂 Go Isabel xx

Both of these women I know, won’t mind me telling you that their journeys began in a far less happy and confident place: due to life’s unpredictable circumstances. It has been with their sheer spirit, courage and humility that they have worked a day, a step and a goal at a time to achieve these aims and recreate new lives for their families. All at Cedar are proud of the entire group of Women who have beaten their fears to get where they are. .

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And not trying to climb the mountain on day one

Sometimes, we are prevented from reaching our potential in life because those around us think they have our best interests at heart. Sometimes the reasons are much more complex. But if you start to unpick the response you might get; when you, for example, announce your wonderful new solo travel plans, or business idea, or new career as an opera singer.. it can be so overwhelmingly negative that you rip up the dream before it has even begun.

And that suits everyone just fine. It proves they were right. That they know you better than you know yourself…..

Except of course they don’t..

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Often people closest to you, will instil their fears of you doing something wild, crazy, free, liberating, enjoyable, wonderful, or just different…. which mimic your own self sabotage demon sitting on your shoulder already….and this will line up quite nicely with you NOT actually being able to do it in the first place, and at the first sign of defeat you give yourself permission to give up. PROVING ALL OF YOU RIGHT. And the cruellest irony is that this is usually nothing to do with your idea or plans or dabble into new territory. These emotional responses pushing you back down where you ‘belong’ are the fears of your friends, or family, often going back generations. Add in jealousy of not achieving that same kind of thing themselves, not getting to stand in your shoes, and it is a heady mix of sabotage blended to look like care. It is not cruel to be kind. It is probably just cruel.

Anyone truly in your camp will listen to all your ideas and be able to separate their feelings impartially. Give advice but still say go for it.

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In order to achieve anything at all in life, no matter how trivial or overwhelmingly impossible it might seem to anyone else First we need to know

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How to Climb a Mountain

1 We actually deserve to be happy and to do this thing we crave to do

2 Today is as good a day as any to start. Tomorrow is an excuse. Get a notebook and write down your idea.

3 Write down all the reasons for doing this thing and what you will feel

4 Write down all the reasons why not to do it , and what others will feel

5 Be grateful for what you have/ who you are already. This thing will add to your life. You are already you. That’s why you can do it.

6 Some days in the creation of a thing are like rainy weather. Shut the curtains, snooze and do it later.

7 Keep the big end result in your mind, but be flexible with this. A perfect alternative might pop up when you least expect it.

8 Make physical plans, maps, picture collages of your idea. Make lists . The more focused you are the better.

9 Do something every day towards your goal. I often multitask two blogs at once, or paint and listen to an audio for something I am studying. Squeeze things into the corners of your day. My hours are limited with fatigue, so my sympathies go out to you if you are  a reader with a chronic condition. However. You still exist. You can get to your goal. Just do it from the sofa, or your duvet.

10 Don’t procrastinate. You aren’t a child. Nobody will tell you off if you don’t start this venture off, You shouldn’t have to force yourself, although obviously we all have good and bad days. You are accountable only to you.

11 This will be perfect. But your version of perfect, nobody else’s perfect. Half  a mountain is better than no mountain at all.

12 Expect yourself to be happy, achieve this goal, be humble and share your experience.

13 If distractions are an issue of your own making, change the goal, as this might not be what you clearly desire. But if distractions are your children or animals- get a shed.

14 Be consistent every day. Timetable your tasks and very quickly you will see results that add up to something tangible. Read in the bath, listen to audio, get up  a bit earlier, work with the rhythms of those around you and yourself. I am writing this at half past five am. By teatime, my lupus addled brain is foggy and needs to draw instead.

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Where there’s a will there’s a way. And .. In the words of my daughter;

”there enough people already being average….

To aim your highest you might have to wobble a bit first…

and you are better to be a sheep dog than a sheep….’

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Perfectly said Leah. Didn’t need the rest of the blog!……xxxxx

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Good Luck with your next venture.. do let us know how you get on !

Love and Hugs, liz and the zoo xx

Sandcastle


This week has made me realise just how fast the Roller-coaster between feeling pure joy and the physical paralysis sadness can wreak in this wonderland we call lockdown.
It is amazing. One minute everything is so boringly normal you could scream stepping into your Monday pants, and then all of a sudden there you are staring into the eyes of yet another crazy person with too much time on their hands and not enough energy directed at their own underwear drawer.

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I might be the most tolerant person you’ll ever meet, so please don’t think I’ve had a bump on the head. But this Tiger mum who keeps her 7 cubs safe… ( only one human one) unknowingly woke up in the Jeremy Kyle show. The weather was warm with a promise of Spring sunshine. Along came a tornado.

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Whilst in my favourite pyjamas, secretly desperately chuffed with myself for changing my broadband and setting up my new tv package, I was basking in the happiness that can only be found in a remote control and Netflix and twiddling with business computery things in front of the fire, various animals snoozing next to me, child happily playing for once outside with her best friend . Bliss.

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The air is starting to ease it’s winter tensions, Spring smells had begun to tease us in the morning, just slightly too cool to actually drink tea outside, but almost.
And as I uploaded photos, this week , it felt lovely, both of us in the middle of creating new projects, some things nobody knows about yet, some things are revisited, some are ongoing and some are bearing fruit ; and like the garden and the clothing possibilities in the morning’s choices, we are starting to unfurl towards Spring..

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There was a hammering on the door and an angry woman’s face. In mine.

The people attempting to cause problems for others in the world aren’t really what this art and positivity site was supposed to be about. But that is unfortunately a mirror for life’s weird and wonderful journey; we do not get to chose everything in it. Sometimes the big kid stomps on your sandcastle. And it is whether you let the big kid stop you ever building another one again, that counts.

. When we moved to an idyllic little village we had visions of an idyllic little village, leaving the city outskirts for the sanctuary of a new start, we created a beautiful new home by the sea, with all the freedom a child could need . In the short few years we have lived here, both of us have now been subjected to behaviours by adults last seen in the playground .

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Model village

Whilst there have been reports filed, this is apparently quite a frequent occurrence to anyone not born in a small village. And the Police and other agencies have been overwhelmed with a stack of historical paperwork on these small town politics, chasing the blue skies into grey storm clouds…
Sounds a little bit to familiar to me.

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Making physical and verbal threats to other humans is clearly unacceptable.. Which was what the authorities also thought. Especially when unprovoked and repeated.

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There are many reasons, as we’ve discussed before, why people believe their feelings are more important or true than others. And therefore they feel they can dominate people because of this.


And the smaller and smaller a place you go, the worse this gets. Ironically, it is usually the most beautiful of places too. Having lived most of my adult life in Edinburgh where you could be any version of yourself at any time, nobody would notice. Walking home dressed in face paint from a performance, or covered in paint one day and dressed in a suit the next. The melting pot of human diversity in most places is what makes it healthy, interesting, fun and normal.

I don’t know how it feels to wake up and think anyone else’s business is mine, apart from those I love

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Despite having the same physical symptoms every day, keeping positive and creative keeps chronic conditions more bearable. Having layers of meaning and joy with the little little things we do, helps with all our states of mind. We eat so we don’t get inflammation, we breathe better, we maintain simple clarity for our family and health, we take pleasure in the ways of life that are colourful and joyful, especially when those things connect with other like minded people.

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So…..
When that subtle but vital cloak of protection is constantly snatched away by jealousy or ignorance it is not only another thing to maintain, but starts to become a very scratchy garment to wear instead. Thankfully we have an amazing network of friends and support out with the immediacy of certain goings on. But I am compelled to write about this because I know from your letters and responses that our experiences are not singular. If one of you feels something, somewhere we all do, or know someone who does. And hopefully it can help a little to discuss and compare .

Suddenly being scared, or anxious and confused because of something, someone out of your control, can physically overwhelm all your senses and your body’s defences.

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It is hard enough to deal with if you have the strength to go and kick box a giant padded dummy, but if your immunity is medically low, your body literally starts to attack itself. Go figure. It joins in.

The world is supposed to be a magical and kindly place. We should be able to trust all the creatures in the forest. There should be kindly folk at hand on our adventures and little birds singing on our shoulder.

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Just like in the story books


Thankfully, as I had both cctv, and my daughter was cavorting about with her best friend in a field making Tick Tick videos, both events were recorded. What I can’t get out of my head, is my daughter’s reaction after she had politely answered the screaming woman, and after the car sped off. That fear will haunt me, hopefully far longer than it will her.

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We all recognise this feeling.
Bullies from the snotty lunch money thieving playground ones to the ones we accidentally become involved with in innocence, trusting their stories of past heroics and future bounty, or the sudden and unexpected lashing out of a probably sad, angry human whose path your shadow fell onto.

Their fallout is the same, the negative, horrid, damaging, heavy, words, actions, threats, imminent behaviour strikes fear which goes way beyond the action of simply getting the stuff out of their heads into the world. These arrows land on the victim like physical blows and can change their entire outlook.

If we let them. And if our invisible armour isn’t adjusted.

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I couldn’t stop crying. My face hurt from it. But somewhere I knew it was temporary. I ran out of words a little bit and couldn’t move. My body was changed. The life force we need to choose our clothes, make a meal, be centered, that energy that usually flows was frozen. I had to say to a few people, for a few days, give me a minute. Those days were stolen .

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When we get attacked, we get invaded. Sometimes it is easy to brush off, sometimes though, especially if it has happened over and over, it can be one time too many. Here was a numbness and a seemingly irrational powerlessness.


There was too many associations with other situations which were similar. But I knew this. I could feel it like a cold hand pushing me back into a dark forest of feelings I just didn’t want to go into…… I witnessed myself experiencing this mad event through the eyes of my future self and knew letting this negativity win
wasn’t an option.

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Some days there are just too many ladders to climb


Observing my earthly body thus, it occurred to me that we must go through a series of bodily trials when we are shocked, appalled, worried and exhausted. Physically stunned, we lose our hunger for food, or the usual routines, but our senses are acutely aware of our loved ones in our peripheral vision.

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Your head gets crammed with cotton wool, your body wants to do is turn inside itself. Your eyes are leaking all by themselves and start to be filled with sand, which you keep trying to hide in front of your children. Gone is the tiny reserve of energy you stored up for that evening’s or day’s essential plans like cooking or bathing or folding laundry . Your already exhausted immune wrecked body is on hyperdrive looking for the enemy but attacking only you.
When you are ill and you are bullied, you are being slowly rubbed out from the inside and it takes a will of iron to stand in the eye of the storm, preserving precious energy.

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But of course you must. Every day, everywhere, situations are occurring where terrible things happen to good people day after day. This in the big scheme of things was horrible for us, but was dealt with and we are lucky to have the ability to make future choices. A pandemic, already challenging the world’s mental health, already forcing the isolated into isolation is why all differences should be celebrated not picked on. If we as humans are watched, it should be with loving eyes , because your self is so marvellous. This is no time for not being able to shine.

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After so much life on hold, we can’t hide our selves too.

We are equipped with ways to cope with sudden shock, if we hear our higher kinder self. As much as we want to please the concerned friends trying their best to help. What we all need sometimes is a different thing. Your true friends can and will want to learn to understand this, just as you do. All we can do is keep being open. Last night I received a lovely phone call from a 90 year old nun . I taught her and several of her friends in a care home. She and I haven’t spoken in three years but have sent letters. It was like we were on the phone yesterday. One of the residents, another Elizabeth Walker, who was dear to Leah and I , died yesterday. Monika gently talked about how she had sat with her and it had been very peaceful.

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Life is short, and sometimes tricky but there is always a light on. There are so many good people it is almost ridiculous. There are still so many reasons to brush yourself down and keep going. There are so many people in our lives even if we don’t see them for the longest time.

Forcing my legs into the cold, and leaving the Grinch in bed, the bear and I went to the beach today at 7.15. Am. He loved it. Nobody to scold him for running up to them and mimicking a small horse.


He galloped about, I watched the sky, bigger than all of us. We watched the swimmers, braver than all of us.
I managed just enough steps to feel a bit proud. Next time I’ll get to the water.
He waited nicely at the car and we listened to story tapes on the way to do the shopping in Aldi.
I shopped in peace, and was met like a long lost friend because we hadn’t done our shopping in person there for a month. ( having done it online when I hadn’t felt well). Next time they said the staff would take it in turns to drop off my shopping.

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We even managed to witness God on the A1, n a miraculous burst of light on the sea. And stopping on the layby wasn’t accompanied by ‘ God mum, you’re soooooo embarrassing’

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Life can and always does make progress and another day passes without going backwards.
The line between easy and hard is often paper thin, and a moment of someone else’s madness can be enough to create an effect like the blurry button on your camera phone.. In these times, most people are still kind, and in the widest world billions truly are incredible.
Sometimes it is the thought of the cold that is the hardest challenge . But as these guys are there every day, my guess it is must get warmer once you brave that first step…

Everyone loves a little healthy kingdom ruling once in a while though… just ask a dog. The difference is they cover you in big wet kisses afterwards.

Once out of the house, the village, The Grinch was happy to have peace, bear was happy to have space and it felt good having challenged myself to do these things alone.

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Today our chicken got out of her hutch. A small victory swiftly regretted after a brief flap around the trampoline when a giant pair of bear like jaws came hurtling down on her wing… Whether it was surprise at landing a catch or his practice at being so gentle with the guinea pigs every night; they just stopped and stared at one another in shock . Holding one in each hand like toddlers in a food fight, the Beast had to be gotten out of the way temporarily in order to coax Sugar back.

Safely back in the kitchen but trying to get out of the cat flap, bear watched as Sugar frolicked for a while with me in tow. Wondering how I would convince my lower body half to get all the way down to the ground to catch her, I rang Dr Doolittle on her mobile. Knowing full well that it was highly unlikely she would tear herself away from making her latest mini movie..

And then I stood still..

Slowed my heart rate and considered all eventualities briefly before leaving fate to step in

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And just like that, Sugar wandered into the cage, as if nothing had happened.

In our time there have been a series of challenges which have bordered on unbelievable. But they have only underlined the sanctity of home, of stillness and of loyalty to those people in your life who never judge, never comment, never complain; just allow you to be you.

These recent experiences may be the beginning of a new chapter for us. Who knows. As my friend Yvonne, who lives in Spain and who I miss dearly says’ Going beyond our shores is so much healthier for understanding other people.’ Certainly, staying in one place and growing more judgemental and bitter is not a life choice, regardless of the petrol it saves.

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All through this week I have been listening to the audio of the Wintering by Katherine May. My friend Nicola reminded me of the existence of Audible and recommended this book . It has been an absolute pleasure to be immersed in the beautiful visuals of May’s words , sensitively conjuring up how necessary and elemental our own seasons must be. Through chopping carrots and kale in the mornings to folding towels or finishing drawings, hearing her exploration of why and how we winter makes us see how there is a vital need to stop and refuel, especially when we find ourselves on empty , to gather in, restock, replenish, recharge, re new . It has come to be my new favourite book on so many levels.

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Wintering isn’t a four month period. wintering is stepping back and knowing that you must preserve your energy, skills, sense of self and purpose, gather your fuel, gather those you love, gather your breath. We are all in a kind of winter at the moment. losing some of the choices we normally use to gather momentum to propel to the next season. Without outside reminders in big ways, explosive adverts for chocolate eggs and holidays, get aways and rewards for surviving another cold spell, we must be our own advocate, our own reward, our own chicken soup. ( Sorry Sugar)

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There is a big big world out there, full of all of you inspirational people . Perhaps we land in a place for a while so that we can winter and create without distraction. And then really find our words.

Sometimes we must stand still and save precious energy whilst we figure out what the big dog will do next. Sometimes we get to gather in all the tools that only we know we need, and sometimes when the time is right, we can walk calmly back into our house that we chose, because we know we chose it, and it no longer feels like a prison. And we will all know that there will not be monsters or viruses or big black creatures at the door.

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Personally our view will always be beautiful. We will keep building our sandcastle and put the most beautiful shells we can find on it. And if it gets washed away, kicked over, well do it all again tomorrow; because that is half the fun.

Standing Strong as I know you are Too

with all our love,

Liz and the zoo

xxxx

A little light on life

The light around here has been incredible recently.

As I Flip through Facebook posts recently, I have loved to see the many walks my friends take and the things they see along the way, things that my legs don’t get to. Some of these things I saw before my body stopped playing, some I may get to one day if I win the lottery, and some of them I will never see. All of the above are ok with me.

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We can travel the world to see the most glorious of sites. We can trek up mountains to see a new perspective we yearn for. Potential and adventure is wonderful. But if limitations are set, it doesn’t mean that life has to be less stimulating.

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If circumstances change the rules, as they have for everybody at the moment, our fun radar has to look closer for things to appreciate. And for inspiration.

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I got asked by a woman over the phone, filling in a medical form how many buses I could walk. ( length of) without stopping, and with sticks .. If you’ve never tried answering that one give it a go. I can walk 2 buses.

But, walk two buses, take a photo or two and then walk a couple more. You can get somewhere, or to your car, and then a little further… And then moments as incredible as any rare truffle are waiting. If your deely boppers are on.

And if that has to suffice until surgery or vaccinations happen it is a start.

The new normal looks different for everyone!

For some the routine has stayed reassuringly familiar ……..

And others of the more active variety have been growing like weeds…

And art has been created in the spaces created like little yawns in the day… where children or animals are sleeping, eating or otherwise occupied .


Next year will be a big birthday for me, and although I could probably still get asked for i.d without make up, due to being partly of the faery variety 😉 It will mean that, including teaching in America at 20, I will have been teaching art for 30 years. It has been a rollercoaster, not least for health reasons. But always the best part, the only part that mattered was giving something to kids that they did not have before.

My first teaching job was in a tough school. some of the kids (and staff) were hard work, and I was going to work full time whilst looking after two young stepsons and a big house. I was keen and sparkly, but at the time, was being knocked in more ways than one, both at home and at work.

HiDe BeHiNd My MaSk | Power Poetry

Now I think that girl was amazing. Then, I taught my socks off in a blur.
I didn’t know what the kids saw. But I knew I gave them everything because I always will. And I loved their inspiration as much as creating with them.
Eventually the politics of that post got too much. So I moved schools. Before arthritis got the better of me and I taught in high school for 18 years.


Out of the blue last week, I received a message on facebook from a great big bearded man, who I didn’t recognise. The picture showed him on his wedding day. He just wanted me to know, he said, that I had been an amazing teacher. That he still remembered what I taught him 20 years ago, and that he still tells his niece about being taught art by me.
How incredible. This was not something this man needed to do, or gained anything by doing. But I did. And how lovely to gift those words to someone years after they knew you. In a time where our identities are in question because we can’t be fully ourselves, always speak kind words when you think them.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Scrabble Words Cheat - Foreign policy

Thankyou to the wonderful Mickey. Keep doing those little things, especially in your own home. The universe and your wife will thank you! I know I do.,

A Lovely Man: Amazon.co.uk: Pavon, Mar, Vaz de Carvalho, Joao: Books

This poem was written for all of you who take the time to read this, for your heart and for your own self care.

winged heart | emojidex - custom emoji service and apps

.

In amongst the day to day routine keep an eye out for flashes of colour, a chances to reflect on the details when the bigger picture get too overwhelming. Savour every colour. They are only for you.

A flash of colour on a dull winter's day - Trevor's Birding

Children and seasons will change, so will this situation. For a long time my mantra has been to keep going. Clichéd maybe, but sometimes it is all you can do to put one foot in front of another.

DREAM ABOUT WALKING BAREFOOT - What does it mean? - Evangelist

Or one bus

Oxford Bus Company : Oxford Bus Company

Something today matters for a reason you don’t even know yet.

Autumn Leaf Heart Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr,  Pinterest, and Twitter

I am so proud of my groups, friends and some of the community helping one another to stay positive. To see artwork, share your Ideas or experiences with us.. go to facebook, liz at the beach hut and sea sparkle.

Live in colour

Rainbow with Clouds Clip Art | rainbow with clouds clip art | Rainbow  clipart, Clip art, Rainbow pictures

Love Liz at the Beach Hut xx

Pants


One day last week I found a pair of new knickers hiding in the drawer. Saving themselves for an occasion worthy of their debut. For a fleeting moment I almost put them back and then didn’t. And all day, because of my discovery , it felt like I was wearing diamonds..

1920s Lingerie History- Underwear, Slip, Bra, Corset
It’s the little things


Often we keep our finest indulgences for such times that we feel they are more deserving than right now. And we create subliminal rules for our hoard. -A magical time in the future, when the perfect us will appreciate and deserve luxury, and step into the limelight to a roar of wolf-whistles…

Vintage Glamour Daze Fashion Charity Event - Home | Facebook

Our nicest clothes, our best cups and saucers, our Christmas toiletry sets , indulgent hobbies we will do- one -day- when -we- have- time: even friends we promise we will catch up with one of these days -all are placed in a box marked future.

The Ultimate Guide to Bleach Your White Clothes - Safety Hacks! – Sonic Soak

Precious, abstract , future bubbles……
Thing is, such perfect time capsules do not exist; because the tides of life just keep sucking us back, against the shore of good old fashioned normality and remind us what and who we are, and what else is in the flotsam..

especially now..

Future Perfect | Grammarly Blog

There is no perfect . Whether in your longed for acceptance of self image, in the mysteries of your family , your crazy circle of friends, or the situation we are all in right now and how that impacts on the immediate world you had.. A lot of our choices are out of our control because they are too enormous. But what we can do, is choose some of the smaller things to keep or lose.

107 Quotes About Change in Life, Yourself and The World - Bright Drops

We have our bodies, in all their states of health and shapes and sizes and the choice in how to dress and celebrate them..For many of us, our clothes have become a uniform; whether through comfort, suitability for lifestyle or because they don’t suit us as we change in age or outlook. But sometimes, we simply forget what is under the pile, always choosing to skim from the top. It can be amazing to find what we used to love, or how good a well worn garment feels on your skin

Does going 'out' in pyjamas make me a lazy mum? - Confessions Of A Crummy  Mummy
Have you got the pyjama addiction too?
Cavalli e Nastri, the Milanese chic vintage boutique
Shop in your own wardrobe instead of buying the same things again.

Every day comes with its surprises at the moment. Today, bumping into an old friend was literally overwhelming and so poignant and lovely. Neither of us could speak but the silence was crammed with a thousand words which we both understood. I know it will keep me going on days when I hear no voices other than a pup and a grumpy pre-teen. So much emotion in those few seconds, and an elixir of wellbeing, much needed.

Unexpected Photography - Home | Facebook

The now is all about seeing what is under the surface and try to still hear the music

What's under the surface ? by Hi-TeQ on DeviantArt


Keeping good clothing and never wearing it is like advertising lunch for critters and a bit like keeping a freshly made loaf of bread and waiting two days for the first slice. Sometimes at the back of our cupboards, are gems that are perfect now. that still fit, that are desperate for daylight

How to Stop Moths From Eating Your Clothes | Real Simple

Because, come the time to use your perfect China, the cracks may have appeared in more than just the saucers. You should eat well, off the nicest plates and savour each morsel.

Take yourself on a picnic while the sun shines and your legs work.

Picnic Hen Party | WeddingDates Blog | WeddingDates.co.uk

Bear and I discovered that was just what the doctor ordered, when the day was dragging and my hands hurt too much to keep drawing. Ginger beer and a fresh socially distanced prawn sandwich , a few doggie hugs by the harbour, and a chat with a lovely old couple, and the sun came out literally and metaphorically .


Things are losing their importance more than ever. We can’t ease our stress with travel, or quick fixes. Internally we are battling with a fight -or- flight response versus the desire to sink -into- the -sofa- with- a- cushion- over -our- ears. Anything written about being in the moment might sound cheesy, but it really is the most important defence mechanism in your arsenal. Our Stuff should be enjoyed, have a place to be stored properly or shared with others. Loved or left go. We are living through a time where our values are changing, our perspectives are distorted like looking through a glass.

Unexpected Beauty
But are also much simpler

Stand still and see what is right there as your own personal gifts.

NCL-Hands-Almost-Touching * Nicola Amadora


Children and animals teach us to live in the moment

Why do animals play? | All you need is Biology

This strange and frightening pandemic is creating huge uncertainty. And causing everyone different concerns, and fears. Not knowing what will happen in this story is becoming frighteningly familiar now. It is understandable that we feel angry or sad. The loss of the contact with others, pleasurable activities, financial security, freedom to choose, is a grieving process. But because it is ambiguous, there is no finality, we can’t put anything to rest.

Björkholmen Gallery - Jack Pierson

To deal with Life right now, it is essential to limit the time spent catastrophizing on what may or may not happen. Things change all the time. including the rules on what can or can’t be done. As these things are out of our control, all we have is what we can do for our immediate world and , find the magic of everyday life, whenever we can. This doesn’t mean we don’t care, it means we care enough to keep going.

Everyday Magic by Harkale-Linai on DeviantArt


Don’t save your Sunday best for Sunday

Tip: Don't Save Your Sunday Best For Sunday! - Not Dead Yet Style


We didn’t know how lucky we were before. All those adventures kept for the future that are now much harder to plan for..

Unexpected Antartica Photography by Gray Malin – Fubiz Media


Life has stopped going in a straight line, and is more like a plate of spaghetti with more twists and turns than Sherlock Holmes. So now, more than ever, we have run out of excuses to save our best for a rainy day. Today’s rainy day is merrily chucking it down and we have little choice but to get out and get our feet wet. The time is literally now.

Wordless Wednesday: Get Your Feet Wet. Frame by Frame. | TINY LESSONS BLOG

Treat your self like you would want to be treated at the best hotel (In place of actually getting to one). If you were manager what would you say about a room with crumpled clothes or toppling boxes , and its effect on your customer’s well-being?

Boutique Hotels - best UK boutique hotels - Cool Places
Well, we can all dream…


My clear out has begun in earnest with a huge clear out of paper teaching resources and old paints etc. Teaching creatively is changing and hanging on to paper teaching resources is becoming harder. Most people I work with have their own equipment and we are on regular zooms.

However, There is no danger of us ever becoming minimalist

Marie Kondo, back off! Why this book hoarder refuses to tidy up - CNET
Not our actual bookcase, but it is scarily familiar

Just let’s be more organised hoarders!!

When RVing and Hoarding meet!  Yikes


Let’s chuck out old drainpipe Trousers, which will never go over our bottoms again, outdated slogan t shirts, most things with acrylic on the label, anything not loved, useful as hell or utterly fabulous or worth a mint ( ha ha) books we will never read, shoes that are too tight or too boring, broken things, things that should get fixed but never will… All got to go.

10 Ways to Get Rid of Your Old Junk | LoadUp

Let’s make do and mend a bit more

Beautiful display of vintage sewing equipment | Decoración de unas, Mesas  de coser, Rincón de costura


Things require attention and the more you have the more time they take up. It is far more rewarding to spend time fuelling a pet or a skill than a shopping habit. And slightly less waste disposal.


Personally of late I have had this constant feeling that I’ve forgotten something. Has anyone else felt that the lists we had whittled down to a fine art before, have gone out of the window, and even the days of the week are confusing now !!

There's no timetable, no one standing over you. There are no parents  demanding excellence, no teachers grading you, no co… | Inspirational  quotes, Motivation, Words

The simple fact is, most of the normal, planned activities, groups and connections are on hold.. So the requirement is to just be. And it is the hardest thing in the world to step away from the conditioned responses we have to our feelings and our desires. Our guilt to please the people we have already created a link with, on our journeys so far. To move away from should and towards could if you want to, that takes courage. We are so conditioned to our structures, our ways and our safety nets, and feedback from other people. These responses validate us. If you have stopped working, you might be losing more than just a wage. People around you every day remind you you’re still alive. Now you have to do that for yourself.

I'm very grateful that you exist on this planet Art Print by anicastillo |  Society6

This virus has changed things in strange ways. With far more emphasis on your own personal wellbeing, you will be able to potentially reach out your new found skills and resourcefulness like ripples in a pool into your future. Right now, tread water, steady your breathing and clear your mind as well as your cupboards. Swimming alone is scary, but opens up a whole new peaceful horizon .

Essential Advice For Beginners to Open-Water Swimming | Living Healthy and  Just Fine


Time to take the arm bands off

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We are a resourceful lot. Perhaps finding out for the first time what exactly we are made of. What still fits and what we’ve grown out of . Or who.

What Are You Growing Out Of? - p.s. That's Life!


Are there people around you who you expected to be in contact with and who have disappeared? Is the new world looking a little lonely?

2560x1440 New World 1440P Resolution HD 4k Wallpapers, Images, Backgrounds,  Photos and Pictures


It has surprised and bewildered me how the playing field looks right now Some players in the game have walked away, off the pitch or are sitting on the bench. Some have moved to another team altogether. But I know the team that we have now are the ones we are blessed to have. And those that have gone before, have been important chapters in our story.

20 Inspiring Quotes To Help You Heal From Your Grief After You Lose Your  Best Friend | YourTango

Perhaps it takes a pandemic to know who you’re tribe really is. Who has phoned you recently? Responded to your Facebook posts, asked you on a zoom date, left soup at your door? Sometimes we need to let go of the old Christmas card list and be aware of who is showing up now. With an open mind and a willingness to see the glass half full, you might be surprised.

A Tribe Without Borders: Sisterhood through travel across the Middle East

To simply be, ok with your quirky bits, immersed in your own ideas, is your permission to be positive while the world does what it does. Whether blending in…

Self Esteem - Break the mould - be yourself – True Self
20+ Best wacky outfit day images | wacky, wednesday outfit, wacky tacky day

Or standing out…


Most people yearn for a different version of themselves in some way. It is what advertisers rely on and the diet industry swells its coffers with. But as necessity overrides luxury, it gives us a chance to see what we already have, and what , if anything, we really need. Under current circumstances, enjoying ourselves feels a bit sinful, but in actual fact, with limited access to the network of well-being services at your disposal, support groups, social groups and shops! there is no better time than now to stop being so self critical and celebrate the details of the unique collection of things we already have.

No Choice - Home | Facebook

A friend of mine never ceases to amaze me with her self nurture skills. She meticulously plans out her outfits , and in particular a fabulous pair of shoes , does her hair and make up and is a catwalk dream. Only, her audience is a zoom group , and in her day to day life, she is struggling with several medical and psychological issues. She hardly leaves her house. On our zooms, she chats from her bed.

Maileg Vintage Bed, Micro – My Sweet Muffin | Vintage bed, Maileg bed,  Maileg

It would be so easy for all of us to give up trying. Instead; giving yourself a few small moments of fabulousness will become an intrinsic part of the you going on your journey recorded for future generations as the hero you are. .


In the absence of a network or a way of life which gives you compliments, you must make your own..

How We Can Stop Being Suspicious of Kindness | NewHarbinger.com

We can’t know what this story will become . We aren’t used to not getting what we need quickly. Our seasonal adjustment disorder has gone wonky, with virtually no normality to Summer (apart from the changeable weather) It is tricky to feel grounded by the things which made us feel safe before…

Are You Grounded in Reality? (Or Living a Fantasy?) | Lead Like Jesus


This of course is different for everyone. But at the same time, is exactly the same for everyone. We need things in our peripheral vision that give us hope.
If nobody else can do that for you, you owe it to yourself to grab your best knickers, and stop over thinking.
The only way to make sense of the biggest things is to go into battle with a steady hand, and good pants. Surrounding yourself with what you alone love.

100+ Best Marvel & Comic Geekiness images | cool outfits, clothes, marvel


You know who you are, what you can do, and what you’ve always wanted to do .
Now, there’s slightly less reason to worry what anyone else thinks of that.
And make it
happen.

Trust your gut

Laura 🦋 on Instagram: “My plan for when the world has healed 🦋☁️✨” in  2020 | Quote aesthetic, Quotes deep, Best short quotes

Consuming and then having to find space for more and more things is a distracting cycle. And somehow doesn’t feel important any more.

100 Best Online Clothes Shops and Fashion Boutiques | London Evening  Standard


The diva, her pal and I went on a road trip at the weekend. We went shopping for a couple of gifts for various birthdays before the rules state we can’t drive more than five miles again, we had treats in food places certain to leave us sugar tongued and bloated . Delicious. I sat in the cafe while the girls looked in the shop next door . Every second of it was special. Already in the country, there are places where people are not able to do this. Already it is getting closer that an going an hour away could become a universe.

Where Is the Center of the Universe? | Live Science


There was an intensity to the day. The Starbucks was a minefield of masks and form filling, door codes and queue stickers… The atmosphere wasn’t condusive to staying a long time, food given out in paper bags, no listening to jazz or wiling away the hours on a laptop with a cappucino.

At home? You can still work from Starbucks with virtual backgrounds -  Starbucks Stories EMEA

But still, the sun was warm on my face through the window. I wrote this to you. My coffee tasted delicious and my cinnamon roll felt devilish and doughy and stuffed a gap in more. than just my hungry belly
I wore trousers I should have worn on the beach. A dress bought for a holiday, twice cancelled. Thankfully it still fitted.! Small blessings. Good job Starbucks is so far away.!
It is more important than ever to make things count wherever we can from our knickers to impromptu picnics on the park, as the girls did with their pizza and chips on the swings last night. Packed into paper bags like Deli food. Memories are cemented by fun versions of the usual stuff..

There is a feeling in the air that these normal experiences are not to be taken for granted. We ate lunch out and dragged bags and weary bodies into the car, grateful, tired and very aware that this wasn’t going to be repeated for a while.


Entering an Autumn cautiously and feeling grateful, we are mindful of the difficulties that these experiences are now attached to. Having looked forward to our trip, I have to say we are equally pleased to be safe at home.
Find new pants if you feel a bit pants; the maddest pants you can find and flounce in them like there’s no tomorrow. Even if nobody ever sees them. Before your knees go.

Gingham and lace vintage style pin up girl frilly jive dance | Etsy


If things don’t fit today, don’t wait until they do. A pile of things in your peripheral vision waiting for when you are smaller, healthier, fitter just gives you a headache.. Charity shop or dump them.

pile-of-clothes – Order in the House

If like me you have a degenerative condition, or something affecting your immunity, time is always your nemesis.

How a Single Gene Could Become a Volume Knob for Pain—and End America's  Opioid Epidemic | WIRED

Covid or no covid, there are rhythms to your day and year which affect how little or how much you can get achieved, with a body that won’t play nice. Sometimes it feels like a race to complete as much as possible on a sunny day, with the clock ticking on the seasons and the unpredictable weather. Flare- ups and immobility go hand in hand with the cold. So having less stuff that requires attention is important.

Watch Your Weather Change -

Although here at Skye Blue House, life will never be minimal

Finding ways to minimise tasks or get help with hard to do jobs is essential too. I am at the moment, indebted to my new gardener, chopping and cutting things my hands won’t manage, and many offers of doggie walks with Bear. This virus doesn’t get dibs on being resilient- ask anyone with arthritis!Go on.. Put on your best hat on. The winds of change might blow away everything away tomorrow….

girl in blue and white dress holding onto her hat | Vintage artwork,  Vintage images, Vintage illustration

but then instead, let your hair go free

Woman Beautiful | Free Stock Photo | Illustration of a beautiful woman with  her hair blowing in the wind | # 8333

The future you will buy new clothes, meet new faces, learn different skills. and be eternally grateful you held your nerve right now whilst looking fabulous. The future is an unstable ground to build a plan on. But it will still be there hazily greeting the morning sun. The irony is, the more you make of this moment, and it’s set of limitations, the wider your path will eventually be.

Hazy morning sun | Jan Moons | Flickr

This painting was recently finished for Mum. After my Stepdad passed away. It is a fantasy place of lots of different bits of Greek islands they went to. Although she knows she can’t go back, it will take her there with him whenever she sees it. It, like everything we need to do now was achieved bit by bit, until it was complete. With painful joints, a final outcome was the top of a mountain I knew was there beyond the clouds. And yes, swearing is fine too.

Stay safe and keep your dreams fed and alive. Style it out and trust what you already know

You always got us! xxx

7 Meditation Tips for People Who Can't Sit Still | The Temper

All our love, Liz and the zoo xxxx