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.

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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.

we do not see things as they are we see things as we are - Google Search |  Wise quotes, Life quotes, Words quotes

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.

Postcard 'Tiny adventures' | ninamaakt

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.

80s Actual: 1982: Invasion Of The Deelybobbers/Deelyboppers/Beeny Boppers/Bonce  Boppers/Space Boppers...

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

top 9 most popular inflatable armbands brands and get free shipping - a516


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

Puppy love

So ……….

Dog Paw Print Prints - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

I was noticing how much time I am taking up in the last week or two, and decided to write on behalf of my household. It is quite clear I am pretty much in charge these days and fill in the hours that must have been so empty without me by creating a never ending need for the carpet cleaner and a discerning taste for pyjama hems and ankles. I have a feeling that stuff must happen while I am in my fluffy bed, because it all looks different when I wake up . The big one that feeds me when I sit next to my bowl , splashes a lot of stuff out of tubes in the mornings. I tried tasting it but I just got a blue moustache and a telling off ….

Can Dogs Smell Paint? - Wag!

So, as usual, I am in charge today. Paw in hand I am giving Mum a break while she tries to explain to the smaller one (again) why coal, pencils, socks, cheese string wrappers, slime tubs, lipstick, hair bands and crisp packets are very delicious but I’m not allowed to eat them for some bizarre reason…

Messy Room Quotes. QuotesGram

Still… being a good boy (or girl) does have it’s advantages.. There are some pretty good hugs around here.. And the food is excellent. I would like to present you my first poem in appreciation of my new home. Hope you like it. x

Holding hands | Crazy dog lady, My animal, Paw hand

Poem by Bear

12 weeks

.
There once was a puppy called bear
Who lived in a home with sea air
His days were filled up with learning to know
which was the carpet and where not to go

He tried to make friends with the cavies and cats
And chewed all the corners off tables and mats


His paws were huge and his fur was all tangly
His eyes were like buttons, his legs growing gangly
She grumped in the morning when ankles were bitten
And thieving was common of socks, homework, mittens…
But end of the day when school end was done
It started to sink in that this was quite fun,


Big paws are great for a play and a cuddle
They make the room fun when parents see muddle
They take you for walks when it’s rainy or fine

and they curl up inside a warm bed around nine


It’s good being small you can hide under dressers
And shake all your toys till they spew out old feathers
Your mum feeds you lots when you do your big eyes
You have to remember to sit for a prize


Love is so easy to give to your tribe
They always still hug if you’re manic at five
I’m learning that hands are better for pats
My teeth are like needles, and humans hate that

English Phrase For I Dont Bite Much On Paper Stock Illustration - Download  Image Now - iStock


My best fun is paper to shred into bits
And icy cold carrots are a teething hit
I love My bed best when a heartbeat I hear
It makes me feel safe and I drift somewhere dear


I didn’t like feeling alone in my cave
The hall wasn’t great for my nightmares and fears.
Dogs are like humans, they need to feel safe
we need you to know it can take many years

Dog Siblings Who Love to Hug Each Other Will Melt Your Heart - YouTube

I am so excited for beaches and woods

Dog Walking |

for hugs with new friends and all that is good
life’s big adventures, fun and travels to come
But I like it best when I’m curled up with mum xxx

See you soon on the Beach ! Love from Bear, Mum and the zoo xxxx

Dog Paw Print Prints - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

In this Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the heart a symbol of love?

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

Distraction techniques for pain management — artibiotics

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

Mum, Mum, the toilet’s smoking…..

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

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

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

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

Thinking too much by HelenaTheActress on DeviantArt

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

Ear biting GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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

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

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

The Biggest Wedding Food Faux Pas

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

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

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

8 Ways to Stay Calm During a Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the heart a symbol of love?

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

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

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

Vintage Reversible Open/Closed Door Sign - Melody Maison®

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

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

Crayon Resist Spider Web - Lessons - Tes Teach

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

Keep well, keep moving, keep talking

Watch all the classics

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

And we will speak soon xxx

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

February Flowers

Twice in the last week I have been told to smile. Both times I emphatically believed I was smiling already. And what was wierd was one person could hardly see me on the phone, and the other had their back to me when they said it.

Thing was, I was in big pain. And it was possibly harder to hide than I thought . Even though my facial muscles were doing their hardest to fool everyone…

The people who know us know US. We are far more than a couple of facial muscles. What we emanante, even if we are miles away is an invisible but powerful combination of ingredients which make us up, and are ever fluid. We are made up of things ‘we portray, things we don’t realise we show, the things we do, the things we say, what we wear, and how we interact with the world.

Every time we try to revamp our style, all this does is brush on a fresh coat of paint on a well loved home. The home you personally inhabit is deeper than that. My pain was showing and I didnt realise. But even without looking, it was felt by those who cared. Sensed.

WE are the sum of more than just our own truths. Whether we like it or not.. and this is where you better make sure your’e on Santa’s good list.. someone somewhere can pick up on your hidden depths, your fears, dreams and gorgeously different ability to navigate life’s journey.

In our way is fear of success, fear of showing off, perhaps a life of crippling comments from a family member. Thankfully, if you ask those that truly love you who you are…. you’ll find out that you are not just your doubts, your pain or your insecurities..

Your fabulous personality is a coat of many colours. We recently asked our group to write down words to describe each other and put them together as a gift for each person. It is a tough thing for many people to read, let alone re-write nice things about themselves!! Most wouldn’t have dared to say those things in the mirror. Me included. !! But it was a very worthwhile exercise in cheering up a gloomy February Monday.

Kind of lovely…

If you don’t believe in your own particular style of magic who else will?

We have to trust that from tiny seeds planted when we can only dream ideas up, when we are sore or tired or alone: crumbling a handful of earth between our fingers….. that great blooms will eventually grow.

In between the grey skies and the routines, the heating breaking down (oh yes.. thankfully all pets at once sit on you in this house… )

A few things got printed… Completed and will add to the stock created by Liz at the Beach Hut to fund plans or our community enterprise Sea Sparkle…..

Thank you Serendipity for putting us in the window last week! We are hoping to build on our efforts to create a permanent disabled friendly space to host our Art group. As well as fund a travelling Art-Mobile to take our accessible art to as many people as we can.

We have been a little restricted with the weather lately but occasionally pop our head out of the window….

So in the meantime just pose in the odd cafe…..

Oh ok. Ill keep her.

Exhibition

This month saw the fruits of the Art group’s hard work come together in an exhibition, entitled Art for Health’s Sake. One of a few not for profit supportive and creative gatherings of individulas, coming together in creativity through ill health, mental health issues or through dementia. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to see our artists at their own private view, enjoying the compliments for their work and for their attitude to life and one another. Pride doesn’t come close. My heart is still bursting.

Go to Sea Sparkle on Facebook to see the exhibition video and Sea Sparkle.org on wordpress to see more great examples of the Artist’s work.

Our Coast is cornucopia of beautiful views, oddities, cultural sites and old world charms; backdropped against a wild and wonderful sea with big dramatic skies. As a member of the Eyemouth Art Trail, we spent an afternoon working out the accessibility of the route we plan to highlight in future maps. I am always delighted to show off the town and its cultural hotspots. Especially with a bouncy assistant in tow..

And then the best part… to hibernate afterwards, as it is still freeeezing. Thank goodness for this little baby and the other furry ones. Who understand the need for huddling in extreme situations!!

There is no escape…

Projects have continued by the fire. This is Lulu Hope. She is a little bit of all of us. Inspiration from my girlfriends and what they are achieving against the odds , and certainly gone to the best home of all , a friend I am in awe of.

How lovely to have some artwork in this gorgeous building. Marshall Meadows. A hotel and permanent Art Exhibition hosting several local artists within beautiful grounds. You can find it just before Berwick and the exhibition is coordinated by a friend of mine Dorothy. She helped hang several of my pieces and we will have a private view later in the year .

This was a secret present for a couple of my pals…

Happy Birthday lovely

We currently have no permanent venue for our groups. So once a week, we take our pjs and a trolley to the home of one maker. Everyone is welcome and we bring food to share. Winter can be incredibly isolating. And especially in areas where there is no central hub. For now, this is a wonderful and warm place to eat, make and gather.

The house is getting a lick of paint… Odd things are getting revamped, re-tweaked, repainted….

Even the bath panels didn’t escape a spot of decoupage…

because when Spring comes.. just try and stop my hands being in that earth….

And even a couple of paws…

Keep cooking up a storm…..

xxxxxx

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Do it your way.

Sometimes life stops you in your tracks. But sometimes it’s a handy way to look at the view while the lights are on red. To take a moment to see who you are listening to. Is it your own wisdom, the intuition you were born with or the mumblings of other voices ?. Everything we do comes from a source of love or fear, and the option you have is choose to absorb only those who want to share the former.

It can take a long time to unravel the conditioning of a lifetime’s habits, a familial pattern, a marriage, a community belief system. But if a structure starts to jar, and prevent your creativity shining through, perhaps it’s time to regroup. Close your head to the noise everywhere around you. Break life down to its component parts and change, if change is what you seek, one breath, step, or thought at a time.

When we moved to a tiny place to start over, I made deliberate choices to simplify things financially and pressure wise. It isn’t easy to do this and it is a hard thing on your own. But at every junction, a new skill or resource, friend or doorway appeared when we least expected them to, and there was always enough. (That isn’t to say things haven’t been a challenge.) but there were very few moments to doubt that there should be trust in the bigger picture. And our abilities to navigate life’s ‘B’ roads.

This was us three years ago today. Before building our new home here by the sea.

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You look back at things you do sometimes and wonder. How did I get here? How did I manage that? The house was only on the market one week. generally the best things we do in life are things that happen through a sense of pure will and determination, perseverance and intuition that it is simply what has to be done. We get our heads down and get on with it. finding a drive fuelled by a belly fire.

The night before News Years Eve our favourite place to stay told us last minute they had a cancellation. Already nearly ready for bed, we were at the time struggling to get a 2nd hand charity- shop games console to speak with and work on the TV. It was  driving us both a bit doolally. Out of nowhere a text arrived from the b and b . It was a lifeline out of the doldrums, an injection of adventure we both needed. The house suddenly became a mad frenzy  of hovering, packing, sorting out animals and arranging the details with neighbours..

We made it happen in a couple of hours and more  that, nothing dreadful happened because it wasn’t in the plan. Sometimes the plan appears to be no plan. But we know deep down, there’s been a plan all along.

But I believe there is more to it than that. Looking out of the window at the garden, it’s so hard to believe that there will ever be blossoming plants and grass that never stops growing. It happens like magic. Just as our kids grow… And keep growing and changing, non matter how much we keep a snapshot of their baby faces on the mantle piece.


What we do with the time and resources we have then becomes a matter of not only trust but personal intuition. Right now, she’s cleaning her room, but she doesn’t know she’s doing it. My girl is ‘looking through’ some old toys, and thoroughly enjoying the process of re discovering, memories and finding lost treasure. There is singing, that’s a good sign.

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Making a creative – being go from a to b, in a straight line can cause huge stress, and disarm their natural instinct to tweek, nibble at, shuffle around and sidelong glance at a project before jumping in ; And almost put out the fire of passion before it has begun. These spectrum based qualities can become clearer once labels start being given, especially when diagnosed with various types of autism. But this can take years. We know instinctively if our children need more variety in their learning, or a work better with a hat on, or sitting on the floor.

How many times a day do you rebel against yourself? Or someone else? This time of year, with the pressure of change and renewal , being better, living better, morphing into  a new version of the old creaky us, can create lists of to do which hang heavy. The thing is, these lists aren’t created out of badness, their heart is in the right place. For instance, making new crafts, eating better, finding new love, clearing out the garage…its just.. all good, its just.. a big old excuse always comes up . We will always as humans want to do the opposite of what we tell ourselves we should.

Its actually not the worst thing we can do. Making excuses, being a little bit different to the expectation makes it far more likely to find a way of living, loving and being that is really you.  I Was the kid in school dreaming out of the window of running across the fields out of he window, wearing nothing but a tutu and a huge straw hat.

In order to get the most out of ourselves we need to feel we are cheekily being slightly bad at the same time. Life should definitely not feel like we are colouring by numbers. Dry January should surely wait until such months as we are outside enjoying the spring sunshine (not needing a warm fire and moonshine)

I could have been only seen as a dreamer, But somehow, the gaps between the dreaming, when no-one was looking enabled productivity and studying. Squirreling away multiple projects and coursework at once until such times as a ta dah moment was needed. Reading through a leaflet for the village hall fair competition I came across recently, I was gobsmacked at hw many prizes one child could win with a few sticks of corn, potato printing and plasticine ‘Morph’ people in a shoe box.

And when at college I after bashing away at a project all morning in a flurry of paper and sticky back plastic, I was told by  a student teacher , that the ‘mess’ was not the outcome of a perfectionist , as I was explaining I was; I took great delight in finally showing her the finished sparkling object.

Nobody should judge your process. And your process is special to you. No matter what it is you are trying to acheive. I am finding more and more that with arthritis in my hands, the limit for specific tasks is short.. So working with that, I might paint one area of a picture, and then using a different technique ( and hand movement) maybe work on something which doesn’t need a pincer movement! In a way working within your health restrictions, creates a different way of thinking and maybe new skils to try.

In reality this looks like various random piles of things. To paint a whole wall in one go is too painful, so there is some paraphernalia waiting to be completed in the hall.. slowly but steadily getting its Spring facelift. Many ideas have late have hatched little design chicks in Skye blue House. Some are harder to make than others, so need a blast of energy and a rest, some need passion and a breathing space from their grip and some are old friends which can be tinkered with and finished between the crafty imps of art which tear but fill your heart. 😊

Such is the tug and the drama and the pain of needing a physical body to make what we crave. Almost every activity needs some physical dexterity . But not finding it easy doesn’t mean stopping altogether

It is so easy to forget who we truly are. Especially if illness or fatigue creep in, when then destination we work to reach seems to get further away. Just like a never ending horror hotel corridor. Your tropical beach will I promise await you.. perhaps you just have a few things to organise first. But if you can see yourself there, you’ll be there. With an extra large tequila sunrise in your hand.

A strange things happens when people see you happy, especially when we shouldn’t be . When the odds look like they are stacked against you, but you strive anyway..Distracting your pain or temporary immobility with your permanent rose coloured specs. You will notice that your life becomes a story book..Witches and trolls will thwart your progress and joy. (banished as they are to their own lands of permanent misery) and their barbed comments will chip off your varnish . If you let them.

Forgetting to trust the process which has got you this far safely and creatively. lowers your resilience, stops you making, opens up your heart to hurtful jealous noise and ultimately proves your doubters right. If you start to see the creative unfinished processes waiting to be completed as shabby, you let other people’s negativity, pour doubt on your story.

Its not shabby. Its Shabby chic.

Having questions and consistently being aware is good. Seeing yourself through the judgement of others isn’t. Be grateful for this negativity though. Because it reminds you how much we can all do to use our obstacles as reasons to push further on our journey.

Bits fall off, bits gets broken. bits stop working. You can still be seen. Find the right people, find your process, find your passion and a way of showing it. If weeks and months have to go by with piles of half finished work waiting for warm weather, more money, finding your muse.. ITS OK..

For me, I have found that I have to creep up on finished tasks, by doing several at once. this not only gives an element of variety to the job, but stops it feeling like one huge mountain. If you can get past the ‘one- thing -at -a time- rule’ which is drummed into us from an early age, it can be liberating to challenge several tasks into bite size chunks, until they all get done. Its what we do in daily life anyway, why not throw in a few things that we love too? Stir your pot of homemade soup while listening to a story tape, paint a strip of wall every day until you finish the whole house, keep chipping away at your beautiful ideas and keep them alive.

And never stop believing that your instinct is 100% right and what you must do ..

Because, if you don’t, who else will ?

At our most taxing time, a time when I was literally frozen by fear, and by another’s control, I did the following. Every time I had an idea, a dream, a sketch of a plan to make a new life, I drew it and put it in an old carpet bag. I thought of the bag as a kind dragon that I had to keep feeding. Pop the morsel of trust and instinct in its mouth and it would keep growing.

One idea becomes a whole story

This kernel of knowing you have it in you, is what keeps you safe, creative and moving forward. Every aspect of our home and the life we have now has come alive from seedlings in that bag. The big friendly dragon is more likely now to be a chicken or a soppy collie, cat or guinea pig. But even they have their own self affirmations in their bedrooms…

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Stay cosy and warm, especially if you live somewhere cooler! and use the time to gather resources, potter, paint and plant those seeds.

Spring cleaning can wait

You’ve got baby dragons to feed

xxxxxx