Christmas smelt of coal when I was very small, Curled beneath the eiderdown, light flickered on the wall. A tealight by the bedside, insurance just in case. On Christmas eve, a certain hope to catch sight of his face.
Christmas smelt of sausage rolls, upon a Christmas Eve. When it was dark and candles lit, their festive scent I’d breathe For that was when the night began, and he’d be here quite soon. A bell, a thump, a cloud of smoke; inside the living room.
I’d picture him amongst the stars, a map within his hands. He’d plan his route and plot the houses chimneys in each land But now I think he may have found a warehouse in each town, And make TV appearances when funds are running down.
His cheeky rounded cheeks and his bristly fluffy beard, His soft and round red tummy, never changing year on year. In my childhood, Santa had no socks from Tk Maxx, He didn’t carry ipads and hair straighteners in his sacks.
He took delight in filling socks with oranges and sweeties. And no-one mentioned tooth decay or early diabetes! He ate enough mince pies to keep weightwatchers very rich, But I could never see, his tummy pop a single stitch.
And if he drank the little whiskey on each little plate Would Santa not be very drunk? Or least of all quite late? Would he not muddle every present on each waiting hearth? Creating chaos in his fluster. That would make me laugh.!
He’d maybe just decide to see the ones who saw him too. For magic only happens if you first believe in you. However, he still does it, whether Amazon or sleigh And even if you’re always grinchy, park it for the day.
Nothing truly wonderful can ever be explained. Santa is who Santa is, and lives in all our brains. Hang your hat on someone good, you might just be surprised, And one day you’ll wake up to find a bite from your mince pie.
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.
When I grow up in going to be a ballerina with a health food shop that helps refugees and run for local councillor.
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!!!!
Or at least keep a very open mind about what motivates us humans to fear the goals, dreams and aspirations of others.
Achieving and believing in ourselves was a pool we only dabbled in the shallow waters of as children;
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?
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. )
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!!
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
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..
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.
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
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.
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’ .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
. 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.
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
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. .
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..
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.
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
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.
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….’‘
Perfectly said Leah. Didn’t need the rest of the blog!……xxxxx
Good Luck with your next venture.. do let us know how you get on !
We can learn so much from our kindred spirits, the ones that choose us, the ones that just appear in our lives and end up being indispensable, a life unknown before we met them.
Our time indoors has intensified with our relationships, in so many ways, but with our animals, it has been a blessing to have such unconditional love and companionship.
I love the photographs taken by my friend Eve, of animals that gravitate towards her. She collects characters because they can feel her spirit, she isn’t showing fear, but approaches them as them. And to gain an animals love , they mostly just need respect. And she takes a cracking photo.
Our world at Skye Blue House has been made so much fuller and richer through our animal friends. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, fish, chickens… When a small paw holds yours at the end of a long day, things don’t seem so bad.
So here is a little bit of dogs wisdom on the game of life.
1 Treat everyone as a potential friend
But use your instincts when someone makes your fur stand on end..
2 Eat at regular times
Even though there is delicious temptation everywhere
3 Take plenty of naps
No matter where you are
4 Be free to run up mountains
Even if it is only in your sleep
5 Be photo ready
6 Stay loyal
To the tribe you found. They are your family.
7. Keep your fur neat
Or you might miss a pat
8. Know your humans
Soon they will understand your psychic ability
9. Avoid jealousy
And you’ll make best friends
10. Bathe occasionally
Humans seem to appreciate that
11 .Love with abandon
No matter the time you’ve got
12. Be you
That’s why you’re here xx
After our lockdown experience, 14 years of special times together and a final adventure; it is heart breaking to tell you our news. Due to cancer, Skye deteriorated swiftly and passed away last week peacefully. She had the best of lives and everyone loved her, even complete strangers. We were blessed to have her with us for every single day of Leah’s life. Thankyou Skye, the gentlest, kindest, most loyal spirit. Run free on the beach chasing shadows.
All our love Liz and Leah and Skye’s animal friends X
The first couple of weeks of lockdown were taken up with a non stop production line . Every sofa, table, inch of floor and kitchen worktop was taken up with a pile, box or bag being printed, sorted, collated and labelled. It was industrious, challenging, extremely time consuming and, because things didn’t arrive from Amazon, also entailed rummaging for art materials in my cupboards and drawers to make up a set for each of the 30 Art bags.
To give your time, a well thought out message, a piece of artwork, your time, your thoughts or your emotions.. these are all your gifts. All things which you offer up to those people you care about.
If you are alone, remember you aren’t really. Even if your clock ticks so slowly and your cat is talking back to you
Be kind anyway. To yourself, your family. Immerse yourself in an audio book or a drawing. Or buy a random wonderful thing to eat. You can guarantee no-one is looking. Oh, apparently, my neighbour’s curry was a starter for her main dinner that night.. fabulous xxx
As a postscript to this post, we are both terribly sad to let you now that Pumpkin lost his brave battle to stay with us here, a couple of days ago. He was an amazing, funny, quirky, friendly ball of fluff. He made so many people happy ,and he was my constant companion. I am certain he read my mind. Or at least absorbed my woes . He leaves a little pumpkin shaped hole in both our hearts and we know you’ll join us in saying goodbye. To the kindest little friend we knew xxxx
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.
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.
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.
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…
Stay cosy and warm, especially if you live somewhere cooler! and use the time to gather resources, potter, paint and plant those seeds.
Ever have one of those? Ever have a grooming decision turn into another decision, until you find yourself back where you started.. or worse..
….in a state of hair hell.? Because what you thought was going to be what you wanted, was actually somebody else’s idea of what suited you?.
And you naively assumed your instinct button must have gone on the blink. It hasn’t.. you heard it all right.. you just chose to ignore it!! Nobody knows you better than you, so why do you keep ignoring your instincts?
Do not get me started on my hair. In this instance, we’re talking one night of attempting blonde (ish). Four hours it took by a well-meaning hairdresser.
Only it turns out you can’t do it all at once and so I ended up stripey. And a bit orange.
Bad hair moments, days, years.. woah!!! karma kryptonite . When your hair feels wrong, everything feels wrong.
The next day, before my coffee had cooled, I had slathered on fiery red once more, and my head was once more mine. Too hard to explain why this is soooo important, because actually as my friend pointed out, I do cover most of it up with a massive scarf.
But I was back to where I started. My… me place. My comfortable spot. My – only- I -can- explain- why- this- is- ok- place.
And now I’m waiting for it to grow……
Life has felt in the last two years like we were running to keep still. When your health isn’t playing nice and your mobility deteriorates, even the basic achievements often become horribly unmanageable . The last six months have been trickier than usual and our travel, adventures and plans curtailed.
My head does big thinking, thank goodness, dreaming up schemes, tinkering at plans and knowing we have each other and our spirits to keep going. Leah and I are proud of our achievements at Skye blue House . And we love your comments over the fence! Curtailed by much movement this summer didn’t stop the fun .
When life gets a bit crap, it can give you the impetus to decide who you really are, what your passions are and what you want to say. If your audience isn’t listening, don’t stop talking, find another audience.
Especially if we are curtailed by a set of directions, from a well-meaning (??) partner, friend or family. Don’t wait until an illness sets you free from the boundaries you carry with you like a script, decide to step into your honest self.
Especially if we are curtailed by a set of directions, from a well-meaning (??) partner, friend or family. Don’t wait until an illness sets you free from the boundaries you carry with you like a script, decide to step into your honest self.
The more people I come across and the more stories I hear, I realise that we’ve always known the things we wanted to say and do.. we just didn’t have the skills to communicate them. So we learn to make things, play games, sing, create and mould the world we know we should live in. As children all the ingredients are there to protect us from the future world we will live in.
And then we unlearn it all for the next eight decades. We can all be our own tough crowd sometimes..
If only we could take our small selves by the hand and urge them not to waste a moment worrying about the big bully in the year above, who kicked us for looking different, or from agonising over the meaning of a painting in Art college .
When our choices are taken away in one sense, because we can’t do something it enables freedom of a different sort. Let yourself go with the new plan, no matter how temporary your illness is and work with the rhythms of the day or seasons too.
This year began with drawing in a hospital bed, sketching in a village community class, and putting together these designs which then became prints. On other days photography was more immediate and I loved the immediacy of creating abstract snapshots from well known parts of the village. I was delighted to exhibit both types of artwork in a local art exhibition a few weeks ago.
In winter when the weather impacts on everything, fireside felting compliments the painterly work and a new cycle of creating more tactile work will begin.
Nobody will like everything you do, big and little kids can be critical. I realised one one of the reasons I had a desire not to be a red head which I’ve always been since the first forays into the henna gloop in the eighties, was a comment made an elderly neighbour of my parents . It was just Too much for the suburbs of Bognor. But when I look back at my photographs however, it was fabulous. All our younger, vibrant, freewheeling selves , no matter what colour our hair was , were wonderful.
So life is going to be a roller coaster.
We had better enjoy the journey
Getting on the ride, any ride is going to cause some turbulence. But the thing with a roller-coaster is, you might get flung about, soaking wet, turned upside down, throw up, and lose the contents of your stomach, but then.. you arrive back.. where you started.. Because a roller coaster goes in a circle. You can get off when you like and the choice is yours whether to get back on again, or ..
Do something a little more relaxing…
Today I went for a walk with two dogs, on crutches. Big deal. Right? As I noticed these Autumn shapes and the light playing on the sparkling sea, I realised something else. As many of you know, (because a lot of you have been providing us lovely soup in the last week) !! I haven’t been at all well of late. And there are things still to be done, diagnosed and mended. But …… I had been listening to a screaming noisy soundtrack for as long as I could remember and suddenly it was wasn’t there….. well, it was now quiet enough to hear the birds singing anyway. That extreme pain which blurred everything pre- surgery on my knee last week.. was at last significantly quietened. How fabulous to see the Autumn changes in such crystal clear brilliance without anything else in the way. You only notice how heavy something has been after it has been lifted.
Six years of staying positive have enabled a trip back to where I began, almost like being a child again, having to relearn how to walk and use the limbs we all take for granted. This disability stole much of Leah’s active childhood, this daft crumpled knee, and my hard won teaching career- impacting on my other joints and causing further health conditions.
Please don’t feel sorry for me. This is just a celebration of a moment and a reminder that at any point something can fail, break or become loose in any of our well seasoned bodies! Getting back to a place that we started from, before we struggled is a bonus. And feeling grateful is important.
Joy can last for a lifetime or lift us in a moment of reprieve. Somewhere long ago we knew the answers to what would feed our souls, no matter what outside factors tripped us up. That child in us still understands who we are and what we need.
My six year old self knew
and is Still rooting around in button boxes wearing a vintage hat..
Listen well to your small you .
Unless they persuade you to dye your hair. Then I suggest you phone a friend.
Don’t be too good, Much love, Liz at the beach hut xx
On Boxing day, this was the outfit of choice.. and, if we were all really honest with ourselves we probably all wish we could wear every Christmas presents…. at once….
Abundance. The realm of the child, the lucky, or the wise….?
For a fraction of a second my daughter questioned the potential reaction of others, in the small village where we live. But this was swiftly replaced with a glorious freedom of spirit and self judgement. The vivid flourish of feathers, stripy wellies and clashing colours drew many compliments, smiles and probable envy, of being ten-ness from every grown-up on her travels during the doggie walk that afternoon…
I felt incredibly proud of her joie-de-vivre, and of how far our journey has taken us both; away from so many constrictions, and which, if you might have followed our story from the start, you’ll know , has been hard won …… Good for her.. but can it be good for all of us, to be a little more tutu?
It seems we operate as humans in most things we do, from either love or fear. At the extreme contours of our comfort zones
We don’t have a responsibility to carry the fears of anyone else. But we can encourage those around us to find a way to stick their fingers up at some of their conditioned responses to the rules. As long as we are kind, we can be colourful.
How often do we slightly recoil at generosity of spirit in some way? Perhaps you have been fortunate to have been shrouded in compliments but have told yourself they are ill deserved, gifts you feel are only given in anticipation of another in return. ? Of course, nobody can be that kind and want nothing back? Nobody can be that friendly and be trustworthy.. We are taught to be wary of change, differences and wonkiness of thought.
If you look for reasons to criticise… up they pop like weeds. But, if we look at say, a gossip mag, full of critiques, comments, comparisons and criticisms… we could be forgiven for believing we read the same one a year ago. It is all the same.. ‘This person doesn’t fit the mould, that person doesn’t meet our popular mass expectation, since they became; (pick one)- divorced/fat/poor/lonely/ill/uncool/no-as-on-trend..Very rarely do these publications value the integrity of the person or their actual reality.
And under all the stuff, all the things we move about every year, all the new things grabbed off sale rails, the virtuous bags of old clothes we shed to make way for a new version of ourselves.. we only ever have us.
We have arms, legs, eyes and a heart that sees, feels, reads , and loves with abandon. This is the part of our wardrobe worth holding onto and placing on the softest of padded hangers.
Push away kindness, push away the good stuff and keep up the cycle of mistrusting anything which questions what HAS ALWAYS BEEN, is like buying the same jumper that you just gave to a charity shop…
Take a new path
Sometimes, people do actually mean the compliments they give you, and sometimes, the invitations they make are because they want to share something amazing or they see something amazing in you . Choosing to focus on what is actually ok can make you feel richer and more complete, rather than trying to prove yourself right.
It is at this time of year that we all feel like getting rid of things. Eating less, chiselling away at bits of our bodies and sculpting a better version of ourselves. Chucking out the old clothes we don’t wear, and revamping everything from scratch.
It is well trodden path.. a seasonal rollercoaster
Nothing wrong with a good clear out, but what if your focus is at looking at how much you already have?
How does it make you feel?
What if you decide to make your resolution (your revolution according to the monkey..) to banish complete and utter abandonment of what anyone else thinks.
Because they will think what they think anyway!
On Christmas day, It is our thing, to wrap up pretty much everything we can find all year for next to nothing and spend a day feeling like we are Royalty.. Things in vintage shops, things we forget about, little bits of treasure and surprises. An abundance of little wonders and sparkly things. But if you look at one photo of our Christmas day, perhaps we look like spoilt rich folk. Hilarious. If only……
My daughter says her favourite part is watching me open my gifts and mine is seeing her face as she unearths a present I forgot I’d wrapped. Prolonging the joy is a lovely thing and it is valued by us both because we know how much it takes to make it happen..
Living as we do, is a mystery to some. And because of that.. will incur the odd question … Ooh you must be rich to have such a lovely garden/so many shoes/so many options of a flavoured tea bag….. No, I just go out on crutches and feed the plants every day March to October, cherish what is donated to the cause and treasure what is important .. and our classes are fired by pixie dust..( and willing and able helpers) … so that’s that taken care of…
WE are taught to reach for the stars.. to aim high.. to visualise our desires.. but people often don’t like to see abundance. The scales of normality can seem out of kilter with a balance of circumstances we don’t understand. If we see a person with colours, with happiness, with an abundance of spark and joy we feel that something isn’t right and we must crush it before it gets out of hand..
We can’t possibly understand everyone.. So let’s just concentrate on our own potential…
What if we let it be our inspiration? What if we see a lovely thing, and just let it be absorbed? Take from it what makes us happy, and let it float on past?
Having a lot of something isn’t something to be freaked out by. If you want it too.. work towards it. If it isn’t what is part of your plan, let the person enjoy their creation. Don’t belittle, demolish, crush, be jealous of or question what they are doing. Just ask them about it or walk on by!
I truly hope your New year’s Revolution is completely bonkers, and not to just be a bit skinnier. I also hope that some of you will be joining us in classes and at various events this year.
We are abundantly yours in technicolour.. to take into your next adventure.
I love this..
Let’s all be purple at least once a week
This is for G. You know why. x
Stay Warm and Bright, All my lopsided love, Liz xxx
Sometimes even the sunniest day has a rain-cloud. Having weathered many a storm, I had considered myself fairly immune to those pesky clouds… Well, life doles out surprises when we least expect it and the smallest detail going wrong can be the breaking of us occasionally…
I really don’t mump a lot. But we all need to sometimes, and when you feel the scales of pain or unfairness outweigh your sparkle, it is alright to smudge your freshly swiped eyeliner. People make choices in their communication and perception of others, and twice I recently encountered a drama storm without wearing my rain coat . I have seen that destruction before and witnessed the fallout by hurt people creating more of the same.
I just felt too tired to get through the imminent events about to unfurl.. It was experience and instinct. Having the last word is so rarely a gift you need to keep, and I walked away. The effect was relief and utter exhaustion.
It wasn’t just one thing though, and that is key. Generally we can deal with one or two muppets, disappointments, pain, and grief. But not all at once. Endless circles chasing operations, being told to get a treatment, only to arrive and be turned away on the advice of someone else, having to got to a point where even my lovely physio can’t justify the little he is able to do to help. I felt my hope slipping…..
Now… my glass is usually not only half full, but full of sparkly bubbles..
My path is usually strewn with sparkly stuff
But, here I was in a feeling I didn’t recognise. I had crumpled inside when I least expected it. Trying to be ok lasted two days. I knew I wasn’t ok and so did my lovely tribe.
The wierd thing was, that somewhere right down deep inside myself, I knew I was fine. I scanned the desire to run to Spain (no pun intended) or eat my bodyweight in custard creams, and riding it out seemed the only option. My face just needed to implode.
So without thinking too hard about it, I told my friends on my personal Facebook page. I knew that they knew, it was unusual. It wasn’t awful, but it was a painful, black inky blip and I knew I didn’t want it to spread.
Within a few seconds someone had replied. In fact, someone I know less well than some of my other friends, but her kind words and immediacy were so gratefully received. And the words kept coming, trickling in like a hand squeeze or an extra pillow.. My face leaked, my limbs ached, my head thumped and my eyes went very small . My sofa was delighted and so was were my animals who used my body as extra heating.. And the pain started to ease a bit.. I have suggested to one of my friends, that ordering hugs by courier ( just a hug! ) Might be a new business for them…
Thank you brilliant friends and neighbours for the time taken to give me support that day. The words you gave me were like little precious diamonds. I was asked by someone else why tell Facebook? Aren’t you just telling the world your business? My answer is no. When we can bear to speak about the demons, they start to shrivel away, and already this brief little bleuughhhhh.. became a positive conversation in another forum helping other people. You choose how and what and with who to share and only when you feel it is safe.
Opening up, rather than either taking it out on anyone else or internalizing has to be a good thing. Crawling further inside a body playing tricks on me, analysing and finding emotional pathways which weren’t there in the first place, was not necessary. I quite like my head clear enough to be of some use in the world. I watched as the weather came and the heavens opened……
Once in a while, a day comes along which like a huge gust of wind literally knocks you off your legs… or in my case crutches… The usual techniques which work on cementing the stiff upper lip in place aren’t working, and the floodgates have weirdly not only opened but disappeared entirely… it was literally like drowning in your entire wardrobe..
The mechanical workings you normally see in the mirror safely ticking along, easing each micro movement need oiling and you can hear some vital parts grinding together where once there was an easy flow..
…All you want to do is sleep. Sadness is so heavy …
So let the monsoon come..
Because, after you tell someone it’s outside of you again… you start answering your own questions… it is the start of unbreaking.
I am lucky to have some kind of unwavering determination to stay on this planet to keep being inspired by those amazing and brave souls I come into contact with every day.
For that, I thank whichever Gods are with me…
Today I thank my neighbour for the surprise flask of hot water in the middle of a very long power cut . I literally can’t see without caffeine ! She is worth keeping positive for. And the surprise bunch of flowers from another neighbour who read my post. As he apologised for their store-bought origins, I want to tell him that a bunch of daisies from a grass verge would still mean as much.
We shouldn’t apologise for ourselves. Or our own personal weather patterns. Our big, emotional, colourful, strange, indescribably, wonderful selves… who will have some days sunnier than others.
Create, scream, plant, share, paint, stitch, listen, draw and see which doors begin to open on your path..
Crap days will come.. They just prove how normal the other ones are.
Look for rainbows
If someone you know is having a day like this… just tell them its ok. Don’t judge, question, fix, micro manage, and offer endless avenues of helpful possibilities and comfort, unless they ask you to. You’ll know if they need something. Just be around.
It’s not about you.
Not today anyway. They will be back. And that’s the thing I have learnt, that the folk who help each other are the ones that just let you play it out, without always having to bring their stuff to the table. Because the real you just needed a break to let rip for a bit… you can’t get through understanding your stuff whilst simultaneously explaining it to someone else.
Your brain, like your energy can only cope with so much…
The next day they/you/we will be back in step again…
Sometimes we wonder why our children are acting out and riding unimaginably bumpy emotional rollercoasters . All this drama and frustration and anger at the world not quite being as they think it should be..
How can our funny, loving and confident young person, having coped with a lot already and thriving regardless be so utterly woebegone and angry?
Because they are human. And its a hard hard thing to be, Some find it much harder than others and actually the ones that shout loudest are usually the ones who need most comfort. However, as a very wise friend told me, sadly showing scars on his back from his own childhood, keeping it all in is worse. Inverting the pain and not letting someone show their feelings will only ever end up backfiring.
We can’t go back to childhood but we can be inspired by it and its lack of emotional rules.
My first feeling as an adult when I felt a bit rubbish, was guilt. What if I let someone down? What if I couldn’t fulfill all my roles that day? What if not doing what I usually did and losing my brave face melted the world and everyone in it? What if .. what if…???
Do you know what happened?.. Nothing. Today’s power cut was a bit like that. All the electricity and noise went off. There was very little I could do, no way of communicating, no internet and not many jobs I could do but basic ones and some drawing. Bliss.
Every now and again a meltdown is just a appetizer to a better version of peace. and will free you. Your real mates will get it.
We all have an enormous bag of gifts to offer. I lived a long time with my best ones under wrap, like brightly coloured parcels. Art, music, being allowed to dance and perform and the honest joyous conversations you can only have when you live without fear.
What I know now is that, I may have lost dancing (for now) but the Rocky Mountains climbed over to claim back all the other wonders were not hopeless. It took my inner tiger to get here and she’s still purring. I wear my heart openly in all weathers because these stories aren’t just mine. They are in all of us. In our Art group we share stories and we trust. Seeing other’s fall and not smash ourselves wide open without a safety net. If you feel safe to talk to someone when you are tumbling down, they won’t judge you. Saying it outwardly stops your thoughts turning to negative self spiralling spaghetti.. and worse.
I wish I could turn back the clock and put my arm around the young woman coping, patching over the cracks, and slowly vanishing.
She deserved to feel like a whole person. She might have run a long time sooner!
A friend of mine told me she thinks we are all a bit flakey. We are. We have our coping methods and the right people in your life will understand them. Be sad, but be joyous too. “God mum you are so embarrassing” mini tells me last night as I hugged the car mechanic who delivered my car home.
Quite right..! She didn’t know why. So I told her.
My car is my lifeline. Without it I can’t go anywhere. Disabled spaces are like jigsaw pieces around cities and map out our adventures together.. My car was making a dreadful crunching noise. The man in the garage I nipped into for advice, told me he couldn’t fix it. He has cancer. But his son was up from England, helping with the business and could look at the car later. On a day when the lad was already snowed under, probably worried about his poor Dad, he ordered the parts, drove us home, did the work and delivered the car back, getting a lift from someone else so we didn’t have to go back out. That kind of kindness should be shouted from the rooftops.
It is ok to feel . Sometimes when life gives you lemons, a bit of juice gets in your eye and stings like hell.. All the cold grey mornings, art that won’t work, flopped cakes, screaming children, sore bodies, hurtful comments or worrying thoughts…..Most of us, like another good friend said, hold the wound until a clot forms.
Being strong is admirable…
But it’s always better in company…
For the days when you feel bleuuuuuugh………………………………..
For the moments when you feel like you are leaking……….
Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.
A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.
Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…
Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.
Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…
And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..
And I was thinking…
One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be, to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.
Oh…… if only they knew…….
Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..
Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones …five, mouths to feed.
…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.
Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.
The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!
Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.
Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.
The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.