Today my not so little girl, like millions of other children will go back to school. Its not primary anymore, where she is home by three and I go through her lunchbox , or the madness of home schooling, including the requisite ten spelling words and a project about the number of sultanas in a cake. This is the big.. Wide. World. Of high school.
Unless the government suddenly decide children aren’t safe there either and change the plans again!
I must admit to a tiny wobble yesterday… She is my right hand, (literally) my pest in a vest, my monkey, my friend. It is also wonderful and hugely exciting . We got through all these months, mostly on our own and we got to this huge day, with half an inch before she is as tall as me. . How wonderful is that. I might now get the occasional quiet thought …
Or ….Maybe not. After we lost our beloved Skye, the plan was to wait to get a puppy. A collie, a girl puppy. In Winter. Ha Ha.
We have been blessed with a teeny new addition around here. She is a HE. He isn’t a Collie and he is here right now, with his big fluffy feet.
More paws. !!
You see making plans is crucial, but so is being able to see when a more ideal surprise comes along… Waiting for the perfect moment, home, person, pet, set of circumstances to jump fully in…. means we often don’t jump at all.
Sometimes all of our real life stories read like a Christmas day Eastenders episode. We wonder what madness will happen next, what crazy character will pop up and demand we use our hidden superpowers? . We could never have known what was going to happen as we sat eating our Christmas dinners last December, making plans for Summer holidays, and adventures with our families and friends..We don’t really feel freedom until it has been taken from us. Or appreciate our health, until we dont have it, or how wonderful our connections are until we feel lonely. This has highlighted so much for so many. Not everyone has had the same experience, or network. But your inner resilience will be full. And has given us all a chance to think who was there, and what we truly need.
Throughout this lockdown we have held our loved ones so tightly. Consistently helped others, talked on zooms to maintain connections with groups and shopped for others who couldn’t get out. We have needed faith in there being an end to this , that there can still be learning and gaining positive skills from the limitations holding life back.
To sustain inner strength you need to know there will always be someone to hold your hand, or carry you..
Whether that might be through a friendship or relationship ending, circumstances of the pandemic, or through bereavement. Time with someone can still be cherished, no matter how the story ends.
In February, our charitable enterprise was in the midst of organising exhibitions, collaborations, venues for sales and ideas for projects with different groups. After lockdown began; almost every plan we were making was either culled or put on hold indefinitely.
It was just a different world and required a new trust. Between us we looked after the animals, and as a young carer, My daughter was great at helping with the weekly shop (the highlight of the week) and the dog walking. We drew, created, shared the artwork to the various art groups run with Sea Sparkle , did her homework, looked through old photos, fed our zoo, and each other and existed in our bubble.
Popping the bubble when we initially left the house after four months was a bit of a shock but a wonderful one. Determined to stop and appreciate the freedom of being somewhere other than the garden. Being unable to walk far, it was all the sweeter being able to drive to other places…
Throughout lockdown, conversations have been had making a plan or two for the future and these can now start to come to fruition. It takes a lot of faith to keep believing it will be alright. That the things we do every day, and chip away at, will bear fruit and blossom. They do, they will. It will be OK.
I have faith in the right people being in our lives at the right time. And that as life starts up, in a new way it might just be a chance to recalibrate.
We can soon begin to reach more vulnerable adults through our Art Resources and get on with the new normal. As our children embed new experiences and friendships, another Autumn term begins for parents too.
We will shortly put together a small exhibition on our sea sparkle page to show what everyone has created.
I hope that one day those of you who consistently read this will be at a table sketching and drinking coffee with us. That our shop becomes a physical one where your ideas also take shape.. All we can do is control our thoughts to be positive and carry on making baby steps towards our dreams. Being around close knit family recently might have impacted on these ambitions. Remember, even people who love you might not want you to succeed. There is safety in things staying as they are.
But do it anyway…
Because nobody knows what the future holds. Hold the present in your hands
Eat, Love, read and dress for you and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If this has taught us anything, it is not wasting time on anyone else’s fear.
I wonder how they are all getting on. Probably feels normal already. Kids have the fear thing sorted…
Lately I’ve been watching how our old collie has masted the art of semi-sitting. If she knows she will have to get up any time soon, she parks just her front feet in a lying down position. The bottom stays where it is. In the air. She’s in pain. But she has figured out how to use her body.
She trusts herself. And the signs around her telling her if food or walking is imminent . She trusts us and the decisions and choices made to keep her safe.
As adults we get to a stage where that luxury is not so consistent. In lockdown it is harder to source comfort when we feel sad or unwell. The initial good intentions of neighbours and communities are either in place or not and we are now more self sufficient than we have ever had to be. Trusting in our intuition, our oldest instincts .
A few wise words well chosen can change so much more than just five minutes of reading
Often when I see posts or messages by my dearest friends I am compelled to channel this trust. If communication has dried up, changed direction or has developed a new rhythm, it is a different language to learn in this new landscape, with mutual trust and hope.
We are all here, missing so many people we have known, or yet to know. But trusting that when the channels open once more, the perfect people will be in your life at the perfect time takes a huge amount of faith. And Those that have been loved by us along the way but chosen another path will journey on in another direction.
To run a dialogue with everyone you care about whilst providing yourselves with care would be like asking poor Skye to get up from a seated position over and over again. Choices have to be made about where to plant little trust trees, and watch them grow.
We are re-finding our way as families, communities, societies . And there are so many voices distracting from the inner one we need to stay grounded..
In a recent letter from my best friend I was immersed in her detailed dream of her perfect home. It was beautiful and complete. I could smell the air coming through the windows, not yet built, feel the tiles under my feet, taste the drink in my hand and hear her laughter. Her vision was so clear and so sure. We worked together in business understanding the process of abandoning the rational mind to creating and believing. She and I both found the courage to sell up and move home, city, even country for her, despite knowing there were fears pinging at our brains from everyone like heavy rain on tarmac.
She did it once, and she can do it again. We all can. Right now like you, trust is something I have felt more than ever before. Like most of us we have spent weeks chipping away at projects and ideas, enjoying perhaps the expansion of time. But not having the press of it. We will look back after the storm has passed and see the enormity of our achievements. But it can be hard whilst being in the centre of the whirling weather.
We are taught to hold ourselves in the present in order to achieve the most beneficial state of positivity. This is true. Dwelling on past failures or journeys, fears, pain and loss can do little to build the new steps ahead of you. It is essential for good health to be present. But having a sudden loss of structure in life has caused a lot of human frustration and resentment. Look anywhere online and the safety valve has popped off . The brain needs a level of stress to perform a series of tasks each day and week. Having a focus is what drives a human.
It just matters what you choose to clutter your life up with. Clearing your inbox of emails, chucking them into folders feels proactive and organised. Yet the moment the empty space of a yahoo inbox is enjoyed, it is once again full of pops-ups of toothpaste videos or celebrity gossip.
Your body, in times of stress is still with you. Remembering how to use itself even when it is deteriorating. The vitality we need to find purpose is lurking inside like muscle memory, it will fight on if we trust it. And only you know when to slow down or stop.. For me, on a personal level, the stubbornness not to give in is what drives me forward. Trusting that there will be a cure or at least some better healthcare management, stops the mental road blocks and enables some progress.
We all need a plan.
With enough B roads in it to take the scenic route every so often..
Enjoy a few funny little conversations with the universe .
In the last few weeks, the gloom, has been balanced by some amazing conversations about new art collaborations and adventures. It has been a no brainer what to get excited about.
Humans can make choices. Believe in the dream doubters and let them stomp on them on your childhood story……
or let them be your touch paper to something marvellous.
I celebrate you doing it anyway, creating, smiling, persevering, finding your tribe, sharing your skills, and keeping moving forward. Each step a chapter of your story.
Nobody would argue that this hasn’t been the hardest few months for most people ever. I wish we could speak to each of you individually and have you round for a coffee! Human contact is the most highly sought after commodity right now. Yesterday a friend of mine came for a cup of tea. We haven’t seen each other in a couple of years. I sort of expected a distant coffee in the garden and was overjoyed by the bear hug I received. It was so much sweeter as it was the first non -11 yr old cuddle in as long as I can remember. (And was given rather than taken!!) I know it isn’t the same, but to all of you who religiously read our stories and share our journey, that hug is for you as well.
In a few weeks this girl of mine starts a new chapter as a high school student.
But we wouldn’t change any of it. Because she is the sum total of everything learnt and more, and has so much more to know and be. She is a fabulous human and the best daughter in the world.
Our vet has given our lovely Skye a reprieve for a while with some medication to take her pain away from the two types of cancer she now has. Before any new rules are imposed on social distancing, before any more body parts completely seize up.. it is time to Thelma and Louise it to England with a car full of animals to visit family before the next big chapter begins for everyone….
Our imminent road trip commences tomorrow and will be arduous and long. We will take guinea pigs and Skye, and enough medication to stock Boots. Daily art will continue from Grandma’s garden….
Without danger life is not life. Without trust in the getting there, the journey isn’t as much fun. It will be fine. It will be painful. It is anyway.
Having a plan is what makes today do-able. Being told it might be hard makes trust in ourselves and the stuff of life even more vital. Never give up if your desired outcome doesn’t happen today , it might be that it is meant to happen tomorrow.
Now things are changing it is more essential than ever to make choices on the contents of your physical and virtual inbox. In every way possible. Most people have had time to consider what has nourished them throughout this, and what is no longer important. Ask yourself what do I truly want? Trust that the things and the support you need, will magically appear at the right time. Your fears are fed from the fears of others, often generations back. If you are told you should not do something, unless it will physically harm you, prove to yourself and the critics why your instincts to take that chance are right.
Getting anywhere with healthcare right now can be tricky, but if you don’t look unwell, it is harder than ever. Look around Skye Blue house and you see a world of colour and vibrancy. It looks like it was built by a makeover tv show that I gave my sketchbook to . Throughout the year, there are probably about 20 days where the heat is strong enough to work outside all day here, where the bone pain eases a little bit. Where the washing up might stay in the sink and the vision of painted pathways, abundant borders, and stripey beach huts overflowing with a cornucopia of fun and magic is created, hour by passionate hour. For plenty of other hours, the wind is too strong, or the damp too invasive to move freely, so the pressure to spew rainbows is almost insane.
It is wonderful . Days where life is precious are a gift. Onlookers judging the results are seeing the joy and the result of painful but passionate marks and planting . Sometimes, however, it can take longer to be ‘seen’ or treated. If your healthcare is based on your garden’s prowess however, there is something very wrong with the nhs. Personally, drawing until my hand goes numb and I cant open my fingers is far more honest and preferable than watching both the grass grow and daytime tv.
No matter what comes along, there must be trust in it being only a temporary state, in your willpower, in your teamwork and in the universe having your back. For us, also in the friends showing up at the exact moment with bread, with garden strimmers, with books and art equipment for classes.
Know what you want. Who you are. Let your imagination open doors. The more you hold on tightly to one perfect vision, the harder it will be for your instinctive sense of wonder to flourish.
Keep looking, moving, enjoying the gifts that are presented and appreciating the help given. Having an adventure or two, making some plans, but knowing when it might be the season to slow down and rest.
Skye, our guinea pigs, Bonnie and Bumble and us girls will be travelling to England as you read this. Slathered in pain patches, and propped up with cushions, we will sing loudly, and pray even louder.
Trust your quiet self. Then shout your plans from the roof-tops
What we don’t hear, we make up. What other folk don’t tell us, we tell ourselves. The human brain is like a empty pool. We can clear it out, and make it shine , but sooner or later it gets filled right up again with stinky old rain water, slime and frogs… read self destructive old ways of thinking, slimey left brain doubtfulness and the clammer of not only poisonous frogs, but a whole pond of unwanted dirge. Especially if you can’t vent your issues in the pub just now..
Unless you say nice things to those closest and to yourself.
Unless you become your own personal pool cleaning system…
How will your kids, friend, neighbour know you love the way they wear their hair, that you think they have a kind heart, that their gentle spirit is uplifting and makes you feel calm to be around. What if nobody ever told us that the lines on our faces outline our best features and illustrate our unique stories ?
Kindness, compliments and praise are contagious. and practicing gets easier, the more you do it. So if you are able to offer up your feelings of awe, love, inspiration to someone, they will take that gift, feel better in themselves and share it . Turn the mirror round.
Some things need to be said to those you care about. ‘You are doing brilliantly, you look amazing, your creativity is awesome, I love you.’
The gaps where we wait to hear those things are like chasms in a time where a lot of people are on their own… And no contact makes those things even harder not to hear.
Say them. Say them a lot. Our childhoods in the 70s and 80s were huge voids of things not said… our schooldays were chock full of compliments we never heard from teachers. Many people I know now as adults were never told how good they were at their art and were never able to nurture their unique style.
Let use this time to start saying what we mean. And stop saying mean things. Let’s forget about the digs, the critics, the gaps where love should have been. If someone hasn’t told you the thing you long to hear.. you have permission to say it to yourself, and to mean it.
Rules to live by
Stop watching other people. The worst thing you can do is to compare yourself to someone else at the moment. People are all interpreting the current rules and their acknowledgement of them, in a different way. Your life is as meaningful as theirs. Just cherish your routine in every way you can. Anyone being unkind or unfair is throwing their fears at you. Don’t play ball in this particular game.
Stop thinking that there is a magical vat of advice that will make things better or easier in a magazine, video or app. Nobody has the answers except for you, for you. Look closer to your instincts and your skills. I had a pile of magazines that I subscribe to, next to the bath. I kept meaning to read them. You know how it is. you never quite get round to those nice things you promise yourself once the chores are done.
And then you finally have all these hours to fill …. And suddenly, you read all these magazines, with the advice you had waited so long to absorb.
And you read and you think. It’s all the same advice. Everything you should say to yourself but don’t. We already know a lot of the best ways to self care. But, I know, and you know we also like the pictures.. and the smell of new magazines! .
We have the skills and the intuition and the fundamental stoicism to get through anything. If we look to what we learnt so far, in life, but also in this strange, twilight time; remember what our grandma taught us.
Stop imagining the image that others have of you. People will think what people will think. Who cares? You cannot control others opinion of you, so why bother? It always strikes me as strange that anyone has the time to think about anyone else’s existence. Isn’t it better to put our energies into our own camp?
Stop getting rid of things. Charity shops are going to be seriously inundated. Who knows where or how we will shop in future? Just keep your stuff! Change it up. Add bits, decorate stuff, put it in a zip-lock bag marked ‘when I’m a size 10’. This saves you buying it when the stress of all this turns you into one x
Stop eating in ways that hurt you.
By now, there aren’t excuses for eating the foods that make your body hurt. But it can be tricky to maintain an allergy free, virtuous diet when you have less money coming in, or significantly diminished places to shop. Vary what you eat, and use your instincts for what you need rather than a generic diet plan. Better to have a few treats during these times than deny yourself followed by overdoing it.
Forgive or forget . (Others) Sometimes in hard times, we all assume people who are not in contact are too busy , or the mind fills in the answers to our questions by telling us negative stories about where relationships are at. Truth is, mostly they are exactly the same. Dealing with the day to day has scuppered some of the usual communication channels.
More often than not, those who have cared, still do. So if the absence is mutually felt, someone has to make that connection, maybe it could be you. Except, occasionally, there is a feeling you can’t shake. Listen to those few times the relationship expiry date is up. You deserve to be treasured.
Make use of what you have now . Trying to get any work done whilst schooling your child is like splitting yourself down the middle. As soooo many of you will know at the moment. So don’t. Find your gaps to create at other times, and be present for the time you are having together. This won’t be for long. Mine is growing before my eyes. And yes, is nearly as tall as me. We still need to be us as well as parents though. I carve a netflix and drawing session first thing into the day. Our whatsapp groups have followed with their own art based on weekly ideas and mini tutorials.
Make use of who you are now and like who that is. Someone said to me the other day, that we were so lucky, he and I, not being too affected by all this. It is impossible for anyone to know that for you. Frankly, we are all affected. And it isn’t always obvious what the fallout is. If your network isn’t there for you, be one for someone else. Be one for yourself and speak up if you need help.
Trust your instincts . A blog post in itself. Use it for purchasing impulse stuff. Are you ever going to use that bargain mini cupcake making machine from the middle aisle of your supermarket? If things aren’t being used in the home now, they probably won’t ever be!
Turn off the internet and shouty tv. Most of the important news information can be sourced directly and succinctly on a sensible web page. That way, you can hear the birds at the same time.
Don’t believe your inner critic, who probably has waited for a time like this to haunt you good and proper . He or she is the little voice that commands you to be more, do more, feel less, speak differently, wear different clothes, stop expressing yourself, or indeed express yourself more because that’s what is expected.
Sometimes it’s hard enough fighting your own battles, without feeling the pressure to jump into someone else’s fight. It doesn’t mean you agree with the person who started the thread..
Eat the frog first. Great life rule… Please don’t eat an actual frog. but the point is, you get the biggest, hardest task achieved before you settle into the more comfortable routines of the day. Get all the irritating things which take time done while you are awake for example first thing…., and at the same time. For example, chop all the fruit and veg for humans, animals, all the meals in a day at once in the morning. Don’t re-visit the same job over and over. The boring bit of the day can already mostly done by nine in the morning. Then you can focus on projects, government approved dog walking and shouting a conversation over the fence…
Make a plan of meals while you unpack the shopping. This saves thinking about meals all week, and stops you forgetting what you bought . My daughter says, it is now like we have a strange round the world restaurant.
Treat your house like someone else is having you to visit. How would they make it feel for you? Today for the 90th day I will still put my make up on, light incense, brush crumbs off the sofa, make my bed and wear perfume. In the absence of outside you got to be your own deli, your own independent cinema, spa and source of soul food.
Learn to be ok with being ok. And it takes time to be ok with that. For our whole lives, it feels that we aren’t meant to feel happiness in times of trouble, or until we have earnt it. Right now, who feels they have earned a good night in? or a glass of wine, time to potter in the garden, or an online spending spree on ebay, or even just to soak in the bath and feel relaxed.? We are so used so doing these things as a reward for hard work, we were in danger of waiting until we were 90 to ever use that bath oil. The thing is, life doesn’t work like that. Take it from someone who knows. I was going to climb mountains after my divorce.. but my bones had other plans. The time is now to be you. Enjoy your health. Enjoy your surroundings. If it helps, pair up all your socks first.
Supporting a cause and a campaign is worthwhile and we like to feel part of a wider tribe. It can be reassuring to feel less alone, reassurance that what we feel is justified, and heightens our life experience. Many people jump, and keep jumping onto the next headline however, and often online platforms are filled with the extremities of our rage and sorrow and anger. There is a pressure to paint a rainbow. And painting rainbows is wonderful. But you should wear your own colours with style, not squeeze your colours from the tube.
To be thought of by others is a gift. But I wonder if a lack of comment on particular issues makes us seem uninterested in them? I, like many just choose not to get into the current debates. Because I work with people who are vulnerable, there are certain things I choose not to discuss.
What we say, do and give should be authentically us. And only what we feel comfortable sharing. It is more important to learn what we can from our experiences, and teach those skills on, than to dwell on the negatives of the past, or immerse in how unfair life is.
Good friends have empathy and compassion. Anyone saying ‘me too‘, every time you speak, might need to hear a little better.
Some things are better not said. Or just not shouted about all the time.
Facebook or Instagram pictures are wonderful for sharing the edited highlights which show no matter what life throws at you; you can choose a positive recall on some of the tough times.
Because what you do at the point of being asked how you are, is to find a few things you are grateful for. When writing your diary, listing a few things which sum up the best parts of the day paints a picture which starts to become positive. Sticking pictures of images which make your soul glow, even just celebrating somewhere that you see every day. Soon these images become your memories.. It sounds cheesy, but be grateful. Tell people what is good. Tell yourself what is good. Stop and look at the day.
The things that hurt, make you curl up in pain, stop you being who you want to be, whether there’s a pandemic or not, are still there. They still hurt. They still stop you in your tracks, make you sad, angry, frustrated, make you stupid tired, lonely, scared. ….
But they don’t define you. You’re not your pain. You’re not the way you feel about what is going on in the world. It isn’t obligatory to tell strangers your political views, your top ten records or holiday destinations fifteen days in a row. You are your smile, your laughter lines, your wonky fabulous view of the world, the snapshots that conjure up little moments of magic, the traits that your friends love. And those things are what your kids and friends see in you.
All else is fluff.
Hold on. You got this, and you are so much stronger than your inner voice thinks. Eat your greens, sleep long, breathe deep, love deeper, laugh at the random thoughts of small people, create lovely things and celebrate all parts of you. Loving what you have around you, doesn’t stop you wanting more from the future. It just means stepping into it with grace and dignity.
Hello everyone and welcome to your tour. ! As you can’t come to us, we thought we would bring Skye Blue House to you and share a little of our world and various Art Spaces. In the three years since we have lived here, we have transformed every inch of our little kingdom. And in Summer, the window of opportunity to be outdoors is small. So celebrate we must.
Firstly, our vintage caravan. Crammed full of shabby chic, enamel picnic wear, cosy rugs and blankets and simple magazines, perfect for inspirational ideas while you’re drinking tea under the fairy lights.
When we came here, there was just a square of garden. Now three years on, we have two apple, a pear and a cherry tree, various acers, a willow, rowan and a multitude of flowers and plants bursting through every bed and border. My impatience for planting outweighs my knowledge of each specamin, but I instinctively plant, feed and nurture them and something is working. You can clearly flourish without knowing all the rules sometimes. . This period of time we are currently living through; a timetable without limits and these few months of a little more warmth on the body, has enabled re-painting of some of the murals and colourful paths here. Most of these are done with shed paint. I favour cuprinol for its intense colours. (But other garden paint is available!) It might not last forever , but if the look you favour is slightly weathered, that’s fine! I have been fortunate to have a friend make me some sturdy bin, log holders, gate and seats. Wood is far more coast friendly than metal.
And it isn’t just humans and animals that have somewhere to live here. Parallel to our kingdom is the fairy one. In amongst the alpine plants are tiny houses, tables and chairs, a beach, a church, even a circus… And when the lights go down at night….
No paint is safe here… Odds and ends can be used in various ways, but this time, the scraps went to create a garden Art chair, out of an old bedraggled child’s armchair.
As our galleries aren’t open just now, there was a slight issue with storage and trip hazards of pictures all over the place.. my sticks, speedy 11 yr olds and ploddy dogs. Solution? Build a gallery in your shed. This space was a camp last week, but the thought there MIGHT be a spider in there was enough to prevent it ever being used as one by it’s young owner. So mum, ever ready with a plan, presents to you… The First of our galleries. This one is called Rose Cottage, Named After Mopsie (my Grandmother’s) house. Next, will be a real one hopefully!
In the larger of the beach huts, there is both space to work alongside someone else as well as a space to sleep. It is only really a summer space as it gets so cold and windy here on the cliff, and I find it harder to be outdoors after October. But here are all the beach hut donations given to us by our mysterious annual gifter. Every Summer, new arrivals appear for the Beach hut lady, by a collector of beach hut paraphernalia. And are extremely welcome and well loved.
This is our garden room hut. Memories are everywhere here, peeping through from between pages in vintage books and in drawers and print blocks. Childhood games and gifts, tiny treasures and letters. A most relaxing hidden gem. This room beckons you in and keeps you here for hours.. Anyone who has ever read an Angela Carter novel will get this space.
I did the same as a child in the dappled light of Mopsie’s garden.
Suspend your sensible mind for long enough to have some fun with your things, while you have this time . Look closer. Who knows what or who you’ll find. xxx
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
Dearest friends. How are you holding up? What strategies are working best?
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And this isn’t ok. When we go there the little questions, doubts and pre-existing anxieties start nibbling at our ears.
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. .
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.
Sooner or later, there will be rebellion. Sooner or later, the entire world’s issues will be laid at your feet. Rage is inevitable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
And we will speak soon xxx
Your friends, Liz and the zoo at Skye Blue House. xxxxxxx
Shhhhhh. The thing is.. even though grown ups pretend to know EVERYTHING; you know, and I know and they know really, that you are the ones that have the best ideas.
Right now, everyone is wondering about a lot of stuff. Have you noticed? Looking around, with a confused expression, checking the cupboards a lot.. opening the fridge door…… even more… taking the dog out for so many walks he’s hiding in the airing cupboard…
This woman has been there for three weeks….
Your parents don’t know what else to entertain themselves with.. Give them a wee hug. If you’re in the house anyway, it’s ok. Look them in the eye and tell them you’ve got this entertainment business sorted, and you love them…
Let them do that stuff that normally annoys you …..
…keeps them quiet….
Now here are some cool ideas to help your parents de-stress over the holidays. Just do not tell them it might be fun. ANY mention of doing something which doesn’t involve bleaching their taps and ironing their pants will FREAK them out. TELL them it is for you, That will show them….
Right….. you might need some serious motivational tools…..
And some serious checking out of what there is stashed away.
1 Bottle Sculptures
Start collecting washing up or washing liquid bottles .
To cover the bottle and build up the layers, tear up old newspapers, mix 50% pva glue with 50% mixed water to make the glue.
Before you start, bunch up a newspaper head into a ball, cut cardboard arms, wings or feet. stick these on with masking tape. Paper mache your whole sculpture with three layers of newspaper. If you are lucky enough to have modroc. Use this next. But this is just an extra idea.
To decorate, use the same technique to add coloured tissue paper layers on top. You can create any character by adding detail with more pieces of card and old jewellery, wire wrapped with wool and pieces of plastic covered in your paper layers. Paint details on with acrylic paint and varnish if you have it. Things to remember, glue guns are fabulous to use, but you are going to have to keep this out of reach of all adults, as they are clumsy with hot things and they get very messy .
While your art is drying , there are LOADS of things you can listen to online which make your brain get HUGE . Grown -ups hate this because it means you’ll be cleverer than them.. TedTalks for kids have lots of good stuff. BBC audio have stories and music. Sometimes, it is nice just to hear things in the background while we get on with interesting things we need our eyes for !
2 Grow a family of Cress Heads
Rummage around for some lentils, cress, mung beans. Empty out some cooked egg shells after lunch.. Very very carefully. Put some cotton wool in the base with some water in it. Sprinkle your beans or seeds on the cotton wool. Carefully design your family’s faces with features and stick on eyes . In a couple of days, their hair should start to grow, and you can cut and eat it. Brownie points on the healthy food score too.
3 Paper Dolls.
All adults think they know how to do this…. why not test them on it?
4 Washing Line Tents
Plonk your picnic blanket under the washing line. Fold a sheet Probably not a Tk- Maxx Egyption cotton zillion thread one….add in cushions, snacks, and lastly either the odd human, or failing that, animals or teddy bears.
5 Use what you have
We all know you’ve got some school stuff to do . Maybe not for the holidays but afterwards you’ll need to keep your brain ticking. Try really hard to get a good chunk done in the morning. Are those Adults trying to look everything up on computers? Doh. ! I bet you’ve got tons of cool books already with interesting ideas and things to do. Do you know there was a time between dinosaurs and now.. where we looked at books to find stuff out 🙂 Impress the oldies with your vintage methods…
6 Invite everyone to lunch
Ask what food is available to use and what you can safely prepare. Make a menu and get them to tidy their bedrooms while you make the tea!
This was my daughter’s invention…
7 Nature Study
Everybody has these kinds of books. And on your walk, in your garden or if you can get to the beach; start to look at things around you as if you were a scientist. Make drawings, write down where you find things, what they looked like, press flowers, make small collections of shells and find out what they are called . Be mindful of not taking home any creature’s house, or picking flowers (other than one or two wild ones if there are hundreds in a clump)
8 Sleep upside down or in a Box
A change is as good as a rest! This activity incorporated playing in a box, hugs and animals. Boxes are good fun for millions of things, so keep any that arrive from online stuff….
Pop up a tent and look up stars online.. only eat white food and chocolate.. only walk backwards, have a pyjama day and invent a new language…
9 Make a mobile
Use the same techniques as the bottle sculptures. For this you’ll need cardboard, sticks or driftwood, wire, pva/water mix, masking tape, white acrylic paint to make a base coat, coloured acrylics and any sparkly top layers. Don’t forget to make little metal loops for hanging your shapes on your string or wires. Balance the weight of shapes equally each side.
10 Use tiny toys in a picture
Could you re- purpose some of those annoying little toys that get in the hoover? Make a display case, glue them to a canvas and add some paint or make a photo frame. Your feet will thank you…..
And lastly ..
11 Revamp your wardrobe
If you are lucky enough to have a sewing machine about, learn to use it. Anything will be easier than your what your distant relatives had to use.
Be careful. Don’t let your parents use it if they have had wine. Insist on hand sewing only in that case.
This is a piece of time which will pass. You will be a bit taller, your clothes will be a bit smaller, you will be a little fed up but a lot wiser and everyone will be a little bit more grateful for the normal things we love.
You will march out there into the world in clothes you’ve revamped yourself, showing off art you’ve created, talking about books you’ve read and having made the most of this unusual time.
And you have to keep reminding those big people that they are too xx
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.