It’s not easy being green

Summers end, new school year, pencils in a row.

Children reinvent themselves, some refuse to go.

Autumn hides the cobwebs just as spring brushes them clean;

Subscription to the promise of a new you yet unseen.

Starting fresh sounds simple, leave the ghosts behind.

Clear the debts from credit cards, from lovers, heart and mind.

Open up the blinds again, paint the rolling view,

Truly understanding what it feels to know your you.

Hold your nerve a little longer, time is still at play

You got through the hardest part, first few steps, first day.

All the courage you require is curled up in your heart,

Every move in this game now awaits your hand to start.

Who could squeeze their life inside a tiny little room?
Make their food with dolls house plates, a bucket and a broom?
Trust in friendships lasting from another place inland
Feel that even far away, their hands are in your hands?

 

Looking past the clutter, seeing what’s beyond.
Pushing through the brambles to the lilies in the pond.
There’s a view beyond the spot we stand on in the rain.
There’s another path beside this bumpy, strange terrain.

Keeping safe your mindset when the noise is getting loud,
Standing still and centered in the roaring gush of crowd.
Slowing down each racing breath, finding space inside,
Moving air to crushing lungs where fear is trying to hide.

Starting life in places new, without an anchor firm,
Centres you from deep directions, ones you’ve yet to learn.

Sometimes taking one more step beyond our comfort zone
Further than we ever dared, far away from home;

Distils every drop of courage, cleaning jewels of fate
Suddenly where once were walls, there’s an open gate.
Suddenly where once was distant; brush it in your hand.
Suddenly no longer dreaming, walk on soft green land.

Take this moment look around, all the steps so far,
Nothing vital left behind, perfect as you are.
Friendships travelled with you, words and thoughts and line,
Breathing slowly when you feel, nowhere close to fine.

Every gloomy hurdle, every battle won,
Finds your light the brighter, closer to the sun.
For every moment conquered, everything you feel

Shapes the life you’re made for, every dream made real.

LW

For my Treasure xxx

Moving on

We celebrated five years in Skye Blue house recently. Five years in St Abbs. Five years of watching my daughter turn from a child into a beautiful young woman.

Five years of furry feet, blue paint, furry feet in blue paint, and repainting blue paint before furry feet go back outside and make blue paw prints .

Five years of weathering the storms. All kinds of storms.

Five years of isolation. In the cave on the cliff in the wind, five years of intense Artwork and writing.

Five years of healing. Five years of waiting for the wind to drop. Five years of waiting to hear from rheumatologists what the body knew already; that this climate often makes your condition more painful. But five years of the best tonics, moments lost in singing, laughing, planting and growing and creating with, and for others.

All journeys create possibilities, for friendships, opportunities, detours and adventures. On ours here, many have been shared in stories online, and turned into poems and illustrations. Best of all has been the friendships grown through teaching and sharing in Art, with our choir buddies and drama buddies , friends who will now last a lifetime. Friends who leave precious memories.

Singing with the Echo Choir for the Queen’s Jubilee

Our home has undergone  a radical transformation from it’s old self. A Fireplace was put in, thank goodness, as it saved us when storm Arwen hit. Although not much else was saved. A caravan upturned, blew its windows,  took its contents and spewed them back out, Christmas gifts, vintage china and sewing supplies landed all over the garden whilst two shed roofs were ripped off and trees disappeared. A home here, was going to be interesting, little did we know it would involve a brand new skillset.

Cooking for a week on the hearth

Walls have held murals, garden stones have become colourful pathways, fairies hid in corners, flowers bloomed and Art was made in one of three stripy beach huts. Very few months, even in Summer, stay warm consistently, so when it was good weather- all outside jobs had to get done at once!

It may sound far-fetched, but the climate impacts hugely on joint pain and arthritis. Something happens inside the bones, inflaming the pain, pressurising nerves, slowing blood flow. When temperatures drop even a little, when air pressure changes, when it is both damp and cold there is a shift inside, almost like the body knows it must protect itself from unnecessary movement. Walking, bending and getting out of bed becomes harder, fatigue (annoyingly) wins out just when you’re having fun. After about August, there are less and less usable hours of the day (in the North!), and this means that from late Summer onwards, a more insular lifestyle once again looms because you feel cold. Needing more rest, (no matter how much you do to combat symptoms) , winter becomes a necessary retreat.

Positivity becomes a necessary armour, a way of life to balance the enormity of this struggle. Certainly some days are easier than other days, but the common link for most sufferer’s wellbeing is warmth.

Every year, in this cycle, there is a time portal where new ideas can become new realities. Those – keep – you-awake-at-night- ideas that might, seed and grow into real flourishing, exciting, life enhancing adventures. Activities that if you try really really hard can be organised and achieved whilst the sun is out and the bones are a bit less creaky. This is, on average, for us here, three or four months. ( I know this because it is how long the heating isn’t on full) Perhaps only a few days of that time are really warm.

When you finally feel like you.

This time pressure is both exciting and utterly crazy. It makes it impossible to plan things around the year, because there is no pacing. Adrenalin works all the harder for completing projects in warmer times, ( think what you’re doing right now, what your days are like in this sun.) For most its a time to lie on a deckchair with a good book, or avoid the heat altogether. If cold is the enemy, precious hot days can cause an ironic over exertion and subsequent fatigue. (This can also appear that you have no mobility problems, and impact on the support you need) If only that were true, as you crawl into your bed while the day is still light and the birds chirp happily; but at least the chair is painted and the pots are de-weeded.

Nature’s paint box on a sunny Day

 Last Summer we considered a move to a warmer climate. Our road trip adventures were planned for months, and we manged two long, long journeys to the South of England and back again with carloads of belongings, and an assortment of animals of all shapes and sizes. In case you missed it, here is a link to come back to.

We needed a lot of belief in what we had planned. The countdown began, the boxes packed, the maps unfolded. Post Covid, we were all stepping gingerly into the unknown.

But, the best laid plans…. Just when you think life is going in one direction…

For reasons best left to history, and after a lot of deep breathing, praying and motivational speaking by a too-wise-for-her-years young companion…….

Our journey then, ended where it began, back home . (which now, thanks universe, we appreciate!)

Skye Blue House had a little more work to do..

We squashed back into the car, all seven of us, two car loads in one, all the paws and madness, and drove back to Scotland after arriving the night before. With no school clothes organised, she started back the next day, and we crash landed into life as we knew it . I set about unpacking the house again, repainting the walls, throwing energy into teaching my lovely Art classes and spending time with those we love. We were and are seasoned pros at getting on with life.

In these last couple of years, we have had the fortune to know and care about such lovely people.

So much artwork has been created, shared, and inspired us all to keep going. And we will continue to do this remotely and together online throughout the Summer and beyond.  

These memories and connections are a part of something very special, and sharing artwork on our seasparkle site has created an ever expanding exhibition, no matter the experience or theme.

This little village holds its magic if you know where to look.

A bounty of ideas for any creative

During this last year, we have all learnt so much about our own resilience and ability to just cope. In life, it is often very difficult to gain approval from everyone, or move forward without having a consistent network to support you.

But the greatest thief of living life is fear, even if it comes from a place of love. Often we are numbed into a paralysis not only by our caution, but from those around us. And sometimes, we just got to trust those instincts. And the ones who have been there all along.

I know … she’s taller than me now!…..

This time we are feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It has been a long time coming, this journey of ours. Freedom to seek out the sun and find our true colours. Freedom to explore and take what we need to where we choose to go.

Everyone is ready…

And after months of planning, this is Our Big Adventure – part two..

In a few moments time, we are going on another road trip.

For weeks we have been living like students surrounded by bags and boxes, with ever shrinking space inbetween.

The juggling of Life and Art was a bit of a challenge! Making stuff takes… well a lot of stuff….

As well as the concert, there was a fashion show

An Exhibition

Art classes

A Craft Fair

Three Art Workshops,

A Drama

A Book Illustration

And a holiday to Turkey


All in the middle of the chaos.

For the zoo, as long as there was cuddles and food, life remained the same in the nest. The house might have been a Rubik’s cube of boxes and huge bags, and the space between shrinking, but food and love still got delivered.

The future is an exciting blank canvas, thoroughly primed, brushes at the ready…

The caravan left yesterday to its new home…

We are getting the maps out..

The excitement is mounting…

Books and Art and all that “crap you’ll have trouble ever shifting ” is safely sorted, and in storage thanks to months of hard work, patience and help from one or two angels😇

.

Six months ago all of the above were just ideas, conversations, which became plans. A lot can happen if you believe it can !

Every scrap of kindness will be with us always.

My driftwood gate made by my late friend Donnie.
Paint may fade but memories won’t

A few goodbyes with our favourite people before our journey begins.

And now.. before the next chapter starts all that’s left is to sprinkle a little glitter

and thank the universe for all that it has given …

See you on the other side!! All our love, Liz and the zoo xx

Roast Turkey

Travelling anywhere now feels like such a blessing. Grateful for every new avenue that opened up, we all yearned for so long to be, not only; anywhere-but-the-village; but anywhere-but-the-sofa. The world had closed it’s pathways, as we peered through windows, marooned, masked and frightened, shrouded in uncertainty as to how we might ever explore distant shores again.

Laughter and sparkles soothe the soul

Time inevitably stumbled on, pandemic, what pandemic?

Here we are now in Antalya, Turkey . And as far as we can see, there isn’t a mask in sight, There is no social distancing and no body parts have been sanitised.

Tourism is exactly where it used to be with an eye on it’s victims!

It is quieter than expected here. The British school holidays haven’t begun yet, impacting on how many older children there are here. A bonus in swimming pools to oneself!

This is an all exclusive offering all the usual facilities, a very smart and organised hotel. It is beautiful, one of the cleanest and friendliest hotels we have been to. And it is is enormous. There are several pools, the hotel has its own beach and jetty, and there are even a selection of hotel cats who are allowed on the furniture.

Nobody has body swerved us in a queue or ducked away from a tickly cough. It almost feels as if, life has pretty much gone back to normal for a traveller. Only of course if you travel with mobility issues: you are often still faced with exactly the same old problems.

This holiday began well. Newcastle Airport was brilliant. The lady at the car drop off offered to take our trolley in for us, the desk wasn’t open but the staff offered alternative seating and the assistance service was as usual kind and efficient. The man pushing the wheelchair even waited for her majesty to choose perfume in Duty Free. (no, not me) Now that’s beyond his usual job remit!) .

Just like Covid19, an illness, pain or a disability can be invisible until it isn’t. People easily make snap judgements on your demeanour and your look and often don’t know you are sore. Yes, that’s a compliment in a way, but it is a constant red herring. The invisible smiling armour you must apply can wear thin very quickly as fatigue and pain begin to creep in. Travelling is way harder with mobility problems.

Maintaining your own style, your personality, your way of keeping organised is essential for anyone’s self respect. Which as we all know is a full time job you have to make look effortless. While most people are contemplating their airport look, the newest novel, the newest sunglasses ear buds and phones, your average immobile person is hoping not to miss their flight as they navigate the airport obstacle course. And still attempt a smidge of dignity after being wheeled about the concourse, riding the conveyor belt of chance and loss of personal control.

However, the important thing to remember is not the cards you got dealt, but how you play your hand. Managing being in permanent pain, being unable to simply do what others around you can, takes all your will power not to be sad about. Feeling powerless can be a choice though. To travel happily, one must accept our changing needs and how to best accommodate them.

Unless people know you, if you look well, you might look like you can manage.

But not everything is obvious.

When I first got ill, it was confusing. Even family ignored the level of pain I was in and the various and contradictory diagnosis I was receiving. If you don’t have an obvious fixable thing that can be operated on, many people believe you are simply making up your illness. Auto immunity conditions, rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, lupus these are real and they really do hurt. Operations leave scars, scrape bones horribly, leave us needing more support as joints deteriorate. Unfortunately much of the change is internal and tricky to fully fix. At best we create a damage limitation plan, at worst if we aren’t careful we can easily give in to its decay. For me that was not an option. (Although some days are far far harder)

Somehow, accidents and operations are easy to give empathy for. The stealthy, creeping deterioration of disease is a greyer area. It is hard to describe how I can’t walk more than a few feet sometimes, and with warmer air and another day I might get around the block with my sticks and our dog, Bear. It isn’t very sexy having an arthritic condition. Almost without warning your day’s potential changes; from looking not too bad and covering all with a smile to a sudden crippling fatigue leaving you stranded in pain, and making you want to weep. But it is true to say, the weather helps and a holiday was essential.

So, we arrive here having requested assistance at each side of the journey. The airport assistance had pushed me with one hand whilst pulling another man with his foot at breakneck speed through the airport. Whilst she ran to keep up. He then tipped me out at baggage reclaim. Once we had finally found our cases, sadly trundling about last (as we were first on) , we made our way to the door, having been told a rep would great us there and help get us to the hotel. There was no rep, it was midnight, hips had seized up, and everyone but us was running towards a coach.

The distance was horrendous, far longer than I can ever walk. But to add to the pain, a coach of waiting tourists, an anxious child running back to me every five minutes to check and the knives in my hip bones, found me eventually in my seat in tears. This wasn’t how I intended to start my holiday.

Having to ask for help is the worst thing when you actually need help. At your lowest, the absolute last thing you want to feel is that you have no power left, no dignity, no ability to care for yourself. Unfortunately, some of these things can be true, and what you need more than anything is a mind reader who knows your needs before you do, sees you as a real person still and does not make you feel guilty for asking for help. The trickiest of ages for a carer is a teen . Without going into detail, let’s say their heads are elsewhere and the world only includes their own image. A natural stage indeed but travelling with one relies on a travel structure as well as teenage hormone fluctuations.

On our way to the hotel There was no actual rep, just an envelope thrust at each party. Perhaps this was the new normal? Maybe things would be alright once we could finally unpack.

Once in the hotel, despite having organised a disabled friendly room, one near a lift, in the main block, we were told it was (vague hand gesture outside). We were led through acres of garden, the walking sticks making little difference to our young bellboy, to a very far away building at the edge of the complex. The young lad pulling our cases was nice enough, but it just felt like again, I was apologising for being slow or unable and it was agony. The moment the door closed was the last straw for us both . This room if it was kept would be a prison- too far from anything to enjoy. Cue a meltdown of epic proportions ( both) although mine was rather less blasphemous) and a promise that this would indeed not be our holiday spot.

But it was one o’clock in the morning and, “Yes, I know we can’t fold t shirts into cubby holes, and put our make up on the counter, but that can wait a couple more hours; now stop shouting and go to bed.”

The next day took another six hours to rehouse us. What that meant was not being able to properly access medicine, toiletries and swim stuff, and not relax into the holiday. And that isn’t good enough. Because there are thousands of spaces in this hotel, and (from what I could see) very few people with additional mobility needs. This had been booked due to the proximity to facilities, and I had specifically asked for assistance support. She had to get special permission to be out of school as a young carer too.

The new room was exactly what we needed and finally we could get settled in. Any complaints fizzled out as the staff throughout the week were attentive and polite.

Drawing attention to what can go wrong for a traveller will. I hope, make organisations better listen to us. Luckily, on this occasion it was tiny details in the big scheme of things which could have improved our experience massively. The holiday company booking us were asked all the right questions and knew specifics.

For example, there is a steep set of stairs here to the low pools and beach. Although the hotel has every available amenity; most involve walking. There aren’t very many accessible poolside loos, meaning one must plan for each potential route each day. As a self service all inclusive, it would be helpful to have ways to carry food to tables in the restaurant, or to make accessing the various food and drink spots easier for anyone not able to traverse the resort. To enjoy an evening drink in the room involved a complex system of separate ice, mixer and vodka, and a (not always) compliant assistant. Although a little sugar bribery goes a long way ..

Love this idea!

Tracking down our rep by phone eventually, we asked for trips suitable for low mobility guests. Initially before he met us in person, he said there were none. ” Only if you can walk. ”

It is easy at this point to just give up. But lying in heat all day doing nothing is not our thing. So we met the rep in person and he got more of an idea of our situation. We booked an excursion to various stops in one day, including a river cruise. By the end of the day, I truly could barely move, but we saw enough sights to justify the pain, and managed some discount shopping too.

The hotel offered a spa service with several types of massage. When letting them know I needed a gentler type of massage, they insisted it would cost double because it was a special child’s massage because I am disabled. I cancelled that reservation. Paying double for half an experience seems daft. So instead we went to a traditional Hamam and had the full Turkish Bath experience. I declined the hot stone extra that could fix my arthritis for an extra £35 euro.

A few tips on travelling with health or mobility issues

Military organisation.

It goes without saying that most people managing an illness or disability have to be fairly organised. Or they have a carer who is. Making sure everything you need for the day is not only packed but accessible. If you were your carer what would you give yourself?

Traveling is a great way to discover different areas, cultures, and cuisines. When it comes to traveling with mobility issues, planning a trip can feel overwhelming; however, it just takes some planning in advance to set your travel concerns at ease.

Plan in Advance

Call your airline, bus, trains, and hotels ahead of time to discuss your special accommodations and figure out what amenities are offered. By calling ahead, you’re able to gain more information and be proactive about preventative issues that could occur.

Factors to consider

  • Reserve a seat ahead of time
  • Call and discuss disabled accessibility of platforms/lifts/facilities
  • Request a seat close to the bathrooms
  • Ask about storage for any special equipment you may have

Questions to ask when finding a hotel to meet your needs:

  • How are the rooms set up?
  • Is the bathroom accommodating to prevent potential falls/slips?
  • What in-room guest services are offered?
  • What additional amenities will be provided to ensure your stay is as relaxing as possible?

Additionally, consider what special equipment you’ll need, the stamina and needs of you or your caregiver, and the accessibility of sites; planning these factors prior to your trip will help eliminate hiccups.

Traveling with mobility issues can seem overwhelming when you think about all the factors at once; however, when you take the time to plan in advance, you’re able to accomplish one item of your checklist at a time and successfully plan your trip.

Knowing what help you need to ask for can be hard. Especially if you look relatively OK, sometimes pain and limitations are not so easy to see. But a break away from it all can be possible for you.

Making sure your holiday team are briefed to enjoy all aspects of your trip.

Travelling full stop relies on several things for the monkey and me. Planning, belief, patience, acceptance, and a vision of an an end goal.

To have a mobility problem can affect your sense of self. But letting those fears win is losing your ticket to adventures and possibilities. Yes, you might need help, but you can chose to how and what to accept with gratitude and know it does not lessen you as a human being.

A kernel of power still burns inside on your pain days, frustrations when you can’t access freedoms like you perceive others can, will pass and new avenues will open.

Those initial hours in the resort could have been the undoing of all the hard work of getting abroad for the first time in four years. But so too these things will pass. And each day thereafter staff were aware and helpful. Managing to get around the resort with the help of the photographer, even resulted in some pictures of us, for once not looking cold and windswept!

We all need to remember that we can make things happen if we really want them. Everyone needs help sometimes, and by letting others help you; it becomes so much more possible for them to see what you are giving to and being in the world. Pain might be your constant companion, but it can sit and wait while post Pandemic life gets a chance too.

Happy Travels! Let us know where you go xxx

So far

Hello friends. How has your Spring been so far? Ours has been happily productive the last month or two. After a two year winter, our garden of flowers have begun to raise their faces to the sun.

Mixed media landscape Workshop

Series of Spring workshops. For Artwork Results go to seasparkle.org

It was wonderful to have a spot in a Spring craft Fair last month, dusting off the labels and the boxes and showing a range of Art prints, cards, cushions, mugs and brooches.

Storm Arwen took it’s toll on the caravan which now needs a replacement for it’s steampunk metal windows. (which I quite like!) The caravan is too heavy for me . So it has been cleaned up and is now for Sale. Do let me know if you are in the area and fancy a Summer project!

I am delighted to be able to tell you about my upcoming exhibition at Coldingham Village Hall over the next couple of months. The work will be hung over several weeks as events are on in the hall, and will culminate in a private view at the end, where sales can be taken home straight from the wall!

The Art club were asked to make a piece for the Jubilee. I gave each member a different letter to create their own style of Artwork. These were then put together as a collage on board and will be displayed in Coldingham Priory.

It’s been nice to see faces again.

Nobody is an island. Our place remains full.

Artwork was made all winter, along with many poems written. New pieces have come back from the printer to become prints, cards as well as originals.

There was even a little drama. …..

After three years, The people of the Sea Eyemouth project, finally came to fruition and we performed our show, including the film created in lockdown and Artwork made by yours truly.

And here is our art group’s display in a shop window in Coldingham.

We have new plans coming soon, but until then sending you all a big Spring hug x

Happy creating !

With love, Liz at the Beach Hut xx

Battle

Many readers will identify with the painful to watch Versus Arthritis adverts on television . Asking viewers to pledge support for those in severe chronic pain. For those suffering a myriad of fatigue inducing symptoms. I imagine these adverts are met with a variety of responses. Each according to life experience. If illness for you has come to mean an easy, specific and named condition, with a sociably acceptable set of treatments, this no-mans land of auto-immune symptoms will make no sense. Those of you with friends or relatives who have arthritis , may become interested, hoping to gain insight and understanding.

Perhaps you are untouched as yet, and believe the afflicted to be exaggerating. Perhaps you feel a few twinges and you have already begun to feel less mobile, a little weaker, and not so certain your g.p. understands your needs. How much worse does it get? What happens then?

And for those affected personally with a degenerative condition, a body that is consistently affected by weather, a slave to daily fatigue and is aging years too early; maybe your heart breaks just a little bit to see that pain, because you know it yourself and live through it every day.

Living with disease and pain is exhausting. And debilitating in more ways than just your illness.

Bad enough are the daily rituals of pain-easing strategies and positive, life affirming reminders on the fridge, when you can’t now reach the bottom shelf, but sometimes more crippling is the lack of understanding by many employers, friends, colleagues and even family of how to live with and even love with the cards you’ve been dealt .

Unfortunately, it is often those closest to you who can lack belief in the validity of your pain, or why you can’t join in family activities. Employers might lack the understanding of how to incorporate chronic pain into a hard working professional’s life, and therefore write them off as lazy or ‘milking the system’.

A lack of effective financial support, twinned with a lack of information to guide the affected in the workplace, can create a lack of respect for our still beautiful and resourceful bodies and imaginative minds that still desperately want and can give something valuable to the world.

Do you tell ?

  Ironically I often see people desperately trying to prove themselves still able, by achieving double the output of creativity, in half the useable time of an average person; before weariness once again steals their daylight hours.

And although we educate our children in schools, in a plethora of differentiated ways, owning our healthcare needs as valued adults seems to be a different matter. In my classroom for example, a movable trolley with wheels, spaces between desks to navigate my sticks, an ergonomic chair and access to the lift would have saved my early retirement .

Without support to maintain a normal work/life balance and earn a competitive salary, those with a chronic condition are often forced to rely on disability payments or p.i.p.

This does two things. It labels people as permanently unwell, and keeps them in a state of limbo. As an ‘ill’ person , they might feel highlighted under their disability or condition before they are themselves, their old, ‘professional’ self . It can be incredibly difficult to convince the world out there ( and ourselves) that you can be both a, suffering from a degenerative condition and b, you still want to be, or are able to be the same or even better version of YOU.

The second thing that disability payments (or the equivalent) can do, is to minimise the quality of creative life you might get to live after your illness. An artist wanting to make money after being struck with a chronic and degenerative condition had better make A LOT of money at once or not at all. Because sometimes, making small amounts can cause more hassle than it is worth. This is of course, ludicrous. As a consequence thousands and thousands of amazing people who still have incredible creativity to offer the world, are stuck. Stuck earning too little to live on with the usable hours of their day or week. Having to declare any profit on a piece which might have taken months at an hour a day and then potentially losing financial support because they might be deemed able to work.

Sadly, sometimes, others are stuck being dependent on caregivers at home who might not be treating them properly, either emotionally or physically because their illness is not taken seriously, or they become stuck in a cycle of believing that because of their illness, their life force has also diminished. As parents our needs often come last on the list. But truly, unless you take decisive action to get as well as you can, your dependents won’t have the best of you, the rest of the time. Your life force is still there . It just needs a nap.


When you feel in pain, are tired and your va va voom has disappeared, it is almost impossible to tell yourself it will be OK. Prepare a box of nice things, a book, whatever food you love, new pj’s etc. Wrap a couple of presents for yourself. When the day gets really rubbish it’s there as a gift. The white knight might come charging, but in the meantime be your own.

When you live with chronic illness, you are often looked over as unsociable or underachieving because you can look well. That is until you move, or bend or try to walk.  

Then you’re still at the fence

For many people it can put an end to their chosen careers or dream path. Not only because their energy has diminished but because others see their failure and think it is best for them that they give up their crazy ideas. At best this might be justified as being for their ‘own good’. If we see pain, we often feel the need to just stop, not continue and give up for an easier life. But sometimes, your continued belief in your dream scares and intimidates people. How can you still have the audacity to do a brave thing in your condition when they haven’t? We know people react out of love or fear. That’s their fear talking. There is no room for a different, braver version of you. And the longer you’ve been ill, the wearier you will be. It wears you down. It takes an enormous amount of resilience to look past your pain, or your illness, the negativity of others and see yourself still sitting there.

Of course, there are other reasons that domestic situations might be difficult. If you need help with more specific issues click on my blog here :

Imagine a kindly hand in yours, telling you please be brave. On the journey through pain management and recreating a new life there are so many blind alleys to go up , promises and pastures new, magic fixes, gurus, and snake oil. Or you could drown in daytime tv and wine, buy new outfits you might wear if you could only bend your arms a bit more. Or like most of us, swing from one extreme to the other, like a giant pendulum until you rest on where you’re meant to be.

In the heart of it all is your key. The only key you need to navigate and know what you need. How to eat, what to wear to be comfortable, what makes you happy, what you have to offer and who you are, You.

On my journey to this page, I have battled heads of teaching departments, g.p’s, psychotic ex husbands, surgeons, solicitors, the weather and less than sympathetic relatives. But the biggest battles have been with the deterioration of a pandoras box of connected diseases- glandular fever, meningitis, arthritis, endometriosis and lupus. All of which have ebbed away at my energy, my career and my ability to live a pain free and operation free life

But. Those battles, the lack, became my drive. For my sense of self as an Artist, a single mother and a human being; I kept putting one foot in front of the other and vowed to create something every day. To that end for ten years since Escaping, I have written 100 blogs posts, ( today is my 7 year Blog Anniversary)❤ written 40 poems, drawn 200 illustrations , taught hundreds of community art groups, supported individuals and groups in the pandemic, completed hundreds of drawings, paintings, prints, cards and products. And I don’t think I’ve even started.

And I have learnt

  • Our bodies are telling us loudly what we need. Keep moving towards those things. Keep communicate those things to your doctor.
  • Know your rhythm. Completely be ok with it, even if the rest of your tribe think you are bonkers. Today is Happy day. Happy day is the first day of the year when there is enough sun to be outside for more than five minutes. I’ve waited six months. The cold is my kryptonite and grips my veins until I cry. So I did too much today. And it was worth needing to rest all afternoon. (which is often my rhythm anyway) At least there was Achievement too!
  • Accept your uniqueness. Having a chronic illness of any kind can feel like a ticket to a club you don’t want to be in. Let those that love you know what it means and concentrate on what you can do.
  • Accept help without feeling like you are helpless. There are plenty of positive ways to share skills.
  • Let go of activities taunting you because you can’t do them anymore. Who needs to paint on rice anyway?
  • Eat your greens, take a shed load of vitamin c and keep warm. Wear lots of thin layers and use heat patches.
  • Don’t be alone in a world that has become so isolated, but has so much potential. If you are housebound, volunteer as phone befriender for the elderly, find a local group or if you need support in your pain, locate a pain clinic. (These are groups set up to help find ways to manage and understand pain, and meet other people)
  • Rest. When you need to. My dog and cat now get grumpy if I don’t, as we all pile in a heap together.
  • Talk to someone if it hurts, if you’re sad, if it’s a bit rubbish. We all need that. And they might need it too.
  • And obviously, the most important thing is to make some art. Or create, or sew, or cook, or felt, or knit, or grow tomatoes or ANYTHING you can see taking shape outside yourself that expresses joy. Re-wire your brain in this meditative way as often as possible, listen to story tapes, not news, music not noise.

This drive to let the work blossom gives a perspective to my physical pain, and allows me to empathise with others in the same situation. Working together has been my joy. Without the groups and individuals there would be no Liz at the Beach Hut. We inspire each other. Being alone in pain is no use to anyone, but being silent amongst friends is a blessing. Press the link to the next page to see a selection of some of my own work, some of which was achieved on crutches (five years) , with a face full of skin cancer stitches and with a combination of early onset arthritis and lupus.

It took my health providers years to finally unpick my particular selection box of goodies, and along the way, I missed school exams, college terms, weeks of work, almost a lifetime of fatigue, joint problems and pain and digestive problems. I have had 18 operations and endured a ten year fertility battle with multiple losses. It took the longest time, but I refused to give up. It was simply because I wasn’t the norm, an easy fix, and I didn’t always look ill. When it was suggested I take early retirement because I was on crutches, when I wondered if this body would stop me moving forward, I let momentum and trust take me to the next destination. It has taken me far longer than I imagined it would, as a healthy twenty something leaving Edinburgh Art College. But I now know, that my journey to get here has been rich and rewarding, a parent, a teacher, artist, writer, and a person who exists.

Every obstacle an opportunity.

And always with my trusted companion !

You can do anything.

Just do it your way

xxxxx

All our love, Liz at the beach Hut x

Art folio

Winter months are a good time to reset, remember, revisit and recollect. So often, when we feel it’s an uninspired time, we sweep aside how full the journey has been to get to where we are now. Discover again your forgotten gems, past achievements and unrequited ideas. And wherever you may be right now, keep your creative journey alive. Here are a few things done by yours truly over the years, from craft fairs, community Arts, Artwork and classroom teaching . Determination to keep making and to inspire and be inspired by others continues to be the best medicine I can find for chronic pain ! A snapshot so far

P.G.C.E Moray House Artwork with Primary and Secondary Schools
Henry Moore Secondary Art Class
My ‘Superhero’ group by one of my Art Class
Art with Dementia
Felt Wallhanging. Old School House Exhibition
Detail of Felt
Canvas Wall Art
Detail
Dalkeith Arts press release
Giant paper mache shoe for theatre production
Alien carnival float designs
Kids ‘Create’ Art classes Lasswade Leisure Centre
Primary school Nativity Backdrop
My classroom Ross HIgh School. Recognise my tiny assistant !
Dalkeith Arts Co-ordinator
Degree Show Edinburgh Art College
Handmade felt wall-hangings, ‘Creatures’ and drawings.
Felt commission
Small felted pieces
Felt commission
Making Felt. Always with an animal about!
West End Craft Fair Stall in the 90’s and Artwork Maison Hector Stockbridge
Kids Summer School East Lothian
Felt purchased by private Leith Home
Summer School
N.E.C Birmingham
Handmade cards
Felt cushions
Personalised Blankets
St Johns hospital Livingston
Detail
Pencil pots
An artist never travels light
Art Bags for individuals in the pandemic
Collating Our Artgroup’s Artwork for display
Classroom
Many many folders!
Much work done
And many labels!
A life in colour

Art class

Between rest and rain the words come,

and drawn lines stroke my page.

Though chimneys howl and waves are fierce

your colours block their rage.

I thank you friends for sharing ways

to open up your hearts

your palette of our friendship

your gestures, lines and marks.

Catch your worries, leave them

unwind slowly, shut the door.

throw the clock out, see your hands move

see what’s not been seen before.

No-one’s watching, it is magic,

Doesn’t matter where you start.

Looking, laughing, making memories,

Making joy and Art.

Thankyou so far you fabulous Artists for being my inspiration! xxx

Liz at the Beach Hut

Limbo

There’s a place called land of Limbo
On the outskirts of the town,
A place where friends are seldom made,
In case you let them down.

In case the big black dog returns
Claws sharpened on your door.
And all the bags stored under beds
Are hurled in cars once more.

In case the roots you want to grow
Entangle up your heart;
And all the dreams they cut from you,
Will never get to start.

In Limbo, safely nurturing,
Your life behind the hedge
A world away from breathing deep,
And stepping from the edge.

A world away from what you were,
The girl whose almost gone.
Before the tiniest of smiles,
Was painted daily on.

Cross the tracks to Limbo land
The hardest place to find
Routes are snared and treacherous,
Especially in the mind.

Limbo isn’t on the map,
Or on the subway line
Destination, final stop; keeps
Changing all the time.

In real world , time is still sometimes;
A breath deep, drawing, peace.
Surrounded by the simple pleasures,
Books and flower and leaf.

.

Feet are anchored, roots are long;
Earth’s rich, musty loam,
Precious heady, springtime mornings
Finding our way home.

There comes a moment when we turn

to see our shadow roam,

when all the holding fast is done,

and we can feel we’re home.

One day the door of limbo land
Is left wedged open wide,
And finally the everywhere
Comes tumbling in outside.

In Seeking , travel is a choice;
To step along each track.
And find exciting different routes,
When its time to go back.

No need to drag out dusty cases
Hidden under beds.
You’re here already,  listen , hear
What all your friends have said.

A spell in Limbo is essential
Patch up broken wings,
But wings and meant for flying
And your soul now needs to sing.

And if we see as wise ones do,
Life not in black and white.
The jewel colours swirl freely,

On the silky tails of kites

For all the beasts who gave you strength

showed what was never you,

And made a life outside of Limbo

feel so fresh and new.

Take respite under limbo ‘s spell
A warm , soft, heavy blanket
Then, Hear your instincts loud and clear
Trust what you love and thank it.

And where you land, the route you take,

hold onto all you’ve learned.

Your self respect and courage now,

is well and truly earned.

LW

Patience


When I was little sweets were banned,

and only for rare treats.
There’s plenty fruit and bread for toast,
You don’t need these to eat!


But shops had jars all glistening,

and sparkling sugar beckoned.
And being young,  the thought of waiting: even for a second,
Was torture for my little head,
And I became adept,

At savouring each morsel as the pleasure long, I kept.


When others scoffed their chocolate bars,

in one enormous bite,
I’d wrap each piece and have a store,

for secret stash at night.


It’s true to say if you can handle, 

hurdles from above
Boom ! down they come, like rain from Heaven ,
wrapped in bows with’ love.’


‘Cause ; you can wait a little more,

for life to be complete,
You proved that , when you nibbled chocolate
underneath the sheet!


But now I’m 50, It is time,
to raid the corner shop.
To stock up on Lindt chocolate
until my Jeans go pop.


If sugar is a metaphor
for all good life can bring,
Then now I want to paint and love
and laugh and eat and sing.

And never wait a moment,
for a sugar laden pleasure,
I’ll be a mad old blue haired woman,
taking things at leisure.


Patience is a lesson,
which has kept life at the door.
So now I’m off for doughnuts
and a travellers explore.


To places dreamed, while under covers
on those torchlight nights.
Patience has paid off,
and the vista is in sight.


The dream is always there,

waiting for your chance to take it.
And nobody can make your Patience
worth it ’til you make it .


I’ve been like marmite to the ones
who couldn’t work out why,
That one so cheery was not simply.

watching time go by.


You must have faith that there are flavours,

morsels still to find,
For time and days are side-lines

if you sweeten hands and mind.

The rainbow jars of favourites,

will be waiting on the shelf.
All their colours shiny, urging
Us to treat ourselves.

And when the day will come at last
The first foot out the door.
That first breath, first step,
A new world we’ll explore.

Like popping candy covering
an ice cream rich and sweet.
New flavours will explode and burst
And joy will be complete.

Never underestimate
how lovely it can be,
To savour favourite dishes
when the fridge has been empty.

Or feel the breeze in windswept hair
Too long indoors and dry.
And gazing at the lucky Robin
Wishing you could fly.

Look at the woman standing there,

with wisdom pure as taste.

Who cares what others think of her

There’s no more time to waste.

Time will Swerve back round again
Just like she never left,
A few more wrinkles , wisdom deeper,

Our souls endure no theft.

If you are waiting for a taste
Of something you remember,
As time speeds up, and tries to win
Don’t let yourself surrender.

For at that point,  the pinnacle
Is nearly in your sight,
The hilltop peak, the ocean floor,
The will to win the fight.

And that’s the sweetest taste of all.
When patience can be savoured.
When all your courage, strength and love
Comes back in rainbow flavours.

LW

❤🧡💚💚💙💜

Little lies

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There was a little fib,
Which turned into a lie.
As time drew on, its vastness grew,
Beneath the cloudless sky.

The gossip started as a way
To feel a little tough,
To have a little power when
Inside was not enough.

The lie grew legs and turned into,
A Chinese whisper sort,
Who cares they thought, whose going to know ?
I’ll never should be caught.

When drinks were had, or over tea
The guesswork now was fact.
The lie forgotten, judgement done,
The victims life was hacked.

In fallout from a small untruth,
More stories bred like rats,
Behind the backs of those who
Trust,
AND THAT they said was that !

Why someone feels they know you more
Than you can know yourself,
Its strange and sad and curious
And impacts on your health.

The perpetrator carries on
with blithely scattered words,
Forgetting that the wind is strong
She carries what is heard.

Like viruses the inky stain
Of wronged and dirty black,
Has seeped into the crevices
There is no going back.

The lie has spread like seed or mould
Grown spores and legs and arms ,
Despite the surface scrubbed and bleached
Despite the bullies charms.

A victim hides their light away
For fear of being seen,
For fear of reasons to be harmed,
By sharpened sticks so mean .

For words they do as much to harm
As stones thrown by a hand.
A stone flies once and you can see,
The place where it will land

A lie will tangle others in,
Like fish caught in a net.
With so much darkness, thrashing blind,
The way clear we forget.

Best swim alone against the tide,
If that’s the safest way.
Feel kinder waters buffer you
To help you on your way.

For truth is vast, an ocean deep,
New treasures float in view;
A million rainbow fish swim past
In line with perfect you.

Hurt people do hurt people.
Let their words grow wings and fly.
Keep strong in gusts of icy words
And never speak a lie.

LW

  ,

Good egg

If you rustle up a pan of eggs and one or two go a little wonky, who gets the bad eggs? Who gets the perfect ones?

When you have a choice to give or keep the best of things where does your heart go? Does your head agree? Do you find conflict there?

Don’t all eggs taste the same ?

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We recently visited a favourite charity shop .

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Ten years ago the man who ran it helped us rebuild our home.

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From bin bags of ridiculously bargain priced build- a- bear treasure , for a wide eyed little girl, to cosy patchwork blankets, and spotty teacups , wellies and mittens, story books, props to draw from in art classes ,warm woolly jumpers , and glittery vintage handbags at a fraction of what they should cost.

Steven saw us coming and saved us lovely things. He quartered the till receipt. And smiled his lovely big smile as he loaded our bags into the car . He made us feel like we were special and that money changing hands was less important than us having these new shiny belongings.

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And as we absorbed and marvelled at this incredible warmth, we realised that it not only radiated to us, but to every one of the customers and strangers entering the shop. Like an octopus with supersonic peripheral vision, he juggled new and old faces, their questions, needs, and deliveries with the same joy and kindness. Steven was just kind.

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When we moved house, most of the belongings we no longer needed were returned as donations to the shop, and it occurred to me that plenty of loyal customers must circulate their things, feeling as we did that it a gave a little of the positivity so freely given by Steven himself.

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Then sadly, a couple of years ago, after being out of the area for a few years, I heard that Steven had passed away. This legend I’d always imagined saying hello to another day, popping in next time we visited the town, enjoying another wonderful rummage in his Aladdin’s cave, this lovely person was just gone.

Tragically Steven’s smile and energy masked his underlying health conditions and a weakened heart . Hearing this news felt like there was a gaping gap in the universe where his enormous kindness and thoughtfulness helped so many people .

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Why am I telling you this now?


Yesterday we went into the shop for the first time in about five years. It was quiet and neat and tidy. A lovely lady asked if we wanted the light on in the changing room, and was attentive and helpful

At the desk with our purchases , she enthused about how nice they’d look. I took the opportunity to say how sorry I was to hear about Steven, their colleague. The lady nodded and breathed deeply. This smiling welcoming woman was Steven’s mum. We talked and I told her how proud she should be of all the joy he brought, the lives he impacted on and I probably only knew a fraction of his legacy. She gave me a hug, both of us barely holding back the tears. But, rather than sadness, it was joy she felt.

She told me that conversations like this one, (because I was not alone in my impromptu affection) A lot of customers loved her son; and knowing she was still living how he lived was her tribute to him, and how she could get up each day and feel him with her. She was a wonderful lady, of course she was, she had to have been. And we were sad to leave that day.

For Steven and his family, a shining light and an extremely good egg.

In life we are thrown the challenge of every possible personality type to try to understand, appease, blend with, help, teach, parent, care for, love, respect or fear. People don’t come with rule books and often wisdom; so innate in the young is lost somewhere in the middle of our complex lives. Within homes, friendships, work situations, we can battle on, trying to impress those who have chosen to look the other way. People who for their own reasons try to dull our light.

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Sadly, we can often find pivotal relationships some of the hardest. The big ones are the make or break of our foundations, which we either model our behaviour on, or endeavour not to mimic. These relationships should be the glue in our lives. The mortar to our bricks. There is often a sense of power in the mix somewhere. It is no surprise then, how hard it is to walk away.

Positive energy is infectious.

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Unfortunately so is the opposite

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Once the floodgate opens to negative flow, you don’t want to stand underneath.

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Just as good stuff grows, so does the bad. Affecting us physically and mentally..

My studio ceiling recently spring a huge leak in the storm. KP has spent days scrubbing away at the black ceiling. Horrible stinking mould spread in blossoming storm clouds and it stank. The damp air crept into bags of art materials and fabrics. Without his intervention and no nonsense attitude with bleach and gloves, the mould would have killed everything in there.

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Positive and negative energy from human beings is not dissimilar. Would you rather stand down wind to a bucket of mould spores or a packet of wild flower seed?

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So let’s reflect upon the often very difficult decision to redirect our good energy. The shedding of harmful characters in our lives,  even those we might be related to , who perpetually feel the need to squash, scar , crush, and undermine us, wrapping their beliefs up in love. Those who mask bad behaviour as love.

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A healthy respect for another’s existence and ways is a wonderful thing. Providing space to flourish and develop as a human being is how we begin , how we then teach, write, get out and do things and establish another generation of grounded humans. As an adult, we get to re create some well walked paths, especially if they weren’t as solid as they could have been. Now, if a battle ensues when you look nice or have a new idea, or create a piece of work or express an opinion: causing doubt in your own beliefs and identity, are you sure its you that needs tweaking?

Love does not judge. We can spend our lives trying to attract the attention of a ”loved one” or an audience still crammed into plastic school chairs. Waiting for the moment when all our frantic waving and performing, on the literal and virtual stages of our lives , is met with loud clapping sounds and roses. Waiting for the loudest clap of all from the ones whose backs are turning to leave. We can wave until were not waving anymore, we are drowning.

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Love isn’t rationed by your worth. Appreciation of you is reflected by the company you keep, not the stick you bet yourself with. You were put here to have choices. And to believe in them.

Imagine not lugging around that feeling of not knowing if you’re good enough. (because somewhere deep down, you really know you are). Of trusting yourself and your choice of company because you realise most people are kind. And some are wonderful.

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We often don’t notice the kindest souls, the shining lights, the inspiration right under our noses because our minds are spiralling off on tangents about a tiny fraction of the company we keep ( possibly with the biggest ability to steal our thunder and joy. ) At the root of many of these waspish hurtful relationships is a common thread. We want to please these people the most. We are in that nativity inside a cardboard costume, jelly-like, reciting the line we’ve practiced 100 times to all the neighbours and all our patient pets. And euphorically searching for a pair of eyes in the audience squeezed onto those tiny chairs , when we remember our words and want to validate our moment of glory.

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Why don’t we notice the discrepancies? Because important relationships are meant to provide a mirror for all that you are. They might not agree with you, or approve or even like what you do. But they should respect your life and what you add to theirs. If an adult hasn’t been taught these fundamental skills, it can sometimes be like being parented by another child. You may find that a person meant to be in your corner is unfathomably jealous or angry when you get shiny and show your colours. Contrary to how it feels, this isn’t to keep you safe or crush your spirit intentionally. Although this might happen anyway. Fear drives others to halt our flow of joy.

They see you, but they choose not to let you know that. And all a child wants (needs) is to be seen. Recognised as part of something difficult to describe, safe, loved. Without judgement, a parent (or care giver) sees and nurtures that light. The opposite of this is a sort of resentment and pushing away. A jealousy maybe, or inability to connect. A child cannot solve this riddle, and internalises this struggle as a personal failure.

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Sadly, without a willingness to understand ourselves or others, the status quo remains, worsens, and becomes toxic. If a solution can be found through mutual effort, it is obviously of benefit to everyone. But, changing a conditioned behaviour, or a belief is sometimes incredibly difficult. Ways of perceiving can go back generations, and if you asked why exactly you aren’t allowed to wear those clothes, be gay, go to church, dance on a table, climb a mountain, start a circus, write a novel; the answer would be vague. Because the belief isn’t theirs. It has just always been there. Like the smell of boiled cabbage.

Fixing anyone causing sadness in your life isn’t your responsibility. If it keeps harming you, and you feel you have ticked all the strategies, choose you. Years can go by trying and failing, waving more frantically . That old adage of there’s no pleasing some people is very true. Sometimes, you’ve done all you can.

Sometimes doing more is perpetuating a vicious cycle . And to do the turning away yourself starts to heal, not only you, but them too. Our own responsibility lies in breaking the negative pattern of pain and not creating more.

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The trick to happiness is gratitude. Closing a door is very scary to start with. But on the other side is so much more. Without unhappiness getting in the way, there is space to savour people, taste, light, beauty, ideas, and new shoes. Carry this with you. Be kind first to yourself in a way that you haven’t been given. An exchange can be given to a stranger in a word or a glance or a gesture. Or you may find it in a lifetime of acceptance and listening with one lovely soul. Trust your instincts to know who has your best interests. Surround yourself with good people.

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When you trust in who you are so will your destiny.

When you know your own kitchen you make the best eggs.

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And when life enriches our world with positive people, we too become richer. A way of thinking that builds us, not breaks us. It gives us strength. If we are positive even when we are scared, amazingly it still works, vulnerability creates action and becomes catching, other doors open, your tribe will come along.

Ten minutes in the company of someone like Steven, was a true blessing. His kindness, and selflessness was unique. Making someone’s day with your own particular magic wand is never wasted. There are amazing people out there, who can change your life. I know Leah and I won’t be alone in feeling so glad to have known and been inspired by this lovely man.

Get back on stage, no matter who is watching. Blast your words from the heart, share your ideas, share your creations, share your skills. Trust someone. And see what happens. Look up. It might be your audience have been there all along .

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The thing is with eggs, that like life, we all mess up getting the perfect centre. Look a little closer and there’s enough to go round. Mix it up. Add in something extra. Better to scramble with everything you love thrown in. Share and enjoy xx

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All our love, Liz at the beach hut

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