Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Oooh I remember this

Start of laptop case remodelling - embroidery

Embroidery tools

Sun shining through under the trees

I am in the clutches of obsession over a new project and it feels delicious. Inspiration hit yesterday and only the possibility of making my fingertips bleed shoving the needle through the firm fabric stopped me stitching! I've been weighing up how to remodel a rather grubby and too sugar pink laptop case that was rescued from someone's rubbish months ago. On Monday I suddenly knew it had have trees embroidered on it.

The catalyst responsible for this happy creative action was a tour of some North Oxfordshire Artweeks open studios on Saturday afternoon. Fabulous company, wonderful things to look at and scenery to tour through. We finished in the cosiest, arty cottage - think log fire, flagstone floors and a tumbling cat and and dog - relaxed, colourful and layered with life and lovely things. It illustrated exactly what home means to me and gave me a new appreciation for my attempts at curating chaos and feathering my nest. I thought that was my big gift from the trip and that was more than, hugely more than, enough. I was just up for a potter in the beauty of Oxfordshire in spring.

I am itching to unleash more embroidery but next comes the dyeing.  I wanted to layer some embroidery in before I dye the background to add to the layers of colour and texture but given I'm not sure how the dyeing will go I'm trying to resist working on the undyed case too much. Though as I've bought the wrong kind of dye for this synthetic fabric, I'm stuck for the moment. I might just add a little more embroidery, can't stop stitching...

Friday, May 08, 2015

TGIF - a practice

Daffodils and Inspiring Word Cards

White Lilac from Florence Park

My Leuchtturm 1917 journal

As I sit here trying to type out my first TGIF post following the example from The Gifts of Imperfection I am forced to acknowledge that one thing perfectionists hate is having their practising observed when they are engaged in something that matters deeply; so much less scary to deal with all of that in private and only let others see when things are more polished! 

I guess that is where I'll start then: Trusting that undertaking actions like this that make me feel all squeamy are a brilliant way to be vulnerable and practice living authentically. I am so Grateful of course for the book that is inviting me up to my edges and drawing me out and for the things that do that in everyday life, some gently,wonderfully and almost without me noticing (hello spring, hello flowers) and some painfully such as feeling sad on Wednesday without any apparent cause. From that sad place I sought external words of wisdom prowling around the blog world and was enormously Inspired by Susannah's post on journalling as a means of getting access to our own inner wisdom. The wonderful calm, shininess that wrapped around me on Thursday after I started the day with an extended bout of journalling reinforced my Faith in all of the various tools and practices that I am building up around me, so many different comforts and supports for the good and bad days.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Words and plants

Tomaland Farm from the orchard with geese

Sunlight streaming through morello cherry blosssom

Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower

Dandelion seedhead Taraxacum officinale

Alexanders by the sea at Portwrinkle or Finnygook
Two words to sum up a week relaxing down in Cornwall at my Mum and Dad's slice of lovely. Three and bit novels inhaled - probably more reading than the rest of the year combined. Lots of gentle meandering walks in their garden and by hedgerows, enjoying the abundance of the plant world springing forth. Coming back in for cups of tea, treats with clotted cream and diving in to reference books to identify the more mysterious of the plants observed.

Every day I feel like I learned so much and filled up the space in my brain that normally churns over the work dilemmas du jour with little gems of knowledge. One of my favourite learnings: the Latin name officinalis comes from the word officina, used for the storeroom of a medieval monastery where medicines were kept. This is why it is given to many plants from which drugs can be obtained, such as for the beauty Taraxacum officinale or Dandelion pictured above. Letting that information dance around my brain it feels like a gift, it does wonders to anchor the knowledge as it fires my imagination, conjuring up images of ancient stores of herbs and wisdom. It excites me to learn just a drop of that.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The clearing

Brené Brown and me in the garden
"If we stop long enough to create a quiet emotional clearing, the truth of our lives will inevitably catch up with us." Brené Brown - The Gifts of Imperfection

I read those words a couple of weeks ago now and it was one of those beautiful moments in life when your mind and body understand something together. There was a deep exhale and a huge sense of gratitude and relief that not only had I found another person out there who really gets it and is eloquent enough to express it but praise be - the crowning glory - she's written a guidebook to aid me on the next stage of my voyage, sailing through the swamp.

As much as I have worked on letting go of 'why?' it's a relief to have someone validate why things have been the way they have for the last 18 months, why that hasn't looked or felt anything like I imagined it might, why moving out of survivial mode has been hesitant, full of ups and downs, fumbles and stumbles. If you're running from yourself, trying to be what you think you should be then when you stop running you need to be patient and strong to not sprint away again. I guess I knew on the deepest level that it was time, so I've resisted the urge to try and shut Pandora's Box, knowing that I couldn't stuff the issues back in again and that there was a reason I flung it open in the first place.

It's not that I just found Brené's work. I scribbled down notes from one of Brené's Ted talks last spring, I've watched her on Oprah since and felt the truth of what she was talking about which is why I asked for the book for Christmas. Yet it wasn't until this month that I felt the urge to read it; I dove in and it scooped me up from the start of a spiral down and has delivered me again to a clearing. I love how the right book can find you at the right moment. Here with all the experiences and explorations of the past years within me I am resting a while, enjoying the abundance of spring and reading this book for a second time. I have new language for this next phase of development and a huge hit more love for myself as I consciously start to practice integrating courage, compassion and connection.  Last year I think I could grasp the ideas intellectually but I wasn't ready to start to embody them.

So one tiny step at a time I am opening up and embracing all of me. Just writing this post and particularly that sentence makes me want to hit backspace, does it sound too self indulgent, too hippy, too raw? And so it goes, I have become adept at hiding in plain sight but with Brené to hand I can see that feeling the awkwardness, feeling that vulnerability is a sure sign that I am going in the right direction for me right now. The sentence stays and with each seemingly tiny act of courage I take a step further in to my wholehearted life.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

What makes you walk on a rainy day?

View from Wytham Woods on rainy day April 3rd 2015
Yesterday was a day full of potential and no plans, and honestly, a day I really wanted to be sunny so that we would be inspired to go for a rambly, up close with the fresh air and nature walk. By lunchtime it was clear that it was not going to be a clear sky day, the grey was set. Low, mizzly when it wasn't actively throwing down the rain. There were other ways to enjoy our time but the woods were calling me and more unusually my body was asking to go.

I'm starting to feel the love for stretching and moving my body, sparks of energy that are building in to flames in glorious danger of setting fires. Desires to move that come from deep within rather than thinking that I should do some exercise. It is a huge sign of increasing health and all but alien to me.

I used to hear friends talk about going for a run/to an exercise class/playing a match because they wanted to and could only translate that in to them having more willpower, more drive to exercise than me. I could often enjoy whatever activity I cajoled myself in to but I never got there without a mental stick and carrot approach.

There is a learning within me to loathe organised exercise which came from having ME/CFS as an adolescent; there is probably nothing more likely to incur the wrath of a PE teacher than the chubby, seemingly well child that has a note from her mummy to get her out of the cross country run. Then of course when you haven't got a note you still don't have any stamina or understand the rules of hockey.... anyway I can definitely remember the joy of realising that when I did A-levels PE was no longer on my timetable! In the last year or so I've found two local classes (T'ai Chi and Pilates) which are rewriting that story and building up my body and it's wonderful to see that contributing to other activities.

A walk of any length at all was something that used to require more than a call of the woods, as my body so often had nothing to contribute to the conversation. It would have to be a sunny day or a group activity or some sort of extra impetus to get my tired, sore body up and going yet again. I see now that if you want to do something physical purely because you feel you should it is always going to be a battle of wills. I'm really enjoying finding that working with my body sometimes brings me the things I thought I should be doing, not because I tell myself I have to but because I find them delightful. Even on a rainy day.
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