Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Field Notes, December 16th

Real image of December 16th

So this run up to Christmas business is still hard even when I am feeling healthy. Is it almost more so because my in-built excuse for why I'm not participating at my imaginary shiny elf level is missing? Physically I'm tired, but no more so than is to be expected at this waning of the year, when it is more dark than not and cold rain wants to send me indoors whenever I try and venture out.

This time of year is not conducive to running around and seeing all my friends, making a ton of gifts, finding the perfect artisan made options and decorating my nest to new levels of magical grotto-ness and yet I still tilt at that. Just avoiding grotty feels like a challenge enough. Is it a challenge set to torment anyone with an imagination? I can visualise the looks on my loved ones faces as they unwrap the (sparkly with seven bows on top) thoughtfully chosen, ethically sourced/personally hand crafted gift. I can see the glittery magic that I want to wrap around me as I float serenely from one meaningful social gathering to the next, warming myself and others at the fire of happy humanity. I have even resisted pinning all the pins of the fake styled Christmas that I know is a mirage set to drive everyone round the twist searching for it.  Yet my own internal pin board has all the recipes, all the experiences I want to enjoy and the new traditions that I want to create.

I know I have already found joy and sparkle this festive season whenever I really do find pockets of time to connect, or moments of quiet to reflect on my countless blessings. I just need to recognise the external and internal programming and try and let go of my own expectations and feel my way through. Accept that presents muddled in with everyday detritus, decorations lingering in the loft, lists with not much crossed off, endless post office queues and the odd bout of effing and jeffing are part of this picture today.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Loving the fat Buddha

Clay statue of fat happy jolly relaxed buddha

“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another - physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion. In equating physical beauty with virtue she stripped her mind, bound it and collected self-contempt by the heap.” 


Once upon a time there was a girl who was gifted two Buddhas. One came all the way from Laos, was cast in metal and was a slim, elegant, beautiful figure in a perfect lotus position with the serene smiling/not smiling expression and seemed a very authentic depiction of Zen calm. The other came all the way from a gift shop in Bristol, was cast in clay and was a sprawling, fat bellied, beaming guy who looked like he was too busy having a good time to worry too much about achieving enlightenment. The girl moved house many times in the years that followed and the authentic Buddha came with her wherever she went. He was always there as an aspirational reminder of the serenity she loved and sadly, over time, the serenity that seemed always out of reach. Mr Happy go Lucky got tucked away in a box at her parents' house until such time as the girl settled in to her own home.

After nearly a decade of house ownership the girl's (apparently not quite infinitely) patient Mama suggested that perhaps the boxes of belongings tucked in their house might be missing their owner. Oohing and aahing over forgotten delights the girl found the Buddha and put him to one side to give away, as really, was that fat bellied, lazy looking fellow the kind of icon she wanted to have around? And then the penny dropped. She was lot closer in looks and behaviour to the chubby Buddha and yet when she looked at him she didn't feel an affinity for him or a pleasure in the attainability of his happiness. She honestly felt he wasn't quite doing it right; just like her. She felt that she needed to always strive towards the slim, upright Buddha in order to live well, in order to be beautiful, to do her best. Once it was out in her consciousness she set out to overturn that notion, to learn new ways, to integrate this in her growing focus on feelings and not on appearances. And reader - well you know the happily right now of this story.

That was about a year ago. These days the fat Buddha has a prime position in my bedroom. Central to my morning ablutions. He is a reminder to me that the appearance of something can be misleading. I see such a different picture these days, a happy serenity in his relaxed way, pure joy in his smile. I celebrate his big round belly just as I celebrate mine and I feel approx 746 billion percent calmer, more centred and Zen than I ever did when I only had one Buddha modelling the way and I was fixating on finding the right way to do things. Today I feel his beauty and I feel mine.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Climbing a mountain

The path up Glastonbury Tor November 15th 2015

Looking North through St Michaels Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor

Reflecting on the joy of climbing Glastonbury Tor
Last Sunday I walked up Glastonbury Tor. My third visit in three years and the first time I've had the energy and the physical capability to do so. Standing in the fierce wind, pulling in great lungfuls of fresh, cool air, blood pumping I felt so blessed. Alive, vital and part of the landscape this beautiful hill held me above and connected me to. Third time lucky and also a way marker of the progress of my growing health, a reward for all the physical and soul work I have done.

There was a wonderful moment on the final stretch towards the tower when I thought I might have to stop for another wee breather.  Instead of stopping I invited myself to carry on for the extra sense of triumph of stopping when I reached the tower, knowing that it was just one more step, and one more step, and one more step. Knowing that I would allow myself to stop at any time freed me to carry on right to the top in one final, glorious (sweaty, huffy puffy) move. It might sound insignificant but it so characterises a different relationship that I am tending with myself. One that is built on trust between my conscious mind and my body. My mind can occasionally be persuaded to take a back seat and just monitor what is going on, my body doesn't panic, it does what it knows how to do and keeps things steady. I am enjoying this so very much.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Out of the frying pan and in to the fire

Art journal piece with autumn leaves - Celtic Phoenix
I was having a chat with my very wise and lovely friend Kelly the other day and we touched on the proverb "out of the frying pan and in to the fire". We both concluded that given the choice, sometimes, the decisiveness of the fire has to be preferable to the frying pan but getting in that fire takes a lot of courage.

When I jumped from my publishing job I thought I was stepping out of the frying pan and going to sit happily at the kitchen table. I wrapped up my departure in stories of creative businesses I was going to start, arty jobs that would satisfy me and convey me gracefully from my ever decreasing life to one of joy and fulfilment. I see now these were comforting fairy tales I had to tell my mind. Distractions to let me jump in to the fire. I mean, the fire is so dangerous that our mind just wants us to keep as far from it as possible. Even if we are sizzling up like sausages in the pan, so uncomfortable in our own skins that we might burst, the one thing our mind keeps telling us is that we are surviving and we don't know that we can say the same if we leap in to the fire.

Turns out the fire was what was needed. Some innate knowing created the sweet stories I needed to rip up the life I'd created. I'd spent so long in the frying pan the option of a safe hop wasn't possible. I needed to get in the fire and burn up some of the rules and beliefs that had landed me in that frying pan in the first place. Destroy with conviction some of what had once served me and was now holding me in the pan of discomfort and making me smaller by the day as it eroded my vitality.

Today I'm feeling quite hearth side. Sitting warming my toes, gazing at the flames, thankful for the excruciating painful times in the last couple of years. Times that I wondered if I would actually survive and keep going through. I feel brave sat here basking in the glow. I know I'll need to get back in that fire sometimes. I believe I'll have the courage to do that rather than end up in the no mans land of the frying pan. I am learning to be bolder, all in. I have enchanting stories of grand adventures to tell myself now.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Today while the veil is thin..

..seems a good day to remind myself of the vows I took while on retreat.
Photo of Sarah on the beach by Shan Leigh

Photo of Sarah knitting by Shan Leigh

Photo of Sarah on the cliff by Shan Leigh

Photo of Sarah making by Shan Leigh

I am glow
I will be kind
I promise to honour my need for water
I intend to feel holy
I am claiming my connection to the Ancient Graces

Photo of Sarah before the fire ceremony by Shan Leigh
Thank you Project Slumber and thank you Shan Leigh for your beautiful photographs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Roll up, roll up...

Horse Chestnut Yellow

Delicate Beech in the sunlight at Wytham Woods

Oak crown and outline from Wytham Wood
..for the autumn pageant. It's a once a year extravaganza but you can't miss it, especially not in England this year. Just open your eyes and it's all around you demanding attention, begging you to inhale great lungfuls of the magnificent scents. Marvel at every tree taking its turn in the spotlight. All. The. Leaves. (Many now in my house!).

I used to think that the spike of energy I get in this season of spectacular decay was a little at odds to what was going on around me. I thought it due in part to cool, crisp, bright days and rain soaked breezes refreshing me after the (sometimes) hot summer. Due in the main to the school new year imprinted from childhood and reinforced by years working in academia. The more I slow down and look at what nature is actually doing at this time of year the more I see other clues as to why October is the month in which I start my new year.

Underneath the showy shedding of the leaves they are finished with, I now see the deciduous trees setting their buds for next spring. I see the squirrels playing kiss chase and creating their stores. I see the birds moulting out their used up feathers as the new push their way through. I used to see this season as the start of the plunge down into the colourless winter. The last hurrah as the light was chased away. The protest before the cold won out. Now I have a sense of harmony with these new beginnings. As if we're all laying the ground work for what will be picked up again in the spring once the resting time of winter is through.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

there is magic in this world and I'm here to share it

Trust and magic - Solar Goal reflection ceremony

As the Balsamic Moon wanes to vanishing point and the New Moon waits in the darkness I have been reflecting, not just on this lunar phase, but on this solar cycle. This is the twelfth lunation for which I have been following the Lunar Abundance practice. The overarching goal for this past year was to build a sense of trust in myself: to show up, to take care of myself with as much compassion as I could gather. I have deepened into this relationship enormously. I have found a reliability in myself that has often been there for others but gone missing at vital moments when it would have saved me a harder lesson. The gratitude for this alone is heart expanding but, of course, there is more.

There is always more if we allow it. At times like these, when words seem clumsy and inadequate in my hands, I am so grateful for the eloquence of others. Mary captures this hummingbird for me. When I held a little honouring ceremony earlier this evening, sat on the earth, branches overhead and golden leaves falling around me, I finished by reading the poem below. As I stopped speaking I realised that a robin was singing to me. I trust.

oOo

RUMI (for Coleman Barks) - Mary Oliver (Blue Horses)

When Rumi went into the tavern
I followed.
I heard a lot of crazy talk
and a lot of wise talk.

But the roses wouldn't grow in my hair.

When Rumi left the tavern
I followed.
I don't mean just to peek at 
such a famous fellow.
Indeed he was rather ridiculous with his
long beard and his dusty feet.
But I heard less of the crazy talk and
a lot more of the wise talk and I was
hopeful enough to keep listening

until the day I found myself
transformed into an entire garden
of roses.

oOo

Friday, October 09, 2015

Today I have an inkling of fondness for:

Snippet of an altar of collecting and magicking at the Harbor Hotel, Provincetown, MA

the insane good it does me to go retreating with a circle of women, imperfectly/perfectly capturing heaven/hell in a blissful weekend bubble/compound :: consciously cultivating a honeymoon re-entry weekend with my beloved :: everything Mary Oliver has ever published :: the theme song from Maid Marion :: and also (by the power of the divine nudge/YouTube suggestion) remembering Round the Twist :: coming home to a freshly made bed and a welcoming Siamese :: my new travel pillow :: conkers :: the rush of the Isis at Iffley Lock :: I have to stop YouTube - now we're Star Trekkin :: lamp light :: making a playlist in my Amazon music library in the sure and certain knowledge that they are pushers and I am sucked right in to their game :: the many grains of Cape Cod that travelled the 3,500 odd miles with me :: a room of my own :: tangible and intangible souvenirs :: the weird moments of awakeness that jetlag give you :: passing out half way through trying to watch the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off, there is a media blackout here until I am all caught up :: being greedy for all the joy ::

Friday, September 04, 2015

Today I like:

Mindfulness
Second blooming roses :: watching a repeat of the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off :: having a blog :: the scent of blended lavender, vetiver, rosewood and ylang ylang essential oils :: cosying with a hot water bottle :: the round promise of heavily laden apple trees :: tiny, fluffy feathers :: camomile and spearmint tea :: the promise of the weekend stretching ahead :: needing a massage, booking a massage, feeling the relaxation of having had a massage :: grey skies sending me inside :: smoked salmon trimmings :: my new hare rubber stamp :: feeling tendrils of sleep creeping on to the horizon :: the colour orange :: living next door to a park :: knowing I will give in to the call of the afternoon nap :: sinking in to the invitation to delight in this moment ::

Friday, June 05, 2015

TGIF

Trust card from my home made oracle deck
I shuffle the deck and pull out a word card most days. This Trust one seems to spin round fairly often, perhaps I notice it more  because I feel it so much when I see. I feel the absolute simple truth of it, there aren't questions about what it means or a frisson of excitement about what might be in store. Instead, in my stomach, I feel the truth of it as a clench and relax, a warmth spreading through me as I deepen in to what it is like to live a life where I Trust me to look after me. I am so Grateful to be learning how to do that with greater ease day by day, to have chosen to create the space in my life to really dig in to what a life well lived means for me and for playful resources like oracle and tarot cards that aid my inner understanding. This week I think my greatest Inspiration came in my second ever Falun Gong class; taught free by dear, generous people I am loving finding new Faith  in the energy within and around my body, in the unseen and the unproven.

Friday, May 29, 2015

TGIF - Easing in to this...

Oracle Cards - The Wisdom of Trees, The Little Sage and home made deck
The newly blossoming easy breezy part of my self is rather delighted that I started this TGIF practice and then immediately missed posting for two weeks. The strict disciplinarian part is raising an eyebrow but she's secretly thinking the grass is rather green and lush over on the easy breezy side!

This week there is a new trust in the cycles of my body. Grumpiness at my tiredness on Bank Holiday Monday when there were so many things I wanted to DO was released much more quickly than ever before. I tried to just be grateful I didn't have to work - sank in to the resting - took a nap, started a new novel and then a sweet, caffeine boost saw me out for an evening dinner and walk and a beautiful end to a lovely weekend. Next day, energy to scoop up the essential tasks left aside the previous day. Who knew it could be like this? I am so grateful to be feeling the rewards of all my healing work these past eighteen months, my body is stronger and happier if not day by day, certainly week by week.

A wonderful inspiration this week is the delightful book Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver which is already transforming my faith  in the mystery and magic, the very touchableness, of the Divine.

I feel blessed.

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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Acceptance

Acceptance images
The more there is, the more there is. The more I accept where I am right now the more that I can see is wonderful and awesome right now. Making progress in so many ways.

Acceptance and I found a new peace when I read the following in my Mindfulness course text: "Acceptance doesn't mean merely putting up with, or resignation, or even stoic endurance. It's more positive than any of these. It's also more active. Acceptance comes from the Latin capere, which means to touch... a willingness to have the experience, to feel it."

I've always been afraid to accept, I understood it as passive, as settling. That fear still creeps in at the edges of trusting and surrendering but I see it now for what it is just as I understand better the immense power in acceptance.

In reality it's not about saying oh well, that's the way it is, nothing that can be done. It's about making space and time to feel it, to inhabit it fully and let it move on. Accepting and releasing are more interwoven than I ever saw.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vinegar and a new motto

Vinegar Hair Rinse and letting go of do your best
At the weekend I poured dilute vinegar over my head and I really rather liked it.

For the last year or two I've been gradually trying to detox our house and beauty products in a consistent way.  Replacing potentially environmentally, or human, harsh products with commercially available or home-made friendlier alternatives. Home-made is definitely where I'm happiest in principle - because of the economics, the reduction in packaging impact and the control. It is also where I find it hardest to get to in practice. Gathering ingredients and then taking the time to make something in sync with when a product needs replacing has been more than I've had energy for so often. Particularly because I often get stuck in the research phase: reading the books, the articles, pinning all the pins. I want to take advantage of the shared experience to try and get things 'right' and yet the more I read, often the more complicated I make something essentially simple.

Like my weekend shampoo and rinse - just dilute castille soap to shampoo with and dilute vinegar to rinse. There are approximately seventy two billion blog articles about this and a whole raft of variations on this theme and I think I have read most of them trying somehow to think out if it would be for me. Given I have had the ingredients on hand for months it really was getting slightly idiotic to not just try it. My hair was not going to fall out, the worst that might happen was that I might look and smell like I'd just finished a shift at the chip shop.

Preparing for perfection is somewhere I often get stuck in the non-essentials of life. In the must get done to get paid/fed/to bed essentials I've found a not very cordial entente that allows me to look like a functional being whilst generally feeling a bit dissatisfied with what I'm getting done. I've lived for too long with 'do your best' as a guiding rule. The insidious demands I create from those three little words that can never be lived up to have gradually become clearer over the years with a particularly enlightening CBT session last week finally making me face that it needed to go. I know these deep imbedded rules are buggers to rewire around as our minds are so attached to them, the pathways burned deep through the brain and there will be tricks to try and keep it in place as my mind fears the coming change.

In trying to release it I stumbled upon a realisation that as much as I might feel like I can never do enough preparation, never consider a situation from every angle and always reflect on what else I could have done - do your best is basically a limitation, a hastily drawn estimate of what I think I might be capable of, a line in the sand at which I can justify giving up on something or having a go whatever the consequences.

So I'm easing away from it - not by doing my best to ignore it, my best to collect evidence of why something is good enough or my best to be pleased with what I have achieved but by feeling my way. Just considering what each next step feels like  - be it some research, an experiment or a blog post about vinegar. It's not about measuring up to anything, it's about relieving my mind of the job of running my life because it's not the right job for it. As the awesome Lisa Esile says "Letting your mind rule your life is like asking your inner eight year old to organize the next presidential campaign; she doesn’t know how and spends most of her time trying to look good in front of her friends." 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words unleashed

Homemade word deck - positive, inspiration
In the company of three wise and wonderful friends I made a happy little deck of words this weekend. It surprised me by being an almost unbelievably satisfying and joy inducing project. I'd hardly given it a scrap of thought in advance which I'm convinced is where part of the magic lies. I am rarely spontaneous in my creating; hopefully this will encourage me to be a little more so. I knew I'd have some great tools on hand as Kelly shares her toys very nicely indeed and I had a beautiful pack of coloured card that clearly made me buy it knowing what it wanted to be one day.

When we settled in to play I'd got the idea refined as much as knowing I wanted to create something like flash cards - flash cards of inspiring, thought provoking words. I have strong memories of sitting happily in our dining room as a child with my deck of cards, learning words, getting tested on spelling. I love to spell. I wish we'd had spelling bees instead of sports days at school. I knew I just wanted cards with words on them; something within my skills to create well and something that let the words take the centre stage. Let the words shine out. Sometimes I am too stuck in words, in thoughts and intellectualising but sometimes the perfect word can jump me off in to the happiest of feelings. I guess I knew on some level that I wanted a deck that would make that a more deliberate happy accident. Something I could trip over on purpose.

Once I started I literally found it nearly impossible to stop - from settling on 32 cards at the start the number just kept going up and up and up. Being with other word loving ladies helped ramp up the inspiration and I thought I was done as I prised myself out of the basement den with about 60 cards in my bag. That wasn't enough. I'm making them double-sided now and loving the moments when another jumps in and demands a spot. I have two simple criteria for inclusion - that they are positive and that they feel important to me in some way. They're journalling jump off points at the moment but also pretty decorations and just so much fun to have around.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Softly in to the New Year

Honey pot homemade poured beeswax candle
The Christmas decoration are still up. Taking it slow this year. I'm glad to be easing back in to routines and stretching in to the New Year but still craving the sparkling cosiness that the holidays bring so much of. As ever I am so not ready for the kind of brisk spartan jumping to attention that gets pushed so hard in this month of resolving to be something other than who you find yourself to be.

I'm really rather liking where I find myself to be at the moment. Moving at a pace that feels right, changing it as the day demands. Finding ways to let expectations drift away. Making fresh starts in gentler, more regular adjustments. Taking small steps rather than just thinking about big leaps.

Warm and soft in the glow of fairy lights and beeswax candles. I made the one above a couple of months ago and made another batch last weekend. Mostly poured containers which are fast to do and so satisfying. I love knowing that they are a healthy addition to my environment as well as deeply pleasing to my eye. There's also that inner glow of satisfaction that I made them with my hands. I also rolled some candles from sheets of wax this time, even easier and a really wonderful, tactile experience. Quite literally keeping the creative flame burning.
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