Friday, January 29, 2016


This week has been the shadow of the light of last week. Squashed by a stomach bug less than 24 hours after I typed the last post. I might have been relishing all the colour of my life but then you find another perspective and it's been a black and white fortnight. In the grey I have found self care and compassion that validated all I wrote. I said thank you for the opportunity to reinforce my progress. I laughed. Also I cried and felt flat and sorry for myself. Yet always out of the harder bits of life come the biggest lessons and I tried to welcome that. I saw how afraid I am of doing nothing. I think I have cultivated time for stillness. Another perspective could be that I have created safe little pockets to dip into. I write this to help me remember when I am in the swirl of busy and exciting bemoaning the lack of peace and quiet: I create the swirl to avoid the quiet. That the quiet scares me because of what I might hear. I promise to try and listen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A January week

Let us imagine care of the soul, then, as an application of poetics to everyday life. Care of the Soul - Thomas Moore
A regular week and an irregularly momentous one. Play and work. Work and play. Plenty of rest. Full in the flow of the remarkable and unremarkable. My basic routine has space for quiet ritual, for time in nature, for movement and stillness and space to do what my heart calls for in the most playful of ways. The simple everyday is so very good for me now, care fully curated, and I reap the rewards of that in health and energy even in this fallow time.

More particularly there have been delicious moments of note. The weekend brought time with friends, talking about the things that really matter and just being together - that amazing gift of time with people who really see you. This Tuesday I had one of my fortnightly coaching calls with Jen, we're just sprinkling magic on the mundane, recognising the sacred or as the oh-so-eloquent Mr Moore would put it applying poetics to everyday life. On Wednesdays I work from home for half the day, bringing me a little respite from the hurly burly that feels like a balm that should be prescribed for every introverted office worker! I had time in the afternoon to break ice on bird waters and sprinkle food on the hard ground, enjoying the sparkle of frost dusting the garden still. Yoga last night left me physically spent but feeling like I'd opened more than just my joints and the revelation that is being physically emptied, then restored by a good night's sleep is a feeling that will never get old for me. Today has brought playful time alone, an adventure poking around a library and a discharge from my ME/CFS talking therapy - part CBT, part mindfulness coaching - all kinds of 'finally well done the NHS' awesome. So kids, I've done it, closed the healing circle and I have sufficient confidence in my conscious recovery to say I'm staying the right side of healthy. Today, from that side of the fence, I can say without doubt it has been a privilege to walk this path, to be brought so low physically that I had no choice but to wake the fuck up to my life. I'm living in full colour now and that feels really rather good.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Gifts of Imperfection

Winter and candlelight. Tea and biscuits. Sarah and her slippers. Things that are delicious together. Just like Brene and Oprah and art journalling and The Gifts of Imperfection.

I signed up for the on demand course last October and I was starting to wonder if it wasn't a little like my exploration of The Artist's Way. Bought in 2010 after it was recommended on a course the book has been in a drawer ever since, just waiting for the day.

 I tried to find my deeper way of engaging with TGIF in the spring but that didn't stick so this sounded like a perfect way to really play with the concepts that were so helpful to me last year. I gathered my supplies and then just couldn't find that overlap of time, inclination and a dash of bravery to begin. Despite Julia Cameron lurking in the drawer I just trusted that the conditions would be right, soon, however long that took. And hey presto the window of opportunity opened last weekend. I'm so enjoying playing with the exercises for lesson one. I'm typing this with Sharpie on my hand and joy in my heart because I am imperfect and I am enough. I might even start The Artist's Way once my Gifts are fully unwrapped!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Instinctive embroidery

Inspiration from Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops book

Doodled embroidery - flowers and vines - French knots and stem stitch and back stitch

French knot allium

This embroidery is growing like weeds! I have found so much inspiration from the wonderful Embroidery Workshops book. Along with the book my Ma had gifted me this flowery fat quarter, three exquisite skeins of thread and notions. When I opened it on Christmas Day I had everything to hand but I wasn't quite sure what to start as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. So when I read the advice from the final chapter to "..please remember: Along the road of making things, it can be freeing not to worry too much about the end result." it was exactly the permission I needed. It freed my simple brain from the old trap of trying to get to the end before I've even started. 

I'm still not sure how I'll use or display this work but it has given me such enormous pleasure this month to just doodle on these flowers, simply stitching what I feel like stitching. With the gentle pull of the thread, I can get in to that peacefully present place, beyond the dictats of my antsy mind, just letting the piece unfold.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Now that's over, it's time for the real business of the season

Siamese cuddles
These holidays with their sparkle and bustle are quite the distraction. In years past I used to associate this time with the pinnacle of winter, as if  I were saying "shortest day done, mince pies eaten, new year rung in, righty ho lets have at this spring business then". January and February dragging on drearily with the dark and cold were quite the anticlimax and time for restless blues. Then we had a proper snowfall one January and I had to actually slow down to something like the right pace for me, it was a revelation, January and I could actually be friends. Now these approaching quiet months seem like so much more the point to me and my traditional mid-December funk at being caught up in doing too much makes perfect sense.

This is my big rest time, a natural lull in the cycle of the year. I think I must have been a hedgehog in a former life. The idea of lining my house with leaves in autumn, battening down the hatches,  emerging blinking somewhere towards the end of February is a little too appealing. Given physiological and economic constraints I'm prepared to settle for hunkering down and embracing some hygge. All of which is beautifully in tune with the restful moments theme for this month in Sas' lovely new project #mymindfulyear.

Social engagements are welcome but slippers will ideally feature. You might talk me into swapping them for some boots and a bracing stroll to keep the daylight quotient up but, mostly I feel, I will only be truly happy when found sewing, knitting or reading in soft glowing light. The cats are on board so long as I keep the noise down. I've got some provisions in; Christmas can be an excellent source of resources with sufficient hints. The pile of reading material is substantial and  Rebecca Ringquist's glorious embroidery book has reinvigorated my desire for pretty stitchy time. I got a hit of knitting inspiration in December when I found some bright, soft yarn in a stash shifting manoeuvre. A Christmas gift scarf was born and I'm contemplating a lightweight version for myself. Let the cosy times roll!
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