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Breathe, Dammit!

My body has been playing some nasty tricks on me lately. By lately, I mean all of my life. But, especially lately, it seems to be really amping up the symptoms, making me imagine all sorts of diseases and physical abnormalities. I hurt my back a few weeks ago – a combination of couging, over-extending and just being a bit careless. It really scared me – the pain was horrible and I could barely stand up straight. My doctor told me it was just an acute issue and would resolve itself with rest and all the usual remedies – heat packs, anti-inflammatory gel (I can’t take the tablets) and the use of my beloved TENS machine (seriously – do you have one? They are THE BEST!). The pain did go away and I gingerly went back to my normal day-to-day routine. Until I bent over a bit weirdly and hurt it again. The pain went away much quicker this time and I thought it was all going to be ok. Until, this week, the pins and needles started in my legs and feet. Immediate meltdown from me, imagining everything from Parkinson’s disease to strokes and irreversible nerve damage. I am nothing if not a drama queen.

So, faced with these horrible imaginings, I took my doctor’s advice and went to a physio she had recommended. This morning, anxiety levels high and ability-to-cope-with-bad-news levels low, I spent an hour with said physio. She was awesome. Very thorough and kind, she talked about everything that my body is going through and how much of it is probably related to my overall anxiety and stress, combined with my really ridiculously tight muscles (brought on by stress and anxiety…you get the idea). She didn’t do the whole “it’s all in your head and you just need to relax” speech – she was very sympathetic and explained things. Because I have a history of nerve damage and neurological issues (from my meningitis), this also sets the body up to be hyper-responsive to stress and any physical sensation, especially if that sensation mirrors anything my body went through when I was really ill.

She was happy with my back and spine in general – didn’t find anything there to be concerned about (I was worrying about bulging discs) and my overall movement and range was ok. But I need to fix my breathing. This has always been an issue with me – I am a shallow breather, barely moving at all when I take a breath. The physio said she couldn’t even tell if I was actually breathing or not. So I have to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically. This is really tricky for me – I always hold my tummy in, even when supposedly relaxed – so it will take some time for me to retrain myself. I have had numerous doctors and physios tell me this. Now I HAVE to do something about it and really persevere with it (I am actually trying to do belly breathing right now as I type this). Because I don’t want to keep getting these problems.

Work has been incredibly stressful, with lots of redundancies and overall workplace anxiety.  Some days are really miserable and lonely – this does not help my mental wellbeing.  I miss my friends and the camaraderie that you get when you work together every day.  My workload has tripled and I am not always a happy camper.  Basically, I am a grumpy, stressed-out hag most days.  Having fuzzy feelings in my legs (and not just because I haven’t shaved them) is another stressor I could do without.  But I will take the pins and needles over the horrible back pain.  THAT I can live without, thank you.

I need to work on my fitness levels and stop the stress-eating (ie bingeing) that I have been doing.  My weight has crept up and that’s making me feel crummy.  I’m not exercising at all at the moment and that’s making me feel guilty AND crummy.  So I need to improve lots of things, starting with my coping mechanisms and mindfulness and the whole breathing thing.  So much work to do!

The Universe keeps telling me, in its own not-so-subtle way, that I need to chill out and calm down, stop worrying and de-stress, otherwise I will get sick or develop weird pains and other annoying bodily issues.  Pretty much every illness I’ve ever had has been stress-related, so I need to do something about it.  I don’t even know how to begin.  I don’t know HOW to stress less.  But I am going to have to learn, quick smart.

Do you have a really simple method for de-stressing?  For learning how to not worry?  All suggestions and advice gratefully received!

Thanks for dropping by – take care of yourselves x

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Fresh Slate

It’s time for a change, people!

I have been writing this blog for almost 5 years now (wow – it actually feels like much longer…not sure if that is a good or bad thing…) and there are days when I feel really pleased about what I’ve posted.  But then there are other times when I read over posts and cringe inwardly.  Because I tend to overshare.  A lot.  Also, I tend to not really think about who is reading my blog, and whether anything I say could be damaging, either professionally or personally.

I recently discovered my fourteen year old niece reads my blog.  At first, I was delighted.  My beautiful, amazing, teenage niece is reading MY blog and telling me it’s “awesome”.  I mean, for an old fart like me who has never been cool a day in her life, that’s pretty rad.

Then I thought about it a bit more and went into panic mode.  There’s stuff on here I don’t want her to read.  Not because I have lived the life of a reprobate (far from it – I am LITERALLY the most boring person in the world.  I am certain if you look in the dictionary under the word “dull”, my name is there in italics somewhere) but because I am sometimes a bit too quick to spill my emotional beans and reveal things I shouldn’t.  And there are things I am not proud of.  And there are things that I should be more careful about keeping to myself.  Not because they are things to be ashamed of, but because they are private and personal and not meant for the world at large.

I’ve always been pretty open about stuff.  And while that is a good thing in relationships, I don’t know that it is necessarily wise when you are creating a blog that could potentially be read by millions of people.  Ok, so it’s unlikely that THAT will happen, but I still have to protect those closest to me and not share stuff that is really meant for private conversations.

When I was going through my marriage breakup, I spewed forth “woe-is-me” tales of my broken heart and feelings of abandonment.  I said more about my ex-husband that was necessary.  I don’t want that to be “out there”.  I don’t want to be that bitter and twisted ex-wife.  And I was, for a long time.  I tried really hard not to be, but this blog was an outlet and I needed to be heard some days.

But that need has diminished and now I just want to move on and not dwell on the darker days.  I don’t want that to be part of my story.  And the easiest way to prevent that, is just to delete it.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to go back over old posts and remove anything that is no longer relevant or appropriate.  I want this to be an authentic blog, but a mostly uplifting one.  I’m not going to pretend I am full of the joys of Spring all the time but I am going to try and leave the gloomy, personal stuff out, as much as I can.  Because I think it will help me.  And I need to learn to be less over-sharey.  Or, at least, learn to open up more to the people around me, rather than sharing with strangers on the internet.  Because y’all don’t need to hear it.

So, anyway, I am going to changing some stuff and removing some posts.  I’m going to focus on good things and the stuff that makes life better.  I am doing it to protect myself, but also to project a better image to the young ones who are very dear to me.  Not lying or presenting a fake face, but focusing on the lighter side of life.  The world is so dark right now, the less misery and gloom we can bring into it, the better.

Hope that is ok with you all.  Feel free to send me a cyber slap if I regress 🙂

And to my gorgeous niece, and her equally amazing sister – your Auntie loves you to the moon and beyond.  Be yourselves and be proud of who you are x

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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (and Your Mojo is Taking a Vacation)

As I have mentioned a few times recently, I am in a bit of a creative slump.  Every time I try to make something – whether it be a card or a collage, something out of clay, or just a doodle – it turns out rubbish.  It is very depressing and frustrating and makes me want to hide under the covers, eating cookies and crying into my phone (which, of course, is opened to Instagram so I can look at lots of other artists’ AMAZING work and depress myself even more).  That’s just how I roll.

So, in lieu of actually creating anything, I am working on creating a space in which I can work, be inspired and, hopefully, get my mojo back.

My craft room is a disaster zone.  There is no other way to describe it.  There is stuff everywhere and my actual working space has been reduced to an area of desk approximately the size of a drink coaster.  It’s terrible.

I need to de-clutter, big time.  I need to get rid of stuff that I am never going to use and organise the stuff I will use.  I need to make life easier for myself and prepare some things ready for starting new projects.  Most importantly, I just need to tidy the heck up!

With that in mind, here are a few things we can all do to make a space that is conducive to creativity and inspiration (or, at least, one that won’t make us depressed), and some suggestions for making the most of your creative slump time.

  1. If you’re a card-maker, organise all your card blanks and envelopes.  Match up sets and put “odds” aside.  If you’re really being good, get rid of them (give away or recycle bin).  If you’re a hoarder, bundle them together in sizes.
  2. If you have off-cuts of card, try making card blanks to fit your odd envelopes, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
  3. Go through the old books you’ve been collecting/hoarding to cut up, and cut out text from them. Maybe a phrase or word will inspire you to create. I keep a jar filled with sentences and words I like, so they’re always on hand. This is a good task to do sitting by the telly, with a cup of tea.
  4. Get stuck into your stash of scrapbooking/cardmaking papers.  CULL THEM.  Do you really need the lime green and bright pink, polka-dotted paper?  Maybe you do.  Most likely you don’t, and that’s why it’s still sitting there.
  5. Organise your adhesives.  Do you have ancient, dried up bottles of glue/Modge-Podge/Gel Medium?  Or is that just me? Get rid of them.  Also, go through your adhesive tapes – put them in one spot so they’re easily accessed and not sticking to things they shouldn’t.
  6. If you’re like me and tear out ideas and images from magazines and then leave them lying about the place, collect them all up and take some time to organise them into files or scrapbooks.  I have a file each for recipes, home decor, and fashion, as well as one for card ideas, one for quotes and articles, and another for general craft inspiration.  Make them look pretty and inviting – they really do help when you are in a slump and needs some ideas.
  7. Now get rid of all your piles of magazines – take out what you need (see # 6.) and chuck the rest in the recycle bin.  Some magazines are totally awesome and you want to keep the whole thing – that’s ok, but it needs to have a home.  Put it on a shelf or somewhere that you keep other inspirational books.  Don’t leave it lying about.
  8. Rubber stamps.  I swear they multiply.  I don’t remember buying them all and yet I seem to have hundreds.  I recently got rid of a whole box of them – gave them away to friends and donated them to op shops.  I haven’t missed them and don’t know why I kept them for so long.  If you haven’t used them in a while, it’s time for them to go. There’s only so many times you can use that teddy bear stamp or the one with the funny phrase that was hilarious in 1994 but not so much now.  Organise your text / word stamps into one container or drawer.  Try and group “like” items together so you know where everything is.  Christmas stamps in one spot, animal stamps in another, etc.  Makes like easier.
  9. If you have some projects you’ve made that you’re really happy with, make sure they are on display.  I have favourite cards hanging on my wall near my work space.  It helps to remind you that you don’t suck all the time, and gives you inspiration to try again.
  10. Make sure your most-utilised supplies are within easy reach of your work space.  It seems like an obvious thing but it really does help.  Storing them upright, when you can, in jars, cups and vases, gives you more room, and can look very appealing. Remember, though, to store marker pens flat – it helps them to last longer.
  11. While we are on the subject of pens – spend a few minutes going through them and chucking out any that no longer work or are on their last legs.  Make a note of any colours you need so that you can stock up.  Nothing worse than needing that skin-tone marker and you find it’s all dried up and useless.  Sharpen pencils and re-fill leads in mechanical pencils.  The more you prepare now, the less you will have to do when the arty mood strikes you – everything will be ready to go.
  12. Make a playlist.  This really helps – honest!  Compile a couple of playlists on your ipod or computer that help you to relax and create.  Alternatively, find some podcasts to download that are motivational, thought-provoking or inspirational.  Listening to other people talk about their creativity can really boost your own.
  13. Move stuff around.  Maybe you just need a change of scenery.  Would your craft table look better over in that corner, have better light by the window or work best right in the centre of the room?  Sometimes changing things around can really help to get you out of a rut.  It also encourages you to tidy up and sort through stuff, which is never a bad thing.
  14. Have a look through all those art books you’ve got and try copying someone else’s work.  This is just for practicing and learning some new techniques or styles – don’t try and pass someone else’s art as your own.  That’s rude (and also slightly illegal).  This is just to get your brain working and to stir your art heart.  Sometimes your creative centre needs a bit of a kick up the bum, especially if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.  It’s like doing the same exercise at the gym – every now and then you need to change things up a little and challenge your body.  Your brain is the same.
  15. Have a nap.  If all else fails, tuck yourself up in bed or on the couch, shut the world out, and have a little nap.  Maybe you’ll wake up feeling energised and motivated. Maybe you’ll just get some much needed rest and feel better about everything in general.  Sometimes you just need to sleep – that’s all there is to it.  I’m giving you permission to nap!

So, just a few ideas for helping you to get your art heart pumping.  Sometimes you just need to give in and say “Ok, no crafting for me today!”  and do something else.  It’s supremely frustrating though, when all you want to do is create a masterpiece and you can barely draw a stick figure or stitch in a straight line.  Sometimes your mojo is just off and needs a break.  I’m hoping that is the case with me, anyway.

Hope you’re having a creative, happy day (or at least a really awesome nap!) 🙂

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Quote for the Day : You are not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

“…The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do,
no matter what you try, will simply not like you.
But the world is also filled with those who will love you fiercely.
The ones who love you they are Your People.

Don’t waste your finite time and heart trying to convince the people who aren’t your people that you have value. They will miss it completely.
They won’t buy what you are selling. Don’t try to convince them to walk your path with you because you will only waste your time and your emotional good health.

You are not for them and they are not for you.
You are not their cup of tea and they are not yours.
Politely wave them along and you move away as well. Seek to share your path with those who recognise and appreciate your gifts, who you are.

Be who you are. You are not everyone’s cup of tea and that is OK…”

— Unknown

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That’s That

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just say “Everything is ok and that’s all there is to it…” and then everything would just miraculously be fine and dandy?  If only!

This little birdie is standing defiant and saying “No, I will not let things get to me – everything’s ok and I won’t hear any negativity today!”  She’s even pulled her crown down over her earholes, just in case.  Might as well block out the naysayers and the party-poopers (there are lots of party poopers in the bird world, I’ve heard), and anyone who starts their conversations with “You can’t” or “Yes, but..” will be summarily banished from the nesting box.  It’s that simple.

Hope your world is full of positive people today and that your mind is free from worries.  If not, just pull your crown on tighter and ignore the heck out of anyone or anything that threatens to rain on your parade.

Take care of yourselves x

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Perfectly You

You are so perfectly YOU!  You are!  As Dr Seuss once wrote “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”  

It’s hard to remember that sometimes – that you are YOU and you’re not supposed to be anyone else, or even try to be.  Because you were put on the Earth to be the best YOU you can be, not to try and be almost as good as someone else.  This is what I try to tell myself.  I fail, regularly, to believe it, but every day is a chance to start again (just like diets – they always begin tomorrow – it’s a known fact!) and just be YOU.

I made this little card with that sentiment in mind.  This little lady doesn’t care tthat she’s a bit rounded in some places, or that she has knobbly knees.  She doesn’t even mind that she doesn’t have arms!  She still thinks she’s a princess and a pretty damn awesome one at that.  She’s got the crown to prove – they don’t give them out to just anyone, you know.

Hope you are feeling good about yourself today – you’re exactly as you’re supposed to be and, if not, you’re heading in the right direction, bit by bit.  I know it.  Trust me, I’m a doctor.  Ok, I’m not really but I’ve watched ER lots of times so I know stuff 🙂

Thank you for dropping by and reading my silliness x

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Quote for the Day : Sometimes

“…Sometimes I just want space to be me
But then I remember I don’t know who “me” is
And any space I have is filled with the unknowing
And the questions about what I should be doing
And if I should replace the “Should” with a “Could”
And if I have always been wrong and always will be
And if everyone knows my secrets
or if my secrets are hidden away and will never be discovered
and will die with me, alone and unknown

Sometimes I want to disappear
But then I remember my footprints on this Earth are forever
The damage is already done and I can’t be forgotten, at least by the Earth
But to the others I am already a memory
And a fading one at that
Because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do and try harder to be the same
As them 
And all the others
who succeeded where I had failed

Sometimes I want to stand out
But then I remember standing out means you are different
And different is not always a happy place
Even if it is an authentic place
And a place to lay your soul
When it is tired of being hungry and having to fight with itself
About things that should be easy or not there at all

Sometimes I want to be still
But then I remember I have to keep moving
In case the truth catches up with me and it’s too much to take in
Like a hurricane in a teacup
But the moving gets harder and I end up running on the spot
While everyone passes by me
Unconcerned by the diminishing space I am taking up
As I burrow into the ground, a whirlpool at my feet…”

–Anonymous

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