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Spoonfuls of Love & Kindness

Anyone else feeling the world is an icky place to be right now?  I always try really hard to focus on all the good and not dwell on the bad, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.  I feel so anxious about what the future holds, don’t you?  Do we even have a future?

When feeling this way, I just want to curl up in a giant cookie, suck my thumb, and pretend the world’s not there.  The next best thing to doing all of that is crafting.  I can lose myself in paint and glue and paper and the chaos of my craft room.  Sucking of the thumb is not advised during this time as it will usually be covered in all manner of art mediums, but cookies are allowed, as long as they’re washed down with copious amounts of tea.  Some music on the stereo, a nice warm cardi, and I’m all set.

This weekend I worked on this collage piece.  It’s quite pink for me, but maybe I was chanelling my inner child and wanting some comfort and cuteness.  Maybe that was just the colour I grabbed first (after culling all my papers a few weeks back, I am now a bit low on supplies…might need to go shopping ,hee hee!) and it has no emotional ulterior motive at all.  Whatever, I am quite pleased with this one.  It came together so quickly (for me, Mrs Snail-Pace) and I like its sentiment and theme.  I can see there’s a couple of spots I need to touch up (not outlined or finished off completely) but I will do that before  varnishing.

I do think kindness is the most important quality a person can have.  I think it creates a foundation for everything else.  If you’re inherently kind, you won’t judge people, or be intolerant.  You will put others first and not seek to oppress or demean anyone.  You will strive for the greater good, and help others to do the same, by your example. There is strength in love, and it should never be seen as a weakness.  Love and kindness should be encouraged in schools, and in churches and in our community.  Instead of someone getting three million “likes” because they achieved the perfect duck pout or showed their boobs or bought a new handbag (the cost of which would probably feed three families for a month), we should be applauding those that do good.

We should be celebrating kindness and spreading love and compassion.

Anyway, I am getting on my “be nice” high horse again.  I had a lovely weekend – caught up with an old friend, spent time with my family and brand new baby nephew, and did lots of crafting.  I had time to myself, and time with loved ones, which is the perfect balance.  I nested and baked and slept and tried not to think about the outside world.

Hope you experience, and share in, some love and kindness today x

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Little Monsters

Lots of little monsters in my head at the moment.  The doubt and fear monsters, the “am I doing the right thing?” monsters, the “what am I doing with my life?” monsters and all the other noisy little beasties that plague my brain. To be honest, I am feeling completely lost and anxious and unsure about everything. I don’t know what the heck I am doing or what I SHOULD be doing or if anything I am doing is right or a waste of time.  I feel like I am not being a good friend or daughter or sister or employee or ANYTHING right now.

The drama with the house purchase continues and is threatening to drive me completely crackers.  It’s been such a long, drawn-out process, with no one on either side seeming in the least bit competent or able to do their job efficiently.  I am trying to keep it together – the last few weeks I have done exactly the opposite and have had several meltdowns and hissy fits – and am attempting to be assertive and in control of the situation.  My natural tendency is to run around, trying to fix everything and do everyone’s job for them.  But not this time – I have to do what is required of me and no more.

So, with house dramas and a sick Mum (my fault – I gave her my lurgy; I’m a terrible daughter), work stress and a general feeling of just wanting to stay in bed forever, the little monsters are running amok.  I haven’t been doing any crafting at all (just can’t settle my brain to it, plus I am packing and culling) and that isn’t good for me either.  So I did some doodling.  The idea of the monsters was on my mind, so that’s what I drew.

If only all worries and scary thoughts could be put on to paper and made less frightening…  I think I could take on this little guy and win.

Hope your day is free from monsters x

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Blogging Challenge – Day Five : Your Proudest Moment

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This is a tricky one.  I have the world’s worst self-esteem so I don’t know that I ever feel proud of myself.  Which I should probably work on, I know.  I like to think my proudest moment is yet to come – that something really great is just around the corner, and that I’m not “done” yet.

Today I am proud of myself for signing mortgage papers.  Proud, and terrified.  I’m proud of myself for taking this giant leap into adulthood (albeit a few decades late) and I am proud that I didn’t back out or delay it for another few years.  I am proud (and somewhat surprised) that I am even in the position to be buying a house.  Me!  Little, timid, non-ambitious Me!  I am buying a house!  It’s kinda crazy and hard to believe, because I really didn’t think it was something I would ever be brave enough to do.

There is lots of fear – will I be able to afford it, long term?  What happens if I lose my job?  What if I have made a terrible mistake?  All those things go through my mind a million times a day.  Which I am sure is normal.  It might be the one time in my life I am having normal thoughts!  But I can’t live in fear forever – I have to put my big girl pants on and be a grown-up and stop hiding behind my worries.

There is still settlement to get through and that will be a long and drawn-out process, if the rest of the experience is anything to go by.  But I have to just trust it will be ok and get sorted eventually.  I will be proud of myself for staying calm, if I can do that, and holding my ground if negotiations go awry.  I hope it is settled on time though, and without further complications, because I am not brave and I am not very good at handling anything outside of my usual realm of daily drama.  I have very little reserves, to be honest.  Something else I should work on.  Add it to the list.

So, today I am allowing a little pride to creep in.  It’s an uneasy pride, but it’s there nevertheless.  Just because I have come a long way and am doing this on my own and making big decisions and securing my future, as best as I can, in my own way.  If I can keep meltdowns and conniption-fests to a minimum, that will really be something to be proud of.  But we still have moving day to get through yet, so let’s not get too optimistic 🙂

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Have a happy day everyone and be proud of yourselves x

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Hippo-Critical

A funny little card today.  I was playing around with some animal biology pictures and really liked the shape of the hippo.  Who doesn’t love a hippo!?  Sure, they’re chubby and grumpy and have kinda bad teeth but, all things considered, they’re pretty neat critters.  Top them off with a free-loading bird and you’ve got a quirky design and a card that you can pretty much guarantee no one else will have!

Made a big decision to go back on my anti-depressants this week.  Really didn’t want to, but I have to be sensible and take my own advice about looking after yourself.  I always tell everyone else to stay on their meds if they need them to function, and I was being hypocritical thinking I could manage without them.  Crying every day, sleeping all the time, feeling crummy and anxious and sad and generally getting very low is NOT managing.  Plus I have been worrying my Mum and I hate doing that – she deserves to have a worry-free life.  So I went to my GP and got a new prescription and will be a good girl and stay on them now.  Possibly for good – we’ll see how I go.  There’s so much stress in my life at the moment, now is not the time to be a martyr to my brain’s chemistry. There’s no prize for being miserable when you don’t need to be.

So, onwards and upwards.  Or, at least, less downward spiralling.

Hope you are feeling ok today – look after yourselves x

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Bricks

I have been feeling really cruddy the past few weeks (months/decades) and have been woe-is-me-ing a lot.  Which I really hate.  Most of the time I am a get-on-with-it kind of person.  Sure I have my crappy days but then who doesn’t?  Lately it’s been worse – whether that’s due to me coming off all my medications (duh – whose idea was that?  Oh wait, it was mine…double duh) or just life being slightly more annoying than normal.  I mean, I know I have depression, and that isn’t going to go away any time soon, but it is  sometimes harder to deal with and I get bogged down in wallowing and feeling shitty (sorry, lots of swearing today – feel free to censor).

A lot of my depression and general unease is due to anxiety – it is the root of all evil for me.  I know this, and yet I am not very good at doing anything about it.  I try not to worry, I try not to stress, I try not to absorb other people’s problems as my own.  I have conversations with myself about letting stuff go and not letting things get to me, not worrying about things that I can’t change.  But I am rubbish at not only listening to myself, but taking other people’s advice about de-stressing.

I’m also my own worst critic.  I think I suck, basically.  I compare myself to everyone else and beat myself up for “failing”.  Which is quite often NOT “failing” but just doing things differently.  I KNOW this – but still I feel bad and a bit useless.  Good enough isn’t good enough even though I think it is for everybody else.  I don’t treat anyone the way I treat myself.  If I was my own best friend, I would dump me.  I’m not very nice (to myself).

I’m going to try and sort that out this year.  I am.  I’m going to try very hard to be kinder to myself and accept me for me.  Which will be difficult.  It’s hard to see mistakes as lessons and “flaws” as individuality.  More than anything, I just want to be able to walk in a room and not feel like everyone is looking at me, thinking “Who’s this weirdo?”

The below extract was sent around our office by a colleague.  It’s from the book  Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? by Ajahn Brahm, a Theravada Buddhist monk (he’s the Abott at the Monastery near my hometown…I think I may have met him once when he came in to my library a million years ago) who has written lots of books, supported the ordination of female monks, and basically been an all-round awesome guy.  He’s won the John Curtin Medal for his vision, leadership and service to the Australian community, and compiled an English-language guide to the Buddhist monastic code – the vinaya- which later became the basis for monastic discipline in many Theravadan monasteries in Western countries.  He’s a bit of an over-achiever really.  What a show off! 🙂

Anyway, the following excerpt is worth reading.  It makes you think about what “perfection” is (or isn’t) and how little negatives shouldn’t undermine the overwhelming, big positives.  I’m going to try and remember this, from now on : that I’m not perfect,
but that those little imperfections actually make me “me” and add up to the whole, not detract from it.  Wish me luck – I’m gonna need all the help I can get with this one.

Two Bad Bricks by Ajahn Brahm

“After we purchased the land for our monastery in 1983 we were broke. We were in debt. There were no buildings on the land, not even a shed. Those first few weeks we slept not on beds but on old doors we had bought cheaply from the salvage yard; we raised them on bricks at each corner to lift them off the ground. (There were no mattresses, of course — we were forest monks.)

The abbot had the best door, the flat one. My door was ribbed with a sizeable hole in the center where the doorknob would have been. I joked that now I wouldn’t need to get out of bed to go to the toilet! The cold truth was, however, that the wind would come up through that hole. I didn’t sleep much those nights.

We were poor monks who needed buildings. We couldn’t afford to employ a builder — the materials were expensive enough. So I had to learn how to build: how to prepare the foundations, lay concrete and bricks, erect the roof, put in the plumbing — the whole lot. I had been a theoretical physicist and high-school teacher in lay life, not used to working with my hands. After a few years, I became quite skilled at building, even calling my crew the BBC (“Buddhist Building Company”). But when I started it was very difficult.

It may look easy to lay a brick: a dollop of mortar underneath, a little tap here, a little tap there. But when I began laying bricks, I’d tap one corner down to make it level and another corner would go up. So I’d tap that corner down then the brick would move out of line. After I’d nudged it back into line, the first corner would be too high again. Hey, you try it!

Being a monk, I had patience and as much time as I needed. I made sure every single brick was perfect, no matter how long it took. Eventually, I completed my first brick wall and stood back to admire it. It was only then that I noticed— oh no! — I’d missed two bricks. All the other bricks were nicely in line, but these two were inclined at an angle. They looked terrible. They spoiled the whole wall. They ruined it.

By then, the cement mortar was too hard for the bricks to be taken out, so I asked the abbot if I could knock the wall down and start over again — or, even better, perhaps blow it up. I’d made a mess of it and I was very embarrassed. The abbot said no, the wall had to stay.

When I showed our first visitors around our fledgling monastery, I always tried to avoid taking them past my brick wall. I hated anyone seeing it. Then one day, some three or four months after I finished it, I was walking with a visitor and he saw the wall.

‘That’s a nice wall,’ he casually remarked. ‘Sir,’ I replied in surprise, ‘have you left your glasses in your car? Are you visually impaired? Can’t you see those two bad bricks which spoil the whole wall?’

What he said next changed my whole view of that wall, of myself, and of many other aspects of life. He said, “Yes. I can see those two bad bricks. But I can see the 998 good bricks as well.’

I was stunned. For the first time in over three months, I could see other bricks in that wall apart from the two mistakes. Above, below, to the left and to the right of the bad bricks were good bricks, perfect bricks. Moreover, the perfect bricks were many, many more than the two bad bricks. Before, my eyes would focus exclusively on my two mistakes; I was blind to everything else. That was why I couldn’t bear looking at that wall, or having others see it. That was why I wanted to destroy it. Now that I could see the good bricks, the wall didn’t look so bad after all. It was, as the visitor had said, ‘a nice brick wall.’ It’s still there now, twenty years later, but I’ve forgotten exactly where those bad bricks are. I literally cannot see those mistakes any more.

How many people end a relationship or get divorced because all they can see in their partner are ‘two bad bricks’? How many of us become depressed or even contemplate suicide, because all we can see in ourselves are ‘two bad bricks.’ In truth, there are many, many more good bricks, perfect bricks — above, below, to the left and to the right of the faults — but at times we just can’t see them. Instead, every time we look our eyes focus exclusively on the mistakes. The mistakes are all we see, they’re all we think are there and so we want to destroy them. And sometimes, sadly, we do destroy a ‘very nice wall.’

We’ve all got our two bad bricks, but the perfect bricks in each one of us are much, much more than the mistakes. Once we see this, things aren’t so bad. Not only can we live at peace with ourselves, inclusive of our faults, but we can also enjoy living with a partner. This is bad news for divorce lawyers, but good news for you.

I have told this anecdote many times. After one occasion, a builder came up to me and told me a professional secret. ‘We builders always make mistakes,’ he said, ‘But we tell our clients that it is “an original feature” with no other house in the neighbourhood like it. And then we charge them a couple of thousand dollars extra!’

So the ‘unique features’ in your house probably started out as mistakes. In the same way, what you might take to be mistakes in yourself, in your partner, or in general, can become ‘unique features,’ enriching your time here — once you stop focusing on them exclusively.”

You can read more about Ajahn Brahm HERE.

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Colours of the Sand and Sea

I am having some time off this week – partly because it is my birthday week, but mostly because I just need a break.  Things have been getting on top of me a little – family worries, work stress and friends in trouble – and I just needed to take one of those issues out the equation, at least for a week.  I’ve spent some time at the beach and that has helped clear my head a little and calm my frayed nerves.  But it can’t make everything go away, or fix everybody for me.

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I’ve been trying to be creative and use my time wisely but I have mostly slept a lot and faffed about, not really achieving anything.  I haven’t been sleeping at night so I stupidly took a full dose of my sleep medication a couple of nights ago.  I haven’t had it in ages (have been trying to wean myself off everything but the absolute essentials) and so it kinda hit me like a tonne of bricks.  Yesterday I slept ALL DAY.  Terrible.  Such a waste of time.  Today I am still dopey and a bit spaced out.  I’ve been trying to make cards but it has been a difficult process with my eyes not focusing properly and my brain a bit frazzled.  I did manage to finish off a couple of jewellery pieces – Lord knows how when I can barely see what I am doing – and so at least the day hasn’t been a total waste.

The colours here remind me of the beach.  The turquoise blue of the sea and the pale yellow of the sand and shoreline.  My favourite place to be is near the ocean. I hope the eventual owner of this set will feel the same serenity and calm that the sea brings to me.

Sorry for the short post today.  Hope you are all happy and well x

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Crimbo Doodles!

Crimbo Doodles!

Finally, after many weeks of not doing anything crafty at all, I managed to get in a few hours of creativity this weekend.  I was determined to do SOMETHING, even if it was just planning stuff out so I would have a head-start next weekend.

I desperately need to get started on my Christmas cards for this year.  I am so behind – normally I have some done by now but I have zero. Zip. Nada.  Which is pretty bad.  Especially since it takes me FOREVER to make just one and I need about 30 at least.  I don’t like resorting to bought ones, but the last couple of years I have had to.  And it irks me.

Anyway, enough waffling.  I sat down late on Saturday night and doodled a few little designs, so that they would be dry and ready to be coloured/painted on Sunday afternoon.  (Please excuse colouration of photos – I used Instagram and forgot to take any pics on my regular camera).

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On Sunday, after attending a lecture on “Anxiety across the Lifespan” (interesting, I enjoyed the information on how the brain actually works during anxiety, and learnt about the Hand Brain Model which is useful for explaining said processes in an easy-to-visualise format) and having lunch with friends (Yum…Beetroot and Haloumi Salad at Circa), I went home and got stuck into painting my little peeps.  I did them rather brighter this time, not giving them the more pastel/watercolour look that I have done previously.

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I added some elements (skin on face and hands, hair on some of them) with a Copic marker.

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Then I got fed up altogether with using paint at all (I was having a wobbly hand day) and tried just using the Copics.  I only have a few colours and many of them are drying up (Lord knows how old they are…I have had them ages).  I didn’t have a nice bright red – just a deep burgundy colour.  But it looks ok and wasn’t too streaky, although on the larger areas, such as the body, I did feel it showed a bit too many streaks and patches.  Probably more to do with my technique than the pen itself…plus I was using watercolour paper so it probably wasn’t the best medium to use the pens on.

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Finally, as it was nearly time to stop and pack up (ha ha – I say “pack up” like I am actually going to do that, instead of just leaving out for three weeks), I had an epiphany of sorts and decided to try paper-piecing instead of painting or colouring.  The result was the little lady below.  I kinda love her.  She looks a bit Charlie and Lola-esque but that was unintentional.  I really like the effect of the patterned paper and it was so much easier and less curse-word-inducing than painting or colouring in.  I still used the markers for the smaller elements (skin, hair, pom-pom etc) but used paper for the hat and dress.  Voila!

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 I have always liked paper as a medium.  I don’t know why I didn’t just do it like this to start with.  I have a ridiculous amount of patterned paper, so I should be able to make a load of cards like these in no time.  Although, truthfully, it will still take me forever, because I am picky about coordinating colours and patterns.  But still, at least I accomplished something for the weekend!  Last night I finished off the day by sitting and doodling lots of heads and hands, hat bands and pom-poms so that I can put them together with the papers at a later stage.  Hopefully not too much later.  I don’t want to go another month without creating.  It’s too important and too much fun and makes life much more enjoyable 🙂

Hope your weekend was happy and creative and exactly how you wanted it to be x