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Brave : New Year Goals & Dreams

Can you believe it is a New Year’s AGAIN???  Where did 2017 go?  Actually, I don’t really care where it went – I just want it gone.  It was a pretty dreadful year.  Seems like everyone had it tough, in one way or another, and that the Universe was plotting against us by making kooky, crazy, scary and random things happen.  To be fair, the Universe does that all the time, but this year it seemed to just say “Ah, to hell with it!’ and just chucked everything it could at us.  Probably serves us right – maybe we needed some more wake up calls.  Especially me, I always sleep in 🙂

This was, until five seconds ago when I deleted all the text I’d spent ages typing, a very long post about my resolutions for the new year.  The usual stuff about losing weight, being more sociable, being a better housekeeper etc.  But I am actually feeling that those things are all part of the bigger picture of me just trying to be better than I am now.  And the majority of the things I want to change about myself all hinge on one thing, or my lack thereof : bravery.

I’m not very brave.  I am basically scared of everything.  In some ways, I guess that makes me braver than I think I am, because instead of curling up in my bed and staying there forever (which is what I really want to do pretty much every day lately), I get up and go out into the world.  Which is scary for me.  Always has been.  I don’t understand the world and it doesn’t understand me.

This week was hard.  I had to make decisions that were difficult and upsetting and made me feel horrible about myself and my judgements.  I don’t like hurting people, but this week I had to do that to someone who was hurting me.  And then it made me question whether or not they actually were hurting me, or if my fear and lack of courage was affecting my perception of the situation.  But I had to stand up for myself and that was hard.  I don’t do it often and it is not a comfortable feeling for me.  I am generally more at ease backing down or tolerating things, even if the other person is in the wrong.  So instead of feeling good about standing up for myself, I feel horribly sad and guilty and keep wondering if the other person is ok.

I had another situation where I had to be assertive (a man had left his dog in a hot car and he he did not take kindly to me suggesting that he move the car, or preferably the dog, into the shade) and it ended up with me in tears and, frankly, afraid that I was going to get punched in the face.  I did not feel victorious or proud of myself.  I felt scared and small and again questioned whether I was in the right.

I had to assert myself at work too – in front of a bunch of colleagues – and that was very difficult also.  Again, I was in the right, but it felt very wrong to stand there and say “Excuse me, but that is my responsibility I have to ask you to let me handle that”.  I ended up apologising to the person afterwards because I felt so rotten about it, even though I was only stating what was true and defending my own job.

So, if I am to pick one resolution for this year, it is to be brave.  And to stop apologising for having feelings and opinions and ideas of my own.  And to make the hard decisions when I have to, and stand by them.  And not let my fear of losing people stop me from standing up for myself and my own needs and values.  And, most importantly, to embrace change and not fear it.  I feel like this year is going to be a year of change and I have to be ready for that, one way or the other.

So, here’s to bravery and self-belief.  And to standing up for what you believe in.  And to not letting someone else tell you how you should live your life.

Thank you for reading – Happy New Year to you all.  May 2018 bless you with many wonderful experiences, and the courage to embrace them all.  Be kind to one another and yourselves this year.

x

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That’s iced tea, by the way, not wine…
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Changeling (Collage)

Another day, another collage… I am just continuing with the cuttin’ and pastin’ at the moment, as that’s what I am in the mood to do.  I have learnt to not fight these moods and just go with it.  I finished this piece in record time, even though it was a larger canvas (8 x8″) and a much larger image than I am used to working with.  I was a bit nervous drawing those antennae in…a steady hand was required and a steady hand I do not possess.  However – deep breath held – I managed to do them (in permanent marker no less – scary!)) and I am kinda pleased with the way they look.  Silly how something as tiny as a symmetrical, even and non-wonky pair of antennae can make you happy 🙂

I struggled for ages (as per usual) to find the right word for this fellow but then I came across “changeling” and it seemed to fit.  Not exactly a faerie baby swapped at birth for a human bub, but still…the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly is magical in itself. Besides, one of my favourite books is “The Stolen Child” by Keith Donohue, and that’s about changelings and, well, that has nothing to do with this picture whatsoever, but I am going to reference here it anyway, so there!

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Back to work tomorrow, where I become a different kind of changeling.  One who has to swap their magical, delightful, pyjama-wearing, tea-drinking world of art-making for their less than thrilling “proper” job.  Sigh… But one must pay for art supplies (and tea), so jobs are a necessity.  And a blessing, if you take into account the tough economic times we are in.  I do try to remember that, but it’s hard some days when I would rather be up to my eyeballs in art materials than over due library books.

This week I am trying to make some changes though.  I’ve started a meditation course (literally just started it last night – I will sitting cross-legged on the floor omming before you know it!), I’m determined to try and get up earlier (or at least on time), and I am going to work very hard on reducing my stress.  After a series of medical tests showed there was no physical reason why I should be having some of the health issues I’m experiencing, I have to accept that I allow stress to effect my life too much.  I have to take charge and be responsible for my own well-being.  Which is tricky.  But I’m going to try.  And keep trying.  And trying even when I don’t feel like it.  Which, I fear, will be most of the time.  Because change is hard, and even something unpleasant like being stressed-out all the time can be a hard habit to break.  It will mean I have to start  worrying less about everyone (difficult) and learning to say NO sometimes (nearly impossible) and being less critical of myself (completely impossible).  But I gotta try.

I don’t think I will become a butterfly overnight, but maybe I can slowly-but-surely break out of my cosy anxiety/stress/worry cocoon and give those crumpled-up wings a bit of an airing.  And who knows?  Once I’m out, maybe my antennae will be less wonky than I imagine them to be 🙂

x

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Quote for the Day : Stronger and Stranger

“…My kids are starting to notice I’m a little different from the other dads. “Why don’t you have a straight job like everyone else?” they asked me the other day.  I told them this story:

In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me…I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you…you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day…”

-― Tom Waits

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Taking Stock in May

Aggghhhhhh.  I had written a fairly long post here and it JUST DISAPPEARED. [insert swear word here].  I don’t know what happened.  It was there – and then it wasn’t.  So annoying!  I have no idea what I even wrote.  So I have to start again.  Sigh.  And, of course, what I wrote before would have been BRILLIANT to the point of being genius.  Now whatever I write will be rubbish!  Double sigh.

Anyway, moving on… What I had been saying, before I was rudely interrupted by computer tomfoolery, was that one of my favourite blogs is Meet Me at Mike’s, created by the very talented Pip Lincolne.  It’s a great little blog, with lots if inspirational ideas and good stuff.  In fact, the blog’s tagline is “Good Stuff for Nice People”.

One of the regular things Pip does is have a “Taking Stock” post, where she lists the things she is doing that month (or week, or whatever), the things that are inspiring her and the every day stuff that is making her world go ’round.  She’s even kind enough to have a prompting list you can copy and paste.  And you know I am lazy and need that kind of help in my life.  I pretty much wish that life could be one long list that someone else writes for you, and you just have to fill in the blanks.  Even better if they let you fill in the answers with a pencil.  That way, if you make a boo-boo, you can erase it and start again.  I’d probably go through a lot of erasers.

So, my “Taking Stock” list for May…

Making : A mess.  Always.
Cooking : Lots of comfort food.  It’s cold and I am sick of eating salad.  So, soups and polenta and porridge are the go.  I am trying to avoid making cookies…sigh.
Drinking :  Tea.  Always tea.  But a lot of Passionfruit and Hibiscus tea.  Because it is      delightful.  I don’t normally do “fruity” teas.  They smell wonderful but taste pretty insipid.  Like watered-down cordial.  But this tea is fab.  It does, unfortunately, smell a little bit like cat pee.  But it tastes delicious.  You should try it.
Reading : I just finished “The Good Mayor” by Andrew Nicoll.  It’s bloody delightful.  One of the reviews describes it as a book that “makes you want to go out and fall in love” and, indeed, that is very true.  I don’t read romance novels (AT ALL) because – hello! – I’m bitter and twisted, but this one is different. It’s quirky and funny and heartbreaking and, oh, just read it already!  I couldn’t put it down.  You won’t be able to either.
Trawling : Job sites, sadly.  Times are a-changing.
Wanting : A steamer for my clothes.  I know – pathetic.  But some of my clothes are very tricky to iron and I don’t end up wearing them much because I dread the inevitable crease-fest.
Looking : Home-decorating books and magazines and websites.  My house does not reflect this, but one day it shall.  Oh yes!
Deciding : Whether I should get rid of my bead / jewellery-making stash.  I need to de-clutter and figure out exactly what I want to do, craft-wise.  But I know that as soon as I get rid of it all, I will need/want it.  Such is the life of a hoarder…
Wishing : I could win the Lottery.  The big one.  The one where I could buy my family and friends houses and set everyone up for life.  Money can’t buy happiness but it can go a long way towards taking some worry and stress away.
Enjoying : My guilty pleasure is Catfish.  The TV show, not the actual fish.
Waiting : For a family announcement.
Liking : Hiking.  Ooh, that rhymed!  I am very unfit and hurt for days afterwards, but I do enjoy getting out and walking in the sunshine and fresh air.  Exercise doesn’t have to suck.  I’m not going to be scaling Mount Everest any time soon, but I am liking trekking around our local landscape.
Wondering : Why I am like I am.  But I cannot afford more therapy so I will have to figure it out on my own or just quit wondering.  Embrace the weirdo that is me!
Loving : My family and friends.  I am so blessed.  A lot of people have come into my life that I am so grateful for.
Pondering : Life, The Universe, and Everything.  And also why I can’t stop thinking about food for three whole seconds.
Considering : Taking up yoga.
Buying : Home maintenance stuff.  My house is falling to pieces.
Watching : I’m a bit obsessed with Russel Brand this month.  So I am re-watching a bunch of his DVDs.  I mean DVDs with him in it.  I don’t mean I broke into his house and stole a load of his personal DVDs and then watched them.  That would be weird.
Hoping : That things will be ok.
Marvelling : At how beautiful, wise and loving my nephews and nieces are.  They never cease to amaze me, and give me hope for the future.
Cringing : At how much Income Protection insurance costs.  When you have pre-existing conditions, you basically have to pay double what everyone else does.  So I get to have a kidney problem, mental heath issues AND a huge insurance fee.  Awesome.  Two thumbs up.  As soon as I decide to drop the insurance, I know I will get hit by a car or attacked by killer bees or something.
Needing : Better exercise clothes.  I tend to do the baggy-pants-and-baggy-t-shirt combo and I generally look like a bag lady.  A sweaty, wheezy bag lady.  I am not confident enough to wear the tight, workout gear everyone has these days.  But I should probably try to be – it would give me more incentive to actually get my butt into gear.  So I can get my butt into the trendy gear, so to speak and look less homeless.
Questioning : My life.  What the heck am I doing with it???
Smelling : The lack of perfume on me.  I have run out of my favourite scent – “Butt Naked” by Somethin Special.  Terrible name but I love the smell of this perfume oil.  I always get complimented on it and it’s just a happy, yummy scent. It’s got top notes of strawberry, cherry and coconut, which is just delightful.  Plus it is not tested on animals, which makes me very happy indeed.
Wearing : Warmer clothes.  And Pants.  Ugh.  I hate pants (trousers, slacks, jeans).  I did just buy some cropped, linen pants which I actually don’t hate.  They are very comfortable and I don’t feel like a lumpy, dumpy sausage in them.  In fact I feel rather nautical.  If I wear them with a blue and white stripey sweater, I feel downright jaunty!
Noticing : How people don’t say “Bless You” when you sneeze anymore.  It’s so rude.  I just say “Bless Me” when I sneeze now.  Cuts out the middle man.
Knowing : I have a LONG way to go before I am an adult.
Thinking : Way too much.  But not about the right stuff.
Admiring : Sarah Michelle Gellar.  She just seems like a decent human being.  A great Mum, and wife, and she doesn’t get caught up in all the celebrity nonsense.  Plus, y’know, Buffy kicks arse!
Getting : Lots of bills.  Man, they are all coming at once!  Pretending they are not there does not help.
Feeling : Anxious.  Lots going on.
Hearing : At the moment I have Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels” in my head. Constantly.  That’s probably because I keep playing it. Constantly.  Don’t judge me – it’s a good song.  I miss the 80s.
Embracing : Wearing glasses.  I am trying really hard to remember to wear them.  Most of the time they end up on my head, like a hair band, rather than on my face.  But I’m trying…

So that’s me for the month.  Lots happening and lots to think about and worry about.  What are you up to in May?  Any big plans for change or transformation?

Thanks for dropping by – and DO check out Pip Lincolne’s great blog, Meet Me at Mike’s – you’ll get lots of inspiration and ideas 🙂

 x

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Now I am Forty-Three

So, today is my 43rd birthday.  Forty-three.  Four decades-and-a-bit.  Where the hell did those years go?!  I’m sure time speeds up as you get older.  I know I am very aware of time passing and, more depressingly, time running out.

Last year, I wrote a post about being forty two, and what I knew to be true at that point.  Not much has changed since then.  I still don’t know what the heck I am doing half the time, but I guess that’s ok.  I hope so anyway.  Though there is still a tonne of stuff I don’t know, there are some things which I know to be true FOR SURE.

  1. After forty, the body basically gives up and tells you where you can stick your diets and exercise.  Things sag and bulge and lose the ability to look like they did when you  were twenty.  This is ok.  Horrible and annoying, but ok.  No one else will notice except for you, because they are all too busy worrying about their own saggy bits, so don’t focus on it too much.  If you do, you will become dull, depressing AND saggy.  And that’s just sad.
  2. Don’t worry too much about trying to figure out your face shape.  Whether it is a heart or an oval or a dodecahedron doesn’t really matter.  Just wear what you like and grow your hair in a way that causes you the least amount of stress.  No one is going to come up to you in the street and berate you for having a fringe with a round face.
  3. Now that you have given up on trying to understand boys,do not turn your attention to understanding men (who are, after all, just little boys with bigger and more expensive toys).  It’s even harder and will give you a migraine.
  4. Try new hair colours.  Blonde is inevitable, but these days so is pink, lilac and blue. Avoid doing that black-underneath-and-white-on-the-top style.  You WILL look like a back-to-front skunk.  Do not trust your friends who tell you you look “fabulous” with such a style.  “Fabulous” is code word for “We understand you are going through a phase and hope you grow out of it soon”.  Cover grey hair if you feel you must – don’t feel guilty or vain for doing so.  Similarly, don’t let people tell you you shouldn’t let yourself go grey.   Schnauzers are grey and they are awesome.  Do what you want and what you can afford . Unless it’s the skunk thing.
  5. Hang out with small children when you can.  It’s best if you ask their parents first. Don’t just pick up random children on the street – that is frowned upon.  And frowning causes wrinkles.
  6. Be kind.  Always.  To yourself and to others.  It is painless and gives you brownie points in heaven.  Maybe.  I’m not sure about that one.  At the very least, it makes you happier and will stop wars from happening.  Maybe, I’m not sure about that one either.
  7. Read all the books you can.  Do not waste time on books you “can’t get in to”.  Life is too short to be wasting it on books you don’t connect with.  They’re like people – some of them are just not your type and can be annoying and obnoxious, dull or long-winded.  Give them away and start a new book.  If one thing in life is guaranteed, it’s that you will NEVER run out of books.
  8. Don’t worry about getting married, or finding a boyfriend (or girlfriend) or being in a relationship at all.  You’re perfectly ok without that stuff.  Don’t settle for something just because everyone else is doing it.  You’re not everyone.  You’re you.  And you’re amazing.  If someone comes along who deserves a piece of that amazingness, by all means hold on to them for dear life.  But don’t wait for them.  They might be a little bit tardy, and you can waste a lot of time hanging around, hoping they show up.
  9. Don’t buy shoes you have trouble walking in.  You will look like a twit.
  10. At some point you will find yourself saying “Music today is RUBBISH!” and bemoaning the fact no one can write a decent song any more.  Face it, you have become your parents.  Don’t fight it.
  11. Try a nice bright lipstick.  And then immediately wipe it off because it looks ridiculous.  But yay you for trying new things!
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    Bright pink lipstick – not convinced.

     

  12. Accept and embrace other people’s lifestyles.  There are billions of people on the Earth and every one of them is a bit weird.  We’re all weird so, technically, nothing is weird.  As long as you’re not hurting children, kicking puppies or mugging old ladies, you’re fine.  You don’t have to join in with someone else’s lifestyle, but you should allow them to get on with it, as they see fit.  Mind your own business.
  13. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.  It’s too hard and makes people think you’re a wanker.  Just be you.  Crazy, perfectly imperfect YOU.  People will like you or they won’t.  Better they decide based on the real you.
  14. Be silly.  As much as you can.  If no one wants to join you, do it by yourself.  Don’t grow up – it is tiresome and makes you forget all the wonderful things that still make up life on Earth.  Believe in fairies, delight in rainbows, and remember how big the world used to seem, and how many possibilities it contained.
  15. Do own and wear comfortable, sensible underwear.  If it itches, rides up, cuts in or just makes you angry, don’t wear it.  Do not buy into the tabloid horror that is “CELEBRITY CAUGHT WEARING GRANNY KNICKERS!!!”  You are not a celebrity and, even if you are, your undergarments are your own business.  I’m sure most road rage incidents are caused by people wearing too-tight knickers.  It just makes you cranky and unable to make rational decisions.
  16. Let it go.  Forgive.  Love.  Don’t hold grudges.  Build a bridge and get over it.  Life is too short to hold on to bitterness.  It will eat you up and make you unpleasant to be around.  You will probably not get invited to parties and people will do a lot of eye-rolling around you.   Don’t be that person.  Let it go, let it go, let it go.  If that doesn’t work, makes yourself a voodoo doll and have at it.
  17. Grow a garden.  Whether that means a tiny succulent in a teacup on your window sill, or an acre of vegetables, grow something.  Nurturing another living thing is good for your soul.  It tunes you in to the Earth and life and the nature of things.  But if the tiny succulent in a teacup on your window sill dies, for Goodness’ sake get rid of it.  A dead thing is unsettling and depressing and will make you feel like a failure.
  18. Cultivate friendships.  Make time for them.  Let your friends know you love and care for them.  Be soppy about it.  People might pretend to be embarrassed  but they secretly like it.  Just knowing someone is thinking about them can brighten a person’s day and make the world a little less lonely.  Add smiley faces to your emails, be cheeky to your boss, and bring cupcakes to work to share.  Life is hard, smiles are free – to combat one, give lots of the other.  Hug.  Listen to people’s stories and remember small details to talk about later (so they know you paid attention).  Notice when someone is sad or anxious or just struggling with the weight of the world.  Just being noticed can make a big difference.
  19. Being sensitive is a good thing.  Empathy is not weakness, it is very much a strength.  Don’t let others “toughen you up” or tell you how to feel.  The world has plenty of  tough, un-empathetic, un-feeling people in it, and look where that has gotten us.
  20. You can’t fix everybody.  This is something I have taken a long time to learn, and I am not done learning it.  Be a good listener, offer practical help where you can, and support the people you love.  But do not try and fix them.  That’s not your job and you are setting yourself (and them) up for failure.  Everyone is on their own journey and it is not your job to run ahead every few miles, filling in pot-holes and watching out for pedestrians, stray dogs and traffic jams.  You can give them directions and point out a few landmarks, but you can’t drive the car for them.

So, another year older and probably not much wiser.  But that’s ok – life is a learning process, right?  I’m glad to have reached the ripe old age of forty-three.  I wouldn’t like to be twenty-three again, although I wouldn’t mind having the extra twenty years up my sleeve to do some things over.

Hope you are happy today, whatever your age 🙂

Thank you for stopping by x

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Fringe Benefits

So I got my hair cut today.  Bravely, I might add, because I hate going to the hairdresser.  I never know what to ask for, and having to sit and look at myself for an hour is not fun for me.  But I knew I needed to get at least the ends cut today because they were getting a bit ratty.  I decided to also get a fringe.  I took some pictures of Alexa Chung with me because I like her hair.  Do I now look like a 20-something super model?  No, sadly not.  But I think I like it anyway.  Just gotta work out how to style it myself (this is not my forte) and get used to having hair in my face again.

The hairdresser blow-dried it kinda funny at the bottom so it is doing a weird,curly, kinky thing, but it will settle I guess (and then it will go back to just being my normal, boofy, uncontrollable hair).  Anyway, it’s done now – can’t glue it back on.  It’s a fresh look for my birthday next week anyway.  I didn’t want to turn another year older with the same hair I’ve had for nearly 10 years.  And I am trying to be braver this year.  Even small little changes are scary to me, so getting my hair cut is actually a fairly big step (dumb, I know). Because I never trust my own judgement about anything.  But hair grows back, right?  So it’s less scary than, say, getting a tattoo or moving to another country.

It is going to be VERY hot this week and so getting a fringe was probably not the best idea but, let’s be honest, good ideas are not really my thing.  I can always pin it back or wear a hair band or something.  Or shave it – there’s always that option 🙂