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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Christmas Peeps

Still doodling and drawing and colouring this week.  I’ve come up with some new designs (typical of me – at the eleventh hour) and I will include them in a future post.  I am using every spare minute to get ready for my market stall on Sunday.  It’s a bit nerve-wracking, trying to get everything ready and not really knowing how many people to expect.  I might be making a whole bunch of stuff for nothing, or not making anywhere near enough.  You just never know.  I only have one allotted table space on the day so I am also trying to figure out how to display everything so it’s easy to access and makes the most of the limited space I have.  I’m sure it will be ok on the day – I just always get nervous beforehand.  It’s very anxiety-provoking, having your own creations on display, to people other than your family and friends who will tell you everything is wonderful (even if it isn’t) and there is nothing worse than having people pick through your stuff, turn their noses up and walk away having purchased nothing.

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I’ve started pricing everything, which is always a tricky process.  How do you make something affordable but still cover costs and time taken to make the darn thing?  Some of my cards take me HOURS to make.  If I charged at some hourly rate I would be selling cards for about $83.00 each!  You have to be sensible.  The doodled cards take less materials but are all hand-coloured and drawn, so do you take into account the fact each one is an original and took some time to colour or do you just say well, it’s a more simple-looking item and charge accordingly?  It’s hard, but at the end of the day, I need the money and can’t afford to make things so expensive that no one will buy them.  I am also guilty of making things I’m not very happy with cheaper, and then pricing some items up because I really like them and don’t want them to sell, ha ha.

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Anyway, I’d be interested to hear how other crafty people market and price their wares.  Particularly if you’re just a “small concern” like me ie not super professional or running an actual business.  To be honest, I just enjoy the creative process and the money isn’t the most important thing – ordinarily anyway.  But, right now, I am struggling a bit and need the extra moolah to see me through Christmas!

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Hope you are having a successful, stress-free week.  Thank you for reading 🙂

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Doodling and Squinting

I really need glasses.  It is no longer a case of “I might need glasses…” and I can’t ignore it any longer.  My squint has become almost permanent and I am no longer able to get through the day without a headache or feeling like my eyes are have run a marathon.  I have those crappy specs from the chemist and I use them sometimes but they’re not ideal and I really need a professional to outfit my eyeballs properly.

I have been putting it off because of the expense (tightwad, tightwad…) but it is false economy and I need to just bite the bullet and get some real glasses.  It’s not a vanity thing –  I think I actually look ok with specs on, and think glasses are pretty cool on most people.  Maybe I can even fool people into thinking I am intelligent! 🙂  My nephew has them and he’s gorgeous.  Plus, being a librarian, glasses kinda go with the cliched territory, right?

I have been trying to draw and colour this week, with mixed results.  I find I am not able to focus very well and I am colouring outside the lines with annoying regularity.  Ugh.  SO annoying.  And a waste of time because it renders whatever I am doing a bit worthless and un-usable (especially if I chuck a wobbly and throw it in the bin in disgust).

Anyway, some little peeps to make into cards.  I had already had them drawn (see THIS post) – they just needed colouring.  I am still experimenting with different card stock and marker pens to get the right result.  I like the first little lady the best – she’d kinda cute – but I will keep going and draw/colour some more.  Still wishing I could do eyes…maybe when my own are fixed I will be able to manage them 🙂

Have a bright and colourful day everyone x

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Doodling for Sanity

I had a mental health day this week.  I have decided to do that whenever things are really getting on top of me.  I have lots of annual leave owed to me and a fair amount of sick leave too, so I’m not doing anything dodgy.  Sometimes I just feel yucky and unwell, mentally and emotionally, and that is just as bad as having actual illness.  I have had a cold for the last week or so, and didn’t take time off for that, but it did take its toll, as well as some generalised stress and worry that was making me feel exhausted and sad.  My blood pressure and vertigo has been acting up too, usually a sign that I need to take some time out and rest and have a do-nothing day.  I am not good at doing nothing so I really have to force myself to sit and watch TV or do something equally brain-numbing.

So, this week, I sat and watched some bad TV, including a made-for-television movie about some crazy-with-love obsessed murderer lady who wore cow earrings and baked pot-pies and was bad news for all who knew her.  SO trashy.  But I couldn’t stop watching it.  If only for the bad acting and 90s fashions (cow-hide bustier anyone?).

I also doodled.  I’ve been buying a few books on drawing lately, trying to improve my somewhat limited skills, and so I doodled a few little people following some of Gemma Correll’s design instructions in her book “Doodling for Fashionistas“.  They still look like my little people, but maybe with better arms and hands and clothes, in some instances. I still can’t do eyes, but I am working on that 🙂  I will colour them in later too, but I have had a bad neck and back this week so I can’t sit for long periods bent over a paint palette right now.  They’ll have to be black and white for a little while longer…

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I’m trying really hard to learn and improve – I can’t just keep saying “I can’t draw” and giving up and throwing in the towel.  I have to keep practising and working on things I’m not so good at.  It’s the only way I’ll ever get better, right?  I think I am always scared to try things because if I don’t get it right straight away, I chuck and wobbly and give up and never want to try it again.  It’s probably time to stop doing that.  If only for my own sanity and self worth.  And also because I probably shouldn’t be chucking wobblies at my age.  It’s very unbecoming.  Bad for your complexion and whatnot.

Here’s to practising until perfect (or faking it ’til you make it –
whichever is more realistic!).  This quote, that I read today, sums it up perfectly :

“…To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong…”  – Joseph Chilton Pearce

Have a happy, creative day everyone x

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Smudges and Peeps and New Starts

A few more cards made over the weekend.  I stopped once I started getting “smudgy” (see last card) and making boob-boos.  In the the first card, you’ll see the little lady has “proper” arms instead of my usual stick arms.  This is because I totally screwed them up when drawing them and, too lazy to start over, needed to fix the problem.  So I cut out proper solid arms and covered over the dicky drawn ones.  So, by default, she is a plumper version of my normal Little Peeps.  I should probably resolve to do all my arms this way – it might actually result in less swearing.

Day three of my new diet and exercise regime.  I would say it is going so-so.  I had a bit of naughty moment today where I scoffed a load of chocolate.  Which is bad because a.) it is fattening, b.) I’m not supposed to eat chocolate anyway because of my kidneys, and c.) it was for other people (ie Easter gifts).  So today was a bit of a fail.  I did, however go for a long walk and did some weights afterwards so I don’t completely hate myself.  And I kinda enjoyed it for once.  One day at a time… I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about making mistakes and falling off the wagon.  I started the dreaded therapy again last night so I am committing to being kinder to myself and just being a little less obsessed about dumb stuff (like my weight and appearance).  Which is difficult when you’ve always been obsessed by that same dumb stuff and have let it rule your life.

A couple of friends at work today said I always make them feel better and know what to say when they are feeling down.  So I am trying to be that person for myself too.  I think that’s important.  I’ve been my own worst enemy for too long.

Hope you’ve had a good day today – thank you for stopping by 🙂

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Best Buddies

Two more Little Peep cards.  I like the first one and her crazy hair and happy face.  Well, I try and give them all happy faces…but she looks extra chipper.  I kept the rest of the card simple with only a faded stripe paper as a backing.  Her red checkered dress is bright enough to be the focal point.

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This purple-patterned miss is also kinda cute.  If I’m allowed to say that about something I drew myself ha ha.  I kept to the purple and white palette with this one.  I’m still trying desperately to use up ALL my papers but I find it hard to move away from the colours I like best (blue, browns and faded tones).  These Little Peeps help because they only require small scraps of card and paper and don’t overload me with colours I don’t like so much.

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This next little lady goes for green tones.  I was going to sneak a flower or two in there as well (to go with her leafy dress) but I couldn’t make it work.  Also, I was being lazy.

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Still lots of faces to make into card toppers.  The one on the right hand side here (with the brown bob) is inspired by my niece.  Her Mum asked me to try and do the whole family in Little Peep form so I’m starting from the youngest and working my way up.  I’ll let you know when I finish them (if I do…I’m a bit of a hopeless case when it comes to completing projects).  I am going to try and get myself some glasses this week (I’m biting the bullet and doing what I should have done ages ago) so hopefully they will help me to get things done.  With less squinting and headaches.

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Hope you are having a good day 🙂

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Cactus Girl

Hello everyone.  I’ve been doodling and card-making over the weekend, despite not feeling the best and having squinty eyes.  I actually had my eyes tested last week – the optometrist said my eyes were healthy but that I would probably need glasses in the next 12 months.  He said if I was coping ok and not getting headaches that I could probably manage without.  I’m very long-sighted but my general vision is ok.  I am finding it hard to do very close work now though so I think I will have to bite the bullet and get me some specs.  At least for my crafting as I will insist on doing teeny, tiny, detailed stuff.

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I had a weird episode this week where I suddenly got flashing lights in my eyes and blurred vision.  It was horrible – I thought I was having a stroke or going blind or something (you know me – always has to be worst case scenario).  Looks like it was probably just a silent migraine.  I do get normal migraines from time to time – this was just one of the painless silent ones.  That make your eyes go weird and your head foggy.  Freaked me out.  But the doctor assures me my eyes are healthy so…

But I will get glasses in the next week or so.  I am getting far too squinty and that can’t be good.  I’m not opposed to glasses and it will complete my librarian look I suppose.  I keep getting that quote from Grease in my head though :

Marty : Do you think these glasses make me look smarter?
Rizzo : Nah, you can still see your face.

Anyway, moving on.  I managed to squint my way through several cards which I will complete over the next couple of days.  First up, this little Cactus Girl.  Well, she’s supposed to look like a cactus but just kinda looks like a hairy green person.  Never mind.  Hopefully people will know she’s supposed to look prickly, as in cactus spikes, as opposed to prickly, as in my legs when I haven’t shaved for a few days 🙂

Hope your day is smooth and is free from prickles of any kind! x

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