Thursday, 23 August 2012

Live Deliberately

I recently read this post by Deb over at Home Life Simplified.

It very much made me think that for the last year I have been living neither intentionally, nor deliberately. When I think how things have gone this year (particularly since Febuary) I've pretty much been running on autopilot. Constantly moving from the next thing that needs to be done, to the next thing that needs to be done. Everything from housework to time with the kids to job work to fitness time to what I put in my mouth has been just a case of moving from one to the next with very little active thought process.

That's really no way to live, is it?

If losing Mum should have taught me anything it's that life is way to bloody short to be caught up in a treadmill of existence. If I'm not paying attention to the day to day (especially with the kids) then I'm missing it forever. I can't get those minutes back, or those hours, or those years. Before we know it all future minutes, or hours, or years, all those times we think we'll have to enjoy those things could be gone. In the blink of an eye, or the last beep of a machine.

So then. To live intentionally. Deliberately. To "suck out all the marrow of life" (love that quote and its mention in one of my favourite movies). That requires some changes for sure, and some active thought into how to action them. Action rather than reaction. Food for thought at least.


Friday, 29 June 2012

Daydreaming Of A Different Life

This last week I've been daydreaming of another life. Somewhere very different from where we live now. Somewhere far away. Somewhere I've always harboured a desire to live* (as has my husband).

I've been thinking about a life here:

This week it's been even more specifically about a life here:

This is the small, New England harbour town of Camden, Maine, USA.

I've never been there. I don't know anyone who lives there, but I'm harbouring dreams of small town life in a place that's half a world away.

Look, isn't it beautiful:

What's not to love?

Some beautiful clapboard houses to choose from. Like this one maybe. Or perhaps this one if we were feeling a little more flush.

I'm daydreaming about sunny days by the harbour, beautiful autumn (fall) walks, snowy New England winters. Clearly I'm dreaming about living in the movie version of the town. I've no real illusions that living our life in Camden would be any less tedious eventually than living our lives in St Helens. Ultimately a move there is never going to be a realistic possibility (barring that ever ellusive lottery win). We could never afford to relocate so far and when it came to the crunch I'm not sure I could leave everything and everyone I know to move over 3000 miles away. 

I can dream though. No financial considerations can restrict that activity. Thank goodness!


*I feel I must add that whilst I've always loved the idea of living in Maine that definitely does not include living here, because that's where all the scary things live. Good job its entirely fictional really.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thinking about......

Today, thanks to the lovely Shimelle and this post here, I've been thinking a lot about ISO and Aperture and Shutter Speed. Things that never really make sense to me, but make a little more sense to me after some blog reading today.

I have an itchy shutter finger today. I'm thinking about the fact that I don't take anywhere near as many photos as I used to. I'm reminiscing about the days when I was home with the kids and could snap pictures of their day to day. I miss being a SAHM today. Stupid work and the darn mortgage that requires it.

I wonder if the weather will hold up for some photo taking at the weekend? Or indeed if my unearthed enthusiasm for photography can last out the remainder of the week at work?

We'll see.


Friday, 4 May 2012

You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

How is it Friday again?? How?? I cannot believe how quickly the weeks are passing at the moment. Won't be long till we'll be at the end of May (and I'll be another year older - yikes!).

The good thing about so many Friday's coming round is I am actually getting a little blogging in (even if it's only one post a week to force me to find something to be grateful for!).

This week's gratitude moment is a little strange. Today I'm thankful for the fact that at 35 years old I have finally come to accept that you're never too old to try something new. I think it stems from my karate training (beginning a martial art at 33 and discovering that even though you're no spring chicken you can actually turn out to be reasonably good at it is quite an eye opener).

Earlier in the week my thoughts turned to another fighting art that I've recently been considering. I decided that I might like to investigate whether fencing would be something I could do. I had a quick google around and luckily I found a (reasonably) local fencing club that is having a taster session on the 16th May, followed by a 5 week begineer's course should people decide they want to continue with it.

I dithered for a little while but after some consultation with my lovely, supportive, and slightly jealous (he doesn't think his dodgy old knees could handle fencing) husband I popped off an quick email to the club and I've signed up for the taster session.

So, today I am grateful for the fact that you absolutely can teach an old dog new tricks.

I'm soooooo looking forward to giving fencing a go.

En garde!!


Friday, 27 April 2012

It's Friday! Time To Get Your Grateful On.

It's Friday. Again. How is that possible? How can it be almost the end of April? How can there only be 12 weeks of school left? I do wish time would stop flying by so.

Anyhoo. It is Friday. Which means its time to get your grateful on. I'm trying hard to make time for this every week. There's been so much doom and gloom around here of late I needs the happy.

This week I am grateful for my lovely husband. Sappy as it sounds he really is my soulmate (cue cheesy romantic music here) and I don't know what I'd do without him. Particularly this week I'm grateful for what he does in terms of providing for us as a family. He works really long hours (leaving the house 6 days a week before 6am and not getting in until past 6 in the evening) which would be okay except that he really doesn't love his job. It's a really difficult industry to work in at the moment (construction related) and there's always health and safety madness to contend with, as well as the usual management numptiness.

Working such long hours wouldn't be so bad if he could then have fun spending all his hard earned cash but like everyone in the current economic climate we have to try to be pretty frugal with where our funds go so he doesn't even get to enjoy the fruit of his labours.

This month I decided I would treat him with some of his hard earned dosh and splashed out on something new for him. And what does a woman buy her hardworking soulmate to show he's appreciated? Why, weapons of course. Namely in the form of a basket hilt sparring sword and a metal buckler:

He's one very happy little swashbuckler with his new toys. It was great to see him so pleasantly surprised and happy, and to let him know we appreciate everything he does for us.

I'm grateful for my wonderfully hubby (as long as he doesn't hit me with that sword!).

What are you grateful for this week?


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Of Scrap Spaces and Album Places

It being the Great British springtime we had planned last night to venture out on a family bike ride. The kids both got new bikes for Easter and Grace has finally started to get the hang of it (Ewan not so much. He's a work in progress. At least he peddles forwards now. It's a start). Alas late work commitments for Kendo meant we never got there.

Instead I decided I would be brave and venture into the loft to do battle with the 12x12 stacks. I have so much patterned paper and cardstock I've accumulated for scrapbooking over the last 7 year (yikes!). Some of it I've had since I started scrapping. I know I will never use it, so it's been relegated to a pile for the kids to have crafty fun with. Sadly, my scrapping space at the moment leaves a lot to be desired, it has to be said.

You might recall that it used to be in the conservatory and went through several incarnations:

Messy Craft room (before refit!) 1


Alas it didn't always look like the last photo and as usual became a dumping ground for all the stuff that didn't have a place elsewhere.

Being that I then didn't use it for months on end, and in the interests of fairness for DH my conservatory craft room was dismantled and became what is affectionately know as "the conserva-shed". Now it's an eclectic mix of tool room, potting shed and general all-round crap storage.

So, where has that left the scrap stash? Well, it was banished to the loft (once it had been boarded out and lagged). Everything is set up in there in something of a craftroom style and its not that bad a space really. It's just lacking in light (there is no roof light or anything) and its a pain in the rear end to get up to (fold out loft ladder which give me the heebie-jeebies!).

As well as paper sortage I've also recently had a big sort out of all our digital photos and collected them into once place (from the various external hard drives/old laptops etc they were lurking on). From looking through them something began glaringly clear. Poor Ewan is definitely the victim of "Second child syndrome". There aren't anywhere near as many photos of Ewan as there are Grace. Also as a consquence of that (and of time commitments) there aren't anywhere near as many scrapbook pages for Ewan's album as there are for Grace's. There's also a huge number of annual holiday pictures that have never yet graced a scrapbook layout (despite the best intentions), not to mention other events like Christmasses, and friends weddings.

With the state of my scrapbook albums in mind it was quite fortuitous that Shimelle is shortly to begin a new scrapbooking class on just that subject.
How to work on getting albums done from beginning to end, how to organise them, how to deal with getting a coherence to them.

I'm all signed up and just waiting for the start date to I can (hopefully) start to make:

a) some sense of the layouts I currently have (WAY more than I thought I had when I looked through them yesterday)

b) some way to get them more accessible. They are all in the loft and never looked at at the moment. Such a shame for all that work to not be seen.

c) some incentive to get some more pages of Ewan's book done, and some of our holiday photos scrapped.

d) some incentive to take more photos. I used to take hundreds of picture, every time we went out I took pictures. Unfortunately I got out of the habit so many adventures have sadly been missed so will go unrecorded. Such a shame.

As I mentioned in the last post I've made some changes to other commitments I had which should hopefully free up a little time for this project.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Finding the Gratitude

A little while ago I linked to the website of Aussie based Mum I know from the Baby Whisperer Forums (the lovely Deb from Home Life Simplified).

One of the things Deb is advocating is trying to nurture an "Attitude of Gratitude". With recent events around here it would be easy to just say that I can find little to be grateful for but to be honest I think there's been enough negative stuff going on around here of late. A little positive thinking might just go a long way to improving the mood.

So, with that in mind, today I am grateful for:

1) My Dad and the fact that he is really trying hard with getting on with his life. He's essentially lost his soulmate (my parents were together for over 50 years) but he is still getting up every day, dealing with looking after my brother, collecting my kids from school. He's doing an amazing job (when I think some days he'd rather just curl up in bed and waste away).

2) My Father in Law and the fact that he loves a good DIY project and so is happily undertaking some at our house. The kitchen rejunvenation project I mentioned in my previous gratitude post is now underway. All very exciting.

3) My weight, in a weird sort of way. At the moment I have joined weightwatchers (again) as I have put back on just over a stone of the all the weight I had lost last year. I'm strangely grateful that I live in a place where worrying about being overweight is even a possibility because it means that I've had more than enough food to keep me sustained. Plenty of people in the world aren't so lucky.

You can help a little with that should you wish by going here:

To The Hunger Site. Clicking on the yellow button and donating some food to feed hungry people in Africa and the US. It's free and only take a minute of your time.

4) Reconnecting with old friends. I mentioned the Babywhisperer forum before. I haven't actually been an active member there for sometime (for several reasons). I have really missed some of the people I knew from that forum. Even though we only knew each other online we followed the day to day of each others lives for a long time. This week I received a Facebook message from one of those ladies to say that had started a new forum and inviting me to join. It's been lovely to reconnect with a lot of my old Babywhisperer buddies. Many of us are friends on facebook but sometimes it hard to keep up with people on there.

5) My Sister in laws. They're bonkers, the both of them. They're also turning 40 and 30 respectively this month. It's a strange thing to be thankful for but they're having a big get together, which pretty much means I get to see all my favouritest people in once place for a change. I can't wait for a catch up.

6) Making more time for doing things I love.  I have cut down on some commitments that I had in place. That leaves more time to do other stuff that I enjoy. I'm hoping to get back to a little scrapbooking. To spend so more time doing stuff outdoors with the kids (if the stupid British weather permits it!). To get some running in. To do some gardening. Basically just to do the things that make me smile.

See, all is not lost (even though there are times at the moment it feels that way). Positive thinking, it's the way to go.


Friday, 23 March 2012

The Day The Earth (Ought To Have) Stood Still.

Things have been pretty horrible round at Cookieville of late.

On the 14th February something unthinkable happened. My wonderful Mum passed away.

She had been relatively well until the evening of Sunday 12th when she was taken to the local hosptial by ambulance with severe adominal/lower back pains. She was taken into Intensive Care on the Monday and passed away without really regaining consciousness at 7.20am on the Tuesday morning.

It was sudden. And unexpected. And without hesitation the worse day of my life.

The greving process involved in losing a parent (I've discovered) is pretty epic. Mum was such a powerful presence in our lives (and judging by the almost standing room only at the funeral service in the lives of many people). Living next door to my parents since we got married has meant there has rarely been a day in the last 14 year that I hadn't seen her. She was our main childcare support for the kids from when they were born and they've both seen or spoken to their Nan pretty much every day of their lives.

I've spent the last few weeks feeling like I've been hit by a double decker. The fog is starting to lift a little this week (somewhat strangely I think the spring sunshine is helping with that) but there are still moments where the grief blindsides me. I suspect that might go one for some time to come.

Amidst the grief though I am still happy to have had the privledge to have been raised by this amazing woman. Wonderful, strong, selfless, empowering, loving, formiable. An upstoppable force of good.

Rest in Peace Mum. You will truly be forever missed.

Death is Nothing at all

Death is nothing at all...
I have only slipped away to the next room...
I am I and you are you...
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak it to me in the same way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no false air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the ghost of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident.

I am but waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner.
All is well.

- Henry Scott Holland 1847 - 1918
Canon of St Paul's, London

Friday, 27 January 2012

Art Journaling/Sketching: Reasons why I don't do it.

I have to say that I harbour a bit of a secret dream.

I really, really, really wish that I could journal. By journal I mean creating an Art journal, or a sketch journal.

I have a Pinterest board called "Art Journal Envy". Oh how I love finding new and wonderful Art journal pages to pop in there.

Pages like this one:

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

and this one:

and this one:

Source: via Marie on Pinterest

and this one:

and my I could go on all day. They do make my *SIGH* with joy and also a little sadness, that I just can't seem to do this.

So, being that it's a new year, time for new things, time for some introspection I thought I would try to think about the WHY. WHY can't I get to grips with Journalling?

Alas, I suspect the conclusion to this self reflection can be summed up as simply as this:

Before we get to that though, lets go back to the beginning of this thought train.

Here's the big question then: Why don't I journal when it's something I long to do?

Reason/Excuse #1

What if (heaven forbid) someone where to actually SEE it? I mean, I can journal just for me and that's fine but short of welding a journal shut with magical Harry Potteresque powers there no real way to guarantee that at some point in time someone won't take a peek inside. If you want to put anything in a journal then you need to take it places, which means you've got to have it hanging around with you. There's always a chance someone might look. Eek!

Reason/Excuse #2

I don't think I can draw for toffee. Yes, I'm creative and crafty and good at making okay looking stuff with pretty paper and card and buttons and string, but actual, REAL drawing? I can just about draw things that my kids can identify as what they're intended to be - my doodled response to "Mummy, draw a cat" usually looks like a cat. Anything other than that though, yikes no. Things that require perspective and good artistic penmanship..... no good at that at all.

Reason/Excuse #3

It's embarrassing. What if I've chosen to journal something completely stupid and inane (which lets face it, with me is highly likely) and someone looks at it and thinks "why the hell did she write about that, its completely stupid/inane?" Do I really need people to think I'm any more of a freak than they already do? (seriously, people already think I'm uberweird, scrapbooking and crafting and karate..... it's rare I don't get an odd look when I talk about my hobbies).

Reason/Excuse #4

I don't have time. I barely have time to do what I do now. My house is a perpetual crap hole. I dash around like a mad lunatic 4 days a week to incorpate extracurricular activities (for myself and the kids) and the other 3 days I'm supposed to fit in some other sort of exercise in an attempt to reign in my ever expanding midsection.

Reason/Excuse #5

I don't know where to start. What to journal about. What makes me think that anything that happens in my daily life these days warrants a permenant record? I don't really "do" anything. I don't really "go" anywhere. I just plod through an endless round of work/karate/gym/housework/rinse and repeat. What have I possibly got to journal about?

Back to the last photo anyway. Basically, on reflecting on this question the answer boils down to this. I am just too chicken to journal. I worry WAY too much about what other people might potentially think. I'm too scared I'll have nothing noteworthy to include. I'm too shy that someone might see what I've done.

I. Am. Just. Plain. Chicken.

So what is to be done I ask you?

In the past I've read this book:

and this book:

In an attempt to get past my scaredycatness (or scaredychickness) but to no evail (that is to say, I've never gotten past a page or two before I give up for the reasons mentioned about).

What will it take then to get past this block? I really think I would enjoy doing this, if I could just be a little less wary of the process. In terms of time, I haven't had any time for crafting at all in a long time and this is potentially something involving very little time which I could do anywhere so in a way it's the ideal creative outlet.

Maybe I just need to bite the bullet, be a big girl and get over myself?

Once upon a time I was too scared to venture into a Martial Arts Dojo and now I spend 11 hours per week of my life there. What is the saying? "A life lived in fear, is a life half lived"?

Something to think on anyway.