Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sea Breezes, Salty Air and a Lightbulb Moment

Hello friends,

It's been a while since I did a blog post but here I am again, finally!  We've been enjoying the half term holiday which flew by and we made the most of it by pootling south to see my sister.

On Saturday, we went to Aldeburgh in Suffolk.  Aldeburgh is a very pretty seaside town full of gorgeous old ice-cream coloured buildings that cluster along the edge of a very pebbly shore.  There are little black wooden shacks that sell fish fresh in from the boats, and some of these boats sit in a tipsy fashion on the pebbles surrounded by nets and lobster pots.

There was a fine sea breeze blowing when we arrived and the sky was a bleached white filled with large scudding grey clouds and the odd shaft of pearly gold sunlight.  Lone gulls circled above the fish huts and called out from high above.  It is music to the soul to hear a gull cry after many months of being restless inland.

Whilst the Smalls amused themselves chucking big stones into the waves, I wandered off to ponder the old boats that had been left to the mercy of the elements.  I like to get close and see all the different textures of the peeling paint, the colours, the layers, the rust and the erosion.

It was during my solitary wander that I got around to a bit of Thinking.  Over the last few weeks, I've been feeling increasingly flat (one of the reasons I haven't blogged to tell you the truth).  I couldn't work out why; I mean I was happy enough in general but it felt like something was missing and I felt as though I were drifting. 

I spoke to a fellow artist friend about it and he told me that as a single Dad he'd had a similar experience - all those years looking after a Small quite intently without a minute to call your own and then suddenly they're away to school and BAM, there you are, you get a big chunk of your life back to do with what you will.  In so many words he told me that this flat period was quite natural after the full on nature of being a full time parent non stop for four years, and he had a point.  It was almost like my body and mind were telling me 'OK - stop - you can relax now' but I was (foolishly) ignoring it.  Anyone with a child or children of their own will know how amazingly rewarding being a parent is but they will also know that it is a journey that shifts, changes and evolves all the time.  It can be tiring, testing and unpredictable but you go non stop, 24/7, without question.

And it all made sense.  I understood that I hadn't given myself the space to really unwind from that, and I saw that I needed time to re-adjust and to gently work out what to do next.  I looked back over the last few weeks and realised how BUSY I had kept myself, but despite that busyness hadn't really ACHIEVED much.  I had become exceptional at creating BUSYNESS, and I had become the worlds best procrastinator.

I was running away from all the empty space that my daughter had left behind, and I was terrified of facing my life head on again and reclaiming that time as my own.

It was time to stop procrastinating and get my joy back.  As I listened to the seagulls calling in that February sky I decided it was time to create purpose and direction in my life again.

So when we came home and Small went back to school, I took myself off into town for a Focus Meeting.  That sounds really important and business like but to tell you the truth my solo Focus Meetings rock; they take place in bookstore coffee shops, involve big mugs of coffee, lunch in delicious veggie cafes and visits to local galleries.  I took a sketchbook, fineliners and a pencil and wrote stuff down.  I asked myself questions and I wrote everything down.  I came to the conclusion that I would be happiest right now creating a new portfolio of work for my agent.  I would fill my days with stuff that filled me up but I wouldn't overwhelm myself in the process; my days would have structure and meaning and I'd achieve stuff without running myself into the ground. 

I can really recommend a Focus Meeting to anyone who feels a bit stuck in life, just make sure you wear something cheerful to remind you to keep it fun; it will also help the inspiration to flow if you're feeling marvellous.  Find a nice cafe to sit in, treat yourself and take yourself to places that will delight and inspire you.

Red shoes for me are pretty much essential on a Focus Meeting day... is staring happily at ocean coloured waterfalls.

For the first time in a while, I have a purpose of my own.  It feels kind of nice, like putting on a comfy pair of shoes.  I feel like I'm doing what I ought to be doing, and I feel optimistic and vibrant, excited about the future.  I still love my role as Mum and unmarried housewife ;) but I'm now, at last, enjoying doing stuff for me too.

Julia x

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Colouring the Days

Yesterday I felt compelled to rush out and fill my house with blooms.  I don't usually spend too much on flowers, and will often pick up a little bunch of daffodils for a pound or so and be content to look at their sunny yellow heads.  But yesterday, overcome by a sudden need for colour, I went out and treated myself to a veritable armload of the things and plopped them in jam jars and vases around my house.

Candy pink tulips, indigo irises and a starburst posy of tiny, sweet scented narcissi.
I know it seems frivolous, but the satisfaction that these colourful visitors are bringing me is magnified and deep seated each time I see them.
Determined to make this a week of colour (to counteract the overcast behaviour of the weather) I also found myself some new threads...

Now I'm quite excited about these; you see I'm planning on making a necklace, but before I could start, I needed to unravel the rainbow skeins and instead of creating tiny balls from which to crochet from, I took inspiration from Pinterest here and did this:

Old style wooden pegs are the best thing ever for looking after your skeins of floss and embroidery threads.  I got very excited when I first saw that picture on Pinterest and was determined to do it myself.  

I shall share more about my necklace project with you soon!

In the meantime, we have been enjoying a snow laden weekend here...

Much fun was to be had out sledging, making snow angels and snowmen before retreating inside my Mum's cottage to be handed big steaming mugs of hot coffee and cookies.  I took mine outside, and went for a wander.  I do like how snow makes everything look so effortlessly beautiful.


 The seedheads looked particularly beautiful against the white snowy ground, and a recent vapour trail looked ever so much like a pretty garland against that bright, azure blue sky...

I must confess to liking being indoors at the moment though.  I like my cosy house and all it's homely corners and I'm slowly getting used to the fact that I have all this extra time on my hands now my Small is off being busy at school.  There are often too many hours in my day, but gradually I am fillling them with nice homely type things, such as tea drinking, crochet or like today, a spot of baking.  There is nothing more comforting to the soul than to have the aroma of baking in the house on a snowy day.

Todays bake was oaty cookies, enhanced with a generous scoop of chopped brazils and juicy sultanas.  I've already consumed three, and am tempted by a fourth...

On the arty front, I'm pootling about with my sketchbooks, contemplating a new painting and working on a couple of commissions here and there.  Here's one I recently finished, now safely in it's new home in Italy:

One last thing before I leave you (to dash into the kitchen to replenish my cookie plate) ~ a copy of Her Nashville came through the door just now.  Seeing it in 'real life' is all rather exciting I must say!

I hope you all have a lovely week, I'm so pleased you came to see me today!

Love Julia x x x
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