Yes, I know, I'm predictable - it's Sunday, the day is drawing to a close, and so it comes to pass that I get round to writing my blog. But that's because, as my day job has become more and more bananas, the weekend has become the only time I really have to get anything constructive done as well as have a bit of fun. So, me being me, I cram in as much as I can...
inspired that when I met some friends for a crafty picnic today, despite some previously unsuccessful attempts, I decided to give crochet another go. Guess which one is mine...
Okay, so maybe I've got a bit to go before I can make my own jellyfish, but the trail gave me the creative kick up the arse that I needed. So watch this space...
Anyway, on that note, I shall leave you to enjoy the rest of your Sunday. I think I'll spend the evening eating leftover picnic food, watching a movie and knitting. As in, things I know I am good at.
Well, it's been a funny old week. In several ways it's been great - I've been off work so have been able to indulge in checking out some exhibitions and museums (The Institute of Sexology; very interesting. The Canal Museum; a bit disappointing.), getting outdoors (courtesy of London Fields Lido and the Regents Canal towpath) and, of course, a bit of editing and painting. I FINALLY finished the painting below and made a start on a couple of others - hopefully I won't stall so badly over these ones....
But then, of course, we had the general election. I make no secret of my disappointment at the result, which I put down to fear felt by the general public following a lot of scaremongering over the economy. Whilst economic stability is important, I firmly believe in helping those at the bottom of the social pile rather than feeding the fat cats at the top, and it worries me immensely that the services that support these people will be further squeezed - and those with next to nothing will end up with even less.
However, as my yoga teacher pointed out, whilst I felt like crying on Friday when the result was confirmed, it is important to look at the situation with clarity - and, rather than stress about it, I should either put my worries to bed - or do something about them. So, whilst I am worried about what the future holds for the people I serve at work and myself as a public sector worker, I am going to focus on what I can do to alleviate the problems we face.
So, whilst there is part of me that wants to wallow in grief, I'm not going to. I'm going to pick myself up and take action. What action that turns out to be has yet to be decided, but, when I feel my resilience wavering, I'm going to remind myself of the words of Maya Angelou. And, if you ever feel the world is starting to get to you, I invite you to keep them to hand as a little self-affirmation.
Still I rise.
Still I rise.
Still I rise.
Happy Sunday everyone!
I hope you all had a great week? I did - and you know what made it even better? Having fun - for free - or for a very discounted price!
On Monday it was Donation Yoga - 75 minutes of excellent tuition for whatever I could afford - and the other benefits of the practice all week long.
On Wednesday I gave away some free advice on how to approach the up and coming election in my Anglo Info blog. Nice, aren't I?
On Thursday I had a session of "Human Givens" counselling (think CBT mixed with a bit of hypnotherapy or perhaps meditation and you get the idea) for £6 (half the cost of the room), courtesy of a newly qualified therapist - who will be charging clients £70 once he is registered. Another beneficial bargain!
On Friday, well, I just went crazy for the freebies! After a free session at the Green Gym I headed over to the Design Museum where I enjoyed their Women, Fashion, Power exhibition for a fabaroo fiver - with a free coffee thrown in for good measure. Then I went to The Other Art Fair - gratis thanks to the Money Saving Expert. And THEN (Yes! There is more!) I enjoyed 241 pasta with my mate, discounted wine and free comedy in Covent Garden! Amazing, non?
And this weekend, well, I have been working on my latest upcycling project - new, funky furniture for the price of a tub of glue. And, if I may say, it's looking fabulous!
Well, I hope I have given you all some ideas when it comes to bagging a bargain - and finding some freebies. Anyway, I shall leave you to mull it over and go make my dinner. Sadly I haven't found anyone who will do that for free yet...
Well, the weekend is nearly over, and I don't know about you lot but my thoughts are turning to the coming week. Whilst the 9-5 will no doubt dominate the next five days, I'm feeling newly motivated to get on with my creative pursuits. Why? Well, I've just had a rather inspiring weekend in Skegness. Yes, really...
You see, my friend and fellow graduate of Visual Arts at Keele University, Laura Stamps, has put together a show of her work in the theatre at her seaside home town. Not only that, but she's managed to get it all together around the demands of her day job - and pulled it off with aplomb. I was really impressed by the professionalism of the show, down to the advert in the theatre's brochure, and the sheer amount of work she has created. In short, I'm damn proud of her - and perhaps a little bit envious too. But not as much as I am inspired...
This week I have managed to do some creating myself. Whilst I'm still not 100% happy with the painting above, I'm rather chuffed with how my yoga mat bag turned out. Next week, however, I shall be returning my focus to the writing. My latest short story is poised for posting right here on the website and my top secret project is well and truly underway. Watch this space...
Anyway, I'm off to have a soak in the tub before calling it a night. All that sea air has taken it out of me!
I trust everyone is spiffing? I admit I'm not faring too bad. This weekend I've been indulging in a bit of me time, mooching in Islington where I enjoyed some live music, chips and a bit of shopping, followed by a day of pottering about in my flat today. I finally got some of my pictures up in the hall and am really pleased with how they look. Now I just need to finish off that darn painting still sat in the corner of my lounge...
I admit, however, that the last week hasn't been without its challenges. I've found myself faced with some very difficult situations and having to make difficult decisions, in my personal life as well as at work. In both situations I've been challenged, and my actions questioned. It has been tricky, and I've had to really draw on my self belief to get through it. But get through it I did, and I'm feeling better - and stronger - for it. Because, at the end of the day, we all need to tune into our gut instinct once in a while and go with it, no matter how hard it can be.
So I leave you now with a simple meditation my good friend Vicky shared with me. Even if that kind of thing doesn't float your boat, I think that we can all benefit from reminding ourselves of it's message.
I am what I am.
I believe in myself.
I trust myself.
I accept myself.
I respect myself.
I love myself.
Have a good week everyone :)
... maybe not always as easy as 1 2 3, but it sums up my last week quite nicely! Let me explain...
A is for... Alcohol Abstinence!
Yep, I've nearly finished Dry January, all in the name of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Why the MNDA? Well, take a look at my Just Giving page to find out! Or if you just want to throw caution to the wind and support this amazing charity (and inspire me to see out the rest on the month!) text GOMB99 £5 to 70070. Simples!
B is for... Blogging!
Well, duh! But not just here - I've been writing about how my beloved London has kept me entertained during the first 31 days of the year. Yesterday I ticked off three of my own suggestions with some art exhibitions, a walk along the Southbank and a trip to the cinema. Read more of my sober strategies here...and then check out my latest review for Operation:Pizza to see how one of the biggest chains compares.
And C is for... Crafting!
Okay, so I made the bag above earlier this month, but it was a birthday present for my cousin and I didn't want to spoil her surprise! This weekend, however, I finished off my latest upcycling project, turning two pine stools I picked up for £1.50 into Shelly Berry Originals - check it out!
And D? Well, when the clock strikes midnight on Saturday it will be for... drinking!
Okay, so maybe I have a problem...
So did you all survive the first full week of 2015? Amazingly I did - despite being back at work and staying "dry". Yep - I'm still off the booze and have set up my Just Giving page to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and have already raised thirty quid - woo hoo!
Despite having almost two weeks off work, my inbox was surprisingly manageable when I returned to the office on Monday, which means I've started the year leaving work at a reasonable time - something I hope to keep up over the next 12 months. This also means I've had more time in the evenings to get on with a bit of painting. Yep, the bathroom is done, and the stools I am upcycling have had their second coat - now I just need to track down some foam to top them with! I've also pulled out my oils and added another layer of "hair" to my latest picture - one that I WILL finish soon, I WILL...
In other news, on Friday I spent a good three hours printing out novel number 2 and spent my Saturday morning lie-in starting yet another round of editing. Oh, and the latest edition of Operation:Pizza is live too, this time reviewing high street chain Strada. You may be surprised by the results...
Anyway, I'm off to get myself a hot chocolate and put on my PJs - rock 'n' roll people!
So. I usually get this blog out every Sunday. But for some reason I've been really tired the last couple of days and just didn't really have the energy to write it.
I have no idea why. I mean, I've had a five day weekend to get it done. Okay, so I've been out and about a bit, meeting friends for food and drink, going to the Stow Music Festival...
... and checking out other artists at work at Making:Uncovered, but the rest of the time I've been chilling. Well, apart from replacing the light fitting in my lounge, sorting out my electricity account, setting up my life insurance, and registering with a GP that is.
But other than that I've just been pottering at home, mainly sat on my backside writing my Operation:Pizza blog, my Overground Underground blog and doing a bit of editing.
Hey, I even sat on my butt when I did a bit more work on my latest picture and cracked on with some up-cycling - hell, I was even on my arse for half of yoga! In fact, the only thing I didn't do resting on my behind was paint the hallway.
Yeah, I've no idea why I don't feel fully rested...
Good evening... or should I say good night? It's coming up to 11 pm on Sunday and I guess we should really be heading off to bed in preparation for another week at work. But, after an extended siesta this afternoon (oops!) I'm not feeling that sleepy. Ah well...
I don't often sleep in the day, but after a rather hectic week topped off with a Hen Do yesterday, today it was more than needed. Besides, I've just started to read a book on mindfulness and positivity which encourages sleeping well to keep the mind clear. I admit I am on a bit of a mission to "develop" my spiritual side and I see these factors as key to a happy existence. I agree, it isn't always easy, but I'm working on it...
Take this week for example. On Wednesday I went to a talk at London Zoo, "The Jungles of the Mind," after learning that feminist, psychotherapist and mild obsession of mine Susie Orbach was the guest speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk - and getting up close and personal to some amazing animals - but admit leaving feeling a bit flat. You see, at the end of the talk, I approached Susie and asked her to sign her my copy of "Fat Is a Feminist Issue". As she did so I told her how much I admired her work and how it inspired me. She nodded politely and asked me about myself. But, as I spoke, I couldn't help but notice her eyes glaze over as I described my day job. Walking home, I felt disappointed in myself for failing to leave nothing more that a lackluster impression on someone I so admire. When I told my good friend Laura about the encounter, she pointed out that Susie probably met a million people like me every year, but, in my mind, it was just confirmation of what I most fear - that my existence on this planet means nothing.
Since then, however, I have talked to, met and thought of friends who have inspired me to look at the bigger picture. Two of these women, one of whom a have worked closely with for over two years and another who I have just met, told me that they had grown up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. I was gobsmacked - both these beautiful, savvy women have amazing careers that I am somewhat enviable of, one of whom has developed hers as a single mum. As they spoke they reminded me of other friends who, despite family illness, bereavement and the day to day knocks of work and relationships, never fail to amaze me, raising money for the charity that supports their sick father rather than wallowing in the pain of his disease, heading home to support their dad when their mum is in hospital and going the extra mile to ensure their sister is getting the spiritual support they need when they lose their mother.
Not only do these people inspire me, but they remind me that, even though my one bed flat is not quite as impressive as the converted barn of the aforementioned hen, and that I have yet to make an impression on the literary or art world, I am pretty darn blessed. Something I need to remember next time I get my knickers in a twist over my fluctuating weight and unpublished novel.
So, if our paths cross in the near future and I begin to bemoan my fate, please do us both a favour and remind me of this blog. My positivity is a work in progress, and I might need a bit of help to get there. Bear with me...
Okay, so maybe not - but wasn't the weekend great? Well, sorry to brag but mine was - not in a particularly flashy way, but in a rather smugly satisfactory way.
First, there's the writing. On Saturday I finished the first draft of my second novel. Yes, you read that correctly. FINISHED. And I admit without shame that I did a little jig once I'd hit the save button.
But that's not all: I have made an appointment to meet with a professional editor who has agreed to look at novel number one. This is somewhat terrifying (what if she says it's shit?) but really rather exciting...
And then, my dear friends, we have my other creative pursuits. I have started a new painting AND am planning to record a podcast with mate and stand-up comedian Chris. You see, after a rather heated (and alcohol-fuelled) debate about the advice given to women on dating by supposed experts, I thought it would make a rather amusing discussion - as well as future blog (watch this space!). And Chris, I know you read this blog, so there's no getting out of it now: We've gone public.
Then, of course, I have to say something about my little flat (come on, it's been a least a week since I last did...) Whilst the flaky paint situation continues to flout my attempts to decorate the kitchen (I suspect it hadn't been treated with much TLC by the last owner), everything else is coming together - it was only half an hour ago I received an email confirming that my service charge had finally been sorted after a two month battle. And, to top it off, the more time I spend in the area, the more I like it. Yesterday I headed back down to Hackney for a swim in the London Fields Lido and a mooch along Broadway Market - a lovely morning topped off with a walk along an achingly cool bit of canal. Yep, I admit it, East London has got me hooked.
Funnily enough, my happily hectic weekend has left me rather tired, even if in a rather satisfactory way. And, what with all the warm weather and paint fumes in this flat (oil + emulsion = interesting concoction), I think I may have to love you and leave you so I can head off to my pit. Or rather, my lovely boudoir in the making. As soon as I get that bloody kitchen finished...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...