Good evening folks!
Well the weekend is drawing to a close, and a new week will soon be upon us. I admit, I found the last one quite tedious - the 9-5 grind was getting to me and, coupled with a lull in the old social life, I was more than a little bit grumpy. Alas, I managed to pull myself out of my gloom. How? Well I decided to book a little holiday...
Yep, that's right - in September I will be spending 10 days in San Francisco - and I can't wait! Sad as it is, knowing I have this to look forwards to seems too have perked me up no end. Coupled with the good weather, this weekend I've been pretty chirpy, getting up early and getting on with a new writing project and a bit of spring cleaning. Today I bagged a bargainous four dining room chairs and a coffee table for 40 quid, which I can't wait to paint up along with my ten pound TV stand. In fact, by the time I have my official housewarming in May, I reckon I'll be pretty close to having my flat as I want it - with perhaps the exception of a posh new three-seater sofa bed..
My point? Well, I know I'm lucky to have the means to travel to the West Coast of the US and to play at being Kirsty Allsop, but I also know that I function a lot better when I know I have something to aim for; a reward to all my hard work. At the end of the day, it is that often-tedious job that has enabled me to book that flight and pay the mortgage on the flat that I am so faithfully - and frugally - doing up.
So, as I traipse into work tomorrow, I will do my best to the thankful for all the opportunities it gives me - from stability to adventure, with the odd bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure. And, whatever you do and however challenging it can be, I hope that you feel able to do the same. And, if you can't, book yourself in for a little reward sooner rather than later, whether it be the trip of a lifetime, a jolly to the seaside or an afternoon mooching around your favourite local haunt. I doesn't have to cost a lot, or be particularly flashy. But it does need to happen.
Because Shelly said so :-)
Happy New Year everyone!
Well, Christmas is over, and January is upon us - and for some reason this means that half the population have decided to give up alcohol. In the past I have groaned when my mates have forgone a pint in favour of a cup of tea, but this year I have decided to join them. Yes, you read that correctly - I'm off the booze for a whole month, and, to keep me on the straight and narrow, I'm going to do it for charidee, so watch this space for a link to my Just Giving page!
I have to admit that it has become apparent that a glass of vino had become a regular accompaniment to a relaxing night in, and, without it, I have noticed that I find it harder to switch off - which means I have gone into DIY overdrive! Since returning from my festive travels I have pretty much decorated my bathroom and started up-cycling my kitchen stools, and am planning my next crafting projects. So, come February, I intend to have made yet another homemade gift and possibly a yoga mat bag too! Pictures to follow...
That doesn't mean that I won't be writing too - or rather, getting on with another round of editing and typing up my latest short story which I hand wrote when sans netbook. Oh yeah. and then there's Operation:Pizza - I think we may have a winner, which you can read all about here...
Anyway, on that note, I'm off to dig out my knitting needles whilst I boil the kettle for a lovely herbal tea.
I hardly recognise myself...
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...
It's Saturday night! WOO HOO! So, what are your plans? A romantic meal out with the love of your life? A pint down the pub? Or a night on the town, dancing until the wee hours? Well, it all sounds very appealing, but tonight, my friends, I am staying in, on my own, with nowt but a bowl of olives and a glass of wine for company. Why? Because such a night is well overdue...
Last weekend I came down with tonsillitis - AGAIN. I was at my mate Darrens' catching up with my old chumlies when I woke up feeling decidedly ropey. My mates blamed the Red Stag I had been drinking the night before (I strongly recommend the Black Cherry variety) and I put it down to being a bit run down. By the end of the day I was dropping penicillin and huddled under a duvet next to the barbecue. NOT fun.
Of course I tried to push through it, but Alison made me go to bed for a few hours. Very sensible. Lisa then pointed out that maybe my immunity would be a bit better if I actually took it easy once in a while. I have no idea what she means. Okay, so I'd been out late on the Thursday, attended an evening meeting on the Wednesday and enjoyed a bevvy or two on the Tuesday, but that's normal. Right?
Maybe she has a point - maybe I have been burning the candle at both ends. But then, maybe it is a symptom of my recent rise in the responsibility stakes. Okay, so I've had a job that requires a level of maturity since I graduated, but this home ownership thing has thrown me. All of a sudden, I am responsible for the upkeep of the roof over my head, owe Virgin Money more cash than a bear to imagine and not only need to get Critical Illness cover but a Will to boot! Well, I'm sorry, but whilst I have to accept that this means I have reached a new milestone in my life, I refuse to "settle down". In fact, I think I am rebelling against the notion.
That said, my nesting tendencies have also kicked in. I spent the last week decorating my lounge with my dad - and it is looking fantastic. Of course, this means that I have an overwhelming desire to paint all the other rooms, go out and buy more furniture and get all my pictures up... whilst still wanting to go out and party. Along with my creative pursuits, I guess it's no wonder I'm falling apart at the seams.
Yes, I need to slow down - so tonight I am going to stick on a DVD and do my best to keep my diary as free as possible for the next couple of weeks. Okay, so I have plans on Monday (pizza!) and Tuesday (plumber!) but after that nothing for over two weeks other than an appointment to give blood and a date at a spa. And I plan to keep it that way. Sadly, to quote Oscar Wilde, "I can resist everything except temptation" - and there are tasty morsels of fun all over the shop.
Wish me luck...
Three minutes to go...
I'm watching the World Cup Final, or rather have had it on whilst I natter to Lisa on the phone, finish painting my nails and do my ironing - all things I should have probably done a bit earlier on during my week off. Sadly a bad dose of tonsillitis left me with only a couple of days to get done every thing I had planned.
I admit that feeling like I had a load of nails stuck down my throat, a bag of hot coals of my head and lead weights danging from my limbs for the first three days of my week off left me in a bit of a funk. But one thing that kept me going was thinking positively. One of my mates challenged me to post three positives a day on Facebook and, whilst it was a bit tricky when I felt unable to do much more than crawl from bed to bathroom and back again, I managed it. And, although as weeks off work go it could have been a lot better, I'm pretty pleased with what I have achieved, all things considered.
Firstly, I finally finished my Peru collage. For ages I've been trying to figure out what to do with the background - the newspaper print on its own didn't really do it for me yet I couldn't get the addition of sky blue watercolour quite right. I tried to wash off what I had done - and quite liked the patchy effect, especially when the excess water was sponged up with a bit of kitchen roll. It's all about technique, you see...
Then, I got my shower fixed - and for about £200 less than the first plumber had quoted me. Bearing in mind that this cowboy was also going to replace completely the wrong thing and would have left me £350 poorer and STILL without hot water, I'm pretty chuffed.
But the thing that I'm really excited about is that I've finished the penultimate chapter of my second novel - which means I'm nearly done. In fact, I could have quite happily polished it off today, but was determined to get at least part of my kitchen painted (it was supposed to be a week of decorating, after all!) - which I did. And, despite the odd hiccup (let's just say the walls were NOT in a good state), I'm pleased with my progress and reckon I'll get it all done over the next two weekends. Then I only have four more rooms to go...
So yeah, all in all, things are going pretty well - and this time next week I may well have finished the said novel, set a date to meet an editor about the first one (watch this space!) and have my kitchen done and dusted! Along with a handful of social engagements in the diary, next week is looking to be even more positive than this one.
Just a shame I have to go back to work...
Yep, it's another Monday, and I'm out of the office once more. But, before you get too jealous, rather than cracking on with the decorating, I've spent most of the day down the doctors - or flat out on my bed. That's right - I woke up today with a lovely dose of tonsillitis.
BUT - I'm not going to let it get me down. Yes, so it looks like my planned trip to a knitting group in the pub is off the agenda, but I'll survive. And one of the reasons I'll survive is because of my mates, who, even though I'm not a complete invalid and can get to the local Co-Op for my tomato soup, I know they are there for me.
Take work, for example. It's no secret that I've found the day job a bit frustrating of late. But, last weekend, after a wander around Wood Street market, I chatted with my chums about my work woes - and, whilst making all the right sympathetic noises, they helped me look at the situation objectively and drill down to what was really bugging me. Then, after a particularly bad week, on Saturday I went out with friends who helped me forget all about it, made me laugh by behind off and danced with me until the wee hours - my kind of therapy.
It isn't just work that they've been helping my get my head around. As you regular readers will know, I've just bought a flat - and admit being a bit overwhelmed by the experience. Not only have my mates reminded me that I don't need to have the entire place done-up within the first few weeks, they've also offered practical advice on how I can overcome some of my conundrums - and even got stuck in with the DIY.
But most importantly, they are there for me when the going gets tough, reminding me that, even though I occasionally begin to lose hope, I've come a long way - and, with their help, can overcome any obstacle.
So yeah, today I want to say thank you to all my mates - and hope that they know that I am there for them too. Cos I love you guys and wouldn't be without you.
Hurrah! The sun is shining, Murray has won Wimbledon and I’ve just poured myself a glass of chilled pinot to reward myself for another day of hard graft in the office. It’s the kind of day that makes you think that, even when the going gets tough, anything is possible – as long as you put your mind to it.
Whilst I admit that I don’t always quite fully subscribe to this idea, I am a firm believer in giving things a go and, if I make a fool of myself in the process, at least I will die knowing I gave life my best shot rather than wondering, “What if?”. Take my trip to Peru for example. I’ve wanted to go for years and came to the conclusion that if I didn’t just get up off my arse and book the trip for me, myself and I, I’d probably never get there. Then there are my attempts to find a publisher – and now an agent. Okay, so the rejection letters suck, but I’m never going to get anywhere if I don’t take them on the chin and keep trying. And now I find myself in the throes of training for the Great North Run. So far it could be going a bit better (not having thrown myself down a mountain on said trip to Peru would have helped) but, you know what? Even if I crawl around the course, I will be able to say that I gave it a try.
It interests me when I tell people about my escapades and they look at me and say, “Oooh, I could never do that! You’re so brave!”
I apologise if you’re one of the people who has said this to me over the last few months, but I disagree. I don’t think that I’m brave. I’m not doing these things because I’m heroic, I’m doing them because I want to achieve something, to experience something, or to move on to better things in my life. Okay, so sometimes I have to take a deep breath before I march into my next scheme and ignore the little voice inside my head (or the negative person I’m talking to in the pub) telling me that it’s a stupid idea and I’ll just end up with egg on my face. But essentially my motivation is purely selfish.
Over the last few weeks I have heard lots of stories of true bravery. Of course there is the woman who faced up to the Woolwich murderers. On telly last week I saw Eye Spy on Channel 4 and watched with amusement at how bystanders reacted to blatant sexism, homophobia and racism – and was proud to see my fellow Brits stand up for those being discriminated against without a second thought.
Closer to home, I see people being brave every day of their lives. An old friend of mine has a niece who, at thirteen, has just had surgery to try and reduce the curvature of her spine caused by muscular dystrophy. The surgery left her very weak and for a while my friend and her family thought she might not recover. But she’s still fighting – a fact that, having known her for quite a large part of her life and admiring her feistiness in the face of her circumstances, doesn’t really surprise me. An attitude that takes guts, if you ask me.
At work, my colleague and good mate Chris recently sent an email around the office, not asking for sponsorship for something stupid like a half marathon (ha!), but reminding everyone about the importance of being a registered organ donor – and making sure your registration details are up to date. Her niece Emma, who was only twenty, had been given under one year to live unless she could find a donor and have a lung transplant before cystic fibrosis would take her life. A couple of days later I was sat in the pub with Chris and asked her how Emma was coping with her prognosis. I know I for one would struggle to keep going in the knowledge that, unless I was lucky enough to have someone with the same blood group as me who also happened to be a registered donor die in a relatively short period of time, I was done for. But was Emma sat at home feeling sorry for herself and bemoaning her fate? On the contrary. In fact, she was rocking out at the Isle of Wight festival along we me and thousands others only three weeks ago.
Yep, that is one brave lady.
Luckily for most of us, we don’t have to climb such huge mountains on a day to day basis. But I think we can all be a little bit braver. When we see something that we don’t like or disagree with, we can take action, whether it is supporting a campaign or just speaking out when someone in the office makes a derogatory comment about the homeless person selling the Big Issue outside or the transgender waitress in the canteen. Of course I’m not suggesting we wade in if we see a fight in the middle of the street, but rather than rubber-necking along with everyone else, we can call the police - something I’ve felt compelled to do twice in the last few weeks.
The other thing we can do to show our distaste at a situation (or of a person for that matter) is to simply walk away. Whether that be boycotting an unethical business or turning our back on people whose behaviours or beliefs we do not accept, it can often be more effective than arguing with some narrow-minded people will ever be.
In short; as long as you aren’t harming anyone else, do what you want to do, be who you want to be, stand up for yourself and for others and you can’t go far wrong. Oh, and be thankful for what you’ve got. It could so easily be taken away from you. Sadly, that is what happened to my mate Chris and her niece Emma today. As I left my last meeting of the day and headed to M&S to buy that well-earned bottle of white, I received a text message telling me that Emma lost her fight today and had passed away just an hour earlier. I admit I shed a tear as I walked through Camden this evening, but then smiled to myself knowing that this plucky woman had lived her life to the full right up to the end of her tragically short life.
So, tonight I am raising a glass to Emma and everyone else out there who shows such incredible courage in spite of illness, persecution or discrimination. They are the real heroes in my book - and a true inspiration to us all.
It’s the third of January and two days since I returned to my chilly, empty flat and returned to work. Despite my New Year’s resolution to “get my shit together” (drink less, eat less, exercise more, find fulfilment and balance in my home and work life, yada yada), my motivation is struggling to get beyond hitting the snooze button – or reaching for yet another piece of chocolate orange.
And that is not all. I now have orders from two very good friends and will be sending one collage and a pair of “Hers and Hers” cushion covers over to chums over in Canada and hand delivering a pair of earrings and a bracelet to another friend when I meet her for coffee in two weeks time. Thanks guys!
I also managed to make a start on novel number two between Christmas and New Year... okay, so I only managed an edit of the 1,800 words I wrote about three years ago plus an extra 500, but it’s a start. And with plans to meet my creative “buddy” this weekend, hopefully I’ll soon be back into the swing of things.
Oh! I almost forgot! I’ve also now got my very own business card! SO EXCITING! So if you happen to bump into me whilst on our travels through 2013 you might even get one – or order something from my Etsy shop and I’ll make sure I pop one in the post to you...
HAPPY NEW YEAR PEEPS!
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...