Okay, so it's easy for me to say that, what with having the week off work and all, but in the spirit of last week's blog, this week I am keeping things simple.
Things have been going pretty well with the whole writing thing at Shelly Berry Towers - my dabble at writing a script for a short film is progressing nicely (watch this space), as is my stab at journalism, what with a couple of juicy pieces for the Waltham Forest Echo working themselves out of the woodwork (again, keep your eyes peeled). Edit of novel number two is getting closer to completion too, despite my wavering confidence in the project. The problem is, it is all starting to feel a bit manic, and, having committed to a college course starting in September, it is going to get worse.
Or is it?
Maybe I just need to do what I keep telling myself to do; keep it simple. Stop putting pressure on myself to get things done that can wait and enjoy those little pleasures in life, like cooking and reading. I've been trying to read Iris Murdoch's The Sea The Sea for weeks now, but keep finding myself distracted by things I ought to do, rather than settling down with a good book and a nice cup of tea. And, rather than cooking the food I really want to eat, I end up churning out the same old thing night after night, rather than taking an extra 15 minutes to experiment and try something new - something that a recent meal out and a weekend with friends has made me determined to do.
So, when I get my train home tomorrow, I shall read my book. And when I go shopping, I will buy ingredients to make Moroccan Lamb and Aubergine with pomegranate and tabouleh salad, just like I had at The Bell in the Stow, and even more aubergine to make Simone's Melanzane parmingiana. And, before my next batch of leave, I will make a cake to take into work - I have a heap of cream cheese icing in the freezer that desperately needs using up, and quite a few colleagues who I really owe a slice of my grandma's carrot cake for one reason or another. And, hell, I like baking. So that is what I am going to do.
Emptying the loft, cleaning the bathroom and redecorating the kitchen can wait. I am on a new kind of mission, my friend...
I must apologise for not blogging to you all last weekend - after a 14 mile hike with my dad and his cronies I was a wee bit tired!
Yep, as always it's been all go. This weekend I compensated for my trek with a massage and facial followed by afternoon tea and shopping with my ma. I've also been keeping myself busy with my "hobbies"; swimming, writing, yoga-ing, sewing and painting.
Why? Well, I guess you could say I choose life.
Yes, I am quoting Renton's rant in Trainspotting, which I saw at the King's Head in Islington last week. It was a fantastic, brave production, which I strongly recommend you see if the company take it anywhere else.
But why choose life? What's the meaning of it all? Why bother with all these extra-curricular activities? Well, I admit, sometimes I wonder. But then I know that if I don't engage in the process, I'll never find out why I am really here.
And I guess I'd quite like to figure that out.
I hope you are all well? Had a nice weekend? In good health?
It’s nice when people ask after your well-being, isn’t it? Okay, so maybe we can’t have in-depth conversations with everyone we come into contact with about their ailments and gripes, but isn’t it nice when people show you a little bit of courtesy? Are polite? Talk to you like a human being?
I’ve come to accept that, in London especially, a lot of (but not all) people are often too busy getting on with their own lives in their own worlds to bother smiling on the tube, say excuse me when they push past you with their trolley case (and trip you over with it in the process) or to apologise if they step on the back of your heel as they rush to the office. But when it comes to one-to-one interactions, I am getting quite tired of people not showing a little courtesy. When I speak to a member of the public when I’m at work, I don’t except them to shout and swear before they hang up on me, even when I am saying no to their (often unrealistic, sometimes ridiculous) requests. And when I complain in a pub about the service that I receive, I expect the management to respond to that complaint, not to complain about my complaint (true story!).
And another thing – when did it become okay to email your colleagues without starting with the once-customary “Dear,” or even a “Hi” or “Hello?” I’m sorry but I don’t get it. And when you say you’re going to get back to someone by the end of the day about an interview they have just sat through, surely a phone call isn’t too much to ask – especially when an email is met with an “out of office” message?
Okay, so I don’t get the worst of it. At the Green Gym on Friday (which I have an article about in the latest edition of the Waltham Forest Echo J) I chatted to a chap about the pitfalls of working in a supermarket – something I have done before and he is about to start doing. My experience is that, just because you’re in an unskilled job, people think it’s okay to talk to you like you’re an idiot. I for one make an effort to say hello to the guys in my local Co-Op and ask them how they are - at the end of the day, if they weren’t here, where you I get my midnight pint of milk from? We all contribute to society (yes, even people who don’t work Mr Cameron), and all deserve to be treated with a bit of respect.
So this week, a plea; can we all start being a bit nicer to each other? I ain’t a religious person, but I’m a big fan of that “do unto others what you would have done unto you” stuff. Some people call it Karma. But whatever it is, can we have a bit more of it please?
I did say please.
Thank you J
So... a new week is nearly upon us. What are your plans?
Need something to read on your commute? Then look no further than my latest short story, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Looking for somewhere to eat? Then check out my latest blog on Operation:Pizza.
Feel like painting some furniture? Then give me a shout, because these need another coat... and I have four other chairs, a coffee table and a TV stand to go too...
Okay, so maybe I've taken this upcycling thing a bit too far...
Have a good one people :-)
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!
So... how was you week?
Mine was pretty cool.
I chilled out with the Artists Who...
... wrote the follow up to my debut at the Waltham Forest Echo...
... finished the first edit of novel number two on my way to meet the lovely Lexi - who just happened to be wearing the snood I made her for Christmas...
... and pottered about in my lovely flat, newly furnished with a few more bits from my favourite furniture shop in Walthamstow, the British Heart Foundation.
Want to read more? Well, check out my latest Overground Underground blog - and keep your eyes open for my latest newsletter which you can sign up to here...
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...
I hope you are all feeling nicely refreshed after the weekend? I have to admit that, after three nights of camping, I'm quite tired - but then there's nothing quite like sitting around a smoldering BBQ at 11 o'clock at night, playing cards and supping Jameson's whiskey (a new and rather dangerous discovery for old Shell) to re-charge the batteries. Okay, so as camping goes we were pretty well looked after (electricity supply, showers AND clean toilets? Wow!) but cooking outdoors, sleeping with nothing more than a sheet of waterproof fabric between you and the elements and being without all those creature comforts we don't need but depend on is certainly good for the soul. Even if not the back...
It isn't just going camping that has helped me detox my mind - if not my body (one thing at a time people!). I've been reading a book by Gabbi Bernstein, Yoga and Meditation buff whose 108 Miracles Now breaks down developing your spiritual side - and maintaining your well-being - into easy to follow steps. Whilst some of it isn't for me, it is full of handy hints to improve your relationship with the world and look at life with a more positive slant, something I admit I sometimes find tricky.
On Thursday, I found myself seeing positives in what could have been a rather crushing situation. After several rejection letters confused by some very positive feedback from publishers and competition judges, I decided to ask a professional to look at my first novel, Faith, Hope and Chocolate. Deep down I knew it wasn't my best writing by any means but had grown attached to my characters - and still loved the concept. Claire's feedback confirmed this - and her comments helped me see where it wasn't working and think about how I could develop the story line. We concluded that the best course of action would be to start again - and, this time, write with a bit more of a purpose and a plan, something I admit not really doing the first time round. So, watch this space people - just don't hold your breath, as I have novel number two to edit first, plus a couple of other ideas floating about...
Now, with all that in mind, I'm going to run myself a nice bath, read some more "Miracles" and write in my journal - the detox isn't complete yet!
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...
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...