Monday, 16 November 2015

Monday Morning Ramblings

The sun is shining and I am sitting in my new studio, which sits nestled at the bottom of the garden next to the river.  I have filled the bird feeder up with sunflower hearts and all manner of winged ones are descending to breakfast.  I am amazed by the strength and resilience of them, they are beautiful and welcome company now I no longer have Pig to chat to all day.

I am remembering a peaceful week when we stayed in Norfolk.  It was half term and our whole family went to stay in a big house that was a stones throw from the beach at Old Hunstanton.  It was a time to be still, to listen to the shifting seasons, to inhale the tangy air that came in on sea breezes across the salt marshes.  It was a time to heal the tired parts of ourselves, to enjoy being together, to laugh and eat good food, to reminisce.

I find Autumn a curious season, it is blessed with the brightest of blue skies and drowsy mists.  There is a low, bright sun, then torrential rains and swirling winds.  It is a goodbye, it is a letting go.  It is a time to turn inward and listen to our soul.   Nature drenches the country with colour; vibrant golds, reds and chestnuts and then there are faded lime greens, acidic lemon yellows, soft rose pinks - it's breathtaking.

These last few days I have found myself battling a deep gloom, yet not for the first time.  After months of trying every herbal and holistic remedy under the sun I finally went to see my doctor (a couple of years ago now) and accepted some good old western medicene to help my body deal with the changes this time of a woman's life brings.  I suffer from fatigue, migraines, and moments of not knowing myself.  Last week I struggled to work as I had what a nurse friend of mine called a panic attack - the palpitations were the most worrying as I had never experienced such a thing before.  All of these things never used to happen to me, I am a generally fit and healthy soul who eats nourishing good whole foods, I don't smoke but I like a gin and a glass of good wine, I'm a regular person not a perfect one.  I sense change, and like Autumn, I sense that I am receeding into myself and beginning to let go of something.  I hesitated to share this here as I fear it is a taboo subject in a way (anything to do with emotions and hormones is), but I decided I would.  Social media and the internet in general is very good at showing us how to ahve polished, perfect, impossible lives which we often aspire to.  I know that I have a nice job and am lucky enough to have a studio of my own to work in, and I can imagine what pictures this might conjure up for some people, and I suppose I want to say that I'm normal, I'm just like you.  I'm 42 and sometimes I find life hard and my hormones are to blame as they shift and change and I struggle to understand who I am.

I want you to know that its ok, if you feel like this, its ok - you're not on your own.  I sought support and feel better, but I still have days where its hard to get out of bed, am deblilitated by crushing migraines, fatigue and depression.

I find yoga helps.  I attend a wonderful class every tuesday morning with a brilliant bunch of women who have become friends.  I also practice at home on my mat, and try to remember to be mindful as much as possible. 

So, I sit here this morning, and I am counting my gratitudes.  I am grateful for my friends, a support network which begins with friends in my village here and which stretches out across the country.  I am grateful for my warm home, my family, the food we eat.  I am grateful to hear the sound of water near my door as I work.  I am grateful for big sunsets, Autumn colour and the chance to wear a bright winter coat and warm boots.  I am grateful for this journey, for all the parts of it.

I know its not just me, I know that we each walk past people in the street and none of us can know what is going on inside of them.  In light of this weekend's awful tragedy in Paris, it brings it home to me even more to be kinder, to smile at a stranger, to pay a compliment, to offer to help.  Such small acts can make a day - last week I was shopping and feeling particularly lousy after a nasty outbreak of eczema, and the man at the counter complimented me on my brooch and then wished me a nice day.  He probably had no idea how much his words lifted my spirits.  Little acts of kindness like that, have the power to go a long, long way. 

I think its time to be more honest, to be more open and caring.  Our fast paced world leaves little or no time for empathy and listening as we constantly tune in to devices, our faces fixed to a screen instead of on a loved one.  I am practising this too, turning off the laptop, leaving the ipad alone until my daughter has gone to bed.  I want her to know a Mum who has time for her and I want to remember her laughter and her conversations.  I am not always successful, I am afraid I am as addicted to technology as many others are, but its a practice.  I am slowing down in more ways than one, honouring my body, and my soul.  Listening.  Deeply listening, beyond the pings of emails and tweets, of Facebook and Instagram.

Please take time this week to look at the sky, just look up and be glad for something.  Make time for yourself, for your family and your dear ones. 

I think from the title of this blog, you might have expected it to be an unravelling of thoughts and I have written without pausing, just let the words come, so it has been that!

I hope you have a nice week, wherever you are in the world. 

Sending you love,
Julia x

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Island Life

A snapshot of my summer....

Two weeks on an island, staying at a house nestled in the countryside with views over to the solent beyond the trees.  It was peaceful, restorative, and beautiful.

There was architecture and great old buildings to admire...

The island was colourful, yet slow paced.  It was contemporary yet traditional.  We enjoyed lazy beach days, long breakfasts in beach-side cafes and discovering wonderful shops in the towns and villages.

Discovering surprises around each corner...

Steps leading down to crystal clear water...the sea was so beautiful and constantly inviting...

The views were amazing...

We could have stayed forever.

Holidays are sometimes for realising dreams.  For years I have wanted to go kayaking, and on our last day on the island, I did.  The sun was hot, it was the most peaceful feeling as we gently made our way over the waves.  We sailed over forests of seaweed, long burgundy ribbons swaying in the currents below.  The water was so very clear and I found myself often gazing over the side of our kayak, to the sandy bottom below where sunlight rippled across rocks and sand, through seaweed and shoals of fish.

Home now, we are so happy to have spent such a relaxing and nourishing time together on the island.
As summer starts to ebb away, work begins again, and normal life is resumed, yet those memories of a beautiful place remain.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Things I'm doing this summer

It's finally the summer holidays. 

A huge, generous sigh of relief...the dreamy feeling of relaxing, resting and going to the coast.

A decadent feeling of being unhurried, of spending time with family and friends, of a friends summer wedding, of barbeques, picnics and walks in the woods.  Of sipping cool white wine under the stars on a warm evening, lying in bed reading a book and listening to the summer birds in the sky outside my open window....

Summer...long days, warm days, sunshine and flowers, bare toes in the sand, cool waves and sea swimming...

And art.

In the past I have struggled a bit with summer holidays.  My work seems to come to an abrupt end as I slam headlong into the six week break, but this year, I invested the Ultimate Business Survival Guide for the School Holidays - a course of podcasts and fabulous advice, from The Girls Mean Business, and for the first time ever, I feel that I will be able to keep my little art business ticking over whereas in the past, I haven't - I've let it drift and believed that I couldn't both work and look after my family!  I strongly urge you to bob along to Claire's website if you are a small creative business owner with young children - it's priceless and the supportive information will make you feel like you aren't the only one tearing your hair out as you struggle to keep all the balls in the air.

I wanted to share an interview that I did recently for the wonderful Yay Retro.  I often visit this website to drool over their amazing vintage and retro wares that they have on sale, and to read their excellent blog, and so needless to say I was over the moon when they got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in having a chat!  You can find me in the 'Our Friends' section on their blog, and read the interview right here.

I will pop back at intervals over the summer, to keep you posted about what I'm up to.  I also have something majorly exciting unfolding at the moment which I will be able to share with you in the coming weeks.

I'm planning on taking a watercolour sketch book away with me on holiday this summer, and will share snaps of what I'm creating on my Instagram - I really like visual diaries, and have dabbled in the past but spurred on by some great pictures I've found on Pinterest, I've decided to have a proper go at making my own this year.  I'll be using a Fabriano art journal, taking my travel set of Sennelier watercolours with me, and a pencil case of fine line pens and pencils.  

Have a wonderful Summer! (or winter, if you're one of my southern hemisphere readers)

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