Keep Calm and Doodle On

Yesterday I made a silly schoolboy error while doodling in my art journal, and immediately I rebuked myself, irritated and upset at my clumsy foolishness, and initially I just wanted to tear out the offending page and start again. But I rebuked myself for my rebuke, and reminded myself that perhaps my pathetic pursuit of perfection is getting in the way of my desire for creativity. I do want to be creative, but want to be good at it, always and immediately, straight out the box.

I mean, ok, so I made a mistake. Big deal. Suck it up, buttercup. Seriously, get over yourself and get on with it girl, because its only a silly little smear of ball-point pen ink rubbed across part of the page accidentally. And it’s not like the paperwork is anything of consequence, anyway – it’s just my personal, private art journal, no reason to create such a fuss. No wonder I struggle to achieve creative aims if I give up at the first flaw, seeing it as I do as a sign of abject failure.

So feeling duly reprimanded by myself for my apparent arrogance and conceit at being so non-accepting of the realities of my human nature, of acknowledging the distinct possibility of infinite errors and obstacles occurring within my journey towards my goal, I looked at it in a less dramatic light. I mean, in the grander scheme of things it hardly matters that there is a flaw in my doodle, and yet still it triggers that old ‘not good enough’ message in my head…

Hmmm… I think that before I can learn to succeed in life, I first need to learn to fail with dignity. So after my initial moment of madness I calmed myself down and carried on with my doodle anyway – and here it is in all its ink-smeared imperfection, for all the world to see. Ta-da! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Rebuke

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The Art of Patience

If we were sitting having coffee right now, I’d be animated and excited at the prospect of starting a new adventure in art…

Every now and again things in life conspire to bring you towards one particular creative decision in one place and time – like some kind of magical ‘hint, hint’ that screams at you from the rooftops… Today the combination of several different blog prompts on top of a regular post written by someone else have brought me to the realisation that it might be a good idea for me to start an art journal of some sort.

Instrumental in my decision was a blog post by Elizabeth at Tea & Paper, but much as I love what she’s doing with her art journal I worry that I simply don’t have the patience to commit to an all-bells-and-whistles big-time project with several layers of first water-colour-washing pages then sticking on collage stuff and all sorts afterwards. The kind of engrossing multi-faceted project that you leave out long-term while you complete it – fun, but not really what I need right now, particularly as our current living arrangements don’t allow for that level of otherwise unused space.

The thing is, I love the art of simple colouring-in, and have several adult-designed colouring books I dip in and out of whenever the mood takes me, and occasionally I have thought fleetingly about maybe drawing out my own outlines for colouring in but to date have done nothing about it. For some reason I just love the versatility and mobility of plain old-fashined traditional coloured pencils; no mess, no fuss, minimal space required, and instant gratification guaranteed in no time at all (nothing to tax my lack of patience too much).

So I think I might choose a small book to begin my experimental art journal, and intentionally start with simple ideas. I already have a really small Moleskine notebook given to me as a gift long ago, but sadly never used – I was never sure what to use it for, and its pristine pages lie as yet unmarked? I could stick to creating my own doodle-style outlines to colour in with my favourite coloured pencils – or perhaps use different coloured ball-point pens, or maybe even multi-coloured Sharpies? Just whatever takes my fancy at the time, unplanned – not quite a stream of consciousness creation but a time-limited tiny confection of colour, created just for me.

I have such a long history of starting relatively ambitious creative projects from time to time and inevitably giving up way too soon, which upsets me because I really don’t want to be like that but I do seem to have an issue with aiming for perfection, and knowing I won’t ever be able to reach it I somehow lose heart and give up. So hopefully by starting small and keeping things simple, I’ll manage to maintain some level of continuity for long enough for the habit (and the mindful pleasure it brings) to grow on me.

I read somewhere online that with an art journal, there are no rules – and for me, that’s the real challenge on offer. No right way or wrong way to do it, just your way, whatever that turns out to be… and as I find myself sitting here with a huge smile on my face as my untouched coffee grows cold, I take that as a sure sign that this little germ of an idea is indeed the best way for me to move forward in my latest attempt at an adventure in art 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Art

Weekly Word Prompt: Patience

Weekly Smile: 7 Jan 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: 11 Jan 2019

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Instrumental

Adventure Stories from Childhood

My love of adventure stories was kindled in childhood by Enid Blyton with her Five Find Outers and Dog mysteries – oh, the fun I had alongside Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets, and of course Fatty and Buster the dog as they ran rings around local policeman Mr Goon. The books captured the homely everyday English village life of the mid-1940s, where children were safe to explore and adults didn’t really interfere in their esapades too much.

And then I moved on to reading the adventures of the Famous Five – Julian, Dick, Anne and George and Timmy the dog. I was always intrigued by George – a short-haired girl named Georgina who always dressed like a boy – and the fact that they all went to different boarding schools so only met up together in the holidays at George’s house where they pretty much ran free around the countryside, solving mysteries here there and everywhere as they went. Again written in the 1940s, this series also left a long-lasting impression on me.

But when it came to mystery-solving the adventures of Jupiter Jones, leader of the Three Investigators took me across the cultural divide between Britain and America, to the alien world of boy’s fiction. Jupe Jones was an orphan who lived with his uncle and aunt who ran a junk yard in which the Three Investigators created their headquarters in an old hidden trailer accessed via constructed tunnels within various parts of the junk yard. Along with Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews, Jupiter Jones brought 1960s California to life for me, and I soooo… yearned for a proper bona-fide den hidden so well away from adults like these boys enjoyed so much. Freedom again…

But probably the series of books that took me furthest away from my everyday reality was The Chronicles of Narnia written in the 1950s –  truly a different world of English children’s post-war adventure stories, a world accessible variously at the back of a wardrobe, in a painting, on an underground platform, through a door, with magic rings, and finally, as a result of a train crash…

All of these beloved book series day after day took me and my voracious appetite and creative imagination many miles away from my quiet family and school life in the very rural Highlands of Scotland in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and even now my love of reading about myriad fabulous fictional characters, catapulting me into multiple alternative realities, has never really disappeared… ❤

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Adventure

When Life Intervenes

I’m quite good (or is it bad?) at starting things, but not always finishing them. It’s not deliberate, but sometimes it feels to me like life simply intervenes and gets in the way of my plans. So I don’t necessarily feel that I give up on them entirely, more that something else comes up that takes precedence at that time, and then I don’t always remember to go back to them straight away…

I mean, I decided a couple of months ago that for the six weeks before my 55th birthday I would try to do some yoga every day, to build a solid habit I could continue wherever I go. And I was doing not too badly with that plan until things started going wrong with my daughter’s third pregnancy and all hell broke loose in my head and my heart, leaving the yoga thing trailing behind in the dust.

It was the same with biting my nails – I decided in September to stop biting my nails – and indeed I had nicely filed nails right up until my stress levels went through the roof due to a type-1 diabetic pregnant daughter having uncontrollable hypos (dangerous to the extent of being potentially life-threatening) and an unborn granddaughter showing seriously concerning decelerations in her heart-rate (ditto).

But thankfully all of that stress is over now, baby is here and daughter’s blood glucose is reasonably stabilised again, and so it’s time to go back to trying the daily yoga practice and giving up biting my nails again – well, until life intervenes again, of course! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Intervene

Treasured Memories to Make me Smile…

I’m back from the North of Scotland at last, and what a busy few weeks it feels like I’ve had, although I spent the entire time travelling back and fore within a distance of 10 miles and saw no-one but immediate family the entire time I was away.

Inevitably there were the usual frantic familial ups and downs that occur when four direct generations of stubborn individuals collide in the collective pressure-cooker intensity of several cumulatively stressful situations. But in spite of having to help do my bit in defusing a few near-miss explosions I’ve found far more to make me smile than grumble about over the past month, so overall the whole full-on family experience has left me counting far more beautiful blessings than ugly grudges…

I spent most of the first two weeks of my stay one-on-one looking after my youngest grandson (aged three) while his mum was stuck in hospital awaiting the birth of his baby sister – he decided I was his pretend mummy while his real mummy was away, which was really lovely for me, if a little challenging at times. And it was with great relief to all of us that my youngest granddaughter was born safe and well by Caesarian Section six weeks early, after a truly worrying few weeks of potentially serious health issues for both mother and baby.

I then spent most of the next two weeks (once my daughter was safely home from hospital, albeit without her beautiful new baby) staying nearby with my elderly parents, in particular giving my mum a bit of a break by spending quiet quality time (while I still can) with my 82-year-old dad, who after a couple of debilitating strokes and the accompanying onset of vascular dementia seems to be in a slow an unsteady decline in life. The deterioration in his health is so sad to see but I know I’m lucky, at 55 and with six grandchildren of my own, to still have both parents alive, if not exactly well.

My beanstalk eldest grandson, who has just turned 17, has amazingly overcome his awkward teenage aversion to showing any level of emotional/physical contact with adults in authority and thankfully appears to have returned to his old huggy self. In between times I also spent some much-needed time (whenever possible) catching up with my youngest daughter and her three beautiful children – always an absolute joy for me – and with their collective help I filled my depleted hug-tank, leaving me brimming over with love.

My lovely husband travelled up from London to join me for my stay with my parents, arriving on my birthday, which was a wonderful birthday present, and my son also took time out of his busy work schedule to drive up for a flying weekend visit – so for once I had all of the people I love most in the world in (near enough) the same place at the same time – a thoroughly rare occurance in our family, and appreciated all the more for that rarity.

And as the piece de resistance, although my newborn granddaughter is still in hospital (potentially until her expected birth date in early January), now that she is doing well enough to be out of her incubator and into a regular cot, last night – the last night of my visit – I was finally able to give her a precious Nanny cuddle for the first time ever, and I thought my heart would burst with joy.

So plenty for me to smile about this week, lots of wonderful memories to store away and treasure in the years to come… ❤

Weekly Smile: 17 Dec 2018 

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Treasure

50 Sheds of Grey

I remember seeing a book once (while browsing in a bookshop) titled ’50 Sheds of Grey’ and it was actually a book made up entirely of 50 beautifully shot black and white images of ordinary people’s back garden sheds in full-page spread… it was awesome, and the play on words (although I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey I do know it was popular) really made me smile! 🙂

Oh, and my husband has a T-shirt from Old Guys Rule that says ‘The Dark Side of the Shed – Plank Floored’ 🙂

old-guys-rule

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Shed

Belonging…

I’ve never felt that I truly belong anywhere – I’m the odd one out, the ‘difficult’ one in my family, I was the smart poor kid streamed with the smart rich kids in school, I was the young mum when the other mums around me with kids the same age were older. Always, one way or another, I’ve felt some level of dissonance between me and others.

And now here I am in my mid-fifties, working in a pub where I am by far the oldest employee. Not only are all of my work colleagues younger than me, they are mostly even younger than my children, with the youngest only being a year or so older than my eldest grandson. And I’m learning that the age difference doesn’t really matter.

So nowadays the sense of always feeling ‘other’ doesn’t bother me quite the way it used to, because I’ve learned that the only place I really need to feel that I belong is inside my own skin, inside my own heart, inside my own soul. As long as I’m OK with myself, everyone else will either accept me or not, and for now that’s enough for me…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Belong