Spontaneous or Stick in the Mud?

Hmmm… I’m not generally the world’s most spontaneous person, as much as anything because for me life has not historically lent itself to the freedom – the luxury in my book – of spontaneity. Well, apart from my very beginning – I was born in a hurry as my mum went into spontaneous labour three weeks early, and as I was lying in the transverse breech position I was eventually delivered by emergency Caesarean Section in the wee small hours of the morning.

I had a lot of sore skin and bad breathing allergy problems as a child which, while growing up, seriously restricted what I could eat and what was safe chemically to come into contact with – in fact I was in and out of hospital several times throughout my formative years due to particularly bad flare-ups – so inevitably a lifestyle of learned caution and careful consideration was born positively out of necessity rather than negatively out of negligence on my part.

I had my first baby a scant month before my nineteenth birthday, and then two more in relatively quick succession (with my third baby born just two months past my 21st!) and as a young mum of three I tended to continue to be cautious for my children’s sake. So I may appear to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud by some people’s standards, but I owe no apologies for that. I have always had personal responsibilities that took precedence, first to myself and then to my children, but not (I feel) ever to answer apologetically to the uninformed opinions of rest of the world at large.

However in spite of my obvious lack of spontaneity I don’t really consider myself to be conservative at heart – I can still be a reasonable risk taker when the odds weigh favourably enough, and I certainly haven’t lived my life quietly hiding in the shadows respectfully toeing the societal line without question. I studied full time for my degree as a single-parent 30-something adult, graduating with a First Class Honours Degree at 40 – two years after I first became a grandmother – so am certainly not averse to venturing into unknown waters in the right circumstances.

Personally I feel that had my lifelong health issues not restricted me so badly in early childhood and beyond, I may well have developed more spontaneous behaviour from the start, continuing on from my unconventional and unpremeditated entry into the world. But like it or not I am where I am – still living cautiously with my ongoing allergies well into my fifties, with all three children grown up safe and sound and out in the world creating their own lives, one with a successful career and two with young families of their own.

No gap years, no travelling the world, no spontaneous ‘fun’ in that sense for any of us. But I have to say I’m very proud of all of us for simply doing our best in life with whatever hand we’ve been given… 🙂

Weekly Word Prompt: Spontaneous

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My Peaceful Place

Living in a big city like London can be really hectic and noisy a lot of the time, so for me – a quiet country girl at heart – it’s been necessary to find somewhere peaceful close to home to soothe my soul and recharge my batteries. My everyday peaceful place is only a couple of minutes from our small first floor flat in East London – along the Leytonstone edge of Wanstead Flats. I can actually see part of it beckoning me from the living room window – I just come out of the front door, turn right, walk a couple of hundred yards down the street and there it is, dusty dirt path drawing me in straight from the street, open and airy and informally very non-city-like. I walk here often, all year round, wandering and pondering, chasing away the cobwebs and setting the world to rights… this was my view of Wanstead Flats this afternoon, a wide expanse of blue sky and deep layers of clouds pillowed over the earthy greens of grass and foliage… and after my relaxing walk I returned home calm and collected, nurtured by nature… 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Peaceful

Weekly Word Prompt: Snippet

Working in a pub, and often being the one to deliver plates of food to the tables, I regularly hear the weirdest snippets of conversation between customers, who often continue with whatever they’re saying regardless of my presence. One of the funniest that comes to mind was two young women sitting in the beer garden discussing the obnoxious behaviour of a young man from the night before who had been trying (unsuccessfully it seems) to impress one of them – [Girl 1] ‘He was such a dick, he kept going on an on about all the fancy expensive stuff he’s got – I mean it’s not like his dad’s a sultan or something?’… [Girl 2] ‘Um… I think his dad is a sultan actually’… [Girl 1] ‘Oh, is he…? Well, he’s still a dick anyway!’ 🙂

Weekly Word Prompt: Snippet

Weekly Word Prompt: Assuming

While walking to work early yesterday morning I saw a man lying on his side on the ground huddled up to a plastic grit bin in the middle of a pedestrian walkway under a large roundabout. I saw him lying there from quite far away, unmoving, dirty dark clothes, dark downtrodden boots, hood up, and as I approached him he still didn’t move at all. No-one else was around, and I did think about just keeping my head down and walking on by, hesitated for a second, then decided to trust my gut instinct…

So I went up to him and asked if he was ok… no response at all, no sound of anything, no clear signs of life… so I called again, a little louder… still no reponse… and as I leaned over to give him a gentle shake to make sure he was still breathing, he suddenly moved to sit up on one elbow, an older man with wrinkled weathered face and grizzly grey hair and beard. Relieved to see him move, I apologised for disturbing him and explained I was just wanting to check that he was alright. He smiled at me, although I had clearly disturbed his sleep, and assured me he was fine – and he thanked me for checking he was OK. I smiled back at him, and went on my way to work.

I thought about it later, replaying the incident in my mind, and realised something – when the man spoke to me, his voice had surprised me. He was very well spoken, with a sober, soft and very gentle refined accent – not at all what I had assumed he would sound like at all. I realised I had assumed someone like him would have an incoherent (through drugs and alcohol) gruff, harsh working class accent – I’d made a snap judgement based on a stereotypical prejudice I didn’t even know I had, based on my small-minded preconceptions of what a ‘homeless person’ was, and it bothers me.

I suppose we all have these sub-conscious assumptions and biases inside us, whether we’re ever made aware of them or not… 😦

Weekly Word Prompt: Assuming

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

Word Prompt: Just Chillin’

I love spending time in nature – walking in the woods or along the beach, sitting in the park or in the garden, happily watching the rest of the world go by without me. But I also love spending time at home – cooking, reading, listening to music or having a long, hot soak in the bath. I’m an introvert at heart, so my chillin’ time generally requires me being alone to recharge my loner batteries from the daily drip-drip of all that necessary social conversation and chit-chat I can find so draining. I tend to find solitude soothing to my soul; it comforts me, cushions me, helps me feel safe somehow, giving me some much-needed space just to be and build up the courage I need to be able to face the world again… 🙂

Word Prompt: Just Chillin’