21 January 2022

Hibernation Tendancies

I mentioned in my last post about spending time in my cosy corner of the sofa every evening enjoying our fire and knitting.  I have spent most of the last week sat there as I succumbed to some kind of virus just over a week ago.  I have done a lot of sleeping.  On a couple of those days my only movement was between my cosy corner of the sofa and bed.  I am up and about more now doing a little more now.  My outside time stopped for a few days and then rather than a walk I wrapped up and spent five minutes or so soaking up the winter sunshine that graced our door this week.  I did feel better for doing that.

We had to cancel our plans for some of the days this week, those plans that I could not make happen without others helping with transport.  Alice managed to get to her weekly home ed group as a kind mum offered to come out of her way to pick her up.  She goes to a friends for tea afterwards following by a canoe polo session in the local pool so she was really glad that she could still do all of that.  I had a very quiet afternoon working under a blanket on the sofa.  

I did some driving around on Wednesday my cuckoo clock day as I am in and out all day operating mum's taxi service.  After nearly a week of small amounts of movement it was a little weird to watch the world move by so fast from the car window as I drove to collect Cameron from his half day at college.  I remember that feeling during lockdown when I would only use the car once a week, the first time I drove much further took some getting used to.  It was Alice's turn to take up residence on the sofa, I honestly thought she was coming down with the same thing as me but she was only ill for a day, thankfully.  It did mean that the afternoon taxi service was stood down for this week, which I was thankful for.  Walking round the supermarket in the morning was a strange experience after nearly a week of being housebound.  It is easy to forget that there is a world going about its business when you are hibernating at home.  It all felt like far too much stimulation.

I thought it might mean that Thursday I could remain at home, but it was my husband's turn for some time on the sofa so I had to get Cameron to college and pick him up.  So more driving was needed.  I shelved plans to do the small independent food shops which we usually visit along with a piano lesson on a Thursday.  Alice although much better was not feeling up to a lesson this week.  The driving back and forth was quite enough for one day.  Our friends that we usually see in the afternoon has not happened yet this year what with one thing and another, it sometimes works that way but never for want of trying to make it happen.

Friday I managed the last bits of shopping, the drive to town was slowed by a funeral cortege.  It drove through most of the village with someone walking in front of the main car, I have not witnessed that for a while.  There were lots of people lining the streets I have no idea whose funeral it was, folks in my village tend to live here their entire lives, there are many families with several generations living here.  I will get Cameron to find out when he next does his paper round.  Once the car had left the village it drove at about twenty miles an hour to the point where I think it was turning to the crematorium.  Perhaps for a service there.  I was quite grateful for the slow speed, after the drive the day before it was good to be able to take it slower without someone behind trying to speed things up, the roads are a little narrow in places to allow for overtaking.

I really fancied a walk in the afternoon after the shopping and lunch were all done.  It was another sunny day and I was feeling like I was ready to actually walk rather than just spend some time outside soaking up the fresh air.  I mentioned it to my husband who was up for a stroll too except I then sat in a comfy chair and fell asleep!  We did have a short walk, my first for over a week, I was very slow and was ready to sit down when we got back home.  I fell asleep again when we returned!  My energy levels are not back to their usual levels yet, it would seem.  I haven't managed my morning yoga for over a week.  I am thinking I might start with something very gentle tomorrow.  I don't want to stiffen up completely.

I finally managed to order some yarn for a bigger project than knitting squares.  I have been debating the shade of grey to order.  It is hard to see the true colour when you are ordering online, I hope it is the shade I am after.  

We were supposed to be out and about all day on Sunday doing something that I ordinarily love doing so I was rather relieved when it was no longer necessary to run it and it has now been cancelled.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to a long day out.   

I even managed to do some de-cluttering from the warmth of my cosy spot on the sofa.  The blog reader that I have been using for some time had become increasingly unreliable.  On those rare occasions that I am able to sit down and read the other wonderful blogs I follow I would get a message telling me it was not possible to access the website to do that and I would need to come back later.  Somewhat frustrating.  I had halfheartedly migrated a few blogs to a different reader a few years ago which I was also using as a means of keeping track of a few news sites I also follow.  Time to migrate properly.  I was following over 100 blogs many of which were no longer posting.  I deleted some of these and left the rest on the old reader which I will check from time to time to see if they have posted again.  I now have a more manageable amount on the new website, all folks who post regularly for them, not all at the same time thankfully for me I would not be able to read all those in one day.  A different kind of de-cluttering but clearing up and tidying all the same and I no longer get a message telling me to come back and read later.

So often when I am unwell or recovering, I miss all the things I usually do but this time I have enjoyed being at home, at not having to go out anywhere.  I am really feeling the need to hibernate,  the pull of the comfort of a warm fire, a cosy blanket and a sofa to sink into.  I have been ill with a virus every month since October.  Every now and then I have a late Autumn and Winter like this one where I seem to catch everything that is going.  It is usually followed by many more without any illness.  It's as if I get them all at once to build immunity before another batch of viruses comes along.  Winter is about recharging so maybe it is my body's way of telling me that it needs me to slow down this year, to take my time to fully and properly rest before being ready for the busyness of the seasons to come.

15 January 2022

Busy (Gently) Doing





We are now two weeks into this year and I hope that it shapes up to a more settled one than the last two.  One where the plans you make can get beyond the planing stage and become a reality. 

I loved the two weeks over the festive period when my husband and Cameron were at home, when we can put all the rhythms of our life on the shelf for a short while.  We were eating meals when we were hungry, deciding when we woke each day how that day would be filled.  It was slow, unhurried and a lovely pause.  It was good to get back into our rhythms once more, I thought that would happen in the first week of January but it didn't take me long to find out that most of the things we do would not be starting until this week so we have had a really gentle start to the year.  It is Winter, so that is how things should be.

I spent some time that first quiet week thinking about the shape our lives would take over the coming weeks, to the time of Imbolc at the beginning of February.  I read a lovely idea on one blog which in my usual way I have run off with in my own direction.  I write everything into my diary, I cannot manage with more than one place to write things.  I love the idea of words for a month, I decided I wanted words for six weeks rather than a month, to fit in with the wheel of the year,  so to take me to the time of Imbolc I have Reflect, Declutter, stillness, calm, rest and peace to hold a space for me.

I am back at work after a two week break over the festive period.  I love that I can do this from home, it is so flexible for me.  I recently took another role with a similar number of hours.  I heard that several key members of that new team left in December whilst I was ill, it was a bit of shock to open my emails and read that.  I am not sure if I am on a sinking ship at the moment, I have no contract yet, nor a work email so I am not doing any work until that is sorted.  There is so much to do so it is all rather frustrating.  I cannot believe that I have been in my initial role for nearly two years, I started a week before COVID put us into lockdown in March 2020, I have yet to do a face to face meeting.  I have only met a handful of my colleagues and volunteers face to face.  It is going to be very strange when we can go back to that, they are all folks on screens who only have heads and shoulders!

Many blogs I have read as we started the new year have talked about intentions.  I rather like this as a holding word rather than feeling that you have to do something.  Life often gets in they way of things that we want to do so if we make it an intention I feel like it changes things and reduces that pressure.  I have intentions to get outside and walk somewhere every day (which I have managed on all but one day when I was unwell) it doesn't matter where, or how far it is just about getting out.  I am loving occasionally wondering up the village after tea.  It is dark and so quiet, it makes it feel like a very different place to explore.  My walks have taken me mostly around the village so far, I have had snow, ice, sunshine, pouring rain and blustery winds.  I have travelled a little further afield but mostly when I have company.  After spending all day inside on a training course it was good to get out for a short while to blow the cobwebs away before cooking tea.

I also have an intention to declutter somewhere in the house each week, I was going to make this a daily thing but decided that was not going to achievable, there are two days in my week when I knew that would just not happen, especially if I was going to walk as well.  I don't see the point in setting myself up to fail on those two days.  I went through Cameron's clothes last week and found three t-shirts that he had out grown but were all in perfect condition.  Whilst I mulled over what to do them I had an email from the company I bought them from which included information about a new scheme they have started where they buy back items in good condition.  I love this kind of synchronicity, although I realise I would have read and scrolled on if I had not found those t-shirts that week.   I ended up sending back five items which is five less things in the house. 

At the end of each day I am enjoying time on the sofa with the fire gently warming the house and my knitting needles clacking.  I sometimes listen to music, a podcast or watch something online at the same time, depending on who is in the room with me.  I have a spot that I like to use, next to one of the tables that cleverly attaches itself to our futon sofa.  It held our 'christmas tree" until a few days ago.  Nothing got taken down on twelfth night does that mean I am in for a year of bad luck?  Our tree was a few small branches cut from our willow with handmade decorations on the branches.  It rather overhung the sofa restricting my space so I have now removed it.  The cards are down but the bunting and my 'tinsel,' not really traditional tinsel mine as made of coloured woven dried grass/plant of some sort, are still up.  The tinsel is rather old and delicate now, and is fiddly to put away, that sounds like excuses doesn't it!

My crafting is all about blanket squares at the moment, both knitting and sewing, both made with yarn or fabric from my stash.  I am confident that I have enough fabric to complete the sewn blanket, the yarn project I am less sure about.  I have measured that I need about 60 squares, I am twenty down and am running out of small balls to knit with.  I might just have to have a trawl of the charity shops and find odd balls of yarn.  These are both slow projects not because I cannot be bothered but that is the intention.  I am not trying to finish them quickly they are there to be picked up and worked on when the time is right, perhaps in between other larger projects.  I am debating on yarn to knit myself a jumper and haven't found the right one just yet.  It is hard when you can't see it for real isn't, not just to touch it and feel it but to get the colour just right.

A gentle start to my year that I really hope is a little more, dare I say it, predictable?  I hope your year has started off as you wanted it to.

08 January 2022

Falling down rabbit holes

I have loved reading all the round up posts that folks have been blogging in the past few weeks.  So many inspiring, amazing and interesting things that people have been doing and making.  I have been amazed by the number of books that some have managed to read in a year, most lists seemed to be equivalent to what I would manage in a decade.  I hadn't made a list of books I read this year and when I did I was unsurprised by the fact that they were mostly non-fiction.  I rarely buy fiction these day, any fiction I do read is borrowed from my local library and as I have not set foot in there since March last year, not many books of this type made it on my list.   My total was 11, in case you are interested, but I also had a further 10 half read books on my bedside table.  

I have been doing a little bit of decluttering every day so far this year, I am not aiming to keep that up for the whole year, it is the time of year when I like to clear out, part of my winter routine.  I have reduced the pile of unread books to six, not a great reduction but a start, the other four have been been shelved to be read in full another time, or placed in the charity shop bag as they are not for me.    I like the idea of doing a little every now, inspired by this post rather than getting overwhelmed by trying to tackle it all at once.  I have a tendency not to start things at all when it gets to the overwhelming stage, procrastination is an art form in itself isn't it, but it doesn't get you very far if you never get started on anything.  So little and often it is.

I learnt a new, to me, phrase reading those round up posts, actually it is an acronym really, SABLE, have you heard of it?  Apparently it means Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.  I should quantify that it was a knitting thing in the context that I read it, a stash, in this case, being a collection of skeins (or hanks or balls whatever you call them) of yarn.  My stash does not meet this definition by any stretch of the imagination, it is a rather random selection of remains of balls of yarn from my knitting projects over the years with a small collection of complete skeins which were inexplicably left over from projects.  I buy yarn when I want to knit something.  So it got me thinking.  About SABLE that is and why and what people knit.

The creative process is a very personal thing is it not, why we create and what we choose to create is unique to each and every one of us.  It is interesting to me as someone who buys yarn with a specific project in mind why people would buy yarn because well, I don't know, I am guessing they like it.  This is not a criticism by the way, it is pure curiosity.  I am more likely to create a SABLE for fabric than yarn, perhaps I should rephrase that to I am well on my way to creating a large stash of fabric.  I have a wonderful fabric shop in my local town and it is rare for me to visit and not walk out with some lovely fabric that fell into my basket.  I can't help wondering if I still had a local yarn shop to visit, whether yarn would be falling into my basket each time I visited there too, when you buy it online it doesn't have quite the same appeal for me.

Despite my large fabric stash my sewing projects last year amounted to a bag for my nephew for Christmas, I could not remember making anything else.  I am sure that I had my sewing machine out a few times I know that involved repairing things and I sure I made another batch of cloths as I usually do each year at some point.  I did start one project in September but I am still working on that so I cannot claim it as a finished project for 2021.  Thinking about what sewing I had done last year, and not coming up with anything made me wonder why.  I cannot explain why the gift sewing stopped other than I was not inspired but that is not all I sew.  I have made myself a few items of clothing in recent years but thinking about my wardrobe, from a sewing point of view it is enough, I don't need anything new right now.  

In that wonderful way that synchronicity can occur, as I was pondering this a new episode from a podcast producer I love, popped into my podcast app, you can find it if you click on documentaries.  It was a one off called Stitched up about fast fashion and amongst other things the lack of transparency within the supply chain which makes it nearly impossible to make a considered purchase.  Like so many things in our lives we are so removed from the processes it has been through it is hard for us consider this when we are browsing in shops or online.  The label telling you where it was made?  That is where it will have been sewn together by the time the fabric has got there it may have been half way round the world from growing, to processing, weaving, dying and whatever else needs to happen to it before it can be sewn into a garment.  

It would be so easy to feel overwhelmed, to worry about the current contents of our wardrobes, our stashes of whatever it is we like to buy to make things or whatever else it is we like to buy,  but it is not about that is it.  We cannot unknow what we hear, see and read, what we can do is think about it and be mindful in the future, what that looks like will be personal to each and every one of us.  I am not standing, or writing here in judgement.

So I have loved all the roundup posts I have read not just because they were inspiring, amazing and interesting but because they sent me down rabbit holes and got me thinking too.

01 January 2022

Snapshots of a year

I have not been blogging much this year, being away from this space means that I take far less photos, I really wanted to do a roundup of the year post as a reminder to myself of what we got up to and I managed to find a photo of something we or I had done for each month.   So here are some of the things that I and the family have been doing this year.  

January bought us snow, lots of it, which meant that we were out sledging at every opportunity.  I love how the familiar world around you changes so much when it snows.  It becomes quieter and when the sun shines really sparkly.  The sound of snow creaking underfoot is unique to this time of year.   I do love a really cold sunny winters day when you wrap up warm and venture out.  

February is usually a grey, cold, wet month when I find myself wanting to be inside all the time, it would have been very easy to hibernate inside all month but as we were still in lockdown I was determined to get out, whatever the weather, for a daily walk somewhere.  We did have rare instances of sun, these were the only time the camera came out......

March saw the end of months of hard work by Cameron as he completed his Bronze Arts Award.  The final piece of this project was for him to run a tutorial based on the skills he had learnt for the other elements of the award.  He chose to run a tutorial on drawing cars which, as we were in lockdown at the time, had to be held online.  I wasn't sure how he manage running a tutorial, when he started this level of the award scheme he was nervous about this element.  He was totally ready for it and it was a great success, it lasted a whole hour and he had some lovely feedback from the children who joined him and their parents.  He did not dictate to the participants what kind of car they should be drawing, he just gave them tips and advice on each section related to different types of cars.  He chose to draw a vehicle himself at the same time, and the photo above is the car that he drew.

In April Alice was finally able to have the haircut that she had waited so long for.  She had mentioned back in November 2020 that she really want to have her hair cut short, at the time we were in a lockdown so I was not able to make an appointment.  When that was possible again, a few weeks later, the first appointment I could get was for January that ended up being cancelled due to another lockdown.  My lovely hairdresser who knew why Alice wanted this appointment contacted me as soon as she was able to start working again to make a date.  Alice had hair down past her waist and she wanted to donate it to a charity who make wigs for children whose hair has fallen out.  They particularly wanted donations over 30cm.  Alice donated a whopping 50cm/20 inches!  My hairdresser, who has been cutting my hair for over 20 years, would not take a penny for cutting Alice's hair she was so impressed with what Alice was doing for someone else less fortunate than her.

May was a rather chilly and blustery month with a fair amount of rain.  It is Alice's birthday month and she really wanted to camp with her friends this year.  She was not able to meet with anyone last year and was hopeful that she could get to spend time with friends whatever the weather threw at us.  It ended up being a very wet cold night but they still had a wonderful time.  They had a wonderful evening together cooking tea before the weather broke.  I am not sure that much sleeping happened as they all looked very tired when we went to pick them up!  Alice's best friend lives on a small farm and they were able to camp there, they had amazing views from their tent.  I am so glad that she got to spend her birthday with friends this year.

After a chilly blustery May,  June was much warmer and sunnier.  My husband had booked a weeks leave and it coincided with some lovely dry, warm weather.  We decided to make the most of the weather and the fact that the children are now much taller and stronger this year to take to the hills near our home for a walking expedition.  We planned our route to pass as many tarns (small lakes) as possible and packed our swimming stuff along with tents, provisions and other kit for an over night in the hills.  We managed to swim in three tarns over the two days, one right next to where we camped.  It was a beautiful spot well away from the crowds we had encountered as we set off that morning.  Whilst walking back to the car the following day we explored a few old mines and quarries, long abandoned but a reminder that the hillside would once have been a busy, noisy and bustling place. 

My husband had another week of leave in July, it was a wetter week this time but we still managed to find a two day window to do another walking expedition into the hills.  Again we started off from a popular place with tourists, we got ourselves ready the night before and set off as early as we could, once Cameron had finished work, to make sure we had a good spot to park.  We didn't see another soul until we returned to the car the following day.  We stopped to swim in the stream on our way up the valley reaching a high tarn where we pitched our tents.  We left Cameron to have a snooze (he got up really early to do his paper round so we could set off early) and headed up to the ridge above the tarn, the views were amazing from there and the photo above is taken looking down from there towards our tents which you can just see in the centre of the photo, above the tarn which we swam in to cool off after our ridge walk.  We woke the next morning to find we were in the clouds which was a little different to the beautiful sunny day the day before.  We swam in a tarn on the way down which was a really strange experience as it too was in the cloud and you could not see very far!  When we returned to the car there were so many people around, mostly enjoying themselves by the large lake in the valley.  We took the opportunity to swim in there too, it is a really deep one and we were amazed at how clear it was.  We wore wetsuits for that swim (we carried a basic swimming kit into the hills) which meant that we could stay in for longer, we only got out as we were hungry, the water was so warm we could have stayed in for hours.

August is a bank holiday month in this part of the world and often falls on a friend's birthday.  He wanted to go sea kayaking this year and ask my husband and I to join us as we are more experienced than him  and his wife.  We were blessed with glorious weather for most of the trip, the first day was rather foggy to start which made kayaking rather interesting as we could not see very far at all.  We were out for the best part of three days, paddling round two islands and camping in two different spots on the largest of the two.  We saw lots of seals and some birds species that I have not seen in years.  The wind picked up on the final day which made crossing back to the mainland rather interesting!  This was the first trip where we have left the children with friends and travelled so far away.  Over the same weekend Cameron also completed his expedition for his Bronze D of E Award which made arrangements for him rather complicated.  As I was writing this I realised that this is the only time I left the county where I live in the whole year,  I haven't travelled far in 2021!

Alice and I had a lot of adjusting to do in September when Cameron left us both to start college, after twelve years of home educating this was a big change for all of us.  We found things to do, her and I, including going out to a spot a short walk from home to do some nature study for a Scout badge.  We live in an area rich in geology and right where we live we have limestone and granite side by side.  She chose this limestone escarpment to focus on, we found a rich variety of flowers and learnt a few more names for grasses.  We visited a few times and were there for the Autumn Equinox, we had a small ceremony together and a short eared owl joined us for a fly by as we were pausing at the end.

October saw me completing two jumpers for myself.  The green one I started back in August pausing in September to knit up a smaller version of the pattern for my nephew as a birthday present.  I loved it so much that I bought some more yarn and knit another.  I have no idea how I have lived without these jumpers I wear them all the time, they are cosy and warm, fit me perfectly (I have long arms and bought jumpers are never long enough) and go with everything in my wardrobe.  This bought my knitting tally of the year to four jumpers and two cardigans along with several hats socks, mitts and cowls, the other jumper was for my mum who although a knitter herself is not very quick, I was very honoured to be asked to knit for her.  One of the cardigans was for me, the other a birthday gift for a dear friend who turned 50 in 2021.

Back in September Alice and I started going to a newly created home ed group, like all new groups it took a while to feel settled and established and is now a lovely, welcoming and friendly group of all ages.  Someone suggested that we do some knitting as a group (having watched me knit whilst there) and we came up with the idea of knitting squares to make a blanket to donate.  It has been a lovely social activity with upwards of 20 children and adults, some weeks, all sat around knitting and nattering.  Some could already knit, some were rusty and needed reminding of the skills and others were complete beginners.  The blanket is growing slowly and we now have 27 squares.  We are hoping that this will be an ongoing project and once one blanket is complete we will start on another.

A few years ago I started the slow transition to wearing a different kind of shoe, some call them barefoot shoes, I would call them super comfy and totally transformational.  This kind of shoe has an ultra thin sole (to mimic walking barefoot), are totally flat with no heel at all and have a lovely wide toe box to allow your toes to spread and sit as they need to without being squished.  The slow transition has not been because I don't like these shoes but because they are expensive (but worth the expense) or I have been searching for second hand pairs which don't come around in my size and a style that I like and works for my feet that often.  I am slowly replacing each type of shoe I own and for my birthday I received a new pair of walking boots.  These have been used a lot in December as we have been out for many walks especially during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.  I am loving these boots which are super comfy and have completely stopped any pains in my knees that I used to get after long walks.   I am now totally confident about crossing the many streams we have in this part of the world as it is so much easier for me to find my balance, my foot moulds around the rocks as I cross.  I got a second pair of shoes from this company for Christmas, the fabric of which is made from recycled coffee grounds!

Thank you for all of your lovely comments when I started blogging again recently, after a year away.  It was so lovely to be welcomed back into the lovely blogging community with open arms.  I have been really touched by your kind words.  I am looking forward to reading along with you and sharing more of my own adventures in 2022.

28 December 2021

A different kind of Advent












Last Wednesday was a very full day for me, it was intentional and planned  When you have to drive to most places you need to be, whilst also allowing for all the extra layers you need to put on at this time of year, a half an hour to an hour activity can take up over two hours of time.  So rather than going out every day of the week for a short while, I opted for a day which was full to the brim, I could then have two full days at home.  I do love my days at home.

I would never have considered planning to intentionally have a very full day, not so long ago.  That would have been a recipe for me thinking about it a lot on the days leading up to it, I would have been awake for most of the previous night worrying about how I was going to fit everything in.   A wakeful night would mean that I was really tired during my busy day, I would forget things or become anxious that I would be late to where I needed to be.   I would be a bag full of worries and anxieties for days.

I know that the last, nearly two, years have been hard for all of us.  I know that the future is and always will be an uncertain place but the added uncertainties of late have been very unsettling.  The enforced slowing down of my life has had unexpected consequences which I have been really grateful for, one of those is that when I focus only on the day ahead and what I need or want to do and how to make it all work, I am totally present.  That doesn't mean that I am not thinking about the bigger picture at all but rather that I am not focusing on the detail of the days ahead which are often the bits that bring in the worries with them and doesn't leave us with much headspace to think about much else.

When the first of December rolled around I had not thought about Advent at all.  In the past I have prepared four weeks of stories, poems and activities based around a different theme each week, usually starting my preparation way back in November.   It would have to be different this year with Cameron at college but I still wanted to do things with Alice.  I have amassed a lovely collection of Christmas storybooks for older children and although we would not have the time to read all these ,as we have in the past, there were some that simply had to be read.  I made some loose plans, a list of possibilities for each week, it gave us all a simpler heartfelt Advent this year.  Rethinking things in this way meant that when I had to make an early tea before Alice went out to Scouts I used the evening to make all the Christmas cards that I was sending this year in one evening and felt a real sense of accomplishment.  I have been making my own cards for years and years and I don't ever remember getting them made in such a short time.  I know that making them is only one part of the process, they did all get written and posted in time even the handful of international ones.  Leaving it late to plan things turned out ok, I had to reduce what we could do but that is no bad thing at this time of year which can get really busy.  Choosing the things that really mattered is something we should probably be doing all the time anyway.

When I write something down to be done on a particular day it psychologically adds a pressure for me to complete it on that day and when circumstances do not allow for that I feel that I have failed in some way.  That last sentence should really have been written in the past tense, another consequence of the last couple of years is that I am learning to let go of this.  I am slowly learning that it is ok when things that I have planned will not be able to happen, it is not a failure.  Even those loose plans I had made did not quite come to fruition as life got in the way.  We read very few of the stories that I had intentions to share this year, prioritising the ones that we love and Advent really would not feel right without sharing them,  The Glass Angels by Susan Hill being one of them.

It is also about trusting that all will be well when it feels like your plans are a little too fluid than you might have usually chosen them to be.  I knew that I wanted to make a few small gifts to give this year, when my Mother in Law was visiting us for a long weekend at the beginning of the month it was forecast to rain for most of her stay, a chance remark by her that she would love to do more crafting led to us doing just that on each day of her stay.  We did needle felting, quilling and wood burning together and I used the time to make several small gifts.

Advent and Christmas is now over for another year.  It has felt relaxed and calm this year, I will try to remember this for future years, that it is possible to have a loose plan and it is ok to let go when things don't pan out quite how we envisaged they would, it does work!  

I hope whatever you celebrate at this time of year has been restful and restoring for you and yours too.

22 December 2021

Resting and Pausing in Stillness

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the day when we, in the Northern Hemisphere, are at our furthest away from the sun.  The earth is at its most dormant now at this time of the shortest day and longest night.  It is paused waiting for the slow return of the sum and its increase in energy.  This time of the earth pausing is our time to continue to rest, to take things easy, to conserve our energy.  It can be such a hard time of year these next few months, the light starts to return and slowly the days get longer but the temperatures will continue to drop and sometimes it can feel as if the warmer days will never return.


Now that the Winter's come to stay
All the trees are bare
Little birds must fly away
To find their food elsewhere

Little seeds lie hidden
In the dark brown earth,
waiting until bidden
To rise above the earth
S. Jarman

Over the past few months the earth has been shedding itself of the growth it no longer needs to help preserve energy, the leaves have all fallen from the trees, some will also lose bark.  We can use this time of dark, of being inside more, to clean our houses, our spaces and our minds.  We can remove those things that we no longer have use for, passing them on to those who will.  We can let go of thoughts that are unhelpful, that influence us in ways that leave us sad and unhappy.  A clearer mind is so calming, we are more productive, we sleep better and we can manage our day to day life more efficiently.  Decluttering our space and our minds will also give us the room to make ourselves ready to welcome in new possibilities.

In this time of taking it slow, we can also use it to reflect on what we have achieved this year, it is has been another unusual and sometimes unsettling year so it feels all the more important to remind ourselves of all those things that we have done, perhaps there are things that you never thought were possible, if we bring them into our minds and hold them there, we can take them with us into the future as a reminder of what is possible.  We can also think about all those things we have been grateful for this year, for all the things, however small, we have in our lives.  Sometimes it is the little things we are most grateful for, time for a rest, a smile, or the sunshine when we open our curtains in the morning.  May our hearts be open in gratitude for all their abundance.

We can think about our inner thoughts, those that give us our strength and a greater understanding of ourselves and our emotions.  We should listen to the wisdom of our inner voice, the one we often doubt, ignore or try to quieten, it is often hard but so important to listen to the message it is sending us and give ourselves time to reflect on what we hear.  We can also think about our outer voice too, how we express ourselves and communicate with others, are we always kind and thoughtful.

Since the time of Samhein, at the end of October,  you may have been thinking about the seeds of new beginnings, plans and possibilities, as the days now start to grow longer and the sun's strength slowly grows so too should these seeds.  We can start to form ideas of where these might take us, where would you like them to go, how you might turn them into hopes and intentions, perhaps if you are ready to, you could share them with others, to give them strength and power.

If it is your thing then you could do a stillness meditation, if you get yourself into a comfortable position to allow yourself to be quiet and still for a moment.  If you are outside (wrapped up warm) then take the time to feel the earth beneath your feet, feel the air moving past your face, if you are sitting, feel with your hands the ground right next to you.  Think about all your achievements this year, all the things that you have done over the past months, perhaps there are things that you done that you never thought were possible, bring them into your mind now, hold them there, you can take them with you into the future as a reminder of what is possible.  Now think about all the things that you have been grateful for this year, for all the things you have in your life, open your heart in gratitude for all this abundance.  Lastly think about those seeds of ideas that you sowed back at the time of Samhein, if you did not do that then then think about them now, start to form ideas of where they might they take you and where you would like to go.  When you are ready open you eyes.

May you find peace in the 
promise of solstice night,
That earth each day forward is
blessed with more light.
That cycle of nature,
unbroken and true,
Brings faith to your soul
and well being to you
Rejoice in the darkness,
in the silence find rest,
And may the days that follow
be abundantly blessed.

As we moved towards the coldest time of nature's cycle, I hope you can feel blessed.  I hope that you can find a way to declutter your mind, to let go of the thoughts that feel heavy and drag you down.  I hope that you can find new homes for the things that you now longer want.  I hope that you listen to the wisdom of your inner voice and reflect upon what it tells you as you move forward with your seed of an idea for your future.  I hope that you can find hope through the cold time ahead.

Solstice blessings to you.

19 December 2021

Seventeen

I returned to writing in this wee space after a pause as I love to write a post around the time of each of my children's birthdays.   When I noticed that the last post was for Cameron's birthday a year ago  I knew it was time to return.  Each of these posts are words that are dedicated and about them, I love to read them back as a reminder of each year of their life.

Although your seventeenth time around of the sun was now completed over a month ago, I write these words for you Cameron, better late than never.

You had a very quiet birthday this year, we were so lucky to have you at home with us to share it with you.  It was a very wet and cold day so we were not able to do what you had wanted, to visit a local place for you to be able to take photographs, you new found love.  You never want to have a party so you spent some of the day online playing and chatting with the friends you have made online, that live all over the world.  You were deeply touched by all the online messages you received wishing you a happy birthday.

You have continued to grow taller this year, at a much slower rate than in previous years just adding an inch, so you now stand at six foot, being as slim as you are you look so much taller.  I have no idea where all the food you eat goes, you remain so thin, you love your food and it is a pleasure to cook for you, you eat so healthily and are never ill another year has passed without you needing to attend a doctors appointment. 

It has been a big year of change for you this year which you have taken in your stride, you were ready for those changes.   The first step in this change was to attend an open day, just after your sixteenth birthday, at the college you now attend, you were really nervous but were determined to go on your own, I was so proud of you.  You needed a little remote help from me to step over the threshold but we got there and you impressed all the staff once you were inside the building.  Exams were out of our reach as a home educating family, with Covid changing them to tutor assessments they had become prohibitively expensive, but that was no problem, your visit to the college, an interview and your portfolio of creative arts that you put together yourself gained you a place.  In September you started.  I cried that first day you went off, confident and looking forward to being a college student.  You had been at home learning with me all your life and you left a big gaping hole in those early days when you were a college.  I love the time you are at home with us.  You are a dedicated and hard working, I love that you share what you are doing, so proud to show people what you have created.  You have loved the graphic design elements of your course and are now considering applying to do the next level course in that subject.

Despite knowing early on this year that we would not need to do exams to get you a place at college you continue to work through the workbooks in English and Maths to ensure that when you started college (and do the exams in these two subjects next year later through them) you would not find it hard in those lessons.  Your hard work has paid off, you are now finding pleasure in both those subjects and are confident, whereas in the past you felt you would never reach the skill level needed, to sit the exam.  The commitment you have made will be a useful skill as you move through life.

I knew that you were ready for college when you hosted an online tutorial for a small group of children, it was not possible for you to do this face to face due to restrictions at the time.  You spent an hour hosting a tutorial on how to draw a car, there were eight children ranging in age from 7 to 15.  You were really well prepared and all the children loved it particularly the younger members who learnt so much.  The standard of drawings was amazing and it was all down to how you explained and structured your tutorial, you gave them complete freedom to draw any style of car they wanted to with explanations about scale and perspective and why you were doing things in the order that you were.   This was the last element of your arts award which you worked so hard on during lockdown, we have now handed your portfolio in for assessment and are waiting to hear the outcome.

I love that you have made so many friends online this year, they live all over the world and you chat with them most days.  You have been talking about wanting to visit Norway for about the last seven or eight years and are delighted that you have made a lovely connection with someone from that country.  I feel sure that your dream to go and visit Norway will happen now and even better you have a friend who can share his country with you.

You still get up early every morning to deliver papers to houses in our village.  You continue to be a valued employee you help deliver papers to the whole village on a Saturday when a local weekly newspaper considerably increases the volume of papers that need delivering.  On Sundays you are trusted to go and pick up the papers which are left in a secure place for you as the shop is shut for the day.  You continue to spend your money wisely and have added over £1000 to your savings account this year, you now have a considerable sum saved for your future.

You were saving your money to buy yourself a car.  You have been looking forward to learning to drive (you have to be 17 to learn in the UK) for the past two or three years but now that this time has arrived you are not so bothered.  I was somewhat surprised, but talking it through with you have discovered that you are worried about the costs of owning your own car, as a teenager the insurance is prohibitive here.  You are going to learn to drive but not buy a car just yet, we just need to find someone to give you lessons, all the instructors are so busy with a backlog caused by Covid restrictions.

I wrote last year about your wit and humour which still keeps me entertained, I miss that at mealtimes on your college days.  I love how your relationship with your sister has not altered by you being out at college, how I can wander upstairs and find you both deep in conversation.  Your sister loves this and I know she would love to do it more, she treasures those moments.  I also continue to love your taste in music, you are still introducing me to music that I love and you have started to do that with your sister too.

I am so grateful for your patience and understanding when I get it wrong as a parent.  As my oldest I am always finding my feet with being the best parent I can be.  I am proud to be your mum.

I hope you had a lovely birthday, my love.