It’s been quite a while since I felt the need to put pen to paper, or in this case finger to iPad.

So what’s changed?

I have begun to realise that I only need to do things for me. Not anyone else. Just me. The exception to this is obviously when I’m at work because if I didn’t do things for other people I’m pretty sure I’d be out of a job. Anyway, as usual I’ve sidetracked already.

As a family we recently spent a lovely week away in Cornwall at my mother-in-laws house (she was there too, we didn’t just break in). We had absolutely zero plans except for one day when the girls were going to The Minack theatre to watch a play and I was going for a walk along the coast path with my camera. This meant that we just woke up each day and decided what we wanted to do. In the evenings my daughter and I took our regular walk down to the beach, messed about on the rocks and then slowly wandered back up the hill to the flat. It was the most relaxed I have felt in a long time and to my surprise it has continued on our return.

I have also been fortunate enough to have some of my art on display in a local pop up gallery in town. The gallery is being run by Independent Arts who are a local charity that supports mental health and various other projects through creativity. They oversee the anxiety cafe I attend and they also run sessions in schools and care homes, plus much much more. My work is on display alongside work by some other very talented artists and I’m pleased that initial reactions to my (quite recognisable) style have been positive. I’ve got some new followers on Instagram and while I was sat in the gallery one Saturday I received some lovely comments. I haven’t sold anything, I haven’t had any requests for commission work but I genuinely do not care. Well, maybe that’s not the best choice of word. I genuinely do not mind if people don’t buy anything because as long as it makes someone smile for a second, or it sparks a memory or conversation then that is enough for me. I do my drawing for me. I choose what to paint, what to draw or what to make and I know that if I get carried away with the material benefits it could bring I will be doing it for the wrong reasons and the enjoyment and meaning behind every piece will be lost. It is a fantastic thrill when I do sell something or someone asks about a piece but it’s not everything.

Lastly I have gone back to running. I bought some new trainers (or tyres as I like to call them) and went out tonight for the first time in nearly 18 months.

Did I go fast? I have no idea and don’t care.

Did I walk some of it? Absolutely

Did I return in a big sweaty heap? Yep

Will I do it again? You can bet your ass I will

I made a conscious decision to delete my Strava account, ignore loading any runs up to my Garmin Connect account and just run. I think when I was running before I began to get super competitive. With myself!!! I was constantly chasing the best 5k time, the best 1 mile time, the quickest section on a Strava run and it made me lose focus. I have also unsubscribed from the virtual running websites I was on because they were just making me feel bad. I would see all these medals I wanted to earn and then look at how much they cost. It got to a point where I got so fed up with anything running related that I just thought “what’s the point?”. From this night on it is just about me and how I feel on the day will depend how I run. I might go quick, I might jog or I might walk most of it but the important thing is that it will be MY decision and I will only have to think about where I want to go.

I’ve missed the freedom that running gave me and, apart from the obvious health benefits, it gave me a sense of calm. I know that might sound strange to think being tired, sweaty and achy can be good for the soul but trust me, it is.

Mentally, I feel a lot better equipped to deal with events as they arise and I’m getting better at recognising the signs of a panic attack looming and taking myself away from the situation. I’m gently pushing my anxiety limits and beginning to feel more comfortable with myself in some situations. I’m still conscious of social gatherings and large crowds of people but I’m working on it………….

Much love to you all and thank you for sticking with my little blog. It may not seem much but this little outlet has been instrumental in my ongoing recovery and although I don’t write as much as I used to, I know that whenever I feel the need to, it’ll be here waiting for me to offload my thoughts.