Thoughts from a Small Island

Random words from my mind

Let’s Get Readyyyyyyyyy Tooooo Rumble……..

Before I start I must put forward a disclaimer that this blog is NOT about the glistening pop career of PJ & Duncan (or Ant & Dec as they’re now called).

Although it was actually quite a good career.

Tonight’s blog is about the battle between good and evil.

In the blue corner we have me. 40 plus years old and ‘x’ amount in weight.

In the red corner we have, weighing in at 10 tonnes, my self esteem.

Life in general at the moment is treating me ok. I’m getting used to my new job role and learning new things nearly every day. The thing that has brought about todays little piece of thinking is my place in society.

I’m not about to get all deep meaningful, instead I’m just trying to find a place where I ‘fit’.

This evening I went to a small art exhibition being held at a local coffee shop. The coffee shop is an awesome little place that is geared around comic books and alternative culture. The artwork on display was incredible and ranged from customised dolls, comic book fan art, canvasses, stickers and prints. I was really excited about going as I love looking at art, but I had also promised to introduce myself to one of the artists there who follows my work on Instagram (he goes by the name of ‘idolmind’ and his work his very cool). Anyway, I turned up and started looking round the works on display. The coffee shop is quite small so it was a little difficult not to bump into people but I began to feel uneasy.

I found the artist I had gone to see and introduced myself. He is an amazing guy and I found it quite easy to talk to him. We got chatting about each other’s work and what inspires us. Mental health came up into conversation and how it helps me to focus. He introduced me to his lovely wife and I showed her some photos of my work on my phone. She was highly complimentary and I could feel my self confidence was lifting as I was talking to them both. I even managed to get a possible invite to a future event if this one tonight proves to be popular. There was also talk of me and Idolmind (he does have a proper name but I don’t feel it right for me to give that out here) meeting up sometime to maybe have a chat about an art collaboration of some kind. Awesome!!

And then I had another look around.

It was at this point I began to feel like I was being watched. Being judged. Being talked about.

“What is he doing here?”

“He doesn’t belong here”

Why is he looking at that?

Why is he on his own?

Has he no friends?

Of course no one was ever actually thinking that or saying it. All of the questions that were going through my mind began to make me question my place in this. I started to think that I didn’t belong in the same room as these people. That I wasn’t good enough to talk to any of them. I had managed to turn a perfectly great evening into a disaster (in my head) all by myself by not believing in my own abilities. I started listening to my head and decided to leave. I made my excuses, said goodbye to my new found artist buddy and walked home quite despondent.

The walk home felt like it went on forever and I was chewing over the emotions of the evening all the time. I know I’m a good artist and I’m good at what I do. I know that others appreciate what I do.

So why don’t I believe myself?

I don’t feel I fit into the ‘traditional’ art scene of landscapes, seascapes and portraits. I don’t see myself as an alternative artist. I’m not bothered if I have thousands of ‘followers’ or ‘likes’ anymore because my drawing is my escape but it’s hard sometimes not to feel like I’m currently last in a competition.

So where does that leave me?

As soon as I work that bit out I’ll let you know.

I’m off to chill out, trawl through eBay for stuff I don’t need and then maybe have an early(ish) night.

Tomorrow is a new day so I will leave this one behind and wake up with a fresh head on. Well, as fresh as it can be at 6 o’clock in the morning.

Update v.1

As it’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog I thought I’d just drop by and give you all a little update on how life is treating me.

Are you ready?

For the first time in a looooooong time I’m beginning to feel settled again. The biggest change in life has been a change of job role at work. I have moved out of the cafe and upstairs in to the office. I miss the cafe team hugely and the fun we had (plus, working with a mostly female team, some of the crazy stories I heard) but this move really has been my lifeline. To some people it may sound quite geeky and boring but to me, I love it!

My new role is all centred around processes in store. Cash processes, maintenance processes and more. I’m learning how to check a lot of auditable paperwork (cross the i’s and dot the t’s 😉), balance cash systems, keep on top of computer system updates and learn about theft and loss. Like I said before, geeky and boring but incredibly interesting to me. It’s all numbers and looking for irregularities whilst keeping a sense of routine and order. And for someone like me (with anxiety in case you didn’t know already) it is absolutely perfect. I had a bit of a tentative start because I now start work at 8am so my morning wake up routine had to brought forward but in a weird way it’s been easier because of my teenage daughter. She leaves the house just after 7am to get the bus for school so I get up when she does, have breakfast, make packed lunches and then we leave together. We walk so far together then she carries on to get the bus and I walk the rest of the way to work. It’s a little thing but it starts the day with a lovely positive.

At the other end of my shift I now finish at 4pm and this has meant that we have more family time in the evenings. By family time I really mean that the 3 of us are in the same house doing our own things but we’re together. We can share daft jokes, show each other silly pictures we’ve found on the internet and spend longer doing it. I can also now watch my daughter at her swimming training again and encourage her from poolside (while eating crisps and chocolate like the true role model I am).

A simple change in job role has, in effect, given me a life again.

Another thing I have done (work related again) is that I attended a training session to be a digital champion (not as fancy as it sounds).

On the big island.

On my own.

I really surprised myself because when my store manager mentioned it to me I actually said ‘yes’ immediately. I didn’t think about it and then talk myself out of it, I just said yes. Once I knew the date / time of the training I set about working out bus and ferry times to get me to the big island in enough time for me to then take a steady walk to the store where the session was being held. I then worked out the time I would need to leave the house to walk into town, so that I was there in plenty of time to wait for the bus. As long as I was prepared I’d be ok. And I was. The ferry crossing was calm and I picked a seat by the window so I could see exactly where we were at all times.

I arrived at the store right on time, signed in to get my little visitor badge and went up the training session. It was really interesting and is all about a new app that we will be using to help make things easier by having all sorts of communication in one place. I won’t bore you all with the details but I came away from the day feeling pretty good about it. I had a steady walk back to the ferry and then made my way home. I was pretty knackered by then but at the same time I was so proud of myself for having made it through the day.

Was I anxious? Of course.

Did I remember the little tricks to help me settle? Yep.

Did they work? Yes.

Did I have a massive grin on my face when I got home. Definitely.

Anyway, stay tuned for the next exciting (possibly……..or not, depending on your viewpoint) instalment.

Here We Go……..

Over this last week or so I have found myself so much more relaxed than I have been for a while.

After a fairly quiet day at work on Good Friday I found myself with a weekend off that now runs into a full week off on annual leave.

What was I going to do with myself for a whole week? My wife is also on annual leave so that means we actually get to spend some time together instead of just hello and goodnight to each other in routine fashion.

Well it started with a morning to myself on Saturday as my wife was busy and my daughter was working. I took myself to a garden and art fair and had a little wander around. Now, I am neither a gardener nor an art critic but I know what I like. The trouble with gardening is that requires huge amounts of effort and physical exercise to make a small space look good so my idea would be to just lay gravel or bark chippings and put pots on instead. My brain gets bored easily (or I get sweaty and uncomfortable) when I try and do any gardening so I give up after a while. Art, on the other hand requires concentration and creative thinking (in my mind anyway) and I enjoy doing it. You see, that’s the magic ingredient to everything, you have to enjoy it. Simple really. Anyways, I got chatting to some wonderful local artists that I follow on Instagram and they were all lovely. What was even more encouraging for me was that when I told them my Instagram name they all knew about some of my work (and liked it too) which gave me a lift. The trouble was though that I fell back into my old ways of putting myself and my art down because I felt inferior in some way to them. I almost felt like I didn’t ‘belong’ there so I just had to say my art was a hobby and nothing special, even though I know in my heart it is more than that.

*note to self – try to believe praise when it is given to me*

Sunday came and was even more relaxed. It was spent at my parents house, sitting in the garden, having a bbq. The added bonus was that while my dad was slaving away over the preparation and subsequent cooking, I went down to the seafront with my daughter and my mum and sat watching the sea whilst ‘looking after’ an ice cream. Result!

And then came Monday. Now, those of you who are culturally minded will know that Bob Geldof and Garfield famously didn’t like Monday’s. I on the other hand am not really fussy either way. This particular Monday in question was pretty awesome and started with a wander around a huge car boot sale on the south of the island. My wife went off on her own (as I like to look at nearly everything) and me and my daughter stuck together. Up and down the grass we went. Most stuff was either out of our price range or just not interesting for us.

But then I found something.

Some maps.

Maps? Is that it?

Yep, that’s it. Through my artwork I have begun using maps and highlighting various places of interest (to me anyway). This particular seller had about 12-15 maps in varying condition and I landed them all for the princely sum of £1. Bargain. Then I found another seller with a map I wanted so I bought that one too. I’m going to busy with these I think.

After the car boot sale it was a trip to the sea front where we sat and had cheesy chips and a drink for lunch. Absolute bliss and just great fun. Something we’ve not managed to do as a family for a while due to conflicting commitments but truly enjoyable by all of us.

The rest of the week was then spent tidying the house (a little) , getting the grass cut (finally) and wandering in and out of town on a daily basis just to get some fresh air.

I also had a rather productive meeting regarding a display of some of my artwork in a local pop-up gallery that has opened in town. It is being overseen by the charity that is in charge of the anxiety cafe and is a chance for local artists who are either unknown / under-represented or feel like they wouldn’t ‘fit in’ to a normal exhibition. I am ‘lucky’ enough to fall into both if these categories so I thought I would make enquires. It turns out that the people at the office actually had me in mind for the showing and were hoping I would ask (praise indeed). The pieces I display are entirely up to me and I will receive help in how best to display them too. The shows are being run in 6 week blocks and my work will be going up around the end of July for the world to see (well, the small island at least). I’ve got an idea about doing a massive map of the island in my signature ‘style’ as a kind of showstopper piece but I’ve got work out how I’m going to do it as my table that I use to draw on is only little and the map is huge in comparison.

So there you have it. Not much happening in the world of me but it’s all progress.

Thank you for sticking with it and I’ll keep you all updated on all future instalments of my artwork and me.

Until next time………….

Stalactites and Stalagmites

“You’ve gotta have a system”

These words have been uttered countless times by the genius that is Harry Hill. For those of you who don’t know, Harry is a comedian and TV presenter who used to be a house officer at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. He quit the medical profession as it didn’t feel right and became the household name he is today.

But what does he have to do with today’s blog?

Well, one of his catchphrases on his comedy show came about when he was trying to remember things and have some sense of order. He would turn his fingers downwards to reference a stalactite (grows from the ceiling), then upwards to show a stalagmite (grows from the ground). It could have been upwards first but you get the idea. He would then say “you’ve gotta have a system”, whilst shrugging his holders under the weight of his shirt with a massive collar.

Well, I don’t have massive collars on my work shirts but with my brain working the way it does sometimes I need to have a bit of order to my day. I have a particular way of doing things in the morning to enable me to get ready for the day ahead. Then the walk into work allows me to get lost in my surroundings for half an hour before I sit upstairs at work, in my usual seat. After that, I change my shoes, put on my ‘customer service face’, swipe my card on the machine and start work in my particular area of the store. It’s all about order.

Recently though this order has been changed slightly and I am in the process of moving department. The idea was raised of some of us moving sections a while ago in a meeting of the section co-ordinators with our manager and at that point in time we all thought nothing of it. Then one day I was asked to the office for a chat (one of those times where you think the worst) and it was suggested to me about moving. Now, my initial reaction was “oh god, what have I done? Why me? Am I not good enough where I am?”. Then I was told what I would actually be doing and I took a step back (in my mind obviously otherwise I’d have fallen over the table) and realised that this was actually a good thing. I was told that I had been chosen because of my knowledge of the computer systems we use and my sense of order and being thorough. When I returned to work after my breakdown 2 yrs ago I was on reduced hours checking through the auditable paperwork and this had been a welcome distraction. I had obviously done a good job at it as this is something I’ll now be doing more of. My new role is admin and finance based and will be playing to my strengths. I’m a bit of a nit picker when it comes to making sure things are signed and filed properly, and I’m a bit of a one for noticing when things are out of sync (plus, I get to spend most of my day away from the general public so it’s a win, win really).

I’m supposed to be in my new job fully by the end of this month but I’ve already made some headway into getting stuck in with the staffing, watching what the admin ladies do and filing my first lot of paperwork. I’ve even got myself a folder, complete with poly-pockets and a Star Wars notebook for all the important things I’ll need to remember but will instantly forget unless I write them down (if you know me well enough, you’ll know my short term memory is shocking’. In a weird way I’m actually looking forward to having an ‘office job’. My days will have a fairly set routine but I’m definitely going to be sad to leave the awesome team I currently work with. They’ve been like an extended family to me and have been very protective of me whenever I’ve needed space or support and I will never be able to thank them all enough for that.

In the meantime I’m going to carry on trying to learn what I’m supposed to be doing, whilst trying to keep my anxiety at bay because I don’t know fully what I’m doing.

Will it be fun? Possibly

Will it make me anxious? Probably

Will I be able to do it? I’m pretty sure I will

I’ve just ‘gotta have a system’

Just Do What You Need

As you may or may not know (or even care to remember) I attend a group on a Wednesday morning as part of the anxiety cafe ‘umbrella’ of activities. Due to work commitments I can only go once a fortnight on my Wednesday off but it is often a good way to try out some interesting crafts or group activities.

This week was pencilled in for a session on mindfulness and it was one I was quite looking forward to. Through my ongoing recovery I am now keen to make more time for myself and have taken up a variety of things around this. Most of you will now be well aware of my artistic endeavours so I will spare repeating myself ( search Small Island Scribbler on Facebook/Instagram) but I also partake in the occasional relaxation session at home via the wonders of my iPad and headphones.

When you mention mindfulness to most people I’m pretty sure they have a picture in their head of someone wearing harem pants while sitting cross legged on a yoga mat. This will take place in a yurt on a retreat somewhere remote, surrounded by rolling hillside and crystal clear lakes. Add in the smell of incense burning and some whale music and you’re there.

Except you’re not. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is that mindfulness is really anything you can do to make you happy. It could be something as small as making a cuppa to going for a long walk. It can be done absolutely anywhere you feel comfortable.

Anyway, back to the session.

We started off by designing a sort of mindfulness ‘map’. On this were things that each of us considered important to ourselves. Now obviously everyone is different and what is on my map might be considered quite hard for someone else to do. The main point though is that, like each of us, each map is unique. Mine is pictured here and hopefully you can see what I mean. It’s purpose is that if I ever begin to feel a bit overwhelmed I can look at my ‘map’ and pick a ‘road’ to go on and relax my mind.

Fast forward to last night and I was actually able to put my ‘map’ to use. Over here on the small island we had a sprinkling of snow which resulted in various roads being blocked and cars being abandoned. My wife and I had taken our daughter to her swimming training and although snow had been forecast, it was raining heavily and the ground was soaked so (in our mind) we felt we’d be ok. WRONG. After an hour of training it was decided by the coaches to finish early because the snow was getting heavy and settling quickly, even on the wet ground. We left the pool and headed back along the ‘middle road’ (so called because it’s the middle one of 3 back to Newport from the western side of the island) but soon found ourselves stuck in traffic. Cars were getting stuck and trying to turn back, then getting stuck again. We turned around and headed back to the pool but got stuck on a hill.

Anxiety, enter stage left.

My chest got tight, my mind went into overdrive about what would happen if we were stuck in the car and I began to panic. I tried not to because my wife was concentrating on keeping us in a straight line so I gripped the door handle and remembered my map. The only solution available to me was to breathe. I began breathing deeply and slowly and immediately felt my chest loosen. We made it back in to town and decided to abandon the car in a bus lay-by as my wife had managed to speak to a lovely work colleague of hers who, very kindly, let us stay the night.

Then I began to shake and I anxiously tried to keep my hands busy while maintaining my breathing. My daughter noticed this and calmly put her hand on my arm without even saying a word. We settled in for the night and tried to get some sleep. Then, this morning that familiar feeling was there again as I awoke in strange surroundings full of fear as to how we would get home. What made it even more of a panicked wake up was that the beautiful dog in the house (a staffy) licked my face which just made the uncertainty even more pronounced as that is just not a regular occurrence in our house.

Cue slow, deep breathing and this feeling subsided.

I’m now back in my own home and just chilling out today. I am well aware that other parts of the country (and the world) have much worse weather than us right now so all I can hope is that anyone reading this, who may be a bit overwhelmed by things, gets a chance to find some time to look after themselves. Be that a warm drink, a nap or even going out sledging just take care.

We’re all different but we’re all equally important.


Embrace the Difference

This is not going to be one of those blogs where I tell you all that life is sunshine and rainbows and everything is a magical land of fairies and unicorns.

Instead I am going to tell you that life and everything that goes with it is shit. It’s bloody hard work for most of it (when you’ve become an adult) and daily life is a constant battle of emotion, physical exertion and then sleep (if you can sleep that is).

Every single one of us has struggles to deal with and anyone who tells you otherwise is either a genius or a wizard.

But…….(and this is where it’s getting interesting) it’s how we react to these struggles that determines how we live our lives.

Now, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a counsellor. I’m not qualified in ANY shape or form. I do have a bronze trampolining award from high school but that’s another story (or not).

What I can talk about is my own life.

I have anxiety, depression and self esteem issues. My depression is currently asleep and not giving me any major problems. My anxiety is being managed both by medication and my own determination.

My self esteem however is something I still struggle with. I have a real problem with how I think I am perceived by the outside world and I often wonder if people like me for me, or because of what I can offer them. I internally criticise my appearance. If someone pays me a compliment then 99% of the time I will reply with a put down. I don’t do this intentionally but I guess it is something I have developed over years to keep me ‘safe’. It has become such an automatic response that I don’t even realise I’m doing it.

I wear glasses (when I remember to) and for about 2 or 3 years now I’ve worn hearing aids (again, when I can be bothered to). Lucky me eh? 42yrs old and I’ve got rubbish sight and rubbish hearing. Compared to what some people go through this is tiny but to me it’s important.

I am incredibly self conscious and if we go out anywhere nice I am always asking if I look alright, to the point where I then make myself so anxious that I almost don’t go out at all.

Which brings me to the reason of this particular musing. I have decided this year to make more of an effort to raise my own opinion of myself. Accepting a compliment is hard still but I think already I’m getting better at just saying ‘thank you’. People have made comments on my artwork and although I still don’t actually believe the comments totally, I say thank you. People have commented on my appearance, be that hairstyle, clothing or face and I have said thank you. It’s not easy at first but I hope that the more I do it the more I might enjoy it. Then, hopefully, the more I enjoy it the easier it will be to push back the negative comments that may come my way (from myself). I figure that if I believe in myself then it will ‘shine’ outwardly and make it easier for me to believe that what I am doing is the right thing for me. And me only.

I have also made more of an effort to wear my hearing aids again (2 days in a row now….go me!) and am starting to actually embrace the fact that I am slightly deaf and this is just something that is happening. I can’t change it, I won’t magically get my hearing back but I’m beginning to not care. Not caring is a very powerful tool to have in my arsenal. Sometimes it’s actually quite a relief not to be able to hear everything.

I also decided to make a conscious effort to look my best, but only for my benefit. If that means wearing my zebra stripe Vans trainers with jeans and a shirt then so be it. I don’t really care what other people wear (unless it’s offensive) so why should they care what I look like? I’ll be smart when I need to and casual when I want to.

There is one exception to the rule though. Crocs!!! Nobody needs to wear them other than at the beach, in the garden or if they are children under the age of 5. Anywhere else and they should be banned.

My final thought about self esteem is that at this time of year it is bloody difficult to think you look alright. We’ve had 2 or 3 months of adverts telling us to eat what we like and stuff our faces with chocolate, cake, amazing desserts and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Now, we have shops and adverts basically telling us we are overweight and unhealthy and we all need to go on a diet.

So there you have it, we’re doomed from the beginning and fed all sorts of things to reinforce the belief that we need to change. But the ONLY thing we need to change is the way we react when things aren’t quite as they seem. Ignore the adverts, ignore the marketing gimmicks and just enjoy yourself.

Right, I’m off to find that pot of gold. Wish me luck 🌈

New Year, Same Me

Well then my lovely friends, followers and occasional readers. Here we are at the arse end of another year and it’s the point where we are all supposed to reflect on the things we have done (rightly or wrongly) and we look to the future at what we would like to change or leave as it is (a bit like those ‘Moments of the Year’ tv programmes that fill the gaps in the tv schedule).

Christmas was a bit better for me this year as I actually had 2 days off (instead of just Christmas Day last year). However, I still had some times where I just felt tired. Tired of being happy. Tired of the expectations. Tired of feeling like I had to be someone else. Throughout these moments I took myself away and did something constructive so I could allow the feelings to be what they were and let them pass of their own accord. It still feels a bit of an alien concept, allowing myself to be sad, but I’m beginning to understand how it can help.

Then there is the enormous pressure to make resolutions which will undoubtedly be broken by the end of January and this generally leads to a feeling of guilt. I then make myself feel bad for the fact that I can’t stick to anything and this, in turn, brings about a whole raft of questions about myself that get increasingly desperate and self loathing.

Through this year there have been things I have done and said which at the time have felt like the right decision but with hindsight have been poorly thought out. Do I feel bad about these things? I did at the time but now I don’t. I have realised that the longer I hold onto these feelings, the longer I keep myself under a cloud. I can’t keep apologising for something I haven’t done and I’m not responsible for other people’s reactions any more. I will NEVER intentionally offend or upset anyone (that’s just cruel).

One big thing I have realised is that I need to keep stepping away from negativity more. I have said and done this before and I hope that I can keep doing this in future. Whether that be ‘unfriending’ people on social media, turning over the tv when a programme / article I don’t agree with comes on or just walking away from bad situations this is something that has definitely helped me move forward this past year.

Another thing I will continue with is mindfulness. Now, I don’t mean the whole shebang of crystals, incense and sitting cross legged on a yoga mat (if that works for you then ok) as that’s not really What I intend to keep doing is allow myself time to listen to music, read (I’ve actually read 3 or 4 books this year!!!), draw and, most importantly, just be. Over the course of this last year I think I may have had only a handful of panic attacks. One of these took me back to 2 years ago and really frightened me, the rest were just bumps in the road. The thing that got me through them all was remembering that I was safe. I was terrified, but I was safe. Breathing and mindfulness have played a big part in getting me to where I am now and is something that will stay with me in the future.

The final thing I will try and keep doing is trying to be more tolerant. Today I went for a little ‘post Christmas’ wander from my parents house to the other side of the river and along the seafront. Whilst waiting for the chain ferry a lady starting talking to me. Instantly I just thought ‘Oh God, why me?’ but the more she talked, the more I listened. And the more I listened the more I talked. We had such a lovely conversation about anything and everything and when we got to where she needed to be, we shook hands and said our goodbyes. I came away from the encounter feeling pleasantly surprised at how good it made me feel and think it’s something I can work on. Even it’s just listening to someone else talk I’m going to try and be tolerant (unless it’s negative, then I’ll politely make my excuses) as you never know what the other person is going through.

So there you have it. That’s the end of 2018 and what I have learned is:

Be kind

Be tolerant

Be kind

Yeah, I know I said ‘Be Kind’ twice but it really is that simple.

There is one other little nugget of advice I can pass on. This is ‘…if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything…’.

See you all on the other side……………..

Just Keep Stabbing

Before you all start to panic, this is NOT a continuation of the Finding Nemo series where Dory goes rogue and starts on a murderous rampage throughout the reef.

No, this is a little diddy blog about a new activity I tried today. And it is not as violent as the title may suggest.

I have often wondered about trying this particular craft and have seen a variety of items (from the basic to the amazingly detailed) made by crafters and professional artists. A wonderful artist by the name of Mab Graves has done a beautiful family of ‘Dino Kitties’ that all have such character that you would believe the animals actually existed at some point in the past. If you’re on Instagram pop her name in the search bar and go through her pictures, you won’t be disappointed.

Today I decided to have a go at something else I have never done, needle felting.

What is this sorcery you may ask?

Surprisingly the clue is in the name. You use a fine needle (which has little notches on the stem of it) and stab through wool repeatedly to turn it into a shape. The lady running the session supplied all the wool, needles, cookie cutters (for defined shapes) and foam for us to have a go. She even brought a box of plasters and gently reassured us that we would probably stab our fingers at least once. She wasn’t wrong.

So what is the point to this?

There is one……..honest.

As someone who has anxiety, one problem I have is keeping my mind occupied so I don’t let the wrong kind of thoughts to linger too long. By repeatedly stabbing at the materials I found it hugely therapeutic and a brilliant distraction. Not only did it mean I had to concentrate on just one thing (not stabbing myself), I also had something to show for it at the end of the session. And here it is, in all its multi coloured glory for you all to see:

So there you have it. Not terribly exciting for a blog but I felt really proud of myself for what I made and might even consider trying it again at some point.

It might even encourage some of you, dear readers, to have a go at a craft / hobby you’ve never tried. If you do try needle felting we were reliably informed not to try it while watching TV.

It’s not every day you can be told it’s ok to stab something as much as you like but this was one of those days.

Until next time……………

You’ve Got A Week Off?

As is probably pretty obvious from the title (it’s a bit of a giveaway really) I’ve had a week off work.

Now, the first thing people usually say when you tell them you’ve got some time off is “What are you doing?” and my answer is quite often related to jobs I have to do at home or appointments I have to attend but THIS week has been a complete week of just doing absolutely nothing.




My wife has been off too and it has been great that we have actually had some time off together. She has had a couple of appointments in her diary but overall we have had no plans for anything in particular.

So what have I actually done then?

Well, it started with a bit of excitement when I finally finished the drawings I had been doing for some Christmas (yes, I did mention the C word) cards. I had an idea of getting them printed as limited editions and selling them in sets of 4 designs so went about looking into the costs involved. This quickly turned to disappointment when I realised that for 25 copies of each design it was going to cost me, on average, £60!! and that was before I even bought the envelopes to send them in. Had I been presented with this decision a year ago I would have mulled it over, made myself feel guilty that I would be letting people down if I didn’t do them and then, reluctantly, gone ahead with it. Then I would have been anxious about selling them, how much to sell them for and what I would do if I didn’t sell all of them. However, this time around I just said NO. And do you know what? It felt good to say it and mean it. My reasoning (which I didn’t really need to give) was that if I started to look at my art in a monetary sense then I am taking away the main element of why I do it. It’s nice to have a bit of pocket money from it but if I am beginning to outlay large amounts of money in the hope of financial gain then I only put myself under unnecessary pressure and it isn’t enjoyable anymore.

Then came a bit of sadness. A good friend of my wife lost her husband suddenly recently and we went along to the funeral. With my limited experience of funerals I have to say that the service was beautiful. Obviously sad as we remembered the loss but it was also full of good humour and happy memories. If anything, each funeral I go to makes me think about how I would want to be remembered at my end. While this may seem a little distressing and morbid to think about I believe it is important to have these sort of conversations sometimes. Personally I would want my own service to include lots of laughter, bad dancing and some very dodgy songs with even dodgier lyrics to sing along to. There would probably also be some sort of dress code involving bright colours, bold patterns and doc martens but I’ve got time still for working that bit out.

The week has just about come to an end but today has also brought another positive. My wife and I went to the Freshwater Coffee House so I could show her how great the place is but also so I could have a bit of a chat with the owner (who is a sterling guy by the way). I have been designing a tattoo for him and today was a chance for him to see the actual design in the flesh (well, on paper at least) and give it the final ok. Suffice to say it went great and he was bowled over by it. It also led to a conversation about me getting some of my artwork on display in the cafe in the new year. While this is hugely scary for me to think about (so I’m trying not to) it is also hugely exciting. The other good thing is that I have some time to get my head around the thought of it.

So before I return to work on Sunday I have one more day of relative freedom. The car is going in for a service, we are looking in to the possibility of trading the car in for a newer model and I might even manage to sneak a quiet pint in there at some point too.


Powered by

Up ↑