Lessons from Dory … just keep swimming

How did you get along with the repurpose challenge?  For the final Friday challenge I repaired a photo frame that had been propped against a wall for eons and my knitting bowl that had a disagreement with the floor!  Not sure if it counted but I podded a bowlful of mangetout that had been allowed to grow on.  The peas are not great, a bit to marrow-fat for my liking but they made delicious soup and far better than putting them in the compost.  The chooks enjoyed burrowing for the handful I thew on the grass as well.

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This week has been Olympic week.  Especially exciting as we watched Duncan Scott who we have known since he was a wee tot win Silver medal in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay and set a new British record in the 100m freestyle.  The final for the latter is at 3.00 am UK time on Friday morning if you want to cheer him on!

 

Duncan Scott

L-R: James Guy, Duncan Scott, Dan Wallace, Stephen Milne (courtesy of Ian MacNicol)

Watching the Olympics it is easy to get caught up in the razzmatazz and excitement and forget about the all the hard work that goes into just getting there in the first place.  Duncan announced he wanted to swim in the Olympics when he was nine, that’s ten years of early starts, homework in the back of the car on the way to evening training.  Ten years of driving across the country to swim in qualifying heats.  Ten years of physical hard slog.  Furthermore it’s not just Duncan that had to make sacrifices, who do you think drove Duncan across the country, sacrificed family holidays for training and so on?  Then there are the sports clubs, the ones that train our Olympians.  They don’t run themselves, someone has to be official timer, keep the books, fundraise, all volunteers.  There is much more going on behind the scenes than we ever see on the screen.

So when you look at your plastic bags, or the recycling that didn’t make it to the recycling box; when you buy a takeaway because you are just too tired and too hungry to cook; when you look at all the stuff you have accumulated and wonder how on earth it got there, don’t worry, don’t give up.   It took ten years for Duncan to become an Olympian and he worked at it seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Nobody expects you to downsize, declutter, go plastic free, live off grid (delete as appropriate 🙂 ) seven days a week, 365 days a year.  You have other responsibilities, needs, goals, ideals to fit in as well.

Do what you can, maybe up the ante every now and then and nudge yourself on.  But don’t beat yourself up and give up because you haven’t achieved it all in a year.  Watch the Olympics and remind yourself that nothing is quite as easy as it may look and congratulate yourself on getting as far as you have already.

Love Gillie x

Repurpose before you Recycle

Thank you for all the lovely comments both here and on  my FB page.  It is good to hear from so many people who want to ditch plastic and other single use items.  So in the spirit of reusing before recycling I have a challenge for you this week.  A repurpose challenge.

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This morning I lost an old stained bamboo tee-shirt and acquired some dusters.  Very easy.  I cut up the tee-shirt and have a nice new set of lovely soft bamboo dusters.  The tee shirt wasn’t fit for charity but it wasn’t yet ready for composting.  Win win.

So my challenge for you this week, and I’ll try to do it too and let you know how I get on:

Monday:  Repurpose something you used to wear.  It could be clothing, jewellery, a scarf or a hair accessory, anything you used to wear.

Tuesday:  Repurpose something you made.  It could be last night’s leftovers or a three piece suit!  Please do not repurpose your children however irritating they are!

Wednesday: Repurpose something you have put out for recycling.  A plastic bottle, a jar, some envelopes.  Get creative in your recycling bin.

Thursday:  Repurpose something from your black hole.  We all have them, the place where we put things we don’t know what to do with but can’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of.  Some are as big as a garage or outbuilding.  Some are as small as a kitchen drawer.  You know yours, now go release something from it.

Friday:  Repurpose something that is broken.  If you can’t repair it can you turn it into something else

You get the weekend off!

Love Gillie

 

a lesson from the queen of the fairies

So maybe I got a bit too excited about the sunshine, but heck when you live in the north you celebrate every ray of golden sunlight as if it may be your last.  So I apologise if I got a little over enthusiastic and feel free to blame me for the blanket of cloud that has settled over Durham (I take no responsibility for the cloud elsewhere).

Today I saw this photograph on Facebook

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Stunning isn’t it.   The earth cradled in a blanket of cloud.

I had a blog planned inspired by this.  So off I tootled to find the original photograph to see if I could use it.  Not only can it not be credited to anyone for certain, but it is apparently for certain fake. (Snopes believes it to have been created by Mike Kiev, but others believe it to be older and created by somebody else as yet unknown). At first I was rather sad, it was such a beautiful picture and gave me hope that perhaps there is hope for this poor old planet after all.  For it to be fake ripped that out from under me.

But does it?  Just because something isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful, give hope, succor or security.  My daughters wrote endless letters to Queen Mab (the head of the Tooth Fairies if weren’t aware of this awesome fact).  This was because one day Queen Mab wrote a long letter to a recent tooth loser.  After some days I was approached by a delegation of daughters concerned that there was something wrong with Queen Mab (Fairy Doctors to the rescue) as she had failed to reply to their last few letters.  Thinking very quickly on my feet I pointed out that as nobody had lost a tooth recently Queen Mab would not have known to check for any letters and perhaps rather than hiding them under the stair basket (I don’t know either) they should put them somewhere easier for Queen Mab to find (even fairies need a bit of help) and also let me know so that I could alert Queen Mab to the arrival of a letter.

They turned out to be prolific letter writers.  Poor Queen Mab spent a lot of time over a glass of wine practicing her curlicue writing and keeping the daughters up to date with goings on in her realm.  Changes in her handwriting were poured over and discussions as to why her “H” wasn’t as curly on one letter compared to another only served to increase the need for a glass of wine during the writing of the next letter.

Their private correspondence with the Queen of the Fairies was a source of much pride and even now all grown up, they still remember them.  And yes I did keep them all.  Some things cannot be decluttered.

So if the picture above is a fake, so what.  Enjoy the beauty if you find it beautiful, take comfort from the clouds cradling the earth and if you are sitting under a cloudy  sky and bemoaning the departure of the sun complete with his hat, then think instead of a blanket wrapping the fragile earth.

Love Gillie x

 

is pinterest ruining your life?

I have been researching Bullet Journals.  Go on, google it, 99% of what you find will not be practical planners which keep you on track but whopping great works of art  How anybody gets things done when they have to cover every page with washi tape and colour everything in I don’t know.  But then I came across this post  The Lazy Genius (I even love the title), wherein she says these magic words..

I encourage you to not look for other examples of Bullet Journaling, not just yet. Why? Because there are people who doll their pages up beautifully with washi tape, calligraphy, stamps, intricate doodles, and everything else that makes your heart beat fast at the craft store. They’re color-coordinated with tabs and labels, and there are so many pages to choose from, it’s like a scary organizational buffet. 

Those journals are beautiful without question. But remember when I said trial and error taught me to keep my Bullet Journal simple? That’s because I went through three – yeah, THREE – different journals because I kept getting frustrated and starting over. I couldn’t keep up with all the beauty I wanted to see on every page. My handwriting is boring, the only thing I can doodle is a wobbly spiral, and while I do have an impressive collection of washi tape, it just took too long to make every page pretty. I was dressing my journal for the Oscars when I live a Modern Family reruns life.”

That pretty much sums up life in general.  We spend way too much time comparing ourselves, our children, our homes, our entire lives with other people.  Meanwhile they are comparing their lives with yet more people.  We make Compare the Market dot com look like a car boot sale.

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Slow down and let the rest of them overtake you. 

What is on your pinterest board (if you have one)?  I cleared mine out recently and now it has things I want to do (practical ideas for converting a transit van into a camper van, no dreamy lifestyle photos but stuff I need to know); my herbal medicine references; low tox living references.  Yes, there are ideas for the garden and our home, but not pictures of stuff or places we are never going to achieve with quotes like “oh in  my dreams”, or “one day I am going to live here”.  Aspiration is good, but only if it makes you feel good, not if it means that you spend your life, your actual life, aspiring to another life, and whoops… you have missed your own life.

When I led happiness workshops I would give everyone a small pretty notebook and some pens and ask them to fill the first page with stuff that made them happy, words, pictures whatever.  NOBODY could co it.  They didn’t want to spoil the book. Then I took a big black permanent marker and said they had 10  minutes or I would scribble all over the first page.  Most people grabbed their notebook and clasped it to their chest.  My analogy was that notebook is your life, if you are scared to make a mistake because you want it to be perfect then you will never life your life but spend it waiting for perfection.

Perfection doesn’t exist.  Beauty is in the imperfection.  Look at this  perfectly symmetrical faces are not more beautiful than our natural imbalanced ones.  The Japanese (always spot on with observations) even have a name for it.  Wabi-Sabi ..

The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” (Leonard Koren)

Fill up those beautiful notebooks you have on your shelves, if you have to cross out a mistake, cross it out.  Live you life with all its imperfections and revel in the beauty that is not perfect.

Love Gillie

 

settling in

Last year our flock of hens, ducks and geese finally reduced itself to one feral Light Sussex.  As we were planning on moving we decide not to rebuild the flock.  Now we have decided to stay we have some new girls.  Meet Dolly and Polly (Light Sussex), Dotty and Spotty (Speckleds) and Doris and Floris (Copper Black).  IMG_2549

 

They have been in the hen house and run since Saturday to acclimatise them to their new home, but this afternoon I let them out into the orchard.  They were cautious at first, but soon started flapping and playing.  I left them to explore and settle in.

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I am doing much the same thing, exploring and settling in to my home.  We have lived here for over 16 years but all the changes, decluttering, redecorating, new soft furnishings and curtains, new shelves and bookcases have given our home a new direction.  It feels lighter and airier.  I find myself picking up something and moving it to another room, I don’t know why but somehow I feel it will be better there and usually it is.  I have moved pictures around, dyed loose covers.  There are more plants and even the cut flowers seem to be lasting longer!

You don’t have to move house to take time to settle in.  In fact, the longer you have lived somewhere perhaps the more important it is to look at your surroundings as if they are new and take time to settle in and see what you change and why.  We live with stuff for so long that we just assume it has to be there.  Maybe it doesn’t.

Love Gillie

The wanderer returns

So I return.  I wonder have you missed me?  I have been on a long journey since I was last here.  I have started new ventures, tweaked them, published a planner and then taken several months out to consider where I want to go and how I want to get there.

In essence I have been decluttering me and my life rather than my house and it has been a very revealing process.  I read recently in a book by Karen Maezen Miller, Hand Wash Cold, that sometimes it helps just to coast in life for a while; to take your foot off the accelerator or indeed the brake and just see where you go.  That’s what I have been doing and it is quite an interesting mode of transport. 

Along the way I have read books and magazines I would never have noticed or even considered before (on the magazine front I can recommend Stack Magazines who send you a different independent magazine each month, this month I am reading New Philosopher, last month was a beautiful avante garde fashion photography publication).

I have rediscovered  my love of fabrics and yarn, learned to crochet

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and have reupholstered a footstool and a chair.

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We have put our house on the market, changed our minds.  We have redecorated the entire house and put in plans to convert part of the house into separate living accomnodation to let.  Our elderly greenhouse didn’t survive the storms so we built a  new one with much more space for potting on and for sitting in.  Consequently the garden is fuller than ever and we are even more glad we stayed.

And the decluttering continues.  I have managed to keep my wardrobe reasonably small but the book collection has been building up again.  Some are keepers but there were quite a lot ones more than ready to move on.  If the building work goes ahead we are going to have to think very seriously about what we can keep for we will be downsizing our living accommodation by almost half in terms of floor space.

Meanwhile I have started writing two new books, one a novel and the other a culmination of my experience of decluttering together with suggestions, plans and ideas for others.  I think it should be an e-book – so as not to clutter up a bookshelf!

Love Gillie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

let it go

You would have to be fully certified hermit not to know at least a couple of lines of “that” song from Frozen.  Personally, I think “Would you like to build a snowman” is considerably more poignant and reminds me of “Slipping through  my fingers” by Abba.  Moments promised and lost forever.

However, this is not a maudlin blog.  I am not one for living in the past!

But as hoarders, isn’t that just what we do?  I was introduced to Thich Nhat Hanh some ten years ago.  Today, at last, the concept of mindfulness is becoming more commonplace.  From The Miracle of Mindfulness I moved on to many other books (list of links at the bottom of this post) and I have benefited hugely.  I have long ago lost any need to bear a grudge, to cry over spilt milk or to worry about what if. I have let go of past hurts and forgiven those  who hurt me.  The last was the hardest.

I have kept a diary on and off since I was about 6.  At today’s date that is 44 years of diary keeping.  The early stuff is sweet.  The teen years are embarrassing.  The early twenties are painful.  We have a lovely big wood burning stove.  I took my diaries, took out the childhood ones, those of my year living in the Transkei and offered the rest to the fire.

Why?  Because they were, for the most part, a cathartic exercise of a young woman who was hurt and upset.  The act of writing them was helpful at the time but by keeping them I was holding on to that pain.  Every time I went into the study I knew they were there.  Remember Eyeore and the black rain cloud

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That was how it felt.

So I burned them.  And that rain cloud disappeared.

How many personal rain clouds are you hoarding?

Some books I have found helpful