A little bit of everything

Sundays are good for pancakes and thinking. I found this song yesterday, it is sad and full of truth for me.

Some of us are sensitive souls. Things ricochet through us. There are weepy days, of feeling drained and tired. These days aren’t the first signs of depression, or a problem to be fixed. We just feel things in our cells, in the tips of our toes.

 

Being emotional isn’t a bad thing, it’s a sign you are loving life extra hard.

Being weepy isn’t a weakness, it shows you had the strength the show up with your whole heart.

Being drained doesn’t mean you aren’t trying, it’s evidence that you are truly living.

 

Keep going. Keep doing your own brand of deep loving, of open eyed living. It’s worth any tears and all the ache.

It’s a sign you are alive.

Shedio (part one)

We’ll build a studio, it’ll easy, I said.

I can’t wait to have the mess out of the house, I said.

It’ll get done by the end of August, I said.

Mid October, meet phase one of shedio, my new workshop/studio. We have walls and a roof and electricity. We are 90% watertight with just a minor puddle to sort out. I’m fiercely determined to be moving in this Sunday, come hell or small puddles, I’m going in. It’s mostly done thanks to the fixing force that are Richard’s parents. They came and toiled for a weekend, mending all our many errors and installing electric.

There is still a boatload to do, flooring, painting and at some point insulation. For now though, I’m going for functional, useable and when January rolls around and there is some spare time and dosh, hopefully it will become a Pinterest worthy marvel.

And don’t worry, we did fix that big gap underneath the doors!

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Love and marriage

custom favours 2014

I went to a wedding this weekend. A gorgeous and truly love drenched occasion. Handmade and pulled together by a true community, friends and family, a street full of hope and a couple that magnetise good things. Their home is one of my favourite places. It is literally chock full of love, of children’s drawings, good food and encouragement. Gentle kindness and oodles of patience.

Without knowing it, they have been a huge inspiration for me to move my life forward this year. The first time I visited their house I walked away thinking this is it, this is what I want for my life. Neighbours who call in, piles of kids sandals and a connection that means you feel love just being near it. I wanted a full life. Not full of money, ikea furniture or wild career prospects.

A life full of love. Of thrifted clothes and homemade scones and camping trips and a special kind of magic.

After a few weeks of feeling queasy with transition this wedding was just the soul tonic I needed. My strongest sensation recently has been the feeling when as a child, you went so fast on a roundabout it made the world spin when you got off. A giddy mixture of glee and nausea. It reminded me about the true beauty of love. How flipping important it is to laugh and all the wonderful things I have to be grateful for.

Sometimes nothing really changes apart from the spectacles you choose to see life through.

I’ve swapped exhaustion, overworking and not coping goggles, for my favourite pair of love tinted glasses, the frames are gold and glint with gratitude.

Life lately (messy and hard and all kinds of beautiful)

I haven’t written in a long time because I haven’t known what to say. My heart has been in a big jumble. I couldn’t find any words, any clarity. But now there is a twinkling crack of light, a beam of joy running back through my days.

The news is this…

We moved house, to beautiful Weardale. I loved it quickly and we slipped right into home.

Our lovely dog was bitten by another dog and had a horribly rough time. We prepared to say our goodbyes but somehow she pulled through. After a big bite wound, a stroke, a seizure she wobbled home to her rightful place by the fire, determined to live a bit longer and enjoy every second of it.

I quit my day job. It wasn’t the cubicle liberation I once imagined. It was a terrifying decision and felt mostly like something was pushing me, hard, to show up and enjoy my own life.

Right now, I’m in a phase of transition. Working reduced hours and winding up a long career as a mental health worker. It feels bitter sweet. A loss of many years work, the retiring of skills and parts of me that I just won’t need any more. It also feel exhilarating. I’m showing up to life on my terms. Uncertain, unsteady but quietly determined to do my very best at making a life and a living in art.

I promised pictures and here they are, cottage shots galore and my makeshift studio set up. We are in the process of building a shed studio (now called  shedio) in the back garden. This will be my main workspace and home to the kiln, that is currently pretending to be a coffee table in our living room.

Life is hard and messy and astoundingly beautiful.

If you are dreaming of taking big leaps, they are possible.

If you feel trapped and alone, freedom is possible.

It’s all in the tiny steps.

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So this is where we live now…

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So this is where we live now. Not in this exact field, we actually live a ten minute walk away in a remote village in Weardale. We moved two weeks ago in a last minute flurry, packing and shipping out in 48 hours. Truthfully we have been preparing for 11 long months so most of the clearing and sorting had been done. The actual moving was brilliantly smooth, our moving men were sent from heaven. They plumbed in the washing machine and built the bed!

After moving I had a bit of a dip and my first week of commuting back to my day job was turbulent. Now something of a routine is emerging life feels easier and exciting all over again. The move feels every kind of right. Expansive, light and chock full of potential for the life we have craved for so long. I’m so pleased our old home has a new owner that will love and enjoy it more than we ever did. Here are some nuggets of rural life that might be interesting…

* We have no mobile phone reception, not even to call the emergency services

* For halfway decent internet speed we have a satellite that could talk to aliens on the front of the house

* Sheep, rare ground nesting birds and all sorts of other wildlife are regular road users

* We are 40 minutes drive from the nearest supermarket and over an hour to the nearest hospital

* Our fire station is run by volunteers

* We live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, in the North Pennines

{Normal business and blogging will return shortly with cottage photos soon, we’ve had a chimney issue and some building work so things are looking even more rustic than usual!}

 

 

Double rainbows and dream funerals

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I held a funeral for my dreams. Old desires, dusting heart longings, unfulfilled wanting and broken promises. Recent heart breaks and old, healed wounds. Dreams I’ve long been done chasing and soul lurches I’ve just let go of.
I wrote out all the disappointments, the changes of hearts, the not meant to be.
I threw down my most loathed feelings, states and habits.
I lit a candle, a sage stick, poured a cup of my favourite, most precious tea.
And set the lot alight.  I watched them burn. Reached for my camera to capture the moment – no SD card to hold the moment. Universe says, be present, you need to feel this burn.
I saw the ash settle and thought we all turn to dust. I too, will finish this way.
So it is with desire, so it will be with me.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The day before, I was low.
I stepped out to walk the dog into bright sunshine and heavy showers and saw the most vivid rainbow of my entire life.
The morning of the dream funeral, I was stopped at traffic lights and lightening actually struck the ground in front of me.
Apocalypse style rain thundered down.
Even the weather was trying to tell me.
Burn it. Let go. Make space for the beauty to flow.

Landmark moments and precious pain

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In the last few weeks, so many things. My very first feature in a lovely magazine. On the page number 77. My two lucky ‘things’ are the number 7 and land rover defenders. When I see either of these things, I feel like it is a little nudge from the universe. You’re going in the right direction. Keep going. Tell me I’m not the only one with odd talismans…

We have potential moving dates. After so many months of waiting. A cute little rental cottage hopefully lined up. I started packing. I went all out and did myself a mischief. A fairly serious mischief as it turns out. I’ve torn the fibres in a disc in my lower back. No bending, lifting, twisting or stretching allowed as the disc might rupture, and then I really will be scuppered. No big movements for SIX weeks. Right over our potential move. I can’t unload the dishwasher, let alone pack up a two bedroom house.

You know those moments when you feel like life sees you enjoying good things and hands you a whole new challenge? Like life is going hardy ha ha. Having a chuckle at your expense.

In the past I would have been bitter about this injury. Felt so seething mad. I had tears and then felt  weirdly calm. This pain is here to teach me some lessons. Life has been trying the subtle way, but I’ve not been listening. So, ripping back pain brings the truths right home.

1. Trying to control everything results in pain. Emotional, physical. Just pain. Learn to go with the flow.

2. Ask for help when you need it. Being forced to call in support has made me realised that I’m a right martyr. I struggle on by myself when there is simply no need.

3. Self care is queen. Do it or die.

4. Embrace ease. Do it the easy way, wherever possible. This means being open to another way. Being physically stuck means we have to do this move not on my terms or schedule. It should take less than serious pain for me to consider that there might be another, easier way.

 

Has pain or injury taught you any lessons? Life handed you a clanger right in the middle of a joy fest?

I’d love to know.

Making friends with change

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{my photograph – taken at Wild Northumbrian}

Invite change over for tea.

Offer her scones with jam and clotted cream.
Tell her about your hopes and dreams.
Sit tight with change.
Acknowledge her presence, I feel you change, I see you.
Witness her natural glory.
Observe the ebb and flow of seasons.
The bright beauty of cherry blossoms that wilt and melt into nothingness.
The constant cycle of death and rebirth.
See roadkill and whisper, so it is with all things, including me.
Breathe acceptance into tight spaces and closed muscles.
Feel it in your ventricles, in the nucleus of all your parts.
Be a friend to change.
Console her in the dark 3am mornings with hot tea and incense.
Remind her you are still breathing. The sun will rise tomorrow. The world will keep on turning.
Welcome change with an open heart and a warm embrace.
Along with your body, she is one of few constant companions of living.
To love change is to live.
In the present.
In tune with nature.
Alive to what is true and effervescent and decaying in the universe.
Laugh with change.
Tilt your chin to feel the sun on your face and accept her returning embrace.
Wear her like a comfy sweater, the best worn in white t-shirt.
And as your hair grows grey, if you are lucky enough to see the day
Look back with change
Reflect on the moments of your life
The love she brought, and the sorrow
The tears shed and laughter shared
Invite change in for tea.
Offer her custard creams and company.

Making art, making money

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So here is an interesting thing. I’m trying to make a living from making art. I don’t see many creatives talking about moolah, but I’m going to. I don’t want to keep money cloaked in mystery. Cash and consciousness, as Danielle Laporte says. I want to be transparent about my journey with art and cash, because I wish more people were talking openly about how to actually make of go of the money side of creativity.

I’ve cut down my day job to three days a week so officially, I need some profitable dosh to start flowing from my creations. I’ve really used this change to take stock of where I’m at financially in the business, and it’s been a really enlightening (if a bit brutally raw) process.

A few things have become very, painfully clear. First the good….

1. I’ve finally paid off my set up costs. My first 18 months in business have been about paying back a loan a took to set myself up. Loan now paid. Phew. (This was my only financial goal for my art, to pay off my set up costs. Now that’s done, it’s clearly time to think about some other money goals)

2. The quality of my work has increased. I LOVE the customers who supported me and bought stuff in the early days but goodness me, I’m a bit embarrassed about some of the early things I sold!

3. I have a steady flow of generous-hearted and repeat customers. My customers are lovely folk who share my work and keep this dream show on the road. I love them. I’m turning a profit every month and this is a flipping blessing.

 

Now for the bad, and the ugly, but the real

1. I’m making buttons per hour. I broke down my incoming/outgoing costs and hours worked. My hourly rate is frankly, pants.

2. Some of my products don’t stack up as profitable wholesale options. There just isn’t enough margin and I’m actually bringing home peanuts.

3. I’ve seriously miscalculated some of my costs and just down right not realised that I’m losing money  in some areas. Packing and posting is a big area I’ve miscalculated.

4. I’ve undersold myself in a few areas, especially around commissioned work and mostly, I’ve been really fearful of charging too much.

 

I’m not a greedy chops when it comes to dosh, I’m not looking to scoop millions with this gig but I believe it can pay a fair rate. If art could pay for part of our outgoings I would be gleefully ecstatic. There are some key lessons to take forward, some things need to shift if I am going to make money, making art.

I’ve got a little plan that I’m working on. Developing some new product ranges, looking at money honestly and with an open heart. Not burying my head in the sand.

I guess amongst this rambling what I’m trying to say is, being open and real about money is leading me closer to the path of creating a job I love, that pays a fair wage. That’s got to be worth doing the books for.

I’d love to know how you feel about money, creating, creative business and all that jazz. Have you learnt any raw money lessons on your journey? Does talking about money make you feel a bit icky? (it does me!) Do you find it hard to set prices? (I DO!!!)

Sending awesome bags of abundance your way.

Your work is important

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This week I started a new day job with less hours and officially needed to start making an income from pottery. I’ve been worrying about it, lots. Then one night, a customer sent me a photo of my poppies, in a spice jar, on her window ledge looking out into the garden. And my heart popped. My work, in her home, bringing her joy and love. And I decided to stuff the worrying, I’m going for it.

Whatever you are making or creating in the world, please, please keep going. If you are sewing brooches, raising babies, growing seeds, or writing pure magical words.

Your work is important.

It is making someone, somewhere smile and filling up hearts with joy

Keep going.