Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Reasons to be cheerful, revisited

Well, I'm sure my regular reader(s) will be pleased to know that I have managed to remain in a happier frame of mind. Helped no little bit by finding a parcel on my doorstep when I got home from work today. Which inspired me to remind myself of the reasons there are to be cheerful.

So, let me count the ways...

Firstly, when I got home I was delighted to see that my parcel from Gorjuss had arrived. I am now the proud owner of a(nother) beautiful canvas from the very talented Suzanne Woolcott. This one is titled We Can All Shine (which seemed appropriate) and is stunning. This is the first one I've bought myself. My lovely big sister bought me my first one as a present. This was a present from me to me. I think I deserve it! And, I made up the bundle with two more bookmarks to add to my collection - or alternatively the present cupboard for when I'm too disorganised to have remembered to buy anything for birthdays, Christmas etc!

Secondly, as well as receiving a lovely parcel (nothing like goodies through the post to cheer a girl up!) I also have a surfeit of silliness to entertain myself with. I finally remembered to download and print off my Art of Silliness 2 worksheets, and now have plenty to keep me busy and happy. Yay for Carla Sonheim, and my fantastic friend Kitty for inspiring me to take the Silliness Course!

Thirdly, I had a colourful dinner tonight - pan fried tuna steak with homemade tomato salsa. Yum in itself but even yummier that I was home in time to cook for myself instead of snacking on cheese and crisps. No evening meetings tonight and a productive day at work - reasons to be cheerful indeed!

Fourthly, I have a day off on Friday!!!! And nothing of importance to do. A day of complete unplanned spontaneity and fun. Can't wait.

Fifthly, I am meeting up with an old friend tomorrow night for a drink and a bite to eat. Should be fun.

Sixthly, I have company coming round this evening too. A surfeit of friends as well as silliness.

Seventhly, while I was doing the washing up this evening I misheard the lyrics of a song and thought it was about porcupines. Which was funny enough in itself, but it also served to remind me of a silly poem my dad made up when we were younger. And that made me chuckle! I'll leave it to my sister to quote the poem.

Eighthly, it has finally stopped raining. And while it's due to start again on Friday, potentially shelving one of my ideas for how to spend my day off, it's due to dry and sunny tomorrow.

Happy days!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Shout outs - inspirational women

I thought it was about time I stopped being quite so, well, self-absorbed on this blog and wrote about a few other folks who deserve special mentions for one reason or another.

First up is the very talented Gorjuss (aka Suzanne Woolcott), an artist from Glasgow who draws the most beautiful creations that just capture my heart every time I visit her online shop. I struggle every time, not to find something I like, but to decide which of the many gorgeous creations to buy. So far I'm the proud owner of a canvas print, several key rings, and the bookmark pictured above. And yesterday, as part of my 'be kind to myself' weekend, I bought another print. I can't wait for it to arrive. Those who read Suzanne's (and Mr G's!) blog will know that she's not had her troubles to seek, but she still manages to continue creating and to be upbeat and positive.

My next shout-out goes to another Etsy crafter and one of my online 'friends' who although I've never met her I feel I know really well and has helped me stay on the less grey side of life over the last few months. Kitty Pinkstars is one of the most positive and happy people I've ever had the privilege to know. I tell her often that she's an inspiration, and do you know what? Every time she's so genuinely surprised about it that I think I love her just a little bit more each time! Her blog is well worth a read and if you don't already follow it, sign up now - I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Whether you're looking for smiles and happiness or creative ideas, Kitty has it all. (And she makes really cute stuff too!)

Third place in the roll of Crafty Maneouvres honours goes to a new friend I got to know last year in very sad circumstances. Frances was married to a friend of mine at University who died very suddenly (and far too young) last year. I'd never met Frances before but we hit it off immediately (even though one of the first thing I said to her was to comment on her OCD tendencies as she reminds me!) and we've kept in touch ever since. She's been across and stayed at the flat a couple of times, including last time with her Mom which was great. I'm currently keeping my fingers crossed that her application to study at Stirling University next session is accepted and then I'll be able to see her in reality rather than just virtually across the ether. Despite everything that Frances is dealing with in her life, she's another of my friends who inspire me by their positive outlooks on life. Finding Joy is something that Frances has taught me to do, for which thank you! (I've also got to 'know' her sister through Frances and now follow her fabulous foodie blog, which comes complete with home-cooked recipe ideas. Yum!)

Fourth shout-out (and these are in no particular order, by the way) goes to my big sister. Someone I've always looked up to and wanted to be like. We had a spell, like all siblings, when we didn't particulary get on and we used to joke that provided we had the Atlantic Ocean between us, we were great together. Now we've kind of grown into each other and I hate the fact that she's several time zones, a 13 hour journey and several hundreds of miles away. But thanks to the internet and cheaper phone calls, we're probably closer than we've ever been and I have a really cool place to visit every now and then. As well as being my amazing big sister (for whose love, support and advice I am truly grateful), she's also a fantastic Mum, a wise and canny homemaker, a talented crafter, an entrepreneur, incredibly intelligent and amazingly determined. Over the last year or so she's been baring her soul in her Friday Forte blog posts as she battles her way through her rediscovery and attempts to deal with all the shit that life throws at us all. I may not always agree with what she writes, but I am never anything other than impressed by her willingness to tackle the world head on - and so far it looks to me very much like she's winning!! Go sis!

A clutch of shout-outs for my friends, at home and further afield, too. I am truly blessed by the wonderful friends I have. They've been such a support in particular over the past 18 months or so when my life turned itself upside down. And while this is a post about inspirational women, I'll sneak in a big thanks and hug to the guys too!! Couldn't have done it - or at least not so well - without you xx

Finally, no blog post about inspirational women would be complete without a huge enormous magnificent shout out to my wonderful Mum. She dedicated herself to being our Mum and for that I'm truly grateful. She's still there for me whenever I need her and every day something of what she taught me comes back to me and helps me through. My ability to cope with life, I'm sure, comes from her determination, her common sense and her practical approach to the world. She also taught me to cook, sew, knit, crochet, take photographs, love music, grow things and much much more. Thanks Mum. (Dad's pretty special too in case you're wondering!)

So, as I sign off to go to my Tango class I'll just take a moment to say thanks - and to be inspired! Oh, life is indeed good.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Things that make me go....


After my last, somewhat depressing, post I thought it was time I blogged on a happier theme again. I've had a lovely day doing things I enjoy and it really has made me feel better.

So what does make me go smiley then?

And I've managed to pack a fair few of those into my weekend already. Laughter is the best medicine. It can be hard to do at times, but life is beautiful and precious. We owe it to ourselves to make it as happy as we can.

There is nothing more beautiful than the sunshine after a rainstorm.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


not drowning, although sometimes to be honest, it feels like it!

Apologies, this is going to be one of those posts that some of my readers don't like me writing. Today has not been a good day. The good news, however, is that it's better than last night was. And this evening is definitely better than this morning was.

So, what's wrong I hear you ask? Everything and nothing, I guess. I've been very busy at work and that's made me very tired. The things I've been dealing with have been complex and far from straightforward. At times it's been really hard to see if I'm making any progress at all, or even if what I'm doing has any point.

And life at home hasn't been much easier. Because I've been so busy at work, things have mounted up in the flat. There's been a load of washing winking at me for a few days now, muffled only by the cries of the dirty dishes in the sink to be washed and the pile of clothes that need to be put away. And let's just not go there with the hoovering that needs done!!

On top of all of that I've been feeling the loneliness of being on my own. I realised at the weekend that I don't often just stop and do nothing, and I know why. When I do stop and do nothing I tend to think too much, and that's when I think about being on my own. So being busy keeps my mind distracted, but also leaves me tired, which leaves me low, which gets me to thinking again - vicious circle!

Last night when I was at my lowest ebb I decided what I needed was to break things, throw things, do some damage. And then I remember I'm staying in a rented place with someone else's property. I don't think the landlord would really be very pleased if I broke his crockery and upset his neighbours. Softer options are called for therefore. One of my friends used to have pillow fights to make herself feel better. But pillow fights on your own just don't cut the mustard I've found. So I was back to square one.

Instead I resorted to a good night's sleep, some moping at work and then a busy work schedule to take my mind off things. On the whole I think it's worked - a phone call with a good friend and a visit from another really helped too. It reminds me how lucky I am to have people who care for me, and even if I don't have someone special, I still have people who make me feel special, cared for and loved.

But I still think I should probably start taking my Evening Primrose Oil pills again!

thanks for listening xx

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A bit of colour

On a grey and rainy day, it's nice to get a bit of colour into your life.

Homemade greek salad. Several of my 5 a day and pretty too!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Computer says...

As regular readers of this self obsessed little blog will know, today was the day of my first ever organised race. I had been saying 'competitive race' but I stopped doing that because it implied that I thought I had a chance of competing - as in doing something more adventurous than just finishing! Well, it turns out that I did not too badly at all (she says modestly!) While we thought my time was around 57:20 for the 10k based on the finishing time on the clock, the official race time has been posted as 56:44. Of which, as I'm sure you'll guess, I am mightily proud. Apparently that places me 671 out of 779 runners, or 77th out of the 110 other women in my age category. And when you take the age-graded results into account (they were beginning to lose me at this point but I think it's a bit like a golf handicap!), my result was actually in the upper half - although the upper half of what I'm not sure since the winner got 92%.

But maths aside, it was a good result and one I'm very proud of. Also one that I wouldn't have believed myself capable of just a few months ago. I started running when the gym I was a member of closed down. Rather than join another gym that I probably wouldn't go to (the one I was a member of was chosen because it was convenient and it was ladies only), I decided to try my hand - or should that be foot? - at running instead. I started off at 2 miles and with encouragement from a number of friends at work slowly built up from there. The challenge was then laid down to try today's race - the City of Stirling 10k - and to aim for a sub 60 finish time. Both of which I achieved today.

That then got me thinking of the other new things I've achieved this year - of which, as it turns out, there are actually quite a few! So far this year, I've:

- run a 10k in less than an hour
- climbed 7 munros
- learned to tango
- adventured in a foreign country on my own for 2 weeks, including travelling by train across Europe to do it
- relearned how to speak Spanish
- learned a couple of words of Russian
- made new friends
- successfully grown my own crop of cherry tomatoes
- long distance walked on my own
- started writing my first 'book'

And it's only September!

But for now, I'm going to take the rest of today easy, put my feet up, rifle through my DVD collection and find something mindlessly entertaining to watch and perhaps even have a snooze. There's a bottle of bubbles in the fridge for later and a small tuna steak to sear if I can get the energy up. And if I get bored with all of that, I can always watch the men digging up and relaying the street outside the flat. Good on them, hard work in this drizzly wet!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

T minus 1 ...

... and counting.

Tomorrow is my first ever 10k race and so I spent today resting and preparing.

I started my preparations with a visit to the beautician for a very relaxing treatment. Followed by coffee, brunch and some gentle shopping. Then it was back home for some internet surfing - with a brief interlude making some soup with what's left in the fridge - before carb loading with homemade vegetable lasagne from the freezer tonight.

The evening has been spent watching my latest addiction, Law & Order and making progress with my current crochet project. I've also been watching the Stephen Hawking documentary on Channel 4. All I can say is, I hope no aliens were watching. Far too many ideas on how to colonise the Earth!

In terms of proper preparation, I did my last training run on Wednesday and managed to crack the 10 minute mile for the first time.

So anyway, off to bed for an early night now. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Friday, 17 September 2010


Well, it's been a long hard week and I'm glad it's the weekend. But the week was definitely lightened by starting my online silliness course on Wednesday. And it has helped me to realise a few things.

I realised that I was so disorganised that I hadn't got any of the supplies in that I needed.
I realised that being silly is both hard and easy.
I realised that letting go is fun.
I realised that I don't have to try to be good at everything.
I realised that the less I try the more I can achieve sometimes.
I realised that I can be creative when I let myself be.
I realised that I should really buy a printer.
I realised that although my mobile phone takes pretty good pictures, a camera is better for detail and colour.
I realised that being silly frees the mind.

And I realised that finding joy (for me) is my responsibility and no-one else's is. I have a pretty good life. My crises aren't (crises). I am exceptionally lucky. I should smile and laugh more.

I'm looking forward to my month of silliness - I'll not bore you with all the details, but every now and again, I'll share my silliness. And if you want to keep up, log on to my Flickr page and check out the Silliness set!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Learning to be silly again

Who'd have thought it would be so hard?

I started my online Silliness course today and these are the results of my first attempt. Not only did I find it really hard to do the exercise - both the upside down bird drawing and colouring, and the word generation - I have also struggled to get the photo to view the right way up! But I guess that actually just adds to the silliness...

I'm not sure I'm very good at being silly - at least not this way. Being such a perfectionist, I struggle and strain to make sure I do the best in everything I do. A friend once asked if there was anything I wasn't good at, having just seen me push myself through hoops to do well at a particular task at work. Well, I guess, this is it!! The harder I tried to get the upside down bird shape right, the worse it got. The more I tried to be delicate and 'artistic' in my colouring, the more clumsy it looked.

But then I stopped and thought. Maybe I was trying too hard. I certainly wasn't having fun, I was stressing out about getting it 'wrong'. And you know what, that really made me laugh! What a twit I can be at times - this is about being silly not being spectacular. There is no right or wrong. There's just fun and, to quote an inspirational friend, finding joy.

So then I just decided to relax and enjoy myself. And as I was colouring in the sky, I found myself thinking about how much I love that light you get just at sunset, when the sky is such a strange mix of colours from fiery red to duck egg blue. I've never been able to capture it in a photograph, and I sure as hell haven't caught it in my colouring on my worksheet today - but in my head and in my heart I have - and that's what counts!

Roll on tomorrow's challenge (well, today's but it will be tomorrow before I get to it) - and definitely roll on the silliness. It's been a long hard day at work, but I've still found something to smile at. Thanks Carla, $25 very well spent already.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


One for sorrow, two for joy the rhyme tells us. And although I'm not hugely superstitious, until very recently I would get really upsetif I ever saw just one magpie. I would look round desperately for a second one, worrying that if I didn't see another one, that would be mean I was going to have a bad day. And quite often, when a second one didn't appear, my day would suck - of course, reinforcing my superstition about the damn magpies!

I know it's not rational. I know that a cat crossing my path or only seeing one magpie isn't what controls what happens in my day. But I also know, that how you feel about your day has a lot to do with how you will experience it. I'm sure I heard some research reported on the radio just recently about that.

I have an amazing online friend who never fails to impress me by her ability to be happy and to find joy in the tiniest things - even those that most of the rest of us would see as a pain. Her Facebook status today, for example, reads "Taking out the trash and surrounding myself with fun oomph and gusto!! ♥ Happy Wednesday guys! ♥". She always makes me smile, and every time I read something she's written, it challenges me to be happier about what is after all, the pretty straightforward, comfortable, un-angst ridden life I lead. (Another friends tells me I worry way too much, and I think he's probably right!).

So, one thing I've done is sign up for a Silliness course. It starts today and having had a look at today's exercise I'm itching to get started. I think I'm going to have to store the first few up to do over the weekend since I haven't been organised enough to get the supplies in that I need, but I promise to blog some of my silly outputs over the coming few weeks as I work my way through finding fun and laughter on a daily basis.

The other thing I've done is change my mindset about being 'one'. I blogged while I was on holiday about how hard it can sometimes be in a world that seems designed for two, and there's no denying that it can be hard at times. But it's also true that being 'one' isn't in anyway a deficit. 

Being one is being strong. It's being independent. It's being self reliant. It's experiencing more and pushing out of your comfort zone. It's empowering, scarey, thrilling, rewarding. It's liberating too. I can do what I want to do, eat what I want to eat, watch what I want to watch, listen to what I want to listen to, go to bed and get up when I want (well, work notwithstanding!). Yes, I do have to cope with more of the crap by myself, but I also know that I can. And if I want it done a particular way, I don't have to hope that it happens like that, even if it does mean I have to do it myself. 

Don't get me wrong. I would dearly love to have someone special to share stuff with, to help make the good times better and the bad times easier. But I don't need it. I am not 'less than' without someone else. I'd like to be a little bit 'more than' every once in a while too. But for now, I think I'm doing ok. Now, when I see a magpie on its own I don't panic and look for another. I just smile, say hello and think how amazing life as 'one' can be. 

And in truth, although I may not have a special someone around just now - I do have lots of special people in my life who make me feel exceptionally loved. To them I say, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Know that you have helped me find the strength to see the world in this way xx

Friday, 10 September 2010


I confess I have mixed feelings tonight. My race number and timing chip arrived today for next weekend's 10k and while I'm excited, I'm also apprehensive.

It's my first ever proper race and so far I've only actually run 10k two times ever.

I was out for a run tonight after work but I ran out of energy (pardon the pun) really quickly and struggled to do 3.5 miles. My time was ok, but my stamina wasn't. Although to be fair, only having a small cup of soup for lunch probably didn't help.

When I first said I'd try the race my ago was to finish. Since then my friends have persuaded me that as well as aiming to finish I should be aiming for a time too.

So, ever competitive with myself, I'm hoping to finish the race in under 60 minutes. Unfortunately, my pace is just over that at the moment and isn't showing any signs of improving. I'm told the adrenaline on the day will carry me through. I'm not so sure but watch this space next Sunday and I'll let you know.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Where does the day go?

And the minutes and the hours and the weeks?

I can't believe it's over a week already since I got back from my fabulous holiday in Spain. (I promise I will stop mentioning it soon) So what have I been doing with my time? Where has it all gone?

Well, a lot of what I've been doing has been working. I sometimes wonder if going away on holiday is a good idea or not, when you end up coming back to all the work that mounts up while you're away. With the added complexity of trying to remember what it is you were doing before you went! I've had some fairly long days since coming back, a completely full schedule and some tricky issues to deal with. I've also had some fun along the way and some (mini) successes - which is always good.

I'll not bore you with the details, but I'm smiling to myself at something I did yesterday - possibly against my better judgement but... As fans of West Wing will know, it's never a good idea in your work capacity to engage with blogs. By engaging I mean responding. Well, yesterday I did a Joshua and responded in my official capacity to a blog post. Today I sat back and watched the fun! Tomorrow I'll probably regret it, but for now, it's kind of fun.

As well as work, I've been cooking, dancing, running and crocheting. I've also been reading, something I managed not to do much of on holiday unusually for me. Inevitably, I'm reading about Spain! What I've not managed to do is write another chapter for my collaborative book project. But give me time!

But I'm also looking forward - not to wish time away, but genuinely excited about a few things coming up - my first competitive race next weekend, Scotland's first Tango Festival next year, hopefully a trip to see big sis and family at Christmas/New Year and maybe another visit to Spain too at some point.

And that's not even mentioning housework, admin, emails, blogging, chatting to friends, catching up, grocery shopping. (Although mercifully not washing the car since the neighbour's kid has very kindly offered to do it for me - I think in return for not shopping him to his folks about the party he's planning for this weekend while they're away!)

So that's where it goes then!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Worth coming home for

After a hard (and long) day at the office, what was waiting for me on my doormat but a nice, shiny copy of my new magazine subscription, Inside Crochet. Great way to end the day!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Falling headlong ...

...into autumn. (By the way, isn't autumn a great word. But not as good as autumnal)

Anyway, I noticed when I was out for my run this evening (6 miles in 61 minutes since you asked), that autumn is definitely on its way now. All around me the leaves are starting to turn a golden colour and begin their descent from the trees. We've got a windy night outside tonight, so I'm fully expecting to see leaves everywhere when I head in to work tomorrow (on my way to work that is, not in the office - unless I forgot to close the window that is). And there's a chill edge to the air these days too - particularly at the beginning and end of it. It might warm up in the middle, but there's no wandering around without a coat for the rest of the time anymore.

Other hints have been the abundance of the apples on next door's apple tree (I must try to get a photo, it has to be seen to be believed), my tomato crop and the advent of the brambles/blackberries all over the place.

I always find it strange at this time of year. Just when we've got used to the warmer weather, all too quickly it's scooting away and winter is soon on it's way. The evenings are already noticeably drawing in - my evening run has to be started by 7 pm now or it's too dark to get round and back comfortably. Before long, it will be back out with the scarves and hats and gloves, misty breath and (with any luck) crisp white mornings and clear blue skies again. And I'll need to remember where I stored the winter part of my all seasons duvet.

But for now, it's autumnal. And hopefully will be for a while yet. A reminder to make sure I get out during the day a bit more to keep my sunshine intake up and to enjoy the last few warm days of the year.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sunday pleasures

Long lie, slow awakenings, coffee out, music, portable yarn project. What could be better?

Oh yes, 2 hour tango workshop!

Happy Sunday, everyone.
And apologies to my readers with little people and without lazy Sunday privileges! There are benefits to solo living.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Back to life..

...back to reality! (Reference, anyone?)

Ok, so I'm back from my wonderful amazing adventure of a holiday to Spain, and this is where real life kicks back in. Thursday at work was not a great welcome back, and I sorely wished I could head back to Spain again. But hey, I guess that's work and it's what I need to do to keep a roof over my head and to earn the pennies for more fun and adventures.

Other than work, what's it been like? Well, I was shocked by what a mess the flat was when I got back. I must have literally run out of the door when I left for the midnight train. First order of business, therefore, was unpacking, washing and tidying/cleaning the flat.

The next priority was getting some food in - which I managed to do on Friday after work. I seem to have been incredibly efficient at running down my stocks before holiday. I was mighty pleased, therefore, that I'd stocked up the freezer with meals. At least I wouldn't starve.

And otherwise, it's just been a case of getting back into everyday life. I got out for a run this morning, which was good since I have the Stirling 10k to look forward to in 2 weeks time. This morning's run wasn't that encouraging - a very heavy going 4 miles in 45 minutes with legs that felt like blocks of lead. On the other hand, being able to run 4 miles after a 3 week break in not far off my normal pace isn't too shoddy. I celebrated by going out for a coffee to my favourite coffee shop, and taking back my (overdue) library books - although nothing like as overdue as a friend of mine just experienced!

The other pleasant surprise of coming home was to find that my tomato plant far from being over and done, was just coming into its own. The picture above is off the first crop - or more accurately what's left of the first crop once I'd stopped 'just eating one' on my way in and out of the flat. There's about the same again on the plant still to ripen too.

Also pictured above are some of the squares I did manage to make while I was on holiday for my latest yarn project. As regular readers will know, it was too hot to do much crochet and in any case there wasn't much time left for it what with all the sightseeing, eating and blogging!

On which final point, many thanks for all the lovely feedback I've had about my blog. It's been fun to do and I'm glad that at least some of you have enjoyed it. The challenge will be to keep it going without the inspiration of a holiday to motivate me. For something slightly different, you could always try taking a look at the collaborative book writing experiment I've got going on my other blog.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

And home!

Some thoughts of Spain 2010
Originally uploaded by bexybeads

So, here I am back home again after a truly wonderful holiday in Spain for the last 2 weeks. I've already blogged my reflections on it - a bit premature I know but I was feeling reflective. What can I say?!

The journey back was relatively uneventful, although the slight hitch at the bus station this morning when I found out the bus I wanted to catch was full was a bit anxiety provoking. Fortunately I'd built in sufficient time for delays so even with the bus an hour later being half an hour late arriving I still got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Phew! The bonus was that the bus actually went direct to the airport instead of me having to change in Malaga. If I hadn't had to get a later bus I probably wouldn't have known - so it must have been fate.

And the flight with EasyJet was surprisingly, well, easy. Arrived ahead of time back in Glasgow, caught the city bus almost straight away and then straight onto a train back to Stirling. Couldn't have been simpler.

So now I'm home, unpacked, washing done (first load at least) and house cleaned - to remove the grime that I appear to have left when I departed on holiday 2 weeks ago. And only 1 spider to deal with too!!

Let's hope work is as easy tomorrow...

(By the way, anyone else think it's chilly here??)