Gently pushing at my boundaries.

Comfortzonetwo

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

This phrase has been cropping up over and over again in my life recently. Just this morning I made a note that I wanted to write about it, either here or in my journal, and then it turned up again on Facebook. The universe is trying to tell me something and wants to be sure I notice.

I have always been shy around people I don’t know, wary of new situations or places. I have never felt comfortable in large crowds or taking risks. And I have told myself, that’s okay. That’s just who I am.

But, if I am honest, I have allowed myself to shrink away from the world over the last ten years or so and my comfort zone has shrunk with me to the point where it consists of little more than my own home.

Looking back over my life, there are many things I have done in the past which I would say I just could not do now. At age ten, I was in the school play, not only performing but also writing my own lines. Around the same time, I was in the school choir. As a young adult I travelled by coach to both London and Manchester from my home in Cornwall. When I moved to this house, I was full of ideas and plans. I decorated rooms and cleared the garden. I held birthday parties for my daughters, had friends round for coffee and went for days out with my family. I had a handful of friends who I would spend time with, go out with, laugh with. I used to create all the time, designing knitwear, writing poetry, adapting things for my home.

But somewhere along the way I lost it.

Life got to me. Circumstances dragged me down and I never surfaced. The reasons why are not important now. What is important is that I am going to swim for the surface, find the edge of my comfort zone and dare to set foot outside it.

I have said many times, oh, so many times, in the past, that I was going to turn my life around. I started this blog with the intention of documenting my journey as I do so. But it seems I needed a few more weeks to get to the point of starting out. Now, however, the universe is persistently nudging and it is time to take action.

I have, on my arm, a tattoo of lyrics from my favourite song, by my favourite band. It is there to remind me to seize life, to learn from the past, and to let go of it. It is finally time to do just that.

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Depression Lies

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Robin Williams had it all, surely? Fame, wealth,a loving family, adoring fans all over the world.

But depression lies.

And it told this brilliant, funny, talented, sensitive man that there was nothing worth living for.

But it was a lie.

To every person who is struggling with life, whether through depression, physical illness, bullying, or anything else, I want to send a message.

There is ALWAYS something worth living for.

And to everyone, whether struggling or not, I want to send a message.

Show compassion for your fellow human beings. You never know what is going on behind a smile, behind locked doors, inside a mind.

RIP Robin Williams. You will be missed.

Inspired by Jim.

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He watches

Silent

Barely moving

Blinking slowly.

 

She hurries

Scurries

Always moving

Cooking, cleaning.

 

He scratches

Yawning

Repositions

Resumes sleeping.

 

 

Just a silly little poem that came to me earlier today as I was washing up and Jim was watching me. It relates to the post I wrote recently about how animals have the right approach to life. It is many years since I wrote any kind of poem and I hesitated before releasing it into the world. But it is a sign that I am feeling a little better than I was yesterday and that creativity is returning, so here it is.

Overwhelmed.

Today is not the best of days. Today I feel as if I have a heavy stone in my chest. Today my limbs feel like lead. Today my mind is flitting from one thing to the next, never resting. Today I cannot concentrate.

Today I am feeling overwhelmed.

I know it will pass. It always does – eventually. Over the years I have come to recognise this feeling for what it is, to know that it is temporary, and I have found the things that help me to get through it.

But, in the moment, I feel as if I am drowning.

Drowning in all the things I have not done and need to do. Drowning in clutter and mess and dust. Drowning in failure and missed opportunities. Drowning in self-doubt and fear.

It will pass, I remind myself.

But, in the moment it feels like it will never end. It seems like nothing I have ever done has made any difference. It feels as if life has always been this way and always will be.

I have felt much worse than this. Existed in a full-blown, deep, dark, hole of depression for months at a time. Barely able to function. Permanently close to tears, angry,pushing everyone away. This is mild in comparison.

And it will pass.

I have been trying to write a different blog post for the past week and failing at every try. All the time, this feeling has been growing inside, squashing the creativity inside me, blocking the words I wanted to write. So today I decided just to write and not worry about what came out of my head, through my fingers and into my keyboard. It is a first step, for me, towards a brighter tomorrow. And if these rambling thoughts help anyone else, let them know they are not alone in the world, then that is an unmeasurable bonus.

To all who are struggling, remember this:

It will pass.

Looking Back – July 2014

Many of the blogs I follow do a monthly round-up of things from around the internet and I thought I would do the same. I often find bits and pieces as I wander around online and I’m happy to share them here with you.

In a world full of auto-tuned, bubble-gum pop stars, this collaboration between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga is a refreshing change.

 

This is a wonderful tribute to Torvill and Dean, performed by the people of their hometown of Nottingham.

 

A fun way to waste a few minutes.

 

This knitted animation is so well done. It really made me smile.

 

A few for the crafters:

How to Sew a Button and Repair a Hem
Who’d have thought you could make ‘yarn’ from recycled newspapers?
!0 Tips on Preventing, Catching and Fixing Mistakes for Knitters.

The What’s Underneath Project is a series of videos where people talk about their style, their body image, and their insecurities. What I found most interesting is how many people seemed to find it easier to talk about the things they didn’t like about their bodies than the things they love.

How to Create the Quiet is a post about the ways in which we can build a little space and quiet time into our busy lives.

Gala Darling has a list of 100 Ways to Show Yourself Love If You Hate Pink and Bubble Baths.

The Experiment. Why do we continue to do what we are doing if there is a different way out there?

And finally, these momentum and wind powered creatures wander around in a strangely mesmerising way.

So there you have it. My first round-up of internet bits and pieces. If you fancy finding out what some other bloggers have shared recently, check out Pink Mind Dreams (I’m biased with this one as it is my daughters blog), and Gala Darling , whose monthly carousel always has some great links.

Fashion the way it should be.

Last Friday evening, I attended our local fashion show. Anyone who knows me might think this was an odd place to find me for several reasons. For one thing there were a lot of people there and I really don’t do well in crowds. But mostly because I am really not a huge fan of the fashion and beauty industry. I think they have a lot to answer for when it comes to people having low self-esteem, body image problems, and lack of confidence. We are surrounded by images of beautiful people, bombarded with articles about how to improve our look, swamped by advertising of items that will, supposedly, help you join the beautiful people. The truth, as we all know, is that even the models in magazines don’t actually look like that, no amount of creams, lotions,and clothes can make us something we are not, and (most important, and I really hope you DO know this) beauty comes from within, not without.

However, I did indeed find myself at the fashion show, for the second year running, and had a wonderful, fun-filled evening watching real people having fun as they strutted their stuff down the catwalk.

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This annual event is held to raise funds for the Christmas lights and decorations in our town. Local boutiques and designers get the chance to show off their lines, and all the models are locals, giving their time for free. One, tireless, shop owner is the driving force behind the show and her energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun are infectious.

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What makes this show such a positive event, to my mind, is that anyone can get involved. The models up there on the catwalk are all ages, all sizes, both sexes. There are tattoos and piercings and beards. There are people oozing with confidence and others quietly shining as they conquer their nerves and walk out on stage. Everyone looks amazing. They remind us that fashion, the way we present ourselves visually to the world, is supposed to be for everyone and supposed to be fun!

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This last picture (above) is of my older daughter, Emma. I think she embodies all that is good about the fashion show. She has bright pink hair with a turquoise fringe (and has had for several years now), many tattoos, and (I’m sure she won’t mind me saying this) she has plenty of curves. She was very nervous before the show, despite having been in it last year, but she got out there, had fun, danced and laughed, threw glitter and swirled around in her pretty dress and fluffy petticoat.

I am already looking forward to next year’s show. I know it will put a smile on my face.

Animals Have Got It Right

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Meet Jim. Jim joined our family at the start of this year and is now just over eight months old.  Before that, we had been without a pet of any kind since our last cat, Rosie, died. I was so upset and found her last few months so tough, that I said I would never have another as it was just too hard to let them go.  However, life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Late last year my daughter and I looked after a friend’s cats while she was away for a few days. As I locked up their house on the last day, I found myself lingering over saying farewell to the cats, even though they only live just down the road from me! I told my friend about this and said maybe, just maybe, I was nearing a place where I could consider having another pet one day. So when, a few weeks later, my friend heard of a kitten needing a home, she asked if I would like him. I argued with myself for quite a while; came up with so many reasons why it was a bad idea. But, of course, in the end I said yes.

 

And so Jim came to join us. This tiny little furry bundle wobbled across the kitchen floor and into our hearts and I wondered how I could ever have thought that my home was complete without a cat.  It hasn’t all been plain sailing – he is the adventurous kind of cat who loves to climb and explore. The current cluttered state of my house means he has endless places to discover. So far he hasn’t broken anything, though several vases and ornaments have been knocked from the fireplace. His favourite trick is to climb the curtains and hang from the wire holding the nets up. So far he has shredded two and I’ve not bothered to replace them. The extra sunlight coming into the rooms more than makes up for the loss of a couple of bits of lace.  Recently he has started to figure out how to get on top of the doors. So far he has managed this in the kitchen and the bathroom. His favourite place to keep an eye on everyone is on top of the kitchen cupboard, which also has the advantage of catching the breeze from an open window.

 

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I’ve learnt a lot from Jim over the past few months. A lot about living without fear, a lot about simplicity, , a lot about love.

 

Jim never lets anything stop him from exploring. When he was tiny he was limited by his size. His little legs weren’t even long enough to go up and down the stairs. But he kept trying, pushing his limits, increasing his scope, learning all the while. He’s taken a fair few tumbles in his time and had his dignity dented more than once. But he never lets that keep him from trying. Each time he attempts something again, he uses what he has learnt in the past and adapts his approach until, sooner or later, he succeeds. Sometimes that is enough, and he moves on to the next challenge. Sometimes he repeats the exercise until it seems like the easiest thing in the world. The important thing is that he never gives up.

 

Jim doesn’t care what he looks like, or what other people think of him. He goes about his life with barely a care in the world. He ‘owns’ nothing, though we, his materialistic humans, have bought him toys, and bowls and a fancy litter tray. He sleeps wherever he fancies – usually in a patch of sunshine – eats when he is hungry, plays as much as he wants, and never worries that he is offending us if he wants to slink away for some quiet time on his own. He, like the rest of the animal world, is totally free from everything but the most basic needs and instincts – food, warmth, shelter and companionship. He needs nothing more and yet is completely content.

 

Having Jim around has opened up a part of my heart that I had closed off when Rosie died. It’s hard to contemplate letting another furry friend into your heart when you have just said a painful goodbye to one who has been part of the family for so many years.  But, I’m glad I did allow Jim in. He knows when I am sad, or tired, or fed up and snuggling up with him for a while is the best therapy in the world. It is wonderful to be greeted by him when I return home. To hear him running down the stairs, meowing all the way.  Sitting on the sofa with Jim curled up on my lap, purring softly, is the perfect way to sit and think and relax. He gives us so much and asks for so little in return.

 

The simple life, basic needs met, no complications.  Yes, animals have got it right.