Valuing individuality


I opened a package the other day, a new book that I’d ordered online.  As I flicked through I was disappointed to see that the title page was creased over, and if I opened it out it was badly creased and stuck out as it hadn’t been trimmed to fit in like all the other pages.

Then I thought … Does it really matter?

I started to think about our own unique differences that make us special, and when we come together there is a magic involved – communication – that creates a sense of belonging in a group that embraces difference and commonalities.

So one little ‘flawed’ book will now have a special place in my library, not least because it is The Little Book of Hygge, The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking from The Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen.


The unfinished picture


I was at the start of a challenge.  A challenge I had brought on myself one morning when I had asked a friend to encourage me to do something each day for 30 days to enhance my creativity, to get me doing some painting or drawing.

I am in no way an artist but I do enjoy the process of getting lost in time creating something, exploring different shapes but especially colours.  I feel that I experience ‘flow’ when I truly allow myself the time and space.  My thoughts drift in and out of the day, to and fro between the past and future, with everything in the now focussed on my creation.

I love taking photos but there is something different about taking a blank piece of paper that transforms in minutes with just pencil, pen, felt tips or paint.  It is very personal, not something I would usually share with the world.  But what I wanted to share was the story of my experience.  How this 30 day artist’s challenge on Facebook (because that is what happened!) really got me thinking about how little sketches captured a fragment of my life at a particular point in time.  Sometimes we may think that art is only for those who have the gift to create, but we are missing out on so much if we never venture into this special world.

Just by looking at this picture now, done back in November, there is so much that can spring from it personally for me.

Each little mark or object can be the starting point for a different story.  To start with, it reminds me of a long-distance friendship that has developed from a brief encounter on a road trip in the Summer.

The border lines marked at intervals remind me of the sharing of knowledge by a very talented artist, which led me to create viewfinders from cereal boxes to help get everything in the right place in the picture.

The fireplace is one of the features of the lovely home in which I am currently living and only in the past week found out more about its history and that the place where I sat drawing this picture used to be a hairdressing salon.

The little plaque above the fireplace was a gift from my dear mum and dad when they visited Las Vegas, and the little wooden plate below the wall lights another gift from them when they visited Austria.  This reminds me of fond memories of a holiday with my parents in Austria in the snow when I was just 16 years old, staying in Mayrhofen when I had the opportunity to learn to ski-bob and what fun that was.  I later went on a cheap coach trip to the same place and had a wonderful summer holiday, getting a chairlift up into the mountains.  I recall the magical feeling of being literally on top of a mountain, the amazing peace and sense of freedom.  This turned out to be the calm before the storm, realising that zig zags on the map of a real mountain equate to a very lengthy and exhausting ramble downhill which left us painfully achy the next morning!

All this from an unfinished picture, and that is just the start …

I must admit I didn’t complete the whole challenge but really think I have benefited from the experience.  I may share one or two more of my pictures if anyone is interested.  The one I am most proud of is one that is very childlike in nature – a painting done from a photo – but for me represents so much that is important to me.

All it takes is some blank paper and your choice of pencil, felt-tips, paints etc.  Have a go and see where it leads you, what stories come to your mind from what you create.  If you are used to writing as your medium for creation, see how this can bring a new layer to your life.  Go out into the world and see what draws you in, or sit in the comfort of your home and let the memories drift onto the page.

Time – the greatest gift to yourself


Giving ourselves time can be the greatest gift we can give, both for ourselves and for others.

Time for reflection, time to regenerate.

Time to become the person we aspire to be, the person we already are, given time.

Time to do all the things we love and discover new ones that bring us joy.

Time to be inspired to create a life beyond our wildest dreams.

Time, the gift we all have in the now.



It filled a gap – thoughts on my return to blogging

Sandy beach in Broadstairs 1

Copyright Kay Underdown 2017

This blog has meant more to me than a place where I could get my thoughts on life ‘out there’.  It was born out of a need to have something else to focus on other than what I was dealing with.  It was an escape from reality.

Yet my posts were mainly about reality.  I avoided dwelling on the traumatic time I encountered during my weeks in hospital battling Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia but it simmered in the background.  I held on to my ties with positivity which although stretched remained a lifesaver.

Blogging gave me an excuse to write randomly about life because that’s what I chose to do.  I didn’t have to stick to any theme, it was about life, anything, and that felt very liberating.  I focussed on very simple everyday things, not serious topics.  It was lighthearted, occasionally tinged with a little sadness.  It was where I felt safe to share what were some very personal poems that very few had seen.

I made connections with people across the world.  I was both heartened and amazed that bloggers and others from so many different countries were reading my posts.  I never had many followers.   It doesn’t have to be about the numbers.  Knowing that I had made a connection with just one person made a difference to how I felt.  Getting a friendly comment from someone I didn’t yet know felt good.

Did I feel lonely during that time I spent restricted in what I could do?  My family and friends were wonderful but what I missed was being able to spontaneously go about my life however I wanted, getting on with my dream of a life at University studying what I loved, exploring and meeting different people.

Blogging filled the gap.  It didn’t put any demands on me.  There were no time pressures and my tiredness, lack of concentration and focus didn’t matter, I could just return whenever I wanted.  Yet when I was ready to return to University life I let it go, only to return sporadically.  Having found something so valuable to me, that drew me in, I left it by the wayside with little explanation.

Earlier this year my blog provided the right forum for me to vent my personal feelings about a personal situation that seriously threatened my wellbeing.  That situation became the catalyst for me to return to positivity, focus on my dreams and bring them to my reality.

I now return to bring my story up-to-date, to reflect on my past blogging and bring a fresh perspective.  Whilst it will remain random in nature, there is no doubt that it will be coloured by my new and exciting venture as a Happiness & Empowerment Coach living in the now and looking forward to a future filled with gratitude, positivity and love in its broadest sense.  I hope that you may choose to follow my blog and I look forward to renewing old connections and making new ones in the blogging world and beyond.

News:  This blog will be linked to my new Happiness & Empowerment website which will go live in December 2017.  I hope you will take a look and I welcome any feedback.  I am excited to be offering a unique combination of services.  In September I became an accredited coach with The Sue Stone Foundation.  Sue Stone is an amazingly inspirational and  positive person who I have known for a number of years and joining her Foundation as a Happiness & Empowerment Coach is part of my dream offering one-to-one coaching with support.  I will also be offering Life Story Workshops which have a coaching base and are influenced by sense of belonging and creativity.  They will provide the opportunity for people to come together at different places to explore life in a different way.  My dissertation was on sense of belonging and I became passionate about it, particularly in relation to people, place, nature and belonging through time.  (Yes I actually graduated in July 2017 with an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Social Sciences, a very proud moment)  The third part of my service is to provide Life Wheel Coaching, which can be provided over the phone so I will be able to reach out beyond the area I live and work.  To get things started and launch my service, early in the New Year I am holding two introductory events in Broadstairs, Kent which is a beautiful seaside town with wonderful sandy bays.  It is both an exciting and daunting time for me, taking the biggest leap after a few years of uncertainty, yet it is bringing together everything I have wanted to do and I am living my dream by the sea.