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.


Troubled times – Control

IMG_3561 (1)Open your eyes and realise that people only have the amount of power you allow them. They can try and control everything around you but they can’t control your life. Don’t let someone mess up the wonderful life you are living. Treasure your own memories, don’t let them be tarnished by others who have their own agenda. Life is for living to the full and too precious to waste. Spend your time with those that truly care, and build your inner strength to tolerate the negativity that may at times surround you.

Reflecting on life at Caffe Vista, Tenby


Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

It is two years ago that I first visited Caffe Vista in the Summer of 2014.  I made a spontaneous visit and discovered this great place in Tenby which drew me back this year.  I was lucky on all occasions to get a seat on their small balcony.  There is plenty of seating inside which is really nice and a variety of food which I have not yet sampled.  I enjoyed a strawberry, raspberry and mango smoothie followed by a hot chocolate on my first visit of the day while I sat reflecting on the beauty of Tenby and thinking about life.  I then returned for a strawberry, banana and yoghurt smoothie to take another break from ambling along by the beach and through the narrow streets.  A lot has happened healthwise during the past two years and I felt blessed to be able to return.  Next door to the cafe I noticed that there are some holiday apartments which enjoy the same views – what a wonderful place to stay!


Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016


Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

Tenby – stunning Welsh coastal jewel



I have just returned from Wales and spent a wonderful day at Tenby in Wales.  It is such a special place – beautiful beaches, interesting and colourful buildings, stunning views.  There is a good holiday vibe in the summer with many tourists but even during the school holidays this week the beach was not crowded.  I would love to visit in the winter when it is quiet, some would perhaps say bleak, but it is a place where there is so much natural beauty – a truly spiritual place to experience.






Puppydays – Isle of Sheppey seaside

I’m excited to be back on WordPress after spending yesterday helping my friend Artist Julie Bradshaw with her own blog (more on that in another post).  It’s given me the incentive to get back on here, I’ve really missed it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life keeping me busy, mainly getting back to university after my debilitating illness throughout 2015, trying to catch up on what I have missed and keeping up with working on my modules so that I can complete my second year and progress to my final year.  But … one of the most exciting, heartwarming and life changing things has been having the new addition to our family, Jasmine our chocolate labrador puppy.


It had been a possible intention to do a separate blog, or create a YouTube channel, for my puppy and tell her story from when she was born throughout her early days and beyond.  But the reality is that when Jasmine arrived home, I can only liken it to having a new baby with all the routines and care of looking after a new life.  Jasmine is a joy to look after but much as I wanted to take lots of beautiful photos, most important is to enjoy and be with her and the camera sort of goes out the window a lot of the time (and has luckily escaped the clutches of Jasmine’s teeth!).  I have taken quite a few photos but they are not the ‘perfect’ puppy photos I had imagined – but then Jasmine to me is perfect in every photo because it is her.  So at various points I will share some of the earlier photos and I’m sure she will appear in future posts as we enjoy the summer together.

So for now, here are a few photos of our trip the other day to the seaside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.  It was a glorious if slightly chilly day and there were surprisingly few people about.  I do enjoy finding these gems of places that are not so far away from my home and I wonder why I don’t visit more often.  I love the seaside and Jasmine really enjoyed her visit, despite having her nose to the ground most of the time.   But perhaps that’s a sure sign of happiness for a dog!