Patterns in time

Today it went through my mind that I was gaining some kind of pattern to my daily life. There is much advice that routine is good for us during this surreal time but a belief I have held for some while is that I don’t much like routines … to me it feels like too much predictability whereas I like to bring spontaneity into my life, to allow time for those creative moments. Yet without some kind of planning, at the moment those creative moments haven’t quite been happening. Slowly perhaps we are adapting to the changing nature of life that has been sprung upon us. For now, life as we knew it has seemingly been put on hold and people are affected in such contrasting ways across a whole spectrum of experience. So for now, I am enjoying accepting a different pattern into my life. One that is evolving yet can adapt and change as the rhythms of the day change with the weather and external commitments that spring from a different source that is changing the nature of how we live in this moment and maybe in the future to come.

Today, to go with this post, I wanted some kind of pattern, so I started with a photo that I love and thought I’d see where it went. I used Affinity Photo software on my iMac and just played around with it until I discovered something that I felt was right for this post. It is a photo of a place that I love that I don’t get to see at the moment but is held close to my heart. It’s so beautiful that it deserves a post of its own – Kingsgate Bay.

Time to reflect – one month at a time – March 2015 (part 1)

Yesterday, I said I would reflect back and go on a journey through my blog posts, one month at a time.  So today it will be March 2015 which is when I first set up my blog, I can’t believe it has been five years – yet within that time it is just 20 WordPress months – so in theory there will be twenty posts with this theme.  Whether I end up doing a post for each month will depend on wherever this leads.  I like being able to be spontaneous and see where life takes me.

I did think for some time before setting the blog up that I needed to find my focus, my niche, then I thought why?  It needed to reflect me, authentic me.  So this random approach where I can flit from whatever subject I wish at the time really suits me and reflects who I am, a deep thinker who has been a life-long learner, and more recently became a life coach, graduated as a social scientist with a dissertation on sense of belonging and developed a way of working with people to enhance mental health and wellbeing using life story writing – perhaps I will do a blog one day on my Waves and Pebbles Kite …

I enjoyed school, went to college and then experienced a wide range of jobs which have all taught me so much about people and life, and provided me with new skills.  When I managed a community mediation service and practiced as a Mediator, not only did this teach me more about conflict and communication with people, about not making assumptions and the importance of being non-judgemental, but it also opened up to me the world of creativity.  At least I think this is when I realised that although I wasn’t an artist – I couldn’t draw and didn’t actually do any art, having been put off at school – I did start to realise that I was creative in thought.  At the time my eldest daughter’s artistic skills were blossoming and one of our mediators was an artist.  This opened up to me the potential to use art and other creative activities as a means of facilitating communication when it may otherwise be difficult, for example when families are experiencing a breakdown in their relationships, often due to external stressful influences.  I could see the potential of using creativity to bring people together and enable communication but I am digressing, for this post the aim is to reflect back on my posts in March 2015 – these are not the actual posts – they are my reflections now.

My journey through March 2015

Welcome to ‘Waves and Pebbles’

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Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

On the day of my first post I had received this beautiful bouquet of flowers and it reminded me of the importance of my family and friends that were supporting me during that difficult time. When everything else in my life changed in a moment of diagnosis in January 2015, it was my connections with people that were the constant in my life, as it feels now while we are dealing with lockdown. In hospital I didn’t have access to wi-fi back then, although thankfully that has changed so much now. However, my mobile phone enabled me to keep in touch, especially by text. Now, when much of the world is in lockdown as I write this, we have so many different ways of keeping in touch with people online especially video links which really seem to have taken off. Yet I find there is also something very special about blogging, already seeing how people across different parts of the world are reading my posts, and I look forward to connecting once again with more people day by day. I also much enjoy reading the posts of others who blog on WordPress.

Poetry

There was no photo for this post, something I learnt later was of value in gaining attention to a blog post and something which I came to enjoy sourcing and then later using my own photos. This post talked about setting up a poetry page, which I had totally forgotten I had done. The page is still there and you will find poems titled Clouds, Welsh Home in the Morning, Light, Spring, The Sea’s Gift and The Orange Globe. My personal favourite is The Sea’s Gift, written at a time when I was suffering from depression when I often wrote what I call my ‘doomy gloomy’ poems. I love this one so I am going to share it here. My poems are written all in one go when the words just come to me, along with working out some kind of rhythm, and I didn’t change them after, which applies to most of my poetry apart from those written while doing a creative writing course, of which The Orange Globe is one.

The Sea’s Gift

Swirling, swelling, choffing about
ever there, forever no doubt
Wondrous feeling, breezing hair
Visual landscape, no compare

Softly, seeping, lapping away
ever there, forever a day
Gentle ebbing, loving cure
Sensual feelscape, yet so pure

Twilight, twinkling, milling anew
ever there, forever for you
Heaven crying, flowing deep
Mystical dreamscape, I will keep

Sunshine warming, glist'ning delight
ever there, forever my might
Soulful cleansing, giving hope
Miracle seascape, I can cope

Creativity and Wellbeing

This was a short post, again no photo, passing on information about the London Creativity and Wellbeing Week which has been taking place since 2012. I’ve just checked out the information on this year’s festival which is being postponed but they are researching the possibilities of doing something online.

In looking for a secure website to direct you to, I have found http://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk. As often happens when looking for one thing it leads to another. I have just discovered on this site “70 stories” under their News and Blogs page where people are talking about their own experiences … I will be returning! I’ve also discovered an interesting report on Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing published in July 2017 which I will return to when seeking evidence for the value of the various forms of creativity.

Time to take a pause

Well I started this post with the intention of reflecting back on the whole of March 2015 but I now realise that it is taking me too long and leading me on a different journey of discovery. I am also very much in need of my breakfast! So I am going to leave it here for now, wish you a good day and hope you may share with me how you are spending your own day, or if you yourself have spent time reflecting back on your old posts. The picture I am going to post is one taken this morning in my garden with a beautiful blue sky and not a cloud in sight. Best wishes to you all. Kay

A different kind of journey – reflecting back on my 100 posts for my Waves and Pebbles blog

Mixed bouquet

Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

Yesterday when I submitted my first post for a while, which is something I seem to keep doing – one post then leaving it – I was congratulated by WordPress on my 100th post.  Somehow if felt as if that had come at the right time, having realised this week that I really must return to the blogging world to help me deal with this current situation the world finds itself in.  Blogging really helped me back in 2015, it will do so again.

When I started my blog in March 2015 my life had been confined since the beginning of January, I had gone through my own isolation in phases, first to the hospital grounds, then the ward, then my room and finally my bed before the reverse happened and I was able to return home.  I had survived so far but I had to stay at home to guard myself from infection, still going through chemotherapy treatment till the end of the year.  After a while I was able to start having trips out and taking my own photos that I would blog about.  Eventually I returned to university which is when my blogging days went on pause for a while.

I had thought that I would revisit each of my 100 posts, one at a time, but a quick look back and I realise that it will be one month at a time.  So my next post will be reflecting back on March 2015.

For now, sitting in my lounge, I am going to make my everyday late breakfast of porridge with bashed up almonds sprinkled on top with honey.  Sometimes I sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar, sometimes I count out the almonds or use a mixture of milk and water to make my provisions last.  I will sit and enjoy.  The television is switched off, it is peaceful with a beautiful blue sky outside.  Sometimes I wonder if I will wake in the morning and forget that all this is happening, forget that we are in lockdown.  But somehow, even though I am able to sleep fairly well at night, if somewhat later than usual, I wake with the knowledge that ‘it’ is still there.  This surreal situation that cannot be ignored and we know that people’s lives are changing forever, many sadly lost.

Yet those of us who are blessed to still be well in our homes I hope will be able to discover new ways to live a life that makes us feel good.  Maybe not all the time, our moods are perhaps more than ever likely to wobble, but to be able to live a more simple life that gives us the time to connect more with those that we care about, even though at a distance, to spend time doing the things we really enjoy yet otherwise don’t allow ourselves the time to fit them in.  And to discover new ways of living that enable us to gain a sense of achievement and fulfilment.  For me, creativity is the key to this, playing with creativity in a way that suits us as individuals.  Some people may already be artists, musicians, singers, writers,  crafters and designers, for whom creativity comes naturally.  For some, creativity is something that others do and is a whole new world to explore.  Take little steps and discover something different that you enjoy doing.  There is so much out there to learn and sometimes all you need is a pen and paper (see my post yesterday on writing).

 

Life Happens, Live Happy … Now!

A year after I finished writing, I have NOW self-published my book “Life Happens, Live Happy” through Amazon KDP.  Writing a book was one of my life goals and to be honest I felt like I had achieved it when I finished writing it last Christmas, as the goal was never about selling it.  Perhaps that was why it took me so long to actually get it out there.  Then again, perhaps it was all about timing, or the fact that it was a very personal book that it feels quite scary to share with the world.  It now seems like the perfect time!

lhlh front cover wordpress 4 12 18 copy

This book is very important to me and it was quite therapeutic writing it.  Like this blog, it has at its root what happened to me in 2015 when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening form of leukaemia and was seriously ill in hospital.  When I returned home after more than a couple of months in hospital, it was blogging I turned to as something to give me some focus in life, to distract me from the seriousness of what I was dealing with.  So this little book talks about some of the issues around this time and what helped me, particularly having a positive approach to life and  acknowledging the simple things that can make us happy.  Like this blog, it is quite random in nature.

Back in 2017, I joined the Sue Stone Foundation as an accredited coach and this has made an immense difference to me, and it is Sue Stone who kindly wrote the Foreword for my new book.  Sue wrote the book “Love Life, Live Life”, which I read I believe back in 2008 and found it very inspirational.  Sue was later one of the Secret Millionaires on the TV programme and I feel very privileged to be a member of her Foundation whose aim is to spread positivity, love and success throughout the world.

I hope that some of you reading my blog will end up reading my little book.  The aim of the book was to inspire anyone on their own life journey, whatever their challenges may be.  It is available on Amazon across the world in English language, in the UK it is £6.99 plus postage for the paperback, the Kindle version is available for £2.99 or if you subscribe to unlimited then it is free under the KDP Select scheme.  This is a new adventure for me and 2019 is going to be an exciting time.  If anyone else reading this has experience of self-publishing through Amazon I would love to hear from you.  I would also love to hear any thoughts on my book if you have a chance to read it.

The Sue Stone Foundation is holding its first online summit on Monday, 21 January in the evening.  I will be one of the participants as a member of the Foundation.  If you would like further information about this, just leave me a message.

Wishing you all the best for 2019.

Life Happens, Live Happy!  Click here to see some sample pages and to buy “Life Happens, Live Happy” by Kay Underdown

Beloved Bay

Version 2

Once again it has been a while since I blogged, no real excuses, it just hasn’t happened.  Last November a distant artist friend challenged me to 30 days of drawing lessons on Facebook.  My involvement was a bit of a disaster, I had every good intention but even though the time was there, it evaded me.  Yet for me, the challenge was worth it because I produced the above!  Believe me, this is far superior to anything I had produced before and it is now proudly framed and hanging in my downstairs cloakroom.  It was based on  a photo that I took whilst walking along my favourite bay.  Every time I enter the cloakroom, it reminds me of that beautiful place and how I love living by the sea.  It may not be a work of art but I enjoyed the process and it brings me joy whenever I enter the cloakroom.  Not only does it remind me of  the bay but I recall the kind offer of a friend to help me improve my drawing skills.  Do you have something you have painted or made that reminds you of something and makes it extra special?

Valuing individuality

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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

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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.