Mothers' Day, sunshine and changing the clocks forward here in UK.
I hope you had a happy day too.
Opening all the windows in the morning makes me feel more alive.
If it's cold or wet it may just be for a few moments.
On really hot summer days (we do get them occasionally!) the doors may stay open too.
I love that.
(Taking photographs for the blog makes me feel alive!)
What makes you feel alive in the morning?
Make Friends With iPeople Who Want The Best For You.
I am so lucky in this regard! I am surrounded by people who want the best for me, as I want the best for them.
This chapter in Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life is partly autobiographical. Under headings such as The Old Hometown, My Friend Chris and His Cousin and Teenage Wasteland he lists the many heartbreaking reasons why some people become hopeless, helpless delinquent or even suicidal. He also lists - and this is as hard to hear - the reasons why we can't neccesarily help them until or unless they truly want help (which can be hard to judge). Under Rescuing The Damned he suggests our reasons for wanting to help may not always be virtuous.
How dare I cast aspertions on the motives of those who are trying to help?' he says. But he does dare, and I am glad he does. It's what makes him interesting to read. He challenges a lot of our assumptions!
If you have a friend whose friendship you wouldn't recommend to your sister, or your father, or your son, why would you have such a friendship for yourself?
Friendship is a reciprocal arrangement. You are not morally obliged to help someone who is making the world a worse place.
I wonder if you have enough friends who support you, if maybe you can 'carry' one or two who take a lot more than they can give, but not, if as sometimes happens, they want to pull you down with them. Of course I am considering people who are not at the extremes of hopelessness and despair. As a clinical psychologist Peterson has long experience with those who are.
Have some humility. Use your judgement, and protect yourself from too-uncritical compassion and pity.
If you want food for thought this book will certainly provide it, and with references from Dostoevsky to The Bible to The Simpsons it can be entertaining too.
What do you think of rule three?
I forgot to be enchanted the other day! Imagine that. (Enchantment is my word for 2019.)
As I stood next to the Golden Gates in the Botanic Gardens my mind was on the controversy over the cost of the restoration, the fact that it was too dark to get a good photograph, and how some of the gilding was (already?) coming off. Questions over the ethics of how Duncan made his money lurked uncharitably in the back of my mind. It was only after I got home that I began to think of the story of their making and about the incongruity of the setting as rather a romantic idea.
They were commissioned by merchant, philanthropist and art collector James Duncan, who unusually for the time the guidebook tells me, opened his art collection to the public. The wrought iron gates were made in Berlin and exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1878, as were some of his large art collection which included work by Caravaggio, Corot, Boudin, Rousseau, Renoir and the Impressionists.
I wonder what gave him the idea. The place is quite remote, the landscape dramatic and somewhat bleak in an Arthur Rackham kind of a way. (Duncan also had a house in London.) The telephone had just been patented, the phonograph invented and electric street lighting was being installed in London. The Bicycle Touring Club was established in England. It was the time of Ruskin and Ibsen, Zola, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens,
Apart from the obvious status of golden gates in the wild wood I wonder if there was also a touch of fantasy, whimsy and romance about the decision to have them made and installed. Benmore House itself has something of the fairy tale about it with turrets and pinnacles..
Next time I visit I will look with a less jaundiced view! I was after all supposed to be out to enjoy myself...
Have you tried a final rinse in cold water when you wash your hair?
That really makes me feel alive!
I am so touched and encouraged by your kind comments yesterday I think I'll take aim for ten years!
These Golden Gates are at Benmore Botanic Gardens where we managed a short walk today between heavy showers and cold gusts of wind. They were exhibited at the Paris exhibition of 1878. It must have been a magical experience to drive through the forest and the wild landscape in a horse and carriage and arrive via this entrance to Benmore House.
The ninth anniversary of Live Simply Simply Live.
Looking back I see I have only remembered it twice before! (Here and here.)
How remiss of me.
I had lots of ideas for an anniversary post, but came down to this - a focus on the Simply Live part of the title. I am asking myself some questions....
When do I feel most alive?
What makes me feel fully alive?
When did I last feel like this? -
And I am drinking a toast tonight to everyone who reads this blog and makes it one of the favourite things in my life.
To you with love. x
I've had summer, spring and winter, in that order over the last three weeks.
A hearty lunch on the porch today (am eating up the mystery packages in the freezer!). The sun was hot on my face and I didn't need the big scarf and used it as a cushion. The spinach blew away in a sudden cold gust of wind.
I took these to show you just how really tiny the book is....
I filled the first page with kisses. :-)
I am reading one chapter a month of Jordan Peterson's best selling book 12 Rules for Life (see previous posts here and here).
Peterson has become a controversial figure but I am ignoring the media hysteria and the political name-calling and focussing only on what he has to say in the book, which intrigues me as his rules are somewhat unusual!
I considered Rule One was a reasonable rule to follow, but what about Rule Two - Treat yourself as you would treat someone you were responsible for helping?
It seems we are likely to look after our pets more carefully than we look after ourselves and Peterson asks why this should be so. Chapter Two is long and interesting, and I read it several times (cutting out the pages to save weight and take them with me to New Zealand). He looks to our conditioning by some of the oldest stories - original sin and other stories from the bible which has after all provided the best known 10 Rules for Life in the Christian world for a very long time - to try to understand why we should feel so unworthy of proper self care, (sinners that we all are!). I am interested too in the way he describes navigating a path between order and chaos in our lives as the way to give them meaning. We value ourselves more if our lives have meaning he says. He also says we each have the spark of the divine in us. 'So, we may not exactly be God, but we're not nothing either' .
I think self-care is often looked on as selfish. I am not talking about pampering and indulgent treats here, I am talking about serious mental and physical health issues (we all know which are ours). I grew up with the idea that truly good people put themselves last, but not to care for ourselves is selfish if it increases the likelihood of others having to look after us - partners, family or the state - a burden I wouldn't want to impose. I may not be able to avoid that, but I am able to reduce the chance of it by taking responsibility for my own health and wellbeing - a lovely project I have decided!
So, yes, I am happy to adopt Rule Two.
The title of Chapter Two Why Don't You Just Take Your Damn Pills made me laugh out loud. The man does I think have a sense of humour.
Do you think this 'rule' is useful guidance on how to live your life?
A longer than usual blog break in order to 'simply live'!
I've been writing Live Simply Simply Live daily apart from short breaks of a couple of days or a week for almost nine years now, but as February - my writing month - approaches I am planning a longer break of a month.
I do hope you will still be here when I return................... :-)
..the only reality. I have to remind myself of this when I start thinking, as I did yesterday, What does it matter what colour my kitchen is when the world is going to hell in a handcart?
I like to think I am politically aware and reasonably well informed, but my job is also to stay sane and I don't need an hourly, or even daily, update on shutdowns and exits. I need a part of my life where I have some control and that is in my own head, and in my own home, where I can create a clear, efficient, healthy and beautiful functioning environment as an antidote to all the madness, if only to prove that I can run my life and home better than some governments can run their countries!
From a calm functioning place I can better decide how to manage the input from the outer world. I can decide how to vote when the opportunity arises, whether to get more involved and campaign for what I believe in, or I can decide how I might support victims of the political fallout....
The way I see it someone's got to stay sane, and it might as well be me. :-)
Enjoy this thoughtful article by Hans Rosling if you have not read it already. I especially like what he says about understanding as a source of mental peace. Perhaps finding mental peace needn't mean disengaging from the outer world (tempting) but listening intelligently, and learning.
And adding some joyful colour to my kitchen.
I am happy to adopt Jordan Peterson's Rule One Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back (See yesterday's post)
I do indeed feel stronger and happier when I do (I pretend I am the lovely Darcey Bussell), and also find people respond more positively towards me when I do. More serotonin apparently! And a great deal to do with hierarchies in all species including humans, status and society, territory, conflict and dominance and the brutal principle of unequal distribution...there is a lot in Chapter One.
(Rule Two is Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible For Helping - will read this chapter in February.)
I heard Scottish Opera emerging artists in a concert at the Unversity of Glasgow today - wonderful, and I also loved the transformation of what I usually find to be a gloomy part of the building...
Food for thought aplenty In Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life!
Have you come across him yet?
I am reading one chapter a month this year (not a light read) and the first rule Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back reminds me very much of this.
More - lots and lots more - here.
Meanwhile new leaves sprout on the honeysuckle all along the fence. Nice.
How fast a year can fly by!
I am filled with gratitude for my wonderful year and have really enjoyed looking back over it here in the blog.
As ever I resisted the approach of winter, breakfasting outside in October as often as I could but gradually accepting the pleasures of candles and wintry food. Quiet atarts to my day have become a regular thing and unless I have to be elsewhere, mornings are for study.
November found me still clearing (this was the year!) and savouring home rime.
My favourite post in December was undoubtedly the one in which so many of you from all around the world said Hello. I was so touched by that and it was great fun!
If you would like to share your guiding word(s) for 2019 that would also be fun - we already have why not from Mike, and joie de vivre from Cath, simplify from Damsonlily, and content is Cathy's choice..while Julia is considering what is enough.
(I forgot to create the link for June on yesterday's post. Sorry - I have done it now!)
A beautiful summer and no midgies! The weather was amazing for a Midsummer Beach Party but unfortunately not on Garden Open Days!
In June, I considered some of the ways I've simplified daily life, cut costs and reduced my impact on the environment (especially the waters of the loch) by just a little.
July was a very intense month - clearing out my studio became a review of my career as a painter and I wrote about dealing with my eye condition too, but towards the end of the month I had a particularly idyllic visit to Yorkshire.
I enjoyed the fruits of my labours in the garden in August and another idyll - this time with an eight year old. Pure joy.
The clearing of things continued in September - but I also acknowledged the importance of things and more than ever appreciated those that sparked joy!
All in all it was a rich and intense period for me, the summer of 2018.
Have you chosen a word for this year yet?
I think I've found mine...
of a very real kind.
..and death. In February 2018 I was considering Life's Bigger Questions.
I'm also considering my word for 2019 with the help of Susannah Conway's free five day course. My word for 2018 was Gently and it served me well on many occasions.
Holding on yesterday, looking back today - all in preparation for a leap forward into 2019.
I thought I would link back to favourite blog posts of 2018 for a few days.
Do you have a diary/journal/calendar/photos or blog that you look over at year's end?
A beautiful snowy day is my January choice and this time I managed to upload the music!
An unusual day.
Waiting for snow which didn't come till after dark, but messages came all day long from all parts of the world and I imagined you all - in summer and in winter, in cities and villages on mountainsides and at different times of your days....isn't it amazing?
Waiting for the promised snow made me uneasy and restless - a bit like the tension I sometimes feel waiting for a storm to break. I got ready to take the bus to town as I need a few more Christmas cards, but it was so grey, the rain suddenly got heavier and the wind was getting up and the bus was late so I came back in to the fire and my books and my blog.
I think the snow will be gone by morning so I togged up and went out into the garden for a wander in it - only and inch or two....
Thank you to everyone who commented and to everyone who reads.
It means a lot to me.
As I said it's been am unusual day - I have stayed home and been all round the world!
..or more poetically, my heart.
In her charming book My Heart Wanders Pia Jane Bijkerk asks What would happen if one day you decided to follow your heart?
My Artist Date was a day in the city, wandering and wondering my way along Glasgow's West End. Following a whim to look in some shops I'd not even noticed before, browsing the bookshops, escaping the rain by having a leisurely lunch at Kember and Jones, fantasising about furniture and decorations I wouldn't usually consider, ditto clothes. I found the perfect birthday card for my daughter and some Christmas cards i love, stocked up on a shampoo I like which is about to be discontinued, and had a gentle meandering time.
There's a case to be made for letting go of being efficient for a time, of being goal-driven and focussed and organised - just following your instincts and giving yourself a break from yourself for a few hours.
Simply live. Letting your heart wander...
Have you had an Artist Date with yourself lately?
The point about doing it alone is an interesting one.
Barry and I loved to visit art galleries together, but it was our habit to go around separately and agree to meet at a certain time then take each other to see our favourite thing or things then discuss them over coffee.
Alone and together worked for us.
I'm still planning this week's Date....
Since I reached this last phase of clearing
I have some paintings in galleries, am coaching a small group of artists, have arranged for the muddy drive to be skimmed and gravelled, and made some exciting new travel plans....
I always suspected Marie Kondo would be right about this aspect.
The point is not to have a tidy house. The point is to make space for new ideas and things which rather than take up my energy, really give me energy.
Has this been your experience too?
..by my technology! I know it is the very means by which I can communicate with you...BUT
The computer is playing up with an awful lot of Hmm we are unable to find that site, and Something went wrong. Try refreshing this page. I had no broadband for a day, went through all the suggested procedures and eventually spoke to customer service where a friendly chap, while purportedly waiting for the engineer, sold me a new 'deal' (a word that reminds me too much of he who shall not be named here) which would give me a better service and save me money. Then almost an hour with the engineer who must have done something clever as it worked though not till four hours later and after numerous attempts to reset. Now I'm getting emails saying You haven't changed your SIM card! Phone this number. - the reason is I have not got it yet! I'm locked out of my BBC account and can't see how to solve that - they said it's easy and we will keep you registered, and I've been through all their procedures too, tried to re-register, changed my password, to no avail. Automated voices, on hold musak, unwanted emails, pop ups when trying to read something, the news (news?) page jumping about while all the ads load, lots of print in pale grey or colours which are hard for me to read.......enough!
I want to live simply and to simply LIVE and this is not living, not really.
And I love it when it's working.
Time in nature is required and a break from the madness of it all. I went down to the beach, listened to the eider ducks and the curlews and puzzled over strange footprints..
If your equipment is working smoothly this is a little film i hope you will enjoy, with an interesting question, and if you'll excuse me for a bit, I'll be back in a week or two.
Be well and thank you for reading.
It is allowed you know!
Even if you've invested lots of money, time and energy into something.
The point is did it bring you any joy? Hold your interest? Open up new worlds to you? Did you acquire new practical skills, new life skills? Did you make new friends? Did it bring new experiences? Did it challenge you and did you meet those challenges?
Did you learn anything? About your subject, it's history, the other people who do it? Did it enrich your life in any way? Did it enrich anyone else's life? Teachers, suppliers, exhibition organisers, viewers, purchasers, charities. Did you enjoy it wholeheartedly?
Even if you said Yes to all these marvelous life-affirming things it doesn't mean you have to do it forever.
So, do you still want to do it?
An honourable No means you can stop without guilt or regret, but with huge gratitude and a happy heart.
I'd love to know what you think...
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)