A snowy journey home..
And heroes appeared to be a theme..
Here is the engine that pulled the train on the outward journey.
And I saw Gary Oldfield as Churchill in Our Darkest Hour (he will surely win an Oscar).
Where was I?
In York to meet Mary!
After the success of my first ever health retreat last January (see here and here) I am planning to do a home version of it this month.
Here is the plan so far. I am preparing now. Over six days later in the month ...
I will start the day with water and lemon juice and skin brushing, morning pages and a freshly made juice. I'll have three juices every day and either soup or a very light meal in the evenings. I'll walk 10,000 steps each day, take naps and magnesium baths, read poetry and motivational books,. do a little yoga, and switch off all technology for most of the time and certainly 2 hours before bed. (Sorry probably no blog posts for the duration!).
I'll also make appointments with my doctor and optician. I may have a massage and/or a sauna. I will try and find a body lotion without parabens or sulphates which doesn't smell of coconut. (I don't like to smell of food!). Any recommendations welcome.
I can hardly wait!
At least one reader of the blog has gone on Katrina's wonderful retreat and I do recommend it. It was a treat as well as a retreat and worth every penny.
I have a used copy of Jennifer Loudon's The Woman's Retreat book - quite a tome but dipping into it might give you some ideas if you fancy a retreat. It is subtitled A Guide To Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self - in a Moment, an Hour, or a Weekend. (There's a copy for £2.90 on Amazon today.)
More when I come back here in a week...meanwhile you might like to browse previous Januaries?
Hyacinths to feed thy soul..
Nine minutes is all it took to put the Christmas decorations back in the awkward cupboard under the eaves (see here).
In my mind it was a big task which was going to take at least half an hour - first I have to fold back the rug and pull out a box of paintings, then I have to move three very large and rather heavy ones to access the small door to this storage space.
Just out of interest I set the timer. I was absolutely amazed that it took only nine minutes and realised that in my mind it was a big task because I was thinking of all the other boxes in that cupboard which need sorting through. By not focussing simply on the task at hand I was making a simple job into an overwhelming one. I hadn't realise that this is something I do!
In fact there isn't as much in there as I thought, and I know exactly what is in two of the boxes. What I'm not sure about is are there more boxes behind the ones I can see from the door?
The attic is almost empty (five chairs which I plan to sell) and I intend that it will stay that way. The basement is almost empty (some rolls of insulation and a few bits of wood which I will give away). If this cupboard held nothing other than rarely used large suitcases and the Christmas boxes - with nothing impeding access to them (which means some decisions about the paintings) - I'd be very happy.
Today has been a good reminder of how far I have come in my clearing and declutteriing journey to a simpler life.
Getting rid of stuff is very freeing - and a timer is a great little tool!
The dark recesses..
How is your journey going?
A world frozen white
Sun by day and stars by night
My home my refuge.
I've begun to use a book called A Year To Clear by Stephanie Bennet Vogt and am enjoying the few minutes a day it takes to read and jot down a few thoughts. I've done a lot of clearing out of stuff as many of you know, and there is more to go, but am thinking also in terms of being clear-sighted and clear-thinking. Taking it gently. I don't like the website but I'm liking the book so far...
Definitely not my style. I find it difficult to do nothing. I'm a doer, and if I'm not doing I'm planning some doing!
I complain a lot about the rain here in the west of Scotland but feeling tired after the festive season I used the excuse of a few days of lashing rain to just stay home and stay in and do very little. Often when life seemed a bit hard I would say 'Sometimes you just have to plod.' and that always worked for me, but this time I did not even plod. I kept the fire going, cooked just a little, watched The Miniaturist and Little Women on iPlayer (both very good), read a lot, and slept quite a bit.
It's been surprisingly restorative.
And about 8 hours without email, at first annoying, seemed strangely peaceful!
Gently gathering up the Christmas decorations...
Including all the crystals which flew off the tree in the high winds (next year will attach them to a string).
Do you ever get tired enough (and lucky enough) to do nothing for a bit?
..easing myself into 2018.
A quote from Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth -
The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
I'm changing that to a gentle yes....I'm feeling more fragile than hearty at present and gentle spans the gap between fragile and hearty.
Would your word substitute by chance?
I will miss my Christmas lights.
I set up this little arrangement to inspire me. I was thinking 'simple'.
A jug of water with lemon and cucumber sitting out will remind me to drink often.
A single candle because it is murky outside today. It's a token gesture really as it is not about light to read by or work by. It has more life in it than the electric light on which I depend and which I am grateful for but it means something else, something more, something elemental.
A card which has happy associations.
And a hyacinth for its delicious scent and because it is a living thing.
Elemental things - water, fire, scent and memory.
Have you thought about the real meaning of the things you choose to have around you? How do they make you feel? And can you get rid of some of the meaningless stuff that is in your precious space?
I have this grouping on the dining table but it could be by your bedside, or a place where you see it as you come in the front door, or on a favourite shelf.....or all three.
Where will you put yours?
And what are the things that will lift your spirits?
Of course my real and true word is Simply. As in Live Simply Simply Live. It's been my guiding word since I started this blog nearly eight years ago.
But it's taken an age to decide for 2018! A few weeks ago I thought I had settled on autonomy, but it began to feel full not of excitement and freedom as I had first thought but heavy, weighted with responsibility. I read Susannah Conway's quite in-depth course which had some good ideas but nothing felt quite like something I wanted to stay with for a whole year. I spent a tearful evening looking through some of the many beautiful cards my husband Barry sent me - always carefully chosen and with a loving and thoughtful message.
In one card he wrote -
Because we share a love of music
Because we share a love of art
Because we share a love of gardening
Because we share a love of learning
Because we share a love of life and each other
Because we share
I decided share would be my word.
Then another evening late, feeling the satisfaction of completing a task I had been putting off for ages I realised I need these two words for 2018
Then the thought came to me
Do it GENTLY
Ah, there it is!
There's my word!
If you've chosen your word would you like to share it here?
Too much rich food, too much wine, definitely too much chocolate and marzipan, too much travel in difficult conditions, too much emotional turmoil, too much sitting around. Don't worry! I have had a lovely time and I'm not totally overwhelmed just sluggish and tired and in need of simple.
Simple light food for a few days. Eggs, salad, fresh home made juices
Simply needing to move more, rain or no rain. Gently - no goals or programmes or measuring (yet)
Simply drinking more water - this one thing makes a huge difference to my energy levels and is so easy to do (and so easy to forget to do)
Simply sleeping more. Going to bed at a reasonable time. Not setting the alarm
Simply getting back to ordinary restorative routines, the kind that make me feel I'm managing ok
Simply letting go of the non-essential for now
Simply just enjoying my day, taking what comes, not overthinking it all....
Do you need a little simple in your life right now? And can you find a way to give that to yourself?
When my energy returns I will be making plans and decisions, setting goals and writing to-do lists but right now those things don't look like fun....do you know the feeling?
..is your bond, you keep your word, the word is God upon my word! There are crosswords and cross words. Lucille writes about words (or lack of them) in this post, being 'wordy' is not usually a compliment. I treasure the comment made by a student at my Drawing for Non Artists course. He said that the course in the evening was 'such a relief from the wordiness of the day'.
I've chosen a 'word for the year' for a number of years now. See here and here
This was my first one I think (2011) and here are some of yours! Remember?
I think I have decided on my word for 2018 but thought it would be fun to try Susannah Conway's free course in choosing a word before I settle on it. Join me? You can sign up here.
More snow today. I love being in this house when it is snowing. And I've got as far as 'C' in my new address book..
I am inspired by Viv to get sorted today!
(Two posts today - even my blog is in a muddle.)
The essentials are done and plans are made, though I've sent two presents to one person - does that mean I've missed someone else? - and who knows what cards I've missed and whether all will arrive before the day. A book I ordered for a friend on 24th November has not arrived yet... My decorations are as I want them (except I have not had the heart or the energy to get up into the loft and fit the lights in the apex window since Barry died...) but the ones I haven't used are spread around the guest room. The rest of the house is a mess, a muddle, a guddle....to extend the dining table I had to remove a chair and a heater to another room, the large dishes I used for the last big meal are still sitting around the kitchen, wrapping paper and stray cards are on every surface and there are dead flowers in the kitchen. I've still to launder and return the huge red tablecloth I borrowed from my daughter before she even got it home from the shop :-)
No, no photographs! (You know I only show you the nice bits.) It looks too much like the before photos in Marie Kondo videos - well not that bad perhaps.
Outer order means inner calm, and they're playing Bach on Radio 3 today.
So instead of sitting here in my dressing gown writing this, I had better get up and at it. I just put the water on to heat for my egg and forgot to put the egg in. Really. Heeelp!
Oh, and on Monday I took the vacuum cleaner to bits and I can't get it back together again.
Viv will cheer me on I know.
It all began around 2010 when a little seed germinated in the top of an old fence post...
Somehow it survived and eventually put down a root which reached the soil, since when it has grown more rapidly... and now makes this year's Christmas tree!
The little 'crystal' ornaments are actually quite sparkly (will try to get a better photograph tomorrow...).
Two recipes which I made the day before made a lovely lunch for friends. This aubergine and parmesan bake and Nigella's passion fruit ice cream cake....Yum
Then the fasting next day with apple carrot and spinach juice for two meals (and the leftovers for the third!)
Works for me.
Setting the scene is the most fun bit for me (though I am beginning to quite like cooking..) I borrowed the tablecloth and brought out all the old favourites..
and lots of candles!
Have you set the scene? Or do you enjoy the cooking more?
Pause for a moment
on our great ride round the sun.
Shine your little light.
I love this sculpture at Oran Mor (where we watched the play the other night). It's as if the angels were playing hoop-la!
It is my Christmas card to you to simply wish you all a truly happy time over the holiday season, wherever you are and however you spend it.
I leave it with you for a few days while I catch up with myself....
..on sheet ice! Three days, eight buses, two cars, two ferries, two 20 minute walks which would normally take 6 or 7 minutes, rain wind sleet and sheet ice, a wonderful play and a party at Glasgow School of Art, good food and drink, and great company, and I am so glad to be home!
How are travel conditions where you are?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)