Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10: Jumping back in

Picture by Horia Varlan

I don't know when to give up, obviously.
I set myself the challenge of responding to the Reverb10 prompts, all 31 of them. Some of them have been a challenge for me, for various reasons. I have had health challenges for some time, accordingly I haven't done as much or seen as much this year as I might have liked. I have seen very little of my friends, and not as much of my family as I would wish. I haven't travelled, beyond day trips and one long weekend. I haven't been able to work. On very many days I haven't left the house. It is hard to answer some of the prompts also because they are not the way I think: they seem a bit self absorbed, to be honest. This year I have been focussed on just getting through the days, slowly recovering and not letting my lack of health and energy depress me. In this context, some of the prompts seem irrelevant to me.

However, since I posted last time, opting out, Reverb10 has been nagging at me in the way an unfinished challenge does, so I am jumping back in with renewed determination to respond to every prompt, even if it's to explain why I can't.

So, a catch up on the prompts I have missed.

Day 18: Try
Kaileen Elise asked: What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did/didn't go for it?

What do I want to try next year? Everything! A creative writing course. Photography. Crochet (I am not letting the damn thing beat me!) Making bread. Married life (though I am practising at the moment: just no certificate to prove it until April). Working from home, if I could just come up with something to do. Lots of things. Whatever takes my fancy.

Was there something I wanted to try in 2010? 2010 was the year I took out to try to recover, that was what I wanted to do. It was a slow year, I didn't do a lot. It worked: I seem to be slowly recovering, and I hope this continues into 2011.

Day 19: Healing
Leonie Allan asked: What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Rest, rest, more rest. And long drives in the beautiful Essex and Kent countryside.

Day 20: Beyond Avoidance
Jake Nickell asked: What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I probably should have done lots of things, but frankly I don't care for shoulds. I did what I did, and what I could do, and that is enough. Next year I hope I can do more.

Day 21: Future Self
Jenny Blake asked: Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead. (Bonus: Write a note to yourself ten years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

I would tell my future self to stop worrying and enjoy each day for what it is.
To my ten-years-ago 32 year old self I would say take the Young Philosopher out of school now, don't wait until he is 11 before removing him from the school system to home educate him. It will all go wonderfully well and be one of the best things you ever did. I would also say there is someone out there for you, but you have to wait until 2008 to meet him. Not fair, but worth the wait.

Day 22: Travel
Tara Hunt asked: How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

With the exception of a long weekend in Hay-on-Wye in April, I haven't been away this year, but I have done lots of travelling locally. Almost every weekend the DP and I go driving around in Essex, Kent and other surrounding areas. I never tire of the beautiful English countryside. Next year I hope to do more of the same. We are planning to visit France for our honeymoon, so I am looking forward to seeing the French countryside too. I am also planning to visit central London much more often than I currently do. Isn't that always the way when something is on your doorstep?

So that's me caught up ;-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reverbed Out

I have done my best with the Reverb10 prompts, but I am not really getting what I hoped from it. I am finding that my response to many of the prompts is to write about the same things. There are a finite number of key things that happened in my life in 2010 and I don't particularly want to write about them over and over.

So, unless one prompt particularly speaks to me, I'm out. Normal service will be resumed in the New Year, probably, unless inspiration strikes me before then.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb10: Friendship and a Lesson Learned

Image by karindalziel

Reverb10 Day 16, prompt by Martha Milhalik:
Friendship: How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

A friend said to me this year that if you want to write, what you need to do is write. You don't need to wait until you have an expensive pencil.

I have wanted to write for a very long time, I spent years waiting to have this fantastic idea that I could then write about. I didn't realise I should just write, and then the ideas would come. I didn't need to wait for the right time, the right tools, the right idea. I should just write.

So I am.

Reverb10 Day 17, prompt by Tara Weaver
Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Ooh, not sure about this one. Probably that I can do things, and that I will never find out if I can do them unless I take a deep breath and try.

And that me and crochet don't mix. Oil and water.

Does this look like a hat to you?

I mean really, does it? My friend sent me this TEA COSY and I sent this picture to the Dusty Professor and said 'look at the fab hat Gail sent me!' He replied 'That's nice. Funky'. He meant it.

I think this speaks volumes about his opinion of my fashion sense.

Edited 20/12 to add: My bad. I thought I had sent a photo on my phone to the DP. I hadn't; he only received a text. What he actually said was 'That's nice. Funky?'. So I am pleased to report that his opinion of my fashion sense may not be as bad as I thought it was!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb10: Two in One

Playing catch-up here, so two-in-one today.

Reverb10 Day 14, prompt by Victoria Klein
Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

In the past year I have come to appreciate many things.

  • How clean my kitchen stays now that the Young Philosopher is away at University. Conversely, how nice it was when he lived at home and used to clean up the garden after the dog every day, instead of me having to do it.
  • The joy of being able to burrow back under the covers for a while when the Dusty Professor leaves for work in the mornings.
  • Being able to rest when I need to.
  • The lovely Essex and Kent countryside, which I didn't see much of before the Dusty Professor moved in, as I don't drive. Now we often spend our weekends driving around in the pretty.
  • How lovely it is to look forward to someone coming home to me every evening.

And Day 15, prompt by Patti Digh
Five minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most remember about 2010. goes.
  • That I didn't have to work this year.
  • Being on set to watch the Dusty Professor do some film work for Channel 4. Yes, dressed as an Anglo-Saxon monk.
  • The Young Philosopher dyeing his hair several times- orange, green, blonde, blue.
  • A lovely weekend just me and the DP in Hay on Wye. Bookshops and beautiful countryside. Wonderful.

  • The DP asking me to marry him in the ruins of Skenfrith Castle, Wales.

  • Taking the YP to university for the first time, Getting used to him not being at home.
  • Learning to make tablet weave, and to use a drop spindle.
  • Taking part in Mondo Beyondo and Dream Lab.
  • Failing dismally to cope with learning to crochet. I was the dunce in the class.
  • The DP icing little cakes for our anniversary.

  • Weekend visits from the YP. So nice to have him home, even if his hair is like a parrot's feathers.
  • Rediscovering writing and discovering an interest in photography.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb10: Action

Photograph by stevoarnold

Reverb10 Day 13, prompt by Scott Belsky:
When it comes to aspirations, it's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

This year while I have not been working I have had time to think about what I would actually like to do, rather than what I have to do.

Writing. I have rediscovered a love for writing. I started this blog, and have a couple of writing projects on the go. Next step: I am considering taking a writing course.

Photography. I have always had a camera, but only ever the point and shoot kind, the same as I have at the moment. Recently I have found I really enjoy taking photographs. Next step: Learn how to use the camera properly, I never did read the instruction book! Read some photography books, take photos every day.

Creativity. There have always been crafts I would like to try, things I would like to make or do. Generally I haven't tried because I thought I couldn't. Next step: Just have a go! I have a list of creative ideas and things I would like to try, time to start working my way through it.

Home. One word. Minimalism. Next step: Get some.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb10: Body Integration

Reverb10 Day 12 Prompt by Patrick Reynolds
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment when there wasn't mind or body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I would like to feel that my mind and body made a cohesive whole, but I know they don't. For a long time now I have been unwell, and it has taken all that time for my mind to accept the limitations of my body. I lose count of the times I have felt really energetic and got a lot done in one day and then wound up hardly able to do anything for the next three days.

2010 has been the year I learned to slow down and to pace myself. I do seem to be recovering a little, and the course of B12 injections I am on seem to be helping. Hopefully sometime in 2011 my body will be able to keep up with all the things my mind would like to be able to do.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10: Things

Reverb10 Day 11 prompt by Sam Davidson:
What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Well, I could list all the things in the house and loft that I plan to get rid of in 2011, but that would be nearer to 2011 items than a mere 11! Narrowing things down a bit, then, here's just eleven things that I would like to eliminate from my life next year.
  1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. How I would like to be rid of this one. I am getting better gradually, so I am hopeful.
  2. All the excess items in the house, loft and shed.
  3. My single status! Having held on to it for 43 years I will be happy to see that go in April.
  4. Some excess fluffiness that 'contentment' over the last couple of years has brought about.
  5. The internet. Not entirely, but limiting it is the key I think. Far too easy to spend all day here!
  6. Multitasking. I do this a lot, and I think it muddles things and means nothing gets my full attention.
  7. Excess clothes that I don't like and rarely wear. By the end of 2011 I would like to have a more minimal wardrobe, but to like and feel comfortable in, every item.
  8. My habit of stuffing important papers in various places, and then not being able to find them. Two words: filing system!
  9. Clutter in my email inbox.
  10. Bookmarks. I bookmark so many things I am interested in to read later, then when I have hundreds get overwhelmed and delete them all! I need to find a better way...
  11. Procrastination. As my Mum says 'Don't think about it, just do it!'
If I can get rid of all those things in 2011, I will be a happy girl indeed. Watch this space...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reverb10: Wisdom

Reverb10 Day 10 prompt by Susannah Conway
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

This year my lovely man asked me to marry him and I said yes.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reverb10: Party

Reverb10 Day 9 Prompt by Shauna
What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

2010 was a quiet year. I am not exactly a party animal any year, but this year I haven't been well. Not that I was invited to any parties anyway.

Social gatherings, yes I've had a few of those. Quiet ones. I am 42 you know. Mostly so quiet I don't have any photographs, but here is a selection.

Christmas with the family. Yes I know, strictly speaking that was 2009, but it was in the last year and it's MY blog. We always get together at my Mum and Dad's for Christmas dinner, usually ten of us. How lucky am I, I have managed to get to the age of 42 without EVER cooking a Christmas dinner?

I met up with Gail on a number of occasions. Sadly, we don't see as much of each other now she has moved away.

There was tea at the Ritz with my Mum.

Lunch in the Crypt with Sara and Mary.

Regular weekend visits from my lovely Joe and his girlfriend Sophia.

And if all else fails I can always talk to the dog.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Essex last Sunday

Reverb10: Beautifully Different

Photo by Shuttermonkey

Reverb10 Day 8 Prompt by Karen Walrond:
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

I set myself the goal this month of responding to every one of the Reverb10 prompts this month. There have been a couple of sticky ones I wasn't so keen on, but today's is officially the One I Can't Answer.

What makes me different? Uh...not sure I am, or that I particularly want to be.

What do I do that lights people up? Short of inserting a light bulb into their bottom and plugging them in, pass.

Next question.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reverb10: Community

Reverb10 Day 7: Prompt by Cali Harris
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
  • In April the Dusty Professor and I became engaged and started planning our wedding for April 2011. Being the computer-savvy girl that I am (haha) where did I turn for information? The internet. Arrgh. A veritable plethora of white lace, sappy vows, hundreds of pounds worth of elaborate floral displays....these weddings, and these wedding websites were not what I wanted. I am 42. The Prof is 46. We have better things to do with our personal fortune (haha, again) than to spend it on these fripperies that mean nothing to us. Also, I didn't want the same wedding as everyone else. So, I was excited to discover Ariel Meadow Stallings' Offbeat Bride website, a whole community of brides doing their wedding, their way. Ariel's book is pretty good too.
  • This year I took part in both Mondo Beyondo and Dream Lab and thoroughly enjoyed both. I 'met' lots of great people and have stayed in touch with several, I have writing projects on the go and have even had a lovely lunch recently with two of the other participants.
  • Recently I finally succumbed and joined Twitter and am having great fun finding all sorts of cool people and things. I suspect that after a few months it may go the same way as my Facebook account, which I disabled when I couldn't stand the drivel I was being sent anymore, but for now I am enjoying it.
In 2011 I would like to develop my online friendships and projects further. I would also like to connect more with my real-life friends and family, I don't see nearly as much of most of them as I would like. I am also going to finally get around to buying a dining table so I can actually have people over for dinner!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Reverb10: Make

Here are some I made earlier......

Reverb10 Day 6 Prompt by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something to want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

In one word: Dishcloths.

From what I see on the internet, hand knitted dishcloths are reasonably popular in the US, but here in the UK I seem to be in a minority of one. I know that in the fifties people used to knit them, my Mum tells me she made one in school, but other than that I am the only person I know that makes them.

I am waging a single woman campaign for the return of the knitted dishcloth. They are wonderful! No more boring old white dishcloths from the supermarket. Now you can have a dishcloth to match your kitchen! Your eyes! Your mood! They also tend to have more texture than a bought cloth, ideal for a bit of scrubbing. It takes only a couple of hours or so to knit one, and it can easily be done while watching television or chatting in the pub, even. I find it very relaxing and therapeutic.

There are numerous websites with various patterns. The Dishcloth Boutique has dozens, graded by difficulty. There are many other sites, too. I have made dishcloths with initials, pawprints, hearts, you name it and it is out there. All you need is a pair of needles and some cotton yarn in your chosen colour. What are you waiting for?

The world is your.............uh, dishcloth.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reverb10: Let Go

Reverb10 Day Five Prompt by Alice Bradley:
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

So far:

Too many books to count
Two unopened Jenga games
Two unopened backgammon sets
Two unopened chess sets
4 bottles of port we have kept for years. We don't drink port.
143 odd socks - approximately
10 cross stitch kits I am never going to do
30 balls of wool I am never going to knit
1 hideous wooden pelmet
3 items of clothing which had been in my mending basket for three years
3 ugly ornaments I always hated but had on display anyway
My Brownie Badge Certificates. I think I can live without them, at 42
My job
My teenager, to university
The ironing. Who needs it?

Does anyone want a labrador?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Reverb10: Wonder

Reverb10 Day Three: prompt by Jeffrey Davis
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

For me, the important thing is to find joy in my everyday life.

A freshly brewed cup of coffee with cream, wonderful.
Having fun with my family, wonderful.
Watching the birds in my garden, wonderful.
A smile and a hug from my man or my grown-up little boy, wonderful.

Every day wonders. Not to be taken for granted.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Reverb10: Moment

Reverb10 Day Three: Prompt by Ali Edwards
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colours).

There is no one moment that stands out for me in the past year in which I felt 'alive'. Whether or not I feel alive isn't something I think about.

I know I am alive, and I am very glad to be so, every day.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Reverb10: The Blank Page

Reverb10: Today's prompt from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:
What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?

I started writing very recently, after having a vague urge to write for many years but never knowing what to write. I think I always thought that one day I would miraculously have a fantastic idea and then I would write a book.

What I have come to realise is that all this time I just needed to pick up a pen and start writing. The inspiration comes the more you write. I have wasted too much time waiting to have something earth shattering or deep and meaningful to say, when I should have just been getting on with it. I came to this realisation only recently, and I have started this blog, where I write several times a week. I may not be writing anything of great importance, just my thoughts and things that are going on in my life, but I am developing a writing habit and I hope it will help me find my voice. I am also doing other writing each day, but not as much as I would like to. I still struggle with feeling I need a great idea before I start.

What do I do each day that doesn't contribute to my writing? I allow myself to think I don't have anything of interest to say. Can I eliminate that? I am working on it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Reverb10: One Word

As I mentioned previously, I am taking part in Reverb10 this month. Every day throughout December, I will be responding to the day's prompt, mostly here on twitter or on flickr, possibly also in my sketchbook.

Today's prompt:

One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

My word of 2010 has to be CHANGE.

I have had lots of change in my life this year. In January I stopped working due to illness (I have CFS). In April I became engaged to the Dusty Professor and started planning our wedding for next year. In the summer my good friend Gail moved away. In September, the Young Philosopher went away to university.

It has been a challenge learning to accept my limitations this year, working out a way to do less, yet still find time for the things I enjoy doing. I have had to slow down, and pace myself, which has not always been easy.

Through being at home so much this year, I have spent more time on the internet and discovered some amazing websites and people, and a wonderful creative community that I didn't know existed. I have rediscovered writing, and realised I like taking photographs, and I hope to develop both further in 2011. Last year I was feeling trapped in a job I hated, so really my illness has given me the chance to start over, to reassess what I want to do.

My word for 2011 is OPPORTUNITY.

Parade of Adventures for December

First, the November recap. This was November's POA

  1. Blog every weekday. Almost. I think I missed about three days.
  2. Take at least one photograph every day. Same again.
  3. Make a Treasure Map. I started...bought the board and glue, sorted out all my old mags....not done the treasure map yet.
  4. Knit two dishcloths for my Dad. I am halfway through the second.
  5. Create a budget plan. Done.
  6. Reclaim the bedroom from the boxes and piles of stuff that need decluttering! Work in progress. The Prof and I have done a lot, but it's not finished yet.
  7. Sell some books on ebay/Amazon. Decided I couldn't be bothered. Donated to charity.
  8. Do one writing exercise every weekday. Done.
  9. Post something I have written (other than blog posts) online. Not yet....
  10. Work out how to resize photographs for posting here. Kind of, but still learning.
I'm quite pleased with my achievements, though there is room for improvement in almost all areas. Did I say I was perfect?

Here is December's POA.
  1. Respond every day to the prompts at #reverb10 either here, on flickr, or some other way.
  2. Take lots of photographs.
  3. Write detailed list of wedding preparations, things to do etc.
  4. Get the Christmas decorations up by 12th December.
  5. Get all Christmas cards written and posted before the last posting dates.
  6. Make my Treasure Map.
  7. Try Green and Black's hot chocolate with brandy in it, as recommended by Sara.
  8. Spend less time online.
  9. Get outside every day for some fresh air and exercise.
  10. Make time to read.
I've included some fun things there, and also some items that I hope will me de-stress and get some space. I'll review this list in January and see how I did.