Breaking the rules

All my life, I have taken pride in the fact that I am good. I do what I think is expected of me. I fear taking risks in case they fail and I leave myself open to judgement and criticism.

As I have grown, I guess these actions have served me well but it’s also stopped me growing as a person. I’m finding now that as I delve further into my creativity, it is becoming an enemy rather than a friend. What helped me get through life in a way I found acceptable is now hindering my work. I find that I am torn between continuing the way I have always done, of doing what is expected of me and wanting to walk towards my dream life – by stepping over that line and being a rebel.

Quote

The more I accept the daredevil inside me, the more the fear builds and ultimately, the louder that voice gets. You know the one; the one that is quick to criticise, to tell you what is going to go wrong, to let you know just how you will let others down – how others will judge you.

So the other morning I sat and thought. In a rare moment without my girls and husband around, I turned off the TV. I refrained from listening to music, made a cup of tea and sat outside. Listening to the birds, I just sat and closed my eyes. As seconds passed and I thought about where I was and where I want to be, I suddenly started distinguishing between what my heart was screaming and what my head was telling me. For the first time, I realised that my head was always a fraction behind my heart. Everything my heart was saying made me feel good to my core. Whenever my head spoke, I felt fear.
listen in the silence and hear the voice of your heart
That moment defined my future. It has helped me to make the first steps towards the life I want and the life I need. I want to rediscover the joy in life and teach my kids that money is not what counts; its how happy you are that matters. I don’t know what will happen in the long term after I make this change and that scares the life out of me, but I already feel as though a weight has been lifted. If I listen closely, there’s another voice inside that’s whispering that it’s ok; that I need to have faith, that I should trust that everything thing will be good and when those bumps in the road come along, as they inevitably do, I will cope. Everything I’ve done and learned has led to this and it’s time to move forward….one step at a time.

Until next time,

Toni x

Learning to learn…and relaxย 

I don’t know about you but I’ve never been very good at learning. I don’t mean I find it difficult to take on new knowledge and information but I find it difficult to put myself in the position of ‘learner’ and all that comes with it. 

You see the thing is, when I sit down to do something, I expect perfection. I expect to get it right first time and as a result I put a great deal of pressure on myself. I do wonder why we do this to ourselves? Surely life would be so much better if I learned to accept the joy of practicing, of making mistakes and letting go. 

So here’s what I decided to do… 

1. Spend time in my craft space just doing something. Not working on a new item for Dollies Daydream,  not with an end product in mind but just attempting something and see where it takes me. 

   
       My ‘just doing’ activity for this week. Using my Folk It Starter kit I made a sign for our bathroom.  I loved it – so simple and effective this was the perfect project to start my resolution as I really couldn’t go wrong!  

2. I will talk to myself supportively as a friend instead of being my worst critic. I will aim to congratulate myself for something at least once a day. 

3.  I will plan out my projects. I’m sure it is my subconscious trying to sabotage me but I tend to leave things to the last minute and then I end up stressing and inevitably make more mistakes.

4. I will quit while I’m ahead – three things are plenty to work with. After all I need to chill out a bit and rediscover the fun in living a creative life! 

Until next time, 
Toni x 

Lessons of lifeย 

In my other life, I teach Psychology to college students on a part time basis. At this time of year, I mark another set of mock exams and hope beyond hope that the students will achieve their potential I know they are capable of. I keep my fingers crossed that that will prepare for their exam and break through those self imposed barriers that they put in place because they don’t believe they are good enough.

  
One of the most frustrating things as a teacher is to listen to the negative opinions some students have about themselves and their abilities and the constant challenge to get them to see that they are good enough.  Unfortunately, it seems easier to put ourselves down than it is to acknowledge our strengths. I was no different at their age and still have my moments! There are so many things that I wish I had know, believed or been taught when I was that age, that would have saved me from a lot of worry and fear.  It got me thinking, what would I say to myself at that age?  Here is my answer…

Dear Toni,

I know life feels like a struggle at times, like there’s a lot of people who don’t take the time to listen or that you find hard to understand. Some day in the future, the things that scare you now will become second nature to you but don’t forget the experiences or feelings that you have now because they will be invaluable in the future.  Here’s a few things you will learn along the way…

1. Teachers are not perfect and their opinions are not the be all and end all. Teachers are, at the end of the day, human. They come with their own baggage, prejudices and personality. When these experiences are used positively, this experience can be what makes a great teacher but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Those teachers that seem to take an instant dislike to you, those teachers that make you feel like you can do nothing right, that teacher that acts surprised when you exceed their low expectations of you – their opinions of you do not define you and don’t give them the power to make them true.

2. You are capable of anything you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something – even if they are coming from a place of love. Don’t miss out on opportunities because you are scared to fail. You may try something and fail but you did it, you experienced it and you will learn from it.

3. You have choices. This is an important one! You can make decisions and choices for yourself and when you do, you will say goodbye to those feelings of dread. That twisty knot in your stomach and feeling of sadness that you feel when you agree to something or do something you don’t want to do will magically disappear. NB. It doesn’t happen overnight! Making your own choices comes with it’s own challenges it takes time to practice, you have to own up to your mistakes, you have to accept responsibility but it’s totally worth it – especially when you no longer have to take everyone’s opinions, thoughts, and behaviour on board and let it control how you feel. There will always be people who put you down but you have a choice whether to believe it or not.

4. Creativity comes in many forms. Yes, there is value in learning from the art of the past but creativity and art can be spontaneous. They beauty of creative pursuits is there doesn’t have to be any rules. If you have an idea, if you want to create something – a drawing, a ceramic pot or painting… DO IT! Not everyone will like it. YOU  might not like it but…you may love it. Regardless, you will learn so much from it. You will improve because of it.

5. You will never be perfect. Stop tying yourself in knots trying to be. Everyone makes mistakes, its how we learn. Take comfort in the fact that you will become wiser, stronger and happier because of the fact that you aren’t perfect.

6. No matter what life throws at you, make time for fun. Do not forget what makes you smile. There will be days when tears seem never-ending and those days when it all seems too hard – in those times, do something that will bring a smile to your face, however small. You will get through whatever life throws at you. Things may happen that will change your perspective, that will scar you but do not forget how to smile and see the good things life has to offer.

I won’t tell you want to expect or avoid because, well, where’s the fun in that?!

T x

….So there you have it. I may have written it but in all honesty, I can’t say I would have read it. Actually, that’s a lie. I would have read it just because I’m so nosy but I doubt I would have took anything on board. I would have ripped it up probably with scorn on my face and thought ‘What the hell do you know?’ It pains me to see the same stubborn, determined streak in my girls and I dread to think what I’m in for as they get older!

Maybe if I had listened maybe I would have become a completely different person, I would have learned different lessons and who knows who I would have become? There are times when I wonder what role I will play in the lives of my students – the teacher they disliked, the teacher they were sooo bored by, maybe the teacher they forget. There are students who won’t listen to a word I have to say but I have a choice. I can sit back and become a teacher who doesn’t care about anything but their paycheque or I can encourage my students. Even if no one listens to my words of encouragement, I will be able to sleep at night knowing I’ve done my best, I have treated my students how I wish I had been treated and how I hope my daughters will be treated. When all’s said and done, there is more to education that passing an exam.

  
Until next time,

Toni x

I haven’t written for a while now, maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t. 2015 is moving pretty fast and I hope it is all you wished for and more.

The truth about my silence is that I honestly didn’t feel I had anything to say. Every thought I had, I felt like it had already been said, already been heard. Everything has being feeling a bit routine and flat.

In response to these feelings, I decided to do something different – I booked myself, my sister in law and her mum onto a one day patchwork course. We all have skills we wish we could learn if we had time but often they stay on our to do list. I had been on one of Danielle’s courses before at and loved it so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.

 My completed project  

It was nothing short of intensive and at this moment in time I never want to see another piece of bias binding in my life! There were times I loved the process and many more times I wanted to throw the blanket and the sewing machine through the window. Like many of you, I struggle as a learner especially when things don’t turn out perfect first time around. (No surprises that they often don’t!)

Looking back, maybe that was the problem. I had started putting limits on my life for exactly that reason – so I didn’t fail. The problem was that while I didn’t have to experience and face the feelings that come hand in hand with failure, I also didn’t feel challenged. I didn’t feel excitement and I felt low.

  
Alongside this creative day out, I also received an offer to work on an exciting new project for the fantastic Sheffield based company Folk It. This company has a fantastic product – their gorgeous painting kits give everyone (regardless of how artistic you believe you are) the confidence to learn to paint.

I could have declined the invite. It crossed my mind because I knew there may be elements that would push me beyond my comfort zone. After a moment though, I knew it was my head talking. When I spent a moment listening to that other quiet voice that I too often silence, I knew this change had sought me out for a reason. I may not know the path the project will take but for once, I’m ok with that. (Haha how I’ve grown!)

In such a short space of time, my mind has burst into life. I am carrying around a notebook to record ideas, quotes, sketches. I am walking back into my craft room feeling enthused and I realise I’m living a creative life again.

  
People often make new years resolutions that die out before January has even ended but I wonder whether I might be more successful if I make smaller goals throughout the year and I’m looking forward to thinking up a few for the year to come. Either way, I feel as though I can certainly tick off ‘Learning a new skill’ from my list. It may have tried my patience at times but I like to think of my labour of love as the most beautifully imperfect blanket my girls will wrap their dolls in ๐Ÿ™‚

What goals have you achieved this year? What dreams have you yet to fulfill? Id love to hear about your progress so far ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time,

Toni x

Christmas here we come

So…who has got their decorations up? Who is prepared for the big day? Who is actively avoiding the whole idea of Christmas?

I used to think there were two types of people when it came to Christmas: those that love it – that dive into the festivities and everything related, and those that detest it and everything it stands for. Now I realise there is a third type of person – those that love Christmas, that love the idea of slowing down and spending time with family and friends but just find that the festive season passes in the blink of an eye and while they thought they were preparing well for the celebrations, suddenly it’s two weeks away and they still need to get everything sorted….I confess this is me this year.

I am yet to feel that Christmas buzz, that childlike joy, that moment when you silently say to yourself ‘now it’s Christmas’.

IMG_5882.JPG

IMG_5881.JPG

I have felt flutterings of that contentment while making my wares. It would be impossible to make Christmas decorations and wreaths without some festive spirit but I haven’t welcomed it, sunk into it and let it take over.

IMG_5545.JPG

Thankfully, there is still time. There are still plenty of opportunities to turn up the Christmas crooners, to sip warming mulled wine and for cold walks in fields crispy with frost (and…fingers crossed a dusting or two of snow). There is time to finish our Christmas cards and gift tags too.

IMG_5935.JPG

What is your favourite festive tradition? What was the moment you welcome Christmas? Here’s hoping it will be filled with happiness and magic for us all.

Until next time,

Toni x

Do we need to say goodbye?

I cannot believe that today we are welcoming in December. A day when we look forward to all the festivities the month will bring. It is also, for me, almost a month since we moved home.

IMG_5762-0.JPG
Since we moved, my body made it clear that I needed to slow down in the guise of different illnesses. Looking back now, all the stress, worrying, endless to do lists and mountains of packing just feels like a blur in my head. I did not have time to take stock, to look around and notice what was happening. Maybe it was because I couldn’t…or wouldn’t allow myself.

IMG_5850.JPG

Before we moved, I thought we would say an emotional goodbye to a house that’s been a feature in my life, for all my life. I visited my Aunty and Uncle there when I was young. When my grandparents bought it I remember my Grandad standing at the window, pretending to cheer as I left. It was the place to meet for family get togethers. It was the go to place when my parents separated and it was the house we stayed in when my dad died.

I do wonder, because of all that, whether the house ever felt 100% mine because of all the memories it held. Regardless, it was the house that saw our lives change. It welcomed new family – my youngest was even born there.

I felt that I needed to have time to say goodbye, to put closure on that chapter of our lives but it didn’t work that way. The universe had other plans.

IMG_5849.JPG
After time to think it over, to deal with the enormity of moving our lives elsewhere, I realise that it unfolded the way it had to. I didn’t have chance to think of what was happening – maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have cherished what we were going to…our new adventure.

IMG_5836.JPG

The new house doesn’t feel like ours just yet. We are taking time to settle, unpack (slowly) and find out what works and what doesn’t. I’m itching to buy paint, new furniture and furnishings but I am taking my time so I get it right. This house comes with very few memories and I want to grow into it.

IMG_5851.JPG

I am relaxing into each room and enjoying the space. I love, love, love having a craft space I can lock away from prying eyes and tiny fingers to create whenever I can.

Recent festive makes…. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_5812-0.JPG

IMG_5809-0.JPG

One thing I’m sure of is that I’m looking forward to making many new memories in this house….that and that it’s very, very unlikely I’ll move again ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_5852.JPG

Until next time,

T xx

(All images sourced from Pinterest)

Bah humbug

My last post was all about Christmas cheer and the joys of the festive season. Today, however my mood couldn’t be further from the excited, hopeful individual that wrote that piece.

As I write today, I feel as though I have regressed to a sulky teenager, someone who wants to hit out at the world and hibernate.

What’s changed? No one particular thing, maybe a culmination of many events, many interactions with others and many feelings and emotions I am struggling to deal with.

The house move is filling my life with uncertainty and while people are doing their jobs, it is exactly that – their job. It is not their life that’s on hold, their life that’s turned upside down and boxed up ready to go.

I feel as though my life is not my own. I am at the mercy of others for many different things and I am not in control; my usual default mode.

I am a homebody. I am the first to admit that my favourite place on earth is my bed and I am never happier than when I am at home with my family. I enjoy socialising but there’s nothing better than that feeling when you walk in to the warmth of your home, your sanctuary. That for me, is not there at the moment and it’s so difficult. My life is boxed up. My home is not my own.

I want to lock the door, keep everyone out. I want to take control and do things my way. I want to sulk like a petulant child and scream at anyone who wants to talk to me. I want to act out to try and find some way of exorcising these feelings. I want others to understand what it’s like.

But they won’t. As with any situation, there are those that feel they know best. There are those who want to fix you. There are those who will tell you they’ve been through it and understand. The thing is, no matter how similar our experiences, no two situations are exactly the same. We will all have different experiences, different reactions. We are all individuals.

So for today, I want to lock the door, shut out the world and hide under the duvet, metaphorically speaking. I know I will find that positivity again soon but just for today I need to hide, to lick my wounds and deal with all these changes. There is no quick fix out of these feelings and I don’t know where they’ll lead but just for today this is how I feel.

Until next time,

Toni xx