Lessons of life 

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

Simple living

The philosophy of Simple Living

The philosophy of Simple Living

I read an article this week about a guy who had adopted the idea of ‘Simple living’. For a while now he has been the proud owner of a grand total of 15 items – 15! From what I can remember in his 15 items he owned items which consisted of clothing, an iphone and a laptop. This article stirred up a mixture of thoughts and emotions in me; shock, wonder and fear amongst other things. Consequently, I have found myself pondering on the concept at random points during the week. Could I live with just 15 things? I’m not sure I could but I couldn’t give you a definite reason why. Ok I could probably live with a small amount of clothing – jeans, jumper, tshirt, cardigan and a posh dress for the special occasions. That’s five. Then trainers (which I live in anyway) and I’d have to have smart shoes to go with the dress. That brings me to… 20140511-103643.jpg

I’ve pondered about technology and I am afraid to say I would, like the guy in the article, have to have a laptop and my iphone. First of all, I could live without my laptop for work but beyond that, for music, tv and communication my mac and iphone can do it all. I could also live without my kindle as my iphone could have the app. (Things have certainly come a long way from this days I spend hours happily typing on my Commodore 64!)

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Anyone remember this screen? 😉

So…technology included, I’m up to nine. However, this is where I fall down. How could I not live without my sewing stash: my thread, needles, fabrics and other supplies? Granted I could live without my sewing machine as any large sewing projects could in theory be done by hand although it would take longer. I don’t think I could limit my craft supplies down to single items. Without them, I am certain I would be a very different person and not in a good way. Sewing is my go to when I need to destress, contemplate and unwind. So…could I cheat and just lump ‘craft stuff’ together as one item??? Maybe not 😉

Then there’s the memories. My photo albums. My videos. Granted, newer memories are on my iphone and mac but the old ones, the treasured ones of childhood and of those who aren’t here anymore are not. These are the ones I need to revisit sometimes to refresh those often cloudy memories of years gone by. Those that remind me of how things used to be – of what my dad used to sound like, of how I used to be and of how our family spent time together. Life gets busy. Things happen and relationships change – for better and worse. We sometimes forget what the past was like or it becomes clouded by other things. No. I couldn’t live without those memories. They defined who I am and they were my life – it’s nice to relive them every now and again.

So I admit I couldn’t live with just 15 things but I have to admit, it has made me look at the ‘stuff’ I’ve got around me in a different light. There are lots of things I have in my home that I don’t use or need. Maybe now is the time to re-evaluate whether it should still have a home here. This has also made me wonder why I have some items in the first place. Maybe I fell into the trap of doing what everyone else does – I’ve bought stuff because I think it’s going to make life better/easier. I’ve bought stuff because I’ve thought I needed it (I probably didn’t). I’ve also bought things that I needed then but don’t need now.

Over the next few weeks I am going to keep this idea in mind and try to simplify my possessions.  I hope I will be successful as I truly believe you feel better when you let go of things that no longer serve you.

What do you think – could you live a simple life with just 15 items? Which ones would you keep and couldn’t live without?

Until next time,

Toni xx

Back to ‘normality’

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Last Thursday was the first day I had experienced without any dizziness. Over a week on the dreaded Labyrinthitis is becoming just a painful memory 🙂

Since then I have thoroughly enjoyed throwing myself back into sewing.

I’ve been preparing some new work templates….

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I’ve been working on a development of my popular Safari wreath…

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I’ve also been developing a new pirate themed wreath and doing some cross stitch I’ve got on the go as a gift, (can’t wait to show you that!)

I’ve also been making a few more pom pom flowers 🙂

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This has all been amazing. For want of a better phrase – it felt like coming home. At the same time, I have also gone back to work. I cannot describe the difference I feel between the two roles. Once again, my heart is telling me where it wants to be but at the moment my head will not let go of the idea of ‘normal’ – to have a career with the fall back of a regular monthly wage (and I also appreciate the purpose of sick pay after these long two months).

I read someone’s blog page this week who had taken the admirable step to walk away from the ‘norm’ and followed his heart. How amazing would it be to feel so free?!

So….I will keep moving forward. I will read these inspiring accounts of people who have been true to themselves. I will keep working on the multitude of ideas I have building in my sketchbook and wait to see what tomorrow brings….after all tomorrow’s another day 🙂

Have you ever made a big leap into the unknown? Are you still looking for the right time to make a change? What inspired you to follow your heart?

Until next time,

Toni x

Dreaming my dream

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Sat in a cafe a few years ago, a friend and I, in conversation, realised we were both reading ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne and enjoying the possibilities this book was introducing us to. I am the first to admit that I can be prone to focusing on the negative as I have mentioned before. The concept of thinking more positively, focusing more on what I want instead of what I don’t want really struck a chord.

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I did feel however, on completing the book was that I didn’t gel with everything in the book. I felt that while it was a good thing to be positive, it was unrealistic to be positive 100% of the time. I don’t know how it came about that I bought Mike Dooley’s book but I bought ‘Manifesting change’ and signed up to receive his ‘Notes from the Universe’ each day.

One of the things Mile maintains (like The Secret) is that what we think about, what we focus on and what we spend time visualising will become reality. I always try to do this with little things – like car parking spaces and find that it almost always works. Some may say its coincidence – maybe it is but I like to think it’s more than that.

So… Has it worked with bigger things? To date I can’t say it has but that doesn’t stop me trying. Plus it’s so fun to imagine what I would have if I could.

Lately, I’ve been imagining my perfect craft room. At this present moment my craft space consists of a corner of my dining room but if I were able to have the perfect room it would:

1. Be light and airy with white walls.
2. Have light coloured varnished floorboards
3. Contain some kind of comfy seating like an old leather settee or an oversized chair similar to this….

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4. It would have a desk down one side of the room with an island in the middle tall enough to allow me to work/cut fabric standing up. (Hey if you’re going to dream, you might as well do it right!)

In fact something like this would be perfect….

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5. It would contain accessories from my favourite colour palette – the peacock 🙂

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6. My organisation would go beyond storing my buttons by colour and everything would have its place.

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Most of all though it would be a space for me. A place I can escape to to create – a room that is just mine. It will be a place I can plan, relax and dream. It can be a place I can leave for a while and come back to it – and it will be exactly as I left it.

You may not think much of the philosophies of Rhonda Byrne and Mile Dooley. You may think they’re a nice idea but not realistic….or you might hope that there’s a grain of truth in them and want to give it a go. All I know is that thinking positive and visualising the life I want is no bad thing and if it does bring about wonderful changes – even better. Thinking about the things I would like allows me to dream, strive and hope but in a strange way it also allows me to appreciate what I’ve already got.

For now I have my craft corner in my own little house with a great family. Anything else is a fantastic bonus. 🙂

Until next time,

Toni xx

The 100 happy days challenge

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The #100happydays challenge. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until this morning when I read about it from A Beautiful Mess. I suddenly thought that this was something I had to get involved in.

I’ve been ill for a few weeks now and this has meant no driving, being in the house the majority of the time and not being able to look after/entertain my children the way I want to. I have been doing some sewing as and when I can but needless to say there has been a lot of time to think and lot of time to feel sorry for myself 😉

The idea of this challenge really appealed then because to be reminded of the things in life I had to be thankful for is just what I need. If I find something inspiring along the way – what a bonus 🙂

Popping over to Twitter, I can see there are loads of people already in the midst of this challenge and it seems that I am not the only one who is in need of a few reminders of the good things in life. It seems too easy these days to focus on the negative or to be so busy and blinkered that we just rush from day to day doing what we need to do and not really appreciating the present moment or the happy times. I think it was this way of life that landed me in bed with the lurgy to be honest.

I hope you will join me on this adventure. Each day, you take a photo of something that makes you happy. The great thing is, your happy times don’t have to be made public. You can decide whether to make your photos public by posting on somewhere like Facebook or you can simply email them to the website so they can see whether you have completed it or not. Surprisingly, 71% apparently don’t finish the challenge….often because they don’t feel they have time.

So…I have prioritised. I have committed to completing this challenge to reconnect with a happier me. You can decide whether you wish to take part by clicking here.

Although it starts tomorrow, this decision has made me happy today. I am already taking time to savour play time with my girls and being more aware of what makes me smile.

Here’s to 100 days of happiness 😀

Until next time,

Toni xx
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Exciting find…

Another day feeling dizzy, another day on the settee with my daughters princess quilt. Apart from feeling dizzy and sick, I am not plagued by the listlessness and weakness that usually comes with illness.  This means that when I do feel like I can physically focus on something, I can surf the net for a few minutes or indeed write a blog!

A few days ago I purchased a new book from Amazon by Lilla Rogers

One of the exercises in this book is about discovering your likes, your dislikes and finding out more about those things that make your heart skip a beat. We may have some understanding about these things subconsciously but while I was doing this exercise, I realised that sometimes I don’t look at these collectively to see the bigger picture.  

While I was reading through one activity – to identify colours you are drawn to, I decided to do it a little differently.  Many of you will know by now that I am an avid Pinterest-er, so instead of doing the exercise on paper, I set up a new “Colour inspiration” board in order to pin my most favourite colours.

While I have browsed Pinterest many times before I always noticed pictures pinned by others that contained colour palettes complimented by pictures and fleetingly wondered where they were from. Well….today I found them.  In order to complete my activity, when in a less hazy state, I googled ‘colour palette’ and stumbled upon Design seeds.  I’m sure many of you reading this may have discovered this website many moons ago but to me it was a wonderous and exciting find.  


In my life, I have favoured different colours.  I am a big believer that our favourite colour will often change depending on our life, our experiences  and the challenges we face. In my younger years, everything I wore was blue of some description. In my early 20’s I favoured reds then turned my attentions to teal. Now, without a doubt, I am drawn to shades of purple – mostly the darker, richer shades. 

I began pinning beautiful palette’s at a fantastic rate.  Although there were a few suprises in colours, what I began to notice, is that I am drawn to the colours of the magestic peacock. 


I drooled over deep blues and rich purples. I stared at vibrant teals and opulent gold and bronze.

This exciting website has helped me discover more about my artistic, creative self but it has also given me ideas for future colour palettes for Dollies and also for my home.

I don’t think my other half is a big fan of Fuschia but I’m sure I can convince him on some of my other choices 😉

If you are a fan of colour, or want some colour inspiration for whatever reason and you haven’t stumbled across Design seeds like I did, I can highly recommend it! If there are any other websites you think I may enjoy visiting while I’m ill, please let me know.

Maybe being forced to rest isn’t such a bad thing after all…

Until next time,

T xx