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 πŸ™‚

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

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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

100 happy days revisited

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Yesterday, my 100 days challenge came to an end. I can honestly say, I cannot believe how fast they went. When I posted my last happy day, it felt slightly anti-climactic. I don’t know what I was hoping for; a fan fare? A round of applause? A pat on the back? There was none of that if course but there was a change.

Yes, there was a few days when I completely forgot to post as I got swept away with life but at no point did I not post because I wasn’t happy. Every day I enjoyed moments of happiness. Some days were filled with it, some days, happy moments interspersed the tears, the stress, the tiredness but the important thing was they were there and I got to share it with others.

It made me look at life and wonder whether our default as a society was to look at the doom and gloom around us. When did that happen? Why should that be the way of the world? Looking back, I remember a pivotal moment in my life when I consciously thought to myself ‘well, if I don’t get my hopes up, if I don’t feel excitement or anticipation, if I don’t pray for the best, I won’t be disappointed if it never happens’

Now I look back and I want to hug that person I was. I want to sit her down and tell her how much she will miss, how much she will hurt herself if she walks down that path. In these past months, I hoped. I prayed. I got excited. I got excited and felt happy for other people and it was great. I dealt with any disappointments. They were worth it.

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My 100 happy days have technically come to an end but I will still keep it going in one form or another. I don’t want to go back to being automatically gloomy. I don’t want to be Eeyore. I want to enjoy life and teach my girls to enjoy happiness and deal with disappointment. Whatever happens, if you want to look for it, you realise the good in life far outweighs the bad you just have to stay focused on the positive.

Until next time,

Toni x

My networking journey

Last week I wrote a piece about my leap into the world of networking. I discussed the joys of finding a community, of shaking off that feeling of isolation and discovering lots of lovely new creations. This week I have found more lovely crafters and I admit that yes, I am finding lovely birthday and (dare I say it) Christmas presents for friends and family as I travel around these pages and follow my feeds.

Despite these ongoing rewards, I’m now into week 2 of networking and to be quite honest, the glow of networking has faded slightly. During these last few days, I have to say I have been in the company of my inner critic and naysayer. Now I don’t know about you but throughout my life I have been plagued with that little voice inside that is quick to point out my flaws, what I have done wrong and that slowly chips away at my confidence if I let it.

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Before my venture out in to the big wide world of social media and networking, I lived in my little bubble with my blinkers on to some extent. Yes, I wasn’t interacting with others, forging relationships with other crafters or my customers but at the same time I wasn’t open to all those other pages. I have found that while roaming, it is easy to put others above you. It is tempting to look at the work of others and compare it to my own. Obviously, in these scenarios mine rarely stands up under the scrutiny. It is also too easy to read my feed and see other people’s posts as wittier, prettier and downright amazing.

Needless to say, I’ve been putting myself through the ringer a little bit these last few days which is much easier when you are feeling a bit low anyway. Life is throwing me more of those sneaky curveballs and change is coming in so many different ways that it has been difficult to tell that inner critic where to go.

So what am I going to do about it? In all honesty I want to give up. I want to pack it all in and go back to hiding but that would get me no where would it? I want a magic answer – that solution that will fix all things but that’s not an option either. In the absence of magic and miracles, I am going to put my head down and keep moving forward. To those pages I admire, I will take note of what I admire about them and see if I can improve my work/photos/page/posts in any way to close the gap between us. I will continue to interact with my customers and other crafters to help and support them where I can and gather hints, tips and information from them too (just the other day, a customer gave me a wonderful tip that has helped me no end).

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I will STOP comparing myself to others and be proud of my work. As I saw somewhere the other day, I have designed my work, I have put it together and I have got me to this point – thats something I am grateful for and proud of. To that little voice inside, I will aim to ignore it. In those times when all this seems impossible, I will do my best and not beat myself up about it. I will try to remember that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else.

So networking and I have had our honeymoon period but now the rose tinted specs are off. I am learning that its not all hearts and roses. Regardless of all this, I am in it for the long haul and I’m sure we can get over this rough patch and I can become a better person for it. Fingers crossed πŸ˜‰

Until next time,

Toni x

Challenge and progress

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I’m nearly three weeks in to the 100 happy days challenge. How am I doing? Well… My children and food seem to be featuring regularly each day. πŸ˜‰

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Have I learnt anything from it so far? I’m not sure. What I do know is that it has made me more aware of how I feel each day – I am conscious of what makes me smile and what I enjoy.

This has been very timely. It has given me something to focus on at a time when I have been finding it difficult to feel positive. This week has been the 5th week with Labyrinthitis – far longer than I ever thought I’d be experiencing it. Earlier this week, I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow for severe dizziness and nausea.

Those days, I was struggling to post positivity on Facebook. What the challenge did help me to do was see something good in a difficult day. I can honestly say if I wasn’t doing this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have tried to do so and probably would have felt even worse.

In all honesty, I desperately want to be writing blogs about my creations, my ideas and my inspirations. Maybe that’s what you click on here hoping to find…. If it is bear with me!

I desperately want to be posting photos of my works in progress. When it comes down to it just to get up without feeling dizzy sounds like the best gift in the world right now!

So despite all I want to do, despite what I want to show you this is where I am today. I hope beyond hope that there is an end to it soon. Until then bear with me. Until then, enjoy my moments of happiness I am sharing each day – it allows me to feel normal for a moment each day and allows me to pretend I’m doing ok πŸ™‚

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Wherever you are in life, I would definitely recommend it. As time goes on maybe I will surprise you with other things that make me smile. I hope some of my posts bring a little sunshine to you too.

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 fromΒ 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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜€

Until next time,

Toni xx
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