Learning to learn…and relax 

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 

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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 🙂

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

Until next time,

Toni x

Failing to prepare….preparing to fail

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So here we are in June. I don’t know about you but I am seriously wondering where the time has gone since New Year. It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were celebrating the New Year and the possibilities and hope that comes with it.

It’s been a lovely six months where Dollies is concerned. Having my youngest in 2012 meant I didn’t touch my work or page for well over a year. I was unwell and overwhelmed by the culture shock that is suddenly having two children. Not the best business practice but I just couldn’t do it – and everyday I beat myself up about it. This year has felt like a new start – I have developed my fan base, networked, developed my products and began preparing.

Preparing for what you may be asking. For me, in life, I usually aim to prepare yet being a person who completes things when there is the pressure of a deadline I have a tendency to procrastinate.

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It’s not good. It doesn’t make me feel good but I’m learning that maybe I do it subconsciously because it allows me to criticise myself once again. If I was achieving, if I was ahead of schedule and working hard I would have to congratulate myself – something which doesn’t always come easily to me.

But….as they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I am slowly breaking the habits of a lifetime and moving forward.

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I am sketching new ideas, preparing material, cutting shapes and creating items. I am making a start on Christmas orders and festive ideas.

Despite this preparation, I am finding there’s a part of me who wants to run with it all. I want to sign up for every craft fair, say yes to every opportunity and sew, sew, sew. I am pulled by my creativity and yet I am anchored by real life. I am anchored by reality – by motherhood, by the need to move house, by my day job.

So at the moment I am preparing and finding a balance. I am feeling all the things those actions bring: excitement, frustration, happiness and despondency. As much as I want to run ahead, I am (yet again) trying to be patient and reminding myself that everything will fall into place when the time is right.

Until next time,

Toni x

Be careful what you wish for…

We’ve all heard these words haven’t we. These are the words I heard again the other day.

A couple of days ago, I spent another morning at the doctors. It seems I have caught more lurgy which in turn has triggered my labyrinthitis yet again. I feel cheated. Convinced it was getting better, I began thinking about what it would be like to live my day to day life again – jumping in the car, popping to the shops, taking my children out for the day.

In the last couple of days that has fallen by the wayside again and I feel I’ve been catapulted back to the very start again.  I was feeling pretty low when my mum said those familiar words ‘we need to be careful what we wish for’. Yes I certainly got my wish of having some ‘down time’, of having a break from work but it wasn’t exactly what I’d wished for.

I took this image just before things took a turn for the worst.  The Red Admiral always seems to find me at times when I need to remember to smile and think of happy times.

I took this image just before things took a turn for the worst. The Peacock butterfly always seems to find me at times when I need to remember to smile and think of happy times.

This set back got me thinking. Yes, it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for but it’s what I’ve been given. Maybe I need to look closer at the positives it has given me instead of all the things I can’t or haven’t been able to do.

So here is my list so far:
1. It has given me time to think, contemplate and mull things over. I’ve made a few decisions which while them haven’t come to fruition yet, they have hopefully set a ball rolling.

2. It has given me more time to enjoy some down time with the girls. It’s true I can’t take them out or do many things with them but I can cuddle them on the sofa, read them stories, listen about the biggest’s day at school. Sure, I did all these things before but I tell you, I appreciate and savour them so much more when it’s all I can do!

3. I have started to appreciate my other half a lot more. I have always appreciated him on some level but like in any relationship there are times when you do take them for granted. He has been an absolute star – taking time off work when I’ve had to take a trip to hospital, looking after the girls to let me rest and just supporting me in general.

4. I have started being more honest with my Mum. This has been a tough one. In the times when Simon has been at work she’s been the one who has done the school runs, the one who has looked after my youngest, brought me food and listened to me vent my frustration and discuss my fears. I’ve been forced to speak up and ask for help – something that’s never come easily to me. So….

5. I’m learning to rely on others. I’ve been forced to realise, I can’t do it all on my own anymore. I realise it’s getting easier to ask for, and accept help from my husband, my mum, my Aunty. They, and others, have helped and offered support and I have been ok with that. Ok, let’s just say I’m more ok with that than I used to be!

6. I’ve had the time to plan out a few new creative ideas for Dollies Daydream. Downtime and thinking time has inspired me and while I am not physically capable of sewing thanks to this latest bout of labyrinthitis, I have new ideas and inspiration waiting for when the time is right.

My latest favourite... how apt for the moment!

My latest favourite… how apt for the moment!

7. I am learning to be patient and gentle with myself. I have recently been teaching personality types with my students. I am strongly aware that I am ‘blessed’ with many Type A personality traits…. Impatient, driven, competitive. I like to be organised and cannot understand people who are late to appointments. Impatience – well this has forced me to kick that into check. Driven? It’s difficult to push forward when you can’t do much. Organised? Nothing in my life feels organised at the moment and I am out of my comfort zone not knowing how I’m going to be feeling day by day. This is teaching me to slow down, count to 10 and take each day or hour as it comes (most of the time!).

8. I’ve caught up on trashy tv I’ve had taped for ages, reconnected with a classic film or two and read a few pages in some craft magazines – things I don’t have time for in my ‘usual’ life.

9. I have caught up on lots of sleep – maybe even slept away a wrinkle or two under my eyes (well a girl can dream anyway!)

10. I have been given the time and space to listen to myself and my body – to give it the rest and recuperation it needs (again, most of the time…it is a learning process after all)

That Henry Ford was wise as well as clever ;)

That Henry Ford was wise as well as clever 😉

So, maybe I should have been more specific when I asked for what I wanted or maybe this is what the Universe would have handed me anyway.  Maybe at this moment in time I don’t know what’s right for me, maybe I need more time to mull over my life and continue making changes.  All I know is that I’m not certain of anything.  Never knowing when it’s going to end – and now not knowing if it’s going to return – is difficult to deal with BUT focusing on the positive, looking at the blessings it’s giving me…however small…however unclear, is helping me (most of the time) to cope with it all. I only hope I remember all these positives and continue to change once I am healthy again.

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Maybe we don’t have to be careful for what we wish for after all. Maybe we just need to know that life will always hand us what we need. Sometimes we get lucky and it matches our wish. Sometimes the world smiles, blesses us and throws us those curveballs we all love….

Until next time,

Toni xx ,