Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vinegar and a new motto

Vinegar Hair Rinse and letting go of do your best
At the weekend I poured dilute vinegar over my head and I really rather liked it.

For the last year or two I've been gradually trying to detox our house and beauty products in a consistent way.  Replacing potentially environmentally, or human, harsh products with commercially available or home-made friendlier alternatives. Home-made is definitely where I'm happiest in principle - because of the economics, the reduction in packaging impact and the control. It is also where I find it hardest to get to in practice. Gathering ingredients and then taking the time to make something in sync with when a product needs replacing has been more than I've had energy for so often. Particularly because I often get stuck in the research phase: reading the books, the articles, pinning all the pins. I want to take advantage of the shared experience to try and get things 'right' and yet the more I read, often the more complicated I make something essentially simple.

Like my weekend shampoo and rinse - just dilute castille soap to shampoo with and dilute vinegar to rinse. There are approximately seventy two billion blog articles about this and a whole raft of variations on this theme and I think I have read most of them trying somehow to think out if it would be for me. Given I have had the ingredients on hand for months it really was getting slightly idiotic to not just try it. My hair was not going to fall out, the worst that might happen was that I might look and smell like I'd just finished a shift at the chip shop.

Preparing for perfection is somewhere I often get stuck in the non-essentials of life. In the must get done to get paid/fed/to bed essentials I've found a not very cordial entente that allows me to look like a functional being whilst generally feeling a bit dissatisfied with what I'm getting done. I've lived for too long with 'do your best' as a guiding rule. The insidious demands I create from those three little words that can never be lived up to have gradually become clearer over the years with a particularly enlightening CBT session last week finally making me face that it needed to go. I know these deep imbedded rules are buggers to rewire around as our minds are so attached to them, the pathways burned deep through the brain and there will be tricks to try and keep it in place as my mind fears the coming change.

In trying to release it I stumbled upon a realisation that as much as I might feel like I can never do enough preparation, never consider a situation from every angle and always reflect on what else I could have done - do your best is basically a limitation, a hastily drawn estimate of what I think I might be capable of, a line in the sand at which I can justify giving up on something or having a go whatever the consequences.

So I'm easing away from it - not by doing my best to ignore it, my best to collect evidence of why something is good enough or my best to be pleased with what I have achieved but by feeling my way. Just considering what each next step feels like  - be it some research, an experiment or a blog post about vinegar. It's not about measuring up to anything, it's about relieving my mind of the job of running my life because it's not the right job for it. As the awesome Lisa Esile says "Letting your mind rule your life is like asking your inner eight year old to organize the next presidential campaign; she doesn’t know how and spends most of her time trying to look good in front of her friends." 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words unleashed

Homemade word deck - positive, inspiration
In the company of three wise and wonderful friends I made a happy little deck of words this weekend. It surprised me by being an almost unbelievably satisfying and joy inducing project. I'd hardly given it a scrap of thought in advance which I'm convinced is where part of the magic lies. I am rarely spontaneous in my creating; hopefully this will encourage me to be a little more so. I knew I'd have some great tools on hand as Kelly shares her toys very nicely indeed and I had a beautiful pack of coloured card that clearly made me buy it knowing what it wanted to be one day.

When we settled in to play I'd got the idea refined as much as knowing I wanted to create something like flash cards - flash cards of inspiring, thought provoking words. I have strong memories of sitting happily in our dining room as a child with my deck of cards, learning words, getting tested on spelling. I love to spell. I wish we'd had spelling bees instead of sports days at school. I knew I just wanted cards with words on them; something within my skills to create well and something that let the words take the centre stage. Let the words shine out. Sometimes I am too stuck in words, in thoughts and intellectualising but sometimes the perfect word can jump me off in to the happiest of feelings. I guess I knew on some level that I wanted a deck that would make that a more deliberate happy accident. Something I could trip over on purpose.

Once I started I literally found it nearly impossible to stop - from settling on 32 cards at the start the number just kept going up and up and up. Being with other word loving ladies helped ramp up the inspiration and I thought I was done as I prised myself out of the basement den with about 60 cards in my bag. That wasn't enough. I'm making them double-sided now and loving the moments when another jumps in and demands a spot. I have two simple criteria for inclusion - that they are positive and that they feel important to me in some way. They're journalling jump off points at the moment but also pretty decorations and just so much fun to have around.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Softly in to the New Year

Honey pot homemade poured beeswax candle
The Christmas decoration are still up. Taking it slow this year. I'm glad to be easing back in to routines and stretching in to the New Year but still craving the sparkling cosiness that the holidays bring so much of. As ever I am so not ready for the kind of brisk spartan jumping to attention that gets pushed so hard in this month of resolving to be something other than who you find yourself to be.

I'm really rather liking where I find myself to be at the moment. Moving at a pace that feels right, changing it as the day demands. Finding ways to let expectations drift away. Making fresh starts in gentler, more regular adjustments. Taking small steps rather than just thinking about big leaps.

Warm and soft in the glow of fairy lights and beeswax candles. I made the one above a couple of months ago and made another batch last weekend. Mostly poured containers which are fast to do and so satisfying. I love knowing that they are a healthy addition to my environment as well as deeply pleasing to my eye. There's also that inner glow of satisfaction that I made them with my hands. I also rolled some candles from sheets of wax this time, even easier and a really wonderful, tactile experience. Quite literally keeping the creative flame burning.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sleepy day

First day back at the ranch and boy oh boy have we perfected the pace of what kind of chocolate shall we eat next. Appropriately layered up we just peeped out for a turn around the park and a breath of cold, fresh air but with piles of new pressies to enjoy and accommodate somewhere our attentions have been definitely homesteady.  Miss Nina has been making sure that we spend the requisite amount of time forming a seat for her. It's fair to say these furries missed us, though I have my suspicions that has more to do with the warmth of our laps and the extra turns we give the central heating.

These quiet days both here with our Siamese twinset and about with family are my favourite of the festive season. Time to just sit and be, to watch a movie, to chat about nothing very much at all. Days without name or order in the week somehow. Is it Wednesday today? I think I asked that yesterday.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cosying in

Cosy window with fairy lights
Today I began what I like to think of as a five day cosying in intensive. On holiday now until January 5th it's time to slow down and sink in to the festive season in my own home. I've been out and about a lot, delightful as all that has been I'm ready to pull back in to a quieter place.

One Christmas shopping mission to complete tomorrow and beyond that I shall only be tempted from my nest if the weather demands a walk. The kind of walk that will put roses in my cheeks and let me return home in absolute need of a hot chocolate. That is all that could drag me out of here, the Christmas CDs are on, the frankincense incense sticks are smouldering, I am breathing deeper, feeling so grateful for this funny little corner of the world that is my sanctuary.

I am branding the mess charming so there is a just a little housework to be done. Laundry mountain and a few fierce cobwebs need conquering so that when I head down to Cornwall to spend a few days with my parents I shall do so with the happy thought of returning to a fairy light bedecked, somewhat ordered abode. The kind of place where I can carry merrily on with the pace of 'what kind of chocolate shall I have for breakfast?' I intend to cultivate this year.

There is room for a little more decking of the halls, though now those fairy lights are up and I've hung the garland I made last weekend at The Mill I can rest easy if I don't untangle the pompoms and apple baubles that have spent their quiet months in the attic getting a little too friendly.

I think there may be a little more crafting, though honestly who knows. I've been in a real lull, that garland is the only tangible thing I have made in a long time. No more wreaths got made. Less of the homemade than even last year. Literally months without knitting a stitch. Yet I can sense my creative muse opening a sleepy eyelid, just pondering what to surprise me with next. She's heard that a visit to fabric and yarn emporia may be on the cards tomorrow. I'm shushing the inner accountant who wants to know what's wrong with the stuff on hand and letting her have her way. She's a fickle one but when she's on it, I'm happiest. If you'd told me that changing to part-time work would have led to a decrease in my crafting I'd have thought you were crazy and yet that has been the reality.

I'm not entirely sure why. It seemed like a backwards step for a long while but lately I've really learnt that sometimes going in the right direction doesn't look like you expect it to. All this soul work is not as pretty as handwork that is for sure. Still this has been my path. Walked willingly this autumn, my summer temper tantrums behind me. Now I am back on the path, now I am actually practising all the good things that help with the support of a wonderful framework I am starting to feel the rewards, one of which I hope is a long awakening for my creative muse. One of which is definitely a bit more energy to enjoy the simple pleasures of life; like finding the perfect place to hang the fairy lights.

Wishing us all a light and bright holiday time.
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