You’re doing it wrong.

I’m not normally one for ranting, actually, that’s a lie, I am great at ranting, my kids think it’s hilarious because I get out of my depth and make weird and pointless threats like hanging them on the washing line. Just as a side note we don’t have a washing line and both my kids are 5ft 6, so that’s not happening. Recently I saw an advert for a wine shop near me that told me I was drinking wine wrong…I put it in a glass, and pour it into my mouth/take a sip then swallow it. Was there more to it than that? Should I slosh it first? I’m pretty sure none of the wines I can afford taste interesting enough that sloshing it around in an oversized glass will help.

doing it wrong

Then I got told I was eating bananas wrong, peel, eat, swallow? Did I somehow get that wrong? And how do they know how I’m eating it!? This isn’t a new phenomenon, blogs, magazines, adverts etc are always telling us how to “catch that man”, “wear the right swimsuit” etc and it only seems to serve one purpose. To sell us something that we apparently need because without it we’re just not good enough without it.

Don’t get me wrong, if I find something that’s worth buying, I’ll tell you about it (there are red hair dyes in some of the Superdrugs around the UK that are currently selling at just 45p a box, I’ve bought 8….). But will I tell you that you have to have it? That you need it? That you’re doing it wrong? No, we are incredibly judgemental as a species (I mean dogs  might be judging each other on whether they have the latest in leads, or the right coat colour, but I highly doubt it). So what can we do about it?

Well the first place to go is to stop listening, recently Vogue posted an article talking about why we should ignore the fashion rules, I loved this article, everything is in fashion now, so wear what makes you happy. Secondly, don’t buy a product that implies or tells you that you’re doing it wrong/wearing it wrong/ eating the wrong things etc. I loved WW because it gave me a points value for my food and I decided if I should eat it or not, if you have a coach who told you that you weren’t allowed to eat something they were doing it wrong, not you. (Oh the irony…). Perhaps what we need to do is take some responsibility for ourselves, if we acknowledge what we are doing, what we want to be doing and how we want to do it, instead of looking for others to point us in the right direction, these advertising methods won’t last and they’ll fade into obscurity.

So first big change of 2019, when you’re judging someone for their choices, their outfit, their music tastes etc, ask yourself if it’s even your business. Remind yourself that you don’t want to be dictated to, so don’t do it to others. It’s not hard to think about the words that come out of your mouth before you speak, but it should be a rule of thumb, both for the every day people, and the advertisers.

Please guys, stop telling us we’re doing it wrong.

 

Excuses

I’ve been trying to write a post recently about making excuses but it keeps ending up long winded. We all make them, but no one wants to be told they’re making them. I’ve made them, trying to get healthy, trying to lose weight or trying to keep the house tidy. From reasons to why I’m late to reasons why I’ve put off my homework. We all do it, and we often use very similar ones to other people, they accept it because if they don’t they have to admit that when they said it, it was just an excuse. So if you’re struggling to achieve something, what are your reasons why it hasn’t happened yet? Don’t have time? How much time did you spend on social media today, would you have time if you cut back on that? Are you running late? Is there a good reason or were you faffing? Cant lose weight because you’ve got no will power? Or maybe you say you have no will power because you don’t want to fight the urge to munch on junk? Many of us use willpower as excuse, not because they are sabotaging on purpose but because they’ve convinced themselves it’s true. You do have the willpower to do almost anything, and you will find it and use it. Being honest with yourself is a great way to get started on those new habits, and if you’re hiding behind excuses, you’ll slow that process down.

So write down your end goal, think about what you need to do to achieve it and if you spot a possible excuse try to analyse it, is it really an issue?

Let me know how you get on this week.

Short Stories 2019 #1

I love writing stories, so I’m going to write short stories using the same prompts that I’m using to draw. The first one was a teapot, so here we go.

The Teapot

The teapot glistened on the table in front of her, it’s perfect white curve untarnished except for one small, ruby droplet.

“Oops, missed a bit.” She spoke out loud as though they were still able to respond, they could hear her, that she was sure of. You can still hear for up to 6 minutes, that’s how long it takes the brain to die, or so she’d read. Picking up a paper napkin from the immaculately laid out table, she carefully wiped off the droplet.

“Much better.” She told herself as she stepped back to admire her handy work, considering the short notice she was pretty pleased with her creation. In front of her was a cream tea layout that any country tea shop would be proud of. A pair of clean white tea cups, perched on matching saucers sat on either side of the table, in the the middle stood a tier cake stand, each of the four levels made up of intricately designed white metal flowers. Each tier was lined with crisp white napkins, identical to the one she had just used, aside from the red of course. They were  holding sandwiches, scones and delicately prepared cakes and macaroons, more than enough for two. On one side of the cake stand stood the teapot, along side it was a small round sugar bowl and carefully chosen matching sugar bowl, the set she’d found didn’t come with one, but no one would be able to tell it wasn’t part of the set originally. The look was finished off with a dainty pink table cloth, decorated in little white polka dots. The only part that she felt didn’t work was the silver cutlery, it wasn’t even real silver and she’d very much hoped to source some brass or even gold coloured cutlery, but she’d run out of time. Still, it had all come together very well, she shouldn’t complain too much.

Her guests gazed upon their feast without an ounce of interest, no excitement or thrill filled their made up faces as they slumped in their seats. She frowned at them, they didn’t look right at all. Walking around the table she slid her hands under the armpits of the first girl, careful not to knock or flatten any of her immaculate curls.

“Come up Sophie, sit up.” As she let go, Sophie slipped back down into the seat, threatening to slide off the seat and under the table. She glanced around the room, what could she use? That’s when she remembered the basket of scrap fabric behind the sofa in the other room, it had been Marti’s, as she loved to craft. Who named a girl Marti anyway, it was probably short for something stupid, she mutter as she moved through to the other room, utterly unaware of the snarl forming on her top lip. The box was exactly where she expected it to be, and after what at first seemed to be a fruitless search she pulled out a reel of thick pink ribbon. Exactly what I need, she thought to herself as she made her way back to the kitchen. There was more than enough ribbon to lash both girls to their seats, helping propping them up, of course she couldn’t do anything about the blank expressions, and tying their heads up to stop them drooping would ruin the effect, but it would have to do. She stepped back as she had before and surveyed the scene before her, complete with vintage outfits and make up, the girls looked more like dolls than real people, with perfect curls and victory rolls. She’d spent a lot of time on YouTube tutorials learning how to do that, the eyeliner was as perfect as you’d ever get it, she didn’t think she’d be able to ever get it so spot on again. Seemed almost a shame that it was on them and not herself, but never mind. She glanced down at her hands, the eyeliner still smudged on the back of her latex covered hands, and unconsciously ran her fingers over the small tattoo that showed through the gloves. Her eyes drifted back up to the pair of them in front of her, to the matching tattoo on Sophie’s hand, her stop lip started to curl up again. Well, if they wanted to be best friends without her so that’s what she’d given them. Now they were together forever, she told them to be careful what they wished for, more fool them for not taking her seriously. Her chest heaved in an involuntary sigh, without another thought she turned on her heel and headed for the kitchen door, she’d need to be clear of the house before anyone came looking. Time to move on with her life, she’d just have to find a new best friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The January Plod and it’s endless days

January seems to be a difficult month for so many people, I can’t tell if it’s coincidence or aftermath of Christmas that does it, but it’s definitely an issue and I like to call it the January plod because January feels so very long. For those who have struggled financially, the aftermath of Christmas is almost as bad as the struggle to afford it in the first place. With new year costs, new school term costs and wages being paid on odd days, the gap between the December pay cheque and the January pay cheque can be a long one. The other side of it is the cold, here in the UK it’s winter, albeit a mild one, it’s definitely winter and we often get our worst weather after Christmas, so January is the month of dark, cold, nothing fun to focus on and everyone is skint lol. No wonder so few people feel cheerful at this time of year.

We’re trying to pull money together to MOT my husbands car (otherwise if it’s icy he’ll have to take a train because he can’t take his bike – I won’t let him). This is a potentially expensive dilemma when we are already struggling, it’s very easy to focus on the things that are a problem. So I stead I’m focusing on the things that make me happy, like writing, my story now has 12,500 words, only 77,500 to go – give or take 😉 I’ll add a few little tasters here if you’re interested but I’ll be sure to put it in the title, so if apocalypse stories aren’t your thing you can skip it. Another thing I’m focusing on is the drawing challenge, I know, I’ve not shared the last couple so I’ll add them here. I’m a massive fan of using your creative side, and I know not everyone is a professional artist in the making, but that isn’t what’s important when creating art for yourself.

So, there are my efforts, I am not awful, I’m a long way from amazing but it feels good to create something. I will give a lot of different creative activities a go, because I like the way they make me feel. There are many debates as to the association between mental health problems and creativity, some suggest that it negatively affects creativity, stifling it, while other’s argue that it is an outlet for mental health problems and can encourage creativity (LeBel, 2017). However you see it, art is used in the treatment of mental health problems, and is very popular with those who promote wellness and self-care. Indeed there is research to suggest that colouring in (as opposed to just colouring/doodling on a blank sheet) is can reduce anxiety levels (Eaton and Tieber, 2017, Curry & Kasser, 2011) , so if you get anxious, I say it’s worth a try, right?

So, where do you start if you want to try colouring? That’s up to you, I would personally start with a cheap but pretty book that you enjoy looking at, and some cheap pencils or pens, Poundland is a great place to pick up the basics. If you’re a bit like me you’ll love James Alexander’s Swearing Colouring book – beautiful and hilariously inappropriate, it’s about £7 I think on Amazon but I’m sure you can get it elsewhere if Amazon aren’t something you like to use. There are so many to choose from and the good thing about colouring books is you don’t have to be a “creative person, another important thing is you don’t have to have anxiety or depression to benefit from colouring, it’s shown to help even in normal everyday life, so give it a go.

Do you use a colouring book? How have you found it? Are you enjoying it and if so will you show us your efforts?

Curry, N. & Kasser, T. (2011) Can Coloring Mandalas Reduce Anxiety? http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07421656.2005.10129441

Eaton, J & Tieber, C. (2017) The Effects of Coloring on Anxiety, Mood, and Perseverance. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07421656.2016.1277113

LeBel, E (2017) Creativity and Mood Disorders: Both Deviances? https://osf.io/z49kg

Phone Call Anxiety

I know a lot of people who don’t like making calls, phone call anxiety is the way we describe it, my youngest, who I can hear in the background nattering as we speak, isn’t one of them… but anyway, today’s drawing prompt was rotary phone and I was inspired.

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Phone Call Anxiety

How would you draw a rotary phone and how would you make it unique? And do you suffer from phone call anxiety? Was there a trigger or are you just too nervous? I’d love to know how you handle it when you just have to make that call.

Two Birds and a Drawing Challenge

Hey, how’s life treating you today? Someone on my Facebook shared a picture of the local area on this day 2014, it was beautiful, thick with ice but so sparkly. That said, not wishing for ice, as I don’t think I can manage cold lol but it does have a beauty all it’s own. I love nature generally, it has some amazing beauty in it, so scary and even grim things but so much beauty. I hope to start learning photography at some point but at the moment I’m working on my drawing. In fact I’m doing a Drawing a Day challenge with my friends, you’re given a prompt and then you use it to inspire you, yesterday was a teapot.

Not my best but a long way from my worst so I’m not complaining..

I love a good challenge but I don’t always manage to stick with them, in fact a frequently fail to finish them, so I won’t guarantee completing this. Or the other challenge I’m attempting with is to walk 1000 miles in 2019. For some of you that’s no biggie but lately I’ve become a bitch hermit so it is a challenge for me. I’ll let you know how I get on there.

Setting challenges for yourself is great, small ones that are achievable give you a nice little boost but if you’ve got bigger goals they can seem really far off. One thing I’ve learnt is that those little goals can be used to complete bigger goals, break it down. I want to do 1000 miles, well that sounds like loads, how many is it a day. 2.74 miles a day is what it is, but I can’t guarantee walks every day, so how many steps is it? My estimate based on what I average is around 7000, so if I can’t go out I can still build up steps especially if I go over 2.74 on days I can get out? So I’ve set a minimum of 3 miles as my challenge, approximately 8500 steps a day with a push for more to get me ahead. One day at a time. I missed day one (good start, well done) but I’m going out today and will do 3 miles. It’s not so hard, I’ve done it before, just need to keep telling myself I’ve got this. We’ll discuss talking to ourselves positively another day, it’s a fascinating subject!

So the drawing challenge should help keep me creative and the walking challenge should get me moving again, two birds one stone it might not be, but here’s to giving it a shot.

So much for that idea…

1 hour came and went, the living room is done but my daughter has spread her painting stuff across my table so it won’t be finished just yet. Still good to clear the clutter. Clutter is a funny one, some people can manage it, some struggle, some hate it, while others think a room is bare without it. I think it depends on the clutter.

Clutter that is washing up, bills etc, is frustrating and I would rather not have it. In fact research has suggested that clutter can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, so sometimes a good declutter can be as good for your mind as it is for your home. That said I’ll be the first to say finding links beyond psychology blogs that lead to actual research on this topic is easier said than done. Whether mess and clutter is a factor in the symptoms or a symptom itself doesn’t matter so much right now, if the mess stresses you out, dealing with it can, though perhaps temporarily, relieve it.

That said, clutter that adds character can look charming. Check out @apartmenttherapy on Instagram to see some beautiful homes that are not clutter free, just organised clutter (obviously not all fit that description).

I personally want to live a less cluttered life, this is at odds with everyone else in my home but we are working on a compromise!

My husband had clutter under the table, I didn’t have anywhere to move it to, but I did have a box. Sorted. For now at least.

So if you’re having a declutter or a tidy up where do you start? I start small, there is a bag or box for each person and their bits go in it. I plan on buying a proper basket each, my husband calls them crap baskets, to put people’s crap in – so eloquent 😉.

I clear the washing up, popping any junk that doesn’t belong in the room in the relevant persons bag. I repeat the process with rubbish, anything that needs to go upstairs that doesn’t belong in a bag/basket goes on the left hand side of the stairs to take up when I’m going that way. It’s not a fast process and I’m easily distracted, but it’s working so far!

If you clear clutter and tidy, what’s your process?