Saturday, 31 October 2009

Spooky Halloween...

Mirror Mirror on the wall... who's the bravest of them all?

With all the excitment of the past few days I haven't had a chance to tell you this most spooky of tales. Myself, the boy and the sweetheart set off on a perilous quest - a journey back in time to a castle besieged by spirits and overwhelmed with pumpkins and... tourists....

We fortified ourselves with garlic and carried sharpened stakes aplenty as we ventured into the cobweb strewn secret pathways. What evil was afoot in these darkened corners?

What cast of characters waited to greet us on our macabre journey?

Are you scared? My son was - quaking in his boots bless him! Warwick Castle's seasonal spookiness well worth a visit!
Tomorrow I begin an online photoshop course run by Susan Tuttle (one or two spots still available) where I will no doubt learn how to make these pictures even more ghostly...
For now, this will suffice as my entry to Inspiration Avenue's spooky challenge!
PS - Never mind the skeletons and gargoyles, that creature coming out of the mist looks really scary... Wouldn't like to bump into him on a dark night...

Friday, 30 October 2009

I'm back on...

... The Joy Diet that is. Never mind all that truth and desire nibbling; risk was the diet ingredient that I needed to get my teeth into. It's got my brain digesting in a whole new way. I couldn't wait for Friday to write about it, so check out Tuesday's post. I have to tell you readers that I am feeling a whole lot less chicken today. In fact there's not a sparrow or turkey in sight either. In fact I'm soaring, I am an eagle floating on thermals... I am the hawk motionless above its prey (opportunity), just waiting for the moment (forthcoming!) to pull back my wings and dive onto what I want. No more floating around in the air, the time has come for decisive action - claws out - strike - take it.

Swoosh - I did it. I quit my job. Waheeeeeeeeeee. You have no idea how good this feels. I am soaring, my wings are filled with fresh air. I am the pheonix from the flames. I am ME! I am back. I am full of metaphors but who cares, I am free!

I admit there is a strong possiblity of paid work in the offing, so it's not a leap into the complete abyss, but you know if I didn't leave that little nest soon, it was about to fall apart sending me spiralling.

I am also in a state of such nervous excitement that I am incapable of writing anything else, so I'm taking my son out to lunch and to the movies.

And as for this week's chapter on Treats...

Treat yourself Martha suggests, reward your behaviour... Hey Martha, I live for treats. You're preaching to the converted there love. Speaking of which... lunch calls...

Tomorrow begins today!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Am I a chicken noodlehead?

I've been catching up on the Joy Diet this week. It has nothing to do with chickens; this is just an excuse to double up my posting as I join the Three Muses Chicken art challenge. Or does it?

Might the word 'chicken' just be resonating a teeny tiny bit with me today? Did I or did I not tell myself to quit my job yesterday? Was a voice not YELLING VERY LOUDLY in my ear that my destiny is awaiting? I've got this sort of feeling you see, a very crazy one, that putting myself out of work in the middle of an economic slowdown could be the very thing I'll never regret.

I've convinced myself that it will open a door. I don't quite know which yet. Perhaps it's the barn door and the chickens will bolt for freedom. Maybe deep down inside, something is telling me that surely I could be happier anywhere else than in this role. It's not fate or destiny pulling; it's misery pushing.

It's all the fault of this Joy Diet. I've been munching my way through the chapter on Risk. I can handle this chapter far more than the truth and desire, it really is rather palatable. I don't mind a portion or two of risk. I think of myself as quite courageous sometimes. I reviewed Martha Beck's Risk Assessment tool. It told me this was a risk most definitely worth taking. Today though I'm a chicken. I didn't quit. I thought about it. I thought some more. Then I just booked a few days off to tuck my head under my wing and shut the thinking out.

Martha's view on risk is that it forces us into action. I could sit here and moan about my job for months, applying here and there for something, but I feel so low that my heart is not in it. I get home every evening with little enough energy to make the dinner, let alone forge ahead with plans for an entrepreneurial career. Lack of money, for one thing, would be a powerful motivator.

My gut instincts aren't often wrong. What adventure awaits if I quit? Destitution? I don't believe so. Something just tells me it is the right thing to do - that magic door will open and if I don't hurry up it will be shut and bolted forever. And, as Martha suggests: What's safe about not being who you were meant to be? Life is NOT a rehearsal.

Have I convinced myself yet? Or am I still too chicken? Or just a chicken noodle head? Answers on a postcard...

Finishing on the art: This regal rooster was snapped by me back in the Spring and has been 'on ice' waiting for his big moment. Then, when it came down to it, all he got for his pains was a quick bit of filtering in photoshop. He does look rather pretty though with his rainbow noodle feathers. He's off to flirt with the chicks now.

Ah, but then I felt sorry for him and asked him to pose while I got out my acrylics. He's not quite finished as you can see, but I'm a touch busy today...

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Running from shop to shop, Jennie clutched at her remaining clothes in fear. Passers-by stared and laughed at the half naked freak dancing a fear foxtrot before them. As fast as Jennie grabbed at clothes to cover her modesty, so others fell from her skin until she stood wearing just a blush in front of the hysterical masses. The laughing seemed to go on and on and on... taunting, shrieking, tearing at her. She shrank back in shame from their jeers, tears running down her cheeks. Turning a corner, she climbed from a train and ran across a sandy beach to an azure sea hiding her body beneath the waves. It was cold, her arm was growing numb, a shark was biting on it. She screamed in terror and awoke in a cold sweat with George glowering above her.

"Get up, you're on" he yelled into her face, spittle covering her lips. Recoiling in confusion and revulsion Jennie pulled herself off the couch and stared at her reflection in the mirror. It was just a dream she reminded herself. Just a figment of imagination.

... She smoothed down her skirt and pulled back the curtain to the stage before seductively wrapping one silken leg around the pole and winking at the expensively dressed punter in the front row.

A Sunday Scribble. Theme: Shame

A postcard from the dark side of the woods

A creepy postcard from the dark side for Sunday postcard art's Halloween theme. I threw everything I had at this - acrylic, collage, ink drawing, stardust, digital collage and a spell or two...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Leaving a trail

"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest senstations in the world"
Freya Stark

Well, I probably wouldn't go that far, most times it is rather nice to be with a special someone or two. However, that first morning on holiday is truly something to treasure. A new city, rural retreat or sea vista brings so much promise. Every corner is a gift waiting to be unwrapped, each vista a sensory delight. Ahhh, precious moments indeed.

These ATCs have been prompted by Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge - this week 'Travel'. I didn't intend on making three but I got carried off to Paris for dinner, danced at a wild Fiesta in Firenze and boozed and bargained my way around Barcelona. Rather amazing where the pages of Conde Nast can take you in one evening!

The aim of each was to capture those oh so fleeting holiday moments - fragments of tastes, sounds and mood - so vivid at the time but destined to fade into memory's corners on return, until all we have are fragments. You can still see... but not quite enough... Time for another trip I feel!

Mixed media: torn magazine, tissue paper, rubber stamp, distress inks & acrylics - click for better view.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Give me joy in my heart

Well, this week my entry to the Joy Diet group consists more of me talking about Joy rather than progress with the book. After last week I have decided to s l o w the pace a little and really get to grips with some of the earlier techniques. I just found I couldn't keep up with it all. I've gone back to truth and am having scary chats with my feelings - mostly about work and career... It's hard work, but it's medicine I guess and not supposed to taste nice. [short break from typing while I dig out some Bon Jovi...]

Not wishing to miss out on all the action though, I thought it would nice nice to share some other aspects of Joy with you, my fellow joy dieters. Maybe you need a little light relief from taking Risks with your chapter this week. I shall be there with you reading and learning how you got on.

Firstly, my son told me yesterday that blueberries 'bring joy to his heart'. Naturally, Mummy ran to the supermarket at lunchtime today to buy him a punnet. What a soft touch she is. Thank goodness they are a superfood!

Secondly, I would like to make an amendment to Tuesday's post when I discussed my aversion to admin and desire to employ a personal assistant called Annabel to cope with my correspondence. Well, readers, I have changed my mind if that's OK. Actually, what I think every woman needs is a Gok!

Those of you residing in my green and pleasant land will of course know exactly what a Gok is, and frankly, I'd be surprised if any woman disagreed with my crazy idea. A Gok brings you great joy. A Gok is a make-over from the inside out. A Gok can make any woman feel fabulous. He takes women who are ashamed of the way they look and shows them their beauty. He doesn't use plastic surgeons or designer clothes. OK, sure they get a makeover at the end and their hair done, but that's not the transformation. Gok shows women how to look good naked and how to wear the right clothes. He gives them Confidence with a capital C. He puts a woman in a skirt that lives in trousers. He shows middle-aged ladies that actually they do have a luscious curvy figure underneath all those baggy clothes. He is a national treasure and we love him.

Take a look on YouTube...
I've written about Gok before...
And if you want more Gok fix...

Thanks to Jamie for her suggestion of the sub-group. Sounds like a plan to me. I should be back on form next week - just don't know where the week has gone. I don't seem to have achieved anything in the past few days.

PS: After reading many of this week's postings on Jamie's site, I realised that without reading the chapter I've been thinking alongside many of you already! I've just reminded myself that my wishcasting post of Wednesday was exactly about taking risks. Saying yes to more risky endeavours, stepping out of our comfort zones. Yes, it can be really good for us. Why do we become more fearful as we grow older - why doesn't experience remind us that risk-taking can be a learning and satisfying exercise?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Yes Girl

The prompt for this week's Wishcasting (What do you wish to say "yes" to?) had to make me smile. Earlier this year I read the hilarious Danny Wallace account of his one year of saying Yes to everything - and I mean everything - you can read all about it in this earlier post. There's a Jim Carey film of the same name which I think must be loosely based on it.

Boy did this guy get himself in some scrapes, but he also experienced some things beyond his wildest imaginings - some not entirely legal! I finished the book resolving to follow his lead (a little). As I grow older it seems far too easy to say No. No is usually the safer alternative, requiring less energy and effort. No means you stay at home and watch TV with your feet up. No doesn't see you completing the Army assault course at Sandhurst, water-skiing none too gracefully and swallowing pints of sea water or clinging precariously half way up a rock face wondering if you are about to plummet to your death (yes, these I have in the past said "yes" to!).

It's been a while since I did anything requiring the wearing of safety equipment. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit that I recently got a bit scared on a big slide at a park (one that my five-year-old son happily went on about 50 times without batting an eyelid). It has also been a few months since I read that book and resolved to be a bit more of a yes girl. I'm not too bad at it though. Tonight, for example, I have been organising a craft evening at my son's school where I shall be selling my wares (no hard hat required).

I've said yes to the NaNoWriMo challenge next month. A little thing - we have to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days... I've also said no to a job opportunity in Dubai and a slot on the X-Factor (let someone younger have their chance of singing super-stardom I say). Well, one of those might be true... I'm doing OK, but in true school report fashion - I could do better. So, this week, I stand proud and say "Actually, I would like to say Yes more to things I too easily say No to". Take me out of my comfort zone and dangle me in the face of opportunity!

Oh yes, and if any Hollywood producer phones me up with the offer of turning my (yet to be written, let alone published) novel into a film starring George Clooney and Hugh Jackman, with a cameo role for yours truly, then the answer would most definitely be a big resounding YES PLEASE!!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

An unusual allergy

I think I have developed some kind of psychological aversion to paperwork. When I walk past my doormat and see piles of envelopes lying in wait for me, I shrink back in a bizarre mixture of fear and anxiety. As I move stealthily around my house, I see mounds of the stuff lurking and smirking from every surface. I never used to be like this, I used to be a PA. I was super-efficient, ten steps ahead (mind you, I always hated filing). Now I avoid post. I step over it. I place to one side. I put off. I prevaricate. Online banking fills me with dread and I feel queasy. Changing my power supplier has been a real headache of paperwork.

"You'll have to get around to sorting us out eventually", this growing pile sneers scornfully at me with alarming regularity.

I know, I know... I need to be more organised. I could come up with a string of excuses - top of which would be time... there are, after all, only so many hours in the day! When it comes down to it, I just need a spot of focus, a routine. Thing is, I'm not a routine sort of gal. I prefer to act on impulse, be ready to drop everything for a paintbrush when the muse strikes. I do not have a secretarial muse so she never makes an appearance which is rather a shame. I think we could be a good team and she would tidy up after me most efficiently. Her name would be Annabel. She would be from good stock and wear a smart suit. She would smile understandingly at my eccentricities, content to be the rock that supports the wobbling creature atop it.

Alas Annabel does not yet exist in my dimension. I must instead somehow find will and energy myself to blitz the piles this week, to climb on top and stamp it all down so it becomes manageable.

Instead of writing about it, photographing it and pondering how it might become art... JFDI girl, JFDI... Right, I'm off to get organised... Watch this space...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Something cosmic happening?

Ah, how I love blogging... But then again, why wouldn't I? It's writing about what I love - the only boring subjects are of my choosing! It has also opened up a whole new world to me. I've made new friends across the globe; I've hooked up with other like-minded souls - writers and artists just like me. I've opened myself up to a new creative world I neither knew existed 'out there' or 'in here' [she taps heart dramatically, but gently]. I'm reading the kinds of books I always shied away from* and consequently learning things about myself - both who I am and where I want to be.

*(self-help, rather than gruesome horror - I still shy away from those).

Now we move onto an exciting revelation. If you stop by here regularly to while away ten minutes or so with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, you cannot have helped noticing that I am a teensy weensy bit dis-satisfied in my current role. Last week I endured the disappointment of losing out on another job for which I felt more suited. But then when you don't get it, you start thinking - was it the job I really wanted or the means to leave this current torture? I'm not entirely sure. If it was the latter, then I did a jolly good job of convincing myself of the former - though clearly not the interviewers! Maybe I don't want to do 'internal communications' anymore. Perhaps it's not the job that gets me down so much as the vocation? I feel tired of the corporate life. It just doesn't feel like me anymore.

On a seemingly un-related matter, I received in the post a postcard from royalty - None other than the Queen of Creativity herself. She had sent me this as part of an exercise she was working on while working through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I resolved to post one right back and thought about what I would send.

Well, the town where I live lacks architectural delights I'm afraid. The river that runs through could be so charming were it not for the shopping trolleys and empty beer cans and the inhabitants are not pretty. The town where I work however, is something else (see attractive looking building in image supplied, yes for those in the New World, this is a bona fide Medieval Castle, complete with dungeons, suits of armour and a gift shoppe - if you look closely you might just spot Rapunzel letting her hair down one of the towers).

As the choice of postcard neatly presented itself to me, so did another far more exciting possibility. You see, I've always loved castles, stately homes, palaces, ruins, manor houses... those old buildings steeped in history and priceless works of art. If I visit anywhere remotely grand I still can't resist sweeping down staircases swishing my imaginary skirts or imagining bold knights fighting for my hand. I'll hover by a window overlooking immaculate acres and wonder who stood before and who they observed from behind the tapestry drapes. Yes, an over-active imagination is mine and I am proud of it.

So, the revelation? Could I perhaps work somewhere like Warwick Castle? Althorp House? Sulgrave Manor? Could I be a custodian of the National Trust? Take tourists on magical journeys around haunted mansions, bringing the past back to life before their very eyes? Oh yes, I could do that... I would love that - it would suit my extrovert personality. I'd even happily dress up in costume to do it (in fact, I would probably pay them for the chance to dress up in costume...particularly anything with a swishing skirt). Last night my mind began to race with new possibility. Could this be what I'm looking for or a simple distraction? I tapped into some of the (little practiced) skills I've been learning on the The Joy Diet (see numerous posts) - I looked for my truth and desire. Is this what I want? Imagine the story ideas I'd get working in a castle... Think of the creative inspiration being surrounded by art all day... Imagine the mischief winding up tourists about ghosts and secret passages....

Kate - you sent me a postcard of some mountains and a lake as part of the Artists' Way and look what has happened... Something cosmic happening in the universe perhaps? Is this going to see me stretching my wings, or just a flight of fancy? Well, let's turn the page of the next chapter and wait and see...
Err, and Kate, it looks like I just spoilt the postcard surprise. Never mind, I'll send you another!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

A farciful Halloween

Halloween is but a spooky week away. Today I party with hundreds of others with a Fanciful Twist. All are invited to join the festivites. Do come along, but beware the ghosts and ghouls...

Peeking between the pumpkins Willy, the naughty imp stretched his aching arms. It had been a restful 100 year sleep since his last Halloween and now he was bursting with mishievous energy. He scratched a long (and slightly grubby) fingernail down the sweet flesh of the mountain of fruit beside him and sucked it up thoughtfully.

What vexing behaviour to try first...? Memories of mischief flooded his tiny mind and he couldn't help but giggle delightedly. Cocking a very pointy ear he paused in his merriment and listened carefully. Carried to him on the playful autumn breeze was a tinkling music laced with laughter and excited chatter. It could only mean one thing - a party! Needing no further invitation he scampered off following the sounds and scents of the festivities.

Our elfin friend (for although a touch on the bad side, is actually a hero of this tale) stood transfixed at the scene laid out before him. Flickering light from a bonfire illuminated a ghoulish spectacle. Witches, warlocks, blood-sucking vampires and werewolves ran amok chasing ghostly figures that didn't so much as float but more tramped across the damp grass leaving a crushed trail.

Willy flittered seemingly un-noticed among the throng, though his presence was surely felt as he carefully unravelled a gossamer spider string donated by a kindly garden friend. Noses twitched and hands flicked to sweep away the tickling mesh. He clambered into a barrel of apples intent on a bite of some more fruity supper but nearly received a soaking as they were tipped into a bucket of icy water. "Humans" he fumed, as he headed off... This kind of fun was for the people hatchlings, he had the sounds of another fiesta in his tiny ear... one unheard by unsuspecting children and not for their delicate stomachs either!

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, round and round the cauldron swirled the spell, spitting and spattering those that stirred with dark brown stains.

Mildred, Meggie and Millicent picked at their warts and shook their dandruff into the poisonous mixture. What a party it would prove to be... this would teach those vile vampires not to invite them to the festivities...


Viktor asked Wulfie for the hundredth time that evening if his make up looked OK; he hated not being the palest at the party. It was very tiresome being a vain vampire sometimes. He envied the humans their looking glasses. "Mind you," he mused looking down his imperious nose at the matted and mangy hair of his companion, "...sometimes it could be a blessing". Viktor lifted his collar and ran his tongue over his fine sharp teeth. "Come along then mutt" he ordered and the two headed off to the castle ruins, just as they had done every October for the last 500 years. Viktor smiled remembering their first party which had caused the castle to fall into its current state of dishevelment. The Duke of Barnborough had not been best pleased - he complained that Viktor and his cronies would suck him dry... so that is exactly what they did! Foolish human.

They arrived to the usual mayhem as witches fought for first taste of the blood punch and lurkers hung around the edge of the dance floor trying to catch the eyes of fair maidens. Viktor had tried to ban the practice years ago, but Mudwen and his cronies would always turn up with a bag of them

The evil vampire floated theatrically to the top of the crumbling battlements and began his traditional party-opening speech. As the years had gone by he'd noticed less attention paid to him and more to the festering banquet; but this year that would all change. It was time he was once more accorded the due respect deserved to his (self-titled) role of Lord of the Underworld. He fingered the tiny vial concealed in his cloak and felt the heat from the potion within. This would knock the snivelling rabble down to size... Wulfie let out a wild howl and finally a semblence of silence descended on the gathered throng.


Meanwhile, Willy, hell-bent on causing mayhem was observing the three mad witches with interest. They appeared to be bottling some kind of party brew. Willy was mightily thirsty and enjoyed a drink as much as the next imp - particularly one with bubbles in a glass bottle. A whole row of the stuff was left balanced precariously on Mildred's broom as the hags went in their hovel to rip their dresses and scratch open a few scabs in preparation for a girls' night out. Willy crept silently toward the elixir with his gossamer spider's trail still dragging behind him.

What Willy didn't realise though was that things had changed since his last Halloween. Human hatchlings were far more street-wise and savvy these days. Tickling threads of sparkling spider web disappearing into the distance were interesting trails to be followed, particularly when there appeared to be a very small and ugly little creature at the head of them. 13 pairs of eyes also fancied a drop of some sparkling brown stuff and they also had to check out what special effect was making that broom float...

Mayhem would no doubt have ensued had Mildred, Meggie and Millicent returned outside to collect their brew. Regrettably, Meggie had mistakenly complimented Millicent's worst gown and the enraged witch had clumsily cast a spell in a confined space that had a 'strictly for outdoor use' label and the three of them were now balancing precariously at the top of a Baobab tree on the fringes of the Kalahari desert. Millicent, the only one carrying a wand at the time, had dropped said article on the head of a sleeping lion. He was now chewing it thoughtfully while he considered which witch would make his starter, main course and dessert.

Instead, the vile brew intended to cause a stir at Viktor's party was being quaffed by 13 children and one over-excited imp who had suddenly gained a whole gang of miscreants to join in his fun. As the potion began to work its magic on the assembled throng Willy, who the small humans kept mysteriously calling Dobby, led his crew to a 'special party'. (As you may have gathered, and will see more proof of, the hapless witches hadn't done very well in their spell-making GCSEs).

Viktor's lengthy speech was drawing to a climax to the relief of the assembled mob. They felt it only right that he should be allowed his final moment... before they toppled him from his lofty perch and ripped him limb from limb.

Viktor's thumb carefully eased the cork from the vial...

The mob, as one, began to murmer and chant a spell-binding incantation...

13 children fuelled by a 'near-enough' imitation of coca-cola, but with rather a lot of extra caffeine, hotly pursued by an imp called Dobby, or was it Willy?... charged into the castle alive with raucous laughter making enough noise to wake the dead (had they not already been awake and standing in front of them).

Viktor nearly fell from his battlements in shock. Regrettably the liquid he had intended for the mysteriously chanting crowd below leapt from its container drenching him.... He started shrinking...

The mob's chanting ended abruptly at the mysterious interuption. But everyone knows that stopping half way through a task of such gravitas is deadly. The children's laughter and excited chatter finished the spell... Their glee increased at the wonderful show the house elf Dobby was putting on for them. Over-inflated witches whizzed past their heads like popped ballooons, werewolves started resemebling guinea pigs and vampires ran amok trying to collect their teeth which were dropping from their jaws like showers of rain.

Dragging themselves home later, pockets full of vampire teeth and new pet guinea pigs, they all agreed it was the best Halloween ever.

Willy tip-toed back to his hole in the wall as quietly and unobtrusively as he could. His mischief for the night was done and he thought it best to keep a low profile for another hundred years or so.

Viktor, dishevelled and tired, crawled back into his coffin, now 50 sizes too big, snuggled up to a very large teddy and cried himself to sleep... The modern world was really no place for a vampire...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

I intend to be both...

I confess to being somewhat disappointed with this 'ere so-called 'Joy' Diet. This week promised a chapter on 'creativity'. "At last!" thinks I... something I am good at. Some fun. Alas, we were not instructed to grab paintbrush, scissors, glue and squeeze tubes of colour with wild abandon.

Pity the poor girl who is still shying away from looking for her deepest desires; now Ms Beck wants me to go about fulfilling them. Is the woman mad? No Lisa. I think you'll find that the insane one is you. The mad woman speaks sense. She's pushing you out of your safe little cocoon and into the wide world of opportunity.

It's all very interesting but I do need more time to digest and practice. I'm afraid that a chapter a week is getting a bit too much for me. I'm tempted to duck out now and work through my book at my own pace, but I also know that without the pressure from teacher and class mates, I'll probably never get around to finishing it. I'll keep trying. I'm just trying to cram too much into my life.

With creativity this week everything seems to be coming back to work... You see, in the six months I've been there I've come up with dozens of creative innovations (as Martha suggests) - some sensible, others a bit off the wall. That's who I am. What I do. But they don't like them. Oh no, far too much fun suggested, too different, modern. I actually used a quote from the book with a like-minded colleague (rarer than a spineless hedgehog) to try and explain where I was coming from.

"If something is worth doing, it's worth doing badly"

I use this one a lot too... "What's the worst that could happen?"

Aghrrr. I don't want to talk about work any more this week. Banned.

Back to creativity. I rather enjoyed removing false dichotomies, I guess I was pretty comfortable with this. I wasn't too sure about the enemy thing though. I haven't tried it yet. Again it's taking me out of my comfort zone.

I'm finding the book a worthwhile exercise, but at the moment I feel like I'm trying to drive a large truck when I've only just passed my cycling proficiency test. I want to get the most from this, but I'm rushing. It almost feels like I just need to go back to the beginning and start again more slowly. Anyone else the same? The whole digging into my deepest feelings is not a natural thing for me. I know I should do it, but it's REALLY HARD and I'm feeling a bit lost!

In the pink

I hope Mum and Dad will be tickled pink tomorrow when they receive this anniversary card I made celebrating their 44 years together. It also fits rather nicely with Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge - pink. Are the two coincidental? Well, that would be telling... It's nice and romantic for them anyway. Happy Anniversary love bugs!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Her hair was the stuff of fairy tales

Once upon a time in October's edition of Fairy Vogue there lived a fairy tale princess with magical golden tresses. If you listened to the rustling of her locks you could hear stories of frogs kissing fair maidens, knights battling scaly dragons and bluebirds singing of hidden castles.
Scrapbook background, collage, ribbons, sleeping beauty, oil pastels, Rapunzel, acrylics, bluebird feathers and a touch of magic...

Letting go...

This week's Wishcasting Wednesday prompt asks what we wish to let go.

Well, today I most definitely need to let go feeling sorry for myself. My pride and optimism are dented after not getting the job I wanted and feeling trapped in one that seems to suck my creativity dry. There I go again see, moping and rejected...

Today I must pick myself up, dust myself down and raise my head high. I have work to do for which they are paying me a tidy sum. I may not like it, but it pays the bills. I have to keep going, but it's easy to allow thoughts to drift and focus on the negative - to allow grumpy pessimism in to my precious brain space.

Somehow I must dig out chirpy Lisa, optimistic Lisa, playful Lisa but all I think of is that newsletter I've re-written for the fourth time that still hasn't been signed off... for no reason other than they can't decide when to send it out, content is fine... but will be out of date again.... I'm tasting the bitterness of defeat and torturing myself with thoughts of someone else doing my dream job. Someone else waking up this morning delighted with their new role. Did they want it as much as I did?

Perhaps if I have a good old moan and let it all out then that will be done with it, then I can let it go? Shall I stuff a parrot with my grumblings then open the cage door and watch it fly?

OK, I've had enough of this now. It's making me feel worse... I promise to be back on form tomorrow. Just let me have this one day to mope.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

These boots were made for...

Well, me actually!

I am enjoying my first dates with the objects of my lust. Yes friends, my new boots were finally brought home this weekend. Carefully unwrapped from delicate tissue and lifted reverently from the box, they gazed upon their new owner. It was love at first sight.

Having spent the weekend in the company of my two best boys (son and boyfriend); they only received their first proper appreciation in the (predominatly female) office – in the special way that only other women (and possibly gay men) possess for admiring each other’s clothing and footwear purchases.

Much ooh-ing and ahh-ing has been heard from the lips of the ladies. A lunchtime outing to, coincidentally, Boots (the chemist) also saw a shop assistant so overcome by their magnificence that she felt compelled to comment upon them. I felt like Victoria Beckham attracting the attention of the paparazzi as she sports her latest skinny number.

Yes, the boots are certainly a big hit and worth not only the wait but the expense. And, not only do they look good but they are comfortable too – surely too much to ask! I shall be wearing skirts all week to show off to best advantage…

I wrote this before I discovered I had failed to impress the judges at the 'job of your dreams' contest. Despite reaching the final four, the winner's podium and record deal eluded me. I guess it just wasn't meant to be - unlike my ownership of these boots...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Things that go bump in the night

A Sunday Scribble - Thing's that go bump in the night.....

Thump, thump, thump. George lay in bed trying to shut out the repetitive banging as the wind played drums with the back gate. He watched the digital numbers changing shape beside his bed until he gave in to the noise. Pulling on a worn dressing gown and shoving his feet in the nearest shoes that came to hand he padded downstairs.

Outside the wind howled and, just to spite him for waiting so long, it had now begun to rain. He trudged round the side of the house in the direction of the gate battling an umbrella that was determined to take him on a flight of fancy.

Bang, bang, thump, thump... the noise pulled him closer. It was dark down here. Really dark. If he'd had his wits about him George might have considered that it was darker than it should have been in the middle of a city with a street lamp just metres away. George wasn't scared of the dark though. He knew where he was going and carried on towards the thump, thump, bang, bang.

He ran his hand down the wall, fingers grazing slightly on the rough brick. How much further was that damn gate? At last the wall ended, but where brick should have become wood instead was... what was it? George pulled him arm back in surprise. What little hair remaining on his head stood rapidly to attention. The banging stopped.

"Hello George" murmured a smooth voice, "been a long time... " George reached instinctively for a weapon that wasn't there. A weapon that hadn't been there for 25 years. He looked into the glowing eyes and watched disinterestedly as the sharp fangs began to protrude from the creature's lips. He clicked his fingers and the sky lit up in a shower of sparkling colour. Lightning streaked through the sky ripping apart the branches on the beech tree towering above them. One solitary branch was ripped from the trunk and flew rapidly to earth, impaling itself on its journey down through the heart of the creature of the night.

"Bloomin'vampires... never learn" yawned George as he fastened the gate and wearily made his way back to bed.

Shimmer me timbers

Quite the most ridiculous attempt at wit, but hey what more did you expect?

This shimmering pond belongs in the Inspiration Avenue weekly challenge - 'Shimmer'. Bit of collage, bit of tissue paper, bit of acrylic, a couple of koi carp and a lazy weekend afternoon...

It was one of those annoying artworks that never quite gets right, so you add a bit more tissue, dab a bit of paint, try using a palette knife... You get it just right, then foolishly add just a little bit extra and whumph, wrong again.

Spent the weekend at boyfriend's house. Arrived Friday night laden with art supplies, wine, pizza. Picked up my new boots yesterday... (photo and post to follow later in the week!!). Aren't weekends lovely?

Friday, 9 October 2009

I didn't do my homework Miss

Week 3 of Jamie Ridler & Co working through The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

I feel like a naughty schoolgirl who hasn’t done her homework. I must confess Ms Ridler that I only finished reading the Desire chapter yesterday; so my contribution to our class discussion this week will be limited on what I can make up on the spur of the moment. However, I figure that if I at least sound like I know what I’m talking about, I may just get away with it!

Desire. What a lovely, evocative word. It seems to envelop you in warm contentment.

OK, so I may not have had much time to practice this week’s exercises but I did love what I read. In fact, I got rather excited by this paragraph in particular:

“I don’t know what part of us stores the code for our right lives – maybe some corner of the brain, maybe the figurative heart, maybe that indefinable phantasm called the soul – but I do know how the code is relayed to our conscious minds, enabling us to make choices in keeping with our purpose. It happens through the medium of the sensation we call desire. The knowledge of your destiny is available to you, well before it actually happens, as a message streaming continuously from your heard to your brain, written in the language of longing.”

Aside from the fact that this is a beautifully written piece, it felt wonderful to read. Is this knowledge really just a chapter away from discovery?

Of course, our head nutritionist Martha then goes on to disappoint and disillusion. Naturally, like all good things (I’m immediately thinking chocolate here) there is a down side. And of course she is right, or why else would she need to write this book? Unlocking the treasures of our desires and destiny is going to be difficult without the key.

We humans have hidden our keys very effectively – ‘wanting’, after all is ‘a dangerous activity’. Annoyingly she’s right. Damn the woman. I had a quick attempt at latching onto a desire, but couldn’t quite settle on one. Why? Because, naturally, I was not allowing myself… I couldn’t long for this, I was not worthy. Hmm. More practice required I think.

This is such an interesting concept. Why don’t we get taught this stuff at school or maybe at some sort of compulsory adult education classes? Why can’t we have lessons on ‘How to live’?

I’ve been going through a realisation lately that I’m wasting my potential. I could be doing so much more, my outputs both at work and home could be more creative, productive. It’s exciting though and at least recognition is in place, so action is surely following.

Yesterday I did have the opportunity to explore one particular desire. I had a second interview for a job I know I would love. In fact, I spent most of the day in a state of extreme nervous excitement fumbling my way through this particular desire. My poor boyfriend was subjected to about 10 phone calls from a highly strung woman – his kind words placated me – “I knew that job was perfect for you as soon as you told me about it.” I explored this desire most thoroughly. I remain positive… Believe in yourself Lisa…. Ask and the Universe will deliver…

Thanks to everyone for their supportive comments on Truth last week, it means so much to be a part of this wonderful group.

I will do better next week teacher. I will try and catch up on all my homework, I promise… I want to re-read the desire chapter again to embed its theory before embarking on some serious practice.

PS: Is it just me or does anyone else have the U2 song Desire now permanently fixated in their brain? Well, if you didn’t before, now I’ve suggested it, you probably will now!!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Five words

Some like to channel surf, some get wet in the waves. Me, I love a bit of blog surfing. Every so often you catch a big one that thrills you all the way to shore. One day I hopped on Carmen’s blog wave. Sea stories are rather appropriate because (and I must whisper this because it’s a bit magical), she is actually a mermaid. Yes, a real one. She has also perfected the art of transforming herself into human form and pottering about on the Californian coastline (but, it seems, never too far away from the sea, she has to swim occasionally). We are glad of this because it means she can blog without electrocuting herself – computers and sea water … never a good mix.

Without the wonder of blogs we would miss so many networking opportunities. So, I sit here often in the English rain networking and reading the adventurous words of my mermaid chica spreading her bliss far across the oceans.

Words in bold are a bit of fun – Carmen challenged me to write something including these five words. And so... I have!

If you’d like a five word challenge, please leave a request in the comments!

The picture is not Carmen, it is her mermaid friend Sandy. I made her on a Cornish beach back in the balmy English summertime... It seems so long ago now...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


What do I wish to complete? The big question for this week's Wishcasting. And, let's face it, this could be a big list...

If you've ever done those personality questionnaires, there's one where a category listed is 'completer/finisher'. That's not me. Oh no, no, no, no. I'm always leaping onto the next project, bursting with new ideas. That's not saying I don't do things when I have to - it's more that it's not my natural leaning and while I'm 'on the ball' I'm a real perfectionist, going the extra mile and adding unique and special touches. It's just that filing and post-project evaluation just doesn't float my boat when there's something new and exciting to plan and perform - the temptation of a creative brainstorm drags me away from tidying up loose ends. Thinking about it, I probably do it emotionally as well. Last week I talked about burying all those difficult feelings you don't want to think about under the floorboards. I guess that displays very much the same trait. The let's just leave that 'evaluation' to one side and move on with life... And so, as we've learned, life's little difficulties don't just go away. They wait patiently to be dealt with...

Well, enough rambling. What do I want to complete?

Let's go for something realistic, a task that just requires some gentle pushing in the right direction, a few words of encouragement and a dash of application. I want to complete the opening of my Etsy shop!

Wow, I said it... openly admitted my desire and, most importantly, believing those who tell me my work is good enough (something I'm not very good at!). So, I plan on completing a few more items that may (possibly) be worthy of sale, planning an grand opening party and inviting you all to join me for a virtual glass of bubbly and a fancy canape. I've already rented the space. Presently all white walls, lots of natural light and a few pot plants so, shall we set a target date of November some time? How nice it would be to sell a few artworks and other creations... dream....

Pop along to Jamie Ridler's wishing well to join in the fun with the rest of the wishcasting gang - and, better still, join in too.

Picture above is the first artwork I sold!! I was well chuffed. A friend bought it, but still, they were willing to pay good money for it. Mixed media on canvas - collage & acrylics. Raspberry Ripple.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Where have my degrees gone?

October sneaked in last week like a mean bully, pushing our balmy September into memory and stealing those lovely degrees of extra warmth she had caressed us with all month.

This morning my son trotted off to school in his new winter coat (by afternoon, the hood had mysteriously 'fallen' off). Tonight I huddled over radiators gurgling back into life after their summer hibernation and noticed more leaves changing into their golden outfits ready for a quickstep in the wind.

This year I seem to have noticed Autumn far more than ever before. I am in touch with her senses - hearing the crackle of leaves, pop of seeds, sniffing the sweet decay and dancing with her thoughtfully provided partners in the piles of leaves gathered so carefully by the chill wind.

Perhaps it is my new-found creativity that awakened me to the season's beauty - or maybe we just forget, taken in by each season, captivated by the moment.

My son has been given an Autumn project for homework. He produced pockets full of crushed and crumpled leaves for his 'collection'. We went hunting for conkers and acorns and talked colour.

In my project I experimented with a spot of art journaling - my own homework from my Art Journaling Supernova class.

PS: Excuse the dancing superlatives - been watching Strictly...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Come here gorgeous

I'm on a roll - 2nd entry for Sunday Scribblings...

It was our first date. He didn't know I was such a lightweight when it came to alcohol. Two glasses of wine should really be my limit, but he kindly procured a third while I visited the ladies', so I felt obliged to at least have a mouthful or two. The merlot rushed around my bloodstream, heightening senses, shaking off nerves.

He was pretty nice mind, we had plenty to talk about. Good-looking, charming, an easy way about him. I found an excuse to slide closer along the sofa, so we had a bit of body contact. I flirted, he flirted back.

Time was our enemy and we had to leave. He walked me to the taxi rank and it seemed natural to hold hands. Regrettably there was no queue and line of rumbling black carriages waited to whisk their passengers off into the night. No more time for small talk.

We said our goodnights and arranged another date. Heady with drink I probably gave him 'that look'. Heads moved closer. Lips brushed, then parted. He maintains to this day that I practically devoured him, that he was innocent of any unseemly behaviour! All I remember is a very nice kiss that had me grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way home. I've had a lot more from him since then.

Kiss, Kiss Sweetheartxx
For the avoidance of doubt - picture is not us!!

First kiss

My first sight of my new love happened, as is typical, when I least expected it. I mean you could could go fruitlessly searching for romance at a dating site, but end up meeting the man of your dreams over the apples in Tesco; that's the vagaries of fate for you.

So, there I was skimming the pages of an underwear catalogue (for women of a larger bust, not that you need to know that, but hey, I'm proud of my assets). I never thought I'd fall in lust whilst browing knickers and bras but BANG - there it happened.

Of course, underwear catalogues only help you buy well, underwear... all other embellishments are merely for 'decoration', there to assist the sale. Regrettably, there's no helpful shopper's guide for anything else that takes your fancy on the page. And so, with regret, I accepted that it was highly unlikely we'd ever get to meet, let alone become intimately acquainted. Until today...

Heart-fluttering moments were far from my thoughts when I set out on my errand. A quick trip into town, check out the art expo, then home and cook lunch. Simple. Wrong.

I don't know what called me into that shop in particular, perhaps it was the enticing scent of expensive leather. In fact, I'd been in there a while and was heading back towards the door when that moment of recognition clanged like a cymbol, awakening my memory and assailing my senses.

The object of my lust was there... before my eyes... just standing there. I'm sorry, but I couldn't help myself. I'm ashamed to say I just grabbed, held, stroked, sniffed and yes, held tantalising close to my face and... kissed.

Those boots might be the most expensive pieces of footwear I've ever owned but they are sooooo lovely..... Well, they will be when they arrive in the shop - didn't have my size in brown, but the black size 39 fitted perfectly. Just a week to wait before we become attached... I see myself living in them all winter. I may even take them to bed... If you want to see a picture, see page 46 of the Autumn Bravissimo catalogue and let the green-eyed monster take you...

My Sunday Scribble - a fun, weekly writing challenge. Theme this week: First kiss. Yeah, I know that it's cheating - who kisses boots eh? And they don't kiss back, but really... you should see these boots...

Friday, 2 October 2009

Rows and flows of angel hair

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons ev'rywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

Pure poetry by Joni Mitchell. I had the song (Both sides now) on repeat while I painted this, my entry for Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge - Sky.

I had too many ideas for this one, then suddenly from nowhere these lyrics popped in my head and I knew for sure what I would be creating tonight; though until I opened my magazine stack to find the perfect pictures, I wasn't sure how it would take shape until I found my angel hair. I loved creating this piece - from selecting the pictures, to sloshing the paint and tearing up and strategically placing tissue paper. I'm sitting typing with the colours of clouds staining my fingers (and still listening to the song).

So readers, take flight to the sky, float in angel hair clouds and let Joni Mitchell be your soundtrack.

Joni's lyrics are a true inspiration. I am so in awe of her mastery of language, her imagination and lyrical creativity. Why don't we study song lyrics at school? Strange, I feel stumped for words tonight. Maybe I'm just a little in awe of Joni.

And now, just as I have posted, I popped along to TGIF's challenge to find a white theme... Well, my clouds and angel hair is white...

Mixed media, magazine collage, tissue paper & acrylics.

Truth hurts

I'm coming over all serious now... just a warning... It doesn't happen often...

Working through the 'Truth' chapter in the Joy Diet this week was, how can I put it, interesting. To be honest, I'm still struggling with doing 'Nothing'. A couple of times I did sort of float off during my attempts, it felt good at the time, but then it was really just a momentary sensation. Other times I just fell asleep and woke confused, annoyed and with a headache. I can't say I've felt any benefit yet.

But, never one to give up easily, I tackled chapter 2 and, as instructed, I asked myself the following questions:
  • What am I feeling?
  • What hurts?
  • What is the painful story I'm telling?
  • Can I be sure my painful story is true?
  • Is my painful story working?
  • Can I think of another story that might work better?
I didn't always like the answers to the first few questions. However, I know that no matter how much half of me likes to live in a comfort bubble of denial; facing the truth is a necessary evil.

When I separated which led to a subsequent divorce, I wrapped all my emotions in a tight cloth, locked them in a stout wooden box and hid them under the floorboards. There they remained, safely out of sight and mind. I thought I was fine. I'd hidden the truth away very successfully hadn't I? This was my tried and tested method of dealing with pain. It had always worked before...

Wrong. The truth sat there waiting patiently for a chink in the protective armour I had encased around it. Eventually it spotted a weakness and leapt out and attacked me when I was unprepared to deal with it.

I had to open that box and go through its contents. It was not pretty and by then it had started to rot and smell a bit...

This chapter has been a useful reminder to watch myself... no more long-term storage plans for my emotional issues! And, you know what, once these nasty niffs got an airing, they weren't quite as bad as I'd thought. In a roundabout way, just admitting to yourself you have a problem seems to negate it somehow, dilute it... And, if you can share the burden, then all the better... I'm much better at it now.

Although I'm struggling to complete these exercises exactly as Martha suggests - 15 minutes of nothing followed by a truth session - the very fact that I've taken some time out this week to actually think about how I'm feeling and assessing those feelings can only be a good thing.

I'm hoping that by reading and sharing with the rest of the Joy Club, I'll learn a few more tricks to keep me smiling.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Stretching wings

I feel strangely liberated today. I stayed up far too late blogging, yet woke refreshed and the sort throat I've been nursing for days seems finally on the retreat - get back with you varmit...

I've been working from home and knocked out a couple of pieces of work that I'm proud of - real knock 'em dead stuff. I've also been deliberating over my contribution to Theme Thursday - this week it's 'Wings'. With the strains of Mull of Kintyre floating round my head, I set to thinking...

I am reading a wonderfully inspiring book by Kelly Rae Roberts about this very gossamer subject. She is teaching me how to give flight to my creative spirit. Her encouraging words and fine techniques are lifting my soul. I'm also lapping up all the sweet artistic juiciness from the Art Journaling Supernova - experimenting, playing and generally getting messy. What better artistic creation for wings then, than a homage to what I've learnt from both of these.

Maybe I'm just getting old and don't remember, but I'm sure I never 'noticed' autumn quite so much as I do this year. Colours, textures, smells all assail my senses. I feel like a sponge in a 'who can soak up the most' contest and I'm lugging all this inspiration around careful not to spill a drop until it can be poured onto canvas or crafted into words!

This then is representative of my creative flight through Autumn.

I present my 'Creative Wings'. It really is very 'Kelly Rae', so I feel a bit like I cheated myself - it wasn't enough of my own creation. I wasn't too happy with the face - she looks slightly odd... but I can always paint or collage over. Mixed media on canvas board - acrylics, collage, oil pastel and a real oak leaf. I asked some real butterflies to pose just for the picture, but they flew off, fickle things.
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