Monday, 20 March 2017

My first ever E-Workshop

Hi friends,

I really pleased to share with you something I have been working on for some time; my first ever E-workshop.

This workshop teaches you how to make these fabulous Positive Affirmation Cards, but it does so much more than that.  Included in the E-workshop are:

An photo-illustrated e-book which includes:

  • 15 beautiful pages,
  • All you need to know about why positive affirmations are useful and how they work,
  • A reflective, healing tutorial for coming up with your own positive affirmations,
  • A huge list of over 70 ideas for positive affirmations you could use,
  • A materials list,
  • A guided meditation to lead you into a reflective and healing art activity,
  • Detailed instructions on how to create your affirmations cards, including suggestions on how to choose your colours,
  • Ways to extend the process creatively, personally and socially.

A video tutorial:

  • Me, making the affirmation cards and talking you through how to do it.
You get all this for an amazing price of just £5.00!!

Why should you trust in me to lead you through this E-workshop?

I am a practicing artist, with 7 years art education under my belt (though I am always learning and currently taking an online course in Introduction to Art Therapy).  I studied art at Oxford Brookes University and eventually trained at Reading University to teach art to people of all ages.  I have a further 7 years experience teaching art and a personal interest in how positive thinking can change our lives. I have been a practicing artist for 14 years.

How you can get your creative paws on this E-Workshop:

There are a couple of ways to purchase this E-Workshop.  Either you can simply click on the "add to cart" to take you through to Paypal:

And I will email you the e-boo and video within 3 working days,

OR, you can shop through Etsy via this link:

And you will immediately receive the e-book and the video will be emailed to you within 3 working days .

So there you have it, are you willing to take a leap of faith in yourself (and in me)?  Give it a go, you may just be opening a door to somewhere you never thought you would be. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Gentle Parenting Retreat 2017

Parenting is HARD!!!  I know I say that a lot but it's so true. It takes from every bit of you and can leave you feeling like a husk. I know I feel like this frequently, I get to the end of the day with a list of things I wanted to do for myself, some painting, journaling, scrapbooking, reading, but I end up too damn tired to do any of it.  This is  why self care is so so important.  

I think I talk about self care a lot and it is something I am still learning about but one thing I do know for sure is vital for mothers to take time for themselves not just every now and again but regularly. 

The gentle parenting approach can be particularly depleting (yet of course similarly rewarding but I will talk about that another day).  You give and give and give, trying so hard to be patient, to respond to our children kindly and respectfully to meet all their needs with love and peace and to always listen.  This doesn't leave much space for letting off steam ourselves, or leave us with much time to talk about our own needs (hello facebook).  This is self care. 

Self care can come in many different forms and is different for every mother.  For myself and a group of local mums last weekend, self care came in the form of a one day gentle parenting retreat. (I think most of those who attended would agree with me when I say we could have done with more than one day, but the blessing of young babies who still very much need us bodily, a weekend away will have to wait a few years).  

The retreat was held at the Renewal Centre in Swallowfield.  The Renewal Centre was originally set up to help alcoholics and runs support groups for alcoholics and the children of alcoholics.  The building itself is a converted barn and is completely beautiful.  It is a very calming, relaxing space where you feel cocooned and safe.  

We began the day with a little meet and greet as there were several mums there who didn't know everyone I handed out some hand made affirmations to get us all in a positive mood, then we moved through to the studio to begin the first of the two workshops. 

The first workshop was a art workshop which I ran.   I tutored the mums through creating beautifully covered journals in which they might celebrate their creativity and express their feelings as mothers.  It was a really relaxing and laid back workshop (perhaps a little too laid back as I over ran a little bit!!)  and the end results were a collection of incredibly beautiful and unique parenting journals.  I tried really hard this year to be less "teachery"  having come from a background of secondary school teaching it was a challenge for me to let the mums get on with their project without feeling like I needed to go round and critique each guests book.   I think I did better this year but there are still aspects I can work on such as being more attentive to each person there, checking they were able to keep up with the process.  

If I could change anything about the workshop it would have been to write out a list of each step of the process we were about to do.  I thought that I knew well enough in my mind the order of each step but because I hadn't written it down I missed a couple of bits and had to back track which interrupted the flow of the session.  I also would have liked to have done a complete run through of the activity to the clock so I would have known more accurately how long it would have taken.   I had done the project a couple of times at home, but in bits over a few evenings and weekends, it would have given me better insight into how it would run if I had been able to do so fully in advance.  However I felt like the mums could empathise with how difficult finding the time to do this sort of thing would be, and would hopefully forgive me for that and forgive the slightly scatty nature of some parts of the workshop. 

This year I provided the lunch so the mums could relax and focus on themselves even more than last year (where we brought packed lunches).  I thought is was a really great lunch which was entirely vegan and delicious.  

After lunch we moved upstairs to the loft for a mindfulness and self care workshop run by Tricia Wilkie  She helped us to understand about how our brains work in stressful situations and how we can cope better using mindfulness techniques.  We did a few guided meditations and discussed the importance of self care and how to introduce self care into our lives.  Unfortunately we over ran a little and had to wrap the session up a little more briskly than I would have liked, but all in all it was a very successful session and Tricia was very knowledgeable and tuned into what we as a group needed to discuss and hear about, allowing us time to discuss and go off track when we needed to. 

I was utterly exhausted after the retreat (ironic I know) and my body followed this up with a cold which I have suffered with for the last week (I think I had been running on adrenaline on the lead up to the retreat and when this dipped my body just shut down).  Now I am feeling much better and so ready to talk about and start implementing more self care into my life, as well as daily meditations, even if just for a couple of minutes.  
I am definitely going to be running another retreat at around the same time of year next year.  I have learnt a lot now I have run two such retreats and I am confident they are going to get better and better.  I am also keen to run an additional retreat in the summer with a focus on art and craft for the whole day. I am have really enjoyed teaching art to mums (so different to teenagers)  I love how different all the journals were compared to mine, they took creativity to the next level, beyond anything I could have imagined.  

I found the planning and executing of the retreat incredibly stressful, I so badly wanted it to run smoothly and for people to feel they had value for money and for them to enjoy the day and feel the rest and relaxation promised.  I think the level of stress I experienced far outweighed what was necessary for such a situation, therefore I m really going to work on managing my stress better (using mindfulness and meditation) so that next time I run a retreat I will be able to feel replenished after as well.  Having said that it was a really great way to challenge myself, to push myself and was an incredible learning experience so totally totally worth it. 

So I really just want to say thank you so much to all the wonderful mums who came to the retreat last weekend and gave so much of themselves to make the day really special. It wouldn't have happend without you ladies, thank you so much.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Celebrating 5 years of motherhood


Today we celebrated my son's fifth birthday.  He is such an intelligent little boy, so friendly, confident and chatty, he is creative, funny and full of energy, I am proud to be his mama, he inspires me and makes me want to be a better person.  As well as celebrating the birth of my beautiful boy, I also had a little glass of wine to celebrate my own anniversary of five years of motherhood. It's strange how we don't acknowledge our own achievements as mothers in this way isn't it?

 Having a baby is like a re-birth, we become a different person, a new person, we are born ourselves.  We become a mother.  And we will never not be a mother every again.  After having a child we can never ever go back to being the person we were before.  And I am not talking about stretch marks here, I am talking about our hearts and souls. We are permanently changed.  So I am marking this anniversary as well.

But what am I celebrating? I am celebrating that I survived!  Because being a mother is HARD!
I used to be a secondary school art teacher and I would say that for me, being a mother is like my most stressful day of teaching, only the children don't leave at 3.00, there are no half terms, it's ALL THE TIME!  And that, my friends, is hard.  But I survived, I am surviving.  And I am a richer person for it too.  I feel like now, at the age of 33 and 5 years a mother, I know my self better that I ever did the the preceding 28 years.  I know more about myself and I know myself more deeply than ever before.  I am able to pinpoint my feelings, desires, stresses more accurately that I have ever been able to before.  I am much more mindful of how I am feeling.   I am more inspired to be creative and have more ideas than ever before (and ironically less time than ever to birth them!) But it's so wonderful to learn about yourself and develop this relationship with ourselves, getting to know the person we were born to be.

I really want us mothers to acknowledge and honour all our achievements as parents, but also to acknowledge and honor our souls, our mother souls. We so often forget how amazing we are as mothers, how important what we do is, and how we need to care for ourselves and give ourselves time to rest and recover along this incredible journey.

Here's to you mamas, we don't always acknowledge how powerful we are as mothers or as women, lets start.

A recent commission I did with the title "It Takes a Village to Rise a Child" 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

10 reason why I love living in a small house

It's all relative, I know, I realise that the mere fact of having a roof over my head makes me richer than 75% of the people I share this planet with, but here's the thing, comparison is the thief of joy and when your friends and neighbours aren't the 75% it can be easy to feel resentful and bitter about living in a small house when almost all your friends and family live in much larger more comfortable houses.  So in light of this burgeoning sense of dissatisfaction with my lot, I decided to compile a list  of 10 reasons why living in a small house really is awesome, and to show my gratitude for the wonderful blessing of a happy home, no matter the size and appreciating how lucky I am:

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1. Less cleaning - if you have less physical space to live in then there is less to keep clean, simples.  I struggle now! I dread to think what it would be like if we had even more space to spread out our mess! So happy that I only have one bathroom to keep clean.

2. The more you have, the more you have to lose - larger houses are more expensive to maintain which means someone has to keep working harder and harder to maintain it.  My husband already works 5 days a week commuting, and out of the house for 12 hours every day, I couldn't accept him working and harder or longer. Having less also means having less to worry about, less to break, less to get damaged less to fear losing.

3. It keeps us close - when you live in a small house you are often near your family, there is no hiding away on your i pads in our house, we have one TV, when we watch it, we watch together, we all sit round the same table and eat together, we sleep together or are no more than one wall apart.  This is an unpopular position to be in in our society, it seems the government have an attitude of "divide and conquer" we're supposed to separate ourselves from our children as soon as possible, and I am sure the government would love to see us all sitting in separate rooms watching separate screens.  For us being close and together builds strong, trusting relationships.

4. Less stuff - Being is a small house means I have to be very careful about what stuff we keep in it, we can't have too much because it makes the house messy, cluttered and difficult to live in, so there is a constant process of getting rid of things, editing, refining our posessions to keep the quantities down.  This is good because having more stuff has not been shown to make you more happy and in fact in many cases having less makes you happier.  Also having less stuff means having less to lose, if, God forbid anyone ever broke in to our house we have very little of interest worth taking.  Another benefit is that we focus less on stuff because we don't have a massive void of space to fill.

5. Cheaper - We admittedly spend an exorbitant amount of money every month on our mortgage, this is due in part to the location we live in (desirable, commuter distance, expensive) and also the time we bought, which meant our house was expensive and our interest rates weren't great, anyhow, we are still paying much less every month than if we were in a larger house.  We also have to pay less to maintain it, because, well, it's smaller, there is less of it, so less to maintain.

6. We'll be debt free in 16 years - When we first got our mortgage the end seemed a million years away, now it actually feels achievable (I think having children helps put time into perspective).  Imagine not having to pay rent or a mortgage!  Only having to work to cover bills, food and luxuries, this would be massive for a family like ours  who spend a huge amount of our monthly income on our mortgage. This is only achievable because our house is small and therefore costs less.

7. No obligation to host - Not that I don't enjoy hosting but it is nice knowing it simply isn't possible to host our families or large numbers of friends, no worrying about clean up, stress of making meals for everyone, having enough bedding, I never have to feel guilty about not offering to host. It also means I can enjoy the hospitality of others enabling them to take the enjoyment and credit of being the host (aren't I kind!).

8. It's better for the environment - A smaller house uses less raw materials to build, less energy to heat, has fewer electrical items in it to run and releases less pollution into the environment and .  Win!!

9. It means we get to stay together - some people opt to move to a cheaper area where they get more house for their money but the main wage earner continues to live in or near the city during the week to maintain their income. I couldn't sacrifice any more time away from my husband even if it meant we were living in a mansion.  He's my best friend, I like him better than a big house, it's not a sacrifice I am willing to make.  So I get to see my lovely hubby every day, we sleep in the same bed every night, we eat dinner together every evening and I intend on keeping it that way.

10. We spend more time outdoors - Because our house is small, we can find ourselves getting cabin fever, or feeling on top of each other sometimes, this means we spend a lot of time outside the house, which is BRILLIANT!  We visit friends, walk in the woods, go to groups, see family, play in the playground, go to the library.....we get fresh air, exercise, socialisation and so much more.  If our house was larger we might find ourselves missing out on these things because we would opt to stay in the house more.

So there we have it folks, life in a small house is wonderful and I intend on appreciating it each and everyday.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Hello 2017

Bliadhna Mhath √ôr, Blwyddyn Newydd Dda, and Happy New Year (that's Gaelic, Welsh and of course English, yes I am still in love with Outlander and I am half welsh)

I hope you are all entering the new year filled with hope for the fabulous wonders that 2017 may bring.

I am entering the year with slight trepidation.  I have honestly had such a wonderful year in 2016, it feels like it's hard to beat.  What if 2017 doesn't live up to it and is a huge disappointment? How can anything be better than 2016!

I know I need to shift this thinking to one of expectation of a fantastic year ahead.  To get my mind in the right place I am doing the Leonie Dawson Shining Life Workbooks again.  I loved them so much last year and they have really helped me to achieve a lot of my goals in 2016. I didn't achieve every goal, but I did achieve lots and I am so pleased about that, some were big (run a Gentle Parenting Retreat) and some were small (do a puzzle) and I know that writing them down, reviewing them and scheduling really helped me to achieve them.

I was so excited to get my workbooks in the post a few days ago that  I made a little video about them:


(That's my little boy chattering away in the background!  I feel bad watching back that I don't acknowledge him, I was just concentrating so hard on what I was saying for the video!!!)

A few years ago the way I set goals for the year ahead was so different from how I do it now. I wrote down ways in which I wanted my life to change but put no thought to planning how I would make them a reality.  The goals were not specific or measurable so not only did I not really know what the goal was, but I had no way of tracking how well I was doing or how near or far away I was from achieving my goal.  

I wasn't convinced by the workbooks when my friend Vicki introduced them to me a few years ago but she persuaded me to get on board and I am so glad that I did because they have totally transformed how I set goals and plan the year ahead.

What I didn't really explain in the video is how these books are so effective, particularly the life book.
To begin with reviewing the previous year is so important, it allows you to realise and think about what went well and what didn't so you can accept it and move onto the next year free from guilt and free from trying to drag unfinished business into the new year. 

In the next part of the book you begin to think about what you want from the year ahead, how you want to feel, what you want to achieve. It allows you to really dig deep and think about how you want the year ahead to look. 

Of course last year had it's ups and downs, there were parts that were really really hard, but knowing how much I achieved makes me feel so joyful and positive about the year ahead.  We can achieve so much, us mothers, and it's so important that we make time for our own goals, our own dreams.  It can be so easy to let that little light inside of us dim as we stoke the fires in our children, but we need that spark inside to glow and grow not just for our own well being and sanity but for the sake of those around us as well; because when we are the best versions of ourselves we can nurture others better as well. 

I would really encourage you do set some goals for the year ahead, break them down into steps then schedule them into your week so they become achievable. Maybe you like the look of the Shining life workbooks, if you do, then please click my affiliate link below.  (Leonie Dawson gives all her affiliates a little bit of money for every sale made through the link.)  

I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and hope you achieve everything you set your mind to.