Frustrations, faffing and failures…

Today’s the day when the girls return to school and life swings back into what I laughingly call our normal routine.

We’ve been enormously lucky to be able to have the whole family together at home over the Twelve Days of Christmas, which I really adore – a kind of hibernation with chocolates and jigsaws – but now it’s time to move forward into 2015.

Over the holidays, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the plans and ideas bloggers have for what they want to do this year. Lots of people seem to be using numbers as prompts – along the lines of ’15 things in 2015′. It sounds fun (well mostly), but long experience convinces me, I’m not a resolutions kind of girl. In fact, having read The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman over the holidays, I’m quite content to carry on as I am.

Which, to be honest, has been a bit of a mixed bag over the last few weeks.

Regular readers will know that I generally move straight from one stitchy piece to another, and indeed, I have been stitching all over the Christmas period. But for the first time in ages, I haven’t been able to settle into one piece. In fact, in what is a first for me, I’ve managed to start, stitch and then abandon four new pieces in the last six weeks. I’m not sure why, but nothing has quite come together in my mind and I just haven’t connected to the work.

And I can tell you, there’s nothing like failing at something slowly to give you the full benefit of the experience.

So, just in case it isn’t fifth time lucky, I’ve decided to take positive action.

I have stopped sticking the needle into the canvas and instead, I’ve thrown every ball, skein and odd straggly end of yarn I possess (yep, we’re talking a small skip load) into a huge heap, and then had a thoroughly good time sorting them all into colour families. I then tidied out the boxes and found new ways to store them. Oh yes, this girl knows how to live!

Not content with that, I’ve also had a major move around of all my arty stuff – surprising isn’t it, what you find that you’d forgotten you had – and managed to carve out a slightly bigger area to call my studio (ok, we’re not in Virginia Woolf territory here – I have to share the space with the laundry and the downstairs shower), but woe betide anyone who infringes on my self-defined arty area!

And so I move into 2015 in a more organised, decluttered and refreshed state of mind. But for the moment, I’m not going to stitch. Instead, I intend to spend a few weeks playing.

And with a bit of luck, playing will eventually lead onto something that does get the juices flowing.

So that’s where I am. Mildly frustrated, accepting a few failures and faffing my way into 2015.

Springing Into Autumn

The new term has put a spring in my step. I have never really understood why people talk about fresh starts in January – for me, Autumn is the time when I feel energised, enthusiastic and ready to start again.

So the children are finally back at school and I’ve just about re-established contact with the bottom of the laundry pile, and at last I feel able to have some ‘me’ time. It’s been ages since I wrote here, but that’s because we spent most of August camping in Scotland (well I know that might not suit everyone, but we had the best time imaginable).

It’s my intention to scatter the odd post about the holiday on my other blog Mostly Motley from time to time, so if tales of wet walks up mountains, soft golden sandy beaches and castles galore are your thing, do pop over there occasionally and have a look.

But this blog is my creative space, so it’s time for a quick update.

Well full of good intentions, I actually took a small bag and some tapestry supplies away with me, thinking that I would sit and watch the sunsets, whilst putting in a few stitches. But in truth, I never actually took out the contents during the whole holiday. The fact is that we were either too wet or too tired to sit outside very much, and on the occasions when we did, I found that simply gazing at the views was enough. Oh and I suppose that having to move around quite a lot to avoid being midge fodder was an additional disincentive.

I did however, take a lot of photographs of the sort that my husband calls ‘arty’, but are in fact simply pictures without him or our daughters in them.

Kirkaig Falls, near Lochinver.

I also spent a great deal of time just looking. The scenery on the West Coast of Scotland is unsurpassed in my opinion. Ever since I was a small child, going there on holiday with my parents, the combination of mountains, lochs and the sea has had me in thrall. We drove to the Corran Ferry through some of the most atrocious rain we’ve ever experienced, but as we got to Glen Coe, the rain disappeared and the weather changed. We got out of the car to stretch our legs before the ferry arrived and tears came to my eyes, it’s just unspeakably beautiful and I felt that I was being welcomed back.

After three weeks of Highland scenery, I feel well and truly re-energised. My inspiration levels are topped up and at least for a while I’m calm again.

For two years now, I’ve been mangling my brain, trying to fit my square career experience into the round hole that is the real me, and I think that I might now have tipped the balance properly and decided not to beat myself up any more, (well I expect the occasional relapse), but no more attempts to come up with the perfect solution. For now, I’m going to be nice to myself and see where it takes me.

My Autumn resolution is to draw and paint every day. I can’t do that when the family are at home, so I’ll make time during the day. At night, I’ll always be able to sew – that remains my best therapy.

It’s been thirty-three years since I gave myself permission to draw and paint just for pleasure – I wonder what’s lurking inside.

Anyway, enough of this introspection.

Here is a pastel sketch of Hadrian’s Wall from a picture I took while we were there. I did it yesterday. Well, it’s a start!

Hadrian's Wall (pastel)