Wednesday 16 November 2016

Dull November...

...brings the blast;
Then the leaves are swirling fast.

I always loved that poem (by R. L. Stevenson) and it perfectly describes what's going on outside my window right now.

Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons, but it's always sad to see the leaves being whipped from the trees. All those bright colours giving way to bare branches.

But there are good things to come. And for all those people who are determined not to mention the 'C' word just yet: look away now.

You see, when you're a maker of one kind or another, Christmas is something which must be prepared for early. There are fairs to attend where you (hopefully) sell your wares. It's no good leaving it until December, unless you enjoy a bit of panic. So I've been printing cards and doing line drawings of pine cones and mistletoe.

Of course, I'm not in favour of the shops playing carols in October. Or the endless TV adverts aimed at children. In fact, Joe's pretty confused by it all. He's convinced Christmas is going to be upon us within the next 24 hours.

School is a whirlwind of activity: non-uniform days, PTA fundraisers, birthday parties (sometimes two in a single day), numerous performances and services and early bird sessions.

Busy, busy, busy.

One thing I've realised, though - stress is not good for you. In fact, I've been reading about it. I'm tired of succumbing to each and every infection/virus/bug that comes my way. Of lying awake in the early hours while my mind jumps from one thing to another. Of worrying about things that are far beyond my control.

I've always been an anxious person, ever since childhood. It's usually pretty manageable, if unpleasant. I envy those people who are laid-back and able to just let life wash over them.

Accepting I'll never be one of them is important. So is getting a handle on things. 

I know that the concept of 'Hygge' is all the rage. But there's something to be said for it, even if it's just my interpretation. Like taking pleasure from little things. Being warm indoors. Seeing friends. Reading books.

I've made a conscious effort, these past few weeks, to relax more and worry less. To try and feel physically well too and not be so susceptible to illness. Here's what I've been doing:

Curbing the social media (it's full of negativity and sensationalism) and just looking at the things I find enjoyable (mostly pretty pictures on Pinterest).

Organising my time better. I now have a 'day off' during the week to catch up with friends and deal with chores, or to batch cook meals.

Keeping lists and staying on top of potential causes of worry (finances, appointments etc.)

Eating better. Avoiding caffeine, cutting down on sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Accepting that my business is new, that I have a lot to learn, and that things take time.

Avoiding comparing myself to others, and 'how well' they're doing.

Going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Enjoying small treats: a magazine, a scented candle, a film.

Removing myself from situations where I feel helpless or taken advantage of, and instead prioritising Joe, Jay and myself.

Learning not to feel guilty.

Fighting perfectionism (not easy!) and realising I can't be all things to all people, that there are only so many hours in a day, and 'multi-tasking' really isn't the be all and end all.

So, dull November. I did say it was a time of introspection, of evaluation, this winter of ours. I know it isn't here just yet but it's cold and dark and wet. Time to make plans and hibernate and enjoy what's closest to us: hearth, home, family, friends.

Tuesday 8 November 2016


I've just checked. It's going on for three weeks since my last post.

It's also a while since I managed to get any work done. That's because Joe was ill with croup and an ear infection for a week so was off school. The following week I started with a sinus infection. And the week after that the sinus infection developed into a chest infection, just in time for half term.

But now we're on the mend and I've finished a course of the dreaded antibiotics. Life can begin again. Although to be honest, it never really stopped. Or even paused.

You just have to get on with it when children are part of - or the whole of - the equation. So we did. And we actually had a pretty great week, illnesses aside.

It's amazing how three weeks can see such changes. We've gone from mild sunshine to temperatures well below freezing. The woollen blankets are out, the lamps are lit and the soup pan is regularly bubbling away.

We've had some lovely adventures. Picnics in the woods near the house, family walks around the reservoir. And a trip to the Yorkshire Dales (bitterly cold, but breathtaking scenery and some very welcome bacon sandwiches in a little cafe in Malham).

We've been to Halloween parties and Joe went trick-or-treating. 

He also suddenly stopped being scared of fireworks and decided that they're possibly the most exciting thing ever. The bonfire was a small affair with mulled wine and ginger cake. The photo further up this post actually shows his old preschool's piano being devoured by the flames. That's quite a sad thought, actually. I'm surprised we couldn't hear ghostly songs from days gone by, escaping as it burned.

School started again today (I'm assuming yesterday was a training day). I had mixed emotions - we've had a really nice half term. But I also have commissions to work on, and a Christmas fair isn't too far off.

It's interesting when you're unable to get on with creative endeavours, work-related or otherwise. You have lots of ideas and sometimes it's useful to utilise these enforced breaks - to rethink, to plan. I'd really love to take Mitenska in a different direction; to write considered posts about things which are important to me. Sometimes maybe just some ponderings. Occasionally a catch-up like this one.

Anyway - winter approaches. It's in the air. A season of introspection. I like that.

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