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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Reflection Part 2

So, last post here we go.

Firstly, I'd like to say how strange it feels to know that we won't be on this space again. It makes you feel that somehow what you write is even more important, regardless of how many people will read it.

This blog started as a place for us to record 'What are days for'  based on Philip Larkins poem, and wanting to look and find a bit more meaning in each day. It was about noticing the small stuff, the gifts in the day, which if you weren't careful you could just miss as each hour flew by with the never ending lists.

When I read back now over some of the posts it's served as a really good record- a trip to Thailand, moving house,  family weddings and kids growing up. But it's actually some of the smaller things along the way that it's so good to look back on, times with friends that would have been forgotten, the sunrise early one morning, making cakes and Christmas lights.

I spoke last night about some of the stuff I'd learnt whilst blogging, and there is a couple of things I'd like to add. Firstly, it is so true, you never know what is going to come along next. Whilst some of the stuff is predictable life can still surprise you, and in a good way. I would never have believed in 2011 I'd run a half marathon, in 2014 I did. I've learnt to never just expect that each year will be the same, and it's so good to know that within that God is with me whatever.

Secondly though I haven't posted as frequently as Em on here to have a space to reflect has been so good- I love words, to use them outside of  work email again has been so good.

However, the best bit of the blog has been friendship. Em and I have been friends longer than both of us would care to admit (being women of a certain age) and we've been there for each other through some really difficult times.
But to share this together has been so special- she's encouraged me on, though this space we have laughed, learnt to 'stand tall' together  and I am constantly in awe of her ability with a camera.

To finish of the blog I looked through all the photos I had, and discovered that I hardly had any pictures of Em (or none that she'd forgive me for) because you see she is always behind the lens rather than in front of it.

So guess what- I'm posting a selfie that she took, where we both got soaking wet, but it was fun, and say thank you Em for sharing this with me, it has been a gift in my day.


fifteen things i've learnt during our time at 'what are days for'

today is officially the day we finish writing in this space. 

yeah, i know there's part of me that is sad about that too. i've been coming to this online space for four years now to share my life with you. first and foremost i would like to thank you for reading and continuing to come back. but before we close the curtain on these last four years together i thought i would look back and note down what i have learnt while writing at 'what are days are for'.

1. try even when you think you can't do it. this blog came into existence because i told jane i wanted to start a blog but didn't want to do it alone, i wanted to share it with someone, but who? she suggested maybe she could fill the opening. we forged ahead with no experience, neither of us writers nor proficient in technical know how. it was a big learning curve and though sometimes frustrating it was exciting.

2. always remember why you started. we called this space 'what are days for' after a philip larkin poem. jane had bought me a copy of one day by david nicholls and the first chapter is prefaced by larkin's poem 'days'

what are days for?
days are where we live
they come, they wake us
time and time over.
they are to be happy in:
where can we live but days?

we didn't realise when we named it but we inadvertently created a manifesto for our blog. this was the space where we told the story of our days; the big life experiences and the small "here's the buttercup that is growing in my lawn" days. if ever we forgot what we were doing here, our back story provided the answer for us.

3. write because you want to. if you write because you feel you should i guarantee you will start resenting this space you have created and quickly become bored and lose heart. write about anything, no matter how small, even if it's just images and three small words, slowly you will find your feet.

4. be honest. if it's a down day say. if you've won the biggest prize tell everyone.

5. embrace your own creativity. give yourself permission to dream and make space to think, to learn, to organise. seek out time alone with your thoughts, even it it's just a few minutes on the daily commute. realise that those five minutes spent dreaming can inform your whole day - regardless that i have spent the day running my companies tax year end and listening to the wind howl round my office - those five minutes this morning provided inspiration in my thought processes to write this for you tonight.

6. do all the above and add a pinch of discipline. what? i know, a space you have created to be creative within surely doesn't require discipline? do it for four years and then tell me you disagree. to write at all is discipline. if you dream of creating anything some kind of discipline has to be added to the mix regardless of if you want to soar into the sky or fly under the radar.

7. stretch yourself. don't be afraid to challenge yourself with a project. i took on writing for 31 days last october, i can honestly say it was the most planning i had ever done whilst writing in this space and through doing it i gained an insight into how people must have to work who make money at blogging. i have a new found respect for such souls.

8. listen to peoples opinions about your space. but remember what brene brown says - if they are not in the arena with you, putting themselves out there too - their words do not hold the same gravitas. do not allow negativity to stunt your creative growth.

9. find community and link up. read other blogs, make connections with their authors. subscribe to your favourites and don't be afraid to ping an email back to their inbox if something they have written has touched or inspired you. some day someone will do it to you and you will realise how exciting yet fulfilling it is.

10. gratefulness changes attitudes. mainly yours.

11. schedule breaks. sometimes taking time out reminds you exactly why you are writing and enables you to miss it when you don't.

12. expect the unexpected. the biggest surprise to come from this space was to make friends with and then meet a fellow blogger, who at the time was based in the usa, in real life. we not only communicate every week through the sabbath society she started but she now lives in england.

13. a sense of humour always wins out. try to maintain it. 

14. notice the little things in life. these usually turn out to be the biggest indicators of your passions. when you find them, embrace them.

15. don't assume someone (or everyone) is doing it better than you. that's just the little voice in your head talking. were they alongside you taking the picture at exactly the same time? have they been living a life parallel to yours and you've just not known it? no. your point of view is just that - your perspective - not anyone else's. share it. 

i've loved sharing this space with jane, loved how we have provided different perspectives on a life lived. our friendship formed as teenagers was already strong but through this space we have increased our contact, shared our best part of the week together with you each week, worked on photo projects to illustrate what our days are for and most importantly for me; my friendship with jane has gone from being in the pool of best friends to being my best friend. 

i came to this space not knowing how it would work out and i now realise, with very little expectation. what it has given me is a gift i didn't know i was looking for, let alone needed. it has given me the gift of expression. i have grown in confidence with my ability to not only take pictures but to write too - never mind that i get hung up about how i write as i talk. i try to remember that's just the voice in my head talking (see #15) and share my perspective anyway.

we are hanging up our hats here each for our own reasons. for me i am ready to step out on my own two feet. i am currently working on my own online space. a space where my hope is that my images and words will dance freely. the technological learning curve is even steeper now than when we started here four years ago so my dream is unfolding one page at a time. i'd love to have you along for the journey. if you would like to know where i land then join with our loyal subscribers and add your contact details to our subscription box, confident in the knowledge we will never share your details.

thank you for reading along with us over the last four years. i will always be grateful to jane for suggesting we do this together and eternally grateful that on this road i have discovered my creative ability again, may i never let it go.


linking with emily freeman at chatting at the sky one last time

Monday, 30 March 2015

Reflection Part 1

So, as we are officially now into the last two days of posting on this blog, I thought it was time for a bit of reflection.
Looking back on the blog there have been lots of good memories, things that looking back now really make me smile.
However, if you have read more than a few of my posts you will frequently get to hear me talking about not enough time, too much to do, finding it hard balancing work and home life etc etc etc...

It's funny but when you look back over writing over a number of years its easier to trace the patterns, and being busy, or too busy is certainly one of my patterns. Over the last two years like Em I have really tried hard to rest more, and have a true 'Sabbath' on a Sunday. This time has become very important, and though I've not managed it all the time I definitely have learnt to rest more, and this has now become a treasured time in the week where the pace definitely slows.
But I've also learnt that my naturally personality is to take on more, and that I'm not very good at just stopping. That's a challenge to me to learn to live in a different way, and learn to only spend time on the things that matter most, to think carefully before I just decide to go and take on something else.

And that's the second learning thing that's definitely happened over this blog. As a woman I seemed to have been born with innate sense of guilt, add to that the guilt I pile on myself for being a working mum, and the damage I imagine I'm doing to my kids that gets even worse. I've talked with Em about this many times, and she has rightly challenged me on this guilt.
Since Christmas I've been working longer hours, which guess what- it makes me feel even more guilty. However, I made a decision that rather than asking the kids all the time if there were problems because I was working more, I'd accept the current work, and be normal at home, rather than adding my guilt to them. And do you know what? The house hasn't fallen apart, and there have been no complaints from my two lovely children about me working....by me not making it an issue it's been better.
So today, I couldn't help smiling when I open my paper to be told that the thing that caused the most damage to teenagers was not mothers working, but mothers passing on anxiety and feeling guilty....oh what a learning curve.

So reflection part one for me is to not let my days be ruled by guilt, lists, always stressing because I've not enough time, and accept me for who I am, and focus on those important people.


james corden on the late late show, seen it?

monday. lets laugh in it's face.


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Saturday, 28 March 2015

collective wisdom of humanity

today for the first time i watched dave isay's ted talk. this month he has been awarded the ted prize and his wish is to "spark a global movement to record and preserve meaningful conversations with one another that results in an ever growing digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity." through his non profit organisation storycorps he has released an app that gives you pointers to ask questions of the person whose story you most want to hear.  the app then allows you to record the interview and not only save it but should you so desire you can upload it to them and they will archive it at the library of congress. for the first time the app allows storycorps to have reach outside of the states. i was inspired to download it, i hope you will too. i know who i want to interview, do you? 


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Friday, 27 March 2015

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The right shoes

I hate buying shoes, see I'm much more of a boots girl, or flip flops in summer. However, I have to wear grown up shoes for work. My current shoes are well past their sell by date, with heels now broken.
Yesterday I finally managed to go out and buy some new ones.

Today I wore them to London for a big meeting where you have to look the part. And do you know what I learnt? A new pair of shoes can help you walk tall:)