Category: lifestyle

Is Social Media a Thief of Joy? – or is it Comparison?

When I compare myself to others, I always seem to come up lacking.  I suspect that this is the same for many of us.  Is comparison the thief of joy? And what role does social media play?

Before the advent of social media (and I am old enough to remember it) we went about our world fairly oblivious of what other people were doing.  What they looked like.  What event they had attended.  How cute their kids were.  Somehow or other we managed, and I suspect that we were happier.

I actually love social media

This blog post isn’t all about slagging social media off.  Not at all.  I really value social media and can list numerous ways it has made my life better.

  • I have met such amazing people through social media who have become firm friends. When I was moving town, a wonderful woman I had met on a group promised to bring wine and cake on the day I moved.  And she did.  I really value her friendship (you know who you are – thank you)
  • I have been able to share my blog with people all over the world. I have also used social media to meet so many other bloggers who have inspired me.
  • I have reconnected with so many people from my past. Long lost cousins, school friends and numerous other wonderful people who I might have lost touch with.  Especially as I moved from South Africa to Ireland.
  • I have been gifted this window to the world. There are times when I have been lonely and knowing that I could pop into Facebook and connect with friends has been a true gift.
  • I have gained knowledge. I have joined groups that deal with issues that I face such as arthritis and pernicious anaemia (which I knew nothing about).  In these groups I have met fellow sufferers and we have lifted each other up.  We have answered questions and explained the unexplainable.
  • I have connected with hundreds of people through my own and have had the privilege of taking these online relationships offline through meet-ups and events.
  • I have made a little money. I have sold art, found people to work with and met up with brands who wanted to work with me.

There is a big but though ….

There are two real negatives for me relating to social media.

The first is time.  When I am online – either at my laptop or gazing at my phone scrolling or chatting, I am effectively disengaged from the world around me.

I know I spend too much time online.  I know this because I scroll, and scroll and realise that I am seeing nothing new.  I know this because I have to go back and ask what is happening because I missed a vital part of the conversation.  I have literally been missing in action.

When I do ‘forget’ my phone I am far more productive.  I get things done.  I listen to music, clean the house and find my creative juices flowing.  I love the practice of daily painting and I can’t paint and scroll at the same time.

I am really trying to limit my time online.  Those that know me are chuckling and rolling their eyes and saying ‘yeah’.  I promise though – I am trying.

The main reason why is that I am finding that comparison is indeed a thief of joy for me.

Comparison is my thief of Joy

My situation is unique to me.  And let’s face it each of us has a unique situation.  I am 54 now, and I suffer from severe arthritis which limits my mobility and in fact everything I do.  Most days pain is my companion and I am always tired.

I struggle with my weight as well so I am no svelte size 10.  I have wrinkles, and rolls and that is just the start of it.  Working full-time is no longer an option – as I simply can’t.  I also struggle with overwhelm and anxiety. There are weeks when I don’t post on my blog because I haven’t been able to write, or photograph anything.

On the positive side I have wonderful friends who support me. I have a good life. Fashion and beauty inspire me.  Travel delights me and I am determined to do more (albeit on a strictly limited budget).  There is nothing I like more than sitting down with a friend drinking creamy cappuccino.  I find my true bliss with a paintbrush in my hand.

I am not writing this for sympathy, but merely to give you a true picture of where I am in my life.

Even though I am intelligent I am still drawn in to this dreadful comparison trap.  I watch through the lens of social media as others attend events, go out for gorgeous dinners I cannot afford and seem to have endless cocktails with friends.  I feel real envy when I see people progressing in their careers when mine is in a sort of standstill state.  A cruise – oh I wish I could afford a cruise.  Skinny Jeans and high heels – no chance Kerry!

I know that there are many people who are too sick to go out.  People suffering from depression who cannot comprehend the goings on of others.  Your child might be kicking and screaming and very dirty and you cannot help but compare with the angels you see on Facebook.

Real Lives versus Facebook Lives

A very wise friend and mentor once reminded me.  Beware of the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives.  We all put our best foot (or face) forward on Social Media.  If I take a selfie and I look too tired and sick I don’t post it.  Perhaps I should.

I think that there are a couple of things I need to do for myself to put social media in the right place in my life.

  1. Monitor my time spent online
  2. Remember the difference between real lives and Facebook Lives
  3. Don’t compare. Comparison is the true thief of joy.
  4. Be grateful for what I have!

Truth or Lies?

We don’t know what really lies behind those beautiful images and even if we did, do they really change anything?

If there was no social media, then I wouldn’t know about these things.  I would simply be going about my day living my life.  And perhaps being more joyful.

 

Thank you for reading

Kerry xx

Tenerife – it creeps into your heart until you don’t want to leave

Everyone has different expectations of a holiday and of course different budgets too.

We were so excited to be visiting Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.  Endless hours had been spent on YouTube looking at travel videos.  I was very curious to experience ‘black’ sand!

The holiday didn’t get off to the finest start.  Despite being excited, the trip was long.  A four and a half hour flight, plus a couple of hours drive and of course airport waiting time all added up.  It meant that we arrived late in the evening a little tired and grumpy if I am completely honest.

Travelling with a budget airline on a short trip is fine, but absolutely no frills on a longer flight is a little more challenging.   The holiday had started and were eager to get going as we had a 90 minute transfer from the airport to our destination at the north of the island.

Something went wrong and we found ourselves waiting for more than an hour.  Eventually a small group was loaded into a mini bus that was not road worthy and we set off.  This was not the way I was expecting to start my holiday.

We travel budget style

We are on a budget and more than happy to compromise on luxuries for the chance of some sun on our bones.  Resorts wouldn’t necessarily be our choice either as we enjoy walking and soaking up the local culture.

Our hotel, Travador, was in the older part of Puerto de la Cruz, and despite the website reporting a big upgrade it was a little tired.  We eventually realised that it was the public rooms that had been upgraded and that the rooms were in progress.  Never mind, it was clean (a biggy for me) and the location was absolutely perfect.

Walking our way around Puerto de la Cruz

Both my partner and I suffer from arthritis, and one of the reasons we travel is to take advantage of the dry heat which makes such a huge difference on our pain and inflammation.  There are days at home where I struggle to walk.  In Tenerife I was walking 10 0000 steps a day (with my trusty stick Stan), but walking nevertheless.

On our first morning we started exploring the town, which in a weird way reminded me of South Africa.  The beautiful gardens which were part of the city scape incorporated Bougainvillea one of my favourite childhood flowers as well as many other trees and flowers.  I took hundreds of photos that first morning.  The heat on my back and the paw paw (papaya) and guavas outside the shops were enticing.

Location is really key – especially if you want to be able to walk everywhere.  After treating ourselves to coffee in an outdoor café we found our way to the beach only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and it was at this point that I started to fall in love.

It is odd looking at black sand, because it’s different to what your head says it should be.  The combination from an artist’s eye however is breath-taking.  The sea reflects an exquisite turquoise shade as it brushes across the sand.  I took loads of photos and can’t wait to get into the studio to try to recapture this amazing colour combination.

A beer and a beer shandy were just what we needed after our long walk and we simply sat back and enjoyed the magnificent view.  These positions at the beachside café became a daily indulgence.  Sometimes we indulged further tasting the local cuisine or a naughty ice cream.

There is something about the sea that calms and relaxes me completely.  I can look at it, walk along the shore line dipping my toes into the waves or simply close my eyes and take in the smell of the salty waves and sun on the sand.  I did a fair bit of the above in Puerto de la Cruz.

Musings from my journal

I journal every day.  It is part of my routine and certainly something that helps me in so many ways.  When we are on holiday, journaling time has to be planned for.  Most days this took place in a little café a stone’s throw from our hotel where I could order a pot of tea and a pastry for the princely sum of 2 Euro.

During the holiday I came up with these seven realisations/lessons that I learnt from my week in Puerto de la Cruz.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you look like.  On the beach I saw woman (and men) of every shape, size and age all wearing bikinis and other skimpy swimwear.  They were happy and sunning themselves and not beating themselves up about what they looked like.  I made a pact to give up tangling with my sarong and simply relax and enjoy.
  2. I love the coffee culture. People watching is such fun and there is nothing nicer than whiling away an hour over a delicious café con leche and perhaps a sneaky pastry.  Costing less than 2 euro – including the nibble, I can afford to indulge.
  3. My IBS is better on holiday. I realise this is a bit TMI (too much information) but it is really relevant to me.  IBS is part of my life and a side effect of fibromyalgia and other conditions not to mention the many pills that I have to pop.  I think it could be all the walking (see point 4) or simply being truly relaxed and keeping hydrated.  It could be lack of stress.  I just know that somehow I would like to hang onto this advantage when I get home.
  4. Walking! Instead of dancing all night I could walk all day.  I walk fairly slowly and use my trusty stick much of the time, but I really enjoy it.  We walked on the beach, along the paved walkways which stretch across Puerto de la Cruz and wound our way through quirky back streets.  Yes, my feet got sore, and I got tired, but it felt so good to be moving with the sun on my back and a few breaks along the way to enjoy the atmosphere.
  5. My joints – the bane of my life with arthritis are much, much better in a dry heat. It is amazing to rely less and less on pain relief over the week, and of course to be able to move more.  The sad side of this is that within 48 hours of being back in Ireland, these positive effects are gone.  (Never mind I can book another budget holiday).
  6. You can travel on very little money. Both my partner and I are on a very limited budget.  Holidays are only possible if we budget carefully before hand and afterwards.  We invest a lot of time into digging out the best deals possible.  We are fairly flexible with dates which means that we can avail of the best offers possible.  This holiday was booked through Love Holidays and was paid off on an instalment plan.  We don’t mind the lack of luxuries, but do love the warm air and the sense of excitement that travel brings.
  1. Be adventurous! In everything.  We had a giggle every morning when we came down for breakfast because it wasn’t what we are used to.  Peas, carrots, and one morning pizza.  There were some really yummy cakes and pastries too.  Everyone is different and every culture that you visit has different cuisine.  Try things – you might not like them, but then again you might be back for more.

Highlights and low notes

As with any journey there are particular highlights.  One of mine was the night we treated ourselves to dinner at a little restaurant and were in turn treated to a feast of flamenco dancing.  I am very much an off the beaten track person, and would prefer to try smaller eateries.  One of the best meals of the trip was a shared plate of the local Canarian potatoes (wrinkly potatoes) – basically salted boiled new potatoes with two mojo sauces eaten at the beachside café.

On a low note, it took us 27 hours to get home.  A technical fault on a Ryanair flight had us diverted to a different airport and drinking tea at 4am in an airport hours from our car.  It wasn’t easy and it definitely meant that we arrived home tired, rather than relaxed.

Thank you for reading about my travels.

Kerry xx

The Joy of a Solo Cinema Outing

I love the cinema.  The allure of the darkness, of being totally drawn into a story with no multi-tasking allowed.

I am not sure quite why, but I always believed you needed a companion for the cinema.  Someone to share popcorn with and chat.  That is fun, but I have found it isn’t a necessity.  There is something quite indulgent about taking yourself to the cinema.  Choosing the movie that you want to see, selecting your snack and drink and allowing yourself the luxury of a couple of hours in darkness where you are totally engrossed.

Being Brave

The first time I flew solo to the cinema, I was fresh out of a relationship and feeling a bit lonely.  There was a movie that I really wanted to see.  Maudie is a wonderful movie about Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis who suffered debilitating arthritis.  I was intrigued, and I really wanted to experience her story.  I put my feelers out asking friends and relations if they fancied a visit to the cinema.  No takers.  I had a good chat with myself and decided to simply go by myself.  It was liberating!  (On a side note, if you can find this movie on Netflix or another streaming platform watch it!)

This solo movie thing has become a bit of a quiet addiction.  I drive past the Eye Cinema in Galway (my favourite haunt) I am tempted to pull in just to see what is on.  Finding your Feet – a wonderful romantic comedy featuring Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton and Joanna Lumley gave me so much delight.  It lifted my spirits and when it was over – I took myself off to the 5-star g Hotel for a solo cappuccino.  I was getting the hang of this.

Go solo to the cinema this month

I have lots of friends and a wonderful partner, but I am now a firm believer in flying solo at the cinema.  I like the 3pm time slot which seems to feature my kind of movie.  My latest outing was to the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.  I had read the book some time ago and was intrigued to see how it translated onto the big screen.  What a delight.  A really beautiful representation of a wonderful story line and truly complex characters.  As a budding writer I was fascinated by the story within a story.  I loved seeing how the story unfolded as each character revealed their part in the establishment of this book club during the Nazi occupation of Guernsey.   I won’t add too many spoilers as this is still showing.

Modern life is all about multi-tasking.  We watch television while checking Facebook.  We are constantly juggling tasks and activities.  How often though, do we simply do one thing – for a couple of hours?

I now consider myself a card-carrying member of the solo cinema club, and a cheerleader too.

I’d love to hear your movie recommendations – I know I am going to be indulging again very soon – there is so much good stuff coming up.

 

Thank you so much for reading about my viewing habits.

 

Kerry xx

The Delights of Manchester and More!

There are two kinds of travel for me.  Travel to visit friends and family and travel to places where you can be anonymous.  I love both.  (They can of course be combined!)

Finding time for family

I was reflecting on my travel schedule and realised that for the first time in 22 years I wasn’t going to be with my son for mother’s day.  This had me immediately reaching for my phone and looking for flights.

My son got his dream job and moved to Cheshire just outside Manchester six months ago.  Coincidently my brother and his family moved to the same area a year before when then made their big move from South Africa.

Booking a flight to Manchester seemed like the perfect solution.  A bit of travel, a bit of mother and son time and of course family time.  There is nothing quite like spending time in conversation with someone you have known your whole life (well almost).

A different departure

Due to my health issues, I need to travel assisted most of the time and get quite unsettled in busy loud situations, so I decided to try Shannon Airport as an option to Dublin.  What an absolute pleasure it was – the airport was quiet, clean and very efficient.  And I must pay tribute to the assistance staff who were helpful and kind on both legs of my journey.

I was collected at the airport by my brother and headed back for the first of many cups of tea and hours of conversation.

The adventures begin

The next day my adventures with my son started.  We started off with Sushi for lunch at Zuma – a fabulous little eatery with bottomless Miso soup.  This has become a bit of a tradition and I would really be bereft without a visit here.  My son went back to work and I had a wander around Wilmslow which is a gorgeous town with quirky shops and high street favourites.  I finished up with a cappuccino and cake and my journal – simply the right formula for a little thinking.

That evening I had a wonderful treat.  David has subscribed to a great foody idea.  Hello Fresh delivers carefully curated recipes and the precise ingredients you need to make a tasty dinner.  He has always been interested in cooking and this seems to be a great way to increase your exposure to different cuisines and learn new skills.  The chicken and courgette curry with delicious coconut milk served with flavoured rice was lip smackingly delicious.  I was savouring the flavours in my mouth and not even thinking of dessert.

It was early to bed for us because we had a great day planned for Friday.

We headed off via train and Uber to the Intu Trafford Centre.  This is really quite a magnificent destination – in fact I would call it an experience rather than a shopping centre.  Quite regal architecture invites you into a world under one roof.  I had my phone out and was snapping photographs straight away.

I have always tried to hold onto the childish delight in new experiences and the self playing piano was just the kind of novelty to put me in the right mood.

We wandered the shops being drawn into various establishments, and then we passed  and the most magical display of confectionary I have seen in a long time.  It was time for coffee and a treat.  Unicorn cake for me and an unctuous Ferraro Rocher cupcake for David.  After a nice sit down and a few plans we returned to the shops.

On my first visit to the UK many years ago I discovered Molton Brown.  This has to be my all time indulgence.  Evocative aromas and silky sensations.  I was invited to sit down and give my hands a mini spa treatment.  A cleansing scrub, a bath oil that was literally so sensuous I was swooning and then some luxurious lotion.  I was literally oohing and aahing.

The visit to this emporium was probably the highlight of my visit to Trafford especially when David told me he was buying the oil for me for Mother’s Day.  It was truly something that I loved (I think he got the idea I loved it from my behaviour in the shop).  This kind of gift is perfect as it keeps on giving.  Everytime I have a bath I will be transported back to my special day.

We finished our visit with a yummy visit to Wagamama – a healthy treat and special mother son time.

Cocktails in a Laundrette

The following day we were on the train again and then caught a cab to a laundrette.  Yes, a low-key, tatty looking laundrette with washing machines and baskets of undies.  Behind the door disguised as another washing machine was the most magical cocktail bar ever!

The Washhouse in Manchester is all about storytelling – in the form of delicious cocktails.  The host welcomed us and even as we walked towards our table my eyes were darting about looking at the amazing creations.  Each cocktail has a story and this is played out in the ingredients, the wonderful and creative presentation and of course the taste.

Three is a magic number so we each had three cocktail experiences.  Everything but a Beach – was a trip to the seaside.  The cocktail was served in red bucket and was a wonderful salty but fruity hit and it was served in a sandpit complete with a fallen ice cream cone.  The sand was delicious!  It was all delicious.

My second choice was the Tea-Total – and no it wasn’t a mocktail.  Everyone who knows me, knows that I love my tea and this drink was perfection.  It was served in a little tea-cup complete with a couple of biscuits and floating pink rose buds and the best part, a photograph of David and I pegged to the cup.  (another gift that will keep on giving as it came home with me!)

I finished up with Hard Breakfast – an orange and bourbon based glass of yum served with a tiny toast and marmalade side.  This was the strongest flavour of all my choices so I am glad I ended with it.  As we made our way to the station in the cold wind, my tummy was warm and my heart was delighted.  What a wonderful Mother’s Day treat.

Home comforts

On Mother’s Day the treats continued as my son and his cousins prepared a wonderful lunch for the moms and my brother.  Crumbed Camembert, Lime and Tarragon Chicken and a home-made Toblerone Cheesecake was a menu that couldn’t be beaten.  Thank you to you all – it was a delicious and comforting way to end off a visit that will be remembered.

I enjoy all sorts of travelling and this trip was a delight at every step.  So many of us have family spread out all over the world.  Creating wonderful memories through travel as like jewels in my mind.

Thank you for reading about this month’s adventure.  I wonder where I will go next ……

Kerry xx

 

How to celebrate a blog birthday

Well the obvious answer is with cake!  I love cake – I would choose it over chocolate, crisps and even wine.  I think a cake is just such a symbol of celebration.  It always makes me feel festive, as well as being delicious and deeply satisfying.

I am lucky enough to be friends with a master baker and decorator and when I asked if Aine from The Cake Emporium would make me a birthday cake for my blog she didn’t even blink an  eye and as a reader of my blog she didn’t need a brief either.

I was truly delighted and jumping up and down like a three-year old myself when the cake arrived complete with crown!

Why did I start my blog three years ago?

Three years ago I was 50 and coming out of quite a dark place.  I still had a lot going on health wise (and still do to tell the truth).  I had learnt that it was important to maintain your dignity and to always wear your invisible crown no matter what.

The blog theme is to be fabulous despite the curveballs that life throws at us. And what better way that to place that crown firmly on your head and know your own value.

The blog posts were I wrote about this concept were some of the first posts that got me noticed and is still some of my favourites.

Telling my stories

I have struggled with my weight my whole life, despite dieting for most of it.  One day I sat down and wrote the story of how I gave up dieting.  It was early on in my blogging journey and I remember being amazed as the views on the blog increased and increased and the reactions came in.  People direct messaged me, they engaged and told me their own stories.

I think that at this point I realised the true joy of blogging.  It is about creating tribe and a community.  Creating a conversation with people all around the world.

Finding balance and more

My long-awaited book (it is coming out soon) is all about how I have changed my life one word at a time.  The first posts I wrote about this related to balance and how by choosing to focus on this word I had started the avalanche of change that would filter through my life.  Again I was truly humbled by the response.

Moving from South Africa to Ireland

A personal blog is all about sharing stories of my life.  Stories and experiences that I hope other people can relate to.  My all time most read blog post is about my move from South Africa to Ireland.  It is read almost every day and I have communicated with so many people who are in the process of making a big move.  By simply writing a story about one woman and her move to Ireland I have been blessed to meet so many people.

Fashion, Beauty and Confidence

I have written many posts.  Perhaps I should count them.  I have touched on many subjects from fashion to beauty, food to travel and of course health.  The common denominator in everything my blog stands for is confidence to be authentic.  I really believe that we all come across so many curveballs in life, it is our choice though to choose to be fabulous despite whatever tries to knock us down.

So I wear my crown and try to be fabulous.

As I celebrate my third blog birthday I want to thank you so much for reading my posts, for sending me messages and for sharing my journey.

Kerry xx

P.S  A few exciting changes coming very soon.

 

Top 7 Best and Worst Christmas Moments that I can Remember

The more I think about Christmases past and present, I realise that the best ones are those packed with memories of moments that cannot be wrapped.  Here are my top seven Christmas memories, funny, not so funny but all memorable.

Seven memories that will not be forgotten

  1. The Christmas when I was about ten year’s old when  I fell asleep in the sun in my bikini on Christmas eve.  My bum was seriously badly burned and blistered – I couldn’t sit down.  I will never forget it!
  2. Last Christmas – when Christmas and birthday’s came together as we had a family reunion to celebrate my Mum’s 80th It was a typically crazy family celebration with countless memories that can be taken out again and again.
  3. The year I put my back out and Santa chores had to be delegated. I opened my Christmas stocking to find that I had been brought a number of different laxatives and pain pills.  Not that I wasn’t grateful, but really Santa??
  4. When I was growing up we spent our Christmases on the south coast of KwaZulu Natal, at a family hotel. A highlight of Christmas was Santa arriving by helicopter and then walking along the roof of the hotel and then descending in the lift to deliver all the kids presents.  One year when I was about 7 there was a serious glitch and I was gifted with a model aeroplane – just like all the other boys my age.  I was devastated!  I was the girliest girl about.  That Christmas memory lived a long time.
  5. My first Christmas as a mother. I was a new mom as my son was born in November, and still reeling from the changes in my life (including post natal depression).  I was spoilt rotten with lots of gifts to unwrap and the best gift to cuddle.
  6. The year of the big snow! We had no power, I was recovering from a car crash after sliding in black ice and yet we made it happen.  We somehow sneaked a large gaming chair into the car and revealed it as a big surprise on Christmas morning.  This was a year that I learned that shopping was not essential for Christmas – creativity and imagination and a good attitude where.  The pipes were frozen and we were using baby wipes to wash and boiling snow for tea, but we were warm in family festivities.
  7. In my twenties I spent Christmas with my childhood friend and her family. I will always remember the joy and laughter of those special days.  We laughed until we cried.  We over-ate, and we behaved like children getting into the spirit of the day.  One year I tried to do a dye job on my own hair. My blond hair turned purple and there was not much I could do about it except pretend I was a lavender haired fairy from the Christmas tree come to life!

There have been many more Christmases and so many more memories.  As I sit writing this listening to Christmas music, thoughts are flooding though my brain.  This year Christmas is again a bit odd as I have been without my car for a month.  What I am realising is that it is the gifts that don’t come wrapped that create the best memories.  The love and laughter, great food and even better company.  It is the time of year, when we connect with friends and family by sending a card, carefully choosing a gift, and taking time to visit and catch up.

My wish for us all this Christmas is that we create new and wonderful memories that we can unpack year after year.  Remember to take photos and most importantly to give hugs.

 

Happy Christmas 2017

 

Kerry xx

 

 

 

What does Loneliness look like?

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Everyone gets lonely.  There are those moments when you feel quite simply that you are on your own and you do not feel supported.

When we think of loneliness, especially at this time of the year, we think of people who live alone.  Old people, single people and those that have reduced mobility to get around.

As I type this I realise that I could fall into those categories, but truthfully I am thankful that I don’t feel lonely very often.  I enjoy my own company, and I am blessed with many friends, both online and offline that make me feel cherished and loved.  I do however lives many miles from my birthplace and must admit that sometimes this isn’t easy.

So how do you recognise loneliness?

I think the answer is that you don’t, for the most part.  If I think of the many people in my life, I know that many are lonely and have lonely moments, and they are not always the ones you would expect.

My own lonely moments have made me very conscious of others, and what they might be going through.  I have created myself a pair of imaginary loneliness glasses and am trying to always be aware of the less obviously lonely.

One of the biggest upsides of wearing these specs is that you will bring so much joy into your own life, just by being in someone elses.

Here are just a few thoughts of where you might look to deliver your own antidote to loneliness

  • Self employed people (they spend hours alone and probably miss having colleagues. I blogged about social isolation before and it all still remains true.
  • People living away from home (either expats, or immigrants). Being separated from your children, your parents and your childhood friends is simply hard.
  • Single people of all shapes and sizes – divorce has left many people alone and lonely, but they are not the only ones. All the media buzz shows Christmas as a time for holding hands, and family moments under the tree.  This is not true for everyone.
  • Older people – especially living alone, or in retirement homes. Memories are special but they can also make you feel melancholy
  • Those living with a chronic illness.  Being limited in what you can do physically means that you often spend many hours alone.  And these people also struggle to find people to understand what they are going through. These people might be lonely, but I am betting they could do with a little help as well as company. I had a group of friends come round to help me decorate my house this year.  Imagine my surprise when they left and I went to light a fire to find that the fire-place perfect.  I was very grateful

The truth however is that loneliness has no face, it has no colour and no archetypical image.  It is up to us to be open, to listen and to hear.

I am always reminded that you can be lonely in a room full of people.

Do lonely people know they are lonely?

I suspect in many cases that lonely people don’t realise that they are lonely.  They know that they are not happy. They know that it feels like there is something missing in their lives but they don’t necessarily identify that this feeling is loneliness.

What if we simply go about our lives with an open heart, offering friendship and noticing the world around us? We will realise when the time is right to offer a cup of coffee or simply make a call.

Let your Christmas present this year be to take some loneliness away from someone.  Either someone you know is lonely – a neighbour, friend or acquaintance that lives alone, or someone who may not realise that they are lonely but whose face lights up at the thought of a hot chocolate and shared conversation.

 

I wish you a joyful festive season filled with love and laughter.

Thank you for reading

 

Kerry xx

 

Creativity is the process not the final product

Creativity is a process.  It has always been part of my life, and recently I realised something really special.  It is not the item you create that matters but the process of creating it.

With Christmas fast approaching I am reminded of my childhood.  Until I was about seven I had a lisp.  When I was asked what I wanted for Christmas I answered – bits and pieces (with the signature lisp of course).

What I meant was things to create with.  Every Christmas I remember included something creative.  Spirographs, dress up doll designer sets, fuzzy felt, paints, paper and of course glitter and glue.

As an adult creativity continues to be a huge part of my life.  I am truly in my happy place when I have a paintbrush in my hand.  I have a jar of paintbrushes on my kitchen windowsill permanently.

My love of Creativity

Although I have my creative loves, I continue to explore new avenues as they appear on my horizon.  I recently started encaustic art, the practice of using was and resin to create images.  It is a new addiction and I look forward to the one Saturday a month where I drive the most beautiful country from County Galway to the banks of Lough Derg in County Clare.  I take time out in the studio of the talented Isabelle Gaborit .

Anyone who knows me knows that I am talkative.  When I am in my creative zone I am quiet.

You can’t pour from an empty cup

I have thought a lot about the creative process.  We spend so much of our lives giving – pouring out support to family and friends, ensuring that there is money to pay the bills and more.  What we need to do is to fill our own cup and the best way to do this is by getting into a state of flow.  When we are in a state of flow that we fill up and replenish the energy we need for day-to-day life.

And, it doesn’t have to be art.  It could be cooking, gardening, embroidery (like my talented Mum), it doesn’t really matter what you do, the important thing is that for some time every week you are filling your own cup by getting into a creative space.

Teaching the joy of craft

For some time now I have taught crafts.  At the moment I have a monthly class held at the truly creative space that is Andrea Rossi’s art studio in Spiddal.  I pack my car and creations early on a Saturday morning and then travel down to ‘teach’ the class.

Inevitably I leave something behind (there is a lot to remember).  Some of the regular participants have said they don’t mind what they do, it is the day out that they enjoy.  That it doesn’t matter if I have left something behind, we can make a plan.

This really got me thinking about the creative process.  I was then reading the Psychologies magazine and came across a reference to creativity, where the author referred to the process.  I have hunted back and cannot find the reference, but the message stayed with me.  It is about the time we spend in the process from coming up with a concept and teasing it out.  Breaking a blank page, or turning on the oven for a cake that will be eaten with delight, no matter what your form of creativity is, the most important thing is to embrace and enjoy it.

 

As I approach Christmas this year, I know that I will have new watercolours and other creative goodies on my list.  Bits and pieces really – items that will inspire me and allow me to get into flow and be creative.  I will fill my cup and be ready to pour.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry x

Mizzle – Words I Love!

I love words.  They are more powerful than we think and are an art form in themselves.

Finding a new word for me is a little like finding a treasure and then having the joy of exploring it, turning it over in my mouth and learning how to pronounce it and then finding a way to weave it into conversation.

In this new series on my blog I will be choosing a word of the week, and sharing what that word means to me.

Mizzle – a lovely moody word

Today’s word is mizzle.  Isn’t it a cool word it means really fine rain that is almost like mist?

mizzle, pronounced ˈmɪz(ə)l/t
noun
1. light rain; drizzle.
“the stillness that comes with a Cornish mizzle”
verb
1.  rain lightly.
‘t was mizzling steadily”

Mizzle is thought to be a late English word and to be derived from the word mist.

In Ireland we have lots of mizzle,and today have had some fairly steady rain interspersed by mizzle.

When I wake up to a good mizzle, I give myself permission to take it easy.  Perhaps skip exercise today and treat myself to a snuggle on the sofa with a good Netflix movie or something light-hearted.  I am currently watching The Good Place, which is fun, interspersed by Orphan Black which is anything but fun – it is a dark drama that is almost compulsive as it draws you into the world of cloning in such a believable day.

A good mizzle is also an excuse for comfort food.  Perhaps a day to make my store cupboard tomato soup, or even indulge in something naughty if I have it in the house.

Mizzle calls for gallons of tea, a good read – currently reading the latest Marian Keyes novel, Broken. Marian Keyes writes so easily that you can be excused for feeling that you know the characters personally, and in some cases relate.

Another definition of mizzle

I was interested to find another definition of mizzle as a verb describing someone who suddenly goes away or vanishes..  He mizzled into the crowd.

Hopefully I get to use the first definition more often than the alternative.  I don’t like people going missing.

Gaining Focus

Loving words is a great way to contemplate and gain focus.  If you are someone who meditates you can even meditate on the word, simply repeating it over and over until it leaks into your subconscious.

Thank you for reading my word this week.

Kerry x

Empty Nest  – a Syndrome or an Opportunity

On Tuesday last week I waved my son off on a journey that will propel him into the real world.  I closed the door and burst into tears.

I could not really explain the tear. They just came and the more I tried to stop them, the more they flowed.  I was a bit taken aback as I thought I had my head around it all.

From birth our role as a parent is as a nurturer.  We feed our children, keep them safe and do everything we can to make them smile.

I am a proud Mom

I am incredibly proud of the young man who is my son.  My son is a hard worker who is passionate about everything he does.  In my opinion he has unusual clarity about his life’s goals and is now on the way to a wonderful future.

He has had a fascination for computer games and programming for since his early teens and has worked steadily away in tandem with finishing school and then completing a degree in Theoretical Physics.  And, now he embarks on his new adventure as a games play programmer working on his dream game.  Yes, I am proud, extremely proud.  But, this job is near Manchester in the United Kingdom. So he is not only starting out in his new career and a whole new chapter of his life, but he has moved to another country.

Of course I will be visiting, and I have already started looking at flights and planning get-aways, but ultimately this week marks the end of my role as a mother to a child and the beginning of true adulthood for my son.

So an empty nest.  What does that mean?

In some ways I feel a fraud talking about my empty nest as he and I have lived apart for a while now between college and other things.  I did have the joy of having him under my roof for a couple of months after college which was a gift which I cherish.

An empty nest for me it marks the end of an era.  My child is now a tax paying adult!  It changes nothing about how I feel about him.  I will continue to worry about if he is eating well and meeting nice people, and that he is happy.  That part of mothering never turns off.  I do know however that as he left the nest, he is ready to fly.

I am sure that he will feel the excitement I once felt when I started out on my own and moved into my first flat with my sister.  The day I was shown my first desk at my first job, and the day I received my first pay cheque.

I have allowed myself a few days to get used to the idea that we no longer life in the same country, never mind the same house or town.  I have had a glass (or two) of Prosecco to celebrate his success and talk endlessly about how I feel, but now it is time to face up to what this empty nest means for me.

An Empty Nest as a launch pad?

I am at a stage in my life when I too can stand on the edge of the nest and decide where to fly.  What changes can I make in my life?  What destinations can I choose to fly too.

I know that many people of my age face the same challenges.  In a way it is an exciting phase for us empty nesters too.  We can play the game of reinvention.  I am putting myself in the way of opportunities.  I am determined to embrace my creative side and work on my art with the long-term aim of holding an exhibition.

You don’t get to 53 without accumulating. I have so many ‘things’ in terms of items that need dusting and tidying. So instead of shopping I am looking to spend my time and money on experiences.  I have booked to go to the National Gallery to see the Vermeer exhibition, signed up for an international craft class, and am playing short away trips.

South Africa is my destination in October and I am planning on spending time creating some wonderful new memories with friends old and new during my trip.  I will also stop off in Dubai for some special family time with my sister.

I have decided to consciously consider myself a Mommy bird who looks at her nest and instead of seeing it as empty sees it as an opportunity to fly.

As I continue to celebrate being fabulous in my fifties I hope you come back to share my journey here.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

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