How to find joy

  1. Walk with a dog, more people talk to you than if you walk alone
  2. Use the ‘golden hour’ to take a photo and marvel at your skills 
  3. Wake up just to see the sun rise and do step two. You’re allowed to go back to 
  4. Laugh really really hard till it hurts. Friends and YouTube videos help
  5. Make someone cake for no reason and share their joy 
  6. Show a child ‘wonder’ and watch their joy, it’s infectious 
  7. For slow burning joy plant some seeds and feel joyful each time you see them grow a little bigger, and think ‘I made that happen’ 
  8. Light a fire, indoors or out, and spend time roasting parts of your body till they go red. Decide it’s probably bad for you so sit and stare and getting lost in the flames 
  9. Eat cheese and don’t feel bad
  10. Climb as high as you can to get a really good view

How to do a bootfair

I think bootfairs are uniquely British. They’re similar to flea markets but different. Everyone rocks up in their vehicles, puts out a rickety decorating table then flogs their unwanted stuff from their boot (trunk if you’re American).


So I wrote a little guide to bootfairs here:

  1. Clear out all your junk and think it looks like the best stuff ever. Mentally top up in your head the £200 you’re gonna make.
  2. Rope in someone unsuspecting friend, who has never done a bootfair so will be unjaded.
  3. Cram it all into your car with your decorating table and camping chairs. Get your float and price labels ready and feel smug at how organised you are.
  4. Get up at some ungodly hour on the most holy of lie in days, Sunday.
  5. Drive thanking the fact no one else mad enough to be up at this hour because a) you can’t see out any mirrors or windows and b) you can’t move the gear stick without everything falling and crushing your arm.
  6. Get there and feel much better that you’re not the only one insane enough to do this.
  7. Panic pull everything out the car and frantically set it up whilst the bootfair pros pull and poke your old belongings shouting ‘how much, how much’.
  8. Panic more because you left your float at home. Go through every pocket, purse and the  footwells of the car in search of change.
  9. Step back and survey your table and notice how your stuff now looks like the shittest stuff ever and realise you’re probably gonna make a fiver not £200.
  10. As people paw at your old stuff you feel slightly naked and like everyone is judging your life right now.
  11. Get really angry and defensive when someone haggles over your possession that is £6 and they want to pay £5 but you’re not budging. That waffle maker was £30 only 3 months ago (fuck you).
  12. Get bored and take a wander amongst the rows and rows of everyone else’s toot. Aisles of soup bowls and picture frames. Clothes wracks of plus sized sequins and every species of animal made of bone china.
  13. Spend your forgotten float at the burger van to break a twenty you had in your purse and sneakily get more change. Try to get something that costs nothing but that is so suspect it should come with a public warning. Its also probably safe to eat a ‘burger’ as a vegetarian because it’s never even seen a cow. 
  14. Return to someone haggling with your buddy over a 20p item. They want it for 15p and it’s 5 pence you difference you cheapskate.
  15. Have a little rush of sales and feel energised by the fact you’ve got up at 6am, broken your limbs hauling boxes and bags and sat for 5 hours in a field for £20. That’s £4 per hour pay and there’s two of you so it’s £2 per hour, illegal.
  16. Get all energetic and upsell everything to everyone and realise you’re the best market trader in the world. Make another tenner.
  17. Feel hard done by when they collect your £5 pitch fee
  18. Start to lose the will to live and stop chatting to people that come by, play on your phone feeling antisocial and refuse eye contact with everyone.
  19. Sink into dispear when you sell the waffle maker for £3 and realise you’re the mug 
  20. Start to panic that you’ll have to take half the shit back home again. 😱
  21. Realise there’s still an hour left and pray for a reason to leave. So you buy another coffee and eat into your £25 profit
  22. Battle with yourself not to buy the kitch picture on the stall opposite because you think will make your house all edgy and arty. You’ll only put it in the next bootfair, not sell it, and be stuck with it for life anyway.
  23. Sell a last few things for 20p because the thought of moving it again makes you feel sick.
  24. Start giving people stuff for free and feel like you’re the nicest person alive.
  25. Get so tired that you can’t cook so get Sunday lunch at a pub with your earnings and feel smug that it was free and oh well you got rid of a quarter of your junk.  

I secretly love a good car boot, if for nothing else the people watching. I also love seeing people’s stuff from their lives. I find them utterly exhausting for minimal return. But I like the idea that things are being reused and recycled, I can’t bear stuff going to the tip. Plus a they’re a great exercise in minimalising and deluttering and being able to afford a lunch out whilst on benefits.

What’s your best boot fair story or bargain?

Blink and you’ll miss it.

The sun barely shines in the bright cold sky. The cold creeps in every gap and forgotten tuck-in.

The bonfire burns old whilst the smoke writes the memories across the sky. Warming the sun bleached snow as it melts into clear furrows.

The land sighs as it sleeps, turns over, seeing the Sun isn’t shining she goes back to her dreams. The excitement and magic melts away, the only day you wish the sun took leave.

In a day the stream flows. Playing it’s cool melody on the slowly warming rocks. The pond might be frozen but it’s path is too risky to find out.

With fingers wrapped in gloves that make them too cumbersome. Take off the gloves, use your hands briefly before they freeze and become just as clumsy.

The crow carries the sound of winter on its breath, Its black heart never dies.Only chased away by birds of song, shrill and tinkling, dancing in the fragile sun.

All that’s left of the snow is the snagged fleece in brambles; fake snow that sparkles with dew. My fingers bleed on it’s purity as I snatch it from the branches.

Pines that defy the cold breathe their sent into the warming air. Something is afoot, but blink and you’ll miss it.

 

Photography Lesson #1

You may remember that a while ago I asked for people to donate or exchange creative skills with me. I wrote a post all about the adventures I would like to go on. You can read it here.

On Saturday morning I was lucky enough to be offered a beginners lesson in using my camera with Pete Fry.

We got up early, wrapped up warm and headed off to Seasalter. I love the beach in winter with it’s washed out colours. It was a misty morning across the marshland and perfect for some beginner shots.

Pete patiently explained how to use the exposure, shutter speed and ISO on my camera. I just experimented with what worked and what didn’t. How to make changes to get more interesting shots. I still have a lot to learn!

Its just a start but here are my 6 fave shots from the morning.

crisisbreakerscloudsedith-hutgrassesdogs-and-huts

Thanks to Pete for his patience and insights. If you would like to swap or donate me a creative experience please contact me below:

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Walking

The trouble with walking so far is getting back.

Every gate I open has to be closed in case I set the beasts free.

Every footprint retrod in a different way.

All the effort with none of the anticipation.

A glance to check only my shadow follows.

The world is big and I am small.

The day has turned tail with me.

I’m back to the safe and known,

I’m back to something new and unknown.

Just breathe

They say just breathe.

I do,  counting in and out until I can’t breathe.

 

She said she colours in when alone, she does half.

It’s not good enough so she stops.

 

They say do stuff for yourself, I try,

I achieve nothing but tiredness.

 

I tell myself seek beauty.

I walk, it makes the world an uglier place.

 

He said it was dead.

It died when I thought it was alive

 

We’re at the hospital waiting for the grown up to decide.

They don’t come, it’s only us.

 

I see comedy to find a smile.

There’s  only tears,  I tremble.

 

I listen to an old song to feel.

It breaks me all over again, press repeat.

 

The radio instructs me walk to clear my head.

Alone on the path, my head is more full than ever.

 

He says he’s tired of explaining.

Who to? You only told me and yourself lies.

Pull your socks up, the glass is half full, this is the worst it’ll be, be positive, eat better, exercise more, make a plan, breathe, be kind, be compassionate

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I do all these things and am back to the start. Just breathe.

Somedays

Somedays the world is an ugly place. I know this morning was not helped by the anxiety of returning to England and the early start. Maybe I wore the wrong eyes for viewing it? It was a catalogue of bad sights, smells and tastes.

It started with my bag (too heavy) and a very fast bus ride through Barcelona’s packed streets (the driver was a the love child of Jesus and Otto Mann). Add a dash of concrete pounding and avoiding last night’s dried vomit slicks (the pigeons were enjoying it). Finally to the bus,  despite there being 3 staff, they watched and tutted as both me and my sister (both disabled) couldn’t get my bags in. My hands, which shake all the time now, couldn’t grasp the thin paper ticket (don’t cry).

In the airport I waited by the mobility help kiosk (noted there are no chairs). I watched a man vomiting into a bin for 10 minutes before the cheery Xavi picked me up in a wheelchair (I always book ahead now for mobility and I always ask the name of the person assisting me). When you get assistance at airport you end up in all sorts of corridors and pens waiting, seeing behind the scenes. Once over the embarrassment ( I still get weirded out by crutches and wheelchairs) you get taken in buggies and strange contraptions to get you on the plane. You forget all the normal airport stuff but find yourself saying ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ a lot.

I watched amused as the people fight to get ahead in the plane queue. Almost slinking up the walls to get closer to the front. Then our gate changed and everyone made a mad dash across the concourse. The shoal was so choreographed any dancer in a ensemble would be envious. I trailed behind with the cabin crew, no rush, after all we’re all getting on exactly the same plane and our seats are already allocated. The dance continues as people who pay extra can get to the front of the same queue and other frantically sort through bags after bring too many or ones too large. The panic continues on the plane like a game of musical chairs. Last one seated is off,  I guess that’ll be me then (jokes).

Now travelling does something to my head, it makes me time travel to the past or future. I’m terrible at it. I fret and tremble recalling past pains. I nauseate over details of conversations not yet had. I caught myself in the moment of full anxiety (I’m good at catching thoughts by now). I realised what I was doing and I can only describe it as running down a dark alley with doors that open to the past and the future. You witness times of joy and pain and live events that haven’t happened yet (and probably never will). The alley narrows and it gets harder and harder to turn back. As you are squeezed between the ever narrowing walls you realise you’re stuck. It’s so tight and dark you can only see and believe what your brain is showing you. I held back the tears and swallowed the anger. I realised my brain was back in the place of no hope.

By the time I was in my plane seat I’d died a dozen times in my head. To write it down seems ridiculous. As I was drawn back into the real world again I became aware of a boy behind me. He was possibly 8 and making some curious noises. A sort of cry mixed with excitement then outbursts of ‘the plane is going to go. Suddenly the couple behind the family announced the wanted to be moved. This was loud enough for most of the plane to hear. Most people politely stayed looking at their phones but I’m not very good at that. I swivelled round to see a family with children of different ages. This boy clearly had learning difficulties and was anxious at flying. It came out of him in little bursts like he didn’t know whether this was a terrifying place or the most thrilling ride. He hadn’t done anything wrong, he just said out loud the feelings that we probably all were thinking. I watched as the boy’s mother turned in natural defence of her child. ‘Are you asking to move because of my son?’ she asked half vicious in defence and half shocked beyond belief. ‘Yes’ the couple announced to the plane, ‘we are moving because of your son.’ Every part of me wanted to jump in fierce and wild to stop the pain.

I bit my tongue and caught the mum’s eye, I offered her my row of seats in front away from the couple. The cabin crew swept in and expertly moved the couple away to the back of the plane. The mother burst in to tears. The cabin crew tried to placate them both by offering sweets and a ‘trip to the flight deck’. These frantic gestures were lost so they listened whilst the family explained that the couple had been discriminatory and said appalling things about their son. I felt for the mother in that moment, she had tried desperately to shield her child from the horrible hatred. She was in a state of pure panic. How could anyone do this just because the child made a sound or spoke in a way that is ‘abnormal’ (I personally found him a joy)? Later in the journey I turned and caught the mother’s eye. I wanted to say how appalled I was but just mouthed ‘are you ok?’. She whispered back a thank you and smiled. I didn’t want to save her, but just let her know she wasn’t alone and others were with her.

When you enter the world slightly outside of the normal realm you see how difficult and unforgiving the world can be. My sister has talked at length on her blog about grieving (it’s worth a read and is here ). Its not always about the death of a person but sometimes the death of something else, like your expectations or the life you thought you had. I know I have been experiencing extreme grief as part of my relationship breakdown. With this has come a whole lot more. I’ve experienced the death of my life as I know it. I am unable to work, looking at a future on benefits and no longer able to do all the things I once could. Auto Immune has irreparably robbed my life and I sometimes grieve for what I once had.

So forgive me if I get sad from time to time. I’m trying more than you know to keep my shit together. In amongst these moments I cling on to the small acts of kindness we are all capable of performing. Smile at a stranger or ask someones name, it costs nothing but a little bravery. None of us know what path the other is treading, what came before and is to come in the future. Maybe the couple who had asked to move had been anxious flyers or something else had happened that day. Their actions weren’t the best way of behaving, but we all make mistakes right?

I will continue to fight tis anxiety daemon, its not a linear journey and I’ll bounce around. I’ll also continue to to fight the prejudice and invisible illness in the best way I can, with compassion and kindness. I’m back to start all over again.

I saw this today, which says a lot of my ramblings far more succinctly.

Love, and kindness to you all with the most open of hearts.

fullsizerender

 

 

Today

The streets itch with discontent,

The map was off centre all day.

Childish tears threaten to break through the adult face.

The stone walls sweat yesterday’s rain,

I pound the concrete with sticky heat between the layers of my clothes.

The lipstick curdles and I wipe it raw with paper.

 

Fingers bandaged from no fight,

I’m neither citizen or tourist just broken knees.

Guts cramping propel us from cafe to cafe.

Food sticks in my throat as I push it round the plate.

My hands tremble as they try to raise the cup,

Thick black coffee drives my blistered feet.

 

Something is not right in the world, I’m not quite here or there.

It’s ugly criminals saunter like they own the roads.

We ask ‘why are people so cruel?’

Then the man stops to pick up some other’s rubbish.

A women tends the silk and velvet with more love than she knows.

The smile of the woman on the bus is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

 

The flash from no camera, the sky opens and moans.

White then orange makes my heart pound.

‘Don’t walk on the floor with bare feet’ she says.

It makes me want to feel it’s force, to feel alive,

to take off my socks and dance with life on the cold tiles.

I bleed with the sky and prepare to begin all over again.

Colour

I’m at my sister’s in Bristol for a much needed mini break as part of ‘being kind to myself’. I’ve slotted into her family life and am drifting along finding it difficult to switch off. 
On the first evening we went swimming despite my crippling fatigue. I’m glad I did as 20 minutes splashing around in water was a respite from overthinking and I felt like I’d taken a step towards a new start.

On Friday daytime I mostly napped. Absolutely shattered and emotionally drained. I’ve been trying not to do this because of the awful insomnia, but this time I couldn’t stop.

This recharge meant in the afternoon I could go out with the boys and into the centre.

Bristol Biennial Is in full swing so our first stop was Liz West’s exhibition Our Colour at the Pithay.  

As you can see we loved it. It’s basically the 4th floor of a disused office building bathed in coloured lights to make the full rainbow spectrum. There’s nothing more to it which makes it strangely wonderful. We chose to sit in different parts to see how it made us feel. I loved watching people of all ages react to the colour zones.

What was most interesting was seeing where people were drawn. Most people seemed to congregate in the extremes. Calm and laying down in the purple at one end, or bathed in neon pink at the other whilst standing and taking it all in.  

When we left we chatted about how good it is when you can experience installations and art freely. There’s no constraints in these spaces and no rules on how to act like in traditional galleries and arts events. Theo had the freedom to roam and react and we thought nothing of lying flat on the floor to take pictures. 
It was like full on colour therapy for the soul and made me realise one part of myself. I am a huge seeker of beauty in the world and love to experience visual art. It makes me feel curious and excited and feeds me energy. 
To take part in this I needed my spoons. But by taking out the strains of work I was free to enjoy and explore. My goal for this month will be to seek more beauty without the guilt of not working!