Creating Our Home

What a difference a space can make to your motivation. I’ve been really struggling to do anything productive, whether that’s crafting, writing or business planning. I’ve been leaving everything in favour of doing the washing up!

Ranj and I are lucky enough to have a whole room in our flat dedicated to being creative and working. Until recently it’s been such a mess and I’ve resisted doing anything in there. We decided that getting a nice, big desk to spread out on would be a good place to start. We knew the style that we wanted and hunted through the local shops. Unfortunately, upcycling and shabby-chic has become really fashionable and lots of the pieces that caught our attention, although beautiful, blew our budget to smithereens. This is when Ranj hit upon the brainwave of making it himself.

My beauitful desk made from reclaimed scaffolding boards

My beauitful desk made from reclaimed scaffolding boards

We reused the brackets that came with the scaffolding for decoration.

We reused the brackets that came with the scaffolding for decoration.

We found a fantastic local organisation called The Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project (it does what it says on the tin). They are donated unwanted bits of wood. They can sell you the wood directly or make you a bespoke piece of furniture; many of their products can also be found in local stores. They were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable; I would thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project

Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project

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We bought two ex-scaffolding boards and were generously given some metal brackets for free. The wood was cut to size for us… all that was left for us to do was to take it home, clean it up and put it together.

I’m happy to report that I am loving sitting here and writing this. I’m actually looking for reasons to work here. Knowing that we made it feels pretty special… plus it’s HUGE and I can spread out as much as I want!

What I’ve Learnt About Being Creative

The period in-between Christmas and New Year is always an incredibly reflective one for me. I’ve found myself contemplating what I’ve achieved, learnt and loved; but also where I’d like to go. A few years ago I found myself blocked, frozen stock-still and started a journey just to get moving again.

Here are three things that I’ve learnt this year:

1)  Set Goals: It’s an oldie but a goodie. You hear it everywhere, all the time (especially working in education) – but I’ve never before practiced what I’ve preached. This year, for the first time, I gave myself a new year’s resolution; I would get my jewelry online, nothing more, nothing less – just get it up. I’m the kind of person, like many creative people, who flit. I’m a crafty, creative magpie. I want to try to do everything and as a result master none of them.
Setting a goal this year kept me focused. Many times I’ve wanted to stray and start a glitteringly attractive new project, but remembering the goal I’d set and more importantly why I’d set it in the first place, forced me to stick with it. I’ve not had over amounts of success with my etsy shop but I have sold some things and in my eyes the success is that I did what I set out to do – I put my jewelry out there.

2)  Start Before You Think You’re Ready: If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me this one is really important. I don’t want to do anything or put anything out there before I think it is flawless. I’m scared of criticism and I’m scared of failing at stuff. This one has taught me to just go for it and learn as you go. It’s alright if things aren’t quite ready yet – I’d never be ready. I’ve learnt more about photographing jewelry and writing a blog by doing it than I have thinking about it or planning it.

3)  Read and Follow A Lot Of Blogs: This is the reason I’ve started my Online Love series. I find seeing other people doing what I aspire to do spurs me on. It gives me inspiration, ideas, focus and drive. I also find the blogging community to be as supportive as everyone says they are. People are willing to encourage, comment and share.

I’ll get working on next year’s goals to help me move another creative step forward…. suggestions welcome.

Sunshine Makes Me Happy

This is Tanya Davis. I went and saw her perform in Brighton on Saturday. She was brilliant. For all of the spoken word I have watched on the internet, this was my first experience of a live performance.

In a little village hall, complete with lamps to light the stage, candles in jam jars, an out of tune piano and bring your own booze, two musicians preceded Tanya’s performance. The atmosphere was charming and friendly.

I really liked Tanya’s work. Her delivery was humble and the anecdotes drew me in before a word of a poem was uttered. Loved it.

I think a combination of feeling inspired by the performance and the sunshine, that is out in force right now, has left me feeling optimistic. I have finally sent off a short story that I wrote forever ago! I’ve been sitting on it with every intention of sending it off… but never quite finding the guts to do it. Well I did!

I have also picked up my crochet hook again and have had another go at the ring I’ve been trying to make. Some of my seedlings have survived being re-potted.

Sometimes sticking with it works.

When Things Don’t Go My Way…

My ‘Creative Everyday’ hasn’t been so wonderful this week. I’ve been easily distracted and if I’m telling the truth – I haven’t been as diligent as I wanted to be in creating something everyday.

My reason for this is as follows: It keeps going wrong. I am one of those people who like perfection. I like to smash it first time, and if it doesn’t turn out the way it started in my head – it’s not getting finished and I’m in a sulk. Here lies one of my nastiest demons! It is a demon that I struggle to over come. My bestest weapons against my nasty little monster are chanting my mantra ‘carry on creating’, and my wonderful friend Sally who knows me so well and would never let me give up.

I tried a new crochet ring that went belly up… I can see how I could improve it next time and what I would do differently, but I am in a sulk with it and haven’t been able to pick my crochet hook back up yet. I tried to write a new story, it went down a deadend – I deleted it. Having found too many bubbles in my last batch of resin I haven’t yet cut out new shapes… oh, and my beautiful little seedlings have gone all ‘leggy’ from lack of strong enough light. I re-potted them in a stonking mood, but I’m not sure that will help them at all.

The one thing that I am not in a mood with is my Lindy Hop.

I’m still loving dancing. (This picture was taken at Hullzapoppin’ last weekend – I am the one in the gold).

I recently watched a clip of me teaching a dance workshop last year and couldn’t put my finger on what I didn’t like about my dancing. Then I realised that I wasn’t using my core at all.

In a recent dance class that I attended we worked on how EVERYTHING comes from the core. A leg movement, an arm lift. They only happen if your core moves too and then you can accentuate the natural movement. I am a naturally lazy mover and hate feeling my stomach muscles working. However, this new insight into how much better a movement looks when it comes from the very centre of you is something I am taking to heart. If you mean it, if it comes from your centre, the very core of your being other, better things are going to follow. You can accentuate your natural actions and improve them.

I am applying this to my craft and writing. I do it naturally. Wanting to create comes from inside; I just have to go with it and make sure it comes from that place and not my ego, which is like a limb, not too stylish or useful without the meaning behind it… if that tenuous link makes sense to anyone but me 🙂

Hullzapoppin’

 Last week was totally characterised by the amazingness of Hullzapoppin’. Hullzapoppin’ is a Lindy Hop, weekend dance camp put on by Kingston Swing where I danced my self into delirium: Two full days of lessons and three evenings full to the brim of social dancing; amazing international teachers, a brand new solo jazz stream, tea parties, live bands and lots of glamming up!

As I walked down the street on Monday, after the weekend was all but over, I couldn’t help but have a spring in my step (or more like a rock-step, tripple-step). Not only was the dancing an amazing place to lose myself, but I was so proud of the Lindy community. I find them the most accepting, welcoming people I know.

I couldn’t help but notice over the weekend that no-one asks what you do as a day job. No one is bothered by where you live or who with, or where you’ve been and the qualifications you have. The only thing on everyone’s mind is, ‘can you dance, do you want to?’ It is about being part of something and talking takes a back seat. I connect with people without having to say a word. I danced with some amazing partners and didn’t even know their names.

In terms of the rest of my ‘Creative Everyday’… it has been a writing week. I had a lovely conversation with my very best friend Sally in Greece, and she inspired me to just stick at it and write anything, as long as I was writing. So I did. It made me happy.

I’ve also ordered the few bits I need to finish my necklaces, which is a step closer to setting up my etsy shop *eek*

All in all… a dam good week.

Seedlings and Resin; With A Little Lindy Hop For Good Measure

Wednesday: Theatre Rehearsal went really well… I actually feel like we’re getting somewhere with it all. We are in the middle of improvising, which is one of my lesser honed skills and as a result I was incredibly nervous, but my nerves only served to matched my joy at facing my fear and doing it anyway.

We spilt into two groups and just went for it. Apart from knowing what the scene should loosely be about, each group had complete autonomy over the content of it. The stuff that came out of our heads was worrying at best… but I left feeling such a sense of satisfaction. We created our scenes, showed them to the other group and got feedback. Both were fantastic starting blocks.

I felt so safe working and it was really nice. It is rare to find a group of people that you can create safely and openly with; no judgement or ego.. simply Theatre.

Thursday: Counselling Course Night Class straight after work. The theme of the night seemed to be, “And there is another extremely honest opinion from Laura”… but I didn’t care. I must have been on a confident high from Wednesday.

I got home knackard and didn’t feel much like creating anything… so I fussed over my seedlings and remembered that sometimes your creations need very little help from you at all.

Friday: Lindy Fridays! Ranj came to visit and I was on top of the world. I drove a group of us to Leeds to go Lindy Hopping where Ranj used to teach and had the most fun ever. Dancing with people I don’t see very often, gossiping and discovering the best take away EVER after class. Home at 1:30am and crawled into bed… a happy, sweaty bunny.

Saturday: Quickly finished off my resin

Some are patchy and others are bubbly.. but on the whole I’m happy with them. I am going to have a play at perfecting my techniques with images that aren’t so time-consuming.. then back on it. I reckon that a couple of them are good to sell 🙂 Whoop.

Sunday: Cooking and sleeping. New recipe – keeper

Today?… blogging and writing.