Time flies….

when you are enjoying yourself. So the saying goes and I endorse that wholeheartedly.

I ask you, how is it 2 months since I last posted? Where did those weeks go?

All I can say is that I have been out and about, “doing” things, making things and generally making the most of my 4-month break from work.

My biggest thrill is my puppy Jasper who is now 8 months old. He is such a revelation and has made a huge difference to my daily life. Anyone who has suffered from/is suffering from depression or anxiety will understand that it is often difficult to engage socially with others and it is easier to keep your distance than make an effort. As a result, I could spend hours in solitude and although I enjoy my own company, it is not healthy for a person to become so self-contained. Jasper has changed all that as I hoped he would before we had him.

He is such a beautiful dog both in appearance and nature that I am “forced” to talk to other dog walkers and appreciative members of the public every time I take him out for a walk. It helps me to engage with people as the attention is deflected away from me and is instead focussed on Jasper. Although outwardly I appear confident and am happy to speak up, I do not like attention to be focussed on me and therefore if I am not comfortable in my environment, I keep quiet and move on.

Jasper makes me happy. I love animals, I particularly love dogs and have waited a long time to have another one. He makes me laugh and I love to see him enjoying himself usually in water (the muddier the better) and as I am responsible for his welfare and enjoyment I have less time to think about me. It’s a win, win.

I wish that I could bottle Eau de Jasper. I would make a fortune!

Zentangle

Quite by accident this week I discovered Zentangle. I have been keeping my journal up to date and enjoy making it pretty by including pictures, quotes, pre-printed journal cards and recently, doodles which I have been painting with my watercolours. I always enjoyed colouring in pictures as a child and I have clearly not lost that desire to both doodle and colour.

001

Inspired by designs I have seen on Pinterest I started to search through the pin boards looking for further ideas. That’s when I came across Zentangle. I can’t believe I haven’t come across this before but am certainly making up for lost time now. The picture below is my second attempt.

004

The different patterns are called Tangles, and the Zen prefix gives you a clue that practising this art using the repetitive lines, circles and shapes is very relaxing. Fundamentally it is an easy art to follow as you need no previous experience and initially you work with a black pen only-no need for colour. The repetitive nature of the exercise encourages focus and concentration as you try to make each line and shape smooth. You literally lose yourself in the drawing and it clears the mind in much the same way as meditation.

For me this is a perfect way for me to relax. I am hopeless as mindfulness/meditation as I am very impatient and I like “doing” things. Sitting still is agony for me and therefore having something like this to do which not only needs concentration but also produces a pleasing end result is rewarding and soothing.

The creators of Zentangle, a meditative art form, are Rick Roberts (Zen) and Maria Thomas (Tangle) and reading about its development and formation is interesting. I am only a beginner at this but already I am hooked. It was my birthday last week and I was able to order a lovey Zentangle book and micron pens from Amazon to help me along my journey.

001

I recommend this for anyone taking up Zentangle although you can find lots of ideas and inspiration on the web.

Have a go, and enjoy rekindling your inner child!

058

 

 

114 days of Freedom

Freedom

I can’t believe that my last post was 3rd January. Where have those (almost) two months gone?

ActuallyI can tell you- January is my busiest month at work as a tax return reviewer. The UK tax return deadline is 31 January, and whilst many people say they will send us their information earlier, they never do so a large proportion get prepared, reviewed and submitted to good old HMRC in January. In fact, this year I was on “Midnight Duty” on Saturday 31 January and was still sorting out problems at 11.55pm!

So that was January. The first two weeks of February were spent tidying up loose ends before I started my 4-month break from work lasting until 8th June. A total of 114 days of freedom.

This is day 12 of aforementioned 114 and I am just starting to come round from a very busy period at work. I am on an annualised hours contract which, in simple terms, means that I work my butt off for 8 months during the busy time of the year, then have 4 months off during the quiet time. This works for the business and it sure works for me as it gives me an opportunity to recover my equilibrium and really relax properly for the first time ever in my working career. For someone who has periodic bouts of depression exacerbated by fatigue, this is an amazing arrangement and it’s a long time since I have felt so well mentally.

So far I have spent my time relaxing and being creative which is my natural bent but which I have to suppress during busy times as I just don’t have the time to indulge my inclinations. More about this in a later post.

In the meantime I am feeling much more communicative now that I have rested my brain and hope that I can resurrect my blog for at least the remainder of my “leave.”

2015

 

Travel Journal-Persian Posts

Front cover

Front cover

Some of you already know that I write a couple of blogs (when the mood takes me!) my other blog being about my travels and experiences in Iran-Persian Posts. Over the past few days I have been catching up with my articles based on my 3-week holiday back in July 2014. Thank goodness then that I always keep a travel journal which I religiously and lovingly write up each evening so that I don’t forget even the smallest detail. It is amazing what you do forget and I love re-reading my journal weeks and months after my holiday.

My travel journal has come in very handy this whilst writing up my posts and I have managed to complete quite a few. We are already planning our 2015 visit so I must catch up before we go!

 

 

 

Travel journals are easy to put together and good fun. Collecting tickets and stubs, receipts, leaflets, postcards, menus, photos, labels and anything else that will stick onto the pages or slip into pockets is addictive but they give a great flavour of your travel experience and trigger memories otherwise filed away.

For this trip I used a great wire-bound book from paperchase. For £7.00 I got

Back cover

Back cover

lots of pages, both lined and plain so I could add my own drawings, plastic pockets and half-page paper pockets which were really useful to keep the leaflets and menus in.

You can buy the book online-Paperchase

If you are short of ideas but have collected a wealth of material, you will do worse than look on Pinterest for inspiration. There are lots of completed pages to view, ideas for travel-themed embellishments and layout designs as well as suggestions for what works well.

I will be writing another journal to cover my 2015 travels and have already got the book ready to pack! All I need now is to sort out the rest of my equipment to take and I will be set. Only 5 months early!