Tag Archive | creativity

Purple Patch

Heeding some good advice, today I have spent the morning making something just for fun. I happened to have a set of my favourite IKEA Moppe mini-drawers waiting to be upcycled, and I raided my Decopatch stash, found some handles and Hey Presto! I have a new set of purple Drawers!



Warning – When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

or only bread and pickles for a week

and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


If the cap fits (1)

Over the last couple of years I have often been asked the question “Are you an Empath?” and recently these questions have more frequently turned into the statement, “You are an Empath.” It sounds rather frightening and accusatory but largely due to ignorance and using my precious time to focus on other matters relating to my mental health (Mindfulness, guided meditation etc)  I hadn’t given this suggestion any more thought or consideration.Until yesterday I only had limited knowledge of what an Empath is, or what the implications of being one might be but being ordered to rest up following my diagnosis of kidney stones, infection and renal colic on Thursday, I took time yesterday to do some research. It was very interesting indeed and my responses to some of the traits of an Empath outlined below, might take some people by surprise. I actively manage my daily life to combat a lot of my anxieties so that they are not obvious to most of my family, friends or colleagues but this takes energy and forethought and can lead to extreme mental and physical fatigue at times.

So, here is my take on “Am I an Empath? and apologies in advance for the length of this post although I will write it in 2 posts……….. what do you think?

Most of the traits covered are taken from the Just Be Blog and Gary’s Phsychic Empath Blog and my thanks go to Just Be and Gary for the information.

Noise-empaths can be sensitive to noises which need not necessarily be loud, but may cause stress.

Playing my guitar

Playing my guitar

Loud noises certainly makes me cringe and I will avoid them at all cost. I love music and over the years have learned to play the piano, guitar and clarinet but despite this I find some music physically offensive. I will leave the room if I hear women’s soprano/opera singing which goes right through me and my hands are over my ears at the first warble. Free jazz sends me into a frenzy with all its jumbled up notes and rhythms. To me it’s just a mess. I hate the sound of emergency vehicle sirens and a baby crying makes me very tense and angry. My son Will didn’t cry much. I guess he’s an Empath too!

As a youngster, I remember going to 3 discos. I hated them all, not just because of the loud music but because the constantly flashing spinning strobe lights made me lose my balance and fall over.

All noises have a meaning or association and sometimes it is nice to go about my daily business without making those connections. Those are rare days indeed.

Being in public places can be overwhelming

I loathe shopping and tend to shop in one particular store for clothes and accessories as they open at 08.30am and I can pick up anything I need on my way to work when it is quiet and not crowded. I never shop at lunchtime unless I know that I am going to a niche outlet which is more likely to be quiet. My husband does the Saturday supermarket shopping and I avoid town centre shopping when possible.

I leave work at 5pm every day so that I can get to the train station in good time for when the train arrives. I need to get on the train and find a seat before the crowds arrive. If the train is late and the platform starts filling up with passengers, I can feel myself getting very anxious, my pulse rate increases and I get irritable. I move away from anyone who stands next to me and I will always search for some space further along the platform. In the past, when I have been waiting at a London station and there are hundreds of people waiting I have asked the train staff if I can board first just to get out-of-the-way. It’s not a case of getting a seat, I just need space.

Arriving early for a match

Arriving early for a match

I love football and am a lifelong fan of Aston Villa FC. Football stadiums get very crowded and can be overwhelming so I tend to arrive very early and find my seat before the rush. I then sit quietly and watch the stadium fill up without being caught up in the queues and general mayhem. Shuffling along in a slow-moving queue when I am squashed between bodies is claustrophobic and causes me great anxiety.

My husband is Iranian and our visits usually coincide with a wedding, engagement or other family occasion which is usually celebrated by a big gathering and party. I dread it. For most people it is a chance to let their hair down and enjoy themselves. For me it’s torture especially as I don’t want to offend anyone by leaving early. Iranians are great hosts and I am very conscious that I don’t want to seem rude. In the end, I have to offer my apologies and my husband has to escort me outside where there are no crowds and no loud music. On one occasion, a surgeon who was also at the party and saw my distress also came outside to make sure I was ok such was my urgency in leaving the room.  

Watching violence, cruelty or tragedy on the TV is unbearable.

Violence I can just about cope with as long as it’s not too graphic. Cruelty or tragedy are definite No-No’s. I can’t watch tragic films, news stories or documentaries and I would also add reading about such stories is not an option. For example, these are a handful of the books from my childhood that I have never read  because I can’t cope with the extreme emotions they would create;

Black Beauty

Tarka the Otter

Watership Down

I still have these books on my shelf from the 1970’s. My sister bought them for me and the dates are written in the fly cover. They remain treasured possessions but unread.

Digestive disorders and lower back problems

It seems that I am prone to stones! Exactly 9 years ago I was very ill with gall stones and had to have my gall bladder removed. This week I have been diagnosed with kidney stones, an infection and renal colic. When I had reflexology 2 years ago, potential digestive issues were highlighted as an area I need to be mindful of.  Need I say more.

Constant fatigue

I have learned how to control this much better over the years but it can still strike if I allow my self-preservation techniques to relapse. I have a number of books about ME on my bookshelf which date back to my glandular fever days and an initial diagnosis of post viral syndrome.

Addictive personality

It’s all or nothing I’m afraid! If it’s a glass, it has to be the whole bottle. One chocolate? No, it has to be the box.



To be continued…….

ATC Saturday

I woke up this morning feeling very tired, frazzled and unrested which led me to I think that the past few weeks have finally caught up with me just as I knew they would. My mood is grumpy and wavers between teary and angry. I am generally unsettled and frustrated with feeling out of sorts.

I know that it will pass and that I need to be patient. I have to rest and ensure that I sleep well and not fret about things that I have no control over. Easier said than done but needs must.

Today I have therefore abandoned the mountain of ironing, consigned the Hoover to the corner and left the washing in the basket. Instead, I have swapped being a “Domestic Goddess” for being an “Artiste”. I have been making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) mainly because these take no time at all to complete and they are perfect for me to do in my current state of flux. Flux for me means that my concentration levels are poor and as I can’t face starting any bigger projects I now have more ATCs to add to my collection.

I laugh at myself as the point of ATCs is to trade them with other craft-bunnies but I haven’t got round to that yet and so they are accumulating in piles around my workspace.

Here are today’s efforts….

Creativitee and mee

I used to be creative. At school I was good at art and remember having a stern argument with the Headmaster when I told him that I wanted to drop the subject at 14. We battled for quite a while in his study whilst going through my end-of-term report but he finally gave in realising that I was determined not to have to wear those silly blue and white checked aprons any more. I have to admit that he got his own back when devising a punishment for one of my (many) misdemeanours. (I was horrible at 14). He made me paint a picture depicting my offence which I can assure you was non too easy as I was caught swinging from a chandelier in the main hallway overlooking his study brandishing my hockey stick. I didn’t realise that he was in-situ as unlike the Queen, there was no standard raised to indicate his presence. He kept the painting, presumably an hilarious reminder of what rebellious 14-year-old schoolgirls get up to when bored.

Anyway, I’m sure that this incident left me with a subconscious determination not to be creative and together with other reasons, creativity went to the bottom of the pile.

I had spells where I would go to dress-making classes, make patchwork quilts and knit “Mrs Weesley” jumpers for nieces and nephews but nothing lasted long. But now I have scrapbooking and other forms of papercraft to occupy me and I seem to have found my niche.

 My latest wheeze is making mini-albums with folded pages which make hidden pockets. The albums can be decorated and embellished as much or as little as you like, and can be used for a multitude of purposes. Recipes, seed packets, photos, memorabilia, birthdays and special occasions, all can be stored in these albums. I am getting quite a collection simply because I enjoy making them. Lovely papers, buttons, lace and flowers. Tags and stamps, ribbons and brads all go together to create an album or notebook. I’m lucky that I have a binding machine which finishes the books off nicely but binding rings can be used instead.

I haven’t done any “crafting” this week as I have been on Jury Service. It was very disturbing and unsettling at times so that relaxing was difficult. I couldn’t sit down and absorb myself in a project and so it has been an unusually barren week for makes but in good old-fashioned Blue Peter tradition, here’s one I made earlier. It’s a 12 pocket album made of envelopes which I am going to use as a birthday/special occasion journal.

The little Dutch boy

I can still vividly remember reading one of my favourite books at Primary School The Silver Skates, in which part of the story describes how a little Dutch boy, seeing a small trickle of water seeping through a dike, puts his finger in the hole to prevent a disastrous flood. He stays there all night until he is rescued by adults the next morning and he is hailed a hero. The illustrations in the book left me in no doubt that had he not stemmed the flow early on and stayed there all night thousands of lives would have been lost swept away in torrents of water breaking through the dam. I must have been about 7 years old at the time and I can see my class mates, the classroom, the teacher (Mrs Allen) all of whom come to mind when I remember this story.

But why have I remembered this story now and so vividly?

I can only think that subconsciously I am likening the breaking of the dam caused firstly from a small trickle of water then by a torrent gushing of water to the emergence of my creative tendencies over the past few months and weeks. It began as a tentative exploration of previous creative hobbies and interests such as calligraphy, photography, watercolour painting, knitting and dressmaking and it has rapidly developed into a miasma of papercraft, scrapbooking, card making and anything crafty I can get my hands on to the extent where the ideas are pouring out of my head so fast I can’t keep up. I have to write all my ideas down as I think of them so they are not lost and whilst all this sounds very exciting and positive (it is) it can also be exhausting.

Someone has clearly removed the plug from the dam and the ideas are spilling over like Victoria Falls.

Why has this happened now? I  assume that it is part of my recovery from the depression that has dogged me for the past 30 years and is a natural reaction to being “better”.  By admitting to my depression and not having to spend untold amounts of energy hiding and fighting it anymore I have, inadvertently, “released the beast” and I am catching up with 30 years of suppressed creativity.

That’s good and I love doing what I’m doing now. It’s also nice bringing back happy memories of times before the depression took hold and so I win twice.


Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Poppyposts celebrates it’s first birthday tomorrow and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to log-in and read the posts. A total of 11,072 views in 12 months-I am amazed and delighted. Here’s to the next 12 months and exciting times.

I have now renewed my subscription which enables me to continue writing and unsurprisingly some themes will remain constant. Fighting the ever-present spectre of depression (currently in remission) is still important as is helping in the campaign against the stigma of mental illness which remains a priority. Talking openly and honestly about my experiences with depression undoubtedly helps to do this and I will continue to do this for as long as it does help. There will also be more trips to Iran which are a rich source of blogging material but I’m not planning on going out anytime soon as I understand that the temperature has dropped close to freezing and they have snow. Brrrr…..too cold.

Children In Need is upon us again and deserves another highlight. This year I have my Pudsey Bear ears to match my T-shirt and fairy cakes. I won’t however be doing the Santa 5k, or BBQ-ing Christmas Dinner in the back garden this year but I do have my new creative venture “The Scrapbook Fairy” to keep me occupied during the long winter days. I will also be working with Sandra, the lovely proprietor of JLT Crafts to put on scrapbooking crops and workshops in her shop in the New Year. This is something I’m really looking forward to.

The last 12 months have been exciting, challenging, sometimes difficult, often dark and disappointing but they have also been amazing. I am blessed with new friends, new activities and a new perspective on life.

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Thank you XXXX  

Ideas, ideas and more ideas…..

It is almost a year (next week) since I admitted to the world and anyone who would listen that I have had bouts of moderate to severe depression all my adult life and what a year it has been since. I will save the details for a celebratory anniversary post due on the 26 May but one of the most incredible and unexpected side effects has been an outpouring of creativity which has clearly been suppressed for too many years. As a trained Tax Consultant with an analytical mind, creativity took a back seat for a good many years and sometimes I wonder whether this has contributed to my frustrations. A creative soul harnessed by the practical need to pay the mortgage.

Since last May however I have often felt like I have been turned inside out whilst a gush of ideas and creativity exploded from within. Melodramatic as this sounds, it has felt very physical at times and I have spent many hours writing down my thoughts lest I forget them. I think my cork well and truly popped.

As well as writing this Blog, which I count as a daily essential rather than a “nice to have”, poems, articles for magazines, photographs, watercolour painting, scrap-booking, etc etc, I seem to have a supply of “ideas” which involve others in the creation of something just a bit out of the ordinary.

And so we have the Depression Alliance “Big Picnic” taking place on Sunday 5th May all over the UK.  I’m hoping that we can put a 2012 calendar together using photos taken by the wonderfully talented members of the DA Facebook page and I am also helping my colleagues and my employer deal with depression more effectively and efficiently.

So, whilst I do admit that depression can be a milestone, it can also be a source of great innovation and creativity. If only everyone could find a way to release it as I have done.

I wish you all the luck and success in the world. You CAN do it.

Inspiration for 2011

Heading into 2011, if it’s inspiration you want you need look no further than one of my best friends, Colleen Henderson-Heywood. Motivational speaker, artist, Parkinson’s Disease ambassador, rock band manager, photographer and designer and all-round fantastic person.

I have known Colleen since she was 10 years old and despite suffering what others may think of as a major “set-back”, fundamentally she hasn’t changed one bit. At the age of 47, this is testament to her resilience, determination, wonderful sense of humour and sense of humilty, creative, quirky mind and inspirational attitude towards life. We can all learn from Colleen.

Colleen has always been different and even at the age of 10  had two words seemingly tattooed across her forhead…”Kick-Ass”. The world is a much better place as a result.

Colleen was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinsons Disease 5 years ago but instead of surrendering to her illness her characteristically indomitable spirit came into its own and this uniquely talented woman set about transforming her life as well as those of her fellow Parkinson’s Disease sufferers. Colleen has achieved more in the last 5 years, than many accomplish in their whole lifetime and her positive attitude and proactive approach to life has touched so many.

How has she done this?

In many many ways but the essence of Colleen is her creativity. In an era dominated by corporate protocol, dull politicians and even duller celebrities, Colleen stands out like the Pole Star. Creativity is often underestimated and undervalued but you only have to take a look at what Colleen has achieved to realise what an impact doing things differently can make. Her attitude and approach to life is expressed in the following excerpt taken from an article Colleen wrote back in the Spring.

A bad day :: I can’t afford to loose a single day every moment is precious so when a bad day happens along I do everything I can to turn it into a good one. So I don’t sit back and let the day collapse around me I take some positive steps… I play some great music, I contact my lovely friends, I make something from nothing a cake a poem a painting.. and whatever dark forces are at play soon vanish..

Fill the gap :: My condition means I have to let go of a lot of things I used to do. This has been a big change as it has affected my lifestyle, my interests and my fun. So I decided never to leave a gap, if I loose something I simply fill it with something else… and now I have re-discovered painting, cycling and photography and its fabulous.

Zero tolerance :: I have become very focussed and find now that I don’t wait for things to happen I just do them. I have zero tolerance for ‘rubbish’. If you walk past something everyday like a plant wilting in the corner of the office just because maybe its not your plant don’t keep walking past it! Do something about it! You, the plant and its owner will welcome a bit of TLC!

I soon learned that the person who can really turn their life around using change is you! SO be bold, seize the day, say ‘I can’ and do it

Below is my beautiful picture “Spirit” painted by Colleen in May 2010.

So, just a few of Colleen’s projects which deserve a closer look;

Blog by Boo– follow Colleen’s adventures on her Blog. Inspiring, open, honest and always entertaining.

Take One Minute-A series of inspirational films on youtube.

80eight-Photography & Design (including the fabulous “Jaw-drop” Experience)

Colleen has an enviable ability to change people’s lives for the better. She is full of ideas and hope and instinctively knows how she can best live her life whilst dealing with a chronic illness.  The greatest thing however is that Colleen selflessly shares her experiences and ideas with anyone who cares to listen. So take my advice, spare a moment to have a look at her projects and I will be amazed if you don’t find something here which inspires you to help yourself or others.

Dare to be different in 2011.

It might make all the difference.