Lost in a Forest of Books

I swear time flows differently in bookstores and libraries.

I am of the opinion that the sheer volume of books must cause minutes to disappear faster than anywhere else in the universe.  How else can you explain it when you pop in for an errand that should take no more than 5 minutes, yet when you emerge over an hour has elapsed?

I only came in to get a gift voucher for an upcoming birthday.

So how did I end up ensconced in the Science Fiction section on the first floor?

 

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To give you some idea of what it is like to be a bookworm in a bookstore here’s roughly what happened to me today…

One minute I was entering the store intent on *only* buying a gift voucher.

The next minute – or so it seemed to me – I was in the Science Fiction section mulling over the merits of buying a book by an author who had recently come to my attention (hint: there’s a new tv series based on it).  I was wondering whether I ought to watch the first episode to see whether it grabbed my attention before buying the book.

Then I spotted a couple more books by the same author that have been made into (fairly well-known) films.  I liked both of those films.  Does that mean that I would enjoy reading the books they were based on?  (As well as the book I was already considering of course…)

Wrenching myself away, I retraced my steps.  This took me back through the Spirituality, Craft (ooh, look, they stock craft sets as well as books!), and Cookery sections, before heading back downstairs via New Releases to General Fiction.  From there, I was gradually able to steer myself in the direction of the tills and finally make the purchase I was actually here for.

Phew! A narrow escape for my credit card!

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My family say I have too many books already.

I say I don’t have enough bookshelves.

~RF

Festival on the Green

I did it!

I had a stall at Dickens Heath’s “Festival on the Green” – this was my very first fair to sell my handmade jewellery & gifts!

There were dancers, and choirs, charity stalls, crazy golf, high ropes, a penalty shoot-out competition, food stalls from local restaurants (I just *loved* the sweet & sour chicken with noodles I had from the Eastern – yum), and so much more.

Unfortunately, nobody had remembered to book the sunshine and it was the worst day of the week weather-wise, with an almost constant drizzle that left you feeling thoroughly damp & chilly.

However, there were quite a few hardy souls who braved the rain to come along and support the event.  Some of them even wandered over to check out my products!  😉

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Earlier in the week I had set myself a goal of selling 10 items, regardless of whether they were the most expensive or the cheapest, I just wanted to sell 10 “things”.  To start with it was looking like I would be lucky to sell anything at all.

By the end of the fair however I had sold 11 items, and several people had taken my business card.  Fan-flipping-tastic!  I will definitely be back again next year.

I have already uploaded photos of the majority of my remaining stock to my Facebook page, and am planning the next pieces to make for my next fair.  Feels like I am on a roll at the moment.  😀

~rf

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Spoons

You may be wondering why on earth I would want to write about spoons.  Well, there is a very good reason.  People who do not suffer from a chronic illness have very little understanding of the pain and effort it can take to get through a day.  That is not a criticism, it is simply nigh on impossible to really understand just how debilitating these things are unless you suffer yourself.

That is why I strongly urge you all to read the article written by Christine Miserandino about her creation of The Spoon Theory

It is also summed up quite nicely in this picture from Molly’s Fund:

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So, yes, spoons.  They play an important part in so many people’s lives.

I count myself lucky in that I usually have a fairly high number of spoons available to me – and, if all goes well with my treatment, I may not even have to think about them for a while.  But there is no permanent solution so I will always end up counting spoons again.

Right now, the majority of my spoons are used up by going to work & running my boys around to their various clubs.

I regularly feel quilty that:

# I am not joining in with their activities like I used to;

# I do not volunteer more with their clubs when we are asked for help;

# I am not exercising;

# I cannot keep on top of the housework without a lot of help…

Like everyone else with a chronic illness I wish on a daily basis that I had more spoons.  Then I could do more of the things that I used to love doing, and even play sport with my boys occasionally.

So the next time someone you know who has a chronic illness cries off from some social engagement, please take a moment to think about spoons.

~rf

Beautiful Barcelona

We have just returned from a short break to the beautiful city of Barcelona.  Hubby & I had been there on a day trip from Port Aventura several years ago, and I had been wanting to go back ever since.

This was to be the boys’ first proper taste of a sight-seeing based holiday, rather than one that revolved mainly around beaches & pools & the occasional day trip.  I had been talking about places such as the Sagrada Familia beforehand to much eye-rolling.  The only reason they were happy to go along with things was because we had also promised them a trip to Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona.  (Well, hubby & I wanted to go there anyway!)

After *almost* being diverted to land at Girona due to a mixture of light fog at Barcelona and a lack of fuel for the holding pattern air traffic control wanted to place the aeroplane in, we checked in to the Hotel Turin shortly after midday.  Our room was ready, so we made a hasty change into lighter clothing & headed off down La Rambla to get our bearings.

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Our second day was spent mainly in sports stadiums.  Firstly Camp Nou, the museum & tour are absolutely fantastic.  Unsurprisingly the boys spent all of their spending money on Barca tops (thanks to grandparents & aunts!).  We then headed over to the Olympic Stadium, main site of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

And finally, we took the Teleferica (cable car) to Montjuic Castle.  Stunning views over the city, and a wealth of history to explore – lovely!

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Day 3 was, truth be told, a bit of a wash-out.  The weather forecast had predicted that the rain would clear up by lunchtime, but they were wrong.  We got off the Barcelona Bus Touristic at the Sagrada Familia, only to find that we should have prebooked as the next slot available was 4 hours later.  Instead of hanging around, we spent the next couple of hours on the top deck of the bus dodging the rain water that came in off the roof whenever the bus turned a corner.  Or stopped.  Or pulled away again.  You get the picture 😉

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Day 4, our final day in Barcelona, was glorious sunshine again (hurrah!).  We finally got inside the Sagrada Familia, and to my surprise the boys seemed pretty awed by it.  Although I was told by my eldest son that I “see things differently to most people” when I was trying to explain how the columns seem like trees in the way they soar up and branch out to support different areas of the building!

We followed that up with a visit to Park Guell, again the time slots for tickets to the heritage site areas were just too long a wait (tip: next time, book in advance!), so we took a stroll through the rest of the gardens, ate lunch, and watched green parrots darting amongst the trees.

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Our last stop for the day was another big hit with the boys – the Olympic Museum.  To be perfectly honest, it didn’t look like much from the outside.  Inside was a different story though, and we spent a good 2 hours there – from the history of the Olympics, to the history of sport in Catalonia, to a collection of Olympic torches, to a small interactive section where you could measure your speed against Usain Bolt … it was utterly fascinating.

The boys say that they enjoyed the sightseeing far more than they thought they would – hurrah!

Home again now – and facing the relentless mountain of washing.

There is still so much of Barcelona (and the surrounding area) that we haven’t seen yet, I think we will just have to go back again…

~rf

 

Jewelry Memories

Today’s Guest Blogger is Katrijn de Ronde, of Singapore Tamtam.  Thank you Katrijn.

 

My two favourite pieces of jewelry remind me of bad times.

One, a string of colourful, translucent cubes interspersed with metallic beads, was stolen on holiday in Bolivia, along with my passport, my drivers license and my wallet containing all my money.
I ended up having to buy a horrendously expensive new plane ticket just to get home.
I bought the other one, a necklace with chunky green, gold and blue beads and a big metallic butterfly on the side, while crying my way through post-partum depression.
I have more precious jewelry in gold and silver, set with gem stones, gifted to me by the special people in my life. I love those necklaces and earrings. I am thankful for the love of the people who gave them to me.
But those two colourful necklaces occupy a special place in my heart.
They remind me of how I overcame adversity. They remind me of how strong I am, how resilient I can be. They remind of how I saved myself.
I picked up the phone and called the doctor. I took the medication. I got well, for my children, for my husband, but mostly, for me.
After I got home from Bolivia, after I renewed my passport, drivers’ license, and got the money for the ticket back from my insurance company, I went online and managed to track down my cube necklace.
I often wear that necklace, as well as the butterfly necklace.
My necklace was not lost, it was waiting for me.
I was not lost, because I was always there for me.

5 Ways to Improve Your Connection with Your Animals

Today’s Guest Blogger is Gunilla Wachtel.  Further info on her work is at the end of the post.

Sometimes I’m told that I have an almost magical way of connecting with animals. I usually just answer; really I do? To me, it’s something natural that has evolved more and more over the years. Animals have been there for me every time. When I’ve been sad and had no one that I was ready to talk to, there were the animals. When I am happy they are there to cheer me on. When I am not feeling well, they are there to try and make me feel better. They don’t judge. They don’t care if you are skinny or fat, rich or poor. They see you.

Horses have been an integral part of my life. I have loved horses since before I can remember. Yeah, my crib had horse décor. Woot. For several years now I have not been able to afford to go horseback riding on a regular basis. It is my hope that one day I can afford my own horse. Yes, I know how expensive they are to keep. I’ve worked with horses and done many years of horseback riding. I keep my connection with horses a lot through my artwork. For animals most my experience is mostly with horses, dogs, and cats. I love all animals and they’ve been a big part of my life as well. Most of my art have to do with animals, horses more than other animals I guess if you look at it.

I would like to think though that these tips could be applied to any domestic animal, but you will have to be the judge yourself on this. You know your animals better than I do.

I can’t really explain exactly how I connect with animals the way I do, but I will do my best to try to give you an idea of how you can connect more with animals. And perhaps, have that bond that you have with your animals already be deeper. A bond that only those who have experienced it can truly understand.

 

Be Yourself

You would think this goes without saying, but I dare to say it does not. A lot of people try to be someone they are not when they meet other people, which sometimes translates to their interactions with animals as well. I tend to be a pretty no-nonsense person. I say what I think (in a nice way usually) and in essence, what you see is what you get. I think this is the reason some people don’t like me, however, most animals seem to, so whatever, right?

You can’t put up a fake front with animals. I mean, you could… technically, but in most cases, they will see right through you. One of the things a lot of people like about animals is that they accept you for who you are. They might not like you, but they are not going to pretend to like you to get something out of it.

 

Be Kind and Gentle

I’m not talking about just say nice things here. Again, be yourself, but, actually, be kind and gentle. For some animals (and you have to judge it by the situation and the individual) you have to be extra kind and gentle. They might not trust you yet, or have had some experience in the past to have a reason not to trust you or people in general. Give it time, be consistent and be nice. Let the animal show you the way.

 

Respect and Observe

Respect and understand the animal. Respect their boundaries. Observe their behavior. Not all animals are created equal. They are individuals just like humans are. What works with one, might not work with another.

 

Appreciate their Intelligence

It still baffles me how many people don’t realize how intelligent most animal species are. Some of them are much smarter than humans. Just because their environment, speech, and culture are different, it doesn’t mean they are any less smart than us. Most the time, animals understand us better than we do them.

Communicating with animals could be thought of as a way to learn a different language, to speak with someone from a different culture, a different background. Develop your intuitive skills and feelings more if possible.

I hear and read pretty often that animals do not understand the words we say. Of course, you can teach animals commands they say, and they will learn short words etc. I don’t really know what to say about this. To me, I know most the time they do understand. Especially when it’s your own animals. Sure they might also interpret your moods, body signals etc. (which is part of the unspoken language, though!) as part of it.

For our animals (and any animals I’ve ever had or known), I’ve always spoken to them almost as I would speak to a human. Sure I teach them commands and such too, but I also speak to them as they are an integral part of the pack, because they are. They are our fur babies, our friends, our family. Many of them understand long sentences, respond to what we say etc.

 

Know Your Animals

You need to know your animals. To fully understand them, you need to not only observe your animal itself but increase your knowledge about their language, their culture, what makes them work. Observe your own animals too, but also read books, articles and learn from other people you know that are familiar with them.

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In summary, be yourself. Animals will see you for who you are anyways. Be true. Love them. They will be able to tell. Be grateful for them. Spend some extra time with them when you can, even if you are busy. They make time for us.

 

About Today’s Guest Blogger: As an animal artist, Gunilla Wachtel understands the importance of being able to connect with your animals. She enjoys creating animal art and through her artwork convey the beautiful essence of animals. She writes about animals and animal artwork on her blog. You can follow her on Google Plus to read more of her work.

 

Spring Equinox

Today’s Guest Blogger is Baya Salmon-Hawk.  Further info on her work is at the end of the post.

It’s all grey outside and there is damp drizzle falling…we call it mizzle in Bedfordshire (UK). Yet, on Sunday, it’s the Spring Equinox and we are taking another step forward towards Summer!

On this day, the day and the night will be in perfect balance. The darkness and the light will look at each other from each end of the scale. Perfection! And yet, I always think of the tightrope walkers, the ones I used to watch as a child at the Circus. There they are, at the top, on the rope and what do they do? They oscillate very fractionally so that they can keep their balance. Balance is about tiny oscillation. Remember that as you feel your dreams are escaping you…you are probably hanging on to them for dear life! If you clutch to balance…you will fall!

And yet, and yet! The weather can be so cruel at this time of year, equinoxial gales can fell trees, sharp frosts ruin your potatoes crop and the early seedling in your polytunnel, high tides ravage the coastline. Balance indeed!

Kidding time, lambing time. New life but also sad death. Not every kid will make it through the week. Some lambs will not live through the night. We will try to save them but we have to accept that some do not make it. We will hold them in our arms as they breathe their last and we will cry as their brothers and sisters start learning how to feed.

This days teaches us to let go of what is not growing well. At the beginning of the year, we have laid our plans, plotted our course, plowed our fields. Now is the time to take a look at what is not thriving and gently, tenderly, allow it to leave so that other ideas, projects and dreams can manifest.

So, if you fancy it, light a candle, sit yourself down and ponder a moment. What is needing to go in your life? What has failed to thrive? Take another candle and write it down on the side with a toothpick, write it down with love and tenderness. Then, on Sunday, light the candle safely and let it burn (night lights are best), burn until it has burnt itself out (do not of course leave the candle lit without supervision, etc.). Let it go!

Then take a look at what has thrived, your equivalent to the kid bouncing around, celebrate it! Dance it, write it, paint it, sing it! Don’t try to make it better, just look at it with glee and love. Take a glass of your favorite drink and blow it into the liquid, say it softly, like a blessing and then slowly drink in your beauty, your joy, your passion.

Then go for a walk, whatever the weather and watch which trees are unfolding! Willows, hawthorns and blackthorns in my neck of the woods. Even the oaks, well known to hesitate till the last minute, seem to be thinking about it!

At home, open all the windows and invite the winter energies to leave. Ring bells, burn sage, sprinkle with holy water, whatever feels right. Go into your cupboards and sort out your clothes. Rediscover what is there and give away what does not serve you anymore.

Spring has sprung!

Unfurl your wings, test the wind, are you ready to fly?

Blessed be

Baya Salmon-Hawk

Bayasalmonhawk.com

http://www.facebook.com/changeyourstory.net

Baya Salmon-Hawk is an elder in the field of Personal Development. For the past thirty years, she has delivered her message to women and helped them find the right focus to take charge of their independence and their destiny.

Having trained as a psychotherapist and a shamanic healer, Baya has a breadth of knowledge that links modern and ancient healing techniques. She know how to adapt her message to different audiences, from school children to university students, from nurses to consultant psychiatrists.

Baya teaches by telling stories and often finds inspiration in Fairy Tales, the stories of our childhoods. Her presentations are full of movie references, anecdotes and fun activities.

She brings life to dead hopes and the feeling like you are just living out the same old scripts. She will invite you to go from black and white to technicolor living because she knows that the only way to truly live is to live full out.

My Love of Jewelry Started Young

This guest post is courtesy of the lovely Te-ge, Chief Curator of Heart Gallery.  Thank you so much for sharing this.

I don’t remember when I first fell in love with jewelry. I do remember looking forward every summer to the huge gem and jewelry show that occurred every year in Spruce Pine, NC the last week of July and first week of August.

The giant show in the part time convention center (and part time iceskating rink) was always full of booths and people. It was fun walking around and looking, but it was so busy that most of the dealers only had time for people getting ready to purchase.

But if you went up to the top level, there was a hotel. The ground floor of the hotel – rooms, meeting center, and all, was taken over by the wholesale gem show. This was my very favorite part – the reason I looked forward to the show each year. Some of the dealers were like the ones downstairs – they didn’t have a lot of time for a kid wandering around staring at everything. But others didn’t mind. The wholesale show was busy, but never as crowded as the downstairs show, and some of the dealers were patient as could be with a child whose eyes were probably as big as saucers as the riches laid out on the tables, and who was full to the brim with questions about the stones and how to tell the best ones and what was that and why did amber feel more like plastic than stone?

Dad would usually wander around, visiting each booth, and sometimes I’d walk with him, especially when he was talking to the dealers who ignored me otherwise. I’d admire the strings of pearls and imagine myself wearing a set that was perfectly pink, while Dad was negotiating a good price for the items he wanted.

At the end of the day, we’d head down, once again, to the busy rink and the money in my pocket would feel like it was burning a hole. But now, I felt like I could walk around and spend the allowances I’d saved up because I was going in with the knowledge that I’d gained from the wholesale show. So I’d walk past the items set out to sparkle and catch attention, and look for deals – an emerald with a flaw so that it fit in my budget, an onyx cab and a gold ring base that would be put together on the spot. Treasures that I still have to this day (well, most of them, at least), although they probably wouldn’t be valuable to anyone else. 🙂

 

 

Pliers, pliers, everywhere…

… but not the ones I want!

As a chainmailler, I seem to own an inordinate number of pliers.

From round nose to flat nose, and several variations in between.

I ❤️ my pliers.  Especially my 2 pairs of chain nose pliers.  I use them for pretty much any and all chainmaille weaves.  And if for some reason I can’t lay my hands on them when the urge to create gets too strong?  Well, I am lost.  And cross with myself for not remembering where I left them.

They are not even anything special really, one pair (my favourite) is from a starter set of jewellery tools I bought several years ago.  The other pair, if I remember rightly, came free with a magazine.  But, oh, what joy they have gifted me, the ability to take a bunch of humble jump rings and turn them into something pretty to wear!

That doesn’t stop me lusting after the more top-of-the range pliers, oh no, I still drool over pictures of Wubbers pliers.  I have no idea whether these fancier versions would even suit my hands or style of working.  But Wubbers pliers have been on my jewellery-making wish list for years.

One day, someday, I will own some *sigh*. 😀

~rf

Asthma can be a b*tch

Today I received my regular magazine from Asthma UK keeping me informed of the latest news in terms of research, advice for controlling asthma in the winter, and a look back at the achievments in 2015.

One article in particular got me thinking about asthma in my family.  It was a one page article written by an asthma sufferer about how much he has learned since working with Asthma UK – especially about the importance of correct inhaler technique.

I was only diagnosed with asthma in my late twenties (which may be at least partly down to my symptoms being a persistent, irritating, dry cough rather than any kind of wheezing).  I have rarely had an asthma attack since then (touches wood), and generally think of my asthma as being well-controlled.  From the point of view of the number/severity of attacks I get, it is; however, I am on a pretty strong preventer inhaler, which would seem to indicate that it’s not quite as good as I would like to believe.  (One of my triggers is cigarette smoke, so the smoking ban was a godsend for me.)

My eldest son has had asthma since he was a baby.  Again, it generally seems well-controlled, but we are gradually getting a clearer picture of his triggers.  For example, if the weather is particularly hot or cold, or there is a high level of pollution, *and* he over-exerts himself (he is very sporty), then he will get an asthma attack.  He has had two in the last three months, both at the end of rugby training on cold evenings.  Thankfully we did not have to take him to hospital for either of them.  We spent some time calming him down & helping him to control his breathing, then got him into a hot bath to warm him up & help him relax.

Having an asthma attack is incredibly frightening.  Your chest feels very tight and you can’t seem to be able to get enough air into your lungs, this makes you panic, which in turn makes your breathing rapid & shallow, which makes your chest feel tighter, which makes you panic more … it is a viscous circle.

And the statistics for asthma attacks make scary reading – 3 people die every day in the UK from an asthma attack, and in a lot of cases it could have been avoided.  Nearly half of people (45 per cent) die before emergency medical care can be provided.  I think that is shocking.

Asthma UK do fantastic work in supporting sufferers, fighting for changes in legislation (for example to enable schools to hold an emergency reliever inhaler), researching asthma causes & treatments.  Over the years since I was diagnosed I have regularly raised money for them – either through a fundraising evening (such as Pampered Chef), or by selling raffle tickets.  Small sums maybe, but it all adds up.  If, for whatever reason, you are looking for a charity to support, I would ask you to seriously consider Asthma UK.  They are a cause close to my heart.

~rf