A new colourful happy blanket for a new baby in the family. My goddaughter has a little chubby month old sister and I wanted to welcome her with lots of love, colour, softness and happiness. Mission accomplished.
When my goddaughter was born, I made her a happy baby quilt. I loved the process and the quilt, but I didn't want to repeat it for her sister. So I chose knitting.
I came across Purl Soho's Super Easy Baby Crib Blanket on Instagram. Siobhan was knitting one and was kind enough to tell me the pattern and wool she was using - Cascade Pacific Chunky, in case you're wondering - which she said was incredibly soft. And it is! This is possibly the softest thing I've ever knitted (we may have kept it if it weren't for the size... and our big hearts!).
This is one of those really satisfying things to knit - it's happy, full of colour, fast, soft, you name it in good and this blanket has it. And of course seeing it on the little baby just fills your heart; or mine!
A long weekend in Portugal and a sunny day make for a great start to the week. And a good day.
The colourful baby blanket - which will have its own post because I think it deserves it - was well received by both parents and baby. Interestingly, it was also well received by her toddler sister who fancied its softness the minute she touched it and wanted to curl up with it. (and no, it wasn't because it was a present for the baby because she didn't see that bit :))
Little brother and I got some quality time with each other, something I'm always grateful for and never take for granted. The joy is in the little things we never ever do together... Yes, of course I'll come down with you to the garage to keep you company whilst you hoover it and it will be the best part of my day!
Being an emigrant is not easy for me. I'm too aware of all the moments I miss out on! I never have the unplanned dinners, or weekend drop by-s, or popping to the beach for a walk by the sea, or sitting in his or mine living room watching a bit of telly together on a random evening. There's none of that run-of-the-mill day-to-day stuff. And I miss that! But let's move on for this was a good weekend and today is a sunny day.
:: family time ♥
:: cuddling my little Tommy ♥
:: making plans with my brother
:: meeting the new baby of the family, little Rita
:: spending time with the older kids and loving every minute
:: sleeping in my bedroom at my parents in the pitch black - best night's sleep since I was last there
How was your start to the week?
I hope it is sunny where you are and that you're day was filled with happy sunny warmth!
2016 has come (and almost gone) and I took my time to make myself at home in this new year. I've been savouring time and gathering my thoughts, slowly, not rushing through minutes so the hours fly past at light speed. And that is my first goal of 2016 - slow down and enjoy life.
At the end of last year, I walked around in circles - possibly literally - wanting to find a creative project for 2016. I felt uncreative, unmotivated, and quite frankly bored and was hoping a creative project would make it all better. Turns out, feeling all those things is the reason I end up not being creative and there's no number of creative projects which will cure that!
When I read my goals for last year I realised I was exactly where I am now, a full year back!, minus the insight into the reasons. No wonder none of those goals were achieved (apart from the 365 photo project, pat on the back).
**insert lightbulb moment here**
Why do I have this impression I can't be creative for love or money? Why am I so unmotivated? Or bored?
Yes, why Joey?
Burnout. Time management. Clutter and mess.
There, I said it.
Seeing it like that, in writing - the new set in stone - already feels liberating. And healing.
Burnout. I've simply had too much on for far too long. And that wasn't helped by the fact that I refused to admit it and therefore pushed through will all.the.things I wanted to do. What a totally unrealistic approach to life!
Solution: Take a step back. Chill. Have a truly relaxing break. Regroup. Define new priorities.
Time management. We're into that annoying snowball effect. Too much on, failing to admit it, continue as normal trying to do way more than hours of the day allow, failing, repeat. I'm laughing now, how on earth did that make sense at all, ever?
Solution: Take a step back. Be realistic with what fits in a day. Move on.
Clutter and mess. Ah well, yes, we all know what the solution is.
Solution: Physical clutter needs decluttering. I'm on it. Today, evidently not this minute, but close enough. Mental clutter, see above.
And this brings me to...
my one little word for 2016.
I had one little word in 2013 and in 2014. I chose change and choose then and both had a depth I couldn't have foreseen. Whilst I enjoyed the focus of having a little word, by 2015 I had had enough of the weight the word ended up carrying.
In 2016, I'm bringing the one little word back, because this word found me. Seriously. Like knock on my (metaphorically speaking) door and make itself at home. My one little word for 2016 is LIGHT.
Light represents my approach to life in 2016.
I want to take a lighter approach to things this year.
I want to be lighter this year, both inside and out (bank account excluded).
I also want to see the light, whatever that means as long as it's a good thing.
Blimey, writing really brings healing - I already feel lighter about everything. Yep, everything!
Now on to decluttering followed by extreme use of my awesome Creativity notebook, the perfect Christmas present!
Photos: all mine. all on iPhone 6. First two of my glorious hometown of Porto. Last one is a view through our backdoor at a spectacular fiery winter morning in Oxford.
We're one step closer to making this business of ours a reality, my brother and I. I've spent the last weekend sewing, getting us ready for a Christmas fair this coming weekend. I'm excited and petrified, possibly in equal measure. I've established measures of success and then changed the goal post... And then moved it some more. Because, you know, you want to be realistic but not too much and certainly not too little, until basically all your ideas of what success looks like are hiding for cover!
November is most certainly my least favourite month. It's really just not my thing, with the first frosts, and ridiculously short days, and depressing darkness, and all the good things still so far away, like Christmas or, say, spring.
People go on and on about how January is depressing, but I don't see it, I really don't. January brings the promise of a new year, new beginnings, light at the end of the tunnel with the countdown to Spring. November? Not so much!
These reasons make November the perfect month for projects and decisions - to add some spice to the dull dark days. Last year, I blogged everyday in November and that was a good way to cope with the dullness (and the pain, there was a lot of pain last November). It was also the month I decided to embark on the 365 Photo Project this year - which I'm still doing, even if I'm behind (very behind!!) with the sharing of it. And it's not half as fun as this one! C'mon, how absolutely cool is this??
This year, I drowned in work, both for my day job and the business. I blinked and the month was almost over - or was that the whole year? Possibly. I had hot chocolate as I read a post from last year commenting on what felt like the exact same hot chocolate. That made me enjoy writing here a tad bit more, in spite of all the full posts I never share because they stay firmly in my head only. I dragged myself sailed through copious amounts of French class homework, like the 200 word essay I should be writing right now. And I realise some things never change, starting with the November greyness.
As I defy new year resolutions and start new habits in - wait for it - November, like the regular running I've re-started but keep quiet so as not to jinx myself, or the bootcamp class that has become my inspiring Monday, I feel I need to find a new project to focus on.
The 365 Photo Project, whilst almost complete, ended up not being what I was expecting. At all. If anything, my photography and I are going through relationship problems and need counselling. So can I possibly do?
Time will be an issue in 2016, with launching the business and the busy, albeit stimulating, day job, so I have to be realistic to what I commit to. And yet on this very cold November evening I don't want to be realistic! I want to dream and run free with my projects, even if they don't go anywhere. Up until now they were realistic and achievable, but... I got nothing out of them. Perhaps I should aim for the stars?
Photography and writing are the things I want to focus on. Sure, there's the non-business related sewing, and the knitting, and reading a pile of books a family of minions could live under, but... I can photograph and write about all of those things.
I miss the joy of photography and the time to go through my photos. I miss the beauty of shallow depth of field. I miss having the time. 'You'll miss having the time', I can hear my parents telling my rushed teenage self. I do, Mum, I do, Dad, I do.
Above all, what I want is to feel inspired, to be inspired. And I want creativity to run free and create beauty. No small feat, therefore. Surely I can think of something? I'll keep you posted.
The day started off glorious, absolutely glorious. As I sat at the table having breakfast, I saw it turn, slowly at first, until that familiar all-covering grey took over the skies. What ensued was depressing and wet and dark. From my desk at work, I saw it turn again into sunshine in all it's autumnal glory.
There's something magical about the autumn light in this country that makes me love it above any other time of the year. I'm a fan of seasons, more than I am of any particular season, but autumn in Britain? Well, autumn here really makes it hard not to pick a favourite!
So when I saw this workshop (Into the Woods: an intimate gathering, celebrating the things we love most of all – sewing, fiber arts, good healthy food, yoga, and the beauty and adventure that can be found out of doors in a New England winter), and the beautiful images, and the scenery, and the cosiness, and the possibility of dedicating a few days to crafts, and chats by the fire, and that sweet feeling of just relaxing, I wanted to jump at it and grab it. But it's far far away and I can't go. I wanted this in the UK, please, pretty please, pleasissimo (made up word, tells exactly what I mean!).
As the sun shines through the window and life feels somewhat wonderful, I realise I'm in need of a holiday. Unusual for me, I'm in need of a holiday where I do nothing, absolutely nothing, because knitting and reading don't count as doing something, everyone knows that. I'd been thinking about a warm sunny break this month, but as I drool over the workshop above (not literally, I'll have you know), I know that I'd much rather a knitting by the fire sort of break. With walks in scenic woods. And photography. And reading. And music in the background. How's that for a Friday dream?
As with most of my dreams, not all but most, I did a feasibility study - which basically means I took to the internet and asked a few questions here and there, or maybe just on Google, always Google, and found a few knitting retreats in the UK. More specific than I was hoping for, but so much better than nothing at all. And of course as luck would have it, dates for this year are not compatible with my availability. Ah... to be within reach of a dream and see it drift away... the pain!
With all else failing around me, I took it upon myself to provide me with a retreat experience, at home. You know, like a pilot for a future real retreat. Sadly one that includes laundry and doing the dishes and hoovering, but hey, I can only make omelettes with the eggs I have at hand. The most important thing is that my home retreat will also feature aforementioned knitting, aforementioned cosy fire warmth, good music, some photography, and - unlike any proper retreat - snuggling with the sleeping beauty below. Guess that makes it the best retreat ever!
And on this note, this daredevil of the home retreats is signing out for a weekend of housework and peace. As if the two could ever go together. Haha! Have a good one too!
It's Monday and every so often I'm reminded of a series I once ran back when I was writing way more than I am now. For different reasons, I've also ended up remembering that last year I blogged everyday in November. It was great and exactly what I needed at the time, which made me consider doing it again this year. But then November started and I can barely tell what day it is, so the thought never left the planning stages. And as I sit with Olivia next to me, I realise a year ago both Olivia and I had very different lives and didn't even know each other.
What difference a year makes, no?
Last year, I was contemplating change, choosing change, or not choosing anything at all other than how to deal with things. This year, I'm largely in the same situation, only different. I feel I've been living in limbo for a year, a limbo which witnessed little things and big things and mega projects and a lot of house untidiness. A limbo that rested on a lot of thinking.
There's a lot to be said for thinking about life. It's great, really, it is, and needed in a lot of ways, but... nothing happens. Or is it just me? Maybe it is just me. I have this kind of impression that things just don't happen when you're too busy thinking about it. Things happen by doing, by working on them, but getting the ball rolling and getting things done. And I've been missing that.
One of my favourite bloggers is a Portuguese freelance journalist, mother of 4 (including a one year old baby), recently enamoured of running to the point of doing her first marathon last month. At first glance, she seems to have it all - a big happy (demanding of her attention) family, a hectic job, a busy social life, and an intense training schedule. If you look closer, you'll notice she has precisely that! As I sit on my sofa reading her incredibly well written and witty posts, I marvel at her gift with time. Not her gift of time, mind you, but her gift with time.
Some people's time just seems to stretch to infinity and beyond! So why can't mine?
As it turns out, mine can too, if I want it to. It starts with me getting up and doing it and finishes with me having stood up and done it. It's so simple I love it.
I find I work best and achieve more when I have a bit of time to plan - paper diary lovers, anyone? - and then just get on with it. No time to think about how mad it all sounds, or how long the days aren't, or how much there's still to do, or listen to any doubters, the little energy suckers. Bit by bit, deadlines are met, projects are finished and launched, and life is lived.
All of this to say I'm feeling inspired today. It wasn't a smooth path to this end of the day feeling, but I feel it now and I'm cherishing it and making the most of it. At the expense of my French class homework which will need to be looked at another day... before Wednesday evening!
In my job, you see a lot of the best in people... and the worst, I'll have you know, but I make a daily choice of (re-)focusing on the good. I'm sure you think the same of your jobs, but I can only speak for mine, so bear with me.
Yesterday evening I received a lovely email from a colleague saying I was amazing to be doing what I'm doing. It was sweet and warmed me inside. Also, for the millionth time in the last year, and more specifically the last three months, it made me marvel at how incredibly lucky I am to have such a fantastic team supporting and helping me.
I am not amazing - I am LUCKY! I am pulling this project off because this team provides me with a happy working environment, holds my hand, pats me on the back, has my (whole) back!, helps me with things outside their comfort zone, and are fantastic go-getters and troubleshooters. They've kept me more sane then they can image, possibly because I don't look so sane to them these days, but hey, I'm hanging in there.
The majority of these people are doing very different jobs to mine; they don't have to help out, and certainly not as much as they do. But yet they're finding time in their day to contribute and be nice. Yep, nice, that in itself has to be valued.
Every day, amidst the chaos that is my inbox and my to-do lists and my insanity levels, I try my best to thank them, but ultimately I can never find the words (ironic, huh?). Words so powerful they could convey all that I feel for them. It would be like typing it all in caps and bold and making it as big as the distance to the sun... and back! So in spite of my best efforts, they will never know how much they mean to me. But I do.
They are amazing. Me? I'm just lucky!
In case you're wondering, they don't read my blog so they won't find out I've just called them amazing in public! Phew, that was close!
A week later, we set off on the Oxford Half Marathon which we ran separately; it wasn't as much fun, but I did it and wasn't even achey the next day. I was also a bit faster than in Lisbon, but for the first (and possibly only!) time in my running history, I didn't care - it was all about the fun indeed!
I had grand plans then to keep up my runs; not to increase my distance but certainly to consolidate what I had achieved. And I was adamant I would keep running as frequently as I had in training. Famous last words.
I stopped running straight after the Oxford Half. Nada. Niente. Nothing! Boo. I kept the dream alive by adding a yearly goal on running. Hahaha. Nothing happened either, as if all of a sudden I was a newbie at setting yearly goals and running, it would seem. For the whole year, I've been dipping in and out of running without feeling it. And you need to feel it.
So... now that the summer is over - who likes to run in the lovely mild British summer anyway - and just as the chilly air starts to set in preparing us for the proper cold winter will bring, I decide I will run again. Of course! That makes total sense. Fair weather is for the smart people, I'm a lousy weather runner! Because that's so much better.
I have a big deadline in mid-October. When normal life resumes after that, I'll be out of this door getting that morning cold air (and occasional heavy rain shower) into me. I'm feeling it now! I've also signed up for French lessons.
Sunday long runs are *almost* back on; Nicky, are you in?
Do I really have time to post? Hahahahaha... *read as delusional (and possibly slightly manic) laughter!*
I think one of my life's mantras is definitely "you should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour". Definitely that but replacing meditation with writing. Yep, that's it.
For the first time in what felt like months, last night I rested. First, I watched a film. As in, I just watched the film and nothing else. I didn't knit nor checked my phone. I cuddled with Olivia because how could I not too, but that is in itself one of the most relaxing things ever!
And then I switched off the TV and turned the radio on and sat there for a while, absorbing the peace. I wrote a bit and felt so much better about things.
It was all going VERY well until I woke up at 4am (yes, that reads FOUR AM) and couldn't get back to sleep. Because, you know, relaxing before bed apparently isn't good for you or something. And so a very productive morning began, time-wise anyway.
And then tomorrow I will make that mantra a tad bit more real and go on a short break!
I've been working a lot - not shown above! - and whilst I don't think one should work all hours, I'm happy. I'm happy in what I do, who I do it with, who I do it for, and what I'm achieving. I'm happy and also tired. And tired gets me all nostalgic.
Many moons ago I thought I had a split personality attached to my writing. Turns out that is pretty common; it's actually a thing. You're not the same in every language you speak because each of those languages has its own set of emotions and learning to you, or something to that effect. This was a pretty cool thing to find out because it explains my non-split-personality after all.
Whilst I 'feel' the exact same - I am the me I know after all (and not a glorious version of myself!) - and don't seem to notice much difference with the chatting side of things, in the writing I could really tell the difference. Until now.
Partly because I'm tired, partly because life is not fair, I've been feeling like I need to write away my emotions so I can make sense of life. Ah, to know oneself and what heals us.
A former colleague of mine, a sweet girl in the prime of her youth (not to mention her life), has been diagnosed with incurable cancer. She wrote a blog post about it on Macmillan; an account of the last couple of months for her and her family which was as pragmatic as it was poignant. And I was left feeling void whilst knowing damn well that this emptiness I'm feeling is nothing compared to what she's feeling.
So I did what I do best when the floor gets swept away from under my feet - I wrote about nothing and stared at those words that said nothing and let them hug me. But they were not enough, not this time. I would need to write myself a full blanket of words to feel warm inside right now. Yet I don't know how - how to make these words more than the nothing that they are today? For words are not enough, not now, not when nothing you say can make life better, if better were to mean good.
As I emailed her my love and pragmatic thoughts on being in Oxford and the power of medical research - for I work with people who save lives - the only warmth I felt came from the tears running freely, for her, her family, and all the nostalgia I carry inside.
Hello there! It's Wednesday, it's been a spectacularly long day with far too many minutes and not enough hours, I'm tired and had dinner whilst walking home from work (what have I become?!), so... I'm now home drinking a deliciously warm cup of red berries tea in my enormous mug and I thought to myself "Do you know what's missing in your lives right now? To see the face I gave the little frog I knitted centuries ago!". Yeah, that will cheer up the world!
So voilà! Cute handmade frog face done!
This frog is now my goddaughter's best friend and in spite of fearing a little for his life (and that of his dear face), I know he's up to the challenge. He was already quite cheeky in his faceless days, so this is just a must deserved upgrade.
Another thing I thought would rock your boats this evening would be my 365 Photo Project. But that will have to wait another day, or two, or several. It's alive and... well, alive!... I've just not had the time to share the monthly updates but there has been - much to my surprise - a photo of a day. This is definitely telling the story of my no-time year, even if it hasn't been the best to push my photography creatively. There's still a lot of Olivia, coffee and tea!
Have a great evening :)
I am, of course, fully in favour of welcoming refugees to Europe with arms and hearts wide open. Anywhere in Europe, including my own 'backyard'.
I could say recent images of children being washed ashore should suffice in compelling the skeptics to join in my view, because how can you watch such human tragedy and be indifferent? No parent should have to bury their own child and how can we witness it all and go about life as if we've just watched a film? I could indeed pin my views on those photographs, but I rather go back to history and its powerful lessons to make my argument.
Portugal did not enter the Second World War. Not officially, anyway. Our then dictator kept us at bay, sending Portugal's leftovers which were in truth our only food to both sides of the conflict. Yet, in school we learn about the excruciating reality that devastated the old continent. And we learn how the bravery of a few saved the lives of many. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was then the Portuguese Consul-General to Bordeaux, France; under his command and defying direct orders from the regime, he issued visas and passports to thousands of Jews fleeing WWII. He was recalled back home and punished, but by then thousands of refugees were having a second chance at life.
Like Aristides, others across Europe defied orders and the status quo, endangering themselves to save innocent lives. One of the worst periods in European history also shows us some of humanity's most amazing qualities, if we're prepared to see it - solidarity and bravery. This all happened yesterday! Yesterday!
How can we, those who lived it and those who read about it in such vivid manner that we can smell the bombs and the misery, and not open our lives to people walking to freedom? How can we?
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
(attributed to George Santayana)
Would it make it any different if we were to realise we are, in fact, them? Geography and the European Union make us special today and save us today, but will it always? And anyway, should geography be what defines us and puts us above everyone else? I believe a term for that already exists and it is not nice.
So let's not include who started it or why this is happening in our argument; let's solve all of that as soon as possible, yes - as history tells us we can do - but in the meantime, let's address the here and now. Open your heart, Europe! Make us proud once more.
I love coffee. And the smell of coffee is even better! Excellent coffee, mind you!
And yet I can't drink an espresso to save my life, nor do I ever drink black coffee. Purists, take a deep breath!
When I first moved to the UK, almost nine years ago (time flies when you're perfecting your relationship with coffee!), I drank instant coffee for a while, but I quickly discovered it wasn't for me. Insert the cafetiere!
I bought a cafetiere when I moved from Bristol to Oxford, in January 2008. Instant life improvement, pun intended! At the time, I was drinking coffee mostly in work, so coffee at home was a weekend treat that gave Sundays (it's always Sundays, with me!) a special flavour of relaxing and sunshine and all things good. Until I went home this one time.
My parents use a stove top cafetiere, since I can remember and to this day. Waiting for me, was a mini version of theirs; a simple yet utterly heartwarming gift. You see, coffee and how my parents made coffee is one of my oldest childhood memories. The way their coffee is so much better than mine, even when they're right there watching me make it when I'm well into my thirties. Emulating that morning feeling I only get at theirs became a favourite of my bittersweet life as an emigrant for six years!
Fast forward to 2015 and say hello to Nespresso. The thing I really fancy these days are cappucinos. I can't drink black coffee and don't really enjoy sugar in my coffee anymore, so... How to resolve this? Cappuccino!
I let go of my childhood morning rituals and created my own. Mine contains a capsule and a gorgeous red coffee machine with a milk frothing glass. I'm also incredibly fortunate now that what distinguishes weekdays from the weekend are the number of cappuccinos, not the presence of them. It's like all my mornings are Sundays! Well, almost!
I'm pretty sure I started this post to talk about coffee and put in a good word for Nespresso. Turns out it became a little journey to childhood memories through coffee... oh well, such is life!
Hope you're enjoying your coffee today :)
I'm enjoying the summer, whichever version of it we get each day. My favourite - of course! - are the sunny hot ones, but all are accepted and appreciated, even when on the sofa eating ice cream and watching Spooks once more.
I'm behind on a couple of things, especially my 365 Photo Project... reporting! I'm all caught up on the project, haven't missed a day - sometimes just - and am still loving it, even if it feels like I'm managing to get a photo in each day rather than plan and think about it and improve my photography that way. That particular aspect is not great, I'll admit, but I do love having that daily commitment!
My knitting is on a slow burner; I finished a red cardi I'd been knitting for a while and it turned out BIG. I mean, you-look-so-slim-in-it BIG. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern is gorgeous, and yet the fit is oh so poor. I've been googling ways to shrink your garment and shall be trying those soon!
The parents and little brother are coming over this week and I realised this was *the week* at 5pm last Friday! I can't believe how this year is flying by, but perhaps that's just what ageing is all about because I'm sure I said this last year. I have a rough plan of things we could do but mainly, I'm excited to have them over and spending time with them.
I haven't been running for a month and that annoys me. First it was this, then it was that, and then I blinked and a month had passed. Yes, the weekend lie ins were great, but c'mon Joey! You know better!
My sewing list keeps growing whilst nothing gets sewn. Really! The trousers I started in November are almost there, key word being almost. We were so close, so close, to finishing these in July... so close! But then class ended and we all know they're just going to stay in the bag until the next class... oh well!
Fortunately, I'm on top of a few other things - cuddles with Olivia, always on top of that, I am; good food, an absolute must; and gardening! Thanks to AMAZING friends, the garden has gone from jungle to lovely space I want to do gardening in and be patient and watch stuff grow in. Life is good if I can be persuaded to be patient!
Pastel de nata - a typical Portuguese pastry - is internationalising itself, much to the delight of this Portuguese emigrant *insert all sorts of happy faces here*.
Taylor's of Oxford now have it available at a counter near you or not, but it's certainly worth the trip! Admittedly, they need to tweak a thing or two in the recipe to make it just so, but hey, I'm not complaining, they're good enough and I'm happy; did I mention that?
Good as pasteis de nata are, they're not my only source of happiness these days. Last week, I delivered my first ever official training in (and on) communications... and I loved it!
Yes, I've been doing public talks for what feels like fo-re-ver. Yes, I've lost most of the stage freight that comes with it. Yes, I know it thrills me to deliver a message I believe in. Yes, I've been doing the exact same thing one-to-one for years, advising people on public speaking, crowd control, talking to the media, but... this was different; this was a session within a week-long course. Yep, that makes it official in my eyes.
I hope the participants found it useful and inspiring! I hope they took everything they had wanted to take from the session, and a bit more! Workshops are, first and foremost, about the participants and what they make of the experience.
But... if you're a speaker out there trying to dodge an event, don't! You will get so much out of it that you should consider yourself lucky for the opportunity. The funny thing is - what I feel right now is exactly what I tell people when I'm pushing inspiring them to do talks and engage with the world. It's good to be reminded every so often that it really does work like that. Every single word.
Have a lovely week everyone :)
I have to work today, you know, day job work. There's a lot on at the moment and I need a bit of extra time, the sort of time you find on a Sunday. Unlike working at work, it's hard to start when it's the weekend and you're home and there are so many inspiring stories out there competing for your attention. So I've succumbed to those stories for a little while, to get myself fired up and ready!
Humans of New York. I, along with 8 million others, am a fan of this amazing project created by Brandon Stanton. I follow it on Instagram and Facebook, read the blog, and marvel at the strong stories portrayed. I've always been intrigued by how Brandon gets people to open up to him, even more than I was curious about how he got them to accept to be photographed. With a keen interest in street photography - what seems to be a distant goal now for my photography - I wanted to know how he did it all. Turns out, he told a group of students at Dublin just how he does it - it's all down to simple human interaction; isn't it always? It's a brilliant video, do watch it if you can. I also read this post, because I had time (not!), of course...!
Soule Mama's blog. I've been resisting this blog since forever. I love the photography and I love the projects - rope baskets here I come - but I always felt there was no time to be this perfect in life AND maintain a blog about it, so this just added unnecessary pressure to my otherwise sheltered existence. Today, I succumbed. How could you not? And how have I resisted this long? I must have a greater self-control than previously thought... hum... make a mental note of that. I truly appreciate the flow of photographs and text, how the two are not necessarily linked but complement each other beautifully, how it all just flows.
I'm ready for lunch. And then onto a presentation that needs to be informative, inspiring and funny, so I've decided. With coffee, life just tastes better with coffee. Have a lovely Sunday, folks, preferably with plenty of sunshine and time to enjoy it.
So, I failed at daily blogging in June. I didn't fail because I forgot to blog on two separate occasions, nor because I didn't find the time to blog since last Thursday. I failed because I chose to switch off when in Portugal and that was the best thing I could have done... for myself, not so much for the challenge.
When on Friday I realised I hadn't posted anything the day before, I didn't feel bad at all, nor guilty, which is novelty around here! In fact, roughly at the same time, I worked out I wasn't going to do it until I got back to the UK anyway.
Going home and being there is my chance to connect with the most important people to me. And I need to make the most of that chance whenever I have it. I also love the online detox I get to do when I'm there and how refreshed I feel when I come back, even when I've been running around meeting people right, left and centre.
Interestingly, I only seemed to have learned this now, even though I've been an emigrant for 8 years and three quarters. The day before I traveled, I was merrily chatting away to friends saying I never get to relax when I go home because I'm so busy touching base with everyone, all the time, non-stop, no breathing space for Joey. And it's true, I never stop, really, when I'm there. Yet, it all feels slow paced and relaxed. Who would have known that *all of it* is my breathing space?
If you're curious, and you may not be, I did eat sardines (but just the once; boo!!) and I *almost* cried on leaving (progress?).
1. I can blog when I'm busy
2. I enjoy blogging when I'm busy - it makes me focus on other things and chill!
3. I don't want to blog when I'm in Portugal - connecting with loved ones and switching off fully is my absolute favourite and I want to make the most of that opportunity!
Onwards and upwards!
I'm sure I need fish oil or something for my memory. Once again, I completely forgot about blogging and the daily challenge. Too busy enjoying the solstice, doing copious amounts of laundry, and chatting away at the pub! Oh well... s*** happens!
Summer. We made it here, the quickest I've ever known it. Time flew by, I must have blinked twice and the days were beautifully long and warm and sunny. I vaguely remember my parents telling me this is what old age feels like...!
I'm a summer baby. And that made me into a summer-lovin' kinda girl! I always say - and it's true - that seasons are my favourite, not one season in particular. I love each season and it's passing and all the different things each brings, but... there's something sooooo cool about the first day of summer that makes me all giddy and happy!
(there's also that thing of it being the longest day of the year, meaning it's all downhill from here light-wise, but hey, let's keep that to one side, shall we?)
One thing I'm already enjoying about this summer is reading in the garden. There's nothing quite like chillin' outside with a good book!
I accomplished very little today. I felt tired and let myself relax; to do lists shall not rule my life, not today anyway! And so they didn't.
Instead, I lingered in bed for as long as I wanted, I had a very slow breakfast, a hot bath to relax my muscles, and got back to bed to read my book. It felt amazing! Unusually, I could really let go of all the things I have to do before going to Portugal next week. None of it mattered as I read pages and pages of my book. Pure lush!
After lunch, I sat at my computer with a cider and started the long battle of backing up my drives - my obsession with backups has meant I now lost track of how many versions of ALL of it I have. I'm still at it, but hey, the cider was good and so is the music.
There's a long list of things to do. A very long list! There's a toddler playsuit to finish, a frog in need of a face, laundry to do, bags to pack, a house to hotel-ify, life admin to get on top of, and sunshine to be enjoyed... for now anyway!
And then there's little Olivia and her pouch belly and soft hair. And she always take precedence over the to do list!
Pink roses in my garden make me happy. Who would have thought?
Playing with light makes me happy, especially in photography.
Preparing dinner can be enjoyable, I'd forgotten that feeling.
Parcel opening in the car at the post office depot is great.
Photo books are the best gift ever, to give - and I hope to receive.
Planning crafts in my head all the way through to 2018, judging by the number of ideas and lack of time.
Photographing and learning new tricks all the time to make the most of the light and happiness.
Pining - or really really wanting, at least - for this mug!
Proving I can start the sentences I wanted to write in this blog post with a 'P'.
I didn't blog yesterday. Not because I didn't have wifi - OMG The Netherlands is the absolute best for free wifi! - but because I forgot. I completely forgot about the online world and anything that wasn't having fun in Amsterdam. Such is life! So, back to topic.
On Sunday, four of us moved to a boat in Amsterdam for a couple of days. Because that's what you do after you've been to an incredible wedding, you prolong the awesomeness for as long as you can!
And then we decided to rent bikes and join the natives. Except that we're very clearly not natives and height isn't the only thing that gives it away! We should have got bikes fore foreigners, with normal hand brakes, but in all that excitement we just went with whatever the shop gave us - Dutch bikes.
Braking by back pedalling does not come naturally to me; nor does cycling fast when I can't be sure I'd brake in time. Scooters on the cycle lane freak me out and people pulling in front of me because everyone can swerve obstacles are at best, naive. But I made it and what's more, I enjoyed it! I'm not sure the experience was quite the same for the natives that had to put up with me, but hey - you lose some, you win some, I've left the country now! Until next time :)
Photo by Vivacious Mel Photography
Beyond words stunning. Beyond words happy. I feel so privileged to know, and be friends with, T + R.
It was a beautiful and happy day, that melted my heart and overwhelmed me with joy and wonder. These two are made for each other and are so generous in their love to all of their friends. An absolute inspiration!
We're here! This may sound obvious, as I've been saying we'd be coming for a few days now, but trust me, it is still impressive we're actually here! We went through bag-drop off and security with a couple of minutes to spare!! Why do you need more, really? It's wasted time.
I could tell you all about this story, but it still stresses me out so we'll move on to the fact we made it to the plane, all four of us. Then there was the view above and let's face it, how not to be soothed by this cotton-y spectacle?
Until you make it to the train with 10 secs to spare and one of you is left behind on the platform! Then you're a bit stressed again and papers are flying and you bash your head onto the little table in between the seats. And you can't open your eyes for the rest of the journey...! At least that puts an end to the stress - que sera, sera!
And then, after what seemed like a chaotically eventful journey, we made it to our destination and life was good again! We laughed about it all - yep, true! We had some food. We met with old friends and had a good catch up and all was well when it ends well!
Today? Relaxing and slow morning before we head for the BIG wedding! So happy for these two that I have butterflies in my belly! Let the day begin and with it the most beautiful time of our lives... lasting forever!
I could have written a few blog posts to go live when I'm away and ensure I'd keep to my blogging daily challenge that way. I could, but it wouldn't have been the same (to quote a very popular portuguese ad)!
I've read loads about editorial calendars for blogs and how planning your 'content' is good for you. And I'm sure it is for the people writing about it, or those that 'prepare content'. I'm not one of those people. It took me a while to get why I couldn't prepare - nor enjoyed having - an editorial calendar, but now I know - I don't like it. I just write. That is what works for me.
I had no clue what today's post was going to be about and that was fine. I could have written about my journey to London and how I laughed on the bus listening to my favourite podcast! Or how the conference I'm attending is interesting and relevant and makes me love my job even more. Or even still how I'm looking forward to this break and celebrating the happiness of friends as if it were my own, because it is my own!
And then I sat down to write and this came out instead. Isn't writing just wonderful?
Preparing posts in advance is not my thing because I don't feel I'm preparing content as such. I write ramblings and experiences and little snippets of life, and curate that with photos I like and if I'm lucky, photos I love. Is that content? Yes, by the definition of the word content, yes it is. This blog is made up of content! But to me there's a difference in form that makes me feel like I don't prepare content - it comes out and goes live.
Some bloggers out there, some of whom I read and admire, spend a lot of time preparing their content; they research the topic, consider angles, write ahead of time and edit on a different day, curate with photos, and tweak the post further; finally, they time it and make it go live when they're asleep (this seems to be a thing!). I do one and half of these!
So... I write and curate content, but I don't prepare content as such, in my humble view and new invented definition of prepare. And that is ok! There isn't a life changing message with this post, but if I had to pick one, it would be this:
It's ok not to go with the trend and do your own thing, even if that thing seems odd to others. Why wouldn't you plan your content if that makes life easier? Well, because it takes the fun out of sitting down to write! Next!
Enjoy the weekend and my non-messages and blue skies or whatever the weather gods give you!
I'm going to Holland for a few days, starting tomorrow evening. I can't wait! There will be a wedding of dear, dear friends, and there will be restful days and a lie in, please! There will be photography and reading and sightseeing and more chillin', because my head needs it more than my body.
Little Olivia has invited a couple of human friends over to look after her; clever girl, this one. They have stayed before, enjoyed it and weren't put off by her inconvenient wake up times - it's a win! Let's see how they cope with the constant branch gathering she does with her fur... watch this space!
The real writing every day challenge starts tomorrow. Up until now, this challenge has been a walk in the park, except it hasn't, but it's been fun and relatively easy. Much like when I did this challenge in November, it's all about just doing it. And once you accept you'll be doing it, you just do it and that's that; it really is that simple. But...
Being away changes everything! What if I don't have internet connection? It has happened before... I know... shocking, but true! What if I dance so much my feet tell my hands not to type? It's possible, they talk! We can't really predict what's going to happen when we remove our systems and safety nets. And yet there's always a phone, and wifi, and a LOT of determination to make it work... once again, watch this space!
Month five and - yep! - I still very much love this project and love even more that I'm doing it. I also love this month's mosaic, love love love! There seems to be a lot of love going on here... and there is!
I reached the lowest point in the project so far in May and realised a couple of useful things from it. Number 1: things improve when I write about them; the written reflection really helps me see through the mist, clear my head, gain perspective and focus on the important bits - it's great! Number 2: nothing lasts forever, which is fantastic when you're going through a low point; it too, shall pass, just hang in there!
May is a beautiful month in the UK and then there's Olivia, beautifying the world by existing, so we're good. There was Pimms, yarn, running, sewing, good food, good coffee, a photo walk, and as per usual, lots and lots of little Olivia.
I woke up. I ran 4K. I had breakfast. With a proper cappuccino, gotta love Nespresso. I got to work. I had another coffee, a cappuccino from Costa's this time, catch up with colleagues on the way to get it and back. That's good. Back to the desk. Work. Work. Work. Pause with homemade peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. Meeting. Lunch. Work. Work. Work. Meeting. Meeting. Work. Work. Work. Home. Cuddle Olivia. Cook dinner. Put the washing on. Eat. Sit down. See photos, oh so pretty, oh so amazing, oh wow! Write. Publish post. More photos? More laundry? Sleep? The evening is my oyster!
Today was the day to focus on the wants and let go of the shoulds, even if just a bit. The garden still got tendered to, the house still had a good clean, but above all - I chilled!
I read in the garden, soaking up the sun and not minding the time. So nourishing for the soul!!
And a little bit of Sunday wisdom, from... the Peanuts!
Olivia learned how to use the cat flap. She keeps coming in and out for the sake of it, making the most of her new found freedom and yet not quite sure what to do with it. The flap itself is currently more interesting than the outside world... wait, what am I saying? All those puddles to jump on and invisible bugs to chase and hidden corners to explore... yeah, all of it is her favourite right now. It's amazing to watch and even better to still have her come to the lap for some cuddle time at the end of the day... that is my favourite!
I flew home after work today - because I can be that fast on my bike if I so wish, yeah! (not) - to enjoy the sunshine in the garden. With Olivia. And a G&T. On my sun lounger. And it felt amazing!
Summer - I have missed you! You were so fabulous last year, so fabulous!, that I thought it fair to let you go when the time came, make others happy, and patiently wait my turn again. I was getting a bit on edge feeling that my turn was due and then today, there you were - everywhere!
Bright blue skies. My favourite!
Sunbathing. My favourite!
Chillin' in the garden. My favourite!
Thank you for coming back, my dearest friend; you have been missed and you will be cherished here!
There was a plan this morning - to leave early and photograph in town on this beautiful day. After all, it's been far too long since I photographed the Radcliffe Camera and mornings are my favourite.
Yes, that was the grand plan. But then the above (and below) happened and the plan had to change. I mean, it just had to. This week has been busy and I think little miss may be missing my attention. I sure miss our little moments of chillin' together as if nothing else needed doing. Ever.
Cats, and pets in general, are a great reminder to pause. Pause and absorb life whilst being still for a moment. After all the play and chaos and hair that needs constant hoovering, a pause to just be and enjoy it.
So, my camera won't be filled with images of the beautiful Oxford buildings on this sunny morning, but oh my do I feel calm and relaxed and prepared for the day after a cuddle with little Olivia!
A year ago today I started a new job which I love. Every single day, including the tough-ones-I-need-gin-now days, I’ve felt lucky and LUCKY and very lucky that I get to do what I love with people I respect and admire (professionally and personally!).
A year ago I could only hope that leaving behind a world I knew, with people I respected and loved would be a good call, the right call! I was excited and scared and had butterflies in my tummy.
A year ago today it was sunny and I felt straight at home in my new job. Thank you to everyone that makes it such an enjoyable ride, day in and day out!
Month four and I am very much still in love with this project! The sun is out and I love photographing in day light! These are the first things that come to mind when I look at this month's images.
As per usual since entering my life, Olivia features heavily - don't all love stories? But I also see blue skies, that amazing spring sunlight that warms me inside and out, yummy foods, and travels and events that were all happiness! Oh, and a car. Yes, I have a car now and somehow that is as life changing now as it was when I got my first car, 16 years ago.
In April, I hadn't reached my hardest day yet in this project. And in April, I still very much loved this project. Looking at this fourth collection of my year in images, I can honestly say I still do. It's such an amazing experience to look back at the last 4 months and see a story of my year so far.
I'm particularly enjoying seeing the changing of seasons in photos that weren't meant to be, and ultimately aren't, about the seasons. I don't have a favourite season, instead I'm a season lover! I appreciate the passing of seasons, their arrival, their bloom and splendour, and their departure. I truly cherish the cyclic nature of seasons and love that I can see it in this project.
May is already rolling and other than that bump in the road, we're doing alright! I'll report back at the end of the month.
Photographing every single day has its ups and downs. On occasion, it is just plain tough. Today, I felt this hardship so much more than on other days, including the long winter months when all my free time seemed to be in the dark, like a cave woman!
Whilst I've accepted that most of my photos are taken with my phone's camera, today I felt quite disappointed about this whole project. The ultimate goal was to reconnect with my photographic eye, tell the story of my year in images and photograph more. All of this can be done - and successfully achieved - with a phone; it's not about the camera, it's about that eye (within reason, let's face it!). But...
Perhaps I wasn't fully honest with myself when I listed my goals for this project. Or perhaps I didn't know them then. Or perhaps I assumed the goals would be achieved in a different way without realising there were other options. But... going back to that but... I now know I expected to use my DSLR way more! I mean - WAY MORE!!
Do I think it's ok to use my iPhone? Yep, I most certainly do! Do I think the photos can tell the story of my year? Oh yeah! Am I happy with the results? For the most part, yep! And yet I want to be exploring new ideas with my DSLR. That's really what I want right now and maybe, just maybe, that is a completely different goal to photographing every day, but in my dream world the two walked hand-in-hand and we all lived happily ever after.
I missed a perhaps before. Perhaps I haven't just realised this was what I want, but instead this is simply what I want now. Somehow, this realisation makes me feel better about this project again. Guess throwing it out there and letting the writing flow has more uses than the obvious, hey?
Interestingly, in spite of this having been the most difficult day of this project so far, today's photo wasn't the latest I've ever taken. There was a day I took the photo with 5 minutes to spare to midnight, almost as an afterthought, remembering on the right side of the clock that I was committed to photographing the everyday, every single day. So not the worst day, even if it felt like the hardest.
Are you photographing every day?
Do you have a daily project?
How's that working for you? Are you, or have you, faced a dip yet?
I started a six-week mindfulness course this week and it was great! I'd heard amazing things about mindfulness, from people whose opinion I trust, and I was keen to give it a go. For months now, I've been feeling the need to pause and be less hectic or busy or rushed. I used to be quite good at it; pottering was a favourite of mine and I excelled at it. But one day it was all gone and I need my pottering mojo back!
The first class was nothing short of amazing! I'm typically quite skeptical of these things, even when I choose to place myself in the situation, have not found meditation interesting before (or doable, for that matter!), and am not a fan of yoga, so... the teacher was in for a joy ride with me. Except that I just loved it! Nothing like an open mind, albeit a skeptical one, and an excellent teacher to make things work.
For the whole time I was there I managed to focus on being there. You'd be surprised to know how much of an achievement this is! My mind wandered but it went back promptly, again an again, and all of it is ok., or so we were told. The homework this week? Less positive, but I'm accepting that as part of the process. I'm learning and right now the two main things are 1. remember to do the homework (yep, I know!) and 2. focus throughout the exercise.
Almost a week in and brushing my teeth wasn't this interesting since I was about 5! I know all about how I brush my teeth, things I already knew but had never taken the time to appreciate, and things I had never considered. I always, always, always, brush my teeth in the same way, even after noticing how I'm doing it. But more important than my sudden knowledge on my teeth brushing technique and habits, is the fact I have been able to focus on just that - brushing my teeth - for the whole time I'm doing it. Twice a day, those precious minutes provide me a quietness I hadn't felt in a long time and that is priceless. If only the other tasks were going so well!
This coming week is promising to be hectic. Productive and hectic. And yet I'll have those two hours to relax and pause and marvel at the power of stillness, all whilst I learn to do that by myself. How absolutely amazing is that?
I went to a fantastic talk today by Thomas L. Friedman, the three-time Pulitzer-prize winner and New York Times columnist who seems to win a prize for pretty much everything he writes. He's an amazing speaker and his talk was, above all, a lesson in communication! One thing in particular stayed with me - a column is meant to provoke.
The moment he said it, I felt like grabbing a pen (or my laptop, let's be practical) and writing away. I'm not controversial nor particularly thought-provoking with my writing, but that one sentence inspired me to get those thoughts out through my fingers and that's a feeling that must not be wasted! I thought back to my favourite columnists - all Portuguese, a clear gap in my British education which must be addressed asap! - trying to recall if they were, indeed, provoking. And they are. They're funny and inspiring and enlightening; sometimes they're trivial, other times they make me feel like we'll change the world together.
Outside the realm of this blog, I am a passionate person, that doesn't shy away from a good debate, on any topic, from politics to football to science. I tend to have strong opinions on the subjects I know, and I enjoy learning from people I respect on things I have no clue about. I'm open, a bit too honest and quite straightforward.
Here though, it's a different story. The thing is, I'm not sure I want it to be that different anymore! But...
There are reasons as to why the writing is tamer than real life. The main one is perhaps that I've been a nostalgic writer for most of my life; writing was a soul cleansing exercise for me up until quite recently. Secondly, there's always that thing at the back of my head going on and on about too much exposure to the whole wide world, because, really, you never know who's reading. And finally, what you out on the internet stays on the internet forever and that's bloody scary! I treasure growing and evolving and changing opinions and perspective on things; I feel that the public written word carries too much weight at times and you'll forever be pulled back to that one moment when you've written something you no longer defend.
So that's where I'm at right now. Just so you know! A pretty great and inspired Monday, with plenty of thought-provoking things for me to mull over. And to think I'm considering to blog everyday for May on top of it... will I?
I write and photograph, and am a lover of natural light and colour. I also sew and make things, all sorts of things. I believe in simplicity and that smiles make the world spin faster!
Originally from Portugal, I now live in the magical city of Oxford, UK.Welcome to my online space, I'm thrilled to have you here.
I'd love to hear from you! Email me.
All words and photos are my own, unless otherwise stated.
Please do not reproduce without my permission. If you would like to use a photo, please link back to this site and give credit.
Profile photo by Vivacious Mel Photography.