Gently expanding wings

It has been a very busy time at Scottish island mum.  The summer season is well and truly underway on the island and the endless days of sunshine are making it sparkle.  I never grow tired of my route to the village along the shore but it is rare that I see people venturing into the sea.  This summer appears to be the exception as more and more people brave the cold waters.  Of course for many islanders it is a very busy time and we rarely have time to even dip a toe in the water.  I therefore make a point of walking along the shore rather than the roadside for my shifts in the community shop and I never forget how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place.

eigg day 3 010The last couple of months have witnessed Scottish island mum return to study as an advanced course in mindfulness and chronic illness seemed a logical step to take.  Regular readers will know that I have suffered from Fibromyalgia for over 10 years and in that time I have tried many alternative treatment options with varying success.  Without doubt the most successful has been mindfulness which I arrived at through many years of meditation.  Mindfulness teaches us about the moment.  It teaches us about stillness and quiet and it teaches us to let go of negative thoughts that are capable of dominating our mind through the day and into our sleep.  But it has done much more than that for me.  It has helped me see myself and my illness is a new light and it is connected my mind and body in a deeply empowering way.  Chronic illness has the capacity to sneak up on you when you are not looking.  It has the capacity to blight a life.  My illness does neither and I owe that, largely, to mindfulness.

Finally, I have made the space in my life to gently expand my wings and start my own practice.  In reality I have been doing this for some time but my recent studies have enabled me to focus on mindfulness and chronic illness and this is where I think I can offer the most help.  So from the beginning of August my client list will open for a short time to ensure that I keep the practice small.  This, in turn, ensures that I am confident that I have enough time to offer the support that I know will be needed.  If you would like to know more about what I can offer click HERE. 

Just as I ease myself into this new venture in comes an email offering media work that I can get really excited about.  Although nothing is confirmed as yet the potential is exactly what I like to get involved in using the Scottish island mum brand in a sensitive and appropriate way.  Once things are a little clearer I will share with you all.  I get lots of requests for media work and most of them are politely turned down.  This is not your typical blog because it is not interested in promotion for promotion sake.  Scottish island mum will always remain very loyal to her readers who expect her to make the right decisions in what media work to pursue.

My work at the Eco Savvy community shop is taking me down a little path that has always fascinated me.  The history of fashion as an indicator for the changing role of women in society has always drawn a second glance from me.  Last week a Gucci dress was unearthed in a bag of donated clothes.  Hours of searching finally revealed that this was an authentic 1960s Gucci dress and my excitement was clear for all to see.  Last night the search to authenticate a Prada handbag was less rewarding as it proved to be a fake but the process was just as interesting.  I am hoping that these finds signal a responsive approach to what comes through the doors of our little community shop.  We put together a whole display based around the Gucci dress and almost immediately a lady purchased a small print from the table declaring that it was a snapshot of her life in the 1960s and before…….

Ella and Peter Stevenson

In that moment in the shop I understood the real merit of lives as stories and that these stories should be acknowledged and celebrated.  I often celebrate the life of my Grandmother, Ella Stevenson, and describe her as a remarkable woman.  She inspired me in so many ways and as I sat behind my market stall today with a table crammed full of my ‘Make Do & Mend’ collection I smiled.  Ella Stevenson would have approved.  She lived through two world wars and she was a professional seamstress.  Do I need to say more?

On a very similar subject Scottish island mum is almost ready to start her campaign to remember and honour all those who lost so much during the First World War.  100 years have gone by since the beginning of the war that should have ended all wars.  Project Poppy is my way of remembering and saying thank you.  Over the coming weeks this site will be featuring creative work made by a number of people who all wanted to make their own personal tribute.  I consider the sharing of this work to be a true and lasting honour.

So, it is a busy time for Scottish island mum and it is also a time of gently expanding wings.  My favourite creature on this planet is the dragonfly.  I wonder why?

 

Speak soon.  xx

 

 

 

Children & Summer Holidays

Finding time to write my won blog has been tricky of late as I take on more and more freelance work but it is something that I remain deeply committed to.  When I open a new post template it feels as if I am putting a comfy pair of slippers on and long may that continue.

wild challenge 2 007I have been busy writing for others on the joy of the summer and children so I thought I should spend some time getting these thoughts onto my own site.  I get very excited about the concept of summer and children and I think that harks back to when I was a child and you had that wonderful end of term feeling and the whole summer stretched out before you.  We construct things a little differently in our family as our children are home schooled but we do preserve a decent length of time for the children to make the most of the long summer days.

For me summer is synonymous with the great outdoors and it is important for us all to make the most of this time of year.  I often get asked to comment on activities that children can engage in during their outdoor time and I always note that these perspectives are generated from engaging with my children over the years.  My children are all much older now but when they were small the thing that got them outside time and time again was water.  Water in almost any form or container seemed to appeal and I lost count of how many times I was invited to a tea party using water with grass in it poured through a play teapot…..

Alongside the water sat the sand pit built from old wooden pallets and filled with toys that acted as containers, sieves and the like.  Sometimes the water and sand had a party together!  As the children moved through this stage we were able to play with even more exciting possibilities and the phrase ‘what is the project for today Mummy?’ was invented.  A day project might be making a small pond out of a large pot and rescuing tadpoles from a building site.  it might be building a den under the trees and having a picnic tea to celebrate.  It might also be setting the toughest obstacle course we could muster for Daddy to have a go at when he got home from work.

A broken tree that Max just has to investigate to see how much weight it can tolerate.

Whatever the project the joy and excitement was always the same.  Most importantly, I would find a very important excuse to withdraw for a period during the day as that ensured that they had time without me and that was important.   Children playing with children was so vital to this special time and my children had a habit of attracting the other children over the neighbour’s fence who wanted to join in the fun.

One of our recurring favourite activities as a family remains our nature walks when we set off with a small picnic, lots of water and a brown paper carrier bag with our names on.  The point of the bag was to collect interesting things to put on our nature table on our return.  It does, from time to time, get a little competitive over who can find the most interesting thing but the activity does not stop at the collecting.  Once our bags are bursting with goodies from Mother Nature they are thoughtfully arranged on a spare table and we settle down to update our nature journal.  The children and I all have nature journals that we use to capture the changes in the seasons and summer is always busting at the seams.  We paint, sketch, write and investigate our goodies on the table and it is a quiet activity that often ends our day.

For me the great outdoors is the ultimate playground and some days we head across the fields to find a tree to climb in for a better view of the sea.  Resisting the temptation to over plan the summer is important but, equally, children will look to their parents for a little guidance.  My boys love their bikes and when they head off I head to the garden with a book for some time out.  But I am always willing to help them devise something interesting to do and so another project is born.

Max, George, Pete, Molly & Harry.

As I write this my, now much older, children are all outside.  Molly (21) is sunbathing and listening to music on a well earned day off from her holiday job.  Harry (18) is also on a day off but is constructing his new tent as a test run for the upcoming festival weekend.   George (16) is out playing with the dogs somewhere on the smallholding and Max (14) has gone for a walk to the village along the beach.  Admittedly they are a long way from pouring grassy water through a plastic teapot but they are outside on the most beautiful of days.  That is just where I would want them to be….

Speak soon xx

In pursuit of lingering contentment

We are blessed with a beautiful day on the island.  Some days I find myself needing to let my day come to me and today was one of those days.  I am a great believer in letting things occur with their own natural rhythm especially as I am prone to interfering with that rhythm.  From time to time I need to take a little step back and let things start flowing again as they should.  When I left my very serious job over ten years ago to carve out a different life for myself and my family I quickly learnt that opportunities are round every corner and if we take a little more time to just ‘be’ they will make themselves known to us.

The studio lovingly known as the Hen Hut.

 

I have spent the last ten years or so discovering all sorts of opportunities and I am amazed how one will lead naturally into another.  Granted I am now at that age (as I approach 50) when life experience is beginning to play a part.  That said, my latest direction towards establishing a more dedicated mindfulness clinical practice is something I feel I was born to do.  Like many people I discovered mindfulness when I needed help in life.  I was diagnosed with a series of debilitating pain conditions and I refused to see medication as the total answer.  If I had gone down that route I feel I would have lost my connection to the world such was the dose of medication being recommended.  Over the years I tried many other things to support the medication with varying success.  Most things worked for a while and then stopped working.  Meditation as part of my growing Buddhist faith was the only thing that lasted and this has led me to a mindfulness practice that is now deeply embedded in all I do. 

I am currently on a very intensive course that focuses on mindfulness as a response to chronic illness and the clinical studies I have been engaged in are helping me to understand the breadth and depth mindfulness is capable of achieving in the human mind and body.

The Dyemill walk, a favourite ramble.

I see mindfulness as my primary response to my illness (fibromyalgia) and everything else as secondary.  I am currently at the embryonic stage of bringing together my mindfulness practice with my dance background.  These two domains are allowing me to focus on a ‘moving mindfulness’ approach that works between mind and body and back again.  Exercise is a fundamental part of dealing with fibromyalgia and many other chronic illness but I want to develop a movement pattern that uses mindfulness as a guide and an aim – both at the same time.  I see this work as being central to my mindfulness practice that I am on the cusp of launching.

I am delighted that so many people have signed up for my free e-course on Intuitive Journaling as this is a sacred part of my approach to writing and all things creative.  In such a complex modern world I am passionate about e-learning as a way of allowing us to learn in our time and spaces.  I have watched my eldest three children successfully navigate themselves through a range of distance learning courses and believe this type of learning to be capable of achieving much given that we are able to fit it into our lives as we need to.  This type of individual approach to learning is best served by responsive tutors and that is what I try to be through each and every one of my courses.  This year I am offering my first e-retreat which allows the participants to identify their own place to retreat into.  Place, space & identity is an e-retreat over two weekends separated by four weeks of reflective exercises.  Using mindfulness, journaling and environment art the retreat aims to take the concepts of place and space and consider their changing role in our identities.  It is a course I contributed to back in my academic days but then the home was in performing arts.  I have translated the course into a mindfulness, writing and creative genre and believe that this has actually improved it.  So I am excited about this first e-retreat.

Over the next few days this retreat and my other pending e-courses will be listed on my eventbrite page.  There is a link at the bottom of my website so you can keep up with what is being offered and book places.  Further details are available HERE. 

flowers june 2014 010

I maintain that life is a pursuit of lingering contentment that is actually made up of moments.  My contented moments today were spent capturing images of poppies for my First World War project –  Project Poppy.  These moments lingered further as I collected my first crop of strawberries and arranged my own grown cut flowers into a simple green vase for the table.  I do hope that you have all had some moments of contentment today.

Speak soon. xx