Today, I am grateful for… days like these

Some days, it is so easy to be grateful… blue sky dappled with the kind of clouds you want to lay back, flat out on freshly cut grass and find pictures in; warmth of the sort you would wish for when off on your holiday; sun on shoulders; Summer dress floating in the breeze; folks greeting each other with smiles in the street, smiling just because. In the garden, roses are blooming, climbers are reaching higher by the day; Spring flowers, having already ended, are shedding seeds to ensure next year’s supply. On young apple trees, fruits shaded red and green are beginning to weigh down the branches and in the lanes, leaves from one side reach out to greet those on the other creating a tunnel of trees. By the river, blankets are out, baskets are open, picnics are being consumed and glasses chink “cheers”. Here’s to days and to weekends like these.

Today, I am grateful for… fun in the sun with friends

Giggles with the girls

Today, I am grateful for time out in the sunshine with my wonderful friends. Single Mum weekends alone with the boys can be a challenging affair at times, so I was deeply grateful to be able to share my day with some of my gorgeous, joyful friends and their beautiful families. Today, feet in the water at Stanborough Lakes and giggling in the sunshine with the girls, as the menfolk chatted and the children played, I felt truly blessed. Suncream was slathered on, picnics were enjoyed and shared, fish were caught and let back to swim freely on. Oh, the joys of a sunny Summer day where big skies abound and the sound of happy squeals and laughter ring out. I had every reason to feel grateful today. It is a good day to launch the Gratitude Daily course for Summer 2014 and encourage others to appreciate the good things for a more joyful life.

Today, I am grateful for… my creativity


Today, I am grateful for my creativity. I am grateful that it is always there, like an old friend, easy to connect with, no matter long the gap since our last meeting. This week, my Facebook conversations have revolved around art and the fears and blocks that prevent people from creating. It is interesting to note how the same challenges (lack of time, fear of the blank page, wild swings of energy and enthusiasm, fear of not being good enough and the disconnect between what can be imagined and what can be created) rear their heads again and again and how some of the most talented artists I know are the ones who experience the highest levels of self-doubt. This is not new news, but it reminds me how commitment to creativity is so important for creative beings and how we must make art even (or especially) at the times when we feel least like creating. Creativity is always there… it is in the way I think, the way I approach life’s challenges, it is in my style of parenting. The times in my life when I feel most connected to myself are those when I invite my creativity in. Today, whilst half-way through a blog post, I recognised a block and addressed it. In writing about art, I was stopping myself from making it, so I stopped writing and made art. That felt good. In my work I am lucky enough to connect with a wide range of people and creativity is at the heart of all that I do. It is the reason for my work at Pallant House Gallery, inviting people to connect with art in the collection there. It is at the heart of the art club I run at my son’s school. It is the reason I am launching a new course…  I want everyone to experience the joy of creativity that I am lucky enough to enjoy on a regular basis. Creativity is my friend, my chosen form of self-expression, it brings me joy and for that I am truly grateful.

Today, I am grateful for… my favourite tree

my favourite tree

Today, I am grateful for my favourite tree. Leafless, in Winter, the shape of it seems just so perfect to me and the shadow it casts as I view it from the path by the road on sunny days is such a simple delight, yet so utterly captivating that no traffic is heard when I see it there; everything is on hold as I surrender to its uncomplicated beauty. This week, on the slow stroll through the park on my return home from dropping my boys off at school, and over the weekend too, I have watched it intently. I admire every detail that nature presents to me as I indulge in my ten minute detour of a gratitude walk; it sets me up for the day ahead. My favourite tree is one of the highlights. Leaves are starting to appear, slowly unfurling, filling in the gaps a little more each day as Spring sets in and new growth greens cover up the browns that Autumn left behind. At the weekend, the sun shone through, low in the sky as the boys and I sauntered home after an active day out of doors. We stopped for a while to capture and cherish the view. Tomorrow, it will change again. Each day different; every day something new.

Today, I am grateful for… loyal friends


There was a point, some ten or so years ago, when I had this funny feeling that I was at an age where I would not make many more new friends. I had a few friends from school, a few more from Uni, then I inherited the friends of my boyfriend, their girlfriends and a group I had become close with whilst running my market stall. There were the work friends who I saw on the job, but rarely outside it and a whole host of people with whom I spent time on a rather irregular basis. Loyal friends who I hung out with often were few and far between. Where this feeling came from, I have no idea. I don’t know what led me to believe that you get to an age or a period in life where the new friendships just stop happening, but I remember thinking it. Maybe I was just stuck… stuck in that life, in that working rut, in the not quite being true to myself place where new horizons seemed unlikely. But in the past few years, I have made many wonderful connections with incredible people, including some of the most courageous and inspiring friends I have ever had in my life. This, I had not anticipated. The conversations that have recently arisen dig deeper than I have ever dug and open doors to connection and meaning, both in the moment of sharing and then rippling out into other relationships. Each time, it astounds and delights me. Yesterday, for example, I spent the afternoon with a relatively new friend… someone who I have known for just one year, but with whom I feel totally at ease. Life makes sense when we are together. Within 9 minutes of meeting she had me in tears. Good tears. You know, the sort that fall silently when someone truly gets it… when you feel heard and seen and understood. She moved me with her words of how my Gratitude Daily course had changed her life… for the better. That’s when the deeper sharing began. With her, I feel safe sharing my vulnerabilities, knowing they will be treated with kindness and respect and I invite her opinion and request her advice, trusting that she will speak the truth and not just what I want to hear. We are looking out for each other. For such loyal friends and for moments like these, I am truly grateful. The internet too, has allowed for some incredible connections with like-minded people, some of whom have become dear friends, even though we have never, or rarely, met face to face. Yet, the loyalty, support and understanding know no bounds. I feel privileged that my courses have brought together two separate groups within which such deep and heartfelt friendships and connections have been forged. May there be many, many more.

Today, I am grateful for… the rush of the train

Arundel Castle from the train

Today, I am grateful for the rush of the train, from London to Chichester and back again… I am grateful for the blurring of trees; the muted palette of the landscapes this evening as I passed through; the silhouettes of towns and of castles against them. I am grateful that their beauty never fades for me; it always pleases in Summer haze or torrential rain. I have a season and a half of this on my horizon as a new contract of once weekly visits to work on the south coast begins again. I will watch the beginning of Spring and encounter Summer in her full glory… each week a new something to capture my attention and imagination. Each year I forget until I see it again; every season holds magic of its own in this ever-changing scene. I am grateful for the soothing rattle and hum; the bounce and the sway; the soon home again. I am grateful for this time before the big city approaches and I am part of the homeward race on the underground train.

Today, I am grateful for… time out

Brighton beach

Today, I am grateful for time out from the old routine. This week I have devoted more time to caring for myself than I can ever remember. As my first Gratitude Daily course ended last month, I took the uncharacteristic decision to take time out. Busy has been my middle name for as long as I can recall, but as the course came to a close, I felt an overwhelming urge to just be. I took a step back from everything. I did not rush into promoting the next course or getting the new project going, though the excitement is there for what’s brewing and the desire to just get on with it is strong, the urge to sit back and focus on the self-care has been stronger. I am going with the flow… enjoying the slow and today, I took a trip to Brighton… to the sea. After a couple of hours work, I met up with a friend, wandered The Lanes and strolled down to the beach where we sat… and talked and listened to the sound of the sea. It was bliss… the sun on our faces, gulls overhead, stones between fingers, waves crashing. We then walked some more… slowly, I had no desire to dash. It felt luxurious, this glorious time out. I felt my body relax, shoulders lower, my mind unwind as one would expect. What has surprised me most during this week of self-care has been my craving, not for chocolate, but for wholesome food. This took me aback, this unanticipated aspect of time out. I had been thinking about improving my diet for a while… not going on a diet you understand – that has never been my style – just improving the quality of the food I consume, but in thinking about it, nothing changed. In caring for myself and taking time out to just be, a good diet has been a natural consequence. I shop slowly, thoughtfully, daily.  My decision to give up chocolate for Lent seems like a cop out right now, as I just don’t feel the urge for it. Spinach, however, is quite another matter. For dinner, we found a vegetarian restaurant with a menu that made my mouth water. I was not disappointed. So, today, I am grateful for sea air and slow time. I am grateful for good friends and food that feeds the soul. I am grateful for the little things I learn when I take time out.

Today, I am grateful for… time in the garden

Buds unfurling

My garden is a constant source of pleasure. It was the reason I moved from a flat to a house. In moving, we lost an enormous amount of indoor space, but gained our own little piece of earth. Even in the cold and muddy Winter months when I rarely venture out there, I watch the trees from my pillow through the bedroom window in the morning and evening; I plant bulbs and delight in their blooming; I grow salad in pots and blueberries on bushes. This little garden is my personal piece of heaven. My Gratitude Daily course asks that you take pleasure in the simple things. It encourages mindfulness… what better place to experience daily bliss than out in your garden or communal green area. Today was my first proper day out there in my garden this year… the first day of real time, loving it, tending it, admiring it. The first cut of the grass; a close inspection of buds unfurling; mental notes taken of weeds to dig out and spaces that require replanting. In my Gratitude Daily course, I encourage you to spend time doing things that put a smile in your heart… going to places you love, being with people who light you up. My garden is my quiet space… my cup of tea, reflecting place and as the weather warms up, I will enjoy sharing it as I invite friends to enjoy meals out at the table under blossoming wisteria and the boys dig up worms and collect snails with their friends. Such pleasure to be had in the simplest of things. Thank you nature. x