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

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… successful women

Flourish
I love seeing people succeed. I especially love to see women thrive and carve out a business with their authentic, original selves at the heart of the magic. I interviewed a friend who has successfully turned around her business in the space of just six months from cancelling events due to not enough participants to selling out in January – normally the quietest month! Today, I am grateful for the Marie Forleos and for the Laura Hollicks of this world, and closer to home, for the Judith Morgans and countless others… I am grateful for intelligent women, living abundant lives, who inspire and support other women to create successful businesses from their passions and strengths. I know I may seem a little naive here… that in some cases, there’s a lot of $£€ in it, but that is no bad thing… I genuinely believe that their work comes from a good place… from the heart and from a desire to help others and see others succeed… and if they can make a good (fantastic) living from this, then good for them… long may they flourish! Who doesn’t want that as well? Seeing their success gives me the confidence to step up my game… to take bigger risks and bigger leaps than I might otherwise have done.
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Thank you ladies… you are an inspiration!

Today, I am grateful for… old friends

Grateful for old friends
Today, I am grateful for old friends. The ones who have known you for what feels like a lifetime, but who these days you rarely see. Those friends who, no matter how long the gap between spending time together, you still share and connect on the same deep level that you always did? Time melts away and it’s just like it always was? Magic and laughter. Today, I had one of those meetings.
More than 8 years had passed since last we met… she had moved from London to New York, then on to New Orleans, had started her own business, met a great guy – her love and new business partner (who I had the pleasure of meeting today). Since last we met, I had my second child, separated from my husband (she was my chief bridesmaid), reconnected with my creativity and started doing work I love. Both our mothers had survived serious illness in recent years and yes, we both had a similar style as we did way back when… we both rocked up in black trousers, deep red scarves and big grins. There was a lot to talk about.
Here we were, together again after 8+ years with the big pond between us, chatting away like it was only yesterday. Everything and nothing had changed. She still expresses herself so beautifully with her fabulous tattooed hands; she looks no older than she did when last we met, but her hair has grown very long and turned red, and I was delighted to learn that she still gives her pets funny names.
So here’s to old friends… and new ones too… my gratitude goes out to you.
Here’s to meetings that feel like yesterday.
Here’s to time spent together again in what I hope will seem like just days.
I think it’s time I started planning a trip to New Orleans.
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Who are the people you love to spend time with? The ones that light up your life and time melts away? Tell me about them please…. I would love to hear… what do you love about those friends?

 

Today, I am grateful for… feeling at home

Home
I have lived in my little home for just over 14 years. I never intended this to be my forever home, this sweet little cottage; it was the bridge between a flat and a house.  It was a doer-upper when I purchased it with my ex on the Valentine’s Day of the year we got married. It was our first place without lodgers… a space to make our own. We could see the potential. We worked hard; poured love and money into the project; re-wired, re-plastered, re-painted, re-everything-ed it . But I rarely settled here… I was always off and out, here and there… doing, seeing, visiting, somebody or something. This was a bigger-picture thing, I am sure. My restlessness was not to do with the home itself, but something inside me. When we had our first son, spare room became nursery and on the birth of our second son, a cot was added and, as they grew, bunk beds. But I was always out… rarely here, relaxing and entertaining. I cannot recall a single weekend when I stayed home willingly. It has been just my boys and I living here for the past 3 years. Last Winter I redecorated the dining room. It is where we eat and also where I work… at my little corner office. The year before, the boys’ bedroom and our living room were given an overhaul with the help of my boyfriend. We moved everything out of each room in turn, bringing back in only what was wanted. We demolished a shed, constructed a pergola and converted an old door and a sewing machine base into a table. We created a little seated area for outdoor entertaining. This doubles as my Summer art studio also.
In the past years or so, something has shifted. I finally feel at home here. I invite people in. I cook here for friends – I entertain, but the biggest shift of all is that I am happy staying in. This weekend, I have not ventured further than my front door… and no, I’m not ill. If you know me, you know that this would have been unheard of a year ago!
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So today, I am grateful that I finally feel at home here, in my home. I am grateful for a quiet contented feeling. I am grateful for a connectedness to my living environment and a release from my restlessness. I may not always live here, but I feel that now I can be here with myself, I could be happy anywhere. And in reconnecting with my home, I know that it was not my home I was disconnected from, but myself.

Today, I am grateful for… the promise of Spring

Crocuses

Today, I am grateful for the promise of Spring… sun shining, crocuses opening, buds on branches.
Today, I had the pleasure of time in my garden coat-free. I cut back straggly plants, raked leaves and in my head formed a plan for the garden in the coming weeks. It felt good. Blue sky, fresh air, nature… bliss. This year, I want to tame the too tall trees. I want to add more colour and some things to eat – grow rocket and spinach at the least. It is time to lose the small wooden shed and the plastic slide and throw down more grass seed, tend it and be out in the garden daily. This is the place I should be spending time… connecting with nature (and me). This is the place I feel alive. This is what I moved from a huge flat to a tiny house for… my outdoor space. Right now, grass is long, but it is green. For that, I am grateful. There is mud… more of it than there is grass, it seems, but that’s not permanent. There are no puddles or floods here, for which I am grateful. Half way up our little hill, we are safe. Down below, in the park, lakes have replaced fields and paths are almost impassable as the brook that cuts right through the middle has risen and risen and the rains have run down from the woods. That will change… warm weather will come and soon we will be cycling on dry paths and the muddy waters will run clear again. I appreciate the big shifts and the little things that come with the changing of seasons. Above all, I am grateful that I have a home that is dry and warm and a garden in which I can grow things. I am blessed to have a little corner of the world that I can call my own. All of this makes me feel truly abundant.

Today, I am grateful for… the light

Light out of Chichester

Today, I am grateful for the most extraordinary light from the train home this evening. A blissful golden hue fell upon the grasses in the fields outside Chichester and as we passed by the flooded areas that have turned the Sussex countryside into a Lake District, dark rainclouds loomed and a rainbow straddled the blue band in between. This glorious sight… the most stunningly beautiful views of wild nature that I have ever seen from this train, kept me going all the way home to Barnet. So grateful for that… the beauty is still in my mind. I had no camera, but even if I did, I don’t think I could have captured it.
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“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”
Erasmus

Today, I am grateful for… a gratitude reunion

Ladies of gratitude

Today, something rather special happened… a little gathering took place at my home for five international women (Spanish, English, Italian, South African) – one quarter of our gratitude group – to celebrate one year of practicing gratitude together. After posting an open invitation on my Facebook page last February, I set up a closed community of 20 women, sent daily prompts for one month as we all worked on our gratitude practice. Sharing daily our gratitude, as well as our challenges, brought us close across the miles, from London to Seattle to the Czech Republic. One year on, we continue to support each other in our struggles and share our joy in life’s little things. Whilst several of us were already friends, new connections were forged and although today’s gathering was the first meeting for some, I know it will not be the last. Growing and nurturing our gratitude practice has been a bright and beautiful journey together.
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Today, I am grateful for international friends. I am grateful for the depth of our sharing. I am grateful for the safe haven that is our little community. My wish is that everyone who feels that a gratitude practice could benefit their life, would have the opportunity to experience this. It is what I am working towards with Gratitude Daily.