A Saturday post: ONE

Hello, I may have mentioned it: over the past few months I was contemplating a new blog to write about things other than 'new work'. Things such as what I am reading, doing when I am not doing, and other topics that interest me. I've decided to make life easier for both of us and instead of starting somewhere new and pointing you in a different direction I am simply going to write a weekly Saturday post right here. A Saturday post will not showcase my artwork for sale but I hope you may find a lot of other interesting if perhaps random things - a chance to find out a little more about me and what interests we may share. I'm going to write these posts in small bites and as if writing to a friend - for if you are a regular reader of my blog I consider you a friend. Yet these posts are also, I admit, for my own recording of ideas....

INTO THE WOODS

Mid September the woods are still green


I went for a walk and I felt like I was being followed 


by squirrels - can you spot one?

There is an apple tree in the woods. This year it has plentiful small fruit (last year it had just one or two apples). I imagine they are sour.

Oh yes acorns - but the oak trees have suffered in the summer heat. There is a lot of mildew, split and shrivelled acorns. The streams in and around the woods recovered after the long heatwave (we got a week of rain) but are now dry again. I wonder if we will have a dry and mild autumn, for how much longer will this warmer weather last. In my little garden there are tomatoes still ripening....

READING

This week I've been reading Zadie Smith's Feel Free: essays. I find these reveal a lot about Smith, her background as a Londoner of mixed race, and what encourages her as a writer. She is a very dynamic and focused person with a passion for the novel - and I must confess I have not read any of her novels (I am a reader of mostly short fiction, poetry and non-fiction, though I do enjoy novels). So these essays are my introduction to her as a writer and thinker.

I've just taken advantage of a discounted subscription to London Review of Books. I've not read this publication very often in the past, mostly because to buy a single copy seemed a bit pricey - but I did glance at it in my distant student days. It's an excellent way of finding out about new books, as you might imagine, and features lengthy book reviews. I come away from reading some reviews with the sense that I have almost read the book, or enough that I might not need to actually pick up the book. But reading LRB is a good way into finding new authors and subjects. As I get into reading more non-fiction this is certainly going to be a handy resource. I chose to reserve the Zadie Smith book from the library because of a review in the LRB and now have a growing list of books to seek out.

ANALOGUE

Human life has always been stressful and new stresses will come along.... Our family life has a focus of quiet and comfort - no hectic comings-and-goings, if we can help it. Change is a big deal for us and has to be handled with care.

You see, my almost eighteen-year-old son is autistic; he is a bright and intelligent young man midway through sixth form studies. He can become stressed easily and can often picks up on my mood if I am stressed or unhappy, making him anxious or confused; he will need reassuring etc.. 

I realised in recent times that I was unhappy and needed a shift in perspective, to help myself and my son and daughter. 

There are small things that can lead to big positive changes for ourselves. We may know these things can happen if we take time to take a step back and look at our habits, but when we are feeling low it is tough to seek out positive change. 

I am glad I was able to take a step back. I spent a few days tidying the house and thinking about time, the way I spend my 'free time'.

It seemed I was spending a lot of time online, and whilst I wasn't supposed to be working I was in a way: checking stats on my shop, Instagram, answering emails. The working hours boundaries were not blurred they were non-existent. So that really had to be stopped. It's a habit anyone can get into: I'll just check this. I had to tell myself: it can wait. Perhaps I consider myself a disciplined person but it's not enough to simply tell yourself to do less of something that has become an overdone habit. So I have made a simple rule: from 7pm until 7am I do not go online - I do not check email, Instagram et all.. Nor can I  just see if Amazon have that, or watch one more YouTube video, or window shop for clothes I don't need. 

I decided to make this change and add it to my small list of things that I do to keep myself well. There's a lot more one can do, but this is something.



So now in the evenings I am not online. I am reading more and in a far less distracted way, I am listening to music, knitting and doing other crafts for myself, writing in a notebook, gardening.... If you email me at 8pm, for example, I will not answer until the next day. I sleep better, most of the time, and am generally more able to cope with stress.

We don't have a TV - we decided as a family to give that up several years ago. It turned out I was the only one watching live TV, my kids had switched over to things like YouTube and I was sat watching rolling news, for no particular reason other than it can get you hooked into 'what will happen in the next five minutes' if you let it. Really, if something major happens I hear about it on the radio news or can read about it when I am online. So, now no TV and I save money not paying for a licence and subscriptions. I love the radio for company if that's what I want. I don't feel superior for not watching telly - I simply enjoy filling my time with other things. But the internet had taken over - until the recent change. 

I am very happy to be online, when I am. I am grateful for the internet, it allows me to have my business, to make connections, learn and explore the world.

Yet, I love my analogue or off-line life more and more. And during the hours of 7am to 7pm I will often disconnect and go for a walk in the woods, or spend time chatting with a person face to face, and the anxiety of always being 'on' fades away....

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If you have read this far: many thanks. More next week.


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