Posted in art, creativity, mental health, Mindfulness, watercolour painting, wellbeing, wellness

Watercolour design pad: a simple red robin

A few weeks ago, I picked up a design pad containing line drawn images for watercolour painting. As I find drawing really difficult, I though this was an ideal way to practise my watercolouring skills without needing to draw my own pictures.

The pad contains 24 A4 size pages with 12 designs so you get two copies of each image. When I purchased it, I wondered why there was several of each image but as I messed up the first robin, I was glad of a second chance!

The pad contains animals and birds and one floral image.

I chose to start with the robin design as I love birds and we have had a robin visiting our garden each day for the past few weeks nibbling on the fat balls and seed mix I put out.

The paper in the pad doesn’t appear to be proper watercolour paper but I did find it easy to paint on and I was able to get the paper quite wet without it going soggy or wrinkling as it is quite dense.

I thoroughly enjoyed having a few quiet hours mixing and applying the paint and was pleased with the results on my second attempt which you can see below. I might add some highlights to the robin’s feet using my Posca paint pen or a white gel pen but I’m waiting a while and may do a test on a piece of paper as I don’t want to spoil my work.

My finished robin and my very messy paint palette!

I’m trying to find more time for doing creative activities as a way of boosting my mental health and after I’d finished painting I felt so relaxed and happy with what I had achieved. If you love getting creative, I can well recommend doing a little watercolouring as a way to wind down after a busy day as a change from sitting watching TV or mindlessly perusing the internet on your phone.

If you live in the UK and are interested in buying the watercolour pad, I picked mine up in Aldi but have also seen it at a slightly higher price in The Range shop. If you want to find out more about my watercolour set, click here for my previous post.

Posted in mental health, Mindfulness, wellbeing, wellness

It’s the first day of Autumn and a great time to go for a lovely nature walk

According to the astronomical calendar, today is the first day of Autumn (also known as fall) and the time of year when the weather turns a little colder, the leaves of deciduous trees start to turn lovely shades of red, yellow, orange and brown and many animals start to prepare for the Winter months.

I love walking all through the year, but for me, Autumn is the best season to go out and explore what nature has to offer. You can’t beat putting on a warm coat and boots and going to your local woodland or forest for a refreshing stroll, especially through the crunchy fallen leaves in their bright array of colours. It’s the perfect time to experience the dappled sunshine peeping through the trees, catch a glimpse of squirrels collecting nuts for the winter and have fun spotting nuts, berries, seeds, an array of different types of fungi and beautiful and intricate spiders webs. You could even take one of the great nature spotting sheets which I found here on the Wildlife Watch website.

Not only is it lovely to see all of the changes in nature taking place, the benefits of walking in countryside spaces for your mind and your body are well documented. Being out and about improves your health by reducing your blood pressure and has been shown to decrease feelings of anxiety, anger and depression. It’s also great exercise and wonderful for increased energy and vitality. I find it so calming and relaxing and after just half an hour in a beautiful, natural space I seem to be more focused for the rest of the day. I also find it gets my creative juices flowing too.

Do you love Autumn and nature walks as much as I do? Where’s your favourite place to go and why?

Posted in mental health, Mindfulness, Planning and journaling, wellbeing, wellness

Why I’m avoiding Pinterest this month and what I’m doing instead

Pinterest – banned for September!

I love Pinterest and find it a great source of inspiration and advice for my professional and personal life. I spend huge amounts of time pinning ideas to boards, organising my collections of pins and generally poring over infographics and beautiful images. However, with attractive images and information, for me, comes a huge desire for continual self improvement and feeling like I need to have it all. And this is the bit that I struggle with and ultimately why I’m taking time out from pinning and Pinterest this month.

Self improvement, in a nutshell, is the process of making yourself a better and more knowledgeable person. It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for. But, one of the big problems for me is, that I end up with information overload from social media and find so many ways to ‘grow’ myself that I lose sight of what I actually want right now and become unhealthily obsessed with making massive changes and improvements.

What I really need to do, is simplify and think about my current goals and the small steps I might take in order to go about achieving them. But with Pinterest, and other social media platforms if I’m honest, I see stunning images and tempting ideas and basically, I want it all. A minimalist and clutter free home which is welcoming to anyone and always tidy. A stunning garden without a single weed or patch of unraked soil. Beautiful brush lettering that just flows naturally from my hand. A neat and ordered bullet journal with no mistakes or Tippex on the pages. A blog and a handmade business that everyone’s reading and talking about. Perfect, glossy hair that has that ‘just been to the hairdressers’ bounce. Skilfully applied ‘flawless’ make up. The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, for this month, I’m taking a step back. I’m reassessing my goals and thinking carefully about how I’m going to work towards achieving them. And for this, the only resources I need, are my vision board that I created back in January (which you can see here if you haven’t seen it already), my inspirational brand image board for my business (click here if you want to see) and a couple of goal related collections I made in my BuJo. By looking daily at my vision for this year and analysing what I actually want right now from my life, I hopefully won’t be distracted by all of the other stuff. This should help increase my productivity and in turn my achievements instead of creating total overwhelm and the feeling of personal dissatisfaction that often comes with creating an unachievable ideal.

I’m not going to totally avoid social media this month as I do like to know what’s going on in the world but I’m hoping my efforts to curb my tech time will help in some way. By writing my intention here to you all, I’m also hoping that my plan sticks and that I benefit from it, even if it’s just in some small way.

Have you ever given yourself some much needed time away from social media? How did it work for you. Let me know in the comments and wish me luck!

Bye for now, Laura xx

Posted in mental health, Mindfulness, wellbeing, wellness

There’s no such word as can’t!

So, let’s have a show of hands. Who looked at this title and thought back to their childhood and what they were told by well meaning parents each time they uttered words about not being able to do something? Who has heard themselves using this very phrase as an adult when a small person in their life has said, in an exasperated tone ‘but I can’t do it!’? Who also knows, that as an adult, they’ve found themselves many times to be the one making the ‘I can’t’ statement e.g. I can’t draw, I can’t swim, I can’t cook etc? So, is the term ‘can’t’ a superfluous word which should be removed from our dictionaries at once, or, more likely, do we need to think about our use of it and assess whether this is actually what we mean? Personally, I think the latter is likely to be favoured by most of you, but have you ever considered why?

The reason for this particular blog post is related to an idea from a compassion group which I’m currently signed up to and which I attend each Wednesday afternoon. It’s part of a therapeutic service offered by my local wellbeing team and was suggested by a therapist I was seeing on a one-to-one basis. There are 9 of us who attend and work alongside two therapists who run the group. Last week, we were talking about our experiences of doing a simple meditative breathing exercise at home which we had been asked to do for homework each day. One of the group members said, when sharing her thoughts, “I can do the rhythm of breathing here but I can’t do it at home”. Although this was met with nods from a number of the group, the response from one of the therapists was very different. She didn’t say ‘there’s no such word as can’t’. What she said was, that we all need to be mindful of using the word can’t in this kind of situation as an I can’t mentality can hinder self compassion, feelings of self worth and all of the other things that our group is all about. It’s this alternative way of thinking which I believe holds an important message for us all, but particularly those of us who struggle at time with our mental health.

You might be thinking that there are some things that you simply can’t do. An example here could be, I can’t fly. I’m not blessed with the physical make up which enables an ability to fly i.e. wings, so therefore this statement is true and factually accurate. You would of course, be correct in this case. However, if I share another ‘I can’t’ which I myself am a frequent user of ‘I can’t draw’ then the same logic cannot be applied because I am capable of drawing but what I actually mean is I’m not particularly gifted in this area.

Changing this mentality a little further though, can mean re-phrasing our utterances more carefully so as to give them an even more positive tone involving much more self compassion. If, as in the examples above, you aspire to be better at something, you could change what you say to accept where you are now but also where you would like to be in the future. So “I can’t do soothing rhythm breathing at home” would be rephrased as “I’m finding it difficult at the moment to do the breathing at home but I’m hopeful I will get better with practise”. In the same way, “I can’t draw” would become something more like “I find drawing quite difficult at moment but I’m working hard to develop my skills and techniques and I’m getting better with practise”.

I’m sure you can think of many examples of times that you’ve been a victim of the ‘I can’t’ mentality and there will be many reasons for this such as fear, lack of self confidence, feelings of failure or inadequacy. But, if we think carefully before we use self deprecating phrases then we can set our minds free from this way of thinking about ourselves in order to try to become more loving, compassionate and kind towards ourselves.

Accepting who we are, celebrating our achievements, letting go of our perceived failures and seeing ourselves as a work in progress with strengths and areas for improvement, we can stop with the negative self talk and hopefully feel better about ourselves and our lives.

I hope what I’ve said here makes sense and that it has at least made you think about how you talk about yourself to others. If you have any other hints or tips about self compassion, I would love it if you shared them in the comments. Also, let me know if there are any “I can’ts” that you find yourself particularly struggle with and find yourself beating yourself up with.

Until next time, stay strong, positive and kind towards yourself.

Much love, Laura xx

Posted in Planning and journaling, wellbeing, wellness

BuJo love!

Hi all, hope you’re having a lovely Summer and that those of you who have kids are making the most of having some extra family time. Over the last few months, I’ve been falling in love with getting creative in my bullet journal all over again. So much so that I’m already on p.79 of my Scribbles That Matter notebook and have 16 pages at the end of the notebook filled too!

I can’t share every page or this blog post will take you the whole of the holidays to read but here’s some of my favourite spreads. I’ll keep it photo heavy so you can just see rather than spend ages reading and digesting! Of course, if you have any questions about the layouts or my supplies, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.

Also, I’ve just read an email about adding columns to your WordPress blog posts so hopefully I’ll be able to apply what I’ve learnt below!

Enjoy x

Just a little reminder for those days when my mental health isn’t as good and I’m on a bit of a downer.

My cover page for August using a combination of stickers, hand lettering free hand drawing and colouring

I like to make a packing list for each time we go away. This time it was a visit to family. The great thing about putting it in my bullet journal is that in years to come, I can refer back to it to make it quicker and easier next time.

I’ve now started adding any leaflets or information on local events or exhibits to my BuJo so I have a handy reminder or ideas for places to go and things to see. This information is a combination of cuttings from The Crack magazine, screenshots from my phone and extra info which I’ve found online.

I’ve uplevelled my reading log and just love this layout which includes space to give hearts out of 5 for how much I loved reading a particular book.

As much as I’m loving drinking Summer drinks such as pineapple, orange and lemon squash and Mixed berries cider, I still need at least 3 cups of coffee to function on busy days!

I have lots of frames ideas pinned to one of my bullet journal Pinterest boards but as someone who needs a little reminder at hand (I’ve just turned 42 and need things right there and in multiple places!!!!) creating a spread in the back of my bullet journal has been really helpful. As you can see, this is ideas bank 1 as I’ve had to go on to a separate double page for yet more ideas.

This spread is a work in progress but I love it so far. And if you’re wondering what’s with the stickers and the black and brown paper – they’re hiding mistakes better than Tippex! (lol)

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the spreads I’ve shared. If they’ve given you some inspiration or got your creative juices flowing, don’t forget to leave me a comment and maybe even attach some photos of your own bullet journal spreads.

Much love,

Laura xx