this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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Let your dreams set sail…

I had the privilege recently, of taking a day off for no particular reason. To celebrate I whiled away a few hours eating a leisurely dim sum lunch overlooking a peaceful dock. The weather was mild and warm, despite there being no sun. It was cloudy but bright and I was in no hurry at all.

After I finished my meal, I spotted a fly a couple of metres away. Normally, a fly in a restaurant so near my table would repulse me. But this fly was not interested in food. It was pacing the floor to ceiling window between me and the water, trying to get back out.

Perhaps I was very relaxed. I was sipping my Iron Buddha tea, watching the world go by, my stomach contentedly processing the delicious delicacies I had just consumed. I must have lingered another half an hour as the poor, hapless creature paced up and down the shadowless pane of glass before me, examining nooks and crannies I could not see in the window frame.

As I sat observing, my thoughts somehow meandered vaguely into the philosophical. A fly’s lifespan is much shorter than that of the average human. This one was slowly eating away its time determinedly expecting to find freedom. Flies often look ridiculous banging their heads against glass that we put in their flight path. I imagine them saying over 100 times a day, “D’oh, ouch. Didn’t see that. Again.” I marvelled at how this fly could continue to cover the surface of the impenetrable glass and not just give up and die. If I were a fly, I would not last that long. I’m not one for banging my head against the proverbial window, let alone calmly persevering for hours and days on end at something seemingly fruitless.

That’s why I look for inspiration and encouragement at every turn. I don’t just thrive on it, I survive on it. I need it. And that’s why the latest addition to a range of monthly desktop/phone backgrounds by the lovely Clemence at Oh the lovely things touched me so much that I wanted to share it with you. Truth be told, it often does not dawn on me that another new month is upon us, until her monthly wallpapers post drops in my reader. She must be tired of my repetitive comments: “What it’s May already?” “Is it April already?” “I’m still in shock that it’s March…” (I didn’t leave one last month because I thought it was getting a bit like a broken record!)

Let your dreams set sail | Wallpaper - Oh the lovely things

Let your dreams set sail | Wallpaper – Oh the lovely things

July is the most special month of the year for me. It’s also the turning point in the year where we start dangerously dipping downwards on the roller coaster towards winter again. So the simple message for July has really picked me up and made me smile to see it. July has already proven to be full of beautiful surprises for me, not least with the current (reportedly soon-to-end) heatwave. I’ve been challenged to try and remember to dream and live like dreams can become reality, at least sometimes, for the whole month of July :) And I’d recommend you take yourself over to Clemence’s blog to grab some inspiration for yourself if you haven’t already.

I doubt the aforementioned fly has as rich a life as mine. In fact, its brief existence has more than likely expired. But it didn’t give up its tedious effort to achieve its goal for the seeming eternity during which I observed it. There’s a lesson in that.. I guess there’s also a lesson by extension, that your dreams often can’t set sail until you stop pacing about on the closed window and find the open one – it’s just that sometimes it takes a bit of time to work out which is which ;) I’m definitely not one of those people who have it all together and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. Thank you for being on this journey with me. What adventures do you wish to embark on? Let’s keep on keeping on and I wish you fair winds behind the sails of your dreams!

Malvern Hills


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Scaling heights: Queens and high hills

If I believed in previous lives I could, without a doubt, tell you that I was an ostrich. Actually, forget about multiple reincarnations. I am an ostrich mocked up as a human being. (I just got a picture of that. It’s ridiculous.) I am an expert in living in denial, pretending like it’s never going to happen so that it will go away. At times, I have been known to completely refuse to prepare for something that is bound to happen, because I feel so overwhelmed by what I have to face. I end up panicking and doing everything last minute, or even having to wing it. Stupid, I’m telling you. If only I could bring myself to pop over for tea with Her Majesty from time to time, I’d have been the first decorated ostrich in the Kingdom a long time ago. I am so accomplished at digging holes in sand where there isn’t even any sand around!

I do not just buckle at fears. I mean, this applies to how I tackle fail at packing for travel too. I see a myriad items and pieces of clothing that I have to collect from all corners of the house, and I envisage an organised and packed suitcase. And the conclusion I invariably draw, is that I can make the one turn into the other by sheer willpower and remaining completely immobile. A procrastinating ostrich is a terrible beast. I suppose much of my inaction is related to things I desperately do not want to do, places I do not want to go. I often have a choice in these matters, but I know that I should make the choice that I do not want to. So, I try to make it all go away by sticking my head stubbornly in the sand and chewing it.

Fears, as we all know, do not have to be rational. After we have talked ourselves into being ok with something, we can still get to the point of almost getting into gear to face it, only to suddenly and completely freeze. On the other hand, I have some real, deep-seated fears that propel me into positive action. The desire to overcome them, motivates me to try to tackle them.

I do not like heights. I know in my mind that there is nothing to fear, and yet my body will tense up and it will be a mission to keep going. What really annoys me, is that my fear is tied to my lack of confidence in my own body to keep me upright. I’m not even talking about scaling a high mountain. I’m talking about the inability to walk up a tame hillside when the wind is approaching from the wrong direction. Perhaps it isn’t so much a fear of heights, as a fear of falling. And it doesn’t have to be falling from a great height either. Perhaps my fear is of a loss of control. Of stumbling into an indefinite slide and tumble…I fear…hiking. There I’ve said it. Snigger all you like. It absolutely infuriates me.

I LOVE the outdoors. I LOVE walking. When I lived in Hamburg, one of my favourite things was the German obsession with the Spaziergang. The culture of taking a leisurely walk with friends, combining with my other passion – a good ole natter. Finding a good coffee and cake or ice cream along the way never hurt either.

Alfred Wainwright is my hero, with his beautifully illustrated and fondly crafted pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells including charming stories and anecdotes from walking over some of the most beautiful terrain in good ole Blighty. And yet, I had barely touched the foot of the gentle Barrow a couple of years ago, before the incline became too much to handle. Thankfully, there were few witnesses to my display of cowardice. One day, I will respectfully set foot on a little ridge somewhere in the Fells…

However, today’s story is a little more positive. There is hope yet.

Malvern Hills

Earlier this year, as the Olympic torch was passing through Stroud, I was on my way up the beautiful Malvern Hills. I took a gentle route starting not far below St Ann’s Well, approaching from a steep little road going away from town past some lovely cottages. I made my way up towards the Beacon, the highest point along this beautiful hill range. Most of the way has well laid footpaths to make it accessible to more people, although scree does make me nervous when I am going downhill. As you approach the Worcestershire Beacon however, there is a short part of the route that requires a gentle amble up well worn but slightly more undulating paths.

The weather was beautiful – sunny, but with a good breeze. Having almost reached the hilltop, the wind was quite spectacular. In fact, that was the reason why my walking companion wanted us to go up there. And, having made it to the top of the hill, except for another ten metres or so, that’s where I buckled. With the hillside gently sloping away, I settled in a little nook just below the summit, where there was shelter from the wind. I decided, I thought, that I had made it just shy of the top and it was a good achievement.

Malvern Hills

But then, I caught sight of the  toposcope at the very peak, designed by Malvern architect Arthur Troyte Griffith. To be precise, I caught sight of the words on the side of it that told me that it was erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. Fortunately for me, I made my first ascent of the Malvern Hills in Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year, at a time when the country was in great anticipation of the Olympic Games. It gave me that extra impetus to brave the wind, and practically crawl up to the very summit. Yes indeed, Queen Vic gave me a kick up the bum and told me to do those last ten metres since I was up there already. I was not likely to get another chance to do something so momentous for another little while, so I might as well just do it.

So. I made it up to touch the toposcope. On the Worcestershire Beacon. At a mere 425 m  or 1,394 ft (according to Wikipedia). I’ll have you know, I clung on for dear life while we snapped a few photos for posterity. I will not show you them. The strong winds were whipping my hair upwards giving me an extra foot in height, even though I did have it tied back. To the traumatised cyclist out there somewhere, who had just approached via the ridge to witness a crazed woman shrieking and laughing manically, I apologise sincerely. The wind was buffeting around my ears, giving me the illusion that no one could hear the racket I was making… until I took those few steps back to the nook where I hid before and realised how beautifully quiet it was if one was not exposed to the wind…

But I will share with you, a souvenir of my little adventure:

Malvern Hills

To end, I may be mostly ostrich-like, but I do have my moments of brilliance when I will kick into reverse-ostrich mode and find some grit to make me do things that continue to amaze me afterwards. These moments may mean nothing to someone like the poor cyclist or a couple who preceded us up the hill, one with a child on his back and the other pushing a buggy with another child clambering about in front of her. But for me, they are moments where I made a brave decision, and half a year later that shrieking moment still makes me smile just thinking back to it. There is no lemonade bubblier and sweeter than that.

I hope that you will join me in braving those little challenges this coming week. We all have our fears. Others may dismiss them as silly, but if it is a fear for you, it is REAL. But it is yours to confront. You may not completely overcome the fear, but that shouldn’t stop you trying for those little victories. (Woohoo! *Punches the air*.)

Maybe one day I will tell you the story of the glacier and the fjord…

If you are interested, here is a YouTube video I stumbled across whilst writing this post. Jon Bywater kindly shot some footage of their little amble up the hill and it’s lovely.

and

I came across the following beautiful, inspiring and uplifting post by John D Burns on 3 December. I wanted to add a link so that I would remember it: Treasure In the Hills. It just made me smile! :)


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Mulling it over

It was a bit of a rubbish week last week. Although I managed to finish my first scarf by Friday and am now wearing it. I ran out of wool to make the length I wanted for a scarf… but the wool is out of stock, so instead, I sewed it up and made a cowl :)

I guess I have to learn to do that more often. Be prepared to change course more readily. Take action to make things better even when they don’t turn out the way I would have hoped.

It’s all been coming to a head recently. Somehow things are a bit more intense and rubbish than usual. Although, let me get one thing straight right now… I’d not swap being me, for anything else. Some days I don’t even have the energy to feel depressed. But those moments bring me through to a clarity afterwards that I have to pounce on and get creative with!

I’ve been feeding off some of your incredible posts lately, and they are helping me to get some of my thoughts in order. Here’s a couple I found inspiring at just the right time – and by inspiring, I mean, they challenged me personally and helped me to take a step back and a deep breath:

Be happy in the moment, this moment is your life. The title says it all. I’m not going to get all self-help and “hippie” (quoting Sarah) on you here. I was simply reminded that now is my life. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Right now. And I have to do something with now, or it’s going to leave me.

Morning walk on the Detmold countryside. Wendy took me on a beautiful walk through her lovely photos. It’s the kind of walk that I relish and haven’t been on for a while. She shared some of her own thoughts on life at this point in time. She ends with “Carry on…” Enough said. Life never stops, you’re either going backwards or forwards.  Sometimes it’s the former, sometimes the latter… either way, we carry on for as long as we have the strength to.

Apple, by Addia

Apple, by Addia

And. I have been meaning to feature this photo for some time now. It’s by the lovely Addia who was so sweet as to send me the original and allow me to feature it here. I feel happy every time I look at it. I just love the intense colour of the apple. But it’s so exposed, vulnerable, all open and half-eaten. I guess its fragility and intensity against the gritty grey surface that it is lying on is what makes it so beautiful for me.

I feel so alive when I see something so beautiful.

So here we go again, I’m rooting for you to go out there and keep on keeping on too! Have a good week.


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marc johns : this is a stick

this is a stick

I love this drawing, it reminds me of when I was in primary school. At play time, I could often be found squatting among the trees at the bottom of the playground with my best friend, playing with small twigs. Digging moats in the mud, weaving walls and fences, imagining houses out of sticks. Immersed in a world of possibilities where very little was needed to achieve big things.

As an adult, it is easy to become limited by reality and I forget to dream most days. This simple drawing reminds me of something bigger than just myself and my circumstances. Make of it what you will……but whatever situation you’re in right now, think outside of just yourself, see if you can’t be inspired!

I hope you have a meaningful week…


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Toilet Art

I came across this amazing image on Pinterest the other day. It was absolutely captivating. Here is the artist’s website.

Anastassia Elias : BALANÇOIRE
2010 - Découpage - 9,7x4,5x4,5 cm

Elias cut shapes out from paper of the same colour as a cardboard toilet roll. She then used tweezers to stick them into the inside of the roll to construct these captivating scenes. I especially love the backlit photographs because the enhanced silhouettes and shadows really create an air of mystique.

I don’t always love intricate things, but this idea is beautifully simple and I was completely charmed!


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“I will try again tomorrow”

I Will Try Again Tomorrow

Zara TRF T-shirt

Way back when AltaVista was the go-to search engine and Netscape enabled slightly geeky people to “surf the web”, I had a website to keep friends and family up to date on what was going on in my life. I also diligently kept a journal for a decade and dabbled in poetry in between.

Somewhere along the way however, I allowed procrastination to take over my life. I stopped writing, sharing ideas, even dreaming…Last year, I realised that I had lots of ideas floating about aimlessly in my head and I decided it was time I developed some of these thoughts before they got musty and deflated. I tried to get back to journalling, but I had adopted lots of lazy bad habits and kept skipping days, weeks, even months.

Then, sometime in January this year, I stumbled across this blog and started following it because it was so pretty. And, one blog led to another. I suddenly realised that there is a community of talented people out there with great ideas, wonderful bottomless creativity and the urge to inspire and share.

When I saw this t-shirt in Zara recently, it made me smile. Yes I have a tendency to procrastinate, and I guess, as human beings, we will all be failures from time-to-time. Some of us (e.g. me) more often than others. But then, I’ve only got myself to blame if I don’t try again, and again…so I thought this photo is a good way to kick off my brand new blog.

Welcome and thank you for reading!

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