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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RIP Robin Redbreast

The robin is apparently Britain’s favourite bird. This sprightly little creature with its iconic bright, cheerful red breast is an uplifting sight particularly in our typically dreary weather.

Robin Redbreast - Lincoln Inn Fields Park - Holborn, London | Keven Law

Photography by Keven Law from Los Angeles, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The closest I’ve come to a robin before today, was really quite close. Whilst I was pulling out weeds in the garden during a past, seemingly distant summer, one hopped right up at about 2ft away. I could not believe it was so close. The robin is not a timid bird, not our urban ones anyway. I remember stopping what I was doing in wonder, and staying very still so that I could observe it.

Sometimes, on a down day, the D.H. Lawrence poem, Self-Pity, comes to mind. I am often challenged by our frail, feathered friends and how enthusiastically they go about their daily business for the short time that they are on earth.

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

Last night, I found a lot of tiny feathers and dust in my bathroom. They seemed to have emanated from the extractor fan. I cleared everything up hoping that I would not find any more in the morning. I didn’t. The builder currently fixing up some bits and pieces in my home at the moment, kindly offered to take the vent cover off from the outside, to see what was in the flue. We found a beautiful, lifeless, yet peaceful-looking robin. I have never held such a delicate bird before. Despite having shed a lot of feathers, presumably in a bid to get out of the vent, it did not resemble the mangled mess we had envisaged at all. It was the most beautiful, immaculate thing – as though it had just dropped dead without having struggled at all.

Holding this near-weightless creature in my hand, a sombre feeling came over me. I was filled with a sense of awe and reverence. I felt sorry that it had somehow managed to get in and become trapped and was thankful that the bathroom fan is out of order at the moment. I was also thankful that we had found it before the flies got to it… The circle of life. A funny thing. Awe-inspiring and awful all at once.


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The Battle We Didn’t Choose

I haven’t done a Treasure Trove Thursday for a long time. It’s not because there aren’t plenty of treasures in my life. It’s just that I have found the deeper thoughts often escaping me recently – the time and space to sit and reflect and write what I have reflected upon, in such a way that is appropriate – they’ve been scarce lately. But I wanted to share with you this website and talk that I stumbled upon today, and to thank you for your friendship.

We all go through battles we didn’t choose. Photographer Angelo Merendino and his wife Jennifer chose to share their battle with the world through some beautifully simple and honest images. The story of Jennifer’s journey with breast cancer is a very intimate one. Angelo does not make his wife out to be a heroine of pedestal status. I was touched by how theirs was ultimately a simple love story, a story of family and friendship, a story of the need of human beings for each other. Yes, ultimately it is a story of a very personal loss, but also a story that has already been an inspiration to many.

Today is not a day too late, to tell those around you that they matter to you. That you love them. That you need them. That you treasure them.


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A thought for 2014

We’re on the verge of a new year. For most of us reading this, it will be yet another new year. But through the ups and downs of 2013 and recent years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I live my life. Where I invest my time and efforts. Some of these thoughts I’ve shared with you. Some of these thoughts have been inspired by you.

At the beginning of 2013, I had a go at making some resolutions. I have never made it through many weeks before I lose my resolve. I realised that I don’t like them because they are too prescriptive and restricting. I came up with some specific goals, and I would say that I have largely lived this past year in the spirit of them.. but not to the letter! A year is a long time, and I can’t even predict what will happen from one day to the next, let alone for a whole 365.

This year, I’m not going to attempt any resolutions as such, but I will continue bearing in mind lessons I have learned. I tried to live 2013 intentionally and mindfully, building on relationships that I have offline as well as online. I guess the overall idea is summed up in this thought-provoking talk by Ric Elias and also the first video I shared in another recent post:

I’m interested to know what your outlook for 2014 is. Not how you predict it will go, but what attitude you intend to have, going into the year ahead. I still intend to knit, cook and get creative as much as I can, but I’m hoping to have less time for that soon. More on that in the not too distant future I hope!

Well I wish everyone happy celebrations and einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr (I love how the Germans put it – roughly translated – a good skid into the New Year)!


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Inspirational knitting sessions!

Wow is it already Friday?! I’ve been making progress with the grey snood and having some relaxation in the process… been enjoying some TED talks whilst working the yarn. Thought I’d share a few that particularly inspired and challenged me. Kinda made knitting feel like a really productive task – enjoy! And take care this weekend – thinking especially of everyone affected by the stormy weather and tidal surges affecting the UK. Hope you’re all ok <3

A talk about lollipop moments! “There is no world, there’s only 6 billion understandings of it. And if you change one person’s understanding of it…you change the whole thing.”

A talk about how feminism most definitely isn’t dated, with a lot of humour, realism and passion.

Our current education systems educate creativity out of children. We need to be “…seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are, and seeing our children for the hope that they are.”


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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!


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WOW Wednesday: the creative spirit

I’ve given myself a little bit of a break from the blog over the past week or so. I just needed to think about other things in life other than blogging, although I’ve missed it. Thank you for dropping by even though I haven’t posted any fresh content. I really appreciate that you have used your precious time to stop by and read. Welcome to all new visitors!

I’ve given the WOW Wednesdays series an even longer break I must admit.. but I haven’t stopped saying “wow!” In fact, it’s those little wow moments that inspire me to keep moving onwards and upwards, even on those days when I feel like I’ve tripped over and slid on my backside down the slippery slope I’ve been trying to scale and ended up at the bottom again. So I thought it would be a nice way to get back to the blog this week:

I recently stumbled across some videos that made for fascinating watching. They each show different kinds of creative projects I found inspiring. Instead of just pinning them, I wanted to share them here. I’m simply going link them up below. I hope they bring some inspiration to you midweek. My favourite is the last, because it is a story of a great collaboration. You might want to watch the finished music video first (linked below) and then watch the one of the making of it which is the one I’ve included here. Up to you!

Which is your favourite and why?

(Oh go on, this advert is cool too.)

(The HQ version is here but I’d recommend watching the above first for a great performance – if you don’t mind whooping students!)

(The finished music video is here.)

Take care and have a peaceful and productive remainder of the week. Just one more weekend until Easter! Do you get Easter holidays where you are? If you gave up something for Lent, how is it going?


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Getting Into Gear

We are well into February, and thankfully, my rather shaky start to 2013 has stabilised somewhat for now, thanks to all your support and encouragement. (Really, I’m not just saying it – thank you.) End of January, I took my first tangible step to work towards my fourth goal as stated in the first post of the year: to give more thought and time to offline, tangible investments in my relationships. I bought this card which I just love and then I wrote and sent it off last week:

wiggletoes_card

Card from Pencil Diaries at Paperchase.

One thing that I have neglected in my personal relationships that I enjoyed so much in the past, was writing snail mail. Letting my loved ones know that I am thinking of them has not happened for too long, beyond sending a quick text, email or Facebook message. I had already been forming a plan in my mind, to write at least one card per month that is not a holiday or birthday card. It’s not even halfway as ambitious as Ziggy’s Illustrated Letters project, but I think it’s manageable for me.

I read Ginna’s February Goals post (haw haw, accidental pun) for her blog, My Pretty Pennies, on 1st February. What a great idea to link up and encourage each other to reach our goals! I’ve been a little slow to complete my post but I wanted to share the step-by-step goals I have set for February. All the goals I share are connected to my overall goals for 2013 to reduce the risk of overwhelming myself!

  • Write a card to someone for no particular reason, just to let them know I’m thinking of them
  • Complete a knitted surprise gift and send it by the end of the month
  • Fill a home made mini sketchbook by the end of the month
  • Clear my desk of things that are waiting to be filed away
  • Sort through old clothes that I have piled up as potential sewing material, deciding which to keep and which to donate

As I have explained, I don’t live life straightforwardly, so I won’t be too surprised if I get started on some side projects along the way. But now I’ve put this month’s goals out there, hopefully it will help me to focus and work towards getting them done! I’m excited to be able to cross the first one off already and to be almost through the second at this point. Hopefully, I will be able to cross everything off by the end of the month!

How about you? Have you tried regular goal setting? Does it work for you?

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