Category Archives: Life

This bee is enjoying a sit down.

2019

It has been some time since I updated my blog – and there is a reason for that. My first name is Deborah – though I am called by my second nomenclature Anne due to a tussle between my mother and father – and Deborah is supposed to have a meaning attached to it ‘as busy as a bee’. So I was told. I can make a meal out of  anything – metaphorically speaking – everything seems to take me ages these days. I don’t know whether I am noticing it more, or whether I am definitely slowing down. The upshot is it is terribly difficult to feel productive. I am learning to live inside the moment. That sounds easier than it is – our brains are hardwired to be distracted by stuff that makes us feel useful. I don’t feel useful. I feel increasingly useless. But I am trying to change perspective on that. I don’t want to live a rushed life. I want to live a meaningful life. Alot of that meaning transpires to be spent in connecting with my little rescue dog who is needing alot of attention. So be it.

Let me share this with you – it feels great to slow down a little. I hope you find some time to spend doing absolutely nothing .

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Learning from a master

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A portion, of course, from East Coker  ‘The  Four Quartets’ by T. S Eliot, a poem in its entirety that continues to move and intrigue me as I spend my portion of life on an increasingly perturbed island on the edge of Europe, very much greater in it’s own mind than is realistic or desirable.  But then in his words ‘Mankind cannot bear too much reality’

This is where I come in – reality is where I live and it hurts.  I notice others can perform the human dance a lot better than I  – there is a dissembling in order to accommodate and I find it a tricky route. I feel stranger than perhaps I am – a half century on feeling on the edge of a tribe, and never within it.. Even the one I produced myself , of which I am inordinately pleased with.

I would liked to have met Thomas Stearns, spent an evening of ordinary discourse, shared a bottle of wine and a meal. It’s not going to happen. But like Mr W.B. Yeats, he is as much a presence in my life as the living, and a very welcome one that.

I shall be raising a glass to both my companions, and feel gratitude that they were here – in their end was my beginning.

Life Matters

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From W.B.Yeats poem

…. and it is the start of a new year for all of us.  I am listening closely to the world via the radio – my trusty Radio 4 gives me the impression I am part of it all.  Life is struggle – there’s no way around it for any of us, but the struggle can be fun, uplifting, treacherous – all a mess. That is what I bring today, a big mess of confused memory, thoughts, stretches of imagination – every day I have to pull myself dragging and screaming into the world and try and imagine something new and beautiful to make it worthwhile.  For some people it may seem a hop and a skip to get on with the day – what a blessing that would be! But I had dealt me a melancholic disposition, so it starts with me talking quite  sternly with myself to arise. Once that’s done, everything seems to fall into place –  breakfast, dog walk, and back to the p.c for some illustrative work.

I like having the voices over the radio lull me into the sense of belonging to a tribe – this morning the voices were singing my song about how its ok to have a disposition like Eeyore.  It’s easy in today’s madcap world of social media to imagine your life is a little one, in comparison to the amazing lives everyone else is leading – but I told myself decades ago that an Ordinary Life is a Good Life. And beats the alternative.  I suffered severe anxiety in my twenties and it propelled me into making some very healthy decisions – quit a corporate job, raised children (sans childcare!) and chose alot of frugal living choices to support me not working at a full time job. Its not for everyone, but I love that there is a new awareness growing exponentially that we do not need to consume all the time – that we can mend and repurpose stuff, and that self worth is separate from the external measures of success that we were sold.

So now I shall quit rambling and move into doing some of my stuff for the day – I hope you are living safe, secure and loving lives out there.

Merry Christmas

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Season’s greetings from Nottingham, England  – it’s been a full year here – as we navigate our way into my husband’s retirement, and see the youngest son start his foray into teaching we have had the inevitable roller coaster of highs and lows.  Into the mix goes my decision to try and manage my health conditions without the support of prescriotion medicine – don’t ask me why but after decades of regulating my body with the addition of anti depressants for pain management, I really wanted to discover life without them- more rollercoaster fun!

 

Wishing everyone peace and goodwill – remember that bit and the holidays will bring its own rewards.

 

 

A reintroduction to Modestly

 

22I thought I would share some thoughts I articulated when asked a couple of years ago to contribute to an art blog – just in case you haven’t yet met me or know what I do! It seems like yesterday that I sold my first hand made book on Etsy – and every sale is just as exciting to me as that first one. It is an opportunity to put a little bit of myself into the world, albeit in a very humble sense. I hope you feel curious enough to browse my links at the end and discover the work I produce!

The quest of living our lives well is the inevitable journey each individual must take. It is the perpetual drive to retain the mystery and magic in a world that is sometimes inhumane, hostile. Sometimes life becomes almost unbearable in the moment. I have struggled to maintain my equilibrium in different phases of mine – my early twenties working in a pressurised commercial environment, my early thirties becoming a parent, my early forties learning to live with the loss of a marriage and forging a new future.
Since I was a child I have had a curiosity about how to live well. To me this is the question that philosophy tries to answer. And philosophers are interesting, but so are poets and gurus, and business leaders. Curiosity is the spring board to doing something, whatever it may be, it is about the opportunity to dig deeper, to investigate. The process of making my books chose me really. I have loved mining the minds of past thinkers – and current ones too – I think in an attempt to understand more about how to be human. That seems strange, since being human should surely be the most natural of processes. I don’t find that, I find it discombobulating, I look at behaviour to learn from it. I know now I am not alone in that feeling of alienation from my own species, and writers and artists taught me that. I learnt from my early life that being a career girl disassociated me from what is most important to me. So I stopped.

One of my greatest pleasures in life is creating. To find yourself living that flow of easy ‘being’ when the mind and the body are occupied has to be the up there with the best things. I don’t care who you are, or what you have – this is the experience that tops status, recognition, fan appeal. It is really playing – and we in the Western hemisphere have somehow forgotten that play is how we began, and how children learn best. Learn to play, and you learn how to live well. Creating anything, from a cupcake to a spreadsheet, from a poem to an engine, is about that engagement of you with something else. And alchemy happens.

Since I started at Etsy, I have diversified into card design and that spurred me onto a new product range of published notebooks , which are beautifully manufactured and offer another way of enjoying my design work complemented with the wisdom of writers and artists that have inspired me .

The design work on cards suggested to me that I could diversify into other product ranges, and print on demand sites now offer my work on a multi platform , all of which can be found via my website, or here All my sites   

Hoping to share more with you!

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Keeping busy

It’s been mad hot here – and I mean mad – I don’t ‘do’heat – I am a coolio character who is sent into a tailspin when knocked off a very narrow spectrum of temperature tolerance.  I have a sneaky irritating condition which is exacerbated by fluctuations in weather, so I am trying desperately to stay cool.  My newest companion is a nine year old rescue dog – Reggie, who is frustrated too by the rising temperatures because it interferes with his walking schedule. Getting Reggie is the best thing I have achieved in a long time – less a rescue by us than a rescue of me by him.  I missed walking a dog since having lost Digger, missed the casual engagement with the local dog walkers, the daily interaction that brought the outside in. But we are back – and Reggie is settling in grand, a little heartbeat at my feet.

 

My other achievements in the past few months have been to include three new product ranges into my Etsy shop – to keep up interest!  I was considering how to use my card illustration to create another income stream, and have designed three different sized notebooks which incorporate my card design and inspiring quotation. I have taken life lessons from writers, musicians and philosophers for decades, and so share some of my favourites.  A further project is now available on Amazon too – a heftier volume featuring a selection of my card designs as a book to share on the coffee table – no note pages in this one! All the books are also available via the site at Blurb, but I have a few copies at Etsy which I can send out signed.  A further project in the pipeline should be with me soon –  a smaller production featuring design and quotation- more to follow!

Notebook

Fully illustrated notebook Modestly bites

Link to purchase ‘Modestly bites’ on Etsy    etsy.me/2NeDTnb

Three notebooks

Fully illustrated notebooks with full page illustration inside

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mod bites1abcde

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…Oh and before I forget I was delighted that one my designs is now up and running at the Urban Outfitters splendid site—-sweet!

Circle of Life

Circle of Life by anipani

 

Link to Urban page   bit.ly/2NbhKpU

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Reggie

Brief encounter

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It isn’t rare to have an encounter with deer here in the Highlands of Scotland – and in our village at Kinlochleven they frequently come down to the river, or sojourn on the green for a short while. I have been taking out my new rescue Patterdale morning , noon and night – we are more often out than in, and yesterday evening we met a beautiful young stag . He had arrived on the green just as we did, bounded onto the bridge and leapt over following the line of the river.  We caught up with him – the light was still hanging around although it was past ten at night – the village was quiet. Reggie and I stood rapt as the young stag was totally still in our presence. It was as though he had invited us into his space. And then he bowed his head to eat some grass – I bowed mine back – and we mimicked one anothers gestures twice more. Reggie was as quiet as a mouse – no barking, no growling, no pulling – just a three way dialogue of enjoying the meeting. Extraodinary. And uplifting – my spirits are needing more of this.

The place I want to get back to

is where

in the pinewoods

in the moments between

the darkness

and first light

two deer

came walking down the hill

and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,

this one is okay,

let’s see who she is

and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,

so quiet, as if

asleep, or in a dream,

but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came

on their slender legs

and gazed upon me

not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look

and look and look

into the faces of the flowers;

and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life

bring to me that could exceed

that brief moment?

For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,

not waiting, exactly, just lingering.

Such gifts, bestowed,

can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this

come to visit. I live in the house

near the corner, which I have named

Gratitude.

(c) Mary Oliver