Categories
Ramblings

CHRISTMAS IS OVER, NOW ONTO NEW YEAR

Boxing day here.

Sitting here still feeling somewhat strangely beautifully bloated from yesterday’s festivities.

How was your Christmas beautiful you?  Was it good?  Did you get to spend it with people who make you feel special and loved?  Or was it like pulling teeth and you could not wait to get through it, wishing like hell it was over?

I have had many of those in my time, but yesterday, for me, was lovely.  There were no dramas, no person who spoiled the festivities, no awkward moments.  It was a day filled with the proverbial love and laughter and boy, am I so grateful for that.

Life has an uncanny way of not working out how we want it to go and I have admit that in the run up to Christmas I was not feeling it all that much.  There were Christmas posts by bloggers in their thousands, but I just couldn’t find the mojo to write it.  A sadness settles over me at this time of year, and I do find it difficult to connect with this time of year.

I worry about those people who will be on their own, who don’t have a home or food, who are completely overwhelmed by this time of year.  I worry about the over indulgence of it all, how commercial it has all become.  As I waited in the queues to purchase my own christmas items, I watched with dismay the amount of packaging that covers even the smallest thing, and I couldn’t help but think over 2 billion people world wide celebrate this time of year and all of it is going to find itself into landfill.

Yes, I know, it’s all rather depressing.

But then the day came, and all those worries were suspended for just that day and I was so lucky to have an amazing day to celebrate just being with family and friends that do just love each other, who want to be together.  It is a beautiful thing and for me, truly does represent the true spirit of christmas.

Our christmas tree this year with presents for the 12 people that joined us.
Our christmas tree this year with presents for the 12 people that joined us.
The christmas table all ready for family & friends
The christmas table all ready for family & friends
The table lovingly set to add to the festivities
The table lovingly set to add to the festivities

Despite how commercial Christmas has become, I do love the ritual of the festival.  I imagine what it would have been like in the pagan times, preparing for the winter solstice, gathering food, creating hand made gifts, the congregation of the entire village at a time when hibernation would have been the order of the day.  It is in that spirit that christmas exists and if we can reclaim that in some small way, then it doesn’t become invalidated, doesn’t become tainted somehow.

Miss J and I having some selfie fun
Miss J and I having some selfie fun
Mr C and I getting the food ready for the day
Mr C and I getting the food ready for the day
The one of the four of us.  We haven't had a family photo of us in a while, so this one is extra special
The one of the four of us. We haven’t had a family photo of us in a while, so this one is extra special
This was made my Miss J and Baby C for me.  Gogo is such an unusual name for a grandmother, so this means the world to me.  It now has pride of place on my "special tree"
This was made my Miss J and Baby C for me. Gogo is such an unusual name for a grandmother, so this means the world to me. It now has pride of place on my “special tree”

But that is all over now for another year.

And now it is Boxing Day, and so we look to the New Year.  We look to a new beginning.

But before we can look forward, we have to look back.  It is helpful to reflect.  What was 2014 like for you?  What were your highs, your lows?

2014 promised to be a great new year, but by mid-january, my depression had gripped me so badly that on the recommendation of a friend, I went to see an art therapist.  She recommended I begin a blog and so I started an amazing blogging course with the lovely Pip Lincolne from Meet Me At Mikes, called Blog with Pip.

When I began that course in February, I had absolutely no idea just what journey I would be taking.  To say it has been life changing is not an understatement.  This space, that first began with The Imperfect Crafter, and then transitioned to the Sarah’s Heart Writes that you see today, has opened up my heart, my faith in humanity and has afforded me opportunities I never thought possible.

I had no idea what I wanted to write about, or who would read it.  I went through highs and lows.  I got caught up in the competitiveness of wanting to make heaps of money (with no product to sell) to returning to my authentic self of just writing from the heart.

I wrote a post about how I had Androgenetic Alopecia, how I got a new wig, and even found the courage to post a photo of myself bald, which has had the amazing effect of me now speaking openly about my baldness and even removing my wig to show people how it actually works.  This is something I would never ever have imagined possible just 10 months ago.

As I kept showing up, my voice emerged, speaking more and more of those things that meant the most to me.  I opened up an Instagram account and started to post a regular kindness bomb, to remind people that even though they might not feel like it at the time, they matter, they are valued and they are loved.  The response to those have been humbling.

#kindnessbomb no 71,
#kindnessbomb no 71,

I met an amazing group of women who I now speak to on a daily basis.  We encourage and champion each other every single day.  We all started our blogging journey at the same time, and we all have our own strengths to offer.  Just like friends meeting for coffee for a good old natter, we show up every morning online and talk about life, love and blogging.  I have been astounded how quickly these women have made it into my heart, the depth of which I care for these human beings.  I have also been so grateful for their love and kindness towards me, for it is through this unconditional love and encouragement, that I have learned to trust in life again and Mr C has noticed a marked reduction in my depressive episodes, noting that even when they do occur, they are of a much less intensity and don’t last as long.

That has been the best gift of all with this journey.

But, of course, like the yin and yang of life, there have been some lows.

Mr C and I both had awful health this year.  I had pancreatitis and had to undergo a fairly major operation.  My liver enzymes were so off the chart that the hospital staff did not want to believe that I had been sober for 4 years.  They were convinced I was a heavy alcoholic.  Luckily my surgeon has known me for three of those four years and stepped in to assure them.  The operation brought with it its own complications – it was discovered I have a minor heart condition known as Idiopathic Non-Sustained Ventricular Tachycardia.  I’m highly unlikely to drop dead from it, but it will need monitoring for the rest of my life.

I also broke my wrist which has been a slow healing process.

Mr C had Occipital Neuralgia, a debilitating condition that caused him to have a 96 hour migraine and then later in the new year, Mr C had to undergo emergency surgery for two slipped discs that were at risk of causing him to become permanently incontinent.  Luckily, the operation has been a success, but the healing process has been slow and that is frustrating for a man who cycled the Tour de France route last year.

So heading into 2015, our big goal is our health.

I have undertaken to stop talking about losing weight and to actually do it.  My goal is to be my goal weight by the end of 2015 and that will require a weight loss of 35kgs.  Not a small job, but like my blog, if I just keep showing up, little by little I will find my groove and my health will improve and I know that will have a knock on effect in ways that I probably can’t imagine right now but will be amazing to look back on this time next year.

Some changes will take place on the blog.  I want to talk more of the kindness of humanity, in a world where the only media we are subjected to is its darkness.  I want to talk about social justice and how we can make a difference in practical, easy ways that make sense to us.  I will always talk about what is going on in my heart.

There are some skills I would like to gain:

Learning to use my DSLR camera, learning to do Hand Lettering, learning to get out more (being the reclusive animal I am).

So as we head into 2015, I wish you all health, happiness, self love and care and a healthy dose of sun and laughter.

I look forward to connecting with you all in the new year, so that our journey together can continue, so that we can walk on the boardwalk of life, arm in arm, whistling a tune that makes sense to each of us.

Thank you for reading my blog, especially as I am not one for a short post (1374 words and counting).  I am so grateful to have this space to share with you and for the fact that you read it.

See you on the other side of new year’s eve.  Make it a good one.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

Categories
Ramblings

Friday Five {Non-alcoholic drinks}

 

Finding a refreshing drink as an alcoholic can be a little frustrating.

As summer approaches, and the Christmas season sets in, going out becomes the order of the day.  But when you venture out, the non-alcoholic drink choices are incredibly limited.  It tends to be orange or apple juice, coke, lemonade or lemon, lime and bitters (which by the way does contain alcohol, but in such a enormously diluted amount it is deemed to be of no consequence).

I do wish the hospitality industry would come up with a better selection for those of us that cannot partake of the amber nectar.

So, I have done a bit of digging and come up with some ideas that publicans can perhaps take on board:

1.  This selection from BBC Good Food sounds really nice and I am definitely going to give a couple of these a go.  The mulled apple juice for christmas might be a real contender this year.

2.  These 10 by Marie Clare look refreshing.

3.  I have yet to find it in Australia, but when I gave up drinking for a short spell in the UK, I lived on Aqua Libra.  It is a divine drink that is a little bit classy and very refreshing.  You certainly do not feel like you are missing out with this one.  Sadly, it looks like they no longer produce it, which is devastating!!

4.  There is a really nice selection on Epicurious.  Lots of different ranges depending on your taste.  I’m particularly loving the idea of this one.

5.  Smoothies are always a hit during summer, though probably not something I would choose at an evening function.  These selection on Wholefood Simply are just to die for.

Hopefully, that will give you something to prepare for the weekend and perhaps you can give your local a recipe of your favourite, so that you don’t have to miss out too much, and get to enjoy a delicious refreshing drink too.

Have a lovely weekend everybody.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

Categories
Make a Card Monday

Make a Card Monday {1} – Merry Christmas

 

Depression is something that fills my world like something that clouds crystal clear water.  It obscures a beautiful view.

But I don’t want it to define me and I don’t want it to define my little piece of cyberspace.  It is with me, always, but although at times it doesn’t feel like it, I do have power over it.  I know I have power over it.  Those good-thought inducing neurones exist, I just need to find ways to cause them to fire off more often than the bad-thought ones.

Enter my paper craft passion.

Paper craft is something that I adore.  I just love to scrapbook and make cards.  I haven’t done quilling yet, but I am sure that once I give it a go, I will love that too.

And so I have decided to change up the format of my blog a little bit.  As you know, I blog with great irregularity, and I blog with abandon about whatever grips my heart on any given day.  That is unlikely to change but I realise it can be relentlessly dark-filled and I don’t necessarily want to leave you with that darkness.  Thus, I am going to trial a new routine to balance the darkness and it will look like this:

MondayMake a Card Monday

TuesdayTell Your Story Tuesday

Wednesday One Word Wednesday (it is highly unlikely this will involve just one word on the page).

Thursday – To be decided (any ideas anyone?)

Friday Favourite Five Friday

I’m setting Saturday and Sunday aside for my family, but there is a great chance you will find me here as well, because, you know, I do love the sound of my own voice.  HA!

For this Make a Card Monday I just had to do a Christmas Card and in the run up to christmas there may be a few more.   Are you aware that there are only 58 days until Christmas – I nearly had a heart attack when I found out!

What does Christmas mean to you?

For me, it is filled with so much meaning.  In my childhood, with my dad’s alcoholism, our year was pretty much a continuous unpredictable form of chaos.  But come Christmas Day my parents would pull out all the stops to make it as special as possible.  My parents could have had the most awful flaming row on Christmas Eve, but come Christmas Day we would wake up to presents and love and laughter.  For one day in the year at least, we were like a normal family.

As I grew up this day represented more and more to me of what family time should mean and when I got married and had my own family, it was the one day of the year where I pulled out all the stops.  I wasn’t a great cook, but I loved cooking the turkey, the ham, the vegetables and the dessert.  I loved the family coming together and the warmth that glowed inside my heart as we all fed until we were stuffed, and laughed.  Oh my, how I loved the laughing.  And I didn’t care about the mess at the end of the day (which I never cleaned up until the next day because, you know, I’m lazy like that – and I didn’t want anything to tear me away from my beautiful glowing family), I just cared that we were together.

Christmas cards are a penny a piece, but I still love to make mine to send out.  There is a certain joy to be found in creating a card at this time of year and know that someone will receive it and put it on their mantlepiece, or sideboard, or wherever people store their cards these days.  A piece of you that they get to enjoy – I like that.

Today I have for you a classic card.

It should probably be noted that I use whatever I have in stock at the time.  I’ve been paper crafting for around 3 years now and I have quite a collection (one day I’ll give you a tour of my office).  I really do encourage you to do the same – just use whatever you have on hand.  These cards are easy to make and are very adaptable.

For my card base I had some black 15cm x 15cm cards that I bought at Kmart.  They are around $3 for 5 cards and are really quite good quality.

I then used my silhouette cameo to cut cream card stock to 14,5cm x 14,5cm.  (I will do a post on this machine in the future, so watch out for that)

I then embossed the cream card using a dot embossing folder I had using my big shot embossing/cutting machine.  I had the idea that I would emboss the entire card, but the embossing folder was only an A6 size, so it left a portion unembossed.  As it happened, I really liked it like that – this happens in card making a lot.  You have one idea and then it turns out an entirely different way that you prefer.  Just go with the flow.

embossed cream card with big shot machine

Then I printed Merry Christmas onto card and cut a banner shape using my Silhouette Cameo.  Please note, you do not need a Silhouette Cameo – just a stanley/craft knife and a ruler will suffice.

Silhouett cameo merry christmas

I then cut out the wreath shape which I found on the silhouette online store.  Again, if you don’t have a silhouette cameo, no problem.  Just find a wreath image on the internet, print it out on green card stock and cut it out.  {The picture below shows the wreath still stuck to my cutting mat which is why it doesn’t look that great}

DSC_0003

I decided the green was a little flat, so I glittered it up using a Wink of Stella glitter brush pen.  These pens are seriously amazing little things – glitter without the mess cannot be a bad thing!

Wreath with wink of stella glitter pen

I then assembled the whole thing by gluing the cream card stock to the base card, popping the wreath onto the cream card and attaching the sentiment using double sided foam tape to give it a bit of dimension.  It still needed a pop of colour, so I added a red bow.

I then created a sentiment to go inside the card so I can write on it when it comes ready to send it.

DSC_0012

And there you have it.  One very easy to do, but quite lovely Christmas Card.

DSC_0014

I hope you give it a go and if you do, please do let me know.

Much love,

SHW Signature

Categories
Autism Teenage Pregnancy

Christmas 2011 – 12 weeks

The flurry of Christmas is soon upon us.  It is at our house this year and we are having 13 people over for Christmas dinner.  Dad’s time with us will soon be over and we busy ourselves shopping, buying Christmas presents for everyone.  I want this Christmas to be special.  It is the first in our new house and the last with the family as we know it.  Next year, we will have a little baby in our midst and a new Christmas will be borne for our family.  I have not felt very Christmassy since Mom died, but I am feeling a little more cheerful this year, although the warmth of Christmas has still not fired up in my heart to full strength.

All I can think of is the baby and I search for things that it might need.  I manage to buy two gorgeous baby body suits from Zazzle.  One has a picture of a heart on it – one half of it as the American flag and the other half as the UK flag.  The other bodysuit is a he says/she says body suit – he says diaper, she says nappy – you get what I mean.  Em is half American on his mother’s side and lived for 11 years in St Lois, although his accent is devoutly Australian.  Jay is British through and through although she was born in  South Africa.  I know the kids will love it.  I manage to buy Em a mug and matching coaster with the emblem of his favourite team, the St Lois Cardinals.  I hope he will like them.

Christmas day arrives.  Dee’s sister and her family have spent the night, but Jay has spent the night with Em and his family.  It is an arrangement we made at Jay’s birthday in September.  They get her for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day breakfast and we get her for Christmas Day dinner.  I feel like Jay is some token being passed around, but know this is a sign of the times to come.  This is the circle of life after all.  Jay is breaking away from our tribe and forming her own.  I cannot deny that I feel a sense of loss at this, but am also grateful that her new tribe is one that is so welcoming and warm.

Christmas morning is busy.  The two patriarchs, dad and Dee’s dad, cook us a hearty breakfast which we enjoy in the alfresco area near the pool.  It is warm and we enjoy our meal – a full English breakfast, befitting of an English family whose dad runs and English B&B.

I busy myself with the cooking of the Christmas Dinner – turkey, ham and all the trimmings.  “What time is Jay getting here?” dad asks.

“I don’t know Dad.  Around 4pm I think.”

“That’s a bit late, isn’t it?”

“Well, they are having to see all of Em’s family before they get to us.  You know how it goes, Dad.”  Dad nods.

“We never had that problem being in South Africa.”  I remember it well.  We had no family in South Africa being English immigrants of the 1970s.  Our Christmasses were spent all alone, just the five of us.  Now we celebrate Christmas as a large family gathering.  Fun, but at times I do miss the quieter times.

Just as I am about to finish dishing up, Jay and Em arrive.  Jay looks well.  At 12 weeks pregnant, she is largely over her morning sickness and I notice a hint of a bulge on her once size 8 tummy.  Her breasts have definitely got bigger, although I am not sure I am meant to be noticing such things.   I am happy she is with us and giver her a warm hug.  It is good that Em is joining us too.  He puts their stuff in the spare room as they have agreed to spend the night with us.  I feel happy that our family is complete.

We enjoy a beautiful meal which everyone agrees is a lovely end to the day – lots of toasts are made.  Opening our gifts is great fun.  Of course, Jay and Em have received the lions share – new pots and pans, cutlery, crockery and a fair few items for the baby.  They absolutely love the Zazzle items.  We finish the day by watching all the DVDs that we have all received as Christmas presents.  I scan around the lounge with us all crammed onto the settee and feel the warmth that once used to dwell in my heart at Christmas time rising up inside of me.  Em is stroking Jay’s tummy with such tenderness and affection.  It is so obvious that he adores her.  Even JC is sitting with us instead of being in his own lounge.  He has actually taken to Em quite well.

This is my family, and my family is about to get bigger, and better.