Friday, 30 March 2018

Be kind to yourself

I sometimes forget that I haven't even been in this new city for  a month yet. Of course I don't know yet that the post office closes at lunchtime on Wednesday (until I arrive there to buy a stamp), or where to go to buy a doorbell. Of course I haven't learned everyone's names yet, or even made it to all three churches in the group on a Sunday. Everything is new and I need to take time.

How often do you expect yourself to be perfect at something when you haven't been doing it for long? We expect too much of ourselves too soon far too often. Usually these thoughts are not coming from others but our own internal thought processes.

So be kind to yourself!

Yes, you :)

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


In my journal for this liminal period I did a bit of gelli-printing on some of the pages, just to have a little colour and pattern that I knew I wouldn't be able to replicate with my limited supplies. When I started to enhance the pattern on this page, I found it starting to look like a landscape. The addition of the trees brought it all into focus.

When you move to somewhere new it is easy to get caught up on all the details. It is important to make sure you step back and look at the big picture as well. The details can be deceptive when taken on their own, just as a single photo shows only a moment within time and may be misconstrued.

I know it will take time to take it all in and I have to be patient when I am itching to get started, but the results will hopefully be worth it.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Don't plant too early

Don't plant seeds too early or the frost will kill the. Make sure the ground is warm.

This little seedling turned up on my page and set me thinking. Having a new garden means I'm thinking about what to plant where. There's an awful lot of lawn but I want to grow fruit and vegetables. I'll have to do a lot of digging, cutting back, mowing.

There's a temptation to get things into the ground as soon as possible, to see things taking shape and bearing fruit. But there's still a chance of frost and planting too early would be a waste of time and resources.

This is true both with a physical garden, but also in terms of starting out in a new parish. We've been here a few weeks and the temptation is to get going with doing something. But that would be a mistake. The ground isn't warm yet because we haven't built up relationships yet. Although the prevailing feeling seems to be that you have to be doing to be relevant, sometimes you just have to be before you can do.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Reverse culture shock

Reverse culture shock.

Even though we've moved to a place where we used to live, there is still some culture shock. We lived in Australia for over eight years and got used to the way of life there. Now we've moved back to a place that has moved on from when we left and there are many things that we have to get used to again.

The sky seems smaller somehow, lower.

The buildings are taller and closer together, which may also be why the sky seems smaller.

There are more regional accents and we're having to 'tune our ear in' again, just as we had to when we arrived in Australia. No doubt there will also be local slang to learn.

There are cars everywhere and the roads are generally narrower, making them seem more crowded.

There's so much litter! I just want to grab a binbag and collect it from the roadside hedges.

My skin is drier now that I'm walking in the cold wind and not putting SPF 50 cream on everyday just to leave the house.

It will take a while to settle in again, but the first steps are being taken.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Face practice

With my limited materials - a few pens, coloured pencils, neocolor IIs - I've been doing some face practice. Although I don't often draw on my art journal pages, I like to sketch in a separate sketchbook as it helps me to really look at things. Since doing the 29faces challenge first in 2014 and then again in 2016, I can see a heap of improvement. The practice really helps. I still have some problems with perspective, but overall, I'm pleased with my progress.

The drawing above is copied from a highly lit magazine photo. The contours of the face disappear with the harsh light, leaving just the features. I've tried to capture the face with just a few lines/patches of colour.

The drawing above and the two below are done with coloured pencils. One of the things that practicing has helped me with is going straight in with a medium that can't be rubbed out. It has made me more sure of my lines, more confident of putting marks on the page and not worrying about whether they are just right. Practicing drawing with my non-dominant hand has helped with this as well.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Starting to dream

We've been in Liverpool a couple of weeks now and I'm starting to dream.

What can I do here?

How can I equip people to engage creatively with their faith?

What can I provide in terms of support?

I dream of facilitating quiet days, leading workshops, encouraging people.

My dreams are small, but I'm learning to dream bigger.

What do you dream of?

Friday, 16 March 2018

A new garden

A new place to live means a new garden - in more ways than one.

There is a new physical garden where I will be growing vegetables and planting fruit. But there is also the new personal 'garden', the place where I'll be growing relationships.

Both require me to look at the soil and work out what will grow well and where.

Over the last few days we've had a lot of rain and I've seen where the water gathers and waterlogs the lawn. That won't be a good place to dig up a veggie patch. It seems that raised beds will be a better way to go for the most part.

It will take a little longer to work out the personal garden, though. Meeting new people, seeing who I click with, who can be trusted, who is looking to grow and what I can do to equip them.

Some things grow quickly and produce a crop within weeks. Others take time to mature, but that's OK because I'm in this for the long haul.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


It's funny how things pop out at you when you walk away from a page and then come back to it. When I came back to this one I wondered how I'd missed the doorway before. It seems so obvious now.

Of course, it isn't at all surprising that a doorway should turn up on my page - we're passing through one right now as we transition back to life in the UK. This doorway is full of light and promise and the blue lines seem to be ushering me through.

Doorways are opening and I have a project in the works that I can't talk about just yet, and some workshops I want to run in the coming months that I need to finish writing.

What doorways are opening up for you?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

New patterns

Life is full of new patterns at the moment. Moving always entails new patterns - the shape of your day, new people, new paths to walk. Everything is new and it can be exhausting to process all that information.

But I know that, as the days go on, we will establish new patterns and things will stop feeling so chaotic.

Friday, 9 March 2018

New connections

New connections just waiting to be made.

Though it is hard to leave people behind, I hope that a lot of those connections will continue. We are also able to pick up those connections that were stretched - but kept up - when we moved to Australia. And of course, new connections will be made as we meet a heap of new people. It will take a while to work out which connections will produce fruit, which will develop into more than an acquaintance, but that's all part of the fun of being somewhere new.


On the arty front, I'm chafing a little over my interim journal. It's half the size of my usual pages and the only things I have to use at the moment are a few bits of collage paper, a glue stick, some coloured pencils, neocolor IIs, and 4 Stuart Semple pigment paints. However, I have no paintbrush at the moment so things are a bit limited. Thankfully I did a little bit of adding to pages before we left so there are some bits of gelli-printing and stencilling on some of the pages.

However, limited supplies push you to work in a different way, and getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, even when it just means that I'll really appreciate it when all my stuff arrives :)

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


As I'm sure you can imagine, we had a lot of 'goodbye' events at the end of February. It took a while to process all the things that were said. Many people spoke of ways in which we had helped them, been an encouragement, or done something that seemed insignificant to us but was obviously of great value to them.

It set me to thinking:

You may not know the impact you have on someone's life until you leave.

But why do we wait until someone is leaving before we tell them what they mean to us? Do it today! Let those ripples that someone has set in motion in your life be known. It is a real encouragement (and sometimes downright embarrassing for them!) when we praise a person who has made a difference to us. It can make their day, so why hold back?

(If you've visited before and wonder why my pages are quite different from the usual, it is because I have moved from Australia to the UK - hence all the goodbyes - and have an extremely limited set of materials at the moment. Well, it's one way to stretch yourself I suppose...)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

I'm back!

It's nice when it stops!

After 21 hours on 2 aeroplanes with a 2 hour stop at Doha, we landed at Birmingham International Airport on Tuesday last week. A few days at my parents' house and then on to Liverpool to our new home. We arrived yesterday lunchtime.

For this little introvert it has been a fraught couple of weeks - removal men in the house for three days; a blessed weekend at a beach house; flights!; snowed in at my parents' house. And all with a very limited set of art materials and no quiet space to retreat to.

Now we are in our new house and we each retreat to our own rooms for space. My new studio is about half the size of the last one, but I'm already planning where everything will fit. Thankfully we got rid of lots of stuff before it was all packed into the shipping container.

But for now we are in that liminal space where we are living with kindly donated furniture etc. It feels like being a student again. We will certainly appreciate all our stuff when it arrives.