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  1. You Don't Have To Sit On It!

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    The majority of my time over the last few months has been spent planning, writing and designing resources for Beyond The Crumpled Paper. I have loved doing this – and it needed doing! - but I was so happy to be able to pick up my paintbrushes again!

    And my first painting for a while is a small, funky number called 'You don't have to sit on it'. It's inspired by one of my favourite quotes by Joyce Meyer, '“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.” It is a reminder to us all that we may not be able to control everything that life throws at us, but we can take control over how we deal with it.

    cactus blog quote

    I talk about gratitude an awful lot (and will continue to do so) but gratitude is so important in so many ways to help us build up a more resilient mindset. On the good days, an attitude of gratitude can really make your heart sing with joy, and on the bad days, the really bad days,  a positive mindset and one of being thankful for the little things, may just be enough to keep you clinging on by your fingertips, stopping yourself being completely overwhelmed by darkness.

    Being grateful isn't about thinking everything is wonderful, or burying your head in the sand pretending everything is ok when it clearly isn't - it's about knowing things are rubbish, but reminding yourself to do what you can to deal with them. Be that screaming, asking for help, or simply having an early night – it's about doing the best under the circumstances, not making things worse for yourself.

    It is about taking back control, remembering you can get through the tough times and reminding yourself that you can make decisions to help the situation rather than giving in to it.

    It's about not sitting on the cactus.





  2. Stone Me!

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    I started my first little business 20 years ago. And as unlikely as it sounds it was selling painted stones. It was called Stone Me and it was the beginning of an adventure that I started because I had such a strong desire to be my own boss and to build my own business. I was in my early twenties, and although I didn't have much confidence, I was full of energy and love for my little stones.


    [pic above: me with my stall, sponsored by the Prince's Trust, at the Cheshire Show in June 2000. Martin Bell OBE popped over to say hello on one of the days! Look at all those stones!]

    I travelled all over doing networking events and business training, I had stalls all the time including ones at massive events including the Cheshire Show and the Southport Flower Show and I worked really hard getting out there and building a reputation for Stone Me.


    [pic above: My front page appearance in Warrington Worldwide magazine in August 2001 and a promotional postcard I used from about 1999]

    And then I got a permanent teaching post. Followed by a mortgage. Eventually followed by children and painted stones faded away for more serious pursuits. I have always continued to have some form of creative freelance work alongside my teaching because the urge was always there – be it photography, fine art and even cake decorating – so to finally take the leap into pursuing my own creative work again full-time a few years ago felt like something I had been waiting a long time for.

    But lately, the responsibility of this has weighed heavy on me. It's not too long ago that I went 'all-in' just on my artwork (rather than selling mainly craft based work to make my income) and this involved some massive financial risks (and sacrifices!) for my family to cope with leaving me feeling extremely guilty a lot of the time!

    I felt a bit lost. And when I should have been working harder than ever I seemed to slow down. I needed to find that energy again, the love and belief in my own art work and where it could take me. So, I went back to my roots. I went back to where it all began and I painted some stones – and I loved it :)

    It reminded me to find the joy in my work again, and reminded me what it was like back then with a whole world of possibilities in front of me. And then I also realised that they fit perfectly with my current mission – about celebrating uniqueness and ordinary joy. The beauty of the painted stones is that each one is different and it's the lumps and bumps and often imperfections in them that suggest the painting that should bring it to life. Every one is different, every one worth celebrating – just like us!

    So, here we are, 20 years after I first started. And I am relaunching 'Stone Me' as part of my current work – to remind myself to work hard, have belief in myself and to be excited about the path ahead. And to remind us all the it's our own lumps, bumps and imperfections that make us unique and amazing!


    Things have come full circle. And I think I like it.