Awakening

Sometimes the best way to find ourselves can be to become entirely lost. I say this as someone who has the knee jerk reaction of feeling claustrophobic at any given moment. At any moment, of any day, I will have a moment when I just want to drop everything and run.... somewhere... anywhere. Anything can trigger it: a crammed diary, too many things on a to do list, or even things just being too predictable and routine. I am nothing if not contrary in my need to feel in control. 

A year ago these feelings were seeping in with all too frequent regularity. I was trying to establish myself as a full time blogger, podcaster and writer. I had a small child who relied on me every day of the week. I was navigating the tornado that is separating from your child's father and the legal and financial twists and turns that result. I'd often find myself in the garden, absentmindedly plucking at weeds or sitting in the local park, eyes shut and turned to the sun. I sat quietly in these moments and tried to ignore a growing discomfort with our life in London. Any small comfort rapidly turned to a claustrophobic need to escape. Cafes felt like they were full of others nailing their parenting or freelance lives. The parks crammed so full of people on sunny days that it was like sitting within a mob when you had a picnic. Suddenly I just needed to get us out or face a day to day existence of the mean reds. 

I picked us up. I took us elsewhere. Against advice and people worrying my impulsive streak had gone too far this time, I took the greatest adventure I've ever taken. I landed in rural Dorset with limited furniture and funds and invited it to surprise me. It's not disappointed me yet. 

Dorset coastline

Since moving to the countryside, I've spent a lot of time just soaking in the surroundings. Moments with my camera getting entirely lost bring me the much needed space for my mind to shake out all its complicated knots and tangles. It's in these moments that I start to feel creative and free again and words flow more easily. I pause and note the new flora and fauna that week. I take in the dry stone walls. I soak up the stonework of the few scattered cottages and above all, I wander without any plan other than to observe. 

Knowing I'd been feeling a little overwhelmed by a second house move, speaking at a fairly big deal conference soon and all the to-do list items I wished to achieve before both, I deliberately got lost last weekend. On my visit to see a friend in Yorkshire, I picked a path and simply put one foot in front of the other. Without any bearings, I went in search of much needed calm.  

Awakening- blossom

The most surprising thing that I found in those isolated few hours was a sense of home. There in the hedgerows was blossom that I recognised. The smell of wild garlic beginning to burst into life reminded me of the same event a few weeks earlier on our warmer Southern shore. Clambering over tree stumps, watching a different flock of lambs, felt at once familiar as it did new and stimulating. My brain was mighty glad for the distraction and my heart beat just a little harder as I took in the sight of Spring filling up the world with colour and texture once more. 

tree stumps and stream

It was tucked by a stream, listening to birdsong and the gentle babble of water that I realised I finally have a sense of sanctuary. It wasn't that London was scary and overbearing, it was that I didn't have a place there anymore. My adventures lie in green spaces, landscapes washed with seasonal colour and outcrops of buildings rather than a jungle of them. 

To me outside is home. It's what I need to reset and make progress again. 

 

Where do you go to refocus?

A Solstice Day

Exiting your home with a three year old is rarely graceful. After a morning tucked contentedly inside, sipping tea (me), learning new puzzles (her) and making food to share with friends, we prepared to greet the first Winter's Day. Within the usual flurry of coats, bags and 15 reminders for her to use the bathroom, I glanced out the window for a weather check. The trees bent sideways and confirmed that today was all about hand knit sweaters. 

Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits, yarn from Lioness Arts. (Project notes  here )

Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits, yarn from Lioness Arts. (Project notes here)

Tucked into waterproofs and puddle stomping boots, Little One ran gleefully across the grass to meet her friend and together they danced and laughed at the ferocious wind. Two protective mothers tied hats around little ears and I was glad for her woolen cardigan as she raced off to explore. 

Antler Cardigan. Pattern via TIn Can Knits (more details  here )

Antler Cardigan. Pattern via TIn Can Knits (more details here)

I finished this cardigan a while ago but haven't slowed down enough to take pictures lately. In fact, I'd not brought my much loved Nikon out of its camera bag since we moved over a month ago. I would be willing to lay money that this has been a contributing factor in my feeling antsy and unable to create lately. 

Today though, today was a good day for collecting stones and hurling them at the little stream nearby. This cardigan not only kept her warm but survived rolling in damp grass and a sudden downpour that came at us sideways thanks to the wind and sent us scurrying inside for pasta and cake. I will always be in complete awe at the powerful resource wool provides. 


I've included all the project notes of my version of Tin Can Knit's Antler Cardigan here on Ravelry. Yarn is via Lioness Arts



The Life Offscreen Project

Last week I received some special mail that made me stop, smile and reminisce. A simple question: 'when was the last time you climbed a tree?' sparked a few blissful moments of nostalgia. 

Life Offscreen Post

In truth, it wasn't that long ago since I scrabbled up a tree because I like to earn my playful title. Since creating an online home that centres around finding a playful moment in everyday, I've been struck by the many opportunities there are to be a lot wilder and a little less contained. My online friend, Bryony agrees and she blogs about yoga, trail running, bike rides and more. Her instagram is full of cartwheels and views of the sea near her home. 

It's safe to say we hit it off immediately. 

Life Offscreen

Thus started 'The Life Offscreen Project', a simple action that we hope will cause a ripple effect encouraging more people to get outside and off their screens. The idea is really simple:

- send a snail mail reminder to a friend to get out & enjoy some seasonal activities

- Use your mail as a prompt to notice the little things, to gather and share some outdoor inspiration

Over the coming weeks you''ll start noticing other bloggers joining in with us and little pieces of mail being shared that we hope inspires others to live life on a slightly wilder side. You don't have to sign up and no one is going to hold you accountable. This is your moment to share and discover. If you have taken part in the project though, we would love to hear from you!

To start you off, we've gathered some of our other freedom seeking friends to help us create a Pinterest board with plenty inspiration for a Life Offscreen. 

See you on Instagram? #lifeoffscreen.

Spring.... Growth.... Change

When you're a parent, I swear that the thing that makes you feel the most 'different' from your friends who don't have children is definitely weekends. While everyone else slows down or fires up, your pace continues. Snacks, nappy changes, naps (maybe), meals, play and all the usual things that structure your day don't just stop. Yet your head is still in this place where you think of weekends as 'time off to do what I want'. 

It's taken some time to navigate this path and find a balance but the last few weekends have reassured me that we've turned some kind of symbolic point in the Playful Tot's life and things have just gotten a little bit easier. Trips out are easier even if they do seem to require an alarming amount of paraphernalia. 

IMG_5479.JPG

I was watching the Tot pootle around the walled gardens on one of our local parks,knitting and snapping away with my camera when suddenly I realised I'd found a way towards more recognisable weekends. What makes me happy? Playing with my camera, knitting and being outside. I looked for other signs that life is settling into a slightly less frantic pace and ah yes, blog reading, pouring through recipe books and having time to lace up my high tops seem to be back in the mix. When did that happen?

You realise that life changes when you have a child but how it changes seems like a mystery until you're in the thick of it. Marrying up your needs, your babies needs and any kind of social life seems near impossible for months. Then, just as suddenly, it's Spring and you're able to be outside more and the little one is toddling so doesn't need to be constantly held. She's got her own things to do now so activities centre around just getting out the house and looking for.... diggers. Our current obsession is diggers. She's also getting used to the idea that sometimes Mummy sits somewhere with a knitting bag or a book and she can bomb about with the Giant and it'll be ok because I'll be right there when she gets back. Sometimes we tag and I go exploring with her while the Giant reads and thinks about important things. 

So what did I choose to work on during this Spring morning? My Hickory Sweater by Cecily Glowik Macdonald. It's clipping along nicely on a slow and steady simmer. I like the pattern writing as it's clear and easy to follow which I need when I get so little knitting time. I've managed to pick this up each time with minimal fuss and the Debbie Bliss CashMerino is snuggly to work with. I doubt I'll have this done any time soon but it feels ok.

Sometimes it's ok to wait for things to get really good. You know?

 

psssst..... Have you entered the Botanical Knits 2 Giveaway yet? There's still time!