Making time for friends - High Tea....

So a few weeks ago I made the decision that I needed to schedule some more regular time with people who are important to me and who are believers in my future. So quite spontaneously I sent out an invite to a bunch of the girls in my world to come to a High Tea at my place. It was for whoever could make it - no pressure. The plan was to just hang out and enjoy each other's company, and if the mood took us there I had a little something creative planned.

 We were a small group - just the four of us but we had a lovely time drinking tea and chatting. And as it happened the mood took us there and we did something a little creative. It was fun. We had our own weaving tutorial and weaved colourful stars for the one million stars to end violence project.

It was really great everyone had a go and for some it was probably the first time that they had done something like that. We made 10 stars to contribute to the project. A small contribution but a contribution all the same. Not a bad effort really, as some of us were attempting to drink tea, have adult conversations, weave and ensure our children were not getting up to anything to terrifying. 

It was a definite success. What could be better than friends, tea, sweet treats, good conversation and some thing a little creative - food for the soul? What's more it was all too easy, just a spontaneous text, some food and a little creative idea. So now I have committed to do this once a month, because friends and food for the soul are important.

Photography by Berlinda Fortin
Thanks for taking some beautiful memories!

Better Together...

 Hand drawn and coloured on a scrap of craft paper
by Amanda McSeveny

3 Quick Tips To Ensure You Never Have to Do Life Alone...

Sometimes life can feel so full that there just doesn't seem to be time for everything. Most often it is our friends that disappear from our schedule when we are under pressure.  Here are 3 quick tips for ensuring that despite a full life, you don't do life alone:

1. Schedule time in your week for your friends. 
Even the most introverted of us is built for relationship and can't do life alone. We all need people in our world to come along side us and help us along our journey.

If we want to maintain and grow our friendships despite our full lives then we need to prioritise them. The simplest way to give friendships the importance they deserve is to give them time. Being proactive and blocking out time in your weekly schedule for friendships and relationships is really the only way of ensuring they are prioritised. Book in a weekly coffee slot in your diary. Protect it and ensure you invite a different friend every week. Schedule a walk with someone who is important to you. You will get to chat and check in on each other and exercise. Everyone wins.

The key is scheduling regular time for touching base with those who are important to you. Because if you are not intentional in prioritising this time, there will always be demands that will take your unscheduled time.

2. Be the kind of friend you would like to have.
If you are under pressure and life is full, and you are wishing someone would notice you are under the pump. Perhaps the best medicine is to be 'that friend' for some one else. We all have people in our world who we know could do with a cheer squad. Be 'that person' for them. Send a text to cheer on that friend who is juggling study, work, family and other commitments. Tell the them how much they inspire you. Tell them they are doing a really great job and that you are heaps proud of them.

Its funny how being 'that friend' is a great way to get our eyes off our own woes. Moreover if we are generous with encouragement it is reasonably likely that we will find ourselves the recipient of encouragement too.

3. Make the thought count.
Too often we think about doing stuff and then that is all it ever is - a thought. We get distracted with our day and don't call that person that we thought of, don't send that text we had planned to or forget to write that card. I know that I seriously need to get better at actioning those thoughts straight away. It is easier said then done though. But it does help if you are intentional in setting up a few things in your life. You could invest in a hands free phone kit in your car. I often think of calling people when I am driving places. And obviously unless you have a hands free kit you can't call them. Then as soon as you get where you are going you forget to make that call.

I now carry a little snap lock bag of blank greeting cards in my handbag with some postage stamps so if I think sending someone a card I have no excuse not to send it - as everything I need is always with me. We totally need to bring back the handwritten card. Who doesn't love receiving something other than bills in the mail. And despite the price increase in postage stamps, your friends are worth the dollar, right?

There are probably many many more things that we can do to ensure we don't do life alone, these are just 3 quick tips. What tips do you have to prioritising those who are important to you?

Make the Special Days Special....

So Mother's Day has just been and I am privileged to do life surrounded by people who exemplify a culture of making the special days special. And I love that.

This has not always been my natural tendency nor my experience. I didn't grow up in a family that had a bunch of family traditions when it came to celebrating special occasions. We certainly celebrated those special days but always with minimal fuss and fanfare.

As I have grown and particularly as I have developed and grown in my role as I parent I have learnt that family traditions start, end or continue with me. As the mother of my household in lots of ways I set the tone and culture in my house. I get to create or break with family tradition.

I have always loved the idea of family traditions. Perhaps because there were so few in my growing up. I am finding more and more that positive family traditions have a play a key role to play in building and contributing to the fabric of a healthy family. A family tradition that I am definitely labouring to establish in our family is the idea of making the special days special.

This really doesn't need to be about spending money which is often the first place we go to in our mind. I think this idea is part of the reason why often young families don't establish this idea as a foundational family value.

Really, the idea of making the special days special is about placing value. It simply requires a little creativity and giving mostly of yourself and your time to show, that person that you love, they are important to you!

Mother's Day has come and gone but I'm sure like my family you have a birthday or two or ten just around the corner. What can you be creating, planning or doing to make those special days special for that someone you love? How can you make the next special day the first of many, building a culture in your family of placing value on those you love?

Pocket Garden....

So for years I have wanted to submit a painting to the Re- magine Exhibition held by the Hornsby Council but every year I have missed the submission date. I love this exhibition as it is specifically for artist who use recycled materials to create their work. Well, I finally did it!

Late Thursday afternoon last week I was doing some stuff on my computer and it occurred to me to check when the exhibition was. Guess what, I hadn't missed it. The submission date hadn't passed. But guess when it was - Sunday 5pm. I had three days to produce something from scratch and something I was proud of. 

I was faced with a dilemma. Did I not try, because the deadline would mean significant effort and sacrifice of time? Or did I give it my best and see what happened? 

Like many, I have battled disillusionment and disappointment along this journey to chase my creative dreams. It really would have been easy for me to just shrug and say oh well it wasn't meant to be, I just can't produce anything in that time. And this situation would have been just another occasion when things didn't work out the way I had hoped. I would have added another tally mark of disappointment to the wall of my heart.

But I didn't do that. Something in me rose up and said you know what I am going to give it a go. What have I got to lose. 

You have to understand I really haven't painted very much over the last few years. The desire never disappears and I think about it nearly daily. But I really haven't produced much for a while. What was I going to paint. I had no idea what I would do as the submission required photographs to be taken during the process of creating the piece- so it had to be something new as I don't take photos of my creative process.

What is funny is, only days before I had sat down and sketched up a few thoughts and ideas that I had plans to experiment with. It was going to have to be one of those - as they were all I had. So I picked one idea that I felt I might be able to deliver on a canvas that I had, and I sat down worked out a plan of how to tackle it. And guess what....

I finished. 
I got it submitted on time - just. 
I was even happy with how it turned out. 
And to top it all off I got selected to be part of the exhibition - stoked! 
Here it is - Pocket Garden.

 Pocket Garden, Mixed Medium - Work of Amanda McSeveny, 2016