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Notes on – Minimalism..

I haven’t done much more on clearing out/decluttering just lately – I’ve a few things left to do: the dreaded cupboard under the stairs still beckons and my petite garden shed: which is in fact a privy from the 1780’s – will have to wait until Spring now as it’s 32, slippery, steps to the top of my garden..

So the clearing out waits – but the effects of my dance with minimalism is having an impact on me.

I initially began looking at minimalism when I stumbled upon an article online about decluttering – My blog post from October 2015 – here: Why Tidying Up Could Change Your Life – I went through my house and had a big clear out – 14 months on – I’ve had several more clear outs and will probably have some more – you chip away at it and as time goes by you find the things that you put by in your initial clear out – become to mean less and less.

As I became more interested in minimalism I found blogs about it online and followed several minimalists on twitter – here are my 2 favourite minimalists over on twitter: The Minimalists – worth following as they tweet and retweet some useful info etc..

I then took it a little further and realised that it had many benefits other than what most people assume is the SINGULAR benefit – of living in a HUGE starkly decorated and furnished – open plan apartment – you can do that if you have the dosh and wish to live that way: but it ain’t what it’s all about..

I’ve taken it further because at the time, and still, my income is quite small – I didn’t, and still don’t, have the dosh to live the life I used to inhabit. But for quite a long while it felt dreadful – I looked around and wasn’t in the position to buy anything much at all. There have been times when I’ve struggled to buy a new pair of jeans – and that feels proper rotten when they’ve great big holes in them. It resulted in me feeling as though my life was lacking.

But now – I feel differently – it’s caused a HUGE shift – both in the way I think and the way that I feel about stuff, life, time and money – and about an awful lot of other things too.

I think often it’s about breaking that cycle of want – it can seem like a big cavernous gaping thing – that want thing. We’re surrounded by so much stuff – there’s so much to want: it’s ok to want – if that’s your thing – but often we can fill our lives with wants and stuff and neglect what really matters and our underlying needs.

Currently this is my thinking and a list of positive bits and bobs that the peeling away of the layers of stuff and the reduction in time spent on shopping, acquiring and browsing has brought about —->

  • I open my wardrobe and go –> I can wear that, that or that —> easy. I
  • I have less stuff —> which means less time spent on cleaning & tidying.
  • Most of the time my house is pretty neat and tidy – I can sit and chill sometimes and not feel a need to be doing stuff.
  • I no longer feel a sense of lack —> I don’t have much —> but I realise I don’t need much either.
  • It’s brought about a new found awareness about the things that are important to me and I can now see ways in which I can incorporate them into my life.
  • I don’t feel so down trodden anymore.. I have my moments – but it’s not my overriding feeling.
  • I can see ways in which I can make my life rich and purposeful —> and it doesn’t involve having loads of stuff. Or wanting something or other.
  • I feel ever more confident about becoming financially secure and having funds to achieve some of the things I want to do. It feels doable.
  • My carbon footprint is pretty low – it was low before: but it’s significantly lower now.
  • You’ll often find me looking at things and thinking… and thinking  – I try to imagine what would happen to the thing in front of me if I bought it – more often than not – I picture it sat in a cupboard or on a shelf after a wee while: and it holding little or no importance in my life.
  • I have a savings account – it has a little stash of cash in it.
  • I have less debts than 14 months ago.
  • I don’t care so much about how the world spins on it’s commercialised axis.
  • I buy locally more often than ever before.
  • I can make a great meal out of very little.

 

I’m now at the point where I’m looking at my home and my furniture and questioning if I need it — or if indeed I want it. I laughed last night when I opened a set of drawers – draw by – draw – by draw.. and in each draw was just one lonesome item – a vest in one – a swimming costume in another – and a long sleeved top in another.. I look at my home and think if I got rid of my empty furniture I wouldn’t need as many rooms or as big a house. It would cost less too – less to heat, less council tax and less to rent. It would take less time to look after too – which in turn would mean more TIME for me and the things I want to do.

It’s a big step to contemplate – moving to what in effect would be a very tiny house – with not a lot of anything in it – a step that I’m not sure whether I’ll make – I love my current home. But I know I could love another house too..

Minimalism – one of those things that’s much much more than it seems – it allows you to shed lifes debris, acquire time and resources (often financial)- allowing an opening up of your life and providing an ability to question it completely.

 

This blogs – Image – is a tiny window in my living room – view is of some of the 32 steps leading to the top of my garden & the privy.

 

 

 

Notes on – Waiting

 

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Brancaster Beach, Norfolk
A photograph taken almost 5 years ago now – a day I remember well – some photo’s you take and you remember them & the time so precisely. A difficult Winters day strolling along a windswept favourite beach – although it was a sad day – it was touched with beauty.

I’ve had a humdinger of a few weeks – they say bad news comes in 3’s – I sincerely hope it does. In the in-between moments of it all I’ve been reading 2 very good books – which ironically enough have been loaded with soothing and informative words.

And if you’re in a bad space, place or need some helpful words they’re definitely worth a read:

Seth Godin – What to do when it’s your turn – Also a great Christmas gift – the more you buy the less they are – share

And:

Darren Brown – Happy

A really good read – with some insightful text. I have to admit I skipped 2 chapters – one of which was the chapter on ‘Fame’. I’m now just one chapter away from finishing it – and I feel like reading it all over again.

In both books I’ve come across words & advice about waiting – and it’s been something that I’ve been aware of a need to develop further – my ability to wait. Right now I could act in haste and make all sorts of decisions based purely on feeling frightened and panic stricken..

Instead I’m just waiting… tickety tock.

Often, and especially in this super fast online world that we live in, there is a tendency to respond and act with a sense of urgency and immediacy.. it’s not always for the best and not always as productive as you may think.

As I stand here at a crossroads  –

‘WAIT –

while standing on one foot, we ask impatiently, “what’s it about?”

We don’t go to a movie unless the coming attraction tells us exactly what to expect.

We don’t listen to music we’re not sure we’ll like.

And we want to know how to pigeonhole every idea and every book so we can move on and click.

Please, wait.

Let it simmer. It might not be for you, but at least this time, postpone the relief of resolution.

This is your opportunity to make something that matters.’

– Seth Godin

 

 

 

Notes on – Fear

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For 10 years of my life I lived in a house just like this – from the age of 6 until I was 16.. 10 hard but mostly happy years. It was one of 35 such houses on a Land Settlement Estate in Yorkshire – My parents are horticulturalists and met when they were both at college studying horticulture at Pershaw in Worcestershire.

They dreamt of running their own market garden – for 10 years they worked morning, noon and night – for many of those years myself, my brother and my sister also worked hard. Sundays were seaside or picnics on the Moors days – we’d be up at the crack of dawn cutting lettuce – hundreds of boxes of them – 12 in a box – the boxes were made by hand too – me and my siblings used to get half a penny a box – not bad we thought! Once the boxes were stacked high – 60 per pallet and left out for collection – we’d be off! Heading for a treat by the sea or on the Moors. I remember Bridlington in the Winter – huge fat waves and a pot of cockles..

The last few years were hard – changes in Supermarkets were making small holders incomes difficult and there were difficulties within the LSA – when I was 16 I knew things were bad – my Dad’s Masi Fergusson tractor was towed away – flat tyres and all. One of the fields was head high in weeds and some of the poly tunnels were left to rack & ruin. Mum said we were moving.. Dad had a job at the Power Station in Drax and was running the land too. We didn’t see him much at all. Dad then started looking for a good full time job and moved to Cambridgeshire – we were to follow. They’d declared themselves brankcrupt. Before we were able to move I heard my mum on the phone – talking to their solicitor – it seemed he couldn’t hold it back any further and we were to be evicted the next day. My sister and I packed our bedroom up and left the things we didn’t want in the cupboard – it seemed strange. I drove my moped to work at another house/small holding on the estate the following morning  – my mum had told me to drive straight to my Grandma’s when I’d finished work.. I did and as I drove past our home – she was being helped by lovely people in the village – some were storing our furniture and belongings for us. It was a hugely sad day..

So – 30 odd years on and it seems that this experience is the one that drives me forward – but also the one that fills me with fear. About 2 weeks ago I found out that over half of my current income will be gone in about 3 months time – my first thought – I’m going to be without a roof over my head: it was so frightening. And it sent me flying.

Now that I’v regained my balance – I’m taking time to understand what drives me forward and stops me dead. It’s fear mostly. Now to suss out the way forward, ps: the gallery continues – thank goodness for that.

Here’s a fabulous little video about the LSA and some of the founding small holders on an estate:

Life from the Land

Notes on – Beauty

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This weekend saw Salon 9 – the 10th show of it’s kind in the last 4 years. I found this show incredibly satisfying on so many levels – the work being the most significant aspect of it all – as it should be. And then the satisfaction of hanging the work – It pleased me greatly.

As you become acutely aware of the passage of time – you crave the things that are important to you and avoid those that have no appeal – you have no time to waste.

For me – Beauty is the thing – we all crave it in one way or another – and our idea of beauty is most probably as individual as we are.

“At every level of the human experience, we are looking for the beautiful, something that gives priority to our souls, not just our physical needs,” says Gates. “We drink in nature, we yearn to commune with the beautiful, we crave the sublime, so that’s why the starting point for everything I do is the beautiful, not the practical.”

So for just over 2 days I had the immense pleasure of drinking in beauty – from the pieces of work in the show, from the interaction and harmony created by the pieces, from the building that the show was hung in – I often ask myself – can you love a building? From the people I shared time and conversations with and the many strangers that crossed the studio threshold and chose to drink it all in too.

A few photographs from the show –

Notes on Comfort Zones

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This time last year I ran a life drawing class for a group of hens at a holiday cottage in Derbyshire  – my first session of that kind.

It went well and I enjoyed it – but I questioned if I could or should do it again.. I wasn’t sure. Something about it made me uneasy. I felt out of my comfort zone. I’ve spent much of my life being fairly quiet – I’ve had moments of being louder. But on the whole I’m pretty much an introvert – some things cause me a lot of anxiety – some things have got easier as the years have passed.

Late this summer I received another booking enquiry for a party of 14 and after much thought I took the booking and ran the session just a few weeks ago at my studio in Cromford. Instead of attempting to weigh up the outcome and whether or not the group of ladies would enjoy it I decided to do the very best that I possibly could – and set about coming up with a cracking lesson plan – which had some chuckles & giggles within it.

Deciding that the whole ethos and character of the session should be inline with who I am – not how I envisaged then session should be: I had previously googled hen life drawing classes…

There’s no point in carrying on any other way in my opinion – when you’re providing a class or activity you need to be authentic. Otherwise – that feeling of dread encountered when you do things that make you feel incredibly unhappy will be there with you. That feeling of pretending to be something/someone that you aren’t.

I set about cleaning up the studio and making it shine – went to untold lengths from weeding to scrubbing to sweeping. Set up everything to the nearest inch of perfection and rehearsed my lesson plan umpteen times. I felt quite anxious on the lead up to the session and just before – and then hey presto! We all had a bloody marvellous time – feedback from all 14 hens was incredible – I’d put together a very short & quick feedback form and was blown away by their comments.

And to top it all the model also thoroughly enjoyed the session and was really grateful for being paid so well for his time.

I was on cloud nine for quite a few days – marvellous!

One of the hens wrote – ‘Absolutely fantastic! Perfect from start to finish. A real personal touch from Rachael. Fab model!’ 

And 3 other hens said that they hadn’t drawn since they left school and were now keen to find a life drawing class back in Yorkshire. There were so many fabulous drawings.

Sometimes it’s about taking that step and trying something out that maybe you’re not too sure of and then giving it just one more go – tweaking everything and making alterations so as they fit with you – inline with what you need and are looking for too. Life is much too short for doing it any other way. For me the venue was one of the keys – the studio added something to it all – gave it some weight and then devising a lesson plan that embodied my individual ethos & character – hey I hear you say – it was only a hen life drawing session – it was – but it had to be done with a little style and a lot of creativity.

Now to work on sourcing further bookings..

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Salon 9.

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November brings with it – Salon 9 – which promises to be a real corker of a show – sometimes I have to kick myself.

The idea for this show came about when Geoff Machin invited me to his studio to see his work – I had no idea at all what was in store: the excitement of seeing Geoff’s work stayed with me for sometime. Clay and I then saw Peter Cartwright’s work at his studio during the ‘Southwell Arts Trail’ – again we were both incredibly excited.. and so thoughts on Salon 9 began.

Clay Smith and I started the Salon shows in 2012 – the Summer of – we were disappointed with having to go further afield to see work which we enjoyed and thought it would also be a good excuse to have a gathering – a bit of a party if you like.

Clay came up with the title –

‘Salon – a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aut delectare aut prodesse eat”)’

The Salon’s are usually a one night only event – but by popular demand/request Salon 8 continued for 2 further dates: and so will Salon 9.

Salon was co-founded in 2012 by Rachael Pinks & Clay Smith – with the aim of bringing contemporary art into a rural Derbyshire location.
The Old Lock Up is a historical building and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site itself – The Lock Up was one of the first dwellings in the village of Cromford which then became the village jail in the 1780’s – part of Sir Richard Arkwrights Mill complex – the very beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

I’ve never been one for highfalutin – and often I find it quite difficult to articulate my thoughts regarding art in all it’s fabulous glory – I’m a Yorkshire girl at heart – plain speaking and straight to the point – often.

SO –

Join us on November 25th 6pm – 9pm for a truly marvellous Salon 9 – with work by some truly marvellous Artists!

The show then continues on 26th & 27th November 11am -4pm.

 

A Room to live in..

The decluttering and sifting of my home and belongings continues and with that I’m finding pleasure from revisiting my books and belongings. Yesterday I was working in the gallery – one of those places where there’s no internet connection: a haven – which means in-between chatting to customers and once I’ve done the few jobs/tasks I need […]

Notes on – Minimalism

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I’ve spent a bit of time recently clearing out my home and my studio – motivated via online articles about minimalism..

Most of the articles discuss our societies preoccupation with consumerism and being surrounded by stuff – our unquenchable thirst for stuff. Minimalism is so much more than that – our purchasing habits are wrecking the planet – consuming our time  – filling empty gaping holes and lives.. So it seems. But for me it was something else that started the ball rolling. Well many things rolled into one to be honest.

My parents live in the house that was once my Grandparents – A house I have spent my entire life visiting and loving with much fondness.. It’s steeped in memories – buckets full of them. When my Grandma died – many months after – my mum and dad had the huge task of sorting through my grandma and granddads belongings – sifting endlessly – they  had kept so many things – they lived a simple life in so many ways and weren’t materialistic – but they had decided to keep all sorts of things. Years later my mum is still sifting – it seems an endless task – deciding what to keep and where to take the other things that are no longer needed and wanted.. We found treasures amongst their belongings – amongst their saving of everything – those treasures delighted us: filled with memories of 2 wonderful people.

Here in starts my current trek.

My parents have few belongings – they never had – it was how we all lived – a simple life.

So with that – in turn – I have few belongings – I never have had – it’s how I’ve lived – mostly – a simple life.

My trek – through minimalism – started from a place of lack and how to make sense of the lack that I have been feeling – minimalism is helping me to redefine my sense of lack – understand it in a better way if you like. And turn it into a simpler, richer life that is full of time and meaning.

I can’t partake in consumerism – or just plain and simple purchasing – there are things that I often do need – not want – but need – and I’m in no position to quench that need – but minimalism seems to be quenching it. I have holes in my jeans – on a regular basis – I’ve learnt that minimalism advocates the mending of stuff – there’s no shame in my lack anymore – because I’m a minimalist – I can own 1 pair of jeans and fix them – repeatedly. Well the truth is I now have 2 pairs of jeans – because my mum is a whizz with the sewing machine and she’s fixed 2 pairs of hole filled jeans and made them good.

Another reason it appeals – I seemed to have been keeping hold of things – that now on reflection made no sense to keep – clothes that were donkeys years old – photographs – a huge box of them – bits & bobs – drawers & cupboards of – just in case bits n bobs – books – just sat on shelves – untouched for donkeys years books – and other such stuff – certificates – paper work – tat.. So I’ve been sifting – taking those things to places where others will find them useful once again – selling them online and at the local car-boot. Recycling too.

I’m almost there – but now I have furniture with empty draws – a shed with not much in it – cupboards which are becoming bare – a wardrobe that’s almost empty – it seems peculiar and now I’m considering – do I need my furniture that has draws and my house that has cupboards..

 

My final reason to embark on minimalism has been – my own mortality – and being aware of the huge task we often leave our nearest & dearest.. the sifting of stuff for treasures and memories. And so it seems to go on.

My reality is that if I die of old age – no accident or awful disease – I will have 2 people in my life that will be left with the task of sifting through my debris.. I have no children and I will have no grandchildren – my life’s debris will mean little. It’s something that’s on my mind right now.. Something that minimalism is helping me understand. Why is it we leave so much debris – why do we consume so much. What does it mean to have no legacy. No continuation. No offspring.

 

And in turn it’s helping me consider my life.

 

 

 

Notes on – Patience

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It feels as though I’ve been battling recently – with a lack of patience  – not mine I hasten to add – not right now. I’m working whole heartedly at keeping to my ‘Default Diary’ – certain days are for certain things – learning that being flexible isn’t always good and isn’t always productive – bending every which way for others can leave you feeling like your getting nowhere fast. Is that what impatience is – a feeling of getting nowhere fast?

Out of office emails are in place – they let people know when I’ll get back to them – most of the time they work – some of the time people can push those boundaries.. And then push again. It got me thinking and wondering why.

I stood in a very long queue a while ago – a man was visibly angry that he had to join the queue and demanded to see the manager – perhaps hoping he would get served – he was asked to join the – back – of the queue.. it got me wondering why he was so angry – so impatient.

And then a week or so ago – I stood at a check out waiting to be served – I was the next person in line.. a lady who worked at the shop apologised profusely and repeatedly – It took a while for her to accept and hear my reassurances – that I really didn’t mind waiting – at all – she explained that so many people get so very angry and so very impatient.

Then I thought is it a modern day thang? And why – it didn’t take too much to fathom – to work out – what might be going on – is it related to our instant gratification that we receive via social media and online services? We now expect or it has become ingrained that what ever we want – we want it now! And we get it now?

I was going to post a few quotes – here ->

I read a few articles – but they were too long – impatience.

One thing I’ve found helpful when dealing with my impatience is to ask myself – is what I’m waiting for – critical – crucial -paramount – pressing – serious – imperative – pressing – or can I wait… mostly I can wait.

Will something gawd awful happen – will I or someone else die – what will happen: if I wait?

‘It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?’
– Pat Schneider

 

 

Notes on – Difficult Conversations.

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Self employment and the complicated lives artists lead often result in the need to have  difficult conversations with others.. Recently I desperately needed to have a difficult conversation – and I had spent far too much time dreading it, getting stressed about it and putting it off: fear was the my main obstacle and I knew, for sure, that if I didn’t have the conversation – things would stay as they were: I was truly miserable.

I asked around & got some advice – luckily I was inundated with some real golden nuggets from some pretty fabulous – friends, neighbours and peeps on social media..

I then bucked up buckets full of courage and had my ‘tricky’ conversation – the result has had a really huge & positive impact on my life, work and general wellbeing.

Here are my notes, sifted from the golden nuggets & advice I pocketed – Difficult conversations – go do it – and do it well – have your difficult conversation –

 

Be very clear and sure about exactly what it is that you want to achieve.

Then ..

Be clear about your rationale. Is your reason for the discussion valid?

Be clear about the issue in terms of whether its an action they’ve carried out or something about the person themselves.

If it’s an action (or non action), talk about the thing as an issue, don’t rubbish the person.

Know whether there’s anything they can do to change your mind/rectify the problem and if so, ask how they might manage change.

Empathise with any reasonable issues they’re facing.

Be honest and assertive and don’t do yourself an injustice.

it’s always worse before, than after.

Expect them to be unhappy/angry/disgruntled and if they are, ask yourself again ‘Is your reason for the discussion valid?’ – and be happy that you had to say it.

And – 

Write down and rationalise what you want to cover in this conversation – you may need to break it down into more than one topic/discussion..

Don’t ‘paper over’ – Conflict is another way of describing that we are all individuals and have differing views so not to be avoided/papered over. No need to think of it as confrontation – it’s an integral part of progress in nuanced human and social relationships. Negotiating through such situations is a life skill we all need to hone in on.

Also do your prep – 

Prepare for it just like an important interview – things you might say/offer things you want to include and bottom line things that must be cleared up!

– Three parts usually encompass those. Then try to anticipate their side/comments/ essential bottom line. A good result is something you can both live with – a win-win when you both want to continue the relationship (rather than retreating and loudly or silently slagging each other off.)

Also –

Try to de-personalise. It’s not about you and them. It’s about the point you need to make. Always keep the required result in mind. Recognise their view too..

I prepared for my discussion – making lengthy notes and looking at my options – I tweaked it and shortened it – using the advice above – had the discussion and to be honest couldn’t quite believe what was achieved –

 

So I’m passing the info on – sharing the golden nuggets – ABOVE ‘so other artists will fare better and be stronger and assertive in the complex world we now all operate in.’

Go forth and no more papering over.