AM I REALL Y A WORKHORSE AT HEART?

New projects. New ideas. New agendas. New commitments. New experiments. New ways of working. Some might say I am too old to even think of such things or even that I am stupid even to imagine I might succeed in achieving some of my dreams. Let me say, as you might guess I would, that you are never too old to dream. And what is the use of dreaming if you do not take actions to at least make some effort to achieve them.

Maybe what has inspired me has been observing the GB Olympians on television and learning what they have had to do to achieve a place on the team – let alone ensuring they reach an optimum pitch of fitness at exactly the right time.

Or maybe, closer to home and more in line with my own state of unfitness, it has been my diving deeper again into mental stimulation. This is something I have missed during recent years since ‘retiring’ and though I have continued to write and to paint I have missed the giving and taking, the exchanging of ideas, even the conflicts which sometimes arise when working in a group.

Since returning to the UK some five years ago, after 21 years in France, I at first found myself friendless and with most of the contacts in my address book either emigrated, dead or at best moved on to new locations. Research located a painting group with which I joyfully made contact and in which it is my pleasure to participate. For a couple of years this has satisfied my artistic needs.

  But still something was missing. To a certain extent I found stimulation in reading – literature, management development, psychology, personal development and so on. I looked at Facebook, Twitter, Streetwise and various other media sites all to no avail. Most of the writing contact groups left me feeling dis-satisfied until I came across that organised by John Yoeman whose personal unbiased criticisms, delivered in a chatty and amusing manner, turned out to be exactly what I needed. Sadly a few weeks ago John died suddenly. Again I lost a mentor and a good friend.

  Three days ago I fell by accident on a book written by Cal Newport entitled Deep Work. This I have almost read and its somewhat academic style turns out to be the thing I most need right now. The book provides comment on the manner in which many people across the whole spectrum of occupations, and life in general, have succeeded in achieving their dreams – on a personal front as well as in their career.

The book provides a blueprint which helps anyone, at whatever stage in life and with whatever dreams, to develop their own manner of achieving objectives.

Setting up a realistic plan is a starting point followed by such strategies as adopted by successful Olympians, Writers, Artists, Business People, Entrepreneurs, Gardeners – in fact almost anyone who has a dream. It suggests we consider the tools we use in our search in the same manner as did the craftsmen and women of earlier times. A master builder would use only the best equipment he could afford. Likewise someone designing a text written on parchment would ensure the quill used was superior.

Since reading the book my dreams have been revised. My plan is on paper though I still need to address some of the suggested rules, and to implement the tips. My mental muscles are being challenged once more.

This is not something to take up for the faint hearted, but if somebody is really committed it is not to be ignored. I truly believe the book could change lives.

Will it change mine? So far I have arrived at this. Objective number one….stay alive. And below this main objective.

a. Make sure I take my medicines regularly – arteries, heart, thyroid etc

b. Ensure I attend all my medical appointments – blood tests,  dressings, clinics and consultants, diabetics, eye checks.

 c. Eat healthily- low carbohydrates because of diabetes.d. Move as much as possible without chair and scooter.

d.  Sleep when I can  and …….

In the meantime I will continue following the advice of Cal Newport and try to take charge of the remaining hours in my days.

Good luck. Let me know how you go on.

DARE I SAY IT – BUGGER THE BUGS

DARE I SAY IT- BUGGER THE BUGS

This year, and we are only at the end of March, has been one of machine failures and this poses a real question.

Have all electrical goods a built in crash date? During recent months I have needed to replace washer/spin drier, fridge freezer, vacuum cleaner. And in recent weeks computer and printer. All the original items were bought new when we moved into this house just over 4 years ago.

Obtaining an estimate for repairing these has shown it is as cheap to buy new. Add in call-out charges, day or hourly rates and so on the figures add up.

So I have spent a lot of time surfing the web to find replacements. And here I encounter a real challenge. Prices for the same item vary so much I really do not know which to buy. Some have reductions if you buy within so many hours. Others offer free postage or immediate next day delivery. Some offer other enticements, others none. So where is the catch? Indecision rules okay.

Apart from what seemed like disasters at the time, life has gone on pretty much the same. Health wise nothing has deteriorated, at least the docs tell me so. We have some surprise worries about Tom though as yet nothing we cannot cope with. Writing progresses, painting too although the watercolour challenge has yet to be beaten. A recent attack on Venice almost totally destroyed my confidence! Instead I offer Flamborough Beach in oils which I am happy with.

Still we have got rid of the Christmas bugs – started attacking in October; the Easter bugs started if I recall on New Year’s Day. Now we have only the Holiday bugs……an attempt to book holiday in Filey from internet descriptions seemed ideal. A short visit showed the place totally unsuitable for wheel chairs and mobility scooters despite telling the agent when booking these accesses were an essential. Now I am being asked to pay almost £100 cancellation fee!

I am beginning to feel a bit like Scrooge. Must stop moaning. Flowers are blooming, gale winds are blowing them down, rain is falling in torrents and I’m off out for lunch at the local pub. Hope there are no power cuts, heating down or the scampi gone off!

And on a world scale things are worse than ever. Terrorist bombs the world over. Aircraft disasters. Floods and famine. Migrants bombed out from homes living in squalor, with no new homes in sight. Massacres and abuse.

And on top of all that we can, it seems, celebrate the long life, death and history of Britain’s Steel Industry. Also, all my old TV friends are no longer with us – it seems like one a day is taking that step into the unknown.

So, what have we to look forward to this month?

Seems like not a lot, but the days will get longer; the sun will shine more often; garden flowers will bloom and my painting Ancient and Modern will go off to the framers. Added to all that good stuff there really is even more.

That part of my brain which stimulates new ideas for my writing seems to have come out of hibernation and I am having difficulty in keeping up with the flow.

So I will just say thanks and celebrate the fact that at least I am alive, well and kicking.

A bientot. And PS: The food and environment at the Ship Inn at Dunswell, near Beverley are superb. Booking required 01482 854458

Please do let me have your thoughts on any of the points I mention in my blogs via: beverleynow@gmail.com reference Mayday. I hope to reply within a couple of days

 

PROOF IF NEEDED…. DREAMS DON’T FILL MY DAYS….OR GOGGLING AT THE COMPUTER

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My last post, in which I admit to loving my computer, may have left a good many of my readers with the feeling that my ‘real’ projects, those that I value highly, have suffered over recent months. Here I want to put paid to those ideas by talking a bit about some of the things I have achieved and to say a few words about work in progress.

Mentors generally advise that rather than appearing boastful it is good to let others know about ones ambitions. In fact they believe that once somebody actually expresses an idea or an intent they are more likely to strive to finish it than if they keep it to themselves. One of my own mentors, Cary Cooper, said that this is how he approaches the publication of one of his books, ‘ I tell people I am thinking about it; then that I have started.  When I am half way through I publically discuss my research findings in brief, and later I let the public know that the book is in its final draft. Then, once it is finished I announce a publication date.’ Voila! A blueprint for success.

I guess he is building interest in prospective readers so that the new book will add to his list of best-sellers ………but I also feel by using this method he is increasing his own anticipation of a time when it’s a job well done . I find a similar approach works for myself. Unless I set deadlines and let people know what I am working on I have a tendency to drift – to find diversions which at the time appear enticing but are unproductive. Deadlines force me to be more realistic about how long it will take me to finish things. And, in addition, as I grow older and less energetic, deciding on a date when I intend to complete makes for a more realistic time-scale.

So, as well as participating in all the computer based activities mentioned in my last post I have met deadlines in various tasks. Some of these have been associated with that part of my life which can sometimes seem like hard work. Writing. At the beginning of the year I mentioned a book I was working on. This is well on track now in that I am a good half way through and have edited five of the early chapters.  The recipe collection is likewise taking shape and I have also managed to do some sketches to accompany these.

Unfortunately during recent months I have needed to attend a great many hospital and clinic appointments. No doubt there will be many more of these as time goes on and these will bite into my working hours and my deadlines will need to be  adjusted. Far from seeing these appointments as a dull waste of time though (from a writing point of view) these do give me lots of ideas for stories so maybe there is a hidden bonus somewhere in there.

On the painting front – more relaxing – I still attend my Monday afternoon watercolour group and believe I am making progress there. No deadlines in mind  though I have noted down some ideas for my Xmas cards. I did exhibit two oil  paintings at the TERPS Exhibition at the Spa in Bridlington and another picture as part of the Remember Me Art Walk in Beverley which was staged as part of the Alzheimer Charity Week.  Currently I am working on an oil painting to submit to the 19th Open Art Exhibition at the Beverley Art Gallery which is to be held from 11th December through to 13th February. My deadline there is mid-November so no time to waste!

However, I must admit creating the deadlines is easy. Meeting them is harder; I could not do that without the support and help of my family and friends. Especially I am grateful to Angela who drives me back and forth and cares generally for me. Love to you all.

AS TIME GOES BY ………

AS TIME GOES BY………

The days, the weeks, the months are passing ever more speedily and it is evident that many of the projects I am trying to complete in order to meet self-imposed deadlines are turning into chores rather than the pleasures they once were. It was whilst I sipped my breakfast coffee this morning that I resolved that something must give. Decision time. Analysis time. I must re-evaluate how I spend my days and discover where I am going wrong.

It soon became obvious, as the analysis proceeded, that I had been taken over; something had ousted me as Managing Director of Mollie Kay Smith’s Life. It, for it certainly wasn’t a person, had sneakily eaten away the minutes and seconds of my days in such a way that weeks and even months had passed before I began to suss out what was going o

The computer. Within seconds of switching on and during the short time I waited for Explorer to open, I began to think maybe I had caught the culprit red handed.

Forty or so unasked for messages in my inbox seemed to confirm my suspicions. All to be ticked off and deleted. Another ten at least, welcome, but still all requiring me to read their contents and absorb the information they contained and send replies.

On most days there is a message from Ancestry.com telling me they have found six or seven hints relating to people in my family tree. I have been cultivating this for many years and hints which may help me escape the blockages I have come across are important. Once climbing this tree I am lost – I forget objectives and divert away from the main stem to explore new tempting branches and sometimes even twigs.

Then of course I must check Facebook, Twitter, and a couple of other social websites I belong to, and also those business networks which I enjoy keeping up with.

A GOOD TWO HOURS TICKED AWAY BEFORE GETTING DOWN TO WHAT I SWITCHED ON FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE! To get on with writing a story or a chapter or an outline or anything else.

When, many years ago now, I worked long hours and was a whizz at Time Management I achieved so much in a day. Now retired, as I have been for nearly a quarter of a century, I seem to have lost the knack. But I have learned how to use my mobility scooter and how to take things easy. I even take a siesta every afternoon.

But what the hell, blow imaginary deadlines I’m really enjoying this unpressured way of life. And I’ll tell you a secret. I really do love my computer and enjoy the pleasures it gives me. I sit in my wheelchair and my computer takes me to far off places I could never visit. It allows me to go shopping; talk to friends living at a distance from me and – using Skype- we can actually see each other. I can sit and listen to music when I am wanting to relax and with the aid of DVDs can further develop my understanding of painting and see how other people achieve their results or read my Kindle books.

So I really never resent the fact that the computer, my computer, has achieved a take over of my life. Anyhow I really do still hold the greater power. I can switch it off whenever I feel like it!

At the moment it can’t do that to me. But what of future computer models? Mmmm.I wonder.

But for the time being just enjoy life as it comes.

AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

AND – WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

The past few weeks have been somewhat difficult for me – and my objectives. I have as I promised myself been more focussed, less lazy and have carried on reading self improvement texts but … this latter has been mostly during nights when I have been unable for one reason or another to sleep. Still good things have happened and mostly things connected to my life as an artist.

One morning I awoke to find a winter wonderland outside my window. Snow, not really very deep, covered buildings and paths with an almost imaculate cushion of white in which I gloried momentarily before recalling this was meant to be a day of artistic and gustational adventure.

Luckily by eleven o’clock, our time for departure, the gritted and salted roads had been rendered passable and the drive north with our good friend Angela at the wheel commenced. The only obstacles in our path were huge puddles of melted snow where the roads dipped and a mad driver who overtook us on the inside almost causing a collision. Needless to say we caught up with him in seconds at the next set of lights!

The fields and hedgerows away from the roads were still covered in snow and transformed into a winter wonderland. Bliss for any painter. My first visit to the Yorkshire Wolds for many years was a rewarding experience and one which continued through lunch and the following afternoon hours.

Our destination was The Wolds Village at Bainton near Driffield in Yorkshire (which whilst not being exactly a village but a cleverly transformed and rescued farm) is one of the most entrancing places I have visited in recent years. It is much more than the tourist attraction label it carries.

Imagine if you can the perfect setting for grandfather clocks, superb pub and restaurant meals; hotel accomodation, an art gallery and art trail, a crafts display including pottery and silver work; tea room and outdoor terrace; and with an antique shop into the bargain. The Wolds Village provides all of these and more.

I would recommend this gem of a location for anyone with the time to pay it a visit. It has a wonderfully detailed website. ( www.woldsvillage.co.uk) This has headings inviting you to Eat&Drink, Explore,Sleep Well. Browse, Hang Out and History. If you do visit the website it will be difficult not to follow up with a real time visit.

 

Whilst at Woldvillage I discovered a copy of the ERA (East Riding Artists) directory which lists artists, galleries and exhibitions in the region . A very useful tool for artists and tourists alike. Obtain a copy from www.creationonlinearts.co.uk

Next following a tip off from Ruth who is a contact at my Monday watercolour group I enjoyed yet another adventure. This time travelling in much the same direction as last week I visited the small village of Wilberfoss where members of The East Riding Painting Society meet each month. Their programme of events includes hands-on workshops headed up by visiting artists with both UK and International reputations and in every media imaginable. I am so looking forward to attending as many of these as possible. (contact the secretary on 017593013980

The session on Friday being the first of the year involved a brief period of administration, but the wait for the visiting speaker to start was well worth it.

Emma-Jane Whelan from the Art and Rose Gallery at Pocklington delivered a talk both enthralling as she covered her own journey from art college to establishing the gallery; and then later, extremely useful for the artists in her audience, she enlightened us as to some gallery tricks of the trade and what works of art are currently popular with buyers. As may be imagined the questions session at the end provoked a very interesting debate.

The two main messages I came away with were:

  1. Based on her own life experiences, to follow your heart and explore every option, do not miss the ‘sliding door’ opportunities which open in your journey.

And:

  1. Paint to enjoy the experience of producing works of art based on subjects which you love.

I intend to visit her gallery very soon. New exhibitions commence every month and as well there is a rolling open exhibition including painting, jewellery, ceramics,glass,prints as well as many other surprises. The gallery supports whenever it can local artists and crafts people but does also exhibited world renowned arts. Contact details below.

{www.artandrosegallery.co.uk) or follow on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter @ EmmaJaneWhelan1. There is an Online Shop.

 

More artistic news soon. Keep your eyes open to see a preview of the short story I am writing for MsLexia. The deadline approaches all too swiftly.

Any views on this blog will be welcomed.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and http://www.artistsandillustrators.com/MollieKaySmith

A NEW YEAR, NEW PROMISES, NEW THOUGHTS, NEW IDEAS…..YET HANG ON TO MEMORIES….. AT LEAST SOME OF THEM.

At the start of every year I, like many others, review the past 12 months and wonder what the next year will bring. Some of us might hope 2015 will be luckier, happier, less problematic. Others who have enjoyed the best year of their lives will hope their good fortune will continue.

As far as I am concerned 2014 was a mixture – some good things, some bad. Mostly the bad things were related to ill-health  and advancing years and as such were nothing I could change. – but the good things were those I made sure I snatched with both hands and did my best to hang on to either as a continuing blessing or as a memory . Most of the bad things I did not allow to remain even in my memory bank. To use computer speak I deleted them in the same way as I empty my trash bin. Gone for ever. No use pondering on why people respond to our suggestions in the way they do. No use castigating ourselves as to why people do not like us. Just be yourself, it really does not matter if people do not like you as long as you like and respect yourself.

Only ask yourself if there is a reason for their reactions. Is there anything we can do to change them. If we feel sure in ourselves that our stance is correct accept there is nothing we can do. Put the problem in the trash bin. Eliminate it from our memory bank. Leave space for the good things in life.

Many years ago I published an article entitled ‘Clean Out Your Attic.’ This advised readers to examine all the trash we keep in our attics – our brains, our memory bank. It is good to hang on to happy memories, those which make us feel good. Likewise it is important that we clear out those memories which bring with them unhappiness. Do we really need to think about those events which made us feel less than positive? Those imagined slights we suffered at the hands of others? Those conversations which left us feeling downtrodden or less positive.

Those memories I allow to remain are only the ones that I see as having  a silver lining. I have deleted all those irritations I experienced when my mobility scooter was blocked as I tried to negotiate my way along pavements where vehicles parked illegally.  I have deleted from memory thoughtless remarks people addressed to me and all the dreadful traffic holdups caused by the multitude of road works surrounding my home. I have stopped thinking about the hurts I suffered in the past; the people who let me down,

I have retained those memories of time spent with friends and family. Time spent in happy get-togethers, superb restaurant meals, holidays in UK and France. I think I have ‘Cleared out my attic’ and am feeling happier and healthier for it.