Pop art me, photo by Marija Smits
A while back, I was lucky enough to be nominated by the ever-thougtful Dawn from Journal of Dawn for the Blue Sky Tag. Thank you Dawn! So I thought I’d combine the Q&A, my nominations, and a giveaway in my 100th post (which also happens to be my 5 year blogiversary). I can’t quite believe I’ve been blogging for 5 years now, but I have, and I still love it.
- Is your Life, today, half-empty, or half-full?
Such a tricky question – and somewhat like the problem of Schrödinger’s cat. I believe that just like light – which is both a particle and a wave – life is both half-empty and half-full simultaneously and it is only the observer that gets to decide at any particular moment. An optimist at heart I think I’ll pretty much always go with half-full. Today, because I’ve had a walk in the September sunshine and just now written a poem I’m pleased with (and fingers-crossed all my loved ones are okay) it actually feels like it’s three-quarters full.
- How have you found goodness from the bad situations in your Life? Example, please :))
Most of the bad situations in my life I’ve put into my writing, in one way or another. My father’s death, for example, I wrote about in this poem here, called ‘The Pulmonary Embolism’. I have found healing from exploring these things through writing (and no doubt, these life experiences have fired me, like clay, into a more clearly defined person). And if anyone else finds consolation in my writing then I reckon that’s a good thing.
- Which relationships have been the most challenging for you, and what strategies have you created to improve them?
Two challenging relationships… hmm. One has been with my mother (who, in so many ways is like me, but in other and, fundamental ways, unlike me), and ditto my mother-in-law. I think that first there needs to be reflection and understanding – of our differences and that our differences have the possibility to cause friction. But people will only change if they want to change – I have no control over that change. After that comes acceptance, and the grace (from within) to let go of my own judgement and the friction. If I felt that there was anything I could concretely do to change one aspect of our relationship I would use compassionate communication to do so. In the past I’ve used it in certain occasions where it was of immense help. I can highly recommend the book People Skills by Robert Bolton if you want to improve your communication skills.
- What causes you angst, and how do you overcome it?
Oh goodness! As an HSP, anything and everything! Global warming, neoliberalism, Donald Trump, Brexit, racism, sexism, social media, unisex toilets in secondary schools, so-called education gurus, people being outraged by the use of the word poetess, the billion-dollar infant formula industry (which is a law unto itself), scratchy jumpers, noisy neighbours, coffee shops that don’t serve cream to go with the said coffee, owners who don’t clear up their dog’s poo and leave it on the street for you to squelch in… The list is endless! I’m not actually sure if I do overcome it. I guess I just figure out how much I care about the issue, and if there’s anything I can meaningfully do about it then I will try to do that. If I can’t do all that much about it I have to accept that and move on (remembering that it’s okay to focus on the good/meaningful stuff I’m doing already).
- Have you ever written your own jokes???? Memorized them, and tried them out in a long, boring line at the Post Office . . . Did anyone chortle??? (ie — do you have a good joke ready for a sour circumstance :)) (I had a lot of fun writing my Cow Jokes.)
Writing a good joke is seriously hard! So, no, I don’t have any great skill in this area. In a tricky situation I’ll fall back on this:
‘Interrupting cow wh-’
- What challenges are you facing in your Life right now?
My main challenges are to do with my work, family life, writing balance. Trying to do all three successfully sometimes feels like too much of a struggle. Something for me to review.
- What do you obsess over? How do you rein in your obsessions?
I’m prone to OCD. Not particularly with physical compulsions e.g. needing to wash my hands, check things are off (although I do have a tendency to do these things probably a little too often)… but when I discovered from a book that some OCD sufferers have mental compulsions, that was a revelation. Here’s how it works: having a worry/fear/regret and thinking about it endlessly and obsessively, then feeling compelled to say a ‘special sentence’ (or whatever) in one’s head, a certain number of times to find relief from the obsessive worry. Others can’t see that there’s anything wrong, but it’s absolutely debilitating. OCD can permanently put life on hold.
Somehow, I summoned up the strength to talk to my partner (now husband) about it. He didn’t think any less of me for having this strange issue (I was sure he would look at me like I was bonkers), and his listening ear and support helped immeasurably. After that I made the connection that stress has a huge impact on OCD, so I had to make important life changes. Switching careers was part of the solution. And funnily enough, birthing and breastfeeding my children helped too. Apparently mothering hormones can help some women in combatting OCD.
- What strategies do you employ for stress relief?
Stress relief for me means ‘saying no’ and cutting back on everything that isn’t vital. Listening to music, exercise, and eating healthy and wholesome food – as well as laughing and having fun with my husband, children and friends. And of course cuddles help hugely too! (Books too. Sometimes chocolate.)
- What other-wordly phenomena have you experienced? (Intuition, dreams, deja vu, ET, communication with lost loved ones, etc.) What have your learned from them?
None! As much as I like the idea of otherworldly phenomena (they often crop up in my stories) I’m an earthy woman and haven’t had stuff like that happen to me. Though I swear that underpants gnomes exist…
- How do you make new friends, or strike up a conversation with a stranger?
‘Hello! How are you? My name’s…’ is usually where I start.
- What do you love to create? How do you motivate yourself to do more of what you love to do???
I love to create stories. Worlds. In pictures and words. I don’t tend to need to motivate myself to do something I love doing so much, but like all creative people, I guess, I can get lazy and spend more time dreaming up new creations rather than actually making them happen. That’s when I give myself a good talking to: Who d’you think’s going to finish that story? That piece of art? The fairies? Yeah right. Get to work woman! That’s usually enough of a butt kicking for me to get going.
The final fruit of the writerly labours: reading the published piece. Photo of Marija Smits by Tom Bellamy.
So… quoting from Dawn here, via Mr Hush Hush who nominated her…
For those of you who don’t know, the rules of the Blue Sky Tag go something like this:
- Thank the person who has nominated you.
- Answer their questions.
- Create 11 questions for your nominees.
- Tag your 11 nominees.
And here are my 11 nominees:
- Nikki Young
- Rebecca Ann Smith
- Johanne Winwood
- Because I know so many fab writers/bloggers it’s been hard to limit this to just 11. So I’d also like to invite the following to join in if they’d like to (and have the time): Angela Topping, Ana Salote, Cathy Bryant, Clare Cooper, Sarah James, Alison Lock, Becky Cherriman, Ruth Stacey, Katy Wareham Morris, Suzie W, Teaching Tiny Minds, Cara McKee, Mumturnedmom, Rhyming with Wine, Antonia Chitty, Iona, Chrissie, Victoria, Katia, Sarah, Kamsin Kaneko, and any other of the wonderful women who make up the What I’m Writing group.
Here are my 11 questions:
- How are you? (No, really, how are you?)
- How do you feel about the season changing from summer to autumn? Do you have a favourite autumnal poem? (If not, simply share a favourite poem.)
- On the introvert-extrovert and sensitivity continuum where would you put yourself?
- Have you ever been ‘stuck’ in life? Or are you ‘stuck’ (in some way) right now? Any tips for getting unstuck?
- How do you balance family life, work and creative time? Is ‘time scheduling’ the way forward? Or do you have a more relaxed approach?
- What creative work are you focussing on at the moment?
- Are you a one-project-on-the-go person or do you flit between different creative projects?
- Some of your favourite books…?
- An inspiring piece of music?
- A favourite ice cream flavour? If you don’t like ice cream, here’s another question: tea or coffee? (And how do you take it.)
- A photo of one of your favourite places to create (or the place you mostly end up creating, though it may not be your favourite!).
And just to be awkward here’s a bonus question (feel free to expand or not, as you see fit): Where are you on the limerent/non-limerent scale?
Thank you again Dawn for including me in this fun exercise. And do feel free to answer my questions too, if you’d like. 🙂
Lastly… here’s the giveaway – a fine literary bundle that all feature a piece of my writing. To be in with the chance of winning the below simply leave a comment on this post (and perhaps a why as to why you’d like them…).
The giveaway will run until midnight GMT on 24th September 2017 and I’ll announce the winners shortly afterwards. (This offer is open to anyone living in any country, but if someone outside the UK does win, I’d need a contribution toward postage.)