A Moment In Time

I have done a few of these ‘Moment in Time’ posts now and I always really enjoy them. It’s a lovely way to pause, take a step back from the chaos of everyday life, reflect on what’s going on, exercise some gratitude and think forward. I invite (and encourage) you to create your own moment in time post. If you do, please leave a link in the comments – I’d love to see what your moment in time looks like.

Outside my window… it is dark and there is a chill in the air. January’s lethargy settles over everything as the world (and I) tries to stay awake.

I am thinking… about the future and how to build the one I want. I can see where I am aiming now but how I get from A to B is foggy.

I am thankful… to have some of our evenings and weekends back, now the work has finished on the house, to just spend some quiet time together.

In the kitchen… it is calm and clean and finally a space to enjoy being in. And my lovely husband is preparing this evening’s meal.

I am wearing… leggings and leotard under a longline cardigan and cosy socks, as I take a break between dance classes.

I am creating… draft two of my first novel (!), a blog post, a collection of poetry and short stories, bookstagram content, some snippets of creative writing and dances for our upcoming show.

I am going… to start taking vitamins to try and ward off the colds and various ailments I keep seeming to attract!

I am wondering… how to effectively build mindfulness into my day in a way that I will consistently stick to. I feel like mindfulness practice is something that I could benefit from hugely but I really seem to struggle to stick to any form of daily mindful practice.

I am reading… Muse Of Nightmares, Hollow City, The Wisdom Of Sally Red Shoes, Thinking Reading.

I am praying for… health, wellbeing and family.

I am hoping… for the courage, commitment and confidence I know it’s going to take to pursue my dreams.

I am looking forward to… the weekend.

I am learning… about effective copywriting and the processes through which we learn to read and acquire vocabulary.

Around the house… it is pleasantly orderly. We’re slowly clearing out the bits and pieces we no longer want around the house (watching Marie Kondo is having and effect on us…) and we’re enjoying taking pleasure in our home after a few months of madness.

I am pondering… the next steps in my career.

A favourite quote for today…

A life’s made of hope like a house is of bricks.
Matt Haig – The Truth Pixie

One of my favourite things… is to have a period of time when there is nothing I need to do. Time I can fill with reading or writing or watching something or listening to music or just simply taking time to be.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Start editing the novel

Draft some blog posts

Have dinner with my dad

Submit expression of interest and example work for a freelance opportunity

A peek into my day…

A brief pause between dance classes:

A Thrill Of Recognition

Back in November – in amongst the chaos of NaNoWriMo – a very lovely thing happened that I’m only now getting chance to savour and respond to. I was nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by the oh so lovely Maria over at The Southerner Blogs

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I started blogging over four years ago now when I was really struggling with my mental health and wanted to create a positive space for myself. It’s been an interesting journey and Thrive In Chaos has gone through something of a metamorphosis: from originally sharing quotes and images I found on Pinterest, with the occasional rambling account of my own thoughts or random things I wanted to share, to now being a space where I share my own original creative writing and poetry, reflections of life, book reviews…all still interspersed – of course – with the occasional rambling account of my thoughts. This blog was never about the numbers for me. It truly was a space I set up for myself where I wanted to preserve and celebrate positivity. And yet, I will admit, there is a thrill every time someone likes, comments, follows or shares the things I have written. It is undoubtedly (and somewhat egotistically) one of the things that has driven my interest in and desire to be a writer. There is something strange and special in knowing you have created something that someone connected with. I have always loved books for that very reason – the feeling of connection. Being a creator of content that fosters connection is something I will continue to strive towards and I want to take a moment to thank you, dear readers, for the time you take to read and engage with Thrive In Chaos. It really means the world.

So apparently, there are some rules to this nomination….

Rules for the Blogger Recognition Award

  • Write a post about your award
  • Thank whoever nominated you, including a link to their blog
  • Give a brief story of how your blog began
  • Share some advice for new bloggers
  • Nominate 10 other blogs you wish to give the award to – include this in your post and tag them on twitter
  • Leave a comment on this blog post

Advice for New Bloggers

If you are setting out as a new blogger hoping to gain thousands of followers and high rates of engagement I’m probably not the person you want to be taking advice from! There are ways to do this and more successful bloggers than myself will surely share their ‘How To’s with you. If, however, you are a new blogger simply setting out to carve yourself a little corner fo the internet where you can just be whatever it is you want to be, then my advice would be this: don’t get hung up on the numbers; play with your blog until it feels like you; follow other bloggers whose content you find enriching and inspiring; be mindful of what you post – if it’s personal, are you happy with the world and his wife knowing about it? If it’s strongly opinionated, are you prepared to deal with the potentially negative response of those who believe differently? I don’t say these things to put you off posting anything personal or opinionated – on the contrary: that’s exactly what your blog should be for – but just to remind you that on the internet, as in the world, you should take care of yourself and others.

My Nominations

There are so many amazing blogs out there but these are just a few where you’re guaranteed to find interesting content and super friendly people:

Her Writing Haven

All Time Chelsea

Rebecca Ellis

Rarely Tidy Ramblings

Earth To Connie

Elysian Haze

Off Her Mocha

Life In The Happy

The Good The Human

Female Original

I will be tagging the above bloggers on Twitter too, where I can. Please feel free to follow me here and show them some love!

Thank you so much again to Maria for the nomination and to all you lovely people for helping Thrive in Chaos to…well…thrive.

J x

Taking The Plunge

I wasn’t going to do this. I really wasn’t going to do this. Why would I? November is ALWAYS one of the busiest months in my year. Extra intervention programmes to run at work means increased workload and longer working hours. My birthday (Yay!) means fun outings with friends and family. Drawing closer to the big C the following month means there’s shopping to be done and family to be visited. It’s entering theatre season for us which means we have tickets booked for multiple shows. And on top of all that, this year we’re still at the tail end of our DIY/home renovation adventures, which we want to have finished before Christmas. Plus, we now have a dog who needs walking and playing with, and even if she didn’t NEED those things I’d do them anyway because she’s far too cute to ignore.

So why, oh, why, I hear myself ask, have I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo? Why have I decided to take on the, already ridiculous, challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, when I’m clearly too busy to do so? I can feel me giving myself accusatory glances and hear my brain muttering things like “always taking on too much!”…well maybe it will be too much, maybe I won’t manage it, but do you know what I realised? I am always going to be too busy to write a book. There will always be other priorities. I will always be busy with work and swamped with housework. But if writing a book is something I truly want to do (and it is) then one day I’m just going to have to sit down and make time to write the damn thing. And why shouldn’t ‘one day’ be now?

There is no reason why it shouldn’t be now. No real reason anyway. No reason that won’t still exist next month or next year or in a decade.

So, lovely readers, here I go. Plunging in at the deep end. I have set myself the traditional NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m going to do my damnedest to hit that goal. If I do, brilliant! If I don’t, I won’t beat myself up about it and will try again. And hopefully, in the meantime, I’ll have written more than I would have done normally.

I won’t be writing anything for the blog, aside from, potentially, the odd NaNo update to chronicle my progress (or lament my lack there-of…). I will be putting any writing energy I manage to muster into this mysterious and as yet unknown story.

Wish me luck! See you on the other side…

If you’re a NaNo-er and want to add me as a writing buddy, you can find me under the username Bookwormdancer.

A Pause, A Ponder And Some Poetry

After a brief, unintentional hiatus, I’m back and trying to figure out how on Earth to balance a busy day job and a more-hectic-than-usual home life with the writing life I crave. During the summer lull, I had managed to start to create time during my days to write or at least play with ideas for writing. I had been posting regularly on the blog and creating regular content for my bookstagram account, both of which grew in followers and engagement. I was loving having the time to enjoy my creative life. And then the new term started. I was utterly snowed under within a matter of days and, even on the evenings when I wasn’t having to bring work home with me, I was so shattered and anxious from the accumulated stress of the work day and then the waiting housework that I had no energy for writing or taking photos, even when I could have found the time. So all of my creative pursuits fell by the wayside. My journal pages stayed empty. My notebook gathered dust. My latest blog post aged slowly in its corner of the internet. My bookstagram started to stagnate. And I felt guiltier and guiltier for not managing to summon the energy for these creative pursuits; for not managing to do it all.

I’ve still not managed to pull myself out of that particular guilt rut and I’m starting to realise it maybe runs a bit deeper than I’d thought.

It’s frustrating to feel I’ve lost the momentum that I had started to build – it all feels a bit ‘one step forwards and two steps back’. But I can’t deny that my brain – which is doing all sorts of unpleasant things right now – needed a break. Juggling all the many aspects of life (wonderful though most of them are) is exhausting sometimes. Occasionally, some balls are going to slip and fall. Sometimes it will take a while to recover them. And most of the time I know that’s ok.

I did manage a little flurry of bookstagram posts last week which I actually wanted to share here as well.

Last Thursday was National Poetry Day and, as I’m a huge poetry lover, I wanted to take the chance to share some of my favourite poets/poetry collections. So following my pause and my ponder, I present you with some poetry recommendations:

First up is the fabulous Nikita Gill whose poetry is a poignant reminder that though we may be inconsequential in the grand scheme of the universe we are each as miraculous as the stars. Beautiful, lyrical, empowering poetry.

Next up is Nocturnal by the oh so talented Wilder – I absolutely ADORE this collection. Not only is the poetry thought provoking, moving and beautifully written, but the book is exquisitely designed with accompanying illustrations by the author. I devoured this when I first got it and turned back to the first page for a reread as soon as I’d finished. Simply gorgeous.

Another favourite poetry collection of mine is Chasers Of The Light by Tyler Knott Gregson – simple and elegant, these appealingly presented typewriter poems show the power of poetry to capture poignancy in the smallest moments.

I fell in love with Amanda Lovelace’s poetry with her first collection – the princess saves herself in this one – but for me, her second collection – the witch doesn’t burn in this one – is something truly remarkable. Raw and empowering, Lovelace uses not just the words but the form of her poems to raise a call to arms at the same time as inviting you into the embrace of the sisterhood. This collection raised the hairs on my arms with its power and the connection it offers.

Last but certainly not least in my poetry favourites is this exquisite book from Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – the illustrations are absolutely stunning, seeming to live right off the page, and combined with the wonderful collection of acrostic poetry celebrating the natural world bring back all the wonders of a childhood spent in the garden and exploring the woods. Filled with nostalgia, hope and marvel this collection is the antidote to our hectic digital lives. You’ll want to wander in the great outdoors from the first page.

Do you have a favourite poem, poet or collection of poetry? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments as I’m always on the look out for new poetry to enjoy.

Back To School – #selfcareseptember

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The new term stared this week, which meant it was back to school, not just for all our students but for staff as well. The beginning of a new academic year is always chaotic* and it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed to high heaven – sometimes even before the students have started back! My first few days back have felt particularly hectic and stressful, with new roles and responsibilities, a slightly different focus than I’m used to, along with having had a weird virus-y thing that’s made me feel pretty ill and very tired.

This year, I’m really thrilled to be contributing to ECBC Manchester‘s #selfcareseptember campaign, which aims to promote self-care and encourage people to put themselves at the top of the priority list for a change. Being involved in this brilliant challenge has helped remind me that it’s ok to stop, rest, breathe, and have a little me-time, even when it feels like there are a million things to do – in fact, especially then!

I was full of day dreams and good intentions for extensive a regular blogging, even with the start of the new school year, but right now I’m realising that I need to allow myself to rest as I readjust to the non-stop nature of working in a school. So this is me done for the day – a short but sweet post to share  the ECBC campaign, encourage you to take part and to say hey, you’re doing great. Whether you’ve also just started back at school or haven’t had a break from work in too long, give yourself some time. Take care of you.

You can join in #selfcareseptember over on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or the ECBC blog.

Happy Thursday.

x

 

Coffee Shop Writer

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There is something endlessly appealing about sitting and writing in a coffee shop. Sinking into the words as the gentle percolation of humanity bubbles around you. A low hubbub accompanied by the smell of coffee and pastries. It’s not something I often get the chance to do so when the opportunity arises it feels like a real treat and privilege.

It’s the atmosphere I love most (although the rich, coffee shop coffee certainly adds to the experience) but I also love the opportunity to people watch. The grey haired gentleman sat by the window, reading a paper and sipping his americano. The two friends catching up in the corner, two tea pots and two empty hot chocolate glasses cluttering their table – a testament to their long conversation which has no sign of breaking up any time soon. The mum with her children peering at the pastries on the counter, noses pressed near to the glass which holds all the cake, wide eyed in anticipation of the coming sugar! The one or two scattered individuals, including myself, who sit tapping away on keyboards – I wonder what they are writing. Catching up on emails, maybe. Writing an article or a blog post or even the next great novel.

In this little corner of this little town, people are creating and loving and living. So am I. And isn’t that the most wonderful thing?

x

Happily Thriving

  

Hello, lovely people. It’s been quiet over here recently so I though I would share a little update as to why that is…

When I started this blog it was because I needed something positive to focus on. At the time, although my life for the most part was awesome, I was struggling majorly with anxiety and was in a job that I had wanted for years but which turned out to be too much for me to deal with. I wanted to build something which would shift my focus back to the good stuff and would help me ‘thrive in the chaos’. It was part creative endeavour, part coping mechanism.

I now find myself in a very different place. I am no longer in that job, but in a new one that I never saw myself doing and completely adore now I’m doing it. Go figure. I am allowing myself to be much more settled in my life and therefore able to enjoy the happiness I have been blessed with. Anxiety is still something I have to deal with but it is, thankfully, occasional rather than every day. I don’t need something to focus my mind back on the happy because I’m just there, most of the time.

I can’t tell you how great that feels!

It does mean that I have not been posting as regularly as I intended to, but that’s ok. I had a little moment of guilt when I realised I had let weeks slip by again without even my supposedly ‘regular’ Monday post. Then I realised it didn’t matter. This was always a space for me to share things as and when I wanted or needed. It still is. Maybe one day I’ll start posting more regularly again but right now I’m busy enjoying life and trying new things. I’ve been reading more than I have over the past few years (there will be another what I’ve been reading post coming soon), I’ve been learning new things, doing more crafty stuff (which I have missed!) and I even started playing around with doing some writing. Maybe I’ll share some one day.

For now, thank you for liking, sharing, commenting and following along with my little rambling corner of the internet. I may be quiet but I’m still here. Happily thriving. I hope you are too.

Image found here.

Starting From Scratch

This is the start of something new. Something I haven’t done before.

Sure I’ve had other blogs. My Tumblr has been going for years now, a random collection of everyday musings and frustrations, shared links and pictures, the odd open letter and many posts that go along the lines of:

“Wow, I haven’t posted anything here for aaaaages! I’m gonna start posting again and stick to it this time.”

These are usually followed by an influx of posts over a week or two…and then radio silence for three months. Not the most effective way to blog right?

Then there was the other blog I set up a year or two ago in order to ‘do it properly’. This existed as a completely blank page somewhere on the web, up until a few weeks ago when I finally deleted it. That one clearly wasn’t working either.

I always had an excuse for not blogging consistently. I needed to focus on my degree. I’d committed my time to volunteering. I was working long hours. I was moving house, planning a wedding, applying for new jobs, had to do the shopping, cleaning, cooking, needed a nap.  The list is endless. I was always busy. There was always something else. A lot of those busy things are still true, as they are for most people. But there was another problem.

My blogs had no purpose. They were just…there.

So that’s why this is new. This one has a purpose. I want to share things. I want to connect. Ideally I’d like this blog to grow and maybe one day fit into the business I dream of creating…but let’s not get carried away.

Unlike my other blogs, for this one I have researched…

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…and planned…

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…until I had a firm idea of where I wanted to go and felt prepared to start posting.

So this is me. Starting from scratch. I’m excited. And scared. Because I want this to work, but I don’t know if it will. Let’s see shall we…

~~~

Some of the things I want to share over the coming weeks, months and (hopefully) years include:

  • Crafty projects & tutorials
  • Resources for work with young people
  • Things that inspire me and things to reflect on
  • Personal stories and projects
  • Recommendations for books/music/films/blogs/websites etc

The pictures in this post were taken by me and edited using the A Beautiful Mess photography app.