MANIC Creativity

In the last month or less I have:

  • Got involved in a creative work project / charity fundraiser (see previous post) – a video which has now reached 40k people on Facebook, and been liked, shared and watched (at least in part) around 10k times, All Over The WORLD.
  • Started using a white-board to motivate myself, write daily tasks, or daily ‘themes’.
  • Thoroughly de-mossed and re-seeded my lawn.
  • Done other less intense, but still quite tough garden jobs, like ‘splitting agapanthuses’.
  • Made a short, but complicated ‘Birthday video’ for my Brother in Law.
  • Created and produced a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) Gratitude Award system, called the Golden ‘SAMI’ Awards.
  • Designated 16+ of these Awards to various friends, family members, and colleagues.
  • Held an ‘Oscars-inspired’ Award Ceremony – on Facebook Messenger, to present 8 of these SAMI awards to my closest friends.
  • Created 2 short ‘video trailers’ for the awards, including an introduction from hosts, Ricky Gervais, Ellen Degeneres, and Stephen Fry (again, all video clips)
  • 2 personal video voice messages, filmed in my garden, to open and close the awards.
  • Produced a longer video compilation, with soundtrack – 6 mins, to function as the ‘close of ceremony’ or ‘After Party’.
  • I have been inspired by Pinterest, to think about creating a Vision Board – and have already found a couple of canvases, and bought a couple of magazines to ‘cut from’.
  • I have been inspired by Pinterest, to consider painting some stones in a creative way. Not done this yet, but I have suitable stones and paints.
  • Been active in my garden, which still needs a lot of work to get it to a standard I would like.
  • Created a ‘mannequin’ mate – called Winston, who lives in my Garden or Shed (this was initially done for the Birthday video – but I have kept, named and improved him. I like having his company and occasionally talk to him.
  • Started buying cut flowers regularly again, and enjoyed arranging them nicely / looking after them.
  • Started listening to and enjoying music again, mainly Classical radio or motivational movie music.
  • Changed bedrooms, as my back hurts and my normal double bed has missing slats and an old mattress.
  • Am considering staying in the smaller bedroom, which overlooks beautiful trees and gardens, instead of the street. This means I have the window open more, and wake up to birdsong and a view of a lovely old cedar tree.
  • Which consequently means, I have a new ‘spare room’ of a sizeable nature. I am currently thinking whether I should turn this into a work-out space for Yoga, Zumba, and eventually HIIT training.
  • Alternatively, it would make a great Hobby-Room for artistic projects like painting/crafting.
  • It might function for both of the above, without need to re-arrange furniture. I’m not sure until I’ve dismantled the bed, and thought about how much exercise matting to buy.
  • I have also been to Covent Garden Opera House, to see La Traviata. and The Globe Theatre, to see Romeo & Juliet. I am eagerly awaiting Twelfth Night, which I think is coming soon, and is a great play. All of these have been ‘at home’ performances, and I have donated to the venues.
  • I have also found some new coping strategies, like a joining Facebook support group for those suffering a similar condition to me, and also a couple of Interest/Community groups on Facebook; Photography, Suffolk community pages, Gardening etc.

Normally I would add some beautiful photos to all of this. I have taken LOTS of them. However, I am a little tired today, so am trying taking it SLOW. So, I will only add one photo, which is todays message or ‘instruction’ to myself.

Additional Note:

I love being like this. I am feeling like I can enjoy being myself again, and am capable of action. I would like to maintain it, and harness the energy, and creativity.
However… there are some downsides and warning factors that I have been considering:

  • I am very vulnerable to criticism right now.
  • I am very vulnerable to rejection right now.
  • I may inadvertently cross boundaries. However, lockdown means that this hopefully is a little less risky than previous occurrences of hypomania.
  • I should plan my social-contact carefully, so I avoid getting desperate or overwhelmed.
  • I must reach out to the appropriate people/places for each contact I make, and at appropriate times.
    Friends/Family/Support Group/Therapist/Psychiatrist/Blog.
  • I may annoy or irritate or offend, and equally get annoyed or irritated or upset by people close to me. I must watch this.
  • I must remember that some people cannot understand or empathise with my current behaviour.
  • I must remember to eat and look after my personal hygiene and sleep routines.

Think thats all, may need to re-visit later.
On with ‘The Show’.

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

Fundraising for Beginners

Hey guys, I’ve recently run a marathon in aid of some charities, please show your support and give generously 🙂 !

Actually, this is not quite accurate.
The marathon I have run, has been a ‘mental’ one. It took just over two weeks to complete.
I’ve never run a physical marathon, and likelyhood is that I won’t – so I don’t know what it feels like as an experience, but my ‘mental marathon‘ went something like this:
First Week:
Conception of fundraising idea – Really exciting, little bit of apprehension too.
Beginning Training – This involved making some phone calls, research, and deciding on a plan. Suddenly there was lots to consider and lots to do.
Committing to the effort – A few days in, there was no turning back. I was bloody doing it and that was that. In addition, my fundraiser required collaborating with others, so I set about rallying the troops.
Second Week:
Set backs: By the start of the second week, the race was just about to begin, but I got really ill and had to step back for a few days. This was unhelpful, and possibly caused a few unnecessary issues.
Here we go: We are well and truly up and running with this now, its great, I’m loving it and its not that hard after all!
Hang on a sec: I might have spoken too soon, this really isn’t that easy. In fact, can I just stop now? No!? Well okay, I guess I carry on for a bit, but I’m definitely not happy and I want it all to be over soon.
Back on track: God, that first half of the race was tough, but I’m well over half way there now, so I’m sure I can make it after all. Really pleased I kept going, well done me!
The Wall: For me, this came after the plan/race had been 95% completed, apart from the the tiny detail of actually getting other people’s support in the form of donations. I’ll explain what happened when I hit The Wall and how I got over it below… but it was almost complete carnage.
Crossing the Finish Line: This afternoon, I crossed the finish line as far as my involvement with the fundraiser is concerned, and am really proud of myself for the achievement. I’m also completely exhausted, and wondering ever so slightly whether it was all worth it. I think it probably was. I fulfilled my initial goals, as far as was within my control, and it’s been a fantastic journey, and interesting experience.

It’s got me thinking about ‘what makes people support a fundraising attempt?’.
I have always known raising money for charity is not easy. I prefer to be a supporter then a fundraiser usually, as you get to share a little bit of the ‘halo’ and the satisfaction that comes with giving, with very little strenuous work.

I have narrowed it down to a few things that make people successful fundraisers:

  • Immense Physical Challenge by an ordinary adult.
  • Moderate Physical Challenge by an older, younger or physically/mentally disabled or ill person.
  • A challenge undertaken by a well-liked individual or celebrity.
  • A challenge undertaken by a (preferably large) group of people working together.
  • A challenge undertaken by someone experiencing hardship, such as life-threatening illness or bereavement.
  • Something very funny, cute, lovable, or ludicrous that is unexpected.
  • Extraordinary acts of kindness, particularly in difficult times, or by people who themselves are also in need of support.

There might be some I’ve missed. I’ve decided that I don’t really fit any of the criteria for being a fundraiser whom people feel very motivated to support, which makes things a bit more difficult in some ways.
I certainly don’t fit the first column of fundraisers.
My mental illness IS life-threatening in it’s very worst form, but not many people would know that or truly understand why it should be.
The fundraiser wasn’t funny or cute – it was simply an attempt to share, as widely as possible, a bit of joy in nature – beautiful gardens, woodlands and animals, by organising the production of a video-experience… to compensate for a normally ‘in person’ experience that would have helped raise quite a lot of money for charity, were people able to leave their homes at present.

Donations are trickling in now, slower then I would’ve hoped – but I am very impatient. I am also having to constantly remind myself that my entire self-worth is not dependant on whether or not people donate. I have done what I set out to do.

The Wall
I promised an explanation of this.
Well, I have an unfortunate tendency to sometimes put myself under extraordinary pressure to perform to exaggerated levels, without regard to my present state of health or capability. This is bad enough. What’s worse is that I often unconciously transfer those high expectations to others that are close to me, at exactly the same time that I am getting extremely overwrought myself.
The person that bore the brunt of my inevitable fury when these unreasonable expectations were not instantly fulfilled was my sister, who did very little wrong, but received a tsunami of emotional outpouring from me, as well as some pretty harsh criticism for what was only a very minor slip up on her part.
It could’ve been a lot worse and we are back on good terms again after a bit of reflection and discussion on both sides. I am more able then I used to be to see my unreasonable behaviour for what it is, partly controllable and partly a mental disorder. This means I can try and warn a few key people, or stop myself before it gets too late. There’s still work to be done on this though, and still time. Not drinking alcohol whilst dealing with my problems helps a lot though.

To sum up:
I won’t know for a while whether the fundraising effort was financially successful. It has been a great achievement though, especially after a long period of ill health. Its also been a learning experience, and it’s given me something to get involved with – even if at points the involvement has been too intense.
I am awarding myself a metaphorical medal for my work, and a very big thumbs for giving it a go, and dragging myself over the finish line.

Thanks for reading, I guess this is a gratitude post in some ways – but am not really sure where to file it!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

Plant Babies

They’re so cute!

Here’s whats happening with my seeds so far:

Nasturtium tray – 5/20
Mini ‘Satellite-dish’ leaf structure

I’ve been ill all weekend. However, nature continues without me, which is great. The nasturtium seeds are coming on well, as seen above.
Very little to report on the ornamental gourd seeds. No signs of life as yet, and I haven’t grown them before, so I am beginning to get excited as to how they will present themselves, when and if they finally do!

If successful, the ornamental gourd plants could be trained to look something like this:
(not my garden)

Incredible and beautiful gourdi-ness!

Mine will not look like that as I don’t have space for an arch! But we shall see, – I have some plans to ‘train’ them in a minor, less ostentatious, fashion.

Succulents

These babies have been ignored for almost 2 years now. Back then, before I got really depressed, I had started cultivating the shoots of a few succulents that I had, and getting them started as plants in their own right.
Then I ‘switched off’ and abandoned them, but remarkably, here they still are; ready and waiting for a bit of opportunity to arise for them to flourish.

Again, I have plans for them, but am not entirely sure yet how these plans will pan out.

I’ll try hard not to run out on the plant babies again though.
I am looking forward to watching them all develop and grow up!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

Useful You-Tube!

You-tube, as a Landlady – I love you, and here is why:

Nobody can be good at everything.

I count myself as someone who isn’t an expert at anything (apart from maybe Harry Potter book knowledge), but I’m okay at quite a few things, including DIY.

I can use a drill, saw, sand, hammer, paint, etc.
But there are a lot of gaps in my skills.

My 2 biggest issues with a New Rental :

When someone moves in, there are lots of things that need to go smoothly, and lots of potential for teething problems.
In my 4 tenancies so far… there have been consistent problems with 2 things:
Heating & Hot Water – how it works!?
How do you get furniture into the Front room?

Heating & Hot Water
My plumbing knowledge leaves a lot to be desired, partly as I have very little natural interest in the subject. The view I would like to have is ‘As long as it works, I do not care or need to know how‘. However, as a Landlady/Landlord, there is not a lot more embarrassing than not being able to describe how to operate the heating & hot water on, in your own house. I have been in that situation, it’s not fun, and it is really important to tenants that these things work. Of course.
My heating system is quite complicated – In the past I have even called a plumber out simply to explain the system to me again, having forgotten since the last time I had to explain it.
I didn’t want to do that this time – so I put in some in some extra research and basically, in a nutshell, You-Tube came to the rescue.

The offending controller
Annoying instructions
Lovely and clear video-tutorial.

Not only does a You-Tube video jolt my memory, but a link to it is simply the only thing I have to provide to my tenant when she had a query about the time settings for hot water and how to reprogram them. AMAZING!

Furniture into the Front room.

Every time someone moves in / or out, there is the same issue. It is physically impossible to get a normal sofa into the living room, without removing the sash window. This is due to a combination of a small hallway, and a ‘quaint’ but wildly impractical door choice by a former owner.
The window isn’t large either but it does just about get a sofa through, thank god!

Tiny Gothic Door.
The middle window needs to come out.

Removing a sash window is not for the faint hearted. Not only does it contain a lot of breakable glass, but they are heavy things, hung on strings/cords, and parts of the woodwork also need to be unscrewed or levered off and re-caulked back in.
I cannot do this. I can’t even explain to someone how its done.
But this man can!…. My gratitude to him is without bounds (or cords).

Again, all I had to do is provide the link, and now my tenant has her sofa set in the front room, and her boyfriend thinks he is the master of DIY and sash window removal!
Everyone is happy, moving in is successful, and I somehow come off like I know what I’m doing.

Thanks to You-tube for existing to enable these DIY heroes… and a never ending supply of funny cat videos!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

Gratitude is a Garden

The more time you spend in it, working on it and enjoying it, the more abundant & beautiful your garden will become. Similarly, the more you practice feeling gratitude, the more it will grow and spring naturally from within you.
Well that’s the hope anyway, I find it really difficult sometimes!

In the time of Covid19, what with staying at home being enforced by government, an outside space is a very real blessing. Whether it’s a balcony, roof terrace, courtyard, or garden; all give the opportunity to commune with nature and also be creative and nurturing!

I am fortunate, I have a small garden (and a shed – which is a great place to escape the house).
However, the lengthy period of depression has not done my garden any favours whatsoever. It needs ‘intensive care‘.

Earlier this week I began my rescue mission, with some cutting back of dead branches.
The council is temporarily not collecting garden waste, which was the perfect excuse to have a bonfire, and burn some other random bits of wood from various DIY jobs too!
The smell of a bonfire is something I love. Reminds me of childhood, and helping my dad do garden work.

I also started what will be a long process of working on my bench, which is looking very sad. Firstly, washing down with bleach. I’ll do this a few times. Next, I will lightly sand the bench, before treating it with a protective oil.
I’ll need to do the same process on my garden table too (just visible in the lower right corner of the picture below).

Lutyens Bench
(Renovation required!)

I trimmed my ‘Red Robin’ hedge out front, and cut my sorry excuse for a lawn. The lawn will take a lot more work to recover, if indeed possible without completely relaying.

Straggly hedge, and mossy lawn.
Needs work. Nice tulips though!

So, all this before even adding any plants or flowers. I have planted some seeds though, so there will be flowers in due course.
Nasturtiums in the small pots and Ornamental Gourds in the large (below). All should grow into quite large trailing plants which will need to be up-potted. I have some ideas of where they may go, but some will have to be given away to neighbours – if they are all successful seedlings! My garden just isn’t big enough for them all.

All of this was not only energetic but very satisfying and I can truly say that for me, pottering in the garden is definitely The Good Life.

Thanks for reading… I hope your own gardening efforts are bringing equal success & happiness, or if no garden – at least a pot plant to care for. Let me know in the comments!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

I wasn’t going to post today, but…

This is what is happening:

Crikey! President Trump is giving an enormously long and pompous, self-congratulatory press conference right now!

He really is a bit of a Twit!

My local Waitrose had a 20minute queue outside.

I planned to pop in for essentials, but came out £100 poorer – why does this always happen in Waitrose?!

I stopped over at my Aunts house – she died on 31st March, 2020 (not from the virus).
It was very strange being in her home without her there. Her funeral service, with 3 in attendance is on Thursday.

Not a busy day, but it has felt eventful.

Thanks for reading, and “Stay Safe”!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)

Easter, in a time of Coronavirus

I am Celebrating in Isolation!

Until last month, I had been suffering from a major and drawn out ‘episode’ of severe depression.
Episode seems too short a descriptive. It was like a box set, that just went on and on and on, with each season bringing absolutely no change and nothing new.

Consequently, celebrating has not been on the agenda, however much a small voice inside has begged and pleaded to know why the indefinable ‘magic’ of the universe and being alive, just wasn’t there anymore for me.

Persuading myself to go outside in spring/summer?
No enjoyment of seasons at all.
Finished a gruelling task? Emotionally … nothing, zip. No satisfaction whatsoever.
Birthdays? Nothing. Apart from more disappointment that I am older still, and still ill.
Easter? I did not even notice it last year – did it happen?
Christmas? For two years, it just didn’t come ‘feeling-wise’ for me.
Btw I actually really love Christmas, and am normally a person who feels the ‘magic’ building from Autumn on. I love the songs, movies, wrapping presents, trees and foliage, and all the decorations!

My spirits lifted quite quickly at the end of February, and I have been tentatively stepping forward since then. Trying to make progress, but not too fast. Fast is dangerous for me, as I can swing from depressed to manic, which then becomes very intense for everyone else.

Easter 2020

This weekend has been a bit of marker in my recovery. The follow events are the big milestones that happened.

  1. On Good Friday, I handed over my rental property to new tenants and that has gone very smoothly so far. They seem lovely, and also capable.
  2. In the last week, I have been slowly reconnecting with the friends from whom I have basically been ‘distancing’ myself from since I fell ill. We had a group Zoom call on Saturday, which was really fun, and has also left me with a kind of warm fuzzy feeling that is still present. I think its called ‘re-connection’!
  3. On Easter Sunday, I spent a few hours being ‘crafty’. Painting eggs for an Easter tree is something my sister and I used to do as kids, and only occasionally since. It has been ‘work’, but overall incredibly satisfying as its creative, produces an end result, sense of achievement and also is very festive. My home feels cosy, loved, and very Easter-y.

I am not sure of my plans for Easter Monday, but, I can guarantee I will be Staying at Home. Probably taking it easy and pottering around the house and garden. Watching a bit of TV or a film maybe. Or reading stuff on WordPress, and (a limited amount of) scrolling on social media.

All I can say, again, is how incredibly grateful I am for everything.
All the above events, my friends, my family, my houses, my cat, the technology that connects people at this strange time, and of course my returning health.

My heart feels very full of love and happiness this Easter. I would like to ‘beam’ this love out to everyone I know and anyone reading, especially those that may be in need of it!

T.G.L

(the Grateful Landlady)