Small Stones

August is small stones month.

Use your senses to notice things in the world and write down what you find… visit the small stones website for details.

Small stones everywhere;
take the time to stop and stare.
Indulge your senses.

How fortunate that this coincides with the gift of a diary-free month I gave myself in order for me to be selective in my choice of activities. Therefore, during the month’s progression, I will be adding my self-indulgent small stones observations as I drift through the days of August… focussing on my response to each day’s chosen activity.

1st August:

Scarecrows at Muston;
interpretation of art
making people smile.

2nd August:

Ordnance Maps
A handful of maps;
from the middle of nowhere
I seek out old haunts.

3rd August:

Woldsway Lavender
The lavender breeze
sprinkles me with happiness
when it starts to rain.

4th August:

Waves lapping at the shoreline
disguise a downpour;
unpredictable weather.

5th August:

My house-guest has left
but the memory lingers;
my home is silent.

6th August:

Rabbit hopping in a field
makes it through the hedge
to become road kill.
I pray for its soul
that, if there is a heaven,
it finds its way there.

7th August:

Orchestra of leaves;
crochets, quavers, semibreves
dancing through the trees.

8th August:

A writer’s nightmare;
computer crash in progress
destroying all files.

9th August:

Sunshine on the sea
as Acapella voices
echo over waves.

10th August:

Comfortable feet;
shopping at ‘Shuropody’
in Earth Spirit shoes.

11th August:

Ordnance Maps Project

I called in at The Studio and chose Map Number 109 – Manchester © 1974. There was no metro-link, no M60, but when I traced my finger along the map’s red lines, I was transported via the 59 bus route through the bitter-sweet memories of my younger days.

(I think it’s going to be quite traumatic cutting this map into pieces for my art project yet, at the same time, an exciting aide-memoir for my ongoing life writing project)

12th August:

The Great Potato Challenge

It’s not the winning… it’s the elation at weigh-in as you unearth your potatoes and breathe in the community spirit of a home-grown meal.

(at Wandales Housing Scheme)

13th August:

Good mobile signal
but when she doesn’t answer
the black dog comes out…
stuck in the moment
the black dog bites my heart out
as the phone rings on

14th August:

Rustling trees reveal two deer as they spring out to prance around then, noticing me, run back into hiding, never to be seen again.

15th August:

Computer Restore:
New programs are challenging.
I miss Office Suite!

16th August:

Summer in Scarborough;
an explosion of tourists
covet the beaches.

17th August:

Bridlington Harbour bustles with tourists tempted by fish and chips as locals relax with cold glasses of ale and people-watch.

18th August:

The fried egg in the pan splits and separates into a friendly face when two holes appear in the white above the yolk and a slit below spreads in a smile.

19th August:

Refreshing rain;
cleansing my aura,
lightening my load.

20th August:

Spreading sunshine with flash mob – singing about a great day.
(at Scarborough Art Gallery for the WEA Art Classes’ Exhibition)

21st August:

I’m still smiling at yesterday’s memory of a guy demonstrating his art by covering himself with clay mixture as he told the story of how God moulded people from clay, making them as empty vessels that he could fill with love. Those of us in the room were invited to go forward and accept a blessing of love by being marked with the clay and drinking refreshing water from a clay pot the guy had made, after which he whispered in our ear: the spirit of love breathes through you.

Beautiful…

22nd August:

Bumped into a friend in town and shared a hot chocolate: Rescue Remedy.

23rd August:

Scarborough Writers’ Circle
telling tales of adventure
in worlds of their creation.

24th August:

People-watching on the cobbles of York: shoppers shoving, children crying, buskers hustling, homeless pleading — and an invisible man sees everything from behind his mask.

25th August:

A downpour of rain hits my hot sandalled feet
springing them back to life
stepping up my pace.

26th August:

The summer’s crowds bless the town with raucous love and laughter
as we dance-dodge in the streets to avoid collision crash disaster.

27th August:

Rescue Remedy:
blowing bubbles in the air
(deep breathing technique).

28th August:

First time flyer trying to retain meditative state whilst juggling baggage to comply with conflicting rules and regulations between airline and airport.

29th August:

And it came to pass…
weigh-in for baggage –
hope home scales are accurate.

30th August:

Snakes and ladders, draughts,
ludo, uno, flying hats.
Games afternoon at Wandales.

Board Games Poster

 31st August:

All packed and waiting to go…
notebook and pen ready for the writing journey.
Brno here we come!

I hope you enjoyed reading through my daily offerings of small stones at Spinning Stories from the Secret Self. The month ends on a good note of discovery with one of my poems shortlisted and an article published in the print edition of Writing Magazine (October Issue).

I’ll be back mid-September with an update on my experience as a first time flyer… meanwhile please do check out my personal perspective on ‘seven things you need to know about writing short stories’ at Kate Evans’ Blog: www.writingourselveswell.co.uk/ (due to be published on 5th September).

Boiled Eggs and Burnt Liver

I love to fictionalise life memories as part of my creative writing process because there are so many riches stored in our mind from our everyday ordinary life experiences that it’s practically impossible to run out of ideas for writing. Taking a trip down memory lane always surprises me by unearthing unexpected treasures.

Of course, we all know that it is through our senses that we discover these gifts that memory offers up to us and often wander back through time without even trying. Just the waft of freshly baked bread as it fills our nostrils when we pass a baker’s shop can conjure up wonders from our past; caressing material before we buy an item of clothing can remind us of something we once flounced around in back in the day, hearing a certain song can transport us to a special event in our life that we may have forgotten about; likewise, watching an old film on TV and, my favourite, the taste of gravy made from real meat juices. This can take me back to numerous family meal times with a whole host of emotional turmoil to use as writing material, depending on which memory springs to mind.

Recently, however, it was a burnt pan that took me on a reflective journey down memory lane. I wondered how, from being able to create a roast dinner with all the trimmings from the age of 13 for a family of 6, I’d come to the point where I could burn a pan of water by simply steaming potatoes and vegetables.To explore my past memories in order to answer this question would justify the production of an epic memoir and the time I’ve allotted to write this missive would not come close to touching the surface of that.

Therefore, I’ll try not to meander through the memories that burnt pan brought to mind as I share with you my initial responses, though it will be difficult because each memory we have touches on another in some way and, once the writing process begins, the mind starts to filter those connections through the pen onto the page, where it flows in a river of thoughts – as I said, an epic memoir waiting to be written.

I’ll endeavour to remain focussed on brevity and tell you that in 1971, after giving up my job as a shorthand typist at the local psychiatric hospital, I went off to work in a cafeteria at a holiday camp in Wales (I know… Crazy). One morning, I was put in charge of making egg sandwiches for the display cabinet and duly placed a copious amount of eggs in a colossal pan of water and lit the gas. Whilst waiting for them to boil, I went back to the counter to butter bread and finish off a few other jobs. Thirty minutes later, interspersed with loud popping noises coming from the kitchen, a voice boomed out ‘who… the… xxxx’s… left… all… these… xxxxing…eggs… on… here?’ I ran into the kitchen to witness two dozen eggs exploding through the air in all directions from the burnt out pan.

eggsThe kitchen staff were rolling on the floor laughing and it was all I could do to keep a straight face as the scary head chef’s cheeks puffed out in red rage.

This memory then led to me thinking about the incident that was the impetus for me becoming adept at cooking a family roast with all the trimmings, albeit the memory is a futile attempt to stop me grieving the burnt vegetables and potatoes in the steamer.

In the 1960’s, my mother suffered from severe problems that required regular electric shock therapy to the brain for a number of months and, after each treatment, she would forget how to complete tasks she had been performing for many years, such as cooking. One night, when the family sat down to eat the meal she had prepared, my four siblings and I stared at one another round the table when faced with liver that looked like crisped cinders. Dad broke the silence with, ‘come on kids, eat up. Your Mum’s worked hard on this.’ He winked at us, took some burnt liver into his mouth and, when Mum wasn’t looking, gathered it into his serviette which he placed on his lap. So as not to upset Mum, we followed Dad’s lead, even to the point of complimenting her on how nice the meal was. At the end of the meal, we each had a lapful of liver tucked up our sleeves in serviettes and, one by one, asked to leave the table.

These photos, taken 15 years later, show she did eventually recover from that particular illness and as a family we went on to prepare and cook many a meal together… with no burnt liver in sight.

Christmas 1979From left: hubby Eric, mum, (photobomb daughter Gaynor), dad, (photobomb nephew Lee), brother Paul, sister Jan and me. Brother Daz was taking the photos…can’t recall where sister Mandy was that day.

xmas 79Our combined children at a separate table. From left: Jolene, Nicola, Gaynor, Graeme, Colin and Lee.

No doubt a variation of the above incidents/events will find their way into one of my future fictional stories, the seeds now firmly replanted in my journal of ideas. Indeed, the saplings are already pushing their way through a thousand other memories towards the surface as I write.

However, it is the popping eggs that have provided me with the reason I recently burnt that pan of water when steaming vegetables. I was simply distracted by something else, which is what happened in 1971. It comes somewhat as a relief to realise that I’m not completely useless in the kitchen after all, merely easily distracted.

I felt quite proud of myself this morning. I actually boiled a perfect egg for dipping toast soldiers into. But maybe a roast dinner is a bit ambitious just yet as I am totally out of practice with that one… so I’ll continue to sample the various eateries in and around Scarborough with my husband. After all, there’s only the two of us now and I think we deserve a break from cooking a meal – on Sundays at least.

Rain Dance

 The Inspiration behind Rain Dance

(a short story of fiction influenced by life memory)

Given the subject of ‘the weather’ as a theme for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle’s latest competition, I wanted to write about the rain because it hadn’t stopped for days. I began by writing a statement to that effect, and produced a rough draft straight off. This took into account my personal feelings of how the rain affected my thoughts in relation to a current life event – over which, like the weather, I also have no control.

This initial draft constituted three-quarters the allotted word count of 1,000 words. On re-reading, the middle section didn’t quite gel. It veered off slightly from the main theme, which could have become a sub-plot if I was writing a novel. For such a short story there is no room for meandering within the time frame. Thus, I turned over possibilities of connections to the beginning that tied in with how I, more-or-less, wanted it to end, though I remained open to changes – as is my usual writing process.

I had taken part in two May Day dances during the week of this rainy weather, thus a strong memory of my sister being crowned Rose Queen of May from our childhood was prominent in my thoughts. I wanted to explore this a bit more in connection with my story, as my sister is very much at the forefront of my mind since her diagnosis, so I went along these lines and used an edited first section of my story’s draft as a lead in.

Many words and phrases presented in relation to that May Day as I was writing. I jotted these down to capture the image and emotion of it on the page in a higgledy-piggeldy way. Next was the task of connecting the memory to the present day beginning of the story. I remembered the smell of the paper roses we made for the head garland and used this as the glue to bring it together in the middle section. I felt I was on the right track when my husband, knowing nothing about what I was writing, walked into the room singing Paper Roses (remember the song by Marie Osmond?).

After much exploration of the theme and going to and fro’ with various connections from the May Day memory to my current emotional state, I played around with words until I had enough material to write a final draft. This then lived in my head for a week and, whenever an additional piece of information occurred, I incorporated it into the draft. I read it through again after a two-day break from writing, making adjustments where necessary. I continued in this pattern until I reached the point where I was able to finally say ‘this is a story’. I didn’t feel the need to alter anything in the main thrust of it but waited another day for any stray ‘gems’ that could enhance it in any way.

The link between my memories, my creativity and my faith is a never-ending cycle of circles and, during the waiting period for any stray ‘gems’ to emerge, I attended a church testimonial service where the title of the talk was offered as ‘Praying in Circles’. As the talk progressed, I recognised this as being a God-incident with it being delivered on the very eve of the completion of my story which, incidentally, is about dancing in circles. Influenced by the talk, I did make one phrase change in the story that illustrated circle dancing as an analogy to circle praying­­­. It felt like a missing piece of the jigsaw.

If you ask me the question ‘what’s the story about?’, the answer will be ‘dancing in circles’, but if you ask me the question ‘what’s the story really about?’, in the context of what’s going on for me I would have to answer ‘it’s about coming to terms with my sister’s diagnosis.’

The experience of analysing my story in line with the talk has given me a great insight into the way I’m dealing with my sister’s illness. It has shown me a way forward in that I can use a prayer circle instead of merely accepting the inevitable. Prayers have already been answered that my sister remains positive, and the tumours have shrunk considerably to afford her more time. Yet, until the delivery of this talk, I no longer knew what to pray for in respect of the situation. The outcome of the talk’s influence is that I am going to be bold in my prayers and circle pray without ceasing for the miracle I want.

Written 22 May

(Competition closing date 24 May – Results announced 21 June)

STOP PRESS:

Posted on the Scarborough Writers’ Circle Facebook Page:

Yesterday evening we had the Nikki Barker competition results. For the first time (well since I’ve been a member, at least) the entries were judged by people outside the Circle. Thank you to the Scalby Reading Group.The winner was Julie Fairweather with her story ‘Rain Dance’. It was a very moving story – and a bit of a first for Julie – it had a happy ending! Sort of.

Post penned by Chair of the Writers’ Circle, Dorinda Cass, on 22.6.16

I would say Rain Dance has a hopeful ending…  Julie F

 

The fear of c a t s is real

I have an alarming aversion to c a t s and, if I catch a glimpse of one, the unfortunate people within the vicinity could become victims of an unforgettable (even psychologically damaging) experience when witnessing my reaction.

So it is with trepidation that I have accepted an invitation to the ‘unravelling of writers’ group meeting on 2nd May to work on the finer details of ‘the book wot we are writing’ collectively. The collective being current/past University of Hull students who are participating/have participated in the Creative Writing Honours Degree Course since 2004. The book celebrates the 55 writers (along with their tutors) who have been involved in the programme during its reign at the Scarborough Campus, which is now coming to an end.

The lovely hosts for the meeting have offered to place their two c a t s in the bedroom where they ‘should sleep for the duration’ they assure me (YES… TWO IN THE SAME PLACE AT ONCE! YIKES!).

I don’t want to put anyone out but I know I will be riddled with anxiety in case someone accidentally opens the bedroom door.  Asking people not to let the c a t s out (as opposed to ‘don’t let the dogs out’) is not something I can announce without attracting unhelpful and irrelevant comments such as, ‘aw, pussies are so lovely, why don’t you like them?’ Er, it’s not that I don’t like them; I’m simply terrified of them. Doesn’t anybody actually know what ‘phobia‘ means? (Please note the sarcastic emphasis of this rhetorical question.)

There is an alternative option available in that the lovely hosts have offered to ask their daughter to keep the c a t s for the day instead of using the bedroom solution. I feel this is going to be a big deal – eg, maybe she lives a million miles away? – and have said (against my gut instinct) that I can probably try to cope with them being in the bedroom, especially as two understanding friends have volunteered to be on ‘lookout‘ for me.

I really appreciate the support on this one. And before anyone comes rushing in with advice for a cure, believe me, I’ve been there already (yes, even those ‘cures’ advised in the link at the end of this post!)… with all attempts proving frighteningly unsuccessful. I have suffered some horrible c a t experiences that I would not care to repeat and I still have nightmares about them.

I have attempted to write about these incidents, on a number of occasions, as a sort of exorcism to enable me to achieve a more comfortable place of acceptance rather than a cure. To date, this has been unsuccessful. The writing has proved far too scary and instilled palpitations in me to the point of passing out. I can’t help thinking it’s such a waste of experience for me as a life memory fiction writer. The horror story potential of the material is remarkable, particularly for an audience of readers who will go to any lengths to avoid any form of contact with c a t s, like myself.

However, it is a step forward that I’ve been able to write this post and ‘come out’ in public as a c a t phobic when you think about it and, looking through one of my journals recently, I did find a first draft of a c a t story that deals with the origin of my phobia, so there is hope.

The story fits my criteria for life memory fiction but I find the content too awful to revisit – today at least. In the future, if I can edit and craft this story into a worthy piece of writing, it is a good indication that I am capable of reaching out to that more comfortable place of acceptance I mentioned earlier. It’s worth a try but don’t hold your breath.

I’ll keep you updated on it (if I can)… and also on how ‘the book wot we are writing’ at the ‘unravelling of writers’ group progresses (whether I make it to the meeting or not).

The fear of cats is real  (LINK WARNING FOR PHOBICS – CAT IMAGE ALERT!)

Which damn fool decided it was a good idea to put an image of a  c  a  t  in an article about the fear of  c  a  t  s ?

I’m Here and I’m Now

As someone who has always worked to deadlines, I’ve spent years struggling with learning how to live one day at a time but now I think I’ve finally got the knack. This has come about through a close relative’s attitude to her diagnosis of terminal illness and the example she is setting in living each day as it comes. I have been convinced that, without question, what’s important is ‘right here and right now’ and simply being in the present moment is the best place to be. The past is gone and the future’s to come. Why bother worrying about either of those? Therefore, I didn’t start the year with a heap of resolutions. Nor am I in my usual state of panic because I am only just, on the edge of the end of the month, penning a January blog.

I’d already decided at my November birthday (see blog 27 Nov 2015) that I had been doing too much since I retired in March, so I dropped those activities that made me feel like I was still ‘working’. For example, I came off the Committee for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle (though remain a member).

I believed that saying ‘no’ was to be a new mantra for me in 2016 but, as always, life had a different agenda and presented an obstacle to that last Thursday. The speaker for the next Writers’ Circle session had to cancel and I felt obliged to provide something for the members to come along to – seeing as it was me who had booked the speaker in the first place.

So much for saying ‘no’ then…

The next best thing to not saying ‘no’ is to look for damage limitation. With that in mind I reached for a reliable cliché and killed two birds with one stone, ie, the first exercise planned for the session is to write a blog of how your year is going so far.

Ta Da!

If you are in Scarborough on Tuesday next (2nd Feb) you are very welcome to join us. We meet at 7.15-9.15pm at Vernon Road Library, Scarborough. The meetings cost £2.50 (including refreshments) or £1.50 if you are a student or member.

The outline for the evening is as follows:

Bit of a blog talk from a personal perspective…
Sharing of blog/journal/diary entries (those who have done one).
Three quick warm-up exercises for ideas in gathering inspiration to kick-start a piece of writing.
From a selection of news stories to be given out on the night:
Choose one headline and write a blog/diary/journal entry using that headline as a subject
OR
Choose a news story – rewrite it from the POV of one of the ‘characters’ as a blog/diary/journal entry.
Read and share the above (and any blog that’s come to fruition during the evening.)
Discuss the process/progress of the writing.

Simples!

And so it is with enthusiasm that I embrace my new found inner peace and feeling of well-being as I continue to follow my relative’s example by enjoying being in each moment… whatever each moment holds for me as it encompasses the conception of living in the here and now.

With peaceful blessings to you all,

Julie

New Year’s Eve

The end of the year feels more like the end of my life as I know it. I am unable to engage with my in-depth writing on social media for the foreseeable future and will be using my private journal. I am too wounded to share.

I leave you with this thought:

It is better to come to the Lord in prayer with a heart full of love and no words than many words and an empty heart. 

Jesus bauble

 

 

 

It’s time to claim back my butterflies

Since retiring in March, I’ve thrown myself headlong into various activities. I had many of these interests during my working life but, like so many new retirees, I thought I would have more spare time so added new interests to those. Hence, I have taken on so much that I am no longer enjoying my freedom from the routine of a working life. I realised this when I reached my birthday recently, a number that does look quite attractive, and took stock of myself. I looked at what I’d committed myself to and compared it to what I was actually enjoying. And it was a chance encounter with a friend that helped me reach a decision about taking drastic action to cut down on activities.

My friend’s name is Julie too – and she asked, ‘Julie, where have all your colourful butterflies gone?’ She went on to explain this as being the aura I usually carry around with me that she was so used to seeing and it is what makes me… well, me.

I thought about this some more when I got home and looked in the mirror. I looked tired and dull and there was definitely no sparkle. I’d confided in my friend about a stressful period I’d been going through in recent weeks and how I’d felt quite unwell, both physically and mentally, at times. She advised me to stop pleasing others and please myself more, to encourage my butterflies back. Looking in that mirror again, I think I saw what she saw: I was surrounded by dark moths that had taken my light and they were flying around me like prophesies of doom.

Over the next few days, as people made demands on my time, it finally came to a head with me reacting badly to a situation. I demonstrated traits of my character that I do not like. I knew I had to do something immediately. Once I’d made that decision, it was easier to sort out what I would keep and what I would let go, and I felt in control again.

At the moment I am honouring two commitments that end in mid-December, have dropped two things I am no longer enjoying, and I have two commitments to honour in early 2016. I feel refreshed knowing that after this I will have a clean canvas to work with. I have already started saying ‘no’ to things I’ve been asked to do that I really don’t want to do. And I owe it to myself and my butterflies to continue with that promise to myself.

At the Scarborough Writers’ Circle this week, one of the members led a session in celebration of Thanksgiving Day. The remit was to bring a piece of writing to read on the night illustrating the subject of ‘giving thanks’ by way of our own interpretation of that.

This was my offering:

I’m thankful that I am able to express my creativity through writing, painting, music and dance; I am grateful that I am blessed with the means to do this because of my sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch… thus enabling me to use the therapeutic qualities of my creativity as a celebration of my life.

I give thanks that my response to this creativity highlights what is important to me, and it is through the gift of my creative self that I recognise my belief in a God who gave His only son as an atoning sacrifice to pay for my sins… so that I may be forgiven and receive salvation for my soul.

I give thanks for the people I encounter on my life journey who help me grow into the kind of person fit to serve a loving God… and I also give thanks for those I encounter who bring out distasteful traits in me by their challenging behaviour, because this helps me strive to change my own reactions to that behaviour.

Mostly I give thanks that in His mercy God does not look on what I am now nor on what I have been but on what I desire to be.

I am grateful that in this world of manmade rules and regulations there are none that govern how I should pray; there is no right or wrong way. I simply talk to God, sometimes baring my soul and falling before Him like an open wound. And He picks up the pieces and fixes me within the boundaries of my broken life.

And in the midst of all this, there is love.

I give thanks for the love I’ve known; the contented feeling of loving arms; the warmth of a human heart from a random act of kindness; a loving touch of support from a friend; a visit or phone call from a prodigal – returning home – and I’m grateful for a bond so strong that time apart has allowed for a reconciliation and a rebirth of that relationship.

I give thanks for the love of my partner; my children; my family; my friends; the people in the places where I work, rest and play – yes, even those who are ‘not like me’. I give thanks for our individuality – our diversity – and that I am surrounded in love, completed in love and enabled to share my love with others.

So then at the end of each day… when I’m stripped of myself – of my expectations – of others’ expectations – of what I am or should be, and love, even love for myself, flows down like grace into my empty vessel, I can become full of what God intended me to be – for His purpose, His plan – not mine, or yours.

And I pray that God’s glory will shine from me, reflecting the love I have received, so that others who touch the edge of that radiance will know that they are in the presence of God – because God is the essence of me.

At the end of my reading I sat down and I knew that I’d just described what my butterflies look like.

And I want them back!

Julie

Belated retirement thoughts

So, while I’m waiting for the release from Customs of the PROOF Anthology for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, I thought I’d play catch up with my journal notes and look what I found! A note to self to type up (amongst other things of course) notes from opposite page (in my journal) re my retirement (which happened in March and it is now October!). I have been busy…

This then is a record of my finale as Administrator to the North Yorkshire Coast Methodist Circuit.

The two weeks leading up to my retirement was not a time to reflect on my working life as I was still busy working and I was in a state of anxiety and panic – not about retiring but about fitting everything in that needed to be done before I left – in order to hand over to the person who was taking over from me. We all know that no-one is indispensable. There is always someone waiting to step into our shoes – no matter who we are or what we do.

Instead of slowing down to enjoy my final two weeks, I found myself making lists about lists of things to pass on. However, the time passed so quickly and the final day arrived. I was left with one hour alone in the office at the end of that day to heart-wrenchingly surge the filing cabinet of information that was no longer relevant to the new post.

I did not have the luxury of time to ponder and reflect on each piece of work as I stripped it from the files. I simply threw away the last 8 years of my journey as if it meant nothing. However, knowing I had the most important paper files backed up on disc was a consolation. I borrowed these and when I have more time to reflect I will salvage the files that contain my own creative self therein. I’ve been so busy that it hasn’t happened yet – apart from a frantic search through for information I required in regard to a worship writing project I undertook. It felt good to know that my work for the Methodist Circuit was still useful.

Almost at the end of this final day, my husband called into the office to pick up my personal adornments, ie, pictures and icons from the walls, books, cards, etc. When he left, I sat with a mug of tea looking around at the space, resting in the quiet, being in the moment, indulging in a little nostalgia. Then, I simply grabbed my bag, rose from the chair and walked out as if it was just another day – which it was really.

All the above had been interspersed with well wishes via cards and email messages from around the Circuit, from those people I have come to know and love, albeit with challenges along the bumpy way that only served to make my journey more rewarding as these were met.

I had numerous unexpected emotional moments, especially at the end of my final Circuit Meeting when I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, which bloomed for 3 weeks afterwards. I still have the now dried multi-coloured petals from the rose in a keepsake box and, of course, photographs. I was unaware at the meeting that there was a monetary gift from all the churches inside the card I was given with the flowers as I didn’t open it until I got home. I hope everyone received my words of thanks via the email I sent to the ministers, circuit stewards and senior church stewards. (This would have been a good measure of the communication system I instilled in you all!).

My celebration continued after leaving the office for the last time on 27th March 2015 as cards and gifts kept arriving and, finally, on my favourite day in the Christian calendar (Maundy Thursday) I was taken for a farewell lunch at Raven Hall by the ministerial staff, where I received several surprise gifts. It was an emotional and beautiful farewell, and I felt much appreciated as a person.

I want to thank everyone in the Circuit (belatedly) for being part of my journey, not only in my working life but also for encouraging me in my walk of faith. I was not a Christian when I took up post on 8 January 2007 but that changed dramatically when, on 10 March 2007, I came to believe in Jesus Christ as my saviour. This single revelation has to be the highlight of my time working for the Circuit.

Almost there…

A project listed on my last blog has almost reached completion! HOORAH!

With a closing date for submissions of 28 July, I can now report that everything has been gathered in to bring the Scarborough Writers’ Circle Anthology 2015 to fruition. The anthology’s interior is in book format, cover design will be ready later today. All that’s required is for me to upload both to the publisher and off it goes. It will be 8 days before a proof can be delivered back to me for one of our eagle-eyed members to read through to check for errant typos – those annoying little errors that always seem to appear after a print run. Hopefully, we can capture these (if there are any!) before ordering that.

So… watch this space… initially for the appearance of the book cover so you can gaze at it whilst anticipating the temptation to investigate further when, on 1st October, the book should be available to purchase (at the cheapest price possible, I promise).

Many thanks for your patience, both to those who are awaiting this publication with bated breath, and to the contributors, my fellow writers with whom I share two hours on alternate Tuesdays at the Scarborough Writers’ Circle group meetings.

You are welcome to join us if you are interested in writing. Simply come along as a guest to any of our sessions.

More info at www.scarboroughwriterscircle.com (the website is in the midst of an update but you can still access it).

Many thanks for your interest.

Julie

 

Blog Neglect Alert!

The recent neglect of my social media sites is due entirely to my retirement from employment at the end of March this year. I have been engulfed in creative energy which has involved creating things for other people to enjoy (hopefully!). It’s like a burst of joy having time to spend on things I love doing though I am aware that I take too much on and need to focus on my own projects to get them finished. Come the end of September, I feel I will be in a position to do just that.

But first…

Remember the Peace Wall at Vernon Road Library. http://juliefairweather.co.uk/2015/04/wall-of-peace/ Well, I have now collated the hundred plus comments and photos from this and it will be on here for you to enjoy as soon as I set those into a presentation. This presentation is also to be interwoven with poetry/reflections about peace –  to be written and performed by local writers. Please watch this space – and the local press – for details of when and where that will be.

But second…

In relation to demonstrating my faith, I have prepared various talks to illustrate how my creativity links to my faith, i.e., ‘my creative faith’, some of which have been executed; others pending presentation at their destination venue. I hope to gather these together into pamphlet form for distribution as soon as time permits. I’m also coming to the closing stages of the creation of a prayer/meditation book… and I have a file of personal pilgrimage journal writing screaming out to become a collection of meditations. As well as writing, there is the ongoing preparation for the Sacred Space Prayer Station display at my local church.

But third…

I am overseeing an anthology of short stories and poems for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, due to be published in autumn. This is at the stage of my bringing together all the SWC Members’ submissions into one document in book format, for a final proofread. The book’s cover, title and blurb will be decided by the whole group at a session I’m leading on 1st September.

Attempting to bring all of the above nearer to fruition became extremely challenging during the recent chaotic renovation of my flat – new kitchen, bathroom and heating system – which caused the most unbelievable mess of dust and rubble. Don’t get me started on it – please! I have a long list… not least having no quality concentration time for creativity.

I am so aware of the focus on mindfulness these days and being too busy to relax with a colouring book is a sign for me that I have taken too much on. I say this after enrolling on three pleasurable courses due to start at the end of September: Circle Dancing, Singing for Health and Well-being, and Drawing – the latter because I would like to use my own sketches for illustrating my projects. I will also be participating in a Poetry Salon – a new venture for winter months set up by two local poets/writers.

So, forgive me then for not keeping up with my blog… and other social media, I hasten to add. I have been too busy to spend time procrastinating (even with one of my favourite pastimes – colouring in my doodle books).

Colouring for adults is not a new thing. In fact, I bought several doodle colouring books from Boyes’ store in Scarborough ten years ago to aid relaxation for the management of stress/anxiety… so all the fuss about the new mindfulness creative colouring books is beyond me. The books from Boyes, by the way, were completed a long time ago. Now, when I colour, I doodle my own patterns. Remember how we created them in Reception Class? Simply, take your pencil and scribble a pattern … then colour it in. And here I am once more, making time for mindfulness colouring as a form of procrastination. Ah, bliss! Who knows what doodles I will be colouring in when I’ve completed the drawing course?

I hope my retirement lasts for a long time.   It needs to with all these things I have yet to enjoy.

See you soon on here… promise!