Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places, Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger, Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Taking stock of January



It's February tomorrow dear reader, a whole new month, Holly will be 8 months old and I'll be, well lets just say it's my birthday but if anyone asks I am 35 and sticking ;)  I heard that people are allowed to wish Philip Schofield happy birthday but no one is ever allowed to refer to how old he is, well he's perpetually young so if that's all it takes I'll just tell people I'm 35 forever.

So it's the end of January and I am taking stock of the last month, it's been quite a month for me personally, this month has been about helping myself and others to get control of their lives so that they (and I) can become fuller, better, richer, more fulfilled people.  I want to thank you for all of the messages, comments, discussions on my Facebook (that's my personal Facebook, please do feel free to add me, but not if you're an axe wielding psychopath).  It's great to be able to help others to help themselves and sometimes it's just as much as getting someone else to vocalise the questions you can't seem to ask yourself, I of course do this myself with others who are far more knowledgeable like the amazing Leonie Dawson for instance!  I'm sure you'll hear much more about her as we go through the year.

The very most important thing I did of course was to start the month forgiving myself and anyone who'd ever hurt me, it's given me the power to build the entire foundations of my new life and it's a wonderful amazing thing and life is only going to continue to get better and better.  This single point has brought forth the most questions I've had asked and I just want to reiterate that it's not about knocking on everyones door who has ever wronged you, it's just about you making your peace with yourself, the universe and God and I think from experience that actually it was a lot harder for me to find inner forgiveness and be at peace with myself more than anyone else but my goodness, my shoulders relaxed straightaway and one physical thing I've noticed is that I've had far less neck pain during January, I think holding onto things just builds up inside you and it can actually cause physical pain, of course you have to be able to let go and this was something I covered yesterday, it's taken me time to reconnect with my own emotions and let myself be truly happy, sad, excited, interested instead of pretty numb to it all.  As many of you know I am bi-polar and I take medication which does control at least some of my emotions but I found that digging inside myself I can still reach them all, I just had to look a teeny bit harder.

Look, I'm really proof that if I can do it, screwed up, made a mess of it a billion times and bought the T-shirt then for you, well not only is it possible but it's an absolute definite!

The first key to everything is a simple smile in the mirror at yourself, fake it till you make it if you have to, it's been proven psychologically that if someone smiles at you it makes you happier and if you smile at yourself it makes you happy.

So what are you waiting for?  Smile at yourself, be happy and lets all leap into February and have the best month together we've all had for years!

I shall be starting mine off with dog walking, lunching, caking and champagning, sounds like a good first of February to me!


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Friday, January 30, 2015

Who do you want to be and how are you going to achieve that?

This week has been a wonder and a revelation dear reader, it's great to hear so many of you joining in with grabbing your life by the horns and roaring like a panther.  I've been roaring myself in the quieter moments.



You see it's great to help other people find themselves and I think it almost pushes me onwards to become the person I've always wanted to be.

Have you ever asked that very important question of yourself?  Who do you want to be and what are the actions you can take to be that person?

For me, I want to be self confident, honest, happy, lovable, someone who will be embraced and will be able to give as much love as I receive, I still want to be successful although my definitions of success may have changed ever so slightly and of course I want to continue to work towards being an experientialist.

So I know where I want to be, I know what I want to be and now I have to ask myself the questions of how I'll achieve that?  Well I suppose that goes back to my last blog about getting control of your life right now!

My biggest thing was to forgive myself and others so I did that in January, I've talked about this before and lets just take a minute to ponder it, a blanket of forgiveness for yourself and for anyone who has ever wronged you, look I'm not suggesting you go and knock on peoples doors and tell them, nor am I suggesting that you ever have to speak to people who've wronged you ever again but you just need to say it to yourself and to the universe and let it all go, the minute I did it I felt the biggest amount of relief, I actually felt it in my neck and in my shoulders, it was a big Ahhhh moment and I think it's the very first step to any life plan really.

You also need to know that it's ok to feel whatever emotion you are feeling, we spend so much time keeping emotions in and they are damaging, I learnt to keep emotions locked away quite some time ago and it's taken me so long to be able to release them again and I can't tell you just how good it feels to be able to just cry openly again, it still doesn't happen all that often but yesterday for example I had moments of happiness and sadness and I let myself feel those emotions as they occurred and I think I sleep much better at night because my brain isn't constantly in turmoil.

One final thing which is great to embrace is that it's ok to be the person you are, be honest and be forthright, if people can't handle that then it's definitely not your fault, you will end up in a situation where you have exactly the people you need in your life to help carry you forward and you in turn will help them in the same ways, you see we're all on a voyage of discovery, we're all trying to be the best people we can be and as long as we realise you only have to be good enough and not constantly strive for perfection then that is a very good thing.

So this weekend when you have a spare 5 minutes (It's my birthday on Sunday so I'm planning lots of spare minutes....which contain copious amounts of cake or Champagne) just ask yourself that very important question, who do you want to be? and if you aren't already there, and lets face it, we're all mostly on the journey towards it, people who have achieved it are definitely in the minority, so what are you going to do to make those changes and achieve your own personal state of nirvana?


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

10 Ways To Take Control of Your Own Life Right Now!

Hey you!, yes you dear reader, I am talking directly to you today, you see, there's something I've learned to reach this point in my life on our small planet we call earth and here's what it is;

  1. Take control of your own life right now!  It's not going to make things instantly better and you will still cry and be sad, you will still have days where you want to hide under your duvet in the corner of your room (it's not just me who does that is it?) but you will be in control of your own destiny and that in itself is a powerful and positive step which no one can take away from you.
  2. Ask questions of yourself and others but be prepared for people to tell the truth, this is a step which can actually be the most difficult thing because you might get answers you don't want to hear but even if you do, you chose to ask the question, have the opinion and no one can ever take away the feelings you have inside and you must remember this, never derivate away from it or make compromises for how you feel in your heart and even more so you should never apologise for feeling the way that you do.
  3. The unfortunate circumstance is you can't expect people to feel differently to the way that they do and so you're going to have to deal with that yourself because remember that whatever you do you are only able to change yourself, no matter what you do or how you feel you really can't change someone else, they have to do that themselves and if they promise you that they will change you should always take that with a pinch of salt because you then have to ask yourself if that person is saying it to make you feel better or are they compromising their beliefs and opinions to soften the blow?
  4. Sometimes even if you can learn from past mistakes there are things in life which are so big that you will never understand that the best course of action is to just draw a line under it, start afresh and never speak of it again.
  5. Try to only thing of good things and see the positives in other people, it's a lot easier than being suspicious or making assumptions.
  6. Be Open to everything, now I'm not suggesting that you should accept an invitation to cliff jump next weekend but try to say yes more often, especially if it's to a new experience because it might just be the most fun thing you have ever done.
  7. Forgive yourself, yes we all make mistakes, some of them are minor, some of them are huge massive cataclysmic mistakes but other people won't forgive you until you can first forgive yourself.
  8. Get out more!  I can honestly say that this January my seasonally affective disorder has been a bit rubbish but nowhere near as bad as it's been for years and that's thanks to Holly and our daily adventures, even if we only manage an hour in the park it helps with my social interactions, my soaking up of sunshine and my general happiness over all.
  9. Have more experiences and less things yep, I wrote about that one already.
  10. Love and hug more, yes I know that we're all terribly British (unless you are reading this from somewhere more exotic) and known for our stiff upper lips but why shouldn't we hug our friends and tell them we love them, I'm not saying we should become false and tell everyone "Oh I love you sweetie" but if you love your friends then it's ok to say I love you, you might even make their day.
Now I could have added in another one about having a pet to cuddle (get a beagle) but I know that's not possible for everyone, I do think having a pet is a great idea if it's possible to have one in your life, pets give far more than they ask for and I think somewhat that could be even more true in the case of rescue pets.

So lets read through the list, follow steps 1-10 and then march forth in the knowledge that we are in control, we are bright and shiny beings and the world is ours!



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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Inner Peace and a Greater Understanding of my Psyche

With my 41st birthday approaching like a train hurtling towards me without any breaks I've been feeling the need to make plans, to-do lists and a jotter full of suggestions for myself of things I should do/attempt/go to/try over the course of the next year... Well you would think that wouldn't you?  But it reality it's just there hanging in the back of my mind like a lonesome worry the size of Birmingham, it's looming large and growing like a large spot without a head on, you know the ones, they throb, they're red and angry but you can't actually get rid of them just yet!

Last year around my 40th birthday I seem to remember wanting to make To-do lists of things I wanted to achieve over the course of the last year, none of them went to plan and I ended up having probably the worst year of my entire life so it is why there is a certain amount of trepidation to try and set goals for myself over the coming year.

I do feel one thing, I am delighted that once I reach Sunday I will no longer have to be 40 anymore, I always dreaded 40 and it seems with retrospect that it was for very good reason.

I do find now that I am in a very happy and settled period of my life though that 40 was probably the exact right age to get a dog, parents you can use that with your children "No Philomena, you can't have a puppy, we'll get one when you are 40"




Speaking of puppies, Holly had a brilliant time yesterday running around a field off lead, her recall is so good, perhaps because she loves me or perhaps because I am the lady with a pocket full of treats or maybe it's a bit of both.

I could actually state that as the single best highlight of being 40, adopting Holly has given me not only a whole new lease of life but she's changed my life, given me a whole new outlook and taught me some things about life, love and the universe and all without actually saying a thing.

I'd love the next year of my life to be full of new experiences, fun times and family times, I want photography and writing to remain the focus of my working life because they're the tools which have the ability to provide the existence of new experiences.   Work of course doesn't have to feel like work when you enjoy it and have fun, that is a fact that I've definitely learnt in the last decade!

and so here I am on the verge of 41 with no plans, to-do lists (not even a weekly one yet) or goals and I am simply going to jot down a few ideas, open myself up to as many new experiences as possible and work as much as I need to so that I can achieve that.  I'm not looking to change the world but maybe I am looking to change my own world so that I can continue to grow and heal and be happy and loved and enjoy the experience of living a fulfilled life, and isn't that what we're all trying to achieve at the end of the day?  Inner peace and a deep understanding of our own psyches? 

Step 1 - Get a dog...
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Suffocation and Becoming an Experientialist

an early winter morning walk on the Wallington Estate owned by National Trust

I touched on this in my last blog post about living more with less, I'm currently reading a brilliant book by James Wallman called Suffocation, Living More With Less, it's about our constant need for stuff and how in reality it's making our lives much worse, more stressful and less memorable.  Now I took the quiz in the book to see if I was even near to becoming an Experientialist and before I took the quiz I did think that I already held some of the values required to become an active experientialist, you see all through my life as a parent I've always believed in giving the kids as many new and unique experiences as I possibly could, all of the time during our marriage one of the things Paul and I did with the kids was take them to places, museums, walks they would complain about, National Trust properties, English Heritage momuments, even in the days when we had next to no money we would clamber into our tiny Fiat Panda and go out for picnics and away days.  I've always held true to my own values that memories are the most important thing we take forwards in our life.

I also believe that being a grown up can sometimes be, well a bit rubbish really so it's up to you as parents to make sure that childhood is as fun and carefree as it can possibly be and filled with memories instead of stuff.

Now obviously because I mainly try to overcompensate for all of my failings I never go away anywhere without bringing home the kids presents (or the dog for that matter) but I've always spent much more on holidays and mini breaks than I have on brand new furniture or the latest in expensive wallpaper, let me just say I have no wall paper and pretty much everything I own is vintage and second hand because I hate new plastic furniture.



Holly at Wallington, a definite experience, she got wet and muddy and had a great time!


So it could be that I am already near to the point of being someone who only cares about experiences rather than things although I did disagree with one of the fundamental points about not needing to take photos because we hold the memories in our minds, well that's just a lot of rubbish in my opinion as I think photographs last far longer than memories or they can prod memories throughout our life, they're a kind of memory trigger to relive those amazing picnics and away days, oh and yes I mean actual proper photos, not digital images which clog up computers and rarely get printed (something I am as guilty of doing as the next person).

You know I've mentioned in the past about our family to-do board which has new suggestions on it every week, well I go that long before I heard of James Wallmans book, I wanted to have fun things every week we could make new happy memories with and mostly Looby is the one who writes the suggestions on and checks them off as we do them, it's been the biggest success of anything I've tried to introduce over the last year and it's definitely here to stay.

My suggestion for all of you who are working towards a life of experience instead of a life of stuff is to go and buy a chalk board this weekend and then write some suggestions or even better get your kids to do it, they have the best minds for this kind of thing.  Amazing things will happen because of this board, even if you get to Friday and you haven't done any of the suggestions you will try to find ways of making them happen over the weekends, we might actually fail a bit this week as we wrote a snowy to-do list and I only managed 2 of them due to the lack of snow, I think the building a snowman and snow beagle might have to wait for the arrival of more white and flaky stuff (and I'm not talking about the curse of an itchy scalp here).

So, this weekend go do stuff, make memories, take photographs and above all, make sure you spend time with the people that you love because all of the stuff in all of the world hasn't the same value as quality time.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Simplifying and living more of a life with less

You know dear reader there's something I've come to understand over the last year or so of my life and that is that quality time is a million times better than all of the money in the whole of the universe.

On the bus, Holly and I have adventures every day because we both love to go out and about
When I had my children and started my business I really wanted to provide them with everything they would ever need in life but I've always spoken up for spending simple quality time as a family together and this has become so much more important over the last year or so.

At the moment I am in the process of trying to simplify my life so that I can live a better life albeit with less than I've had for a while.

Single parenting is hard but it would almost seem easier to just keep working and ploughing ahead to be able to provide the things the kids need, but that's just it isn't it?  The kids actually don't need that much physical stuff, what they need is love and experiences which help them to grow in life and love and their own wellbeing.

Since last September I've cut down on the hours I work, I've cut down on the number of weddings I photograph every year and I've cut down on the amounts of photo shoots I'll do in one day.  It's made a huge difference in the amount of quality time I have but it hasn't impacted too badly (quite thankfully) on my finances, well not enough for me to panic about, yes it means less stuff but then what is stuff, it's the things you collect and then throw out, it's not experiences or time spent doing things which actually don't cost much at all.

I bought myself a flask this week and a food pod thing so that when I'm out with Holly I can have my soup and coffee and a wee picnic and then I find it just doesn't cost much at all for a whole day out just wandering and enjoying the company of my woofy best friend (and the kids when they choose to come along).

I think for me now my goal is to do more writing, more travelling, more time spent having experiences with Holly and with the kids and I am going to simplify my life.

this little pumpkin has taught me so many lessons about how we all should be living.

Look I'm not saying we should all just give up the work that we do because obviously I know that there's a basic fundamental need to pay the bills and also to have a little extra for the fun things but what I am saying is that I am giving up the life of being a mad old workaholic who would do 20 photo shoots in a weekend, have them edited by the Monday and prints posted out by the next Friday.

I love my work that I've chosen to do, my blog, my Etsy store, my photography business and I can't ever see a day when I would give that up but my days of working 17 hours a day are most definitely behind me!

So what's ahead now?  days out, holidays, adventures, more writing, more photography and more importantly lots of love, time and attention for everyone in my life who is so important to me.  Why don't you see which ways you can simplify your life today so you can live more with just a little less.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Stress is bad for your health, I may have the answer....

You know how some days are great for making you feel better about the bad day you had previously, well I've just had one of those today, yesterday I was miserable, ill, narrowly avoided a trip to hospital because I couldn't breathe but got off lightly after a trip to the walk in centre where I hands down refused to go to A&E, time plugged into a nebuliser with some kind of drug that made me very lightheaded, a course of steroids and an inhaler and I got to come home again and by last night I was significantly less grey than I'd been for the last couple of days.

My body has taken such a battering lately, I seem to get endlessly ill despite eating well/exercising and taking vitamins plus rarely drinking and not smoking, I should be a picture of health but it seems that stress may be the culprit, you can see in this diagram just how damaging stress can be, it simply affects all parts of your body and mind and sometimes you can be stressed without even knowing it, it's like your body lies to itself.

I'd like to think I have the answer and I sort of think I do, I know that I can't change things and make them better overnight in any aspect of my life and I know that since September sometimes life has simply been a struggle but I think after 15 years of marriage that your soulmate leaving is never exactly going to be a fun time for anyone, I just think I didn't recognise in myself just how very hard it would be/still is.

I think the answer though is to have less days like yesterday and more days like today.  Holly and I went on the metro to Cullercoats and first stopped into see Joanne and her lovely labrador Poppy at natural dog supply shop The Wandering Dog, we really love it in there and Joanne is a wonderful source of advice on healthy natural foods and treats, raw feeding and everything doggy.  After that we went down to Cullercoats bay beach and there was only Holly and I on the whole beach so we did off lead time and yay, she's still mine and didn't run off, we even played fetch and she's getting so good with her recall.








and after all of that action and running around we ended up in the Tynemouth Surf Cafe which is just the most wonderful dog friendly place and they loved Holly and even made us promise we would go back to see them again, of course we will, there will be no stopping us, we loved it and the nachos I had were utterly delicious, I think it might just be the most dog friendly place in Tynemouth but if you are planning to pop down my warning is that it does get very busy, especially at weekends.

I think I could quite happily live in Tynemouth as it's possibly the most dog friendly place in the whole of the north east of England, many of the bars, restaurants and pubs happily accept dogs and not only accept them but make a lovely fuss of them and that to me is so important, I want Holly to feel as welcome as I do, I've found there's a big difference between dog friendly and dog tolerant.

Holly is a tired puppy this evening, she's had such a busy day, she really is a tonic with her funny ways and her pretty brilliant behaviour for a puppy.  

Whatever you get up to this weekend I hope it contains, love, laughter and friendship...

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wearing your heart on your sleeve and why social media is a lie

The problem with wearing your heart on your sleeve dear reader is quite often it opens you up to being hurt but it does have the bonus that people always know what to expect from you, there's no real hidden side to me, I am on my blog as I am on social media as I am in real life.  I hate that thing when you meet someone you've spoken to on social media and they're not anything like the person you thought they were.  It's happened to me a couple of times and I've always been taken quite aback by it, those people were obviously far clever than I to be able to create a wholly different online persona.

The thing is though, and I was reading about this recently, is that social media and more importantly Facebook is a lie.  How many of us actually say how we're feeling on social media and how many of us only put the stuff out there that we want other people to see?

I read these kinds of statuses "life is totally amazeballs, I love everything" and I think back to the days when I myself used to write similar and it wasn't that they were an untruth but there's definitely something about putting those statements out there and the reasons we do it.  When you think about it, lets for example take holiday photographs, you know the ones, you're at your desk and it's noon on a Wednesday in August and Polly Perfectlife posts a photo of a giant cocktail she's having on her uber hot beach holiday, is she putting it out there because she needs to remind herself that her life is perfect or is she putting it out there to make other people say "oh look at her amazeballs life, I'm so jealous"  Conversely how many people do we mute or remove when all they do is moan and complain about the bad things in life?  I'm guilty of it myself, I simply won't tolerate rain cloud people even though I myself am going through a period in my life where not much fun stuff actually occurs. 

Something else I was reading about yesterday is concealed depression, something which I'd like to come out and hold my hand up and say that most of the time that's actually me at the moment, I think I've been pretty depressed since I lost my one true love but you can't go on about it endlessly can you?  It's not helpful to anyone if you just post "so bloody depressed" on every single Facebook status and it's going to get you muted/unfriended/hidden from newsfeed so it's just easier if we all post only the good things about our lives or if there isn't anything good it's just better that we post nothing, well no, that isn't ok actually because I think social media can lead to us concealing depression even more so and I actually think depression is something we should be talking about a lot more often, we should be normalising it because so many people have to go through it and still far too many people are suffering in silence.


I'm not sure how much if any of this blog post will make any sense at all but I think one of my goals for this year is to go out into real life situations and see friends, make more friends, do things which aren't all about social media because as I noted yesterday I've just reached the point of having 5000 followers on Twitter, I spend far too much time on social media when in my actual real life it can be days/weeks/months between seeing friends in real life.  I'll tell you what I would love to do, maybe I could invite all 5000+ of my Twitter followers to have a real life party, I wonder how many of them would actually turn out not to be robots eh?!
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Dancing through life?

It's been said dear reader that a change is a good as a holiday, does this mean that a holiday is as good as a change I wonder?

Whatever it means I am happy to announce that I am going on a short midweek Easter break with my girls (that's Abigail, Looby and Holly) to the Berwick holiday park, Looby is utterly excited, we last stayed in a caravan in August and had a brilliant time, she loves caravans for some strange reason and to be honest I'm just happy to get a bit of a rest so we're going in the second week of the Easter holidays from the Monday to the Friday, I forsee lots of walks along the beautiful beaches though I shall not be partaking of any of the Haven nonsense, I have a great excuse, Holly can't go in any of the facilities, just the grounds and the Caravan, a perfect way to avoid chavvy children who stay up way past their bedtimes high on too much sugar and run amock.

Whilst I fully recognise it's not a 2 week trip to Majorca I am hoping that the girls get some kind of enjoyment out of it and hopefully soon I'm going to book our summer holidays where I think we're going to go to Keswick because it's the most dog friendly place in Britain apparently and you know it's all about the dog, about the dog, no woofles!

Over the course of the weekend I've managed to see 2 musicals, namely Annie and Into The Woods, both of them I loved for different reasons and I have decided that life would be wholly better if we all lived in a musical, I had planned to sing and dance my way through the week but after waking up with a huge headache I might have to start tomorrow.  No sooner had I got Looby off to school did Holly and I run back to bed and slept until 11, I love that I have a dog who could sleep quite easily until lunchtime!  At least when we did get up we went for a stomp although it was a little on the windy side for both our likings and there were moments when I feared we'd blow away, have you ever seen a beagles ears in the wind, she looked like a little helicopter ready to ascend to the skies.



This week is about getting back on track with writing and blogging and also I'm going to try and make some new plans for things to achieve this year and then obviously I better work out how the heck I am actually going to achieve them (always helpful).  Maybe Holly and I should do our own reviews of dog friendly pubs/coffee houses and holidays?  She certainly likes to get away on high days and holidays...
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Friday, January 09, 2015

Bad days and holidays

Good windy morning to you dear reader, I have to first apologise for my absence this week, it's been the first week back at work and I've been trying to catch up to date with actual work, you know the stuff that pays the bills so I've been beavering away and I have 3 tasks left on my to-do list, 1 of which was blogging so well done me!

Yesterday was a thoroughly crappy day, the girls are going to Majorca in August with their dad and to say I'm not dealing with it well is an understatement, I can't stand to think of them so many miles away having the time of their lives without me, it's quite heartbreaking and I haven't found a way to deal with it yet.  I've asked them not to mention the holiday or anything about it because it just makes me cry and it's not that I don't want them to always be happy and have new experiences but I think it caught me off guard and it's just another realisation that life has changed forever.  I had been looking at holidays myself but more along the lines of a week in a caravan in Berwick, it's hardly likely to be able to complete with Majorca is it?  Even worse is the fact that I can't seem to get 2 weeks away because of when Paul has booked and my summer schedule for weddings so a week in a cheap caravan doesn't even slightly compare but I want to be able to take Holly with us, I want her to have a holiday too, I think I would miss her smelly paws (and they are smelly) without her by my side, you know they talk about dogs getting separation anxiety, I think with Holly and I it's definitely the other way around, I hate leaving her and miss her so much when I am not with her, this is her current position next to me - 


I think one of the problems is fulfilling everything on my needs list for a holiday, it's got to be dog friendly, child friendly and accessible by train or public transport plus not too long a journey as Holly will need toilet breaks and she can't exactly nip to the loo like us!

I think yesterday was just confirmation that I'm still not especially in a good place and it's January which of course amplifies everything, I've always hated January, it's the worst month of all for Seasonal Affective Disorder which I thought I was doing ok with given that I walk Holly every day but it really seems to have hit me this week and I am struggling to stay on top of it.

Do you ever feel about running away to the circus and not coming home again?

One thing I do know is that I am going to have to have some kind of massive coping strategy for when the girls are actually overseas because at this point when I think about it I fear for my own mental health during that time, I'm so glad I have Holly at least, she's the one thing which stands between me and the cloak of madness!

Abigail and Looby are both staying at dads tonight so I need to give myself a shake and go and do something with Holly or I'll just end up sitting in a corner and crying and that's not going to help anyone.

Hopefully by the time I write again (which may well be after the weekend and then I promise to get back to a regular schedule) I'll be feeling better.



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Monday, January 05, 2015

It's back to work day!

It's that day we all dreaded, back to work proper day!  I do hate when my children go back to school and this morning neither Looby or Holly even responded when the alarm went off, Holly is a big fan of getting up at a very gentle pace at around 9ish in the morning, she was not impressed when I told her that 7.15am is now getting up times, well at least for the next 6 weeks or so.

I've changed my working hours to Mon/Wed/Fri and either Saturday or Sunday depending on bookings, this means that Holly will never be on her own for more than a couple of hours and what I've already noticed is that she of course gives me that look which says "Walkies now or I'll eat the rug/floorboards/jumper/anything"   You wouldn't refuse this menacing look now would you?


Holly really has changed my life in so many ways and I certainly feel like she's made me a much better person, she teaches me things about life on a daily basis and I try to take it all on board, well apart from the message that wood is the tastiest thing to eat in the whole wide world!

Usually in January I'm giving myself an extra week off because literally nothing is happening but this year for some strange and bizarre reason I seem to be busier than usual, I have a couple of photo shoots midweek and that never happens in January, my calendar seems to have things in for most weekends and if you are interested in having a photo shoot in Saltwell Park then I have availability on 17/1, if you would rather go with Jesmond Dene you'll find me there on 25/1, I have no current plans for Tynemouth Longsands but if you do want to take advantage of the gorgeous winter light then get in touch and I'm sure I can brave the cold for an hour or 2.  Remember that photo shoots at all 3 of those locations are only £25.

I've been trying to come up with all of those important goals I need to motivate me during this year, I know for instance that I want to do much more writing as it fits in with my working life really well and I don't have to particularly go anywhere to do it.

Oh and about the UK Cityscapes project, it kind of took a back seat when my marriage fell apart and I still feel for the most part that I don't want to be away from my kids or indeed Holly but I've been formulating a plan over the Christmas holidays and Looby and I are going to continue and where possible we'll stay in dog friendly hotels and take Holly too.  It does mean of course that it's going to take longer before the project reaches completion but I started the project and committed to it and so therefore I have to finish.  What I do know is that it's probably going to take another 3 years approximately, for 1 thing my income has fallen and my outgoings have risen due to being a single parent but complete it I will and hopefully no one will get there before I'm done!

So that's 2 goals and things which will motivate me this year, have you made any goals or do you have things you want to focus on, get in touch and let me know.

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

5 Life lessons I've learnt from my dog


I've thought for a long time how much easier life would be if we were like dogs, we go out, we sniff each other and then we're life long friends forever, sounds like a good plan to me!

Seriously though, there are some things which I've really learnt from my dog which can hopefully help me to be a better person and hopefully you too, we could all learn something from the furry ones we spend our lives with, not the cat creatures though, they just show the perfect model of ambivalence to everything although they do like to sit on the bed when you're poorly which is nice!

  1. Be excited to see each other, I've never known anything like it when I have been away from home for an hour and she makes me feel like I haven't seen her in a year because she's just so happy and excited to see me again, I'm not suggesting that we all jump up and lick our friends when we see them but be so delighted that you make them feel really wanted.
  2. Cuddle often, sometimes Holly will jump up and cuddle me and then she hops down and gets on with her own thing (usually eating the floor tiles or any wood she can get her beagle teething gums onto) but she comes to cuddle me often just to remind me that she loves me.
  3. Forgiveness, I think dogs never bear grudges and I try to be forgiving but lets face it we can all get a little lost along the way so on January 1st I made my pledge to the universe that I forgave everyone who had every wronged me and my shoulders fell and relaxed instantly, I also forgave myself.
  4. Be lovely to everyone!  Holly greets the world with love, pretty much every where she goes she wants to say hello to fellow dogs and humans and isn't that how we all should be?  We should have a cheery word or just a smile even when we are passing people on the street, after all a smile costs nothing!
  5. Greet each new day with a smile!  Holly likes 8-10 hours of sleep a night, much like me really but when she wakes up at around 8.30/9am she hops on to my bed to say "Good Mowning, I love you mummee" she's a happy little thing and she greets the day with the expectation that each day is going to be the best day ever.
I'm sure there are other things we can learn from our canine friends and please do get in touch if you've been struck from any more life lessons, I mean after all, even o2 have been telling us to "Be more dog" for a while now!



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Friday, January 02, 2015

Always Remember To Gallop...

So here we are on the 2nd of January dear reader and my house has been restored to non Christmas reality, well apart from burning a Christmas candle I just found and eating the Christmas cake I made and then promptly forgot about.

The year has gotten off to a great start really, Looby and I did a 10 mile round trip walk with Holly and our lovely friends Aggie, Alan and their kids and dog yesterday, in fact I think Holly has a walking hangover today, she's been the quietest beagle in the world, Iain took her out for a walk earlier and ended up carrying her because she refused to, well, walk!

I go back to work tomorrow with a sprinkling of photo shoots throughout the weekend and then Monday, I'm back at work proper with a ton of editing, admin and other such joyful tasks, I shall miss just getting up in the morning and then taking Holly out all day, I have no idea what we'll do actually as she favours a nice easy 9am getty up and a leisurely breakfast with an extra helping of cuddles from Looby before she'll even contemplate doing anything.

I've never been a big fan of January, the light levels suck and my SAD is usually at it's worst but I have to say for the first year in a long time I'm feeling ok in the SAD department, I think going out on big dog walks every day really does help more than taking vitamin D tablets ever could, it's also just a lovely thing to do, I love walking with Holly, a time to contemplate and I often chat to her on the way, i'm sure that makes me seem a little barmy to passers by but to be honest, they probably thought that anyway!

I think for this year (after watching Miranda and knowing we share a love of galloping, I thought that was just me) I need a necklace or bracelet with "Always remember to gallop" written on it.  I caught the last episode of Miranda last night and I have to admit that I had tears running down my cheeks at the end, I love that she finally got her happy ever after, I think the tears may have been my sadness that I didn't get mine too, well at least not this time anyway, I guess there's still time. 

One of my goals for 2015 is to write more and hopefully make more of an income from writing, I haven't exactly decided how I'm going to make that happen and one of my January goals is to work out that conundrum.

If you're not back at work until Monday why not take the time to think about your goals for the coming year, business or personal, you could even do what I've done and Join lovely Amy of Whiteacres' Goal Setting Collective, after all a group mind is better than a lone one!  You even get a free A2 wall planner and speaking of that, I need to dig mine out now that Christmas is cleared away and get it on my wall, 2015 is all about goals, making them, meeting them and hopefully smashing them!

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