Category Archives: Tricia Jones

Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.

Strong Women Stay Young…at least that’s the plan!

Inspired by the book by Miriam E. Nelson, I decided that this was the year I’d finally firm up the flab. In Strong Women Stay Young, Dr. Nelson writes that a simple strength training program can replace fat with muscle, reverse bone loss and improve balance and energy. Good enough for me, so I embarked on my program. I bought dumbbells and diligently began daily biceps, triceps, and trapezius strengthening exercises. But it all seemed a little too easy and, to be honest, I didn’t feel like much was happening in the strengthening department. It made me wonder if the recommended 1kg weights to start were heavy enough. So I bought some 3kg weights (my lovely mum decided she wanted in on the action too, so we got her some 2kg weights in a buy one pair get another half price deal).

Suitably enthused, off I went again with my heavier weights only to find that after half a dozen repetitions I could barely hold my arm up (and I had to do a total of 24!). Back to the drawing board. By this time, the man in the sports shop was getting intrigued by yet another visit from the pensioner with an obsession for buying dumbbells, and he asked me if I was planning to enter an iron woman contest or something. Very funny. Anyway, the 2kg weights I’ve bought now seem to be doing the trick, and they’re in a pretty shade of girlie pink into the bargain.

20170327_165821

I’ll let you know how I get on and there’ll be a fanfare when I move up to the 3kg weights. Oh, and you can see that the 1kg weights haven’t completely been ignored…Ms. Vivvy decided to have a little chew on the ends just to ensure they weren’t a complete waste of money 🙂

What Happened to February?

Well, what happened to February? It’s gone by in a flashier flash than even January did! 20170226_111643Maybe it’s because Chez Jones has been inundated with workmen since the beginning of the year with a bathroom remodel and copious other little jobs that spun from that one big one. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean: the leak from the newly installed toilet that produced a waterfall through the kitchen ceiling which consequently required repainting, the drip from the mains water tap discovered when they turned off the water supply to start the work, and which had resulted in an annual water bill which was basically double the norm (since been sorted, thankfully – both the leak and the bill!), and the new bathroom spotlights and extractor fan which resulted in discovering that the whole house needing re-wiring!! Suffice to say, we are doing the re-wiring thing in stages. Our nerves (and bank account) need time to settle down 😉 But that said, we absolutely love the new bathroom and said workmen did a fab job with everything. Such a great group of chaps – artisans, all of them.

20170218_113500In other news, Vivvy is doing really well with her training. She now has her bronze and silver awards and we are currently working on her gold (although Daddy says she’s already his golden girl *eye roll*). She picks up things really fast, especially if there’s a treat at the end of it, and seems to love scent work and hide & seek games the best. I’m trying to teach her to put her toys back in the box at the moment, but that’s a work in progress. I think she wonders why her minions can’t do that sort of menial task, thank you very much. I’m also attempting to teach her the cup game, but she just knocks all the cups over until she finds the treat underneath. Something to keep working on, I think, and maybe one day she’ll be as good at the task as Snow the cat in the following video:

 

 

Gallery

Détourné… Fouetté… Say what?

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Toward the end of last year, I kept hearing about a goal-setting system that women around the world seemed to be raving about. A great believer in metaphysical arrows, and having far too many signs urging me to take a … Continue reading

Season’s Greetings!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is all but over now and we’re nudging another new year. Where did December go? Let alone the whole year? But it’s once again the time for reviewing what has gone before and for planning what will be. To take stock of goals, aspirations, and what we hope to achieve in the coming year. Some of my goals seem to get transferred from one year to another, with not much in the way of progress being made on them. So this coming year I’ll be tweaking my approach to achieving them in the hope that next year they’ll be off the list! After all, didn’t someone once say that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”? 🙂

I know that 2016 has been a tough year for many of my friends here at the Fence, as well as a challenging year for the world at large, so I wish everyone a Healthy, Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year. I’ll end this short post with my favourite TV Christmas Advert this year, which is a reminder that despite adversity it is always possible to emerge triumphant and find our way back home.

When they actually can hear you scream!

Okay, so November has sort of passed in a blur that is NaNoWriMo, but happy to say the end is now in sight and on the home run. Yay!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience of NaNo and it seems to have had the desired effect of getting me back into the writing mindset. The story has absorbed me, and the best part of all, I’m enjoying writing again. But November hasn’t been all work and I’ve made time for some fun along the way.

Every month a nearby town holds a community theatre and movie night, which has turned into a girls’ night out. We four do the whole thing: popcorn, wine (for those who aren’t driving), ice cream and a shared box of chocolates. Last night’s movie was Me Before You which was really excellent. I haven’t read the book (being a happy-ending kinda gal) but absolutely loved the movie. Excellent acting, a good story, and although a sad ending it wasn’t mawkish. Highly recommended for those who might not have seen it.

We also had a theatre trip into Bath to see The Woman in Black. This was billed as being ‘the most terrifying live theatre experience in the world’ which, for those of us who love to be scared witless by such things, was impossible to resist. So off we went, the fearless four, armed with fortifying chocolate and comments such as “bet it’s not as scary as they say” and “whose idea was this anyway?”

The play was the stage adaptation of the movie of the same name and is based on Susan Hill’s story of a lawyer obsessed with a curse he believes has been cast on him. In the stage play, he employs an actor to help him exorcise his demons, but soon what is real and what is make-believe begin to blur with spine-tingling results.

One British newspaper gave the play five stars and said: “The atmosphere is so charged up that on more than one occasion, the entire audience screamed in terror”  Well, I read that with a little scoff…until I actually did. The play was spooky and I lost count of the number of times I jumped out of my skin. It was incredibly well acted, with excellent sound effects and visual aids. During one loud and blood-curdling scream which seemed to come from right behind us, we all instinctively grabbed for each other and yes, actually screamed right back. Since most of the audience were engaged in a kind of hushed nervous laughter, I don’t think we were alone in that.

So, two hours later we emerged, a little shell shocked and with the chocolates still in their unwrapped state. Testament indeed to a good night had by all.

 

(n.b. apologies for the formatting of this post – did something wrong somewhere and couldn’t work out how to get it back to normal!)

When Did It Stop Being Fun?

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing an annoying dose of writer’s block. It’s not simply a case of sitting and staring at a blank screen waiting for the words to come, this is a flat out case of not even wanting to go near the computer or notebook. There’s just nothing there story-wise. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Wikipedia describes writer’s block as a condition “in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.” Yep, that’s me. “The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years“. Yikes. That last part inspired me to take action. So…

I’ve decided to jump off the deep end and have signed up for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. This, according, to the official website, is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing” and means that on 1st November until the 30 November, participants are tasked with writing a 50,000-word novel. The essence of NaNoWriMo is Don’t think. Just Write. Well, signing up seemed like a good idea at the time, but now panic has well and truly settled in. But needs must and all that.

I’m not entirely sure what started this downhill slide into writer’s block, but for some reason, the joy of creating stories has left me, albeit temporarily I hope. It makes me long for the old days when, charged with an idea, I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and start writing. They were heady days. So involved was I in the story that I’d go crazy if I was interrupted. I remember once when AJ called me away for lunch and I told him I couldn’t be long as I couldn’t wait to get back to the story to find out what happened next. It seems a long time since I felt that way. So what happened?

21

Years ago, I read a really great article by author Holly Lisle called Are We Having Fun Yet? She talks specifically about writing, but her words can be applied to almost everything we  once loved to do but ultimately lost its magic for us. Holly talks about doing what we love simply because we love it. When we first find something that fires us up we throw ourselves into it. Of course, since we’re beginners we don’t always know what we’re doing, we don’t know the rules, but isn’t that part of the magic? We’re doing it simply for its own sake and for the pleasure it brings us. Then we start to discover the ‘rules’ or someone implies we’re not doing it right, and in trying to do it right the magic slowly begins to die

So, during November I’ll be throwing out the rules and attempting to find that magic again. What I write will be just for me, for the sheer pleasure of creating. There’ll be no thought of reader preference, editor requirements, publisher expectations, and not even concern for that insidious little voice that lies deep within and loves to tell me that I’m doing it all wrong. And, if my cunning plan works, I might just might, find that magic again.

What about you? Is there anything you’ve once loved/enjoyed, but somehow it’s lost its magic for you? Is there anything you might be able to do to get it back? I’d love to hear about it. Oh, and please take a couple of minutes to read Holly’s article. I’m sure you’ll be inspired.