Motivated and ready to go!

When that moment hits you, that you’re actually getting old and the body doesn’t do stuff like it used to it’s time to do something about it. Today I did just that.

I’ve been inspired by my 15 year old daughter. Every morning for the past week, she has been getting up at 6am to do her stretching & exercise regime. She’s doing this in order to achieve the maximum physical strength and agility required for her to reach her goal – being accepted on a dance course for her final two years at school. I used to be like her, ballet, & dancing in general, was my first love, it was my escape and my passion.

I’ve attempted going back as an adult several times, but always end up injured, both physically and mentally. The physical injuries leading to the mental ones – not being able to physically complete an exercise is as damaging to the body as it is to the brain. You feel deflated and fed up, and as a consequence start to wonder why you bother with the whole exercise thing. You can see a vicous circle happening here can’t you.IMG_5267

Anyway, today for the first time, I actually set my alarm for 6am. I must admit I nearly didn’t get up, I lay there for a few minutes until my daughter popped her head round the corner and said she was off to do her exercises. I then lay there for another few minutes trying to convince myself that having another half an hour in bed would be far nicer and tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t. At that point I conquered the lazy devil on my shoulder and took up the challenge by the motivated, energetic angel on the other one; got dressed and heading out for a brisk half hour walk.

It was fabulous! The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze, and it was quiet – no chance of bumping into too many people. The odd dog walker, a man in a suit heading to the station and me.

I actually felt like I’d achieved something. There was a real buzz about that. I started my day in an energetic way and I intend on doing that every day from now on. Not sure how I’ll go once the dark days or Autumn and Winter come around, but for now I’ll do my best to remember why I’m doing this and what I’m achieving by sticking to it.

It’s as much for my health as it is for my kids – I want them to be proud of their Mum and to know that I’m looking after myself so that I’ll be around for them for as long as I can.

Happy Monday Everyone!


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Sunnyside Allotments

Record Store Day & The One Show

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It was National Record Store Day on the 16.04.16 and even though I haven’t played any of my rather minuscule collection of records for many years, it was something that gave me such a feeling of warm fuzziness  inside. The pleasure of those youthful moments spent in the local record shop in my home town of Wangaratta seemingly a millennium ago, but as memorable as if it was yesterday. Dislocation, owned by local Tim Dickinson, was only a small shop, but as a teenager it was one of my go to places for an escape from my nagging mother. Somewhere to be me, enjoy whatever  music I wanted to without being asked “what’s that rubbish you’re listening to?”. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who experienced that and I must confess to now having to restrain myself to not say the same to my teenage kids every now and then. Mind you, I like most of their music, just can’t get my head round the rap stuff that my son insists on listening to sometimes.)

Skip to thirty years later and my collection of records are still in the box they’ve been in since leaving home to go to uni back in the mid 80’s. No record players to be seen in our student houses back then, it was all cassette tapes and ghetto blasters – not a ‘ghetto’ to be seen in Ballarat as such, but nevertheless, we all had our own versions of the said beasts.

My recent connection with this celebration of all things vinyl came quite out of the blue when I noticed a Tweet from the BBC One programme, The One Show. A current affairs/human interest programme that is aired live every evening at 7pm on BBC One. They were preparing a piece for National Record Store Day to be aired on Tuesday 19.04.16, asking for people who’d attempted to recreate a classic album cover, like the one that the other hugely successful BBC One programme Dr Who recreated. The classic Beatles cover for Abbey Road, replacing the Beetles with Daleks, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion (Jenna Coleman).

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When I saw this, I just had to send them a few examples of a calendar I produced back in 2013 for one of the players of Northampton Rugby Club, Paul Diggin. It was Paul’s Testimonial year and the calendar was to be produced to raise money for his named charity based in Northampton called Niamh’s Next Step – raising money to fund research into childhood Neuroblastoma – an incredibly worthwhile charity to be able to help.

I was incredibly thrilled when The One Show contacted me via Twitter to say they were potentially going to feature on of my pieces of artwork. So excited! I posted my news to every social media platform that I use and got such a lovely response from friends and family worldwide. Not only did they show my work, but they chose the Take That album cover for Progress – to say I’m a die hard fan from their first time round, is an understatement. (Pretty chuffed about that – needless to say, it was one of my favourite months of the calendar.)

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Thanks to the lovely Alex Jones & Matt Baker and the production team at The One Show for making my day. Also to all my lovely friends for your kind words of support.

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Alex & Matt – presenters of The One Show

It’s little spontaneous moments likes this that really make me smile and realise that no matter what, there are so many more wonderful things happening in my life and kind people to share them with that the crap stuff is simply blown out of the way.

Now all I need is for some exciting new clients to contact me for some more freelance graphic design work. That would make the perfect cover to my own favourite album!

Please feel free to contact me for any of your design needs or to just leave a comment -hopefully a nice one! I’d love to hear from you.

Bigger issues

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During a conversation with a friend the other day, something she said made me stop and correct her – in a nice way, not a judgemental way. We were in the midst of a discussion that was basically a tennis match of issues. Hers, then mine, then hers, then mine… you get the idea. At one point, she said to me, “…my issues are not as important…”. Wait a minute, yes they are! Why are her issues not as important as mine? Of course they are, they’re her issues, they’re important to her. There’s no comparing when it comes to sharing your issues with a friend. We all have our issues and no one can tell you that your issues are less important, and neither should you even consider that. A true friend will rate your issues as important as their own. You can help each other to get those problems out there for discussion, find solutions or simply talk your heads off with a bottle of bubbles close by to simply alleviate the stress that they cause. A problem shared and all that.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years of dealing with ‘issues’ is that you cannot put them on a scale from 1 – 10 of importance. They are all equally important. Yes there are problems that we have to deal with on a daily basis in our civilised world that might seem insignificant in comparision to those dealing with ‘third world’ issues; nevertheless, they are our problems and they cause us stress, heartache and sadness. Never beat yourself up for feeling bad about something, it’s your bad time and you’re allowed to feel crap about that. The best thing to do is find someone who you can trust to share that bad time with and thrash it out. You might not solve it, but you’ll have a damn good try and possibly find something to laugh about as well.

Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m off to drink bubbles then to the theatre to see Sunset Boulevard – with a very good friend – therapy!

 

Game changer

When you find your life has all of a sudden taken an unexpected turn, it’s a bit tricky to be rational about choices and decisions. The first step to getting over this is to acknowledge when the irrational is merely a consequence of one’s situation and at that point, you need to grab it by the horns and battle the anxiety & angst head on.

One thing that I’ve learnt about myself over the last 20 years (from dealing with marriage, children, divorce, re-educating, new career, relationships, friendships…) is that you can never plan things, not really. Yes you can feel smug that you’ve got your diary filled with wonderful social events, meetings, work commitments and the odd holiday or weekend away; but when it comes to it, none of these are certain. Keeping an open mind about things not going quite to plan is a healthy way of dealing with life in general. If we’re too caught up with sticking to those diary entries, it becomes a relentless personal challenge to attempt perfection.

What’s so wrong about trying to get things right? Nothing, but sometimes it’s the getting things wrong that leads us to making better choices in the future. If we can come to terms with the mistakes that we make then we can learn from them and improve on the decision making process when faced with new challenges.

I love my work, but it’s not always as creative as I would like it to be. Recently I’ve realised that some of the work that I’ve been doing isn’t really challenging me in the way that allows me to grow my skills as a designer. It’s all about finding the balance and sometimes you have to say ‘no more’ and make that decision to change things. I did just that. I finished a job that was leading nowhere. When you look around, after three years, to find evidence of all your hard work and really can’t find it, you have to question whether your hard work is really what that business wants, despite what they  might need. Sometimes you have to deal with attitudes that are not prepared to accept that the world is changing, that they need to embrace those changes, enjoy them and reap the benefits. The penny finally dropped, I was wasting my time and energy, and my creativity was being stifled.

Time to exit. Time to move on. Time to think rationally and time to turn my life back around to a place that makes me happy and makes my kids happy. Looking after number one maybe a selfish thing to admit to, but it is necessary. My game changer moment has been a tough one, but certainly not something that I regret.

Being able to smile and laugh at life is sometimes a challenge, but one that should have a firm appointment in all our busy diaries. Have a damn good day!


 


 

Dear Muslim friend

Dear Muslims of the world,

So many things have been going through my mind since Friday 13th November 2015, and again since recent tragedies in Brussells. In fact, those same thoughts have been there since Sept 11th 2001 but today they have just leapt to the front of my mind. Today I feel compelled to speak out – in your defence.

Having been dragged up Catholic, made to go to church every Sunday and all that goes with that, I understand the importance of religion to so many people. However, these days I declare myself a non-believer of any God. That’s a choice I have & I feel that we all should have that choice – to believe or not to believe. It’s very difficult when you’re born into a faith, you don’t have a choice. Some  might take the route that I did and dismiss any association with a God. Some will accept the faith one is born into and enjoy the comfort it offers. For a minority, their mission is to prove their worth to their God by misinterpreting the scriptures to accommodate their own evil needs. I guess that’s how the ‘fundamentalist’ is born.

What many people tend to forget is that every religion has a minority who will attempt to fight harder for their cause, ignoring the true meaning of being a member of a collective that is essentially peaceful. The IRA & Ku Klux Klan are a couple that come to mind – both proclaim to be followers of Christ, who was essentially a peaceful man. These off-shoots of Christianity are no less terrorists than ISIS. There is no doubt in my mind that whatever God you choose to believe in, you will not be exempt from spin off groups who are intent on taking their warped ideals of their chosen religion to the extreme.

I would like to say to all members of the Muslim faith, you are part of this world as much as anyone. You have a right to believe in your God and I do not categorise any of you as a potential threat to me, my family, friends, community or country. You are as much a victim of ISIS as the rest of us.

I am only one person, so my words don’t really mean much to the population of Muslims across our wonderful world, but I hope one day that you and I and all members of whatever faith will be able to live alongside each other without threat or prejudice. I don’t look at you in the street and assume you are a terrorist. I look at you as another human being, as disgusted by these terrorists as much as the majority of the population.

The world would be a much less wonderful place without you. I applaud the bravery of all Muslins who openly speak out against these terrorists. Stay strong and know that you are appreciated, accepted and not judged by me. A small thing that probably doesn’t mean much, but nevertheless I just wanted to say it.

Lots-of-love

Cathie

How to set up Google Analytics – Cognique

A handy guide to setting up Google Analytics – you can’t have too many simple guides to get your around Google. It’s a minefield.

Measuring your progress is an essential part of any successful marketing strategy. Here’s how to set up Google Analytics to track visits to your website.

Source: How to set up Google Analytics – Cognique

New Year’s Resolutions – goodbye!

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We’re 17 days into the new year and today is apparently the day when any New Year’s Resolutions go by the wayside and we all go back to how we’ve always behaved in our natural state. That is, the new exercise routine is basically recognised as boring and far too time consuming when we’d rather be doing things that we actually like. The habits that we know are not good for us drift back into our daily routine, mine being coffee & wine – life’s too short to not have a vice or two.

I guess the point of the NYRs is to make us look at our lives and assess where we think we should make a few changes and the ones that win out in the end are ones that are realistic and worthwhile. Giving up wine and coffee would probably be worthwhile to an extent, but really, is it about giving up totally and being miserable or just adjusting the habit so that it’s not so important?

When I did the H2O challenge for the RNLI last year, I drank nothing but water for 10 days. The first three days were the hardest, and it was nothing to do with the wine. It was the coffee. The headaches, lack of concentration, not having a cup in my hand – all these things added up to a habit or addiction that I didn’t really appreciate. Although I couldn’t wait for that first coffee once I finished the 10 day challenge, I certainly made changes to that habit and have managed to stick to it. My coffee consumption has decreased considerably and I actually enjoy it more because I look forward to my two cups a day (sometimes three, but not very often). As for wine, well, I think age has started to creep up on me and I basically don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. A glass or two every now and then is generally enough. Often having totally alcohol free days is such a good thing and means that I sleep better too. That’s got to be good.

I’m hoping that 2016 brings lots of good things; travels back to see friends and family in Australia, precious time with my wonderful children and lots of career prospects that give me job satisfaction and stability.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2016. Stay safe, be happy and love life!

 

#PeaceForParis

The more I watch the news footage of last night’s tragedy in Paris, the more I fail to understand the relevance of religion. How can a person worship an abstract, fictional being and find it acceptable to fight for the right to have their ‘God’ as superior over another, by murdering innocent human beings? 

There is nothing honourable in violence, no respect in loyalty to an intangible entity. Without religion, these people may well still exist, but they would not have the fuel to indoctrinate & radicalise to the extent that brainwashes one to kill & take their own life in the name of their ‘God’. 

In the words of another victim of tragedy… 

Thank you John Lennon for your wise, relevant words. 

  
  
 

Charity begins at home… but sometimes that’s just the start of the journey.

Our world is generally a pretty nice place to live for most of the time & for most people, at least that’s what those of us living in our little safe bubbles would like to think. The reality is something quite different for millions of people across our ever changing, troubled planet.

Sometimes a not so gentle reality check, akin to the metaphorical ‘slap in the face’, makes you sit up and take stock of what’s really happening behind the media hype, embellished with carefully constructed editing.

While cruising through my Facebook timeline the other day I came across an extremely thought provoking post from a friend, it made me feel very insignificant and proud in equal measures. Proud for my friend and his huge sense of humanity, and insignificant because he put my privileged, 1st world problems into total perspective. Here’s what I read on his timeline, you’ll hopefully understand why I felt I needed to share this with you.

“3am… Calais.  I don’t really know how to describe today.  The guys who invited me to share their lunch…everyone grabbing handfuls of rice from a single pot.  The man who arrived in the Jungle and explained that his wife was eight months pregnant, had been walking all day and hadn’t eaten. The Sudanese guys who invited me in for tea or coffee (how many sugars?) then told me it wasn’t too bad here as the government wasn’t trying to kill them or rape their wives. The 10 yr old Afghani kid who wouldn’t get off the footplate of my car, and spent the journey mocking pedestrians, whilst I distributed firewood. Asking a mixed group of Iraqi and Iranian lads what they needed (“nothing thank you – we have rice and meat”).  Finding the frying pan and knife which was all that a Syrian family requested, and seeing the gratitude (have you tried preparing a family meal without a frying pan or knife?).  Watching the Afghanis try to learn hula hoop (they’re shit at it).  The smiles everywhere.  The relief to be here, in this fucking dreadful place.  The hope. People should come here and see this…then form their opinions.”

Not much more I can say really, apart from pleading with you to donate to Dave’s Caravans for Calais mission. To find our more about how he’s helping the refugees in Calais, try parting with a few of your hard earned pounds to help make the mission of thousands of refugees a little less uncomfortable. And maybe try cooking your family a meal without any utensils.

Thanks for reading. Here’s where you can donate to keep Dave and his caravan on the road back to Calais…

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/ukcaravanpurge

To Blog or not to Blog

In an ideal world I’d be blogging every week, several times a week but to be honest, I simply don’t have time. Who has time to sit and write about stuff that annoys us, fascinates us, inspires us? Lots of people, so it would seem, so what am I doing wrong? I’m guessing I may not be the only one who vows to keep a blog on a regular basis, but never finds the time to do so. I’m also guessing that many of you out there who do manage to do this will be screaming at me, ‘just do it’!

What I may be doing wrong is not allowing myself time to be creative with words. I know I can be, I just find excuses not to be. I dream of creating that blog that becomes the next big thing, but again, I’m sure I’m not alone with that. So what makes those famous bloggers famous in the first place?

I’m off to find out, research the do’s and don’t’s and hopefully come back very soon with a whole new outlook, new design for my page and something worth reading. See you soon!

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