Busy, busy being creative..!

Tuesday 25 August 2015

A Visit to Folly Farm & A Lesson on Expectations

What happens when you go somewhere and have great expectations about what it’s going to be like? What happens if those expectations aren’t met?

This happened to me last week.

One of the places on my wish list during Doorstep Adventures August was Folly Farm; one of the 37 nature reserves owned and looked after by Avon Wildlife trust. I’d driven past the sign many times and had been reading about it in their member’s magazine.  I loved the fact that it was bought with the help of a mystery donor who appeared ‘out of the blue’ at ‘just the right moment’ to enable the trust to buy it in 1986. It was a magical place I’d decided.

I’d gone primarily to visit the Well-being garden. I really liked the concept behind it as a place of learning and sharing the benefits of gardening and growing to improve mind, body and spirit. Way before I visited I had started to create an image in my mind of what this well-being garden looked like.

In my mind’s eye I’d envisaged the layout of the garden. The sweep of colours, the beauty, the delicious and heady smells, the textures, the artworks, the sense of peace I was anticipating….. ohhh it was going to be so amazing!

It was nothing like I’d imagined.

I was disappointed.

I’d built up a picture, an expectation.

From my 'Expectation Eye View' when I actually saw it, it appeared in a bit of a mess and the space didn’t seem to be utilised as I thought it should have been and what I’d expected. I was critical. It was a shame there wasn’t someone there to talk about the great work they do there. Again, I think I’d expected there to be someone there working in the garden. It didn’t seem to match the rest of the place..in my opinion in that moment. Perhaps their vision for the well being garden is what I’d envisaged and they just aren’t there yet?

Perhaps it’s not anything about the overall look of the garden but about what it feels like when you immerse yourself in it and work in it rather than just looking at it?

At this point I knew I had a choice. A) Continue to feel disgruntled it hadn’t lived up to my expectation and go home feeling annoyed or B) change my mind and Re Frame the situation by ‘dropping’ the expectation and continue exploring.

I chose option B

If I’d held on to my initial disappointment I would have left straight away. Had I done that I wouldn’t have discovered the hidden joys in the garden such as the pigs, the bounty of chillies, the bright marigolds, exploring then further to the beautifully designed light filled centre and meeting a lovely lady who’d married there four years previously. I found the fire pit area with the views looking out across to Chew Valley Lake. Had I not chosen option B I’d have missed these gems. The more I explored the better it got.

Expectations can work for or against you. Setting clear expectations can ease the mind and reduce worry/stress, that’s a big fat positive. On the flip side though as I’ve been talking about here, they can actually get in the way and taint your experience. 

Expectations can make you go blind. Blind to the magic that’s right there under your nose for you to see if your mind weren’t so busy huffing and puffing about how things are NOT what you’d expected!!

Are you letting expectations cloud your vision and your experiences?

Take a notebook and pencil and have a think about times when this has happened and how this has impacted on you emotionally and in turn affected your thoughts and behaviours. Jot down those that come to mind and consider how different the experience could have been if you’d let go of expectations. Consider that for a moment and notice what that feels like.

How NOT to be blinded by expectations!

Start now. This can apply to any situation as expectations are always there, just waiting to jump in! Be prepared. If you KNOW you have a tendency to think like this take a few moments to centre yourself and get used to noticing when those expectations start showing up. And do just that - notice them then let them go (takes practice!) Ask yourself – is that expectation thought helpful?  If not then thank it for showing up and let it go, knowing you’ll have a richer experience as a result.


I usually have to laugh at myself when I notice I’m doing this. It happens all the time and sometimes it can take me a while to notice – which is exactly what happened with Folly Farm. I was so wrapped up in the excitement of going on the adventure that the expectations had been piling up without me really noticing – until I got there that was and fell right over it! Tripped me up good and proper.

Reframe the situation

If you’re already in a situation that has presented you with disappointment – try reframing. First think – Ah! I know what’s happening – I was expecting X but I got Y. Then look for the reframe in this so what’s the benefit of getting Y? Shift your focus from the negative to the positive. You can do this by just one thought and that can make a huge difference.

Funny thing – when I went to Folly Farm I thought I’d be sharing with you about, well Folly Farm. Writing about managing expectations – well I’d not expected that!! Ha!

PS - Its usually free to visit a Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. You don't have to be a member. Is there one near you?

And here's a film I put together of the visit, as you can see and hear, the more I explore the more I find and the better it gets. ;-)

The end.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Creating a comfort drawer for those days when feeling less than adventurous!

Yep it's August and even though the sun is shining (hopefully) and if you have kids you'll be in the midst of the summer holidays right now, I'm sure you have days when you're not feeling particularly adventurous or fabulous? Right?! Yes I know. 

So here's something I thought you'd like. 

Inspired by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance, I have my very own Creative Adventurers Comfort Drawer. I actually made mine up a few years ago now and I find it a great source of joy on those down days. 

Even the act of putting it together was a pleasure. Searching out little things that make me smile and then adding them to the drawer. I do change mine around occasionally and will buy small treats when I am out and about to replace anything that I think has served its purpose or no longer brings me Joy. 

I use this drawer when I’m not feeling particularly fabulous. As soon as I open it and see the silk scarf I get excited about what’s underneath!

Here’s what’s in mine at the moment:

  • Some pretty notepaper to hand write letters of gratitude to people, or to send a letter to some one I’ve not been in touch with for a long time (don’t you just love receiving letters in the post? You could always write a letter to yourself...?
  • Neals Yard Aromatherapy Oils – De-stress, Energise, Calming – I’ll either use this in my oil burner, add a few drops to a bath or make myself a delicious massage oil
  • Handmade Creative Adventurer Cards - Pick a card and off on an adventure I'll go!
  • Films current favs are – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and The Exotic Marigold Hotel. Both make me laugh and of course in Seven Brides there is plenty of singing and dancing and frolicking about. All good.
  • Books – The Alchemist by Paul Coallho (one of my all time favourite books and short enough to be read in a few hours!) and pocket Reiki and Tai Chi books for an injection of healing ;-)
  • A small pebble from Findhorn beach which I visited in 2013 when spending time at the Caledonian Forest, Scotland. I use this sometimes as a meditation stone.
  • A funny ‘Mo-stache’ pencil from one of my friends ;-) Makes me smile
  • A special handmade Do What You Love bracelet 
  • Yummy hazlenut waffle biscuits (oh I've eaten them!!!)
  • Gift vouchers
  • Sensory Clarity From Organics. You put this on your pressure points on your forehead and it feels AMAZING!

Why not create your own comfort drawer or box? If you have children - how about creating one with them for when they don't have such good days either? 

What will you put in yours?

Happy Creating!


Monday 10 August 2015

Adventures keep you YOUNG!

Hi there!

Adventures come in all shapes and sizes and you don’t have to travel miles to get a taste for it and discover how taking yourself off on a little excursion benefits your daily life.

Small adventures are super duper important, if not more so than those BIG trips as these mini - or doorstep adventurers can fit in around your daily life.

Keeping your mind curious and inquisitive really does keep us young! As you’d expect with me helping you to rediscover your creativity and sense of adventure for a richer life, I’m here to encourage you to find the adventure in every day.

Benefits of exploring somewhere new

  1. It takes courage and you'll be stepping outside your comfort zone which means you'll have a opportunity to learn something new about yourself and your local area.
  2. If you change a behaviour this has an impact on your emotions and your thoughts. So you can change your current state of being. (e.g if you are feeling low - getting out and exploring will change that feeling and the thoughts associated with it.)
  3. Learning new things keeps the brain agile and fired up. Research shows that our brains are malleable and we can created new neural pathways.
  4. You'll be creating new memories and experiences which will impact on other areas of your life in a positive way e.g for me remembering the joy of cycling and sleeping better!
So far this August of Doorstep Adventures I’ve been to two of the three local lakes near to me. I started with these as I can either cycle or walk to them so they don’t involve a huge amount of planning to visit. A Key element of a Doorstep Adventure in my book!

Yes, I have had to get a permit as the lakes are owned by Bristol Water and co-managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust which did set me back £20. I was happy to pay this as this is my nearest stretch of water and I wished to be able to get as close to it as possible!

I’ve maps of each of the lakes I’ve visited so far – Blagdon and Chew Valley and have focused on exploring small parts of them at a time. I’ve met some fishermen and learned about ‘Pike as big as your bike’ seen where the trout are ‘grown’ and sat in a bird hide with binoculars watching what it is birds get up to. Swimming about mainly and eating so far!

I’ve noticed a few things since I’ve started to go. Especially the impact it's had on the other areas of my life

When I went in to the bird hide – I was a bit nervous at first as this was all new to me. Personally, this is part of the excitement of exploring a new place. I became completely focused on looking at what I could see through my binoculars. All thoughts about this and that, and oh heck I need to do this…went out of my mind once I started to focus on what I could see happening right in front of me. This is mindfulness in action. It was totally calming and made me feel as good as if I’d been meditating for hours! I've been more focused on work and tasks as a result.

I’ve no idea how long I was in that hide for as I was also watching the ‘lesser spotted fishermen’ in their boats out on the water and some of the birds hanging about hoping for a free meal. I think it was only for around 10-15 minutes.

Visiting these lakes has also reminded me how much I love being out on my bike and cycling. When I lived in Portsmouth I cycled everywhere! Since moving to Bristol though that changed, and now living in a small village finding routes that are a) cycle-able b) not too hilly and c) NOT frequented by big lorries and tractors has been a challenge, so discovering I could cycle all around (pretty much) the lakes traffic free (ish) is a real joy.

Each time I’ve cycled I’ve slept really well and had a sense of inner calm and joy. I also REALLY like the fact that I’ve been able to go through the gates that say ‘PERMIT HOLDERS ONLY’ for me it adds to the excitement and I can imagine I’m an intrepid explorer (which of course I am!!)

There is more exploring to do at these places and I’m grateful the permit it valid for a year. These adventures will carry on way past August that’s for sure. Next is to dig out my Moomin Flask and maybe see which shelter or hide I like the best and start to make that my very own ‘Artist’s Retreat. Well a shared one of course!

I do have a number of other places I’m going to visit this month including:

Folly Farm – I’ve discovered they have a Wellbeing Garden

Do you fancy visiting any of these places with me? That would be fun! If you can’t join me ‘in person’ I’ll be making some short films about what I discover which will be on my YouTube channel.

I’ve added some already from the lake adventurers so far. If you subscribe to the channel you’ll automatically get an update when a new video is added. 

What have you discovered so far and where will you go next?

5 Top Tips for Doorstep Adventures for Busy People!
  1. Decide the day before where you’ll go as then you are more likely to, well actually Go!
  2. Get your ‘Adventurers’ Bag’ packed the night before (water, notebook, camera, phone etc)
  3. Go mini e.g A different way home from work or if you normally eat at your desk – go out and search for a bench/outside space
  4. Take a friend. If you're not keen on solo exploring - ask a friend to go with you
  5. Remember to have FUN and be CURIOUS about what you see and discover!

Love to hear how you get on and what benefits you notice from going on some doorstep adventures!

Happy Adventuring!


Saturday 1 August 2015

Join me this August for some Doorstep Adventures!

Where will YOU go this August? What's on your doorstep just waiting to be discovered?