The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: January 2014

Monday, 20 January 2014

My One Little Word for 2014 :: Embrace

My One Little Word for 2014 is Embrace...

The process of deciding on a word for the year started by writing a long list of words that spoke to me. I used lists of words people have used over the years and a list of my thoughts about how I want things to progress for me this year. Ali Edwards, the inspirational memory keeper behind the One Little Word course, says that 'your word may find you or you may go searching for it'...

Something about writing the word EMBRACE on the list of words I had made me put a little star next to it. I felt an odd sense of warmth towards the word and felt drawn to it each time I read through my shortlist. I know that in my life so far I have relied upon and gone with my gut reaction for many things, and this type of decision making process has proved to always give me the right solution when I've needed to use I went with EMBRACE for this year.

EMBRACE feels like a natural step forward from GROW for me. Maybe for me last year I needed to GROW, grow from a new seed, grow to find me again, and to grow new things in my life...and now it is time to EMBRACE that growth, embrace me and push forward.

The photo above was taken be me in 2006 when I started to embrace my love and passion for digital photography and looking at the macro details...there's no manipulation with the photo, it's just what came happened when I pressed the button. I love this image, it's a raw expression of me and what I wanted to capture. This photo prompted me to push forward with a love of photography. Using this photo as my image for EMBRACE symbolises a few things for me and by adding my word has helped me focus on the word even more. The image for me symbolises that my favourite flower has opened, it has grown...and now it's time to embrace to moment of being open and blooming. There may be some blurry edges but in the centre there is focus...

I’ve started this month's prompt on the One Little Word course run by Ali Edwards. Our first set of tasks is really allowing me to discover more about my word for 2014. One of those is finding my image or symbol of EMBRACE, and I've been brave and embraced putting it out there today. I'm spending time exploring my word, I'm not rushing the process. I'm taking time to feel really connected to my plans for the year.

I may share more posts about my word this year, like I have done here, and let you know how I’m getting on. At the moment I’m just going to be with my word, let it into my life and see what the year brings. I'm really looking forward to it.

...Onwards with 2014, onwards with EMBRACE...

Have you chosen a word to make more visible this year? I’d love to find out if you are doing One Little Word and what word you have chosen. 

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

A Review of my One Little Word 2013 :: Grow

Over the past year I've been on a journey to include GROW, my One Little Word, as a core part of my life. I wrote about using this process at the start of 2013 and mid way through the year. I will be using it once again in 2014 to help me bring certain things into my life this year because the process last year has changed me...

One Little Word, it is an online class delivered by the fabulous and inspiring Ali Edwards. Ali is a super talented memory keeper and was the first blogger to inspire me to do Project Life. Each year Ali delivers her One Little Word course about choosing a word and bringing that word into your life. Inspired by her passion and her long running course I decided in January 2013 to start a new tradition each year to follow this class. It didn't disappoint, it brought huge change into my life.

On the first of each month Ali delivered an inspiring video chat about our focus for the month ahead with our word, and provided resources related to the journalling prompts so we could explore the word in more detail through writing, planning and getting creative.

At the start of the class we created twelve intentions for the year that I used to help shape the year ahead. The intentions I decided on for me proved a pathway for my journey through the year. I wanted to GROW. I was able to focus my thoughts on how I wanted to progress with my word during the year...instead of new year's resolutions I used these monthly intentions for 2013…

Grow closer
Grow my savings
Grow creativity
Grow up
Grow stronger
Grow and bloom
Courage to grow
Grow wiser
Grow a new seed
Make time to grow
Grow a cosy home
Grow an idea

It’s hard to know where to begin to tell you how influential the year was with the course and my progress with my word. What happened was a truly inspiring year for me. It has been a private journey...I've written in my journal about how I got on with my word during the year, talked to some of my closest friends and family about my word, and each month taken time a look back at the intentions to keep myself on track.

Surprisingly each of these twelve areas found themselves into parts of my life last year, many meaning different things to me personally than what may be obvious when you look at the list. What happened for me was a transformation and big change. I wont go into detail here, it really is just for me and my diary, but what I will say is that this process is an inspired way to bring into your life new things and make your word truly part of you.

When December arrived last year I was truly saddened that it was my last month of my word. I know that GROW will be there in the background, never forgotten and always impacting. I can’t say goodbye to GROW. The changes and everything the word brought into my life, and the influence it had on me, will always be there. Grow enabled me to explore new things, it got me to where I am in life right now.

Thank you Ali for a truly inspiring year! Onwards for 2014 with my new word for the year and another year of being inspired...

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Saturday, 18 January 2014

Taking the time to reflect :: Powerful resources to try for 2014

January is a month when many of us take on the sometimes daunting task of thinking about self-improvement. After having time to think many of us end up creating a handwritten list of resolutions for the year ahead. From experience this can work really well or you can find yourself reviewing a list the following January that you've forgotten about and you never get the list completed. Perhaps this year you may like to do something different to help you plan and dream for the year ahead. I've found some really powerful resources in the blogging community that I have used this year, and last year, that have helped me plan and shape the year ahead.

I'm a huge believer in reflection and taking time to create and cultivate a life you want to live. For many years I loved the ritual of writing resolutions in January and enjoyed the process of ticking things off the list, but somehow by the end of the year there were always a few things on the list I never managed to tackle. I decided a few years ago to find new ways to approach developing myself, making changes and reflecting on life. I made reflection something I liked to pick up every few months, by revisiting plans and keeping a focus each month. I managed to make real progress with plans and experiences I was hoping to introduce into my life, I've moved on from things that were blocking the process, and took a step forward towards things I really wanted in my life.

January is a hard month to start brand new things, with the short days, dark evenings and cold weather, it can be a hard time to make a fresh start. Over the years I have found that the month of September tends to be the time when I really re-think things in my life and make changes. Perhaps the change of season brings with it a natural shift in my senses, a time to shed old leaves and prepare for new ones. September is a time of the year typically associated with the start of an academic year and the start of new courses. For me this time of year has always symbolised and signalled a fresh start during most years of my life. Perhaps this is why September ends up being my favourite month of the year. A fresh start. A time to focus on developing and growing.

So what about January I hear you say! I find that January is a great time to reflect back on the things I’ve tried to start making part of my life a few months previously. By January I've finally managed to shed last years leaves, and start preparing in January to hunker down, hibernate and get myself ready for creating a productive set of new leaves by Spring. I tend to spend a lot of time during the month reflecting on life past, life present and hopes for the future. During the month of January I have seen the start of real change...I've made some of my biggest decisions that have shaped the course of the year and outcomes for the years ahead...all of these big changes I had started preparing for since September. 

With the start of the new year, a fresh push to start new things and create change, can really start to begin. Last January I started a few new ways of reflecting that I am excited to carry into 2014 and to tell you about.

Project Life...I started Project Life in 2013 to document each week of the year. I wrote a blog post about using Project Life at the end of 2013 and how it enabled me to reflect, think positively, and allowed me to be grateful each week, and get my photos into albums.

One Little Word...In January 2013 I started a year-long online class called One Little Word. The process is about having a word to help shape your year. For me it has been life changing, you can find out more about One Little Word in a further blog post this week.

In addition to these year-long projects, I completed a number of workbooks. A combination of all of these courses and projects brought with them real change and successes during last year. I've seen how impactful and felt the power that these resources were for me last year, so I've decided to make them a part of 2014...and add a new one, New Year's Revolution, into the mix as well!

Here are the resources that I’m using to reflect and plan for 2014...

Unravelling the Year Ahead 2014 is a free resource to download from Susannah Conway's website. I love the bite sized sections of the workbook that help you focus for the year. Working your way through the workbook takes you on a journey. Firstly you begin the process of 'unravelling the year behind', thinking about achievements, challenges, favourite moments and then processing anything that needs to be forgiven and things to say goodbye to from the year. The next part of the reflection journey is about 'unravelling the year ahead' and taking time to plan and dream. I settled down one Sunday afternoon and completed this in a few hours over a weekend listening to some chillout music and letting myself think and not get distracted. I would definitely recommend this workbook to work through if you think it would help you push forward for a fresh year. 

Create your Amazing Year is a paid for resource to help shape your year ahead. You can buy the workbook online, or download it as a PDF and print it out or type straight into the workbook. As I did last year I decided to print out the booklet but this year I chose to buy both Life and Biz editions. I don't have a business myself but I was keen to see use this part of the booklet for thinking about my blog and other ideas I have buzzing round my head at the moment. These books are packed full and are definitely worth the small investment made. 

The look is very artistic, so if you like very clean and simple this may not be for you. I love the artistic look and feel and can see the passion for art that Leonie has put into every page. The bright colours make the booklet really fun to complete. There are over 70 pages where you have the chance to explore how you can create an amazing year for your life, and if you buy the Biz edition too you there just over a further 50 pages. Then you get a calender to help you plan your year, so it is really worth the small investment!

Working through a number of sections in the Life Edition you start by celebrating and releasing 2013 using a number of prompts, and then set goals for the year ahead. Leonie's booklet helps you break your thoughts down and bring these goals into your life by getting them into your routine. There are lots of things to reflect on and plan for which I love. I decided to work through this booklet over a few days to keep my head fresh and have time to really think. I haven't completed the Biz booklet yet but I have an aim to work through this by the end of January. On finishing the Life Edition I felt really excited about what the year will hold.

This year I found a new resource from another one of my favourite blogs Do What You Love. The booklet is called New Year's Revolution and you can download it for free as a PDF document and print it out or type into it. There is a closed Facebook community too so you can have encouragement all year. The kit is divided into getting to know yourself, looking back on 2013 and then planning your perfect year in a section called retrospective visioning looking at the big picture and step by step. There is a calender included too to help you work your steps into a diary. I have completed everything up until the February calender so far with this kit. I enjoyed thinking about various things and reviewing my plans in a different way.

What I loved about all three of these downloadable workbooks was the process on reflecting on things I wouldn’t have normally have done. The journey you go through completing these workbooks encourages you to think about both positive and negative experiences that were part of the year past that enables you to and plan for the year ahead. Each of the booklets approaches this process in their own way and has a different feel about it. There are some similarities in the booklets but each of them approach reviewing and reflecting using different questions to help you reflect. Completing these booklets felt like having Leonie, Beth and Susannah sitting on my shoulder coaching me through the powerful reflections many of us need to do and appreciate at this time of year.

For me taking on and doing this for two years in a row has been so therapeutic. Having seen the plans and changes I made last year start to really unfold during 2013 was really positive. However tough feels to look back during January, a time of the year when all you want to do think about the future, the letting go and saying goodbye to the past year enables you to process thoughts and to successfully step forward. Working through the booklets I’ve learnt more about myself, about who I am, what makes me tick, and what makes me fold when times are tough. They have enabled me to explore different ways of reflecting and thinking.

The process of reflection cannot be rushed, I find taking time before the end of the year to start the reflecting process tends to anchor my thoughts and I spend January clarifying my hopes and dreams and plans for the year ahead. I took time to complete these booklets, it wasn’t a race to get them completed. If I wasn't in the mood to pick them up and write, I would skip bits and come back to them. If I found myself tired I wouldn’t push myself to think through the questions, I'd put it away and look at it another day. I didn’t want to miss the questions that required more thought as the outcome would have a powerful impact on how I approach the year ahead. I had space from the booklets for a few days after completing them and went back and reviewed things, adding new thoughts as I processed them. I will keep reviewing these booklets during the year and have added the printouts I have to a ring binder with a pretty cover so it is a pleasure to use it and go back.

Most of us experience a mixed year with highs and lows. For me 2013 had many very lovely moments, I grew, developed and started creating more of a life I loved and recorded it. However I’ve had some pretty huge and impactful down moments too… all of this can take time to process and work out. These booklets have all helped in their own way to process these feelings and experiences, and to help reflect on moments that haven't been the most positive. Doing this has enabled me to create the space to be positive, plan and look forwards for a fresh new year ahead.

I hope that by sharing these resources I have used, it may inspire you to download one, get a cup of tea, sit quietly and reflect. Combining these workbooks were a really powerful way for me to shape 2013. I am really looking forward to striving forward in 2014 with my plans and dreams.

Let me know how you get on and if you take a look at any of the workbooks.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

2013 :: A Year in Review

Welcome to my review of 2013 on The Pink Button Tree. In my last post I mentioned that I have a number of ways to review the year, this is one of them. Alongside using my Project Life album I take time to reflect on what I have posted on my blog this year. I've added links to some of my posts and how to's so you can jump back if you fancy it.

2013 brought with it my first year of real deep reflection. I used a few tools at the start of the year, I will share these with you over the next week or so. The greatest impact was having my One Little Word for 2013, I chose GROW as my word for the year and what a impact it made. I will be continuing this fantastic project by Ali Edwards and seeing what my word for 2014 brings.

We had another winter with snow and a long but pretty walk to the train station...

For a few months at the start of the year I needed space and time away from my blog to allow me to process feelings and thoughts, and spend time hibernating after a life changing tragic event effected two very special people in our lives. I needed to take time to think about life and plan how I could make that step forward, to try and bloom and awaken my creatively. I finally managed to grow stronger and wake up after my creative slumber.

I made a quilt in a weekend for an incredibly special little person in our lives, our beautiful niece Alice...

We travelled to Amsterdam for my birthday. We didn't get to see the Keukenhof tulips as the cold weather had stalled the tulips flowering, but we saw inspiring urban container gardening in action.

I spent time during the year loving our courtyard garden and trying to learn more about gardening.

I was bridesmaid for one of my best friends and spent time making things for her handmade hen do!

Find out how to make ribbon rosette / brooch

and make the something blue...This is how I made a pretty handmade bridal garter

I celebrated having flowers in our home

I celebrated the annual flowering of our clematis...

We had some success in our courtyard garden

 I got inspired by The Festival of Quilts

I bought some fabric for me!

Planted some alpines in my window boxes...

Started learning to make pinwheels for a new baby quilt

Enjoyed August in our courtyard garden

Enjoyed seeing my orchids flowering again...

Felt a wave of success as I harvested crops from our courtyard

Grew my first potatoes!

Grew very hot chillies!

Learnt something new and went on a curtain making course at The Makery

Was inspired to start baking again with a weekend course at Bake with Maria.

Celebrated the arrival of Autumn one of my favourite seasons...

 Gained confidence with crochet and loving the simplicity of traditional granny squares...

Took time to have a long weekend to get crafty and relax with my favourite magazines and tea...

Started a patchwork cushion cover...I will finish this in 2014!

Spent time making Christmas cards and loved working on my Project Life album.

Made a Roman blind, a huge achievement and my biggest project to date

Spent time decorating our home for Christmas...

 Made my own delicious Delia Smith Christmas cake

Made my own handmade Christmas table decorations

Enjoyed spending time documenting Christmas using December Daily

What a year! I just want to thank you for sharing it with me, I really appreciate you stopping by. I would love to hear more about what you think and what you are doing as well, so please leave me any comments.

Onwards....I'm hoping for a fantastic year of crafting and inspiration ahead in 2014.