The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: April 2016

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Musings :: thoughts from the past year...and plans for the year ahead

Blossom in spring

I'm writing this on the day before my birthday, taking a little time for quiet contemplation and reflection. As I grow older the years begin to merge and time seems to pass, and so for me taking a moment to sit back and reflect is important. Like the blossom in this photo, this year I've felt that I've come out of a hibernation that I have been in for a few years and have started to awaken from a slumber.

Whilst sitting at the train station this morning I was overcome with thoughts and reflections on the year that has been, and I felt a deep excitement for the year to come, and so I started to jot them down...I invite you to grab a cup of hot tea, settle in for a few minutes and read my musings of the year that has been, and the plans I have for the year ahead...

The past year has involved movement forwards in all areas of my life...

...I've spent time reconnecting to me and what I love doing. Taking moments to breathe, think and believe in myself, I've built a stronger me and someone who now has a braver approach than before.

...I started writing a few of chapters of my book and reflecting on how I got to where I am today. Waves of nostalgia and pivotal moments in my life started to jump out of my memories, many had laid dormant for a long time. The memories have allowed me to give a gentle nod to the past and to smile at others too.

...I have started to connect the elements of my life together. Like a dot to dot, I'm starting to build a picture that has always been there but not quite fully in view. Only by taking the next step and joining one dot to the next have I started to create something that I'm very excited to see shape into an image I very much want.

...I re-discovered how I prefer to learn and what sits well with me in terms of expectations I have on myself. I'm adoring the coaching course I'm taking, with a great atmosphere, inspiring people and the balance of theory and practical teaching it has shown me that this is a way I enjoy learning. Personal study and revision have been filling my weeks recently and I'm seeing once more how much I love diving in, making connections and bringing my learning into whatever I do.

...I have learnt to go with my intuition more than ever before. I have stopped doubting myself and am just letting it be. Many of the decisions I have made have been based mainly on intuition over the past year. I have decided to be brave and go for things that are slightly out of a zone of comfort that I move with. The decisions I made have been worth it.

...I have let go of elements of my life that no longer fit my values and who I am. I've forgiven myself and let things be. Having a belief that the pivotal decisions and moments I have had were just part of a journey I'm taking, has enabled me to feel at peace with decisions I have made. I can't begin to tell you how freeing it feels to have more belief in myself.

...I have realised even more what I want to be doing moving forwards in my life and how I would like our life to be. I'm getting closer to the image of my career portfolio that I'd like to have and moving closer to a life outside of work that I want to cultivate.

...I am gracefully dancing out of the doldrums and enjoying every moment of it. From projects at work, to pushing my dreams at pace, to planning a handmade wedding, to planting seeds and planning a business idea...I'm loving the energy I have at the moment to juggle life when it feels full. I really do have all the resources I need.

...and most importantly, the love of my life Mr C proposed and made me so very happy. I am excited about having our wedding ceremony to mark our life together so far and our life ahead.

My thoughts and plans for the year ahead...

...Tomorrow I'm starting my journey into my 34th year. Mr C and I are heading off to Venice for a long weekend away for my birthday. I love getting away on my birthday as we are both doing something that we love, travelling and discovering new places.

...In May I'm heading off for the Sisterhood creative retreat. I'm excited to be spending a weekend away using my camera even more and meeting fellow creative women. An escape to west Wales is something that I am really needing, to take a break from city life, smell the sea air and get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.

...I will be completing the coaching course and gaining a qualification this year. I'm looking forward to implementing even more of the skills that I'm learning and using them to help build the portfolio career I have planned.

...My blog will have more focus in my life and will see a renewed look later this year. I'm looking forward to attending Blogtacular in June and meeting more wonderful bloggers and saying hi to those I met last time.

...In October Mr C and I get married, and together we are going to create a day that reflects us as individuals and as a couple, with a focus of the whole process being a relaxed, chilled out and fun experience.

...I'm going to make coaching more of an element in my life over the next year. Through self-coaching and coaching others I hope to continually develop my skills for the rest of my life. I'm very excited about what this will bring and the route I will be able to take moving forwards.

...and finally I plan to have more of my book written and a creative workshop delivered by my next birthday!

Making time to reflect and plan has enabled me to move forwards in what I do and renewing my plans for the year in line with my birthday is something new that I will do each year moving forwards. I hope that you will join me over the next year and beyond, to watch my journey unfold.

What do you do to mark your birthday? Do you like to take time to reflect each year?


Saturday, 9 April 2016

In our garden :: April

Planting seeds in the greenhouse

Ooh at last the sun is out, the warmth of spring has arrived and it's time to get back out into the garden. With the draw of the wonderfully sunny warm weather last weekend my mind has been dreaming of what our garden will produce this year. Last summer we bought a greenhouse and this is my first time I've had to make the most of it during spring.

A few weeks ago I spent a Sunday afternoon weeding our garden, preparing the raised beds, tidying our greenhouse and setting up our garden space for a season of planting. One hour became five as I tidied our space and lost track of time, only realising the time when the light levels started to drop. I started planting a few seeds that weekend to make a start on the growing process. Peppers and basil were both planted into left over blueberry punnets and placed onto our bathroom window sill to germinate. A few weeks on I think that they are nearly ready to prick out into separate pots.


I'm on the beginning of my journey with growing seeds. Last year I managed to grow a few nasturtiums and stocks from seed but apart from those I did manage to kill quite a few too as I didn't tend for the seedings as well as I ought to have done. A lesson learnt! I wanted this year to be different plus to make use of our greenhouse for the part of the planting process that happens at this time of year.

The further stage of seed planting began again last weekend. I had a moment of feeling a little middle aged late on Saturday afternoon, I popped on my wellies, grabbed a mug of tea and the radio and headed off to the greenhouse to make a start planting the seeds. Carefully reading the backs of the seed packets I started to work out what I needed to plant when and where. Many of the seeds need the warmth of our home to kick start the germination process and so our bathroom has become the dedicated seed germination space. I have limited space with warmth and good light to start seedlings off inside our home and so I've decided to stagger the seed planting process. In a way this feels like a good idea because each of the following stages after germination can be taken in small batches to plant out at a time.

Pepper seeds growing

Sitting in trays of seed compost in our bathroom are the following - courgettes, tomatoes, stocks, antirhinnums, sweet william, nasturtiums, petunias and marigolds. I wonder how I will get on growing these and whether they will flower and grow well. Fingers crossed!

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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Looking back at my winter manifesto

In January I started a new seasonal practice of creating and sharing my seasonal manifesto. With each season it brings with it something new, a new chapter. My word this year is Awaken. I decided that I wanted to awaken more of a connection to the seasons than I have done before, awaken more awareness and awaken my senses.

I take real pleasure from noticing the changes that happen and love the blurry edges of the seasons as they move from one to the next. Over the past few months I've been connecting with my winter manifesto, sometimes documenting it through photography and sometimes not. With the signs of spring appearing around me, both meteorological and astronomical calendars ticking over into spring, and the clocks changing, I wanted to share with you what I have documented during that time. Here's a round up of my winter manifesto and what I brought into my life this season.

Escape from all things digital once a week...

During the first few months of the year I did disconnect from the internet and put down digital devices more frequently than I have done for a while. It felt freeing and I was able to be more present in what I was doing, whether it was reading a book, enjoying time in our home or just taking time out. I would like to do this more regularly and I am very tempted to add it into my spring manifesto to make it more of a mindful practice. I've managed to spend time reading magazines and dipping into books, rather than watching TV or being on my laptop.

Time to read

Celebrate our 8 year anniversary...

Mr C and I met 8 years ago and every year since the first day we met we have marked the day as our anniversary. We celebrated our anniversary this year, the last one before we get married, with an impromptu night out for dinner at a local pub. We enjoyed the seasonal local food that was cooked beautifully and felt that it was a real treat to be eating out. Mr C bought me flowers and I bought him a card and a few bottles of ale to match some of his favourite foods.

Notice changes in the light and sky...

Over the past few months I've noticed the light changing. I've spent more time looking up and noticing the light and how it changes from week to week. The brighter mornings added a different kind of spring to my step and I love the moment when you realise you are leaving and returning to your home in daylight. The clocks changed last weekend and so darker mornings have reappeared into my routine but the longer evenings and light levels have been a wonderful change.

Bristol skies

Handwrite a letter...

For the first time in about 10 years I sat down to write a letter at the end of January and over the past few months one letter has turned into a set of around eight letters. I always have a writing pad and matching envelopes in my stationary stash and so putting my hands on it was easy and felt like I was stepping back to a time before email. I immensely enjoyed the process of handwriting a letter once more, using the guidelines to ensure that the writing stayed neat. The time spent sitting down and writing personalised messages to friends, both for letters about elements of our wedding and giving a few friends the gift of life coaching has been a real treat and something I'd like to keep doing in my life more often. Today I have another wedding related letter to write to a dear friend. I'm hoping to spend some time out this month joining in with Susannah Conway's April Love - a month of love letters.

Handwriting a letter

Make space for yoga...

I started making time for yoga at home earlier this year and had great intentions to build a regular practice. I felt at home on the yoga mat and enjoyed taking a 40 minute escape, however over the past month I haven't given myself the time to focus on making time at the mat. For me rebuilding this practice is really important to me so it will be on my spring manifesto as I aim to bring it more into my day to day.

Listen to something new...

During December the Blogtacular podcast was launched. Since then I've been listening regularly to the inspiring interviews that Kat Molesworth shares with a wide variety of creative people. For me it's like stepping back to the Blogtacular conference and having a deep and wonderful feeling like I'm learning something new and gaining a real insight into how these small business owners and bloggers are making their passions and interests come to life.

Listening to a new podcast

Decorate our home with seasonal items...

Over the past few months blankets have featured prominently around our home and hot water bottles,  as I've had the real need to hunker down during the cold winter evenings. Books inspired by the winter season have been displayed and magazines with wintery images have laid on our coffee table. I wanted to bring an element of nature into our home, as well as having seasonal items, and so after pruning our rose bush I decided to keep a few cuttings of the rose hips that had formed, and added them to a jug to decorate our sideboard.

Winter rose hips

Discover and cook a new recipe...

Mr C has been cooking many things this winter season and my input to our menu has been a little minimal! I'm very lucky to be with a passionate cook who likes to organise all of the meals. For me cooking is something that I want to spend more time doing and adding new seasonal meals to our weekly options. This month I've been perfecting some of our all time favourite pasta dishes but I haven't made anything new.

Read an inspiring book...

I read Rising Strong by Brene Brown during the winter months. It was an inspiring and thought provoking read so much so that I added it to my blog post I wrote recently about the sixteen brilliant books I'd recommend for 2016. Rising Strong was a book that I felt I really needed and wanted to read, the cover quote of "if we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. This book is about getting back up" was a statement that sat with me and connected to part of me and my life.

Inspiring book - Brene Brown

Knit mittens...

I haven't managed to knit the mittens over the past few months which has been a real shame. What would normally be a time of crafting with yarn for me, this year has been replaced by studying for my coaching qualification and planning our wedding. I have really missed taking the time to make... but instead I have started to knit together plans for our wedding day, planning craft projects, deciding a few key elements of the day and thinking of ideas to create a personal and meaningful celebration. I've also begun knitting together in my mind all that I'm learning and trying to bring the new elements  of coaching into what I'm doing. So I may not have knitted mittens but I have managed to knit a few other things into my life!

Looking at the above makes me feel like I have brought a few different practices into my life. I haven't managed all of them and I really don't mind. For me setting a manifesto is about being more aware about the season and what I can do to express that in part of my life. Perhaps some of these elements may end up in my spring manifesto that I'm drafting at the moment, and some may not, but for me it's about having an intentional focus on a few things that I really want to bring into my life during the season.