52and40/20 Pigs Might Fly

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We took ourselves to Raasay in February.

A proper road trip – a long time in the car, sweets, music, stops for the dog to wee, chats about memories.  Maniacs in white vans, eye-spy and the name game.

Does it all sound perfect?

It wasn’t.  We fought, too.  There were hideous tensions as well as laughs and Kodak moments.  Families trying to keep growing together at the same time as letting kids grow up are like that, I reckon.  The wood of the construction makes different noises in different weather.

Roots and wings.

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Allow It

For the longest time I was scared that if I made a proper writing space for myself I’d fail to live up to it.  I had a feeling that if I went to the effort of making a space perfect I’d then sit in it, stymied by expectation and blocked by guilt of under-performing and using an area which could be better used for…. erm… anything or anyone but me?  A plant, perhaps?

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Isn’t it strange, when we really start to reflect on what it is about ourselves that holds us back from doing the things we need and want to do?

I felt that making a dedicated space for myself to write in would be like kicking off a beginning and an end at the same time- like the proverbial exercise equipment in most homes at some point – in it comes with good intentions and, eventually, out it goes as a dusty clothes horse everyone bruised shins on and cursed at.  Somewhere in the middle there was a choice, spoken or silent, to deviate from intention.  It’s quite often that middle time that’s the difficult animal to keep looking in the eye, I find.

I guess the thing I intuitively knew I had to do before claiming a space, was to claim a habit.  I had to turn my sporadic bouts of writing into a regular way of life.  I had to assimilate the practice of writing alongside everything else I did regularly or, I knew, the assertion of being a writer just would not take wing.  I had to do the beginning and the middle so the writing space would be a continuation and not an end because – fear of fears – if I didn’t claim the habit now another decade would pass.  Another ten years would go and I’d be sitting again, just dabbling my toes in the water I knew I could go swimming in but kept choosing to avoid for fear of failure.

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So I set about it.  Long story short, I now have a space in which I write.  It’s heaven.  I let myself trust after a year of writing for a minimum of four days a week that I had established a habit.  I quietly cleared an area, begged the family to not really mention it so I could slip into it without fanfare and restarted the sentence I’d got half way through in my bed the day before.

It’s nice, to feel calm enough to do things in my own time.  Additionally, the space has given me gifts I didn’t know were coming;

  1. Greater productivity – no set up or tidy up times means more time on the page.
  2. Capturing thoughts as and when they happen is easier and less stuff is forgotten, so less woe, regret and general negativity occurs.
  3. Occupying a space you know you’ve worked to deserve is a power in itself, and from this, like magic, more creativity and power grows.  Think Magic Porridge Pot but with words, coffee cups and epiphanies.  I have no idea where it’s all eventually heading.  I hope I get to a point of pointing at my screen and declaring I might have birthed a book but the more I enjoy the process the more the offshoots get more interesting too.

In putting together my wee space I’ve focused on a theme of imperfection which is just the ticket for double bluffing my stage-fright about living up to a setting.  If the setting is fairly shit, I’ve found, any output feels positive by comparison.  Better this way than the other, I reckon.  I remember trying to write in a cafe a few times.  I set things up beautifully, dressed up like I thought a writer might and out came nothing much at all.  I was too busy people watching, ordering pancakes and rearranging my arse bones on chairs that were never quiet right.  Thus, on this endeavour I have no matching stationery or furniture.  There’s a spider the size of a small continent living in the skirting board directly behind me.  The back of the desk looks like some cables bred with each other then lay down in dust for a fag before never getting back up again.  My monitor is precariously balanced so as to prioritise my neck rather than its aesthetic.  There is a new chair from CostCo that isn’t fucking up my pelvis but which smells very strongly and strangely of mothballs.  And so it is for now.  It’ll evolve, I’m quietly allowing it all.

Oh and finally, my inspirational quote quota flatly consists of;

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Works for me.

52and39/33 Shut Up and Let Me Go

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I’ve come to acknowledge I have an unhealthy relationship with competitiveness.  It lives inside of me, waiting to jump out of my shoulder and be hideous to people or show off and maraud around like an ape on steroids.

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I’ve become the patient, hippyish parent of this hyper, pulsing alter-ego.  My body is its Steiner School.  It’s treated with love and its bad behaviour is ignored.

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I use distractions to lure it from evil.  I praise it when it is contributing to positive outcomes that make the whole class feel good.

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For clarity and cake hunting sanity, the interior cafe & cake shots are taken at Pentland Plants Ltd.  

52and39/23 Pursuing Coffee and Light

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On a damp, cold morning in February I drove across the ‘burbs of Edinburgh to walk the dog at Portobello.  I needed light, air and coffee in my face – nothing unusual there.

Near Cameron Toll, I thought, ‘why not…’, and spontaneously picked up charity hitchhikers.  It was a great opportunity to hear a story and throw a positive dice.

 

 
 

 

The hitch was in aid of The Rock Trust, who are working to prevent youth homelessness.

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They’re currently running a smile inducing, affordable and inspiring postcard art auction at Summerhall creative hub.

 

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52and39/14 Where The Land Meets The Sea

Portobello reminds me of going to Saltcoats with my Grandparents when I was wee.  It was an epic, stressful passage from East Kilbride.

Then…..  Sea.  Sand.  Chips.  Sun.  And the shows.

By all accounts Portobello’s changed a lot over the years.  Until the 70’s there was a heated outdoor pool.  Less appealing is the thought that just over a century ago there was a human zoo here, featuring 70 Somalians, shipped in for paying visitors’ amusement.

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I love noseying at life and homes, grabbing a take away coffee and beach wandering.

52and39/4 A Tale of Two Cities

52and39When we decided we were moving to Edinburgh we heard a lot about how there are so many people and the city is so vast.

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I looked at maps, comparing Aberdeen and Edinburgh.  Not an awful lot in it, to my eye.

More people though? Yes.

So more stories, too.

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You get to know the tide-tables of the crowds.

Great coffee and cocktail spots get booked in advance. Phone ahead.

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Art galleries and museums are heaven when everyone else is Christmas shopping.

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The Pentlands during office hours are all yours.

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