January Update

The sun has set on January (at least where I am) and I’m checking in with myself and you.
I’m very grateful that this year I’ve taken up bullet journaling, it makes looking back and keeping things in perspective really easy. I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit, and much more than I thought from the top of my head.
For ten minutes or so each day I’ve been doing full body stretching and I’ve found that my back is much less painful, I recommend it!
Though the month has been overall good, there are things that I definitely need to work on in the coming months. Getting up early, getting out of the flat and more reading are the biggest things.
Posting more regularly is something I want as well, the problem with that is I’ve been working on world building, which I can’t really show, and my other projects are taking quite a while. I will have some cross stitch content coming up in the next few days but after that I’m not sure.
I’m in the midst of soul searching, trying to figure out what I like, what I want and how I want to present myself. For so long I’ve been a shallow person, somewhat of a shadow person and I’m ready to be a full, solid, colourful person. So for a little bit I may be a bit short of content, but I’m never too far away!
That’s it for my little end of the month update, in short, all is well and I’ve had a good start to the year. I hope that it is the same for you. Good luck for February.

A Peek in our Window

I’ve just got in from the weekly shop for food. Well, that’s a bit of a lie, I’ve been home for awhile, but I was spending time with John. He’s not well again and he’s having to go into work, so I feel guilty. Since I can’t work (anxiety) or even claim benefits (anxiety again, whoot) it means that John is solely responsible for our income. I know that he doesn’t mind but when it comes to being ill, it makes it hard for him to take time off work since we lose a fair amount of money. But that’s not what I wanted to ramble about. I’m sure it’s not interesting to hear me worry.
I don’t really have a point to the post, though, I just wanted to have a bit of a check in now that we are almost at the end of the second week of the year. I’ve been doing rather well with goals, however, I was slightly less productive this week, causing me to feel a little low, but I didn’t let it stop me and that in itself is a victory.
How is your year so far? If you think you’re falling behind with what you have planned, take a step back and see if you are achieving other things, habits that are making a better life or little victories that will make the whole plan easier. You can do this, I believe in you!
Maxi (our bearded dragon) is doing well, yesterday he had a great day, hunting for worms and having fun evading us as we try to keep him warm. Today he’s a bit calmer but no less cute.
I’ve been doing some experimentation with cross stitch, trying to find how much thread I use per stitch and I think I finally have the number, well for 14-count aida. Each time I try something new I will note it down. It’s all for the goal of creating my own patterns and to allow me to better anticipate how much thread I’ll be using. I get a bit nervous when I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing, is that clear yet 🙂
Today, I’m going to do some world building, I’m working on it constantly but I’m putting it on the computer in order to have a better grip on my ideas and to have it more accessible when I’m writing. With each pass it changes a little but gets better.
What are you up to this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope that it is great!

Bullet Journal – The First Seven Days

The first week of the year was a pretty uneventful one, however it was productive and enjoyable. I’m waiting until we get further in the year to get too proud of my habits, but so far so good.
Now this post is specifically about my foray into bullet journaling so that is what we will talk about.

Purple hippo dingbats notebook
Dingbats purple hippo dotted notebook

I’ve been interested in the concept for over a year, but due to the limited availability of dotted notebooks near me and nervousness about trying new things, it wasn’t until the end of 2019 (seeing people set up their 2020 journals) that I decided to give it a go.
I struggled with finding the right notebook, I wanted to be able to use what pens and supplies that I had on hand, rather than having to get specialist items or deal with the pens showing through the pages. It’s fair to say that I got myself in a bit of a tizzy. With no way to test or see them before investing I was a little apprehensive. But after watching a fair few videos I settled on a Dingbats notebook, I would have liked to get one of the A4+ sizes but I wanted the purple hippo. And it is really nice to write in, and my pens only very faintly show through to the other side.

I didn’t get it until rather close to New Year’s, which resulted in a sprint to set it up, causing me some lingering pain in my wrist. But I managed to get what I wanted set up, just in time.

The cover page for 2020 and the first page in the notebook
The key for the symbols I will use throughout the bullet journal.
A log for my cross stitch and the cover page for January

I’ve been using the journal everyday so far and it’s been very helpful. I think that I still need to find the perfect way for me to write my work tasks, but for now it is going well. The habit tracker (not shown, for privacy) has been especially revealing. I enjoy having a colourful and filled in chart, which is meaning that I want to do the activity in order to have the reward of filling in the little box with a block of colour.
I would suggest giving it a go if you need a little motivation to do something everyday.

The second week of January layout. Inspired by the plant based bride (on Youtube)

So now we are on to the second week (I realise now that I forgot to photograph the first week, I must get better at that!) and I’m still excited to use the book, I want to work and I want to put in the effort to make this year a good one.

I would highly recommend giving bullet journaling a go, you don’t need anything fancy, you don’t need a dotted notebook. A pen and a standard notebook would do. I have a bad habit of thinking that I need the “perfect” equipment in order to start something. But I’m slowly learning that getting started and earning some experience will do you better than any expensive set of pens.

I think my next update will be at the end of January, but feel free to let me know if you’d like more updates.

The End of October

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!
AHHHHHH!

Where did October go?? I’m absolutely not prepared for NaNo.
Despite my desire to be productive and my attempts at planning Life has had other ideas. Stress is a big stopper on my abilities to get things done, to think and this month (the last few really) has been one kick in the teeth after another.
I promise you that I did not start this website just to complain and be a downer. We started this site at a bit of a hard time for us, there are a few life changes and challenges which need to be overcome (which will hopefully be soon) in order for us to really get to grips with the creative.
For this post I wanted to get something down, to let those interested know that we’re still here and that there WILL be more and better content coming soon. I’m going to try and document my NaNo experience, let me know if there is a particular thing you would like to know, or if there is a way you would like it presented!
How are you doing? How was October and do you have plans for Halloween? I shall be settling in for some frantic noting and outlining!
Until next time!

The Sabotage

I’m a saboteur. I try to ruin my own life in lots of small ways. Once I experience a tiny amount of success I find ways to fail, to stop what has been successful and to pursue the unhealthy habits that keep me trapped.
The last couple of weeks have been that way in many respects.
I’ve not been using my office, a place we made for work. I choose to be uncomfortable in a chair which leads to less productivity.
I give in to urges to eat and buy rubbish. Luckily not gaining weight but not losing.
My Nano prep is at a minimum, so much so I worry about being able to complete the writing challenge.
I sit and I scroll through Instagram and Twitter, trying to silence the screaming worry in my head. And it makes me even more frustrated, why can I not just DO something to help myself.
I felt this way shortly before starting this website with John, and for awhile it was great, with all you lovely people liking my posts. But I got caught up with questioning myself and all the other little blocks I put in my own way which caused me to back away from what helped.
It’s a tough time at the moment, John’s about to start a new job, so money is a bit of a concern, and the nervousness that comes with something new.
John’s last day is tomorrow and we have sometime before he starts the new job. We will be spring cleaning, changing things around and making the flat beautiful. I’m hoping it will be the start of a productive time and that I can throw myself into world building and prepping for Nano.
I know that periods of depression are going to happen throughout my life, but I’m trying to deal with them with a more mindful attitude and to make the most of the times where I am okay. With each bout it’s getting better, one day I hope to have a good balance.

Sorry for this self-indulgent post, but it’s good to get this out and to have some accountability, to have my feelings out there in a place where others can see, and maybe not feel so alone.

I will be back with more soon, as will John, but it may be sporadic for a little while.

A Roller Coaster of a Week

This week has been a stressful one.
A couple of setbacks early in the week had us down for a few days, which brought other lows such as too much junk food. But after a stern talk, we have agreed to get back on track and not let it get out of hand.
It wasn’t all bad though, there were highs, and the highest was John getting offered a new job! We are really excited about the prospects it’ll bring. It’s going to be hard for the next couple of months, with stresses of new routines and upsets.
It’s scary and exciting. I struggle with changes in circumstance and with the uncertainty which comes with the changes. At the same time I know that John can do great in he new position, so I’m a see-saw. I know that good things will happen due to these events.
Writing has, unfortunately, fallen by the wayside for this week. Another thing that caused me some stress, but I was still working out ideas and world stuff in my head. So I’m putting in the hours today, and I’m back to my routine.
Right now there is a bearded dragon running around my feet and he needs a snug before I sink back into my world!

Have a wonderful day!

A Look Outside Our Window

Outside our flat is a roof area which is inaccessible (we live 4 stories up). Well, to us it’s inaccessible but to birds it’s a paradise of protection. After it rains there are puddles of water for them to get a safe drink, moss grows around the edges and in bright green patches here and there encouraging insects for them to nibble. Since it’s high up, next to some trees and a train track, its safe from cats and other predators.
Along the row of flats an old man throws out seeds from his window in the morning, pigeons flock to him. My favourite type: the Wood Pigeon, amongst them.
Wood Pigeons are elegant birds. I call them dusky roses due to the colour of their chests. They coo in the mornings sounding like cats purring, calling from the trees, a pleasant alarm clock.
We’ve been lucky enough to be able to observe them from our windows, in doing so we’ve seen many behaviours and differences between birds. As well as dusky roses we have Rock Doves (which I call sparkle necks, due to their sparkly necks) and they behave differently.
In mating the male dusky roses bow to females, beak to the ground and tail swooped up high. Hops bring them closer to their quarry, more bowing and more hops and often a chase in flight. The sparkle necks do what we call lion-pigeoning, which is poofing up their chests, spinning around the female, chasing them around.
The fights of the dusky roses reminds me of old fashioned duels. They square up next to one another, head bobs indicate readiness and then the waps begin. Short jabs, wide wing flaps and the winner coos loudly, shouting his victory from the rooftop, the defeated bird flies away; head low.
In the summer we have seagulls as well and, though they can be annoying, their laughing call makes me smile every time.
Seeing birds grooming, lying down relaxing in the sun, going about their life is a treat and something very special. I don’t think many people get the opportunity to see birds doing what birds do away from the world. But if you do get the chance, I highly recommend sitting with a cup of tea and watching them for an hour, you’ll be surprised at the personalities that emerge.

Going Forward – Notes From J.A.Steadman

This will be my first slice of life post on the site, and it will serve simply as a way for you to get to know me a little bit better. Me and Emma started the site because for many years we have returned time and again to writing – we absolutely love to write and to read and to explore the endless possibilities of things like fantasy, mystery, horror and scifi (well that’s just me, Emma is a fantasy purist).

So throughout all of our adult life, we have been involved in many and varied hobbies; I love to play games, craft things, I have streamed on twitch in the past, I play DnD etc. Lots of interesting hobbies that I love doing, but they aren’t writing – that’s the curious thing about putting pen to paper, even metaphorically, it gets its claws into you to the point that it’s almost impossible to not do it eventually.

The difficulty comes when you have no direction and are so obscure as to render any attempt to get your writing “out there” impossible – that’s really where the site comes in; for a long time we have wanted to make a positive step in that direction, we really wanted to be able to push people to a place where our stuff is just sitting there, easily accessible and categorised so people could pick and choose easily the kinds of things they wanted to read from us.

Eventually we want to grow the site into a community – either writers or people who just enjoy our writing and I personally would like to experiment with making some of my writing collaborative; I did say that I had been on twitch in the past and writing streams would be really fun, especially if I could involve a fanbase.

Anyway, that’s enough for now right off the top of my head, so go and be merry and hopefully the stuff we’re posting here will be interesting enough to you that you follow or in some other way track what we’re doing, because we’ve got some plans and we’re very excited with how things will go in the future.

Thanks for reading!

John.

Change

Change comes slowly, but it does come, if you put in the hard work.
For many, many years I have struggled with my relationship with food. The fact that there’s a relationship at all is a problem, I wish we were just acquaintances. I have always been overweight, I’ve never been healthy. However because I wasn’t ever inconvenienced by being bigger, I could walk around and do various hobbies, I was never motivated to change. But after I turned thirty that changed, I have sore knees, sore back and I grew tired of my decreasing mobility. So finally at the beginning of 2018 John and I embarked on a quest to GET HEALTHY. Since then I have lost four stone (56 pounds) with five stone (70 pounds) more to go. It has not been easy, thirty plus years of bad habits are hard to break.
I’ve been taking pictures of myself to track progress and it seems that was the right move. As it turns out, your body adapts and is very quick to forget. I still feel massive at times, despite how my clothes hang off me. Seeing a recent picture compared to one earlier showed me the progress I’ve made and it reaffirmed my resolve (which had been wavering).
A routine is essential, for me, and that is the same way for writing. For the last week I’ve had a place to write, a time to do it and though I have been struggling with putting words on paper, it has been a great help to have the routine become a pleasant part of my day. My bad writing habits are: doubting my ideas, not carrying on past a few sentences before giving up, or allowing myself to just experiment. But it’s still early, I still slip with food, all habits take a long time to break and form.
If you are struggling with something, if you’ve slipped, don’t let it stop you. One bad day is only one, get back on the horse and record your progress. I promise that it’s worth it.

Thank you so much for reading this little peek into my life. There will be more slices, from both me and John, in the future. So if you enjoyed it (I hope you did) stick with us!