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Archive for January, 2015

There comes a time, usually more than once when we all feel a little lost in some area of our lives or even in our whole life. This always happens to me when a big change has happened, it usually takes a couple of weeks for the change to really sink in and I’m left, in missing that part of my life, feeling a little unsure as to where I’m going and where my life is going to take me next. I used to think this was a really negative thing as that lost feeling isn’t fun, it feels horrible, stressful and unsafe leaving me feeling vulnerable and uncertain of myself.

It is not, however, a negative thing. The feeling is unpleasant but it marks something amazing; growth. Most of us know the saying ‘let go of the old to make room for the new’ or something along those lines. When things, people, situations even outlooks leave our lives it can be disconcerting but the change is good. They will be replaced by something better for us, more relevant and challenging to help us grow further. It can be very hard to see but I can assure you that it will happen. First though we have to completely let go of whatever it is that has gone; no clinging to it, no wishing it back. I’m not saying right away, take the time to mourn it and celebrate it. Let yourself feel your response to it and it’s loss. Emotions are good, we need to feel them and process them but the trick is to do so from a place where they don’t take us over and affect us negatively. Even positive emotions can do this. Love is a beautiful thing to feel but allow it to consume you and it can become an obsession; an addictive high that erodes at our day to day functionality.

At the moment I’m in that letting go stage of my big change. Last week I felt terribly lost, socially, creatively, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. This week. although still there in many ways, I’m at the point where I’m ready to release the things that I have been mourning since the beginning of the month. It’s a slow process, grief shouldn’t be rushed, but it’s also a necessary one in order to move on rather than being stuck feeling lost, regretful and like you’re never going to get back on track.

That lost feeling will pass and when it does a whole new cycle in life opens up where new opportunities, blessings, challenges and happiness await us.

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The origami envelopes that I have been making for people both for personal gifts and to sell have been popular and a few people have asked me how to make them so I thought it would be good to publish a tutorial for them on my blog. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible and I’ve used a patterned paper to help show what sides you should fold for each step and what it should look like. If anything isn’t clear then please feel free to ask questions and I will try to explain it better.

All you will need is a sheet of craft paper or thin card, patterned papers work really well as you can see from the picture above though plain offer up the chance to get creative to add stamps and your own decorations to the envelope once it has been created. I would recommend practicing the technique on an A4 sheet of cheap printer paper until you’re confident with where to make the folds. An A4 sheet will make a near square shaped envelope as in the above picture which is approximately 10 x 11cm.

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1. Take your A4 sheet of paper, I’m using this silver glitter polka dot pattern and turn it over so that, if you’re using a patterned paper like me, the pattern is not visible.

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2. With the pattern side down fold the paper into three sections, the more equal you get your sections the neater the end product will look.

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3. Fold each edge section inward, a little like a two flapped card.

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4. now fold the edges of the two outer sections back on themselves so once again you see the plain side of your paper, this is the start of the tabs on the envelope that you will lightly tug to open it.

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5. Flip the whole thing over and fold over the four corners of the middle section so that the middle edges of each triangle line up parallel and straight when pressed flat.

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6. Turn the paper over again.

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7. This bit is the trickiest part. Gently pull on the tabs to open the envelop a little (not all the way so the paper is flat though) then push the triangular tips at the top and bottom toward the middle. You want the existing folds to be fairly open and loose, press from the underside of the paper and they should naturally fold inwards. This should not be difficult to do, the paper should bend nicely inwards and down so that you can just flatten the edge to crease it and create the top and bottom edges of the envelope. Press the whole thing flat.

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8. With the envelope flat and facing up so you see the white tabs start by folding the left tab over the right side so that you can see the back of it.

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9. Fold the top edge down in line (as shown in the above picture) with where the slanted edge on the top left meets the vertical edge.

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10. Now fold the right edge corner over in half to create another slanted edge.

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11. Repeat with the bottom edge of this side so it looks like the top picture. Then as in the bottom picture fold the tab back along the crease so that the white side is over the patterned side.

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12. Repeat steps 8-11 on the right side tab. The underside of the tab will look like this.

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13. With the right tab folded back over along the crease you will have an card/gift envelope that looks like this. Use string, ribbon or twine to fasten by wrapping it around the middle of the envelope across the tabs and tying off in the center. Add charms, beads, a gift tag or any variety of decorations to personalise the envelope. I like to add these to the tie closure. You could also pop holes through the middle of the tabs in the center of the envelops to add a fixed tie rather than one that wraps around.

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Using an A4 sheet of paper will make a small near square envelope. Using a square sheet of paper, such as a 30.5 x 30.5cm (12 x 12 inches) sheet of craft/scrapbooking paper will give you a tall thin envelope measuring around 20.4 x 10.2 cm.

These envelopes are fairly forgiving if you don’t get the folds exact though the thicker the paper or more embellished it is (with say glitter patterns or raised decoration) the harder it is to fold and get looking neat.

If you decide to give it a go have fun! I’d love to know how you got on with it and how your envelopes turn out!

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The Shell.
Empty and worthless,
Lost without purpose.
The shell remains,
Waiting aground.
To somebody’s eye,
Roaming from high.
The shell is seen,
It’s beauty found.

Do you know those times? When you feel like a shell? Empty of anything worthwhile even yourself? I have those feelings often, it’s part and parcel of my struggles with depression. Sometimes I am able to manage them, other times they take over, sucking my strength and leaving me wondering what I have to offer the world. I have dreams, aspirations, things I want to achieve and find in life but when I feel like a shell all those things become hopelessly out of reach.
Then, some days, when you’re feeling your lowest, unable to see what you offer and the beauty you have inside of yourself someone comes along who says the right thing in a world full of wrong things. Like match to a candle wick the light catches on and against all odds you realise that if nothing else you do offer something. Even on the days you can’t smile yourself you have brought something to that person. They see something in you that makes them smile, something good and light and worth mentioning and it’s the best thing anyone could give you at that moment.
There’s a connection there, a reminder that you are one of many and that people do care. That your hopes and dreams aren’t above your reach when on the days you feel small you have someone, even the most unlikeliest of people… sometimes a complete stranger, to give you a boost and lift you up towards them.

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Before Christmas I had been looking into investing in my first ever fitness tracker. There was, admittedly, a lot of umming and ahhing on my part. I wasn’t sure if it would be a helpful gadget for me to have or if it would in any way help to motivate me to increase my exercise and activity levels. I knew, however, that I wanted to make changes for my own health and with that level of motivation in mind I decided to give it a go. I took weeks looking over different brands, reviews, comments on them and thinking about what I wanted, finally settling on a Fitbit Charge as I decided that I might as well buy one that has some level of sleep tracking as well given that I haven’t been sleeping great for the past couple of months what with all the stress I’ve been under.

I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and wanted to do so before writing about it and doing a small review just going over what I like, dislike and whether it’s helped me at all.

I haven’t worn a watch type thing on my wrist for a very long time and I like not having one there as I dislike how often I used to check on the time when I did, it became a constant habit and the main reason I stopped wearing one. My concern that this habit would be restarted was unfounded, however, as I usually forget that I’m even wearing the tracker since it’s light weight, comfortable, rubbery and more like wearing a thicker wrist band than anything else. You can check the time by tapping the display area or pressing the button at the side, pressing the button more times then brings up your pedometer info, distance moved, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed and, if you have one set, when your alarm will next go off.

While I like the idea of the silent alarms I do find them a little unnerving, not so much in the day but in the mornings and I have found I actually need a fairly decent level of sound to really wake me up properly. I don’t have to worry about waking anyone else up so it’s not a problem and I prefer to leave the vibrations of the tracker to notifying me when I’ve reached a goal such as walking 10,000 steps in one day.

So far I’ve had no issues with the tracker coming off though now that I’ve been using it a while I have found the grips that hold the band on looser to peg in and release. I worry that after extended use they may be likely to pop off and as such a buckle would be much preferred though, as I said, so far I’ve had no issues with this coming close to happening.

 The sleep activity tracker has been a really interesting addition for me to see a general overview of how much solid sleep I get and how restless I am during the night. It tots up the time spent actually sleeping versus the time spent being restless and/or awake during the night which I’ve enjoyed looking at to see just how much sleep I’m getting. One of the main reasons I got the Charge was because it auto detects sleep, you don’t have to set it into sleep mode which I was pretty sure I would forget to do if I had to do so manually.

To get the most out of the tracker you need a device or browser capable of running a version of the Fitbit app which you can sync to the Fitbit either manually by plugging into your computer or by Bluetooth which is what I’ve been doing as it’s super easy and I don’t have to even think about it. It just happens and all the information is there and ready for when I want to go over it. I like the app and how simple it is to use though admittedly I haven’t spent much time really delving into all it can do or any of the challenge or goal functions really. You do, however, get emails when you reach certain milestones with a ‘badge’ for those achievements as well as emails when your Fitbit is getting low on battery power to remind you to charge it, which again is helpful and doesn’t leave me wearing it for ages when it’s run out of battery.

If you’re trying to keep a track of your calories and/or lose or gain weight the Fitbit syncs with My Fitness Pal which in itself is a great app for keeping track of your food intake and exercise sessions. I started doing this to try it out though haven’t really been keeping a track of my calories or food habits, purely because my goal isn’t to primarily lose weight.

In conclusion; the Fitbit has really helped me to keep motivated though I’m not sure if that’s because of what it does or because I don’t want to feel that the money I spent on it is in any way wasted. The sleep tracking has been interesting and probably the most useful part for me along with the pedometer and silent alarms, even if I do find the vibration of them a little unnerving. While my goal isn’t to lose weight I have decided that if I continue to keep active and increasing my activity and if I manage to get to my first weight goal, which in and of itself would be a miracle, then I may well upgrade to the new Fitbit Charge HR in the future for the heart rate monitor function, buckle strap and being able to order it in a nice plum/purpley colour (which I couldn’t get for the Charge), though that is a way in the future as it stands now.

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Ten minute sketch in drawing inks and chalk pencils.

I mentioned in a previous post somewhere that I wanted to start doing more sketching hopefully on a daily basis and in a quick manner as I find this to be very freeing creatively. I love working sketches this way as it stops me over thinking what I’m doing and obsessing over how it looks rather than just expressing what I’m seeing and feeling from whatever it is I’m sketching. This is the first in this experimentation/practice that I’m hoping to set up.

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It’s that time of the year again! One of my favourite things, as sad as it probably sounds is getting new inserts sorted for the New Year for my purple Malden Filofaxes. I have two as you can see, my personal sized one which is for general use and my A5 which is for my business. I decided to buy actual Filofax inserts for them this year rather than print my own out particularly when I found a set of A5 week view ones that I really liked and seemed to be just what I was looking for.

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I purchased a few different ones towards the end of last year and have been eagerly awaiting my opportunity to switch them in. While the personal sized ones are the same as the ones I had last year the A5 ones are a year planner, month planner and professional pack:

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As it turned out the year and month planners were somewhat redundant as the professional pack had forms of these in with it already which I didn’t realise. That said I prefer the style of the additional ones I ordered as well. The lay out of these sheets is a lot better for me than the standard inserts that came with my A5 when I bought it last year which were timetabled and I’m not great with working with a timetable.

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I was also really happy to get this Cute Or What stationary set from Boots in their sale today to use with my personal Filofax. I’m a bit of a sucker for new notelets and organiser accessories  >.>

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2014 was a tumultuous year. I had some wonderful ups and some very low downs that culminated in some big losses and a lot of growth, but then isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? I let myself slide considerably after all the success of 2013, I lost myself somewhere along the way and I lost some of what was important to me. My creativity, spirituality and ability to love myself reached a massive low and I am determined not to allow that to continue this year.

I wasn’t going to use a word for the year this year, I lost connection with last year’s one at some point along the way and wondered if returning to words for the months would be a better option. they worked well for me when I used them in 2013 though I suspect a lot of that was down to keeping the Smashbook for the year and taking the time through that to celebrate the things I did and achieved both big and small. It’s important to do this; to give yourself a pat on the back and encouragement.

Then a couple of evenings ago something unexpected happened. The long term relationship I was in came to an end by my own hand and I have been sliding between feeling peace with my decision, grief at what I have lost, hurt from the things that were said to me at the end and guilt for the pain I caused in doing it despite knowing I had to do it for my own mental health. And so a word popped into my head. It’s by no means an original word but it is an important one and will hopefully be so for 2015; love.

I’m not talking about romantic love here, I’m coming to understand that long term I seem to thrive better when I’m single and I’m ok with that. I’m talking about love in it’s entirety and most importantly self love. It’s never easy to make tough decisions but we do it for ourselves. It’s not uncaring, self centered or selfish, it’s finding the strength to love and nurture ourselves when we need it most.

I hope to move forward into 2015 with love for myself a priority, one that I hope not to lose.

~Michel

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