Saturday 30 April 2011


Zenith.... the highest point; peak; acme: the zenith of someones achievements

I did it! finished, got to the end. 

For the whole of April I have been taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge with over 1000 other bloggers - a big thank you goes out to Arlee Bird and the team.  Our challenge was to blog the letters of the alphabet daily except Sundays.  I chose to give myself the additional challenge of posting to my art blog which meant that I had to do 52 posts altogether.  While doing the challenge I was also grieving the loss of a friend and fellow artist, Barbara Noel, and attend her Home going service.  We are in the process of adding images of her art work to a blog, if you click on her name it will take you straight there to see some of her work, and watch a video about her talking at her degree show in 2010.

After the first few posts I realised I should have done some in advance as life seemed to be getting in the way, but I was determined not to drop out.  I had wanted to develop my writing and my discipline in producing work and being more creative.  It got to a stage where I had to do 3 posts a day, the thoughts of leaving out some letters came to mind but then I felt I would only be cheating myself so I got on with it.  It is a big relief to be at the end but I am also glad that I did take the time, that I did persevere, that I disciplined myself and showed up when I needed to and made it to the end.  I can look back and be proud of myself. 

In anything we do we have to put our all into it, for we don't know who we will be blessing by our words, actions and creativity. 
I hope that my actions have been a blessing in the same way that I have been blessed by many supportive words from people who have commented and those who have signed up to my blogs, and the many blogs that I have been able to visit, and will continue to visit.

You Tube Video

I uploaded a video I created using Stupeflix a video editing online package, it's only a short thing and doesn't contain my newer pieces of work..  It's really useful resource if your ever thinking of creating your own. With anything if you want to do more you will need to pay for one of the other packages.  One more letter to go in the A-Z blogging April Challenge, there is a reflection mega post on Monday to wind everything up and get feedback of bloggers experience.

Friday 29 April 2011


Came across a really interesting site about the work of artist Albert Koetsier and his use of X-rays in art, whilst not new, it is part of the history of photography that started almost two hundred years ago.  There are some beautiful images in the gallery, definitely worth a look.

Wall Art

Every now and then you can come across some really inspiring work by other artists that brighten the local area.  Not sure of their names as I couldn't find it on the art.  They can be found in Chalk farm, London, and in Brent

Local artists at Respect Festival in Brent

Thursday 28 April 2011


We are coming to the end of the A-Z April Blogging challenge, with the last day being on Saturday.  I feel like I have done a marathan twice and the finish line is in front of me.  I wanted to give myself the additional challenge by writing to two blogs this and my art blog and can safely say it has been a great experience.  Only two more days to go!  If you took part, how did you get on?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Tea Set

When we were small my mother would make tea using a tea pot.  She would rinse the tea pot using boiling hot water before she added the tea bag and more water (one tea bag for 2 people), and then place the tea cosy on top to keep it warm while the tea brewed.  This I was told was how you made a good cup of tea!  I continued the tradition when I left home for a few years until the one-cup bags became the fashion.

This tea set belonged to my mother-in-law, and it got me thinking about the many other traditions that we had as children that for one reason or the other have now become a distant memory.  Every other week and for all of our birthdays mum would make cakes, pies and buns.  Her fruit cakes were mouth watering and we would wait to lick out left over mixture from the bowl (before the salmonella scare!).  Any ingredient that she put her hand to would turn out delicious - sweet or savoury.  I don't have time to bake cakes except when the mood takes me but my son has learnt to make a mean Arroz Doce (Portuguese Traditional Rice Pudding).

Another tradition is the glass cabinet...Mum still has a glass cabinet that shows off all the 'best' glasses and plates that were only used on a special occasions - at Christmas or when you had guests.  I have a version of the cabinet but the special occasions are more freqent and we don't need to have guests to use them. There are many other traditions.. but that's for another post.

Times change and our kids are growing up so fast, you almost want to cling on to those special memories.  I wanted to remember all of the traditions, and make new ones for my son as he too one day will be saying to his children 'when I was younger my mother used to....... '


Smiles can say so much and bring warmth to peoples heart.
 Think about how many times you will look someone in the eye today and smile, and see how different your day will turn out, say 'hello, have a good/blessed day'.
The gift of a smile can mean so much to someone else’s life,
and make you feel good about yours in the process.
You might want to go further and say ‘how are you doing....and wait for a reply...

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Running on Empty

We've all heard the term, and there are quite a few others that have similar meanings, 'burning the candle at both ends, writers/artist block, and many more.  These states of being can be a result of not making the right decisions to ensure we are looking after our health be it food and exercise but also spending quality time with friends and family - making time to renew our creative spark.  Some of us take heed or more often than not we ignore it, waiting instead for the consequences that will either lead to blocks, burn out or illness and exhaustion. 

For those that own a car, each year we take it for its Service and MOT to make sure its road worthy, it won't pass unless everything is in good condition and we regularly put petrol in our car and top up oil and water.  If we are going to do that for a piece of metal that gets us from A-Z why not our own bodies.  Have you been running on empty for a while?
We often committe ourselves and time to doing projects that if we had thought clearly about we would never have agreed.  Perhaps its time to take stock. Take a look at the wheel above draw a line where you think you are at that point, it covers all aspects of life, finance, family, health etc.  You get a chart looking something like the small one below. It will help you recognise those areas in your life that need some extra attention and tlc, the next step is doing something about it....


There are so many really great quotes I come across that are inspiring and motivating.  Here are a few for you to ponder over.  When you get a chance comment and share favourite quotes that you come across.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover
Mark Twain

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
Ralph Vaull Starr

Come to the edge. We can’t, we’re afraid.
Come to the edge. We can’t. We’ll fall!
Come to the edge. And they came.
And he pushed them. And they flew
Guillaume Apollinaire

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark,
in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet,
the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish,
in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach.
Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won.
It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours
Ayn Rand

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you, the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Posting for A-Z April Challenge

I hope you have been able to visit many of the blogs taking part in the A-Z Blogging challenge.  I am very proud of myself for getting this far.  For many of the blogs that you might visit most people are probably on their V words.  Today is serving as my P word.

I took the challenge primarilly to develop my writing in as many ways as possible, I also wanted to see what others creatives were doing and have met many inspiring people along the way.  I had given myself the additional challenge of not only writing on this blog but also to post on my other blog Amanda Trought Art.  This mean that instead of 26 I would have 52 posts to do over April.  I didn't get to preschedule any posts and so what then happened was life....there were days that I couldn't post because of the particular circumstance that day, or after a full day working blogging was the furthest thing from my mind.

To make sure that I complete the challenge what I have then had to do is play catchup and have been trying to post twice a day and where possible see if I can do some in advance.  After this post I only have 10 more on this blog to do and I have been patting myself on the back every step of the way because this has been one of my 'stepping out of my comfort zone' experiences.  Now I have got this far, lets see what else will appear on the list of challenges!  I do hope my post have been encouraging and inspiring, would love to see your comments.

Monday 25 April 2011


I am always telling my son opportunity plus preparation equals results. We have been fortunate to have been able to visit Florida many times.  On this occasion we went to Seaworld and I had the opportunity to take this picture of the underside of an arm of an octopus.  I love the shapes of its suckers and how they look like O's .....


When we think of nurturing we think of mothers caring for their young until they are ready to fly the nest, and with birds, either with a gentle persuasion or a little push the bird is launched into the air with the knowledge that 'its' mother knows best', it has all the tools to complete the task of flying, it is ready!

As a young artist on my journey, I didn’t realise I needed to be in an environment of encouragement. On several occasions I allowed myself to listen to the negative criticisms of others and took it to heart, believing instead that they were right and I stopped being creative. Years later I discovered was not about my art, but about their own insecurities and dreams that had been killed at an early age.

I then began the task of hiding behind numerous other activities which didn’t bring the joy that I had found being creative, but would dip my toe in every now and then remembering what I really wanted to do. The catalyst that would change everything was suggesting to the day care centre for dementia that my mother attends that I could do a weekly art session with some of the clients. They agreed and I started the sessions.

I had to encourage  80 year old men and women who had been told that they were useless at drawing and who had not picked up a pen to do any kind of creative activity for nearly 70 years.  Some of them just didn’t see the point. Each week I would try different tactics until we got the balance right.

Six months later they were looking forward to the 2 hour session. We would combine creativity with singing and reminiscing, and we would regularly display their work, the art sessions continued for 2 years!

Encouraging the participants encouraged my heart and I decided that I would follow my passion to create, nurturing my dream for me.  I would spread my wings and fly into the adventure of self discovery, joy, understanding, and love. Think about any dreams you have that need nurturing, are there ideas you have pushed to the background for fear of what others think or don’t understand? and what barriers have you overcome?

Saturday 23 April 2011


I have written many posts about my mother, how she inspires, and has a joy to life, I hope at her age I am as vibrant and fun...

......and I have written about my son who is a blessing, who makes me proud, makes me laugh and is going to be 16 this year!

I am also a stepmother to Ahisha, who I have seen grow up into a beautiful young woman, and I hope I have and can continue to be equally as encouraging and inspiring...


We can inhabit a variety of different landscapes, and I love living in environments where there is green, lush plants that give off delightful aromas.  In my own space I try and make sure that I have colour and many plants that bring their own scents at various parts of the day.  As an artist this variety enables my creativity to grow.  Living with the different seasons changes this environment but each one is there that stability in knowing that the changes will bring about a richer landscape.

This made me think about our hearts and what our hearts landscape looks like.  How we relate to others as we go through our experiences and what are we like as people to each other.....
Are we indifferent, cold and uncaring...

Do we only have harsh words to say to one another, are our actions based on hurts and deep wounds that we suffered.....

Or are we encouraging, supportive and caring, being a blessing with what comes out of our mouths, with every word we speak we can either support someones dream or tear it down.

At the end of the day our experiences have brought us to where we are now and we have a choice.  Many have gone through a season of the different landscapes.  Do you remember those people who spoke encouraging words to you as you were growing up, or who are in your life now?

Let us be the people that others will one day look back and think he/she was really a blessing in my life......what kind of landscape are you carrying around with you?  

Thursday 21 April 2011


My father passed away 19 years ago and there are many things I would have loved to have told him, shared with him.  Every now and again my mind runs on him and wonder how differently things would have been had he still been alive, in the sense of my mother and living and coping with the dementia, would she have developed it, would I have spent half as much time with her getting to know her now I am an adult.

When he died I didn’t want to get rid of anything of his, as my mum cleared his stuff out, I moved things into my then flat, I wanted them around me to remember him. Over the years, moving and having a son of my own, space became a premium and I had to decide what I wanted to keep, which now amounts to a few rings, cufflinks, and tie clips and they all fit neatly in a box which was also his.

He would have been 83 this year and when I look around at my possessions I wonder what my son would take as his keepsake to remember me when I’m gone, or are all those things I hold on to only of value to me!

Monday 18 April 2011

Jasmine scented Cordyline Australis

The Jasmine plant is one of my favorites, producing an abundance of small white flowers.  It has an aroma that wafts into the house in the early summer evenings - just beautiful.  In my garden I had decided that I wanted it to be filled with sweet smells and vibrant colours, it has taken around 13 year to estabish, experiment and find a balance that would welcome wildlife and be a relaxing space to be in.

I planted a couple of Cordyline Australis ( Cabbage tree) around 8 years ago, they are native of New Zealand, and was lucky that I put it at the back of the garden.  They can grow up to 66 feet!  The best thing is the flowers they produce also have a gorgeous Jasmine smell and when you have the kitchen window  or back door open you get amazing smells coming through the house.

Often our journeys to where we want to be as artists takes much training, discipline, early mornings, late nights, learning new skills and techniques to enable us to reach the goals we aspire to. At any given moment there could be someone somewhere around the world waiting to be inspired and blessed by something that you say, write, create. It’s the simple things that bring so much joy, what are your favourite flowers?

Saturday 16 April 2011


Just started back at the gym........ well, my payment for this month has been taken.

It’s very easy to get caught up with the stresses of life and neglect certain parts of our lives. It’s also easy to talk yourself out of getting fit.  My walking challenge began with so many hopes and dreams and I began to find even the smallest excuse as to why I couldn’t go that day, so I’ve pre-packed my backs with everything I need. 
I keep reminding myself of the steam room and what a post exercise treat this will be along with those pampering products, along with some other strategies to keep myself motivated... I’m hoping to go at least 2-3 times a week and add to the ‘me time’ I invest in myself, which will help with my creativity in the long run, and may even inspire some new ideas. Think about what small changes you can make to your health routines and maybe take that first step....


Sometimes the smallest thing can be inspiring.....

We have a shed in our back garden and we are planning to clear it out in the holidays. The door had a glass pane in it which has over the years dropped out of the frame but still allows the door to open. The shed became a haven for many creepy crawlies, and we only go in there to take the bikes out during the summer and gingerly step round everything else as we dodge the cobwebs.

I was taking some pictures of the plants in my garden when I noticed a robin singing quite loudly it had some dried grass in its mouth and then it flew on top of the crack in the door where the pane of glass had slid down. I was about to open the door in an attempt to rescue the trapped bird as it jumped around a bit on a replacement door we had in the shed then it flew out. What I realised is that it had built or was building a nest. Got me to thinking how the bird made the best of a situation in the shed and despite the circumstances created a place of peace and comfort for its eggs.

How too then are we inspired by our circumstance, how can we look at them differently to produce a different outcome, perhaps we have been given news that we didn’t expect, how will we respond will we see the benefits or will we focus on the the meantime, does anyone know how long robin eggs take to hatch?
I am also doing the challenge on my other blog Amanda Trought Art, with a whole different set of words but I have been blessed as I steadily make my way through the alphabet. I know you will be blessed as you make your way around to the blogs of the other participants on the challenge.

Friday 15 April 2011


Growth is an indication of change.

When I look at my son as a baby, so cute, wanting to hold my hand and have a big hug from his mummy..... being the tall young man with a deep voice who seems to always be hungry and who will one day fly the nest, I have to change the way I relate to him, no longer wanting my cuddles and sloppy kisses, but needing me to relate to him in a different way - sharing wisdom, love, support, laughter and inspiration.

With the A-Z Challenge I grow in my writing style and content, as an artist I feel I have grown in my approach, techniques and dreams.  In my loss of a dear friend I grew having to reach deep within, to come to terms with the situation, find unknown inner strengh, determination and hope.  I continue to grow as new situations and circumstances arise, and change and challenges present themselves.....

Thursday 14 April 2011


He is like a tree planted by streams of water;
which yeilds its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. 
Whatever he does prospers..
Psalm 1:3

Artwork - Barbara Noel

We said our final farewell to my friend and fellow artist Barbara Noel on Monday, as we celebrated her life at her 'Home Going Service' and I wrote a tribute to her in my post Friendship, it was a moving day, and a blessing to be part of it.  I thought about the impact she had made in many peoples lives and this reminded me of the fruit that we are called to produce in our own lives.

The fruit of the spirit, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control....
Galatians 5:22

What is it that you are labouring over, what fruit are you producing, what are you doing to impact those around us?....I have a plum tree in my garden and come August, I am expecting that we will get plums, not potatoes, oranges or tomatoes.  For every flower that appears.....

 - once fallen, a fruit should be in place.

Whatever we do there are certain results that are guaranteed, if we encourage our children and speak positive words into their lives we hope that they will grow up with confidence and secure in who they are..  Take stock and look at what you are currently doing in your life.  Can you clearly see what the fruit of your labour will be.  Does it need some extra nourishment, water, etc and are there any areas that need to be cut back in order to bring a bigger crop, this might take the shape of a course to learn a new art techniques or sharing your art techniques with a disadvantaged group, you could get up that extra half hour to be a blessing to someone, or get some exercise to avoid potential illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes.....  Would you spend time raising funds for a charity or a homeless shelter on Christmas day?  Make sure that the time you invest enables the results you are looking for to be achieved.....Is your fruit recognisable?

It has definitely been a challenge writing for the A-Z April Blogging challenge and  I am also doing the challenge on my other blog Amanda Trought Art, with a whole different set of words but I have been blessed as I steadily make my way through the alphabet.  I know you will be blessed as you make your way around to the blogs of the other participants on the challenge.

Tuesday 12 April 2011


Take a look around, what does your environment say about you?  Are you a "place for everything and everything in its place" or a "where ever I lay my hat, that's my home" type of person and then the multitude in between. 

In the throws of spring we hear talk of spring clean, declutter, organise and as creatives perhaps we do need to think about the process we go through.  Are we holding on to what should have been weeded out long ago (ways of thinking, canvases, old equipment, and clutter), when we should be letting go and making room for the new techniques, equipment, thoughts, new collaborations, these are like the seeds waiting to be sown in our lives, and once nurtured, watered and care for will produce unexpected harvests.  You might finally have the courage to submit that work to the magazine, write the book, perform that song, do something differently, whatever it is...

A slightly tidier space!
What we see in our environment may be due for a make over, a change, a total clear out, in order to reap the benefits of the next stage...

Friday 8 April 2011


I have always loved dancing.  In her later years my mum has started to enjoy dancing and singing.  I have taken numerous videos of her which in time will serve as a reminder of her bubbly nature, she always seems to have an extra shot of energy which is especially amazing for an 87 year old!  This video is of her dancing to a song called 'thats not my name' (Mavis Style)..

Thursday 7 April 2011


Creativity for me is an important part of maintaining my health and well-being. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do whether painting, dancing, and writing or a range of other creative pursuits, what really counts is that you participate on a daily basis. Showing up even if it’s for just 5 minutes. Disciplining yourself despite what’s going on around you allows you to spend that time on you, showing up for you, then you can work on spending longer over time.
It’s been widely recognised for many years that art and creative activities can affect our health, and hospitals and more and more private and public sector organisations are looking at how their environment can make an impact not only on their clients, but their staff as well.

Many health authorities are looking at ‘Art on Prescription’ schemes where individuals are encouraged to take part in art activities over a 10 week period in an attempt to reduce the amount of time they visit their doctors and this has been rolled out initially for depression and other mental health related conditions. If you’re ever anywhere near north London check out Creative Health Lab who run art, dance/movement, and horticulture sessions and are based in Kentish Town City Farm.

Finally, when you get a moment, check out this very inspiring video by Jan Phillips You are Worth the Time

Tuesday 5 April 2011


I have been in quite a reflective mood and thought it would be a good idea to think about blessings, recognising and appreciating those things that have been a blessing to me.  I think it is probably something we should do on a regular basis, just to remind ourselves....

5 things I feel blessed about...

1. Relationships with family and friends, the support, laughter, and inspiration...
2. My mother - whilst she has dementia, she is still holding on to life, she has a sense of humour and a youthful quality about her life...
3. Discovering my passion was art, stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing my passion, and being able to take the steps to being a mixed media artist....
4. New found journey as an artist has brought me into contact with so many talented artists and creative individuals, it has been a blessing and every day there is something of themselves shared that is inspiring and motivating....
5. My faith and relationship with God...I am reminded that we are here but for his grace.  My faith enables me to continually step out of the box and even the boat on occasion...If you get a chance check out some of the other participants on the A-Z Challenge, be inspired! blessed!
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