NaBloPoMo – Why? Am I mad?

I am prone to moments of madness, of deciding to do something that really is unrealistic normally because I am constantly in denial of how demanding my job is. So here we are at the start of November and I have decided to participate in NaBloPoMo (I think that’s the right acronym, it hardly trips off the tongue).

So what does this mean? It means I will be (remember to sound positive) writing a blog post every day! Yes every day for one month! That’s 30 blog posts before I have even start to engage with the Christmas shopping. On top of this the next couple of weeks at work have the potential to reach a whole new level of pressure but what the heck, maybe making myself take 10-15 minutes a day to just write something will help clear my head.

And that’s what has persuaded me to have a go. I have spent a pleasant Sunday morning having a lie in,  drinking tea and reading lots of advice and tips of surviving NaBloPoMo and what really struck me, and why I enjoyed Writing 101 so much, is that it is all about finding time to write, it just happens that it’s on a blog.  I enjoy writing and I think over the last 8 years of blogging I have found my voice and style although it sometimes hides when I feel I have to write a set piece, such as the End of Month post. I have no aspirations to be the next Booker Prize winner, my imagination just isn’t in that league, but there is a little voice inside me which would love to write a book one day of some sort. Maybe I should embrace this quiet ambition and give it a chance, let it out for some air and see what happens?  So this is the first step, to start the habit of finding time to write, for me, every day.

The other worry of course is what in earth am I going to write about. It won’t be a daily post about gardening that’s for sure. I am a more rounded person than that and to be honest a few years back I was paid to write two posts a week for a blog on gardening and boy did I struggle. My heart often wasn’t in it especially if I was writing to order. One of the tips I gained in writing 1o1 was to seek inspiration in things you see, read or hear and at the moment I have a couple rattling around my head which might come out. However, what has reassured me is that if you register on BlogHer you can receive daily prompts and also look back to previous year’s prompts so there is a wealth of ideas out there to get the mind working.

Finally, the other reason I am attracted to this challenge is because it will help with engage with some new bloggers. I want to break out of my gardening blog rut (no offence to regular readers) and engage with the wealth of interesting blogs out there and this is one way of doing it. If you are interested you can access the blog roll for NaBloPoMo on the BlogHer website, when I looked this morning there were well over 350 and not one I recognised.

So here goes …………….

Why no lawn – in 200 words

IMG_1939My garden is smallish and with my plant addiction I need to prioritise plant space so good-bye lawn.  Who needs a lawn anyway?

Some would argue that a lawn is a counterfoil to borders and sets them off; it’s somewhere to rest your eyes.  This is true and I totally agree  – if you have the space to create vistas and if you have so much planting that you need to rest your eyes.

I don’t have space for vistas, you can see all my garden from the house. It was more important for me to create some depth, to obscure some of the views, to give some mystery.  A lawn was stopping me achieving this.  But more importantly it takes up valuable space that I could use for plants and plants are my passion, my obsession, my reason to garden.

Removing the lawn was liberating and the best  decision I have made for this garden.  There have been no regrets at all.  There is still some grass on the path between borders but instead of a place to rest the eyes my lawn defines the journey through the garden.  There is little mowing or edging which makes me very happy.

Today’s Writing 101 assignment is to write something in a set word count

To write or to garden, that is the question

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a passionate gardener, so my response to today’s Writing 101 prompt about what I do when not writing is easy.

The majority of my time is spent at a PC in my office at the University where I am an administrator so in fact I spend the majority of my time writing something or other at home or at work.

Gardening is my mechanism for de-stressing.  It allows me time to clear my mind either through day dreaming about wild and mad schemes for the garden or in complete contrast  focussing on something small and precise such as peering into a pot of compost convincing myself that that small green dot is in fact the sign that a seed is germinating.  At times of extreme stress I find that just 20 minutes pottering around the garden dead heading and watering calms and soothes and then I can come back to whatever it is that is troubling me with a clearer mind.

In recent years much as been made of how good gardening is for your health.  It is something that is beginning to be recognised as useful in the recovering of people who have experienced severe trauma.  But of course gardening is good for our physical well-being as well as our mental.  It is a good form of gentle exercise, gets you out in the fresh air and keeps you active.  It will never be a form of burning off lots of excess calories, well not unless you regularly dig over something like an allotment, but it keeps everything moving.  I am reminded that when I was visiting gardens in Ireland earlier this year we met a number of older gardeners, one who was 87 and had a huge garden, and each of them believed whole heartedly that it was their gardening passion which had contributed to their longevity.

But I am drifting off topic.  The specific question asked what I do to recharge, rebalance and clear my mind for writing.  Whilst gardening is key to this and so much else that is important to me I also embroider and read.  Reading means I encounter ideas that might inspire me and I experience writing styles which may influence my own writing.  Both gardening and sewing give me material for writing but they also give me the space between work and leisure time so my mind can readjust and find the voice I want for whatever I am writing.   So for me it is important to have a good balance in your life if you want to be able to write.






photo-1428954376791-d9ae785dfb2dThe boy jumped for joy, he jumped because he could. He could run and jump, laugh and cry, he could express himself how ever he wanted. He was free.

The boy was free of tyranny, free of oppression. He no longer woke at the slightest sound in the night, in fear of his and his family’s lives.  He no longer listened at doors to adult whispered conversations, not for his ears. He no longer wondered what they would eat that day, when the gnawing feeling in his stomach would end. He no longer wondered would he have a future, let alone when he would again receive education.

Today was a new day, in a new home and today was the start of everything… he could be a child again.

This is written as Assignment 4 of the WordPress Writing 101 course, we had to write something based on a given photo.



‘Treasure’ – an interesting word which immediately conjures up images of pirate loot, piles of gold and jewels but it means so much more.

I treasure the relationship I have with my sons. Both grown men now. I have bought them up as a single parent since they were 2 and 3. We have a special bond, and I feel so lucky that we, as adults, are friends , sharing jokes and experiences.

I treasured seeing them develop into men; I treasure the bustle and noise that invades the house when they are both home; I treasure listening to their, to me mad, conversation while they are washing up and think I can’t hear them.

I treasure the memory of taking them on their first flight, when they were probably in their teens, and their expressions as the plane took off.  I treasure the joy they experienced at their first real overseas holiday, discovering the fun of eating alfresco, lazing by a pool, seeing amazing sights, not wanting to go home.

I treasure snapshots and  images of their childhood. Images in my mind – recollections of cut knees, crashed bicycles,  brotherly arguments and fights, sulks, birthday parties, driving lessons, revision stress, even worse – exam stress, first jobs, packing for University, moving out, calls home, hesitant confessions and lending an understanding and supportive ear.

I treasure being their mother and part of their lives.

This was written as Assignment 3 of Writing 101 (a wordpress course). We were given a word to inspire us to write something – my word was Treasure.



Things I Like

So today’s writing assignment is to make a list. Either a list of things I like, things I have learnt or things I wish.  I feel the latter two would lead to too much philosophising and making a list of Things I Like on a chilly misty morning seems a good way to start the day.

1. Colour – I love colour but especially reds, purples, and oranges.  They are an injection of happiness on a grey day and pick up your spirits when you are feeling low. They warm the soul.

2. Turkish Delight – I know its to everyone’s taste but I have a sweet tooth and love anything sweet but if I see Turkish Delight I really can’t resist it.  It’s the ultimate syrupy sweetness.

3. Reading – I am a compulsive reader, my degree is in Literature.  I read every night and I read somewhere recently that this was good for you as it allows my mind to turn off from other things.  I particularly like a good murder mystery or detective story but due to my love of history (see below) I really really love a good historical mystery.  Currently I am reading the Sister Fildema novels set in early Medieval Ireland.

4. History – I love history especially medieval history but I find other periods fascinating too and I find early American history very interesting.

5. My car – well having a car, my new car and I aren’t too fond of each other at the moment, but I love the freedom owning a car gives me.

6. My job – yes I do like my job, honest

7. Embroidery – I have dabbled in all sorts of crafts over the years but finally with embroidery I have found something that relaxes me.  As I said yesterday I have a restless mind and concentrating on the intricacies of embroidery calms me and it is very satisfying.

8. Steam trains – I love the sound and smell of steam trains.

9. Motor racing – especially the older cars such as you get at the Festival of Speed or at the local hill climb.  I love the sound the older cars make as they accelerate.  It is so evocative.

10. and yes plants – I adore plants, find them fascinating and beautiful.

Just to clarify, the above are in no particular order.

Why do I write?

Why do I write?  Because I can’t help myself.  I need to let out the thoughts and whitterings that run around my mind.  As Sylvia Plath said:

“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still”

I am a restless soul with a mind like a mad chirping bird that flits from one thing to another.  I try to calm my mind, to focus on one thing but its a struggle. Mental multi-tasking would be my super-hero quality but …. and its a big BUT when I have written, be it in a diary or on my blog, especially when I write from the heart my busy mind is calm.

I think the process of writing makes me focus on one thing, banishing other thoughts away, and sometimes I let it help me sort through tangled thoughts and muddled priorities.  I often don’t publish my most heart-felt ramblings but the act of writing them down is sufficient.

What do I write about, well mainly my garden and gardening but I want to explore other types of writing.  I write a lot at work as well but these are reports so a different style of writing, very concise and dry – my mind flits a lot when I do this writing.

I started blogging because I wanted to connect with other gardeners and to be honest with gardeners more of my generation than the older generation that inhabits most garden clubs.  I wanted to find people who were plant addicts, who got excited when the seeds for some unusual or difficult plant germinated.  I have been writing this blog for over 8 years and it has held me in good stead.  It has provided me with a rock during times of extreme difficulty, a safe place where I could forget for a while the troubles and tribulations that were assaulting my being.  It has allowed me to see places and become involved in events that I would never had been able to without the virtual connections I have made. Writing has enabled me to draw out the real me.  A me that had lost its self-belief and confidence after a difficult and abusive marriage and other equally destructive relationships.  A me that felt guilty for being a single parent, a me worried about how society judged me, a me frightened of my own shadow.  Through this blog I have learnt to trust my instincts, to listen to my heart rather than my head and to believe in myself.  It has given me confidence and self-esteem.

But (yes another but) I feel a need to improve my writing, maybe to develop it, I don’t know.  My life is going through significant changes both at home and at work, it has led to a surge of tidying up, obviously due to a need to be in some sort of control, sorting out of cupboards, drawers etc and I think my mind.  I feel as though I am exiting from a grey oppressive place that I have inhabited more on than off,  I feel as though I am beginning to like myself, to accept myself and not feel as though I need to apologise so much for just being…well me. Liking yourself is not always an easy thing to do.

So as part of this unintended tidying up, sorting out, improving I signed up to Writing 101 (and Blogging 101) hence this post – my first assignment.  Apologies for regular gardening fans but the blog may go a little off-piste over the coming days but who knows you may enjoy it.  I hope I do.