I’d rather have an ‘Oops…’ than a ‘What if?…’…

River sunset

I took a few days out this week and disappeared to Wales and it was bliss. I stayed at a friend’s haven in the middle of nowhere alongside a babbling river with only the sounds of nature for company. I took this picture at sunset one evening, as the clouds turned to gold and the swallows filled the sky. It is rare to feel that kind of peace amidst our noisy days.

It was four months ago that I started off by sharing Joanne’s space and painting some old bits of furniture that I had collected. Now here we are in our own workshop, with windows looking out over the trees by the River Weaver, making plans and tackling all sorts of things. Little did Jim and I realise at the start that our respective businesses would dovetail as naturally as they do, along with our thinking and ideas. There have been some wonderful ‘Oops…’ moments along the way and much hard graft interspersed with laughter. Although everyone in my circle has been asked to stop me ever trying to make roman blinds again. I think that was a moment where my ‘nesting’ instinct, coupled with my eternal optimism, went a step too far when I insisted on making blinds for the workshop windows! It has taken four weeks and a few incarnations, and we now have blinds at each window that are rolled up by hand and tied with ribbons….marvelous! There was also a telling moment a few weeks ago when Jim called to say that he had found a vintage metal desk, so we made plans to bring it over to the yard and I started work on ‘Mickey’ as we very quickly nicknamed him. Less than twenty four hours later I was on the phone to Jim gasping for help. I think the conversation went along these lines:

Me: ‘I have no blood left in my arms and my whole body is vibrating.’
Jim: ‘What have you been doing?’
Me: ‘Have you ever used a metal sander?’
Jim: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Fancy trying one out?’

He arrived the next day as eternal optimism had blinded me (yet again) and I was looking at a project way beyond my capabilities and physical strength. We spent a few days working together and ‘Mickey’ is now match fit and ready for sale.

Mickey 6

I arrived back at the workshop from Wales this week and had a catch-up cuppa and natter with Ray, our special yard manager, while we shared pieces of my Dad’s 85th birthday cake. Ray, Jim and I are in complete accord on our gratitude for the caring connections that weave together on the yard.

Bless John and Chris (our old yard neighbours who restore cars) for sharing their space and expertise as we beavered away to restore ‘Mickey’. Mike and Gazza, who mend motorbikes on the yard, have put us in touch with a chap who does sand blasting. I have a feeling that this connection will be fruitful as Jim and I are faced with some very ‘poorly’ projects that need this kind of start to their restoration. Anthea, who runs a beauty salon on the front of the yard, often brings me across to her space so she can restore my hands to a pretty state and refuses to take a penny for her loving care. She has gifted me a box of disposable gloves and I cannot understand why! Jimmy, our friendly yard builder, who has put a lovely new sink and worktop into the workshop (see, nesting again!) and sorted a dodgy window out. He kindly bobbed down the road last week and mended Mum and Dad’s roof, because access was a devil and Mum did not need the heart failure of Dad even attempting to get the job done himself. Lee, who does car repairs and MOT’s, for rescuing me when I got locked in the other evening. Mum very quickly baked him a cake! Last, but by no means least, Ray, flowing care to us all on the yard, who pops in daily with suggestions, things he has made and diagrams of ideas. Things would never have evolved this well without his loving care and support. Also, ‘Mickey’ is currently tucked into Ray’s office on the yard, because we could not fit him in through our door.

There was a lighting problem in the loos on the yard and I emerged the other day to find Ray, John and Lee standing just outside the loo door. My face must have been a picture….John, never one to miss a bantering opportunity, said ‘We were listening to you Jane!’. I burst out laughing and suggested that they all surely had urgent work to attend to elsewhere….

Every business starts with an idea or two, but it is people that make it happen. ‘Oops..’ moments occur, laughter is never far away, banter is ever present, help is plentiful. Our yard has loving support and that is a blessing in which we all thrive.

River

Letting the light in….

Pur place

Sometimes life seems to hit the ‘warp factor ten’ button and our ‘life plates’ are full with too much to deal with all in one go. I have not written anything for a few weeks now and that is always a sign that I am overloaded and the things that maintain my balance are getting lost.

There are many light filled energies nestling in my life garden and loving thoughts and care weave around them all. My heart knows that if I fill my head, heart and life with these thoughts then all my words and actions will flow forward from these loving energies and all will thrive.

My heart is full of love for……

My Mum and Dad and their safe harbour, loving support, understanding and jokes. So many evenings lately Mum has placed a hot meal in front of me, when I can barely keep my eyes open, as Dad gently asks how I am getting on. As I move on to my new home in October, (only fifteen minutes away by car), I will be but a heartbeat away. Bless my property developer friends Carl and Victoria for offering me a lovely new home. A bonus of this is that I can now care for their lovely dog Boris when they go away…happy days.

Jim, my earth angel, who stands like a rock as the seas have got stormy. His loving tenderness and thoughtful care are constant and the picture above shows one of our favourite spots where we curl up together to natter and giggle. Blessed are the moments he has stroked my hair, taken me by the hand and shown me hidden gardens, canal walks, secondhand shops full of treasures, steamy coffee shops, fairy lit restaurants and nature reserves. Close to tears one day, he noticed and got me driving the pitch roller at his local cricket club to distract me. Vans, tractors, diggers and now a ride on roller, I loved it. When he said ‘Lean on me, I am not going anywhere’….he means it.

My new workshop has windows and is flooded with light and looks out over the trees by the riverside. Jo, my sculptor friend, who pops in for tea and a catch-up (as I have only moved across the yard from the space we shared together) loves it. Ray, our yard manager, is a rich source of inspiration on woodworking, life and laughter. His templates are creating all sorts of wonderful wooden items. John and his son Chris, my old next door neighbours on the yard, kindly shared their work space with Jim and I last week, so we could re-vamp a metal desk project together. The banter was a joy and filthy dirty, but happy, Jim and I had a crash course in metal working. This fortuitous little episode is the spring board for our new salvage business, so Jim, his buddy Matt and I are now ‘JJM Salvage and Design’.

Roger, our loyal family friend of so many years, has kitted me out with every tool I could ever need, so whatever I go to make now, I have the right gear to hand. Bless him from the bottom of my heart, as I could not have made the workshop move without him.

The love, healing, care, support and laughter flowing from my treasured friends is the song that weaves through my days. I love you Chris, Emma, Tracey, Laura CS, Jo BB, Debs, Angie, Laura B, Peter and Wendy. Hugs for you all.

Love, light and cherished energies as we all flow forward together.

Rainbow colours……

Dad and I at the Railway

At lunch today Dad asked if I would like to come along with Mum and go to his model steam engine club’s ‘Track Day’. The first words out of my mouth were ‘My hair is filthy Dad, full of sawdust and paint, have you got time for me to have a quick shower?’ He nodded and I flew upstairs and was back down in ten, complete with wet hair, assuring them both that it would dry in the wind. It did!

Dad’s club track is in some old woods and as we drove up the climbing farm track to reach it we stepped back in time. The club’s track, workshop and clubhouse are nestled around old Oak and Horse Chestnut trees and beautiful lily filled ponds at the top of fields with sweeping views across the countryside. We all had a wonderful afternoon walking round, meeting and talking to club members, looking at beautiful model steam engines and locos, sharing mugs of tea (Bob ringing a bell to announce the urn was up to steam) as we all rode engines around the track. Picture a lot of beaming men playing with trains and you have a good idea of the happiness emanating out of those woods this afternoon.

The sun dappled through the leaves and I now have treasured heart memories of riding behind Dad as he drove us round on a loco and Mum took ‘action’ shots. It is years since we did this together and it brought back the steam sounding memories and the coal smells of my childhood.

Delicious cups of tea too, as only men in sheds can make….

Rainbow colours….Happy Father’s Day.

Feeling a way forward……

Benches

Joanne and I had a natter this week and agreed that is was probably a good idea if I had all the internal walled-in space in our studio to create my new pieces in, especially if it involved wood dust. There will probably be a lot of wood dust! This arrangement has the hallmark of all our discussions and agreements and is woven with flexibility, so we can roll with the changes we both need as and when they happen. We had an arm around each other and were laughing as we nattered and Jo’s son kicked a football about us. Every time he scored a goal that came close to whizzing past us, I would put a hand out to deflect it (without looking at him) to spare his Mum getting clobbered. He is gifted with deft foot control that lad and neither of us woman want to dull his passion. He is also at that wonderful age where woman are an alien species and most certainly discuss ‘boring’ things at length. There was much laughter echoing around our studio warehouse that afternoon and loving banter.

Jo also kindly pointed out where all the spare and gifted wood was kept and said I could use anything that I might need. This turned out to be a great help.

I got stuck in and started to clear the space and plan where my various creative ‘stages’ would be set-up. Not as easy as it sounds because I have not the faintest idea how some of these stages will manifest. Anyhoo…..

Dad has gifted me two of his old bench tops and being a precision engineer they are beautifully made and will probably outlast all of us. I have had a few offers from kind souls (who know what they are doing) to come and make the frames and install these bench tops, so I made sure that the space was cleared around where I wanted them to go.

John (Grandfather Clock fame) popped in and gifted me a chop saw, more wood and other useful bits and pieces, which I am very grateful for as the chop saw came in very handy indeed.

Then my space fell quiet……the frame offers did not come to pass and I stood there pondering, Thermos flask cup of coffee in hand and my ‘thinking’ head on. ‘Well’ I thought to myself ‘if I am going to create wooden furniture then I must surely be able to make bench frames’.

For two days I ‘felt’ and logic’d my way forward and the top picture is the result. Each night I would return home filthy dirty and barely able to stay awake, but so driven to get the job done that I may well have had enough ‘light’ within to power the National Grid.

Graham, my DIY treasure trove shop man, and I had a hilarious conversation where I went in requesting brackets to secure my benches, because ‘wibbly wobbly’ work surfaces are not an option when using power saws at speed. I was a little unsure what I was looking for, so he kept showing me things and I was standing there shaking my head….till we solved it. He thought I meant to secure garden benches as I did not want them to be stolen. He had a light bulb moment when he realised I meant workshop benches and he congratulated me on being one of his most entertaining customers and then gave me exactly what I needed. He broke open a huge pack of washers and took out a dozen, because he is that kind of a guy and did not want to waste my money by selling me the whole pack. Bless him.

So now I have two fixed benches and I am clearing and setting up the rest of my creative area.

I sat quietly with Dad this morning and we talked through my first design and then Mum, Dad and I went out to look at wood options this afternoon, so we could plan exactly how I was going to make it.

Each time I feel fear that I am in way over my head, I pause, say ‘It’ll be OK’ in my head and inch forward, plus my attempts at describing technical things can cause grown men to laugh, which could be seen as spreading joy!

No-one has told Bumble Bees that they cannot fly…..

Bumble Bee

I recently painted this little chap, at a client’s request, onto her re-vamped hall stand. Did you know that aerodynamically bees are not supposed to fly?

For the last week I have sat painting my designs onto furniture and looking out onto all the space available in the warehouse unit I share with Joanne. Ideas started to float up…..

I started to voice the ideas I am having about working with wood and making my own furniture pieces and goodness me, life kicked in. Sparkly energy started to flow and Dad’s voice was the first to make himself heard. He and Mum had already been talking together and wondering if I would be better off making everything myself. Mum put me in touch with a friend whose partner works for a bespoke kitchen company. He gifted me his time one evening and filled my head with all sorts of technical stuff and promised to come to the workshop and show me how to make the things I have started to design. His brother, who works for the same company, has also offered to come and help and their boss was happy to have a meeting with me. I spent a sleepless night thinking through all the things I could do and planning. I went to the meeting next morning with every intention of asking the kitchen company to spray my work, so I could get a professional finish. I was on the receiving end of kind smiles and a firm belief that I could do the whole thing myself. ‘After all’ they said ‘why pay us?’ These kind people spent time giving me all the technical information I needed on spray painting.

I am being gifted the kindness of strangers who I know will become friends. I have always believed that a rising tide raises all ships and the kind and supportive connections that are being made locally are magic. Blessings….

I made a list of all the equipment I would need and talked it through with Dad, who sat smiling and listening. ‘I have a few things on that list that you could have’ he said. Some serious bench top woodworking power tools are now stored down at my workshop ready for installation, along with some sturdy bench tops. Blessings….

I then had a message from an old friend who asked what I was up to lately. I told him and he immediately came back saying that he used to make Grandfather clocks, which he no longer does, and I was welcome to all his tools. His offer covered the rest of the power tools needed on my list. Blessings….

An old family friend came for lunch yesterday, listened to my plans and is gifting me the spray painting unit I need. Blessings….

Throughout all the planning David has been in touch and is supporting me so I can buy the paint and materials I need to get started. We may have been unable to sustain our relationship, but our loving friendship is a gift. Blessings….

Mum and Dad came back from a steam fair on Sunday and Mum held up a special purchase they had made….the perfect vintage item to finish my first project. Blessings….

Christine Moran, my dear friend, reminded me that I always say ‘Pants over tights and flick that cape…’ to others and it was time I said it for myself. Blessings….

All this equipment coming into the workshop is a far cry from my initial tentative plans on hand painting old furniture in a corner and I was braced for Joanne, my workshop sculptor buddy, to protest a tad. She isn’t and is simply flowing more space and supportive enthusiasm my way. We can share the tools, because they will help both of us to create. Blessings….

Life may have tumbled very hard indeed lately, but I may never have found this authentic voice inside if it had not. Loving support and kindness is the burnishing polish that flows through my days as the tumbles bring a new surface to the light. Blessings….

Many blessings and love.

Writing on the pages of life…..

Trial 2

This photo was lifted from a slide taken way back in the seventies. Blessed with parents that believe in adventures my sister, brother and I were gifted with some wonderful childhood years living in Africa. Dad was not in the photo as he was taking it, but you can see my Mum, Debs, Jon and I as we went on holiday to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I love this picture, because it reminds me of my roots and our family spirit.

In the stream of life recently there have been two situations that have caused considerable undertow and I nearly went under. Each day has been a struggle to keep breathing, never mind moving forward. I dislike feeling vulnerable and as those closest to me know, I do not do blame, bitterness or recrimination, it’s not in my character. I may get flashes of anger, but I give them a nod and then let them go as swiftly as they come in.

Mind you, that is not always the case…..

I did find myself on one memorable morning recently faced with a man (a stranger) who was incandescent with rage, shouting at full pelt and not listening. I nearly put my thoughts into action, where he would have found himself losing contact with the ground as my hands lifted him up by his collar. I felt (irrationally) that a face to face moment may help his ears to open. Fortunately for both of us my Mum spotted the rare flash in my eyes and stepped between us to calm things down. It was a sobering moment though, as I realised that my customary staggering tolerance is not flowing at the moment.

Anyhoo, back to focus of this post….

With strong emotions rolling through me that feel like grief, I have learned a fair bit in the past few weeks.

There is never an ideal time to start a new business.

With a whole raft of former (so called) failures and ‘Do you remember when’s’ ringing in my ears (with some finding an echo in my heart) I choose not to let my past play a part in my ‘now’.

Each technical stumble is a learning moment.

There is healing in a peaceful work space.

Painting and creating is a meditation.

My instinct is there for a reason.

Love and support are welcome, worry is not.

Focus is key.

Chocolate and hot coffee have hidden powers.

My Mum’s homemade cake spreads joy to my neighbourly warehouse businesses.

Dad’s gift of a power tool hand sander is amazing.

The love and encouragement of family and friends, as I have shared each newly created piece at various stages, is priceless.

Every thought, word and action that springs from love has wings….

and I cannot sink when the light shines in through the stream.

Discoveries as the new weaves into the old…

River Weaver

The first day of my new venture started with me finding Dad and smiling at him:

‘Dad, I am on the cadge.’ I smiled.

‘Oh yes’ he replied, as he peered at me over the top of his newspaper.

More smiles….

‘I haven’t got any clothes to paint in, so have you got any of your soft cotton shirts that you don’t wear anymore?’

I took his puzzled look as a ‘go ahead’ signal.

Rootling around in his wardrobe I pulled out a faded white and blue checked little number with a frayed collar.

‘Can I have this one Dad?’

‘It’s my best one……..!’ He smiled over the top of his newspaper.

‘Great stuff, thanks it’s perfect.’

I kissed his forehead and sailed out of the front door complete with a lunch box (packed with goodies) and a flask that Mum had unearthed for me from their old picnic gear.

Jo and I have sorted out our arrangement on trust and we both pottered together this morning, each doing our own thing, in harmony. As Jo left for the day we shared a caring look that flowed with gratitude for the divine timing that has brought us together.

I have made a start on some pieces and I am very grateful to Tracey and Chris for their encouragement as I put together a new design this afternoon. xXx

The lovely scene above was my lunchtime spot. I walked down to the boats and shared my roll with the ducks and soaked in the peace.

On the way home, as I was coming up to the bridge, three ducks crossed the lanes of traffic in single file and we all stopped to let them pass. The last duck may have been a bit giddy with the sunshine, because she broke rank and started to weave through the traffic. Bless her. We all waited till she was safe. It’s a beautiful day here and as I pulled up at the traffic lights a young lad, who had been behind me in the ‘duck queue’, drew to a halt beside me. All our car windows were down and he shook his head at me. I interpreted his look to mean ‘You daft old bat…’. I smiled at him and spoke across the cars; ‘May you get the life experience that means it’s OK to stop for ducks.’ Then I smiled at him gently and drove away.

Many blessings and possibilities as I find my way with this, with a heart full of gratitude for all the footsteps that have brought me here.


Jane Thorne

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