Christmas: A Political Issue?

It certainly feels like it with the lockdown, health and economic headlines scaring us all senseless this year.

But maybe it always was a political issue…

According to history, the first pope (Constantine) declared the 25th of December to be the day we should celebrate the birth of Christ.

Now, there are a couple of issues here..

The declaration was made in the year 336 AD – that’s AD – AFTER Christ. In the years 0-335, the birth of Christ wasn’t celebrated, as far as we know, at all. So how did he know? He didn’t, he just picked a date…

Why the 25th December? History points to this being a political act to steer people away from the pagan tradition of acknowledging the winter solstice, when the harvest was in and gratitude was placed firmly in the hands of nature, humanity included.

Was this the beginning of a certain lack of gratitude for nature’s bounty?

There are billions of humans on this planet and I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of them who either don’t celebrate Christmas because of their religious beliefs or they are just totally fed up with spending too much money on plastic bits and pieces and general craziness of it all.

So, how about this for a contraversial idea. This year – 2020, the year when the world went mad – what if we ‘postponed’ Christmas until March 21st.

We could celebrate on the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere;

*New life budding from the very earth we stand on.
*A promise of better weather to come

And on the first day of Autumn in the southern hemisphere;

*Getting in the harvest
*Preparing for a cozy winter

And why shouldn’t we call it Christmas – the Bible is very vague as to the time of year and exact date that Christ was born. Surely with the pandemic and economic collapse of many sectors of society, as a species we should be preserving our lives and nature as a whole, rather than being overly concerned about the political views of a pope who lived over 1600 years ago.

And as for the plastic bits and pieces..

However hard we try, a plastic-free lifestyle atm is virtually impossible unless you are mega rich and don’t possess any electric or electronique devices… hmm … perhaps the answer is to grow plants specifically for plant-based plastics – maybe we could start them all off on 21st March next year – when the Universe, God or whichever higher power you feel close to can spring forth and bring us all together under a non-political umbrella that hasn’t really existed since before the year 336AD.

Worth a thought anyway 🙂

Stay safe

Linda x

Is the Universe Friendly?

Having spent many years studying the teachings of such wonderful people as Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Abraham Hicks and others, there seems to be a general underlying agreement with Einstein’s theory that we only ever have to ask ourselves whether the Universe is friendly or unfriendly.

Absolutely! Couldn’t agree more….. but hang on, what if the Universe decides to have a hissy fit and throws us all into an undecided state ….

well, maybe it’s not the Universe’s fault. I mean, who are we to blame a power greater than we can imagine.

But when the outside world just isn’t behaving itself as we’d planned, our inner world can suffer indecision, anxiety, stress and depression. And, before we know it, suddenly the Universe just doesn’t seem as friendly anymore.

In the midst of a world pandemic, theories, conspiracy and otherwise, emerge from many directions. Politics takes centre stage alongside alarming figures of infection, health care and sadly tragic death tolls.

Let’s step back for a moment..

Just about every great visionary or spiritual teacher that has ever lived has shared basic truths such as:

love, kindness, compassion and gratitude.

And these qualities are found within, in our inner world. There aren’t any supermarkets that sell packets of compassion, as far as I know 🙂

But when you’re struggling with finances, sickness, bereavement or isolation, love, kindness, compassion and even gratitude can seem a long way from your current reality.

Unfortunately, though, believing the Universe isn’t friendly perpetuates those feelings of anxiety. The answer?

Give yourself a break

We are human beings, arguably the most complex of all nature’s creations.

And with that complexity comes the ability to question. We question everything, from whether or not the Universe is friendly to whether the cat likes the new flavour pet food.

You don’t have to be kind, loving, compassionate or express gratitude with every other sentient being on the planet in this red-hot minute. Start with YOU. Be kind to you, love yourself and stop beating yourself up for all the things you have or haven’t done.

Easier said than done right?

Meditation comes top of my list when I want (or need) to get grounded again, but there are many triggers that we can use to flip our thoughts from self-destruct mode to a healthier way of thinking and therefore believing. A belief, after all, is just a thought you keep thinking.

Look out of the window. Appreciate and even study what you see:
the sky – whatever the colour
clouds – their shapes and movement
trees and plants – the magnificence of nature!
buildings – how they were built and when
the weather – it’s power and beauty

Look into the Mirror. Appreciate and love what you see:
Really look into your eyes and declare your love for yourself – this isn’t easy for many of us – but keep trying. The breakthrough when it comes is empowering.
Look at your body and appreciate all of us are different. There are billions of us and YOU are unique – WOW ay?!

Eliminate the shoulda coulda woulda syndrome. You have a right to enjoy your life. Maybe everything outside of you has turned on its head but maybe you’d prefer to do a jigsaw puzzle rather than the washing up right now. And if you really feel you want to do the washing up right now, enjoy the moment. Feel the warm water on your skin, appreciate the clean dishes and the tidy kitchen.

A Ted Talk I watched recently helped me realise actually yes I CAN draw! So now I’m doodling cartoon characters all over the place 🙂

Creativity has been the predominant factor in the evolving of the human race. Get that creative hat on and find your loves, passions and hidden talents and enjoy as many moments as you can.

Start today, not tomorrow morning. Right NOW! We wake up with the same thoughts as we had the day before because our brains don’t really want change. That makes it harder to kickstart the new diet or plan you promised yourself yesterday afternoon. Start now and you’ll trigger a few different neuro-pathways.

And suddenly the hissy fit doesn’t matter anymore because yes, the Universe IS friendly.

Stay Safe,

Linda x

Shopping Small

With all the upheaval in the world today, our shopping habits have changed, are changing and will probably continue to change in the future.

Just a few years ago, the only way to shop was by physically walking into a store and choosing what we wanted to buy. Then along came those big shopping-from-home catalogues – if you remember them, you’re giving away your age here! Goodness knows how damaging their thousands of glossy pages were to the environment. Probably best not to go there…

But now, only a generation later, we can literally buy more or less exactly what we want by tapping on our phones or tablets a couple of times. There are, no doubt, plenty of downsides to this system, although with the events of this year stunning us all, shopping online has literally become a lifeline for many of us.

Being a bit old-school – or possibly a lot old-school – I do prefer to shop physically for certain items. Sure, buying the same tea bags you always buy from the store you always buy from is practical and often less expensive if we take into consideration fuel costs and time. But when I need a new pair of shoes, for example, I really do prefer to try them on first, rather than wait for them to be shipped and then often having to go to the post office to return them. Not always, but it happens.

With the shopping season of the year creeping up on us, the excitement and chaos of Christmas shopping isn’t going to be the same this year, even if the powers-that-be are promising that all will be back to ‘normal’ next month.

Budgets have been severely cut and buying hundreds of cheap stocking fillers may be a temptation that’s hard to resist but take a moment to consider the implications before you dive into poundland ..

  • cheap stocking fillers are often plastic and mass-produced
  • many get broken or discarded within days or even hours of the big day
  • the extra refuse can, and probably will, end up in our already over-polluted oceans
  • is this purchase putting more of my money into a CEO’s already huge bank account?
  • are we really preparing our children for the future?

So, what’s the alternative? Well, as far as I can see ‘more’ isn’t always ‘better’.

When you buy 2 huge packets of cheap potato crisps for the price of one, isn’t that just a marketing ploy to get your family to eat more rubbish food? Those marketing experts know their stuff and cheap products are purposely targeted at families who are already on a tight budget. But we know all this, so back to this year’s Christmas list…

Rather than scribbling down names and quick gifts (e.g. “Aunt Mabel – bubblebath” ) consider the likes and dislikes of everyone on your list. Even if you just buy for your closest family members, not all of them may appreciate that family-sized box of chocolates…

  • Gluten-free, dairy-free or even sugar-free products are always loved by those with dietary issues. Jams and chutnies are a favourite too.
  • A framed print or an uplifting poem could help someone through a troubled time
  • A handmade item of clothing, or a novelty lipstick case will be unique and could even be personalized.
  • Handmade organic soaps and bath products are healthier and often beautifully packaged

So, I am writing this to help support small and local businesses who have been the worst hit in the business world – as they often are – and to encourage everyone to not only buy ‘green’ which is my usual rant (!) but also to explore the gift ideas that creative and talented folk are producing, because they are, after all, the people who live down your street and support your local economy.

For UK buyers, check out Home of The Mall – a new and exciting platform showcasing the best creations from small businesses in the UK. Not in the UK? Look at local business websites, etsy-style platforms or even Etsy itself. I have a few products on Etsy at the moment, but I’ll be changing them to Home of the Mall as soon as I get my act together!

Whether we’re stuck inside our ‘boxes’ or not, this is definitely the year to be thinking and acting outside the box, shopping small and supporting each other as much as we can.

Stay safe

Linda x

Protect your Well-Being

Protecting our own well-being in this crazy world we live in isn’t always easy, but there are things we can do to give ourselves a feel-good boost.

Fresh Air

If you can possibly get a little – or a lot – of fresh air every day, it will help blow away the cobwebs and present a chance to be grateful for our natural world – and the natural world could really do with some gratitude and positive energy right now.

If you have a garden, pop out and engage your five senses for a few moments.

  • Look at the plants, the shape and design of your outside space and maybe plan to grow new plants or build a rockery.
  • Listen to the music of nature. If you live on a busy road (as I do) appreciate the seconds of silence between passing cars and lorries.
  • Smell the plants and, if you have a few herbs, plan on putting some in tonight’s dinner
  • Get in touch with textures – the soft petals or leaves, the hard rock etc;
  • And if at all possible, taste a late fruiting raspberry or a leaf from a lemon verbena plant

If you haven’t any outdoor space, it’s possible your senses could be just as stimulated in the park or on a woodland walk perhaps.

And when it’s just impossible to get outdoors because of the weather or physical issues, plan to spend some time indoors…

Indoor Projects

Aside from decluttering, cleaning like a crazy person and cooking fabulous meals for the family, there are plenty of projects that can inspire and protect your mental well-being as well as your physical state.

Have you been working 9-5 for years and rewarded yourself with weekends of entertaining or simply slobbing out in front of Netflix? Staying home all week can really mess with your mental well-being but it’s time to think outside the 9-5 box. Is there a hobby or a course you’ve wanted to undertake for ages but never found the time or energy for?

Maybe you promised yourself a yoga course but now all the gyms are closed? Not a problem. There are lots of yoga and exercise teachers online who’ve stepped up to the technology challenge and provide online classes. Not as interactive as a local class, but certainly the next best thing. My youngest daughter has spent many years learning healing techniques and is a qualified yoga teacher – I missed her during those months she spent in India and now she’s based in France we have the lockdown barrier to contend with….

Anyway, get online and support a small business near you by taking up a yoga or exercise course. Check out Lucy Lou Yoga and see what you could be doing to protect your well-being – Lucy is passionate about helping people heal and regularly posts some helpful tips.

And apart from exercise and physical stuff, there are probably hundreds of new skills you could learn. Learning sharpens the mind and helps keep you on a positive track. Doing nothing tends to drag us down in despair especially at this time when we can feel so powerless. I recently taught myself to crochet – thanks to youtube! – and have been creating all sorts of weird and wonderful things – some good enough for my Etsy shop, others good enough to be unraveled! So how about learning to:

-Play an instrument – is there a guitar lurking in the attic you’ve been meaning to play with? Or even a recorder (school memories here) can inspire you to make music.

-Or learn a needlecraft skill – knitting, dressmaking, crocheting, embroidery etc; Make a gift for a family member or friend. A homemade gift is always appreciated and covers so many areas of our well-being – inspiration, creativity, motivation, gratitude etc;

-Try out some traditional skills like basket-making, wood carving or macrame or get really super good at creating nourishing healthy meals.

-Can you draw? Create greetings cards or sketch portraits of family members or pets. Draw and paint with the kids. Hang up colourful ‘masterpieces’ around the house to brighten everyone’s day. I always thought I couldn’t draw, then I watched a Ted talk and created some fun cartoon pictures.

-Are you a budding writer? Give yourself some time to get your thoughts down. This could be journaling, writing poetry, creating beautiful words for your greetings cards or get really serious and write that book!

I’m going to stop here because I can ramble on for hours about this stuff. Protecting your well-being is something I’ve always been passionate about, although I can admit that I haven’t always been nice to me… working on it though!

Before I sign off, there is another aspect to all this that may inspire you further.

After I’d practiced loads, my crochet gifts were good enough to share and I put them in my Etsy shop alongside the healthy living downloads and knitting patterns.

Turning your hobby into a business is possible and may help financially as well as mentally and physically. I’m not an expert in marketing but if you can get good at that, there’s no reason you couldn’t turn your hobby into a thriving business and ditch the 9-5 altogether 🙂

Stay safe and protect your well-being

Linda x

P.S. Just a quick note here – Etsy is huge and algorithm learning seems to be a big part of making a success of your shop. Have a look at local platforms first. Another of my enterprising daughters has just launched a platform for UK sellers – Jodie at Home of The Mall – UK only because they want to be able to showcase the delightful products their members create without getting lost in the millions of products on Etsy. Next thing on my to-do list!

Crowdfunding

For a long time, I’ve put off attempting a crowdfunding campaign – mostly because I’m camera shy and couldn’t face the whole talking to camera thing.. I know! .. must be a touch of vanity creeping in there – not particularly proud of that, but working on it 🙂

Rather than miss out on launching a new product which I created and love, I did some research and found a very successful campaign on crowdfunder where the artist portrayed her work via nature walks and her own workshop with a voice-over commentary…. wow I could do that!

So, then I put the whole package together and my lovely daughter is going to help me with the camera work – along with her 11 year old son who is a techno wizard. He doesn’t know yet but he’s gonna get a whole load of granny hugs – bless him 🙂

We’re heading out to the moors on Wednesday, weather permitting, for a video shoot and I can’t wait.

I have no idea if this will be a successful campaign but crowdfunder is there and I’m determined to give it my best shot.

Although I’m only looking for a relatively small amount of money to launch my new idea – a crochet kit with extras – this year has been financially difficult (for so many of us,) I just can’t fund it myself right now. But with my portfolio of books and the membership site I’m starting, I’ll be able to offer some great rewards – even for small donations.

Hopefully, I’ll be crowdfunding in a week from now. 31st Oct or 1st November would be great. I’ll keep you posted!

Stay safe

Linda x

P.S. In the meantime, I’m still working on the Etsy shop and would be so grateful for any ideas or suggestions. Ekokids UK

Drowning in Etsy

Before I start moaning, Etsy is a great platform, probably the first of its kind – please don’t quote me on that- I have no idea if they were the first or not, but they definitely are a big presence online and a great platform for arts and crafts suppliers.

My take on it though is that they’re kind of TOO big now and many of us small crafters are drowning in the sheer volume of products available.

Rather than give up entirely on ever getting more than one sale per month, I’ve been reading, watching videos, attending online workshops and generally trying to float my boat in the Etsy ocean. And there must be a general problem with getting seen, judging by the sheer volume of ‘selling on etsy’ workshops, courses, books and webinars out there.

So, sources say – among other things:

*keep tweaking; change keywords, title and description
*create staged photos – rather than just a bowl, put something in it to show it being used
*promote like crazy on social media and everywhere else.

These are all great tips and, I assume, they work. However, when you have other stuff going on, or you’re like me and are already figuring out the next project before you finish the one you’re working on, it can be hard to get motivated within the social media world.

And almost everyone says social media is the key to a successful small business. Ouch.

My other gripe with Etsy is that whenever I look at a product I like, or even one of my own products, I am instantly diverted to Etsy US which is so frustrating when you live in another country. I don’t understand their algorithms with this particular issue. Other big sites don’t zap you off around the world! – Amazon and Ebay certainly don’t.

Having said all that, I am always open to ideas and suggestions so if you have any sure tips to get seen on Etsy, I would be so grateful.

But for now, there’s a new platform coming very soon in the UK which will support small businesses and have a handpicked selection of sellers therefore avoiding this drowning scenario…I’m going to apply for sure! Maybe this will be a pioneering approach to bring local businesses more support and, perhaps, the sea will be calmer when we are in a smaller boat.

Take away: Etsy sellers, look out for these types of platforms in your country/region and it may be we can all scale up our small businesses while scaling down on the headaches!

But in the meantime, keep tweaking – you never know, that one small tweak could be a big step for your business.

….My crochet hook is calling… have a wonderful day 🙂

Stay safe
Linda x

P.S. Any (family-friendly!) feedback very much appreciated..

Ekokids UK Etsy Shop

Dusting with Lemons

I’ve lived in flats, houses, a wooden shack and even a van and one thing that appears to be common to all these environments is dust – especially if you have a wood-burning stove it seems!

However, after years of ‘keeping house’ I would like to share a tip that really cuts down on the dust and the dusting chore 🙂

When you use a dry duster to wipe the surfaces, the dust tends to float around. You’ll collect some on the duster but a lot will simply float in the air until you turn your back, then it will settle down onto the surface you just wiped… ho hum…

And if you use a spray polish or cleaner first, you’re adding to the maladies of the planet, inadvertently of course.

So, here’s an idea.

Rummage around the fruit bowl until you find that lemon you know you forgot about – if you really haven’t got an old lemon, you can use the end of one or even the peel. No lemons at all? On your next shop, cross off polish and add ‘lemons’ to your list.

Then you need a clean, washable cloth and a bowl of warm/hand-hot water.

Either squeeze a little lemon juice or rub a little zest from the lemon peel onto the surface you’re going to clean. Wet the cloth, squeeze out excess water and wipe across the surface. Don’t use too much lemon. It can be a bit sticky. You won’t need it anyway.

OR squeeze some lemon juice in a bowl of water first, and just attack your surfaces with a bowl of lemony water and a cloth 🙂

As well as reducing the need to dust so often, you leave a lovely light lemon scent around your home.

AND you get to reduce the aerosols and chemicals clogging up your credit card, cupboards and our wonderful planet.

Happy Cleaning!

Linda x

Number 3

You know those days when a certain number seems significant and you decide to run with it. Not lottery numbers, they’re a bit too random for my peace of mind. I’m just talking simple everyday numbers which we tend to take as a sign of something auspicious about to happen:

*A ‘feeling’ for a certain number which, although a good reason may lurk somewhere in your memory, the incident never really comes to mind – and it probably doesn’t matter anyway. This number could be anything, usually between 1 and 200 with a few exceptions such as 333, 444 etc;

*A ‘scientific’ approach to numerology. Which number corresponds to your birthdate or your name perhaps. My birthdate is 9 and I tend to take 3’s, 6’s and 9’s as all being auspicious numbers. This may sound somewhat greedy, but there are no rules here and numbers are infinite after all!

Although I feel my approach is more about ‘Numerology’, the feelings are just as significant and recently a ‘3’ moment arrived when everything I seemed to do was divisible by 3 – and I ended up with 3 projects that all had ‘3s’ in mind!

1. I tidied up all 3 wix websites that I’d kind of forgotten about. They’re all up and running now. The gardening site is the biggest with some great gardening tips, the chocolate site is the sweetest with some delicious recipes and the writing site is the beginning of my quest to help writers get their writing out in the world.

Garden Ideas
Simply Chocolate
Writing

2. I had a lightbulb moment with my crochet creations – to make a family gift that goes on forever called a … wait for it … a Forever Bonbon! I’ve already made 6 designs and put them in my Etsy shop. My goal is, of course, to make 9!

They’re handmade gift bags that are designed to be kept by the receiver of the gift inside until the next celebration, when they can either give it back or pass it on, again with a gift inside.

Happy with them so far :-).

3. Hat Trix! Well, three goals is a hat trick and this third project really does what it says on the box. Still going with the handmade and eco-friendly ideas, I’ve designed a product for young children that’s 3 games in one.

No batteries, chargers or plugs needed and lots of soft play fun intended!

I’m not sure how to get this on the market yet.

I’ve made a mock up to help me get the sizes right, but still in the early research stages.

It has a lot of educational value; learning colours, numbers, eye-hand co-ordination etc;

Well, that seems to wrap up my 3 moment nicely. I’d better get on to the next steps. I may make a numbered to-do list and tackle all the items divisible by 3 – or perhaps not 🙂

Stay Safe

Linda x

Where Do I Start?

Would you love to avoid plastic, keep to a budget and give planet-friendly gifts this year? But you have no crafting skills? No problem.

You can make a personal gift for an aspiring or seasoned gardener with zero crafting skills. Here are three easy steps to make an eco-friendly gift that will inspire and delight.

Treat your family and friends to their own personal Garden Journal this year. And the more you make, the cheaper it gets!

Step One

First, pop over to Etsy and download this printable Garden Journal. Browse all the products or choose ‘printables’ from the product menu. You’ll be looking for this gorgeous cover:

The price at the time of writing is only £2.40 in the UK. and has 40 pages with gardening tips and an infinite amount of garden journalling space. Keep your download in a place you’ll remember – Desktop is usually my go-to 🙂 – then go to next step…

Step Two

Buy a folder. I prefer non-plastic wherever possible but it’s entirely your own choice. Choose something that you like if the gift is for you! – or choose a style that suits your friend or family member. From simple document wallets to glorious hand-made organic folders, the choice here is truly huge!

This assorted pack of ten document wallets are only £3.49 with free postage at time of writing Document Wallets.

For a more elaborate approach, if you’re in the UK, take a peek at Chicken Pink. I can personally recommend their creations – When I hold one of their journals in my hands I honestly want to stroke it!

But if you do go for a budget-friendly variety, you can pretty them up in step three…

Step Three

Get printing! Two options here:

1) Print the whole thing if you want to stick the cover on a plain folder, or there are lots of royalty-free images online to choose from. You’ll also need a pot of glue. Or

2) Print all pages except the cover (saves on ink!) if you’ve chosen a decorative folder.

Then put all the pages, in order, in your chosen folder. One gift sorted. Tah dah! Now you have the download you can make as many of these gifts as you want without having to download it again. Don’t you just love digital. 🙂

I hope you enjoy creating your home-made gifts.

Related pages:

Giving Green
Green Gifts
Homemade Gifts
Christmas in August
Christmas Knits
Knitting for Christmas
Making Purses

Stay Safe

Linda x

P.S. There are a few more printables in the Etsy shop – so if gardening doesn’t resonate with everyone, there are other options 🙂

Roller Coaster

Wow it’s been a roller coaster year so far and many of us are struggling to keep up with goals, plans and general wants and wishes.

Personally I’ve had a challenge with health issues – not virus related – during recent months and to ease my mind, I’ve been switching into creative mode as much as possible.

I learned to crochet a few weeks ago. Goodness knows why its taken me an age to get around to it. I’m enjoying every minute and I’ve even opened a new etsy shop with some of my handmade gift ideas. I don’t think this will be a ‘business’ but it’s a nice sideline – if it works! Haven’t actually had any orders yet 🙂

I’ve also collected, polished up and edited all my digital books and they’ve gone into the shop too. There are 59 products now and I’m patting myself on the back – metaphorically speaking… I’ve been writing for years and love to share ideas and tips with whoever wants to listen and if you have a moment, I would love to hear from you.

You may have a book idea in mind or a question about the knitting patterns or handmade gifts. Or you may be looking to form a craft/writing related relationship? Please get in touch here or via the Etsy shop and I’ll get back to you asap.

Stay safe
Linda x

P.S. I’m not attached to my devices all the time so it may take 24 hours for me to find your message. I’ll be crocheting or knitting like a crazy woman no doubt!