It’s been way too long…

Well, hello. I can hardly believe it’s been so long since I sat down to write to you. Four months I think. I kept thinking about writing, and thinking and thinking, but never actually getting around to it. Until now, this moment, that I’ve taken to sit and write.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about why I make art, why exactly I create. Creating feels as though it’s part of my dna. I’ve been drawing or writing or making things for as long as I can remember. Creating gives me a sense of peace, brings me joy and also a sense of place in the world. It’s also good for my mental health. For a long time I’ve fought an inner war with this fact. I’ve hated that art is good for my mental health. I’ve asked myself why can’t I be making art simply because I want to, rather than because I know it’s good for me mentally. My inner monologue around this has at times been nasty and at others pleasant. Something that I think is a lot more commonplace than we realise, especially considering we rarely talk to anyone – other than our therapist perhaps – about the deep dark thoughts we have.

Recently I finally decided to embrace the mental health benefits of creating. I asked myself what is the actual point of fighting something that is demonstratively good for me? I couldn’t come up with a decent answer. After all, I exercise because its good for my mental and physical health and freely admit that. So why not look at creating in the same way?

I would like to share more of that here, the intersection of creativity and mental health. They are a large part of my life and perhaps they might be for you to.

These photos were taken during my holiday last week. It was late afternoon, we were making our way back to our hotel to rest before heading out for evening activities. I wanted to capture the city but wasn’t feeling it. Then we stumbled across this ballerina, busking in the heart of the city. We only caught the last of her performance, but seeing her dancing, such beauty and strength invigorated me, calling me to capture her but then going on to take more photos. It’s like I was jolted out of tiredness and spurred on to find other beautiful things.

Do you have a creative outlet that eases anxiety or depression? Or simply let’s you get into the zone, allowing you to drown out the world and focus on the thing you’re working on?

I’d love to hear from you. You can comment here or if you’d prefer send me an email. I love engaging with people about their creative outlets.

Kim x

Books I’ve Read This Year – 2021 Edition

2021 has been yet another year that a lot of us would like to forget. Instead of reflecting on any of that, I’d rather think about some of the good things. Sometimes I feel like the good slips by so easily, enjoyed in the moment but easily forgotten. So, let’s remedy that shall we?

I’m declaring 2021 was for me the year of the book. I have always loved reading, being a voracious reader for most of my life. However during recent years when D & I were building our house, reading was one of a few things that slipped away. Reading requires time & time wasn’t something I had. Thankfully this year I’ve found time was on my side.

My signed copy of The Book Thief

A few weeks into the start of this year I decided to keep a list of what I was reading. I’ve never kept a book list before, but I’m so glad I decided to. For one, I wouldn’t be writing this, but its actually interesting to look back on what I’ve read. The list is eclectic, but it reflects the kind of reader I am. There isn’t a lot of genres I won’t read. You won’t find any romance novels in my list, it’s a genre I dislike I intensely. Some of the books I read this year came to me after I asked some online friends for book recommendations that had no romance. I found myself reading a couple of books that I was loving, until they suddenly became focussed on romance between the main characters. I was annoyed & almost stopped reading because of it 🙂

I should note, not only was 2021 been the year of the book but it has also been the year of the library. A lot of the books I’ve read have been borrowed from my local library. I love love love owning books, but it’s not realistic to buy every book that I want to read. Money aside, where on earth would they all live? It wouldn’t take long for them to take over every corner of my house. I keep a note on my phone with books I’d like to read, using it as the basis for books to borrow. I use the library’s online hold system to borrow books & often browse the latest releases list to see what might interest me.

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So, the list. I’ll note if the book is mine by writing own after it; there is a couple of re-reads of books so I’ll note that to.

Toksvig’s Almanac – Sandi Toksvig. Own.

Happiness Will Follow – Mike Hawthorne. Own. Bought this for research, as I interviewed Mike for my podcast. It’s the first graphic memoir I’ve read.

At Work – Annie Leibovitz. Own.

Becoming – Michelle Obama. Own.

Later – Stephen King. Own.

The Stand – Stephen King. Own. I’ve read this a few times since the first time I read it as a young teenager. I first read the abridged edition. My copy is the unabridged edition, which I think is worth reading. All the extra details & minutia of the characters lives help make it more comprehensive.

Fuck Happiness: How The Science of Psychology Ignores Women – Ariel Gore.

Archangel’s Sun – Nalini Singh.

Hysteria: A Memoir of Illness, Strength & Women’s Stories Throughout History – Katerina Bryant.

On Truth, Courage & Saving Our Planet – Greta Thunberg.

Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett.

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett.

Jingo – Terry Pratchett.

Every Sky A Grave – Jay Posey.

Sourcery – Terry Pratchett.

Cursed – Multiple Authors, Short Stories.

The Quiet Girl – S.F. Kosa.

Billy Summers – Stephen King. Own.

Stardust – Neil Gaiman.

Turns Out I’m Fine – Judith Lucy.

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn.

How Do You Live? – Genzaburo Yoshino.

Emotional Female – Yumiko Kadota.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Own. Re-read.

Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee.

The Sandman: The Dream Hunter – Neil Gaiman.

Puff Piece – John Safran.

That’s 28 books! Kind of seems crazy, to go from reading a handful each year for a few years, to 28 this year. The year isn’t over & I started reading another last night, so maybe the number will stretch to 30? Guess I’ll update here if it does.

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What happened this year that you’d like to remember? Write it down, share it with someone or keep it to yourself. Remember it 🙂

Feeling A Lot Of Gratitude

At the end of August I was challenged by my brother to take part in the Great Cycling Challenge. Actually, scrap that sentence – he didn’t challenge me, he signed me up! He’d signed himself up & I guess he decided I should take part too.

You can find all the info relating to the challenge here https://greatcyclechallenge.com.au/Riders/KimCofield

The tldr: during October hundreds of people across Australia are cycling & fundraising to help kids living with cancer and I’m taking part.

I set a conservative cycling goal and fundraising goal. 75kms and $1000. There’s 14 days left in October and I’ve met and gone over both goals. I’m surprised and grateful.

Wednesday October 13 was Kick Cancer’s Butt day. Every dollar donated was matched by a group of generous corporate supporters. They had a million dollars to add to the fund over 1.6 million dollars was raised on Wednesday. It’s kind of mind blowing when you think about it.

Friends and family donated to me; it was amazing to get their responses and see their donations on my fundraising page. I’ve even had a friend who lives in the UK donate, which blew me away.

So, I’ve reset my goals. I’m now hoping to raise $1500 and ride 100kms. I hope I can do both. If you’d like to donate, the donate button is in there in the link above 🙂

An Update

Stars in my eyes

It has again been too long between posts. I want to write here, I really do. What stops me is the hang up I have around writing. I was told for a long time my love of writing was a waste of time. When you hear something enough you believe it. It’s sad but true. The mind is an amazing thing but it can often work against you. As someone with anxiety I know the truths of that.

But I’m here writing to you (assuming anyone is still reading this blog) & want to update you with where I’m at. I’ve spent a lot of this year concentrating on improving my art. I always feel good making art, so why not get better at it, right?
I’ve found a bunch of talented people on YouTube & SkillShare who share their knowledge in a fun easy way. Would you like me to share them with you? Perhaps that could be the topic of another post. Let me know.
Their enthusiasm for their art inspires me to improve mine but best of all I’m enjoying myself whilst learning. Practicing art is like meditation for me, I’m focussed solely on the task which means my anxiety is no longer with me.
Because photography has always been a love of mine I’ve wanted to step up a level, get better at the types of styles I love. For a long time I was scared of portrait photography. Scared the photos I’d make would be hated by the subjects. Over time I’ve come to realise that what matters is me liking it, not anyone else. I’m not a professional photographer. Whilst it’s ideal if the subject likes a photo I take of them, they don’t have to because I’m not relying on them buying my work. But restrictions around covid has made it difficult to got out & about whenever I want to. So I decided to turn the camera on myself. I don’t like being in photos, but if I’m the only subject available then I’ve got little choice. Thankfully a lot of creative photos can be taken in an untraditional way. I’ve been having a blast learning how to take them & continue enjoying them. Best of all I’m gaining photographic skills that translate outside of self portraiture. A win win if you like.

These photos are a couple taken during the past few months, that I can actually say I’m happy with. That I’m proud to share online. They represent a new confidence in myself which I hope continues.
So, if I may suggest something, take a moment to think about what you’d like to do more of. Or get better at. And then do it. You might just find you’ll love it more. Or you might find it’s no longer for you, which is totally ok. If that’s the case then think of all the exciting things you’ve yet to explore, and pick one. You just never know 🙂

Indoor Plants & Mental Health

My love affair with indoor plants began slowly, about two years ago. The small space we were living in at the time was utilitarian out of necessity but its drabness was driving me a little batty. I wanted something pretty & decided a couple of house plants would be perfect. I bought a Dracena Marginata and another plant that had no nursery label. I thought it was a Philodendron; I recently discovered its actually a Syngonium Podophyllum or Syngonium White Butterfly. Within weeks my White Butterfly had exploded in growth, going from a small plant with only a few leaves to a plant double in size. Some days it felt like she was growing whilst I watched her, so quick was her growth. Her stunning leaves resemble an elongated heart shape with pale green or white veins which I guess is where the name White Butterfly comes from. 

I’ve found bright indirect light suits her most, although I’ve seen suggestions that she will also cope with lower light situations. Wikipedia advises that the White Butterfly is a native to semi-tropical countries such as Brazil, Ecuador & Mexico. I wonder if her growth would be even faster if she was placed in a bathroom? Perhaps I should put one of my propagations in my ensuite, to compare with growth in a non humid space? Oh yes, I’m propagating my White Butterfly. Her growth is so much that I’ve found propagation is a nice way to control it. Propagation is very easy, simply cut off growth near a node, place it in water & wait a while for roots to grow. The growth will depend on the temperature; I took cuttings from my mother plant a week & a half ago & they’re already developing roots. Pretty soon I’ll have another five plants to add to my collection.

So Kim, I hear you saying, what exactly does this have to do with helping your mental health? And more importantly how can owning plants help my mental health? Well, it’s simple really. My plants make me happy. In a world that currently feels like its gone crazy I’ll take simple happiness whenever I can get it. I check my plants every day. I check them to see if they need a water, to make sure that there hasn’t been an influx of bugs since I last looked at the plant but also to check plant growth. It’s so exciting to watch a new leaf push its way out of a plant, going from a tiny green thing to a fully formed pale coloured leaf, eventually becoming a hardened fully grown leaf. Sometimes I grab my camera to photograph a leaf but mostly I just watch them in awe. Plant life is a little bit magical & I love having that in my life. A couple of times when I’ve been anxious I’ve gone looking at my plants, because I know doing that will ease the anxiety a little. 

I haven’t yet dived into the psychology behind the actual scientific studies that look at the mental health benefits of plant ownership, but I will. And if it’s ok with you I’ll share it in a future post. For now, trust me when I say plants will help improve your mental health. If you don’t already own house plants, treat yourself to one or two. And you’re allowed to blame me if you find yourself addicted 🙂

So I Made A Zine

The idea came to me this past Saturday evening to put together a mini zine containing short quotes about anxiety. I woke up Sunday morning & started working on it.

I made the decision to make several copies by hand & I’ll photocopy the best one to make several more copies. Towards the end of the day I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into, bored as I was with the repetitiveness of writing out the same thing eight times. If I make a second issue I won’t create it this way; instead I’ll make one version & make mutiliple copies of it.

But for the sake of the exercise, of wanting to create a zine & have more than one copy of it, making eight individual copies by hand was the way to go.

Initially I thought I would make it full of drawings to go alongside the words but as I began I didn’t feel like that would suit this project. Instead as you can see from the photos, I’ve kept this zine word heavy with only a sprinkle of hearts & weird scribbled flower that I love to draw as a doodle.

Why quotes about anxiety? Well, the subject felt right to me. You know I’m living with it. Loved ones have it. And I want to talk about anxiety as much as possible to help reduce the stigma of anxiety. I hope this little zine will contribute to this, in its’ own small way.

If you’d like to buy a copy, I am selling it for $5 plus postage. Send me an email expressing your interest & we can go from there.

Food, Glorious Food

I am a passionate believer in making & eating quality food. I think good food is one of life’s most important things.

One of my favourite things in life is to prepare & serve food to share with others. It could be something as simple as a couple of homemade biscuits & coffee or an elaborate meal that requires hours of preparation; it matters little to me what it is because I love it all.

When it comes to the preparation of food I am both a follower of recipes & a creator of them. Well, I suppose I’m technically not creating recipes because I’m not taking note of measurements but I’m certainly using combinations of foods that I know work together & that I like together & repeating a particular dish multiple times.

I thought I’d share with you today links to some of the recipes that I return to. Note that many of these are sweet treats, cause that’s the mood I’m in as I write this post 🙂

First up is a link to make soda bread. This is incredibly easy to make & is really tasty. I treat myself to freshly baked soda bread as a delicious lunch. Usually I’ll bake it on a Saturday, have more either for breakfast or lunch on Sunday then freeze the remaining bread. I like the flexibility of this recipe. You can use whatever dried fruits & nuts that you’ve got in the pantry. I don’t use store bought buttermilk. Instead I add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the milk at least ten minutes prior to needing it. Purists will probably be horrified but if I was to buy buttermilk I wouldn’t be baking soda bread as often as I do 🙂

Slices of freshly cut soda bread

As we are a family of two, a lot of recipes I return to frequently are small batch. This saves excess food going to waste & has the added benefit of us not eating the same biscuits or sweets day in & day out 🙂

My most small batch visted website is Dessert For Two. A food blog by Christina Lane, it’s full of fabulous food. Over time Christine has added to her repertoire, expanding from desserts to covering main meals, gluten free options & more. Every recipe I’ve made is delicious; I don’t think you could go wrong with any of Christine’s recipes. Her raspberry brownie recipe is a must, although I’ll confess to only using raspberries once when making it. I usually use strawberries, blueberries or if I have none then I omit the fruit completely.

I love chocolate chip biscuits so I’m often making them. I’ve yet to find the perfect recipe, although I’ve found a couple that come close. One of them is by Sally of Sally’s Baking Addition. This particular recipe makes one giant chocolate chip biscuit (or cookie, as Sally calls it. Because she’s American, & American’s cookies are us Australian’s biscuits) however I usually prefer to make it as three smaller biscuits. Two for my husband & I to enjoy whilst they are still warm & the third to be eaten by me the next day.

I like brownies a lot, so here’s another recipe for them. This one isn’t a small batch recipe, but thats ok. Sometimes its ok to eat brownie every day for a week 🙂 Or to make & share with loved ones. This recipe, by Broma Bakery uses red wine. This sounds indulgent, & it is. If you like brownies, give them a try. If. you like red wine, then you must try these. Enjoy them with coffee or red wine if you dare.

Turning away from desserts, another love of mine is risotto. I make beetroot risotto a lot when beetroot is in season. The recipe I use was pulled from the pages of a magazine many years ago so I’m not sure how I’d go about sharing it here. Sometime last year, after buying more pumpkin than needed I searched online for a pumpkin risotto recipe. I found this one by ReceipeTin Eats. It has entered my list of recipes to return to. It’s easy to make & is delicious is I’m absolutely recommending it to you.

My list of go to recipes is quite large, so I think I’ll write another post about this in the near future. In the meantime, let me know if you make any of these recipes & how they go for you. I love hearing your thoughts.

Art Journal Fun

I’ve been fascinated by art journals for a while. They show up in my social media feed & some of the artists I’ve interviewed for Art Supply Posse keep them or specialise in them. But I was hesitant to start my own. My style of art isn’t the same as that of the artists I admire & the quality of my work isn’t as good as others. I was comparing myself to these artists & I was convinced that my perceived shortfalls was a good reason to not keep an art journal.

My art journal, awaiting the addition of an origami crane

Thank goodness I came to my senses! I finally woke up to the nonsense I was telling myself & realised that I could make an art journal be exactly what I need it to be.

I had been using a Midori Travellers Notebook as a daily todo list & calendar hybrid. It suited me for a couple of years but by the end of 2019 I’d become bored by this setup. I like the size, the feel of the stunning paper & it’s portability. Enough reasons to turn this daily boring thing into an art journal that only a few weeks in I can say I’m already proud of.

To make it work best for me I utilise two pages at a time, which are given over to a week. Instead of listing out days & dates, as I had been doing, I’m now writing the start date & end date of the week followed by the particular month. Year isn’t included as it’s noted when a new notebook is started.

Because I love fountain pen ink (& also as a convenient excuse to buy/try more ink) I’m washing ink over the pages as a background. I’ve created about 20 backgrounds so far, allowing each double set of pages to dry completely before moving to the next set. Thats the only criteria I’ve set myself for the journals’ contents, although I recognise this might change in the future. From there I am adding art to the pages as I see fit.

Sometimes I’m making art directly onto the page, other times I’m making art elsewhere & pasting it in. It really depends on what I feel like doing when I decide to art. My daily breakfast art practice continues so some mornings whatever I make will end up in the journal. Other times I’ll fold an origami crane or make a small piece of fountain pen ink art, pasting it into the journal afterwards. It all depends on my mood.

I’m glad I had this change in mindset. I do deserve to have an art journal. And so do you. If you’ve ever wanted to give one a try, I say go for it. Consider this me giving you permission to keep one. If you do, let me know how it works out for you. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Dog Walking For The Soul

My husband David walking our dogs last Monday

Stumbling out of bed, I wonder ‘how can it already be morning?’

As I move through our home I notice the sun isn’t awake. Hints of mauve & pink in the sky hint at what’s to come.

I dress in autopilot, unaware of temperature or weather conditions.

Stepping outside I can barely make out the stairs leading from the verandah to the back yard.
‘Are we really doing this?’ It seems we are.

Zena & Cadel sir, patiently impatient, desperate to begin their morning walk yet knowing that it cannot begin until their leads are on.

I marvel at how awake & present they are & envy them a little.

As we walk I feel the fog of sleep slowly lifting. I may not have boundless energy like they do but I’m beginning to feel alive.

The chatter from a pair of small grass parrots is drowned out by a flock of galahs flying overhead. Their screech pierces the air & im surprised to not hear the sound of something shattering as they pass.

When we’re done, when I’m sitting inside eating breakfast, I feel gratitude for these two dogs. They are teaching me to be in the moment, even if that moment is too early in the morning for my liking. I’m honoured to have them in my life & hope to continue learning from them every day we have together.