The sensation of sunshine in my hair by daintydora

I love it when you have a day that starts of sunny and bright and things just go...right, well, unfolding perfectly, from the moment you open your eyes. It doesn't happen often but I find it's always the unplanned days that work out like this, or the days with only a very loose plan. Nothing fancy, no grand ideas, just spur of the moment thoughts anchored around a day out to a specific place or a meet up with a friend and a sense of putting the world to rights in your mind, in your world.

Sunshine halo

Some of my favourite feel-good things to do to (separate from life-enchancing creative pursuits), involve tidying up, decluttering, going for a walk.

The feelings of freedom and elation that these simple acts give opens out the day like a huge breath of air, like the breeze off the sea, like landing in a lush tropical island and getting a while new perspective on life.

(That's how mountains make me feel too.)

Yesterday was cold, brisk even, but with sunshiney pockets.

I felt alive with the sensation of sunshine in my hair and the wind blowing as a walked; refreshing and motivating. I wandered around some familiar places and the sun blocked my view in parts and it exploded out in front of me along the horizon like in a film where the camera shoots into the sun and it creates circles of light and colour in a haze of emotions and poignancy. It was kind of like that.

And I thought about other times in my life, both happy and sad, remembering how the same streets looked and felt to me 10 and 15 years ago. Places I don't live in anymore or find myself in very often. Places that have become hugely emotive in terms of conjuring memories of times gone by.

I think of it a bit as going back to your old school and walking the corridors after hours, empty corridors, feeling a sense of joy to no longer be confined to those stuffy classrooms of double maths and bad French and chemistry lessons gone wrong, but they're also tainted with a kind of sadness for a time that will never be again or come back because it's closed off, finished, gone except for in the recesses of your mind.

But I'm grateful that I'm in this time, my time, the only time I will ever know, and my life is where it is now. And I'm looking forward and ahead.

Hello to a brand new week of sunshine and the wonderful sensations that remind me I'm alive.


Friday Diary: Memories, Gratitude & a Liebster Award! by daintydora

Liebster Award I like to blog, and I like to save and share things, and I have a good memory.

And I feel GRATITUDE, all the time, for the wonderful people in my life; guiding stars, family, friends, my online community.

So when all of these things come together, it makes for a very special day.

Imagine my delight then when I found out last week that my bloggy friend Michelle from That Summer Feeling had nominated me for a Liebster Award, a blogging award passed from one blogger to another, recognising a job well done.
When I read the beautiful words that Michelle had used to describe me, I was truly touched. It was so out of the blue and unexpected.

So now I'm going to answer the questions that Michelle has posed for me when she passed on this award:

1. What was your first job?

From the age of 13, I had a Saturday job cleaning chalets at a timeshare resort near where I lived. It was really hard work sometimes, especially if the people who'd been staying had brought a dog. Eurgh. Dog hair everywhere. Other times it was pretty easy. Each chalet was kitted out with satellite TV and it was like having your own little house for a day.

2. What is your favourite book and why (yes just one)?

Such a tough question. There are so many books that I love, but only a few that have truly touched me. I remember reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang when I was at university. It's a true story that spans three generations of women - grandmother, mother, daughter - during the Cultural Revolution in China. The scene below is so powerful because there was a time in my life when I didn't see my mother for two years, and so it really resonated with me:

My mother walked half an hour with me to the roadside and we sat down in the high grass to wait. The sweep of the landscape undulated with the gentle waves of the thick cogon grass. The sun was already bright and warm.

My mother hugged me, her whole body seeming to say that she did not want to let me go, that she was afraid she would never see me again. At the time, we did not know whether her camp and my commune would ever come to an end.

We had been told we would be there for life. There were hundreds of reasons why we might die before we saw each other again. My mother's sadness infected me, and I thought of my grandmother dying before I was able to get back from Ningnan.

The sun rose higher and higher. There was no trace of my truck. As the large rings of smoke that had been pouring out of the chimney of her camp in the distance thinned down, my mother was seized by regret that she had not been able to give me the New Year's breakfast. She insisted on going back to get some for me.

While she was away the truck came. I looked toward the camp and saw her running toward me, the white-golden grass surging around her blue scarf. In her right hand she carried a big colorful enamel bowl. She was running with the kind of carefulness that told me she did not want the soup with the dumplings to spill. She was still a good way off, and I could see she would not reach me for another twenty minutes or so. I did not feel I could ask the driver to wait that long, as he was already doing me a big favor.

I clambered onto the back of the truck. I could see my mother still running toward me in the distance. But she no longer seemed to be carrying the bowl.

Years later, she told me the bowl had fallen from her hand when she saw me climbing onto the truck. But she still ran to the spot where we had been sitting, just to make sure I had really gone, although it could not have been anyone else getting onto the truck. There was not a single person around in that vast yellow ness For the next few days she walked around the camp as though in a trance, feeling blank and lost.

Sorry that was so sad!

3. What makes your heart sing?

Love, music, bright days, losing myself in 'creative flow', ideas, dreams, big cups of tea!

A cup of tea with me!

4. What do you think is your best quality?

I think it would be empathy. I can empathise to the point of tears. This is developing into a bit of a theme, but I think it's good to be able to recognise, understand and empathise with others and the problems or issues they face. It's a great leveler. It keeps us rooted in reality.

5. If you could meet anyone and ask them one question, who would it be and what would the question be?

I think if I had the chance, I'd ask my Nana (who passed away when I was 13), what it was like for her growing up in South Africa. I'd love to listen to her stories again now, as an adult.

6. Have you ever been locked in somewhere, for example-I got locked in a shopping centre toilet. If so where was it and how did you get out?

I was temporarily 'trapped' in the ladies toilet once. It was at Hampden Park Football Stadium. I'd never been before and just wanted to wash my hands, so I hadn't even used the toilet. I didn't realise you came in one door and out from another door, which was on the opposite side of the room. It was quite a big space. I scrabbled for ages at the door I'd come in through, hoping someone else would come in and rescue me. They didn't. Eventually I called for help on my phone and it was all over the tannoy system that I was 'trapped' in the toilet, when in reality, I just needed to walk across to the exit. Not a great experience!

7. Do you have a pet(s). What did you name them and why?

The birds are my pets these days, but when I was younger I kept rabbits and guinea pigs and gerbils, and my Mum had cats. I was very predictable and called my rabbits: snowy, smokey and sooty. They were white, grey and black... My gerbils were called Salt and Pepper. One was white and the other was, peppery... My only excuse is that I got them when I was about 10 years old.

8. Who is your idol?

This is a bit of a cop out, but my idol - my idols - are strong women everywhere, confident, passionate, adventurous women, doing the things that they love and being proud of their achievements.

9. Flake or Twirl?

I want to say Flake, but it's just too...flaky. So it's a Twirl. And remember those 'Secrets' bars? I loved them, but I think it's because they didn't last long so it was a case of wanting something I couldn't have, or perhaps remembering it better than it was?

10. What is your best summer memory?

I like summer, but it isn't my favourite season. I do love the long, light nights, the bright sunsets, the warmth, the abundance of flowers and plants and their scents, and how everything just seems so possible. I think the summer memory that most sticks in my mind is when I moved from a rural village in the Highlands of Scotland to Glasgow, when I was 16. I remember it as an endless summer of sunshine despite all the things that were going on in my life. It was definitely my 'coming of age' summer.

Camellias in the garden

Summer Sunset

Those questions really made me think. Thanks again, Michelle!

I’m going to pay it forward now and nominate the following super-inspiring and unique bloggers for their very own Liebster Award:

Leaf and Petal: Karen is "an artsy crafter, vintage lover, button freak, gardener, reader, writer, chihuahua tamer, kid wrangler and beach dweller". It's such a fabulous description, I couldn't resist stealing it from her site! We have a lot of shared interests, and her blog and her style never fail to inspire me.

Mama Nourish: Lila is a certified food & wellness coach who writes beautiful, insightful articles and recipes on nourishing the body, family and spirit. I'm currently addicted to her A-Z of Happy and Healthy.

One thing at a Time: Tracey is a fellow crafter and multitasker who has recently returned from a 6-month world trip. I just know she will have some amazing stories to tell, and I love the premise of her blog: 'sharing the different creative outlets that are inspiring', and taking it one thing at a time.

Rare Pear Studio: Shani is indeed a 'rare pear'. Her artwork and photography take me to mystical lands. She is a talented painter, artist and creative force who forages, draws, collects, and inspires in abundance.

Sew Crafty Goodness: Deb blogs about crafts, DIY projects, healthy recipes, lifestyle goodness, design inspiration. I love her latest Snail Mail project!

Ladies, here's the questions I'd like you to answer:
  1. What, if anything, do you collect?
  2. What would be your 'auspicious symbol' in life?
  3. What is your favourite bird, and why?
  4. Tea or coffee?
  5. What's your favourite season?
  6. Do you dream in colour or not; do you remember your dreams?
  7. What is your favourite book and why (yes just one)?
  8. What makes your heart sing?
  9. What do you think is your best quality?
  10. Do you believe in synchronicity/fate, and if yes, share your favourite example?

Enjoy your well-deserved Liebster Awards, and I look forward to reading your answers, if you accept the challenge... x



9th May diary - remembering the day I got engaged by daintydora

This is a diary right? Because I remember exactly what I was doing this time eight years ago. Eight? Is it really eight? Since 9th May 2006? Yep.

It was one of those defining moments in life that becomes a flashbulb memory.

Yes. I remember it all! I remember how the day started, and how it ended, and all the bits in-between.

That day, we awoke at 5am, in time to greet the sunrise as the ship pulled in to Port Said, Egypt. I took a photograph of the scene; a modern-day version of Monet's Impression Sunrise, the orange of the sun melting into the murky blue waves. It was hazy and dreamy, just like an Impressionist painting.

Impression, Sunrise - Port Said Impression, Sunrise - Port Said Impression, Sunrise - Port Said

We were on a 3-day trip to Egypt from Cyprus; our first holiday together.

We journeyed into Cairo, in convoy, with a ship-load of other tourists. Even when we were wandering through the treasures of the museum, amidst the jewels and artifacts and sarcophagi, I could feel the rocking motion of the waves as if we were still at sea.

We saw the pyramids at Giza, leaving a little disappointed by the McDonald's so close by, and the scaffolding surrounding the Sphinx, and the street kids that could ask for money in multiple languages. But, it was still an experience to be there, at the foot of the great pyramids - an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.

And then we had lunch on the Nile. It was wider than I had thought it would be, and a murky turquoise blue.

The Nile, Egypt

And we went to a Papyrus factory to watch some papyrus being made. And bought some traditional Egyptian images on papyrus. And collected the Egyptian gold ring that spelled out my name in hieroglyphics.

22-carat Egyptian gold.

One of two rings that was bought for me that day.


And the day whirled on; a dizzying unfolding of heat and wonder and dust and learning about the Egyptian culture and then back to the ship. Sleep. Wash. Dress for dinner.

After dinner we went on deck to get some air and it felt like the day we had just experienced was more than just one day - at least two days or three. The wine went to my head and I was happy and in love and on holiday, soaking it all up.

And then he proposed to me. He proposed to me. And I said 'Yes'.

And I put on the ring. And it was a certified conflict-free diamond in a classic princess cut. And we went to the bar and ordered drinks and we giggled, giddy, happy. I wanted to phone my Mum.

And there was a live band and they started singing a Simon & Garfunkel song (I LOVE Simon & Garfunkel! This is love!) and the song they sang, right after we got engaged, was... 'Bye Bye Love'. And I LOVE that song...but it wasn't the song I would have chosen or imagined at that moment, that moment, but we looked at each other and laughed and it was funny and we didn't care and we were ENGAGED. Eight years ago today.

And then we thought it might be nice if we made our wedding day 9th May (2009). It seemed fitting somehow. But then I realised I wasn't a 'planner'. I wanted it to be about love, LOVE, LOVE! And my favourite season is Autumn.

So we moved the wedding. Forward. And got married in October 2008. The 9th May 2009 didn't turn out to be the day we got married. But it WAS the day that I got engaged.

Here's a 9th May poem I wrote in 2009, which would have, could have, been my wedding day, (it rained that day too):

I looked out of the window and it was dark and grey and dank. Dark and grey and dank; and raining.
Trees blustered in the wind. They were green - green and grey and wet. The trees were green and grey and the day was dark and dank.
It should have been my wedding day.