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Change in life (or how my eye rolls turned to tears) – Abi Partridge

With ribbon thread through cut swallowtail flags from a nine year olds’ t -shirts, (kept for his brother), and small jumpers from his newborn days (kept for nostalgia) – I made bunting. I hung this around the conservatory window-walls where we held his family birthday party instead of the garden because; English summer. Some things never change in life, the English weather is not one of them.

Surely it was only a few days ago he wore those jumpers for a couple of weeks, before his body left them behind as no longer enough. I have been running to catch up with him ever since. I didn’t want to hear it when he was younger, inwardly eye-rolling as the wiser mothers comment “they don’t stay small for long” when exhausted from labour cries of “how long?” and sleepless nights praying “when will?”. Now my pride hates to admit it was true.

I treasured the opportunity to throw perhaps one last party for him and created themed activities and games around what the age of eighteen means he can do. We all celebrated him with temporary tattoos, pirate name changes – voting for our favourites and blood red jelly in syringes (because at 18 you can give blood). The mix of childhood fun and marking of time, mirroring the dichotomy I felt at this time.

Pain in change

I muse over the change in life with a melancholy pain. Why do we wistfully remember and wish for days gone by? They weren’t particularly the “good old days”, or didn’t seem so at the time, as I look back do I reframe it with a rosy filter? What is it that I miss? What is it that I long for?

I miss those chubby hands in mine, the same ones throwing bread to the ducks, then patiently building lego space ships, writing handcrafted cards then essays. My eyes no longer roll but well. I miss the purpose found in him needing me and now I ache with a job somewhat finished. An ache that is both a satisfaction and a yearning.

Change and gratitude

Growth and change provide a gentle release from providing support. Fresh freedom and a strength in us both that only comes through the passage of growth. Life’s challenge to us: move through change, keep up, let the waves of change move, yet support our head, like a buoy bobbing above depth that threatens to pull us to the inertia of the sea bed. I pause a memory of hands holding scooter bars as his text message chimes in, and hold both our past and our present in gratitude.

iola change issue front cover image

iola the change issue is out now! Read more here.

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Easy creative projects in lockdown

Rainbow craft

Looking for a creative project whilst in lockdown? Whilst not always feeling productive, I have found some time for gentle creative projects. Being creative, working with our hands and being present to the moment are ways to ease our mind at this time. I’ve some easy creative projects in lockdown to share with you if you are stuck for inspiration. First easy creative project is this rainbow.

Easy rainbow decoration

Rainbows have become a symbol of support for our health carers as well as hope in this time of lockdown. Children have been drawing and colouring them to put in their home windows and this is one that is simple enough for them to make and beautiful enough for you too.

All you need to make this lovely is some rope, embroidery thread, floral wire, glue and scissors.

Cut lengths of rope the length you want your rainbow to be.

This rope is a little thinner than the rope I used in the final picture.

Cut wire a little shorter than your length of rope. I used paper-covered floral wire that I already had – previously bought at Waitrose. You can use garden wire or floral wire that you can get at supermarkets, it just needs to be bendable to mould and hold the arch shape.

embroidery thread rainbow

Start wrapping the wire and rope length with a colour of embroidery thread. You could use any colour, you don’t have to stick to traditional rainbow colours.

Wrap each rope length with a different colour of thread.

Place each colour in a rainbow shape, making sure each colour wrap finishes roughly in the same place. Unravel the ends of the rope to create the ‘cloud’ effect at each end of the rainbow.

Stick the rainbow lengths together either messily like I’ve done with a glue gun or you could stitch them for a neater finish! It depends whether the back of your rainbow will be visible or not.

Rainbow craft

This would make a lovely decoration for a child’s room, depending on your thickness of rope you can make a variety of sizes. You could even make a collection for a mobile.

You can find more creative projects with accompanying devotionals in ‘Re: create restore your creative soul.’

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Five ways of grace and peace when stuck at home.

So here we are stuck in lockdown. Even for those of us that are introverted, being stuck inside for hours at a time without much respite from your fellow household members is enough to drive one crazy. Of course I am talking from personal experience, but I hope that these five ways I’ve been practicing will give you much grace and peace.

grace and peace flowers

Home-surviving

Everyone is writing and sharing guides for homeschool, homeworking, home socialising yet it is ok to simply be ‘homesurviving’.

When your whole world has been turned upside down and a completely new way of living is forced upon you, it is ok to give yourself much grace when falling into a new routine. Trying and failing is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. Maybe that school timetable just isn’t working. Perhaps school work for a couple of hours in the morning then a longer break and some creative activities in the afternoon. It’s ok to change up the routine. As an example I’ve been taking a shower at lunch time when I know I will need a break from everyone. It’s a chance to have some time to care for myself before heading back into motivating, playing, talking with my ten year old.

We need to give ourselves grace for making it through this time which is unusual and abnormal.

Be a team player

Right now it’s so easy to fall apart and compare our lives with each other stuck at home. My daughter has more school work than her older brother who is finishing school and her younger brother who is still in primary school. This is hard and a little unfair and can cause stress and arguments. It has been important to stress that we are a team, we support each other. If that means she needs a bit less noise for an hour – she gets it. If she needs the laptop her work takes priority.

With us all being at home more, there is more food preparation and eating going on, more mess made and simply more ‘home’ work to do. We are all pitching in, the kids have chosen which items on the cleaning rota they are taking responsibility for each day. It’s only the dishwasher, laundry and hoovering but it all helps.

Focusing on being a team, working towards the goal of each other’s success and health has helped our collective mindset shift from a comparative and combative one to one of peace and therefore home too.

Pick one thing

It’s easy for this expanse of time to feel like a wonderful time to get ‘all the things’ done. Much like the beginning of a new year we can see an expanse of time which has recently become vacated of some normal duties and come up with plans to fill it. “Now I can write that book, start and finish that decorating project, come up with a new business and website and make that bookcase, get rock solid abs, educate all the kids to pass their exams early”. It’s easy to suddenly become overwhelmed with #goals and yet much like January, a few weeks in (days even), we are stalling. I’ve decided not to make any goals of things to finish but pick one thing to work on a day. Maybe today it’s writing a blog post. Maybe it’s polishing my nails. With the uncertainty of what lies ahead, giving myself grace this way is kinder.

This new abnormal requires adjustment and small steps get you there more peacefully than bounding in huge leaps.

Rest and peace

New ways of living are incredibly tiring. We have found ourselves to be much more tired than usual. Not only is it the new ways of working and homing, the stress and the emotional feelings that we are processing leave us needing more rest. We’ve been taking naps, going to bed earlier, having more tea breaks.

Not only have we had to be creative in how we exercise, we have also had to make more space for times of rest.

Chase the fun

With the constant virus head counts and tactics, dates and news and rules changing daily, it is a serious time. Taking work, health and relationships seriously can make one stressed and anxious. Making each other laugh has become a key coping strategy at home. Picking random moments to have a dance, playing a game, let the mess go for a bit while you have a lark about, watching comedy on tv. Laughter is medicine.

It is a serious and stressful time which is why finding the fun helps to relieve the tension we are all feeling. I want to treasure the time I spend with those I love.

This comes with much grace and peace to you.