Listen of the week – words to stitch along to

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I love to listen to live radio and to Podcasts whilst I sew/quilt/muck about in my studio pretending to work. And I know that there are lots of you who like to do the same (or binge on Netflix of course..!), so I’ve decided to do a regular series on my unmissable listens.

Listen of the week podcasts for crafting along to

I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Podcast episodes and TED talks every Tuesday – hopefully inspiring you to check them out too.

I warn you (but maybe that should be a promise!) that it’s going to be an eclectic mix – but I am sure that’s a good thing, because my readers are a varied bunch, and everyone will find something to like. The topics I tend to search out for are creativity, craft, mental health, spirituality, philosophy, but I also love wonderful stories of all kinds – so if you have your own recommendations for me, please leave a comment.

First up is my all-time favourite episode (so far, although there is close competition) of probably one of the best-known Podcasts out there, This American Life: One Last Thing Before I Go

The Wind Phone in Otsuchi, Japan, subject of the first act of One Last Thing Before I Go (photo from The National Post).

It’s probably crazy to start with such an excellent piece of radio, because it might all be downhill from here, but I really want to give you the Podcast bug, so best to start big, I thought!

I’m a bit stuck though, because I don’t want to say too much about it (Spoilers) – but I can say this: both stories within the episode are deeply moving, thought-provoking and incredibly well-told. They speak (in VERY different ways, and that the contrast is part of the success of the episode) of the human struggle to communicate, to express our feelings, our inadequacy, our bravery, our weakness and our resilience in the face of loss and death.

If you’ve never listened to a Podcast before, you can just listen to it on your browser, or download it for later, or use a Podcast app.

Hope you enjoy it – I’d love to hear what you think.

More on journaling: Morning Pages

I listen to huge quantities of spoken word when I’m working in the studio, or doing work round the house, or in the garden, drawing on the rich brain-nourishment I can get from radio, from podcasts and from TED Talks (also listening to the occasional sports commentary too…). I am always so grateful that the type of work I do allows me to have the radio on All The Time.

I love to browse the archives of TED Talks when I need a short burst of something interesting, thought provoking or inspirational. I wonder if you’ve encountered them too? TED is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, through short talks published on the internet. A great introduction, if all this is new to you, is to have a browse through this list, and certainly listen to Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk on creativity in schools:

Recently (see my previous post about bullet journaling), I’ve been thinking about the process and practice of keeping a journal and daily writing of all kinds. I’ve been particularly attracted to the idea of Morning Pages (a concept from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). It’s a simple idea – there’s no rules at all really, other than writing 3 pages, longhand, stream-of-consciousness-style every morning (in the morning because the aim is to do it before your brain woken up properly). Here’s what Julia Cameron says:

*There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

But I really wanted to know more, so as I often do, I Googled ‘TED talks’ ‘morning pages’ and up popped this most incredible talk by the actor/writer/producer/life coach (the woman is way too talented) April Thompson:

It’s a really inspiring talk, and well worth 20 minutes of your time, but I think the most important thing she says, for me, right now, is that writing Morning Pages ‘teaches you to wander around in your world and not quit on yourself‘ – that definitely sounds good.

I am much in need of a new approach at the moment, with the busy-ness of teaching sewing classes 3 times a week, plus all the usual (wonderful!) family and home stuff, my mind is full of chatter, ideas, lists, musings, rants, rages, melancholy and more, and it’s possible that getting it out on paper might make a difference.

So I started today – the 1st November, and I will do three more pages tomorrow, and try my level best to do it each day during the month. Posting here so I can hold myself to account really, and will see how I get on. If you’re interested, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you journal?

I’m really interested in the idea of keeping a journal at the moment. Some friends of mine recently introduced me to bullet journals (aka Bujo) – have you encountered them? I can’t believe I have been on Pinterest/Instagram for so long without having noticed them. Rather than go into huge amounts of detail about the concept, here’s a great introductory video by the creator of the BuJo, Ryder Carroll, and here’s the official Bullet Journal website.

A friend has been doing bullet journaling for a while now and was kind enough to share how it works for her – it was so interesting and I could really see the benefits of categorising, indexing and organising tasks, lists, plans and ideas. And of course, now I have found them, I am totally blown away by all the amazing BuJo resources on Pinterest!).

Although I feel very wary about taking on another activity that I won’t be able to maintain, I am coming round to the idea that keeping a bullet journal can increase focus and productivity, so it might be time well spent. My current system is not so great…here’s a couple of pages from my current note book/diary/to do list:

Current journal

As you can see, there are creative ideas mixed up with personal stuff, random doodles, future project lists, urgent tasks, and I confess that it has become so disorganised (and frankly, depressing) that I am scared to open it sometimes – which really does defeat the object of keeping it.

I’ve also been investigating other kinds of journaling including morning pages, as developed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, and art and creative journaling too. More about them another day, but in the meantime, I’m interested to find out – if you keep one, what kind of journal do you keep and how does it work for you?