Finding my Book Folding Mojo

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Last June I did my first ever book fold. I had seen some on Pinterest and decided I would like to try doing it as the skill for my Bronze Voyage Award. I joined a book folding group on Facebook and, after admiring the photos of the amazing work of other members, I asked how I could get started. The owner of the group suggested a simple pattern that I could get from her Etsy page.

I didn’t want to start with an easy one though. The following month I would be seeing Carrie Hope Fletcher at the Young Adult Literature Convention and I had the idea of presenting her with a book fold of her “Hopeful” logo. I ordered a custom pattern, found an old hardback on my bookshelf that I hadn’t looked at for years and got going straight away. Considering it was my first attempt, I was very pleased with the result and Carrie seemed to like it when I gave it to her.
From that moment I was hooked. I made them as birthday presents, anniversary presents, wedding presents, donations for raffles… Any reason I could think of to do one, I did. I was even asked by some of my colleagues if I would make book folds for them. I gradually got more confident and my decorating technique improved too. I was really proud of the work I was producing and I was glad I had found something “arty” that I was actually good at.

Between June and December last year I completed 19 book folds, which looking back is a little crazy. I must have been doing about three a week. We are now edging towards the 11th month of the year and so far I’ve only completed seven. Granted four of them were two-liners which take me quite a bit longer, but I’ve clearly lost my mojo and I want it back desperately. I knew I had lost it when I had the chance to go to Tom Fletcher’s Christmasaurus book signing and I didn’t make him one even though I had for both Carrie and Gi. I’m a terrible, terrible fan! Tom, if you’re reading this (I wish!), I promise I’ll do one for your next signing.
I sometimes wonder if part of the problem is the pressure that I put on myself to improve the skill. I did my first two-liner at the beginning of the year and since then I’ve felt that I should only be doing those because they are harder and therefore “better”. That’s not true of course. It’s just me being hard on myself. Some of my favourite folds have been the ones that didn’t take very long to do at all.
So it’s time to get my mojo back and I have a plan. I have two orders for book folds intended to be Christmas presents and I have also remembered I said I would do a fold for one of my friends which I completely forgot about (sorry Bev!). They are all what I would deem ‘easy’ folds (easy for me means one-liner and less than 200 folds) so I could do all of them in less than a week if I have everything I need to hand. I have also now got a suitable work-space where I can sit comfortably to mark and fold to my heart’s content which I have no doubt was a contributing factor to my lack of enthusiasm. Leaning over a tray on your lap is not the most comfortable position to work in, especially when you’re doing 400+ folds.

One of the reasons behind wanting to rekindle my love of this pastime is the self-care aspect that I discovered I was benefiting from. There is something incredibly relaxing and satisfying about lining up the edge of the page with the mark and creating a sharp, crisp fold. I find that the repetition allows the process to, in a way, become a form of meditation and my mind clears completely while I’m doing it. Then of course there's the joy of seeing the pattern develop with each fold that is made.

You can see all my full portfolio of work (get me trying to sound all professional) on my Book Folding page at the top. If you would be interested in a tutorial on how to get started with book folding then please let me know in the comments below.

Gloriously Ungraceful Does DIY

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While Mum has been on holiday I decided it would be a good time to try and complete the vision for my recently redecorated room. On Saturday my much anticipated delivery arrived from IKEA and I started work straight away.

In the week running up to the new stuff arriving I had moved two of my three sets of drawers into the hall out of the way so I had space to work. I decided to start with my bedside table. I figured start small and build up to greatness, you know?

I got the frame put together and then realised I had put the base section and bit between the drawers in the wrong way round. Luckily IKEA furniture is actually easier to take apart than it is to put together so I resolved that little hiccup and completed it with no further hitches. It looks lovely. It's higher than my nan's old sewing box that I had been using and has two drawers that are deep enough to hold all my underwear which emptied one of my old drawers.
Next I moved on to my huge chest of drawers. It's bigger than I'd usually go for, but when I measured before buying, I realised that with this one I could stand in front of it and my mirror would be at the perfect height. It also means that with my bedside table, I only need one main chest of drawers instead of three. 

Having done the smaller one first, putting this one together was a breeze and I didn't get anything round the wrong way this time. Once the frame was up I had to move my cupboard (it used to be a wardrobe until my parents demolished it with finesse) from the corner and lay it across my bed so that I could move the frame to its new home which is how I received these injuries. 
Now what I thought was going to be the easiest bit of the process turned out to be the most soul-destroying. I thought I had made enough room to manoeuvre it round the end of my bed and past what I like to call 32 year's worth of crap. Turns out I didn't. Turns out that the drawer dividers (don't know if that's what they're called, it's what I'm callling them) aren't that strong. As I edged it round I heard a crack and saw it had split. As I tried to move it back to stop it become even more damaged, it broke! 
This right here, my dear readers, is why I've called my blog Gloriously Ungraceful. I can take the simplest task and turn it into a disaster. I didn't cry, mainly because I don't think my happy pills physically allow tears to escape my eyes anymore. Instead I started putting the drawers together. Drawers I can do! 

Drawers I can do until I realise I've run out of two parts and have two similar, but bigger parts left over that I don't know what to do with. Got them mixed up didn't I. The parts I needed were in the frame and because they were too small, I couldn't get them back out! I made the last drawer as best I could (I was also missing one other part, but that was IKEA's fault - WOOHOO!) and put them all in the frame. Once it was finished I realised you couldn't really see the broken bit and I felt much better. 
By now it's about 9pm. I've been building furniture since about 2.30pm. Non-stop. No dinner. I was on a mission and I wanted to finish it. Of course now I had finished it, there was the little matter of the huge, heavy cupboard that was laying across my soft, warm, fortress of comfort. I debated sleeping in the living room, but I was aching all over and wanted my bed so I summoned up the last of my energy and somehow moved it to the other side of my bed. 

Sunday morning I decided I needed to have a tidy up so while I caught up on Home and Away (Hmmm, Dr Nate), Bake Off (love Selasi) and Strictly (Danny or Ore?), I started to rip up all of the boxes that were scattered across the dining room. I had four bags of recycling to put out on Monday. FOUR BAGS!!! My arms have definitely had a work out after all that.
After lunch my friend came round and helped me to get all my old furniture downstairs. Once that was out the way I was able to start on my desk. Frickin' beast of a thing! It wasn't actually too bad. I got one bit round the wrong way like I did on my bedside table (easily rectified) and I can't get one end of the desktop to fit on proper, but I'm going to wait until my mum gets home. I'm not breaking anything else! The finished article is not as big as I was expecting so it doesn't swamp the room, yet it is big enough to take my printer and still leaves me enough room to do work and crafts. 
Despite the things that went wrong, I am still really proud that I managed to put these together by myself and I think they finish my new room off perfectly. The pink, grey and white just work so well together. Now there's just the little matter of sorting out the dozen or so boxes and bags full of what is probably junk and I'll finally be able to say it's my little bit of paradise.


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On Friday 16th September I travelled down to Alresford, near Winchester, to take part in a personal development course. Written by Jane Woods of Changing People and delivered by specialist trainers across the country, RenewYou is a one day course that promises to last for a whole year.

I first found out about RenewYou when I started reading Psychologies magazine back in 2013. At the time I had just started a new job and was in a new relationship too so there were a lot of changes going on in my life. I really wanted to do the course, but money was a problem as was trying to find a course that was happening near me on a date that I could make.

Fast forward to summer 2016 and I was determined to find a course. This year has seen as many changes as 2013 (albeit of a different kind) and I felt the time was right. I looked on Jane’s website and found there was one coming up in September. OK, so Alresford seemed a bit far away, but it would be nice to have a day out and it was something I’d wanted to do for about three years so I went for it. I contacted Felicity Dwyer, one of the above-mentioned specialist trainers, to find out more and booked on to the course.

There were only two of us on the course which was lovely as it meant that we received a lot more coaching from Felicity during the day. As it turned out the other lady lives not too far from me so we decided early on that we would try to catch up and hold each other accountable for our goal setting over the next year.

I won’t go into the content of the course too much as I don’t want to spoil it if you choose to attend one, but the aim of the day is very much about reflection and goal setting. We looked back at the last year before looking forward to the year ahead. During the first part of the day I realised that this year I have started to live in the now much more. I have always loved making plans, but the disappointment and heartache that I experience if they don’t come to pass has put me off. As we talked though I understood that I should make plans for me alone and not ones that rely on other people being there or doing something.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting was developing the concept of comfort zones. You may often be encouraged to step outside your comfort zone, but how far should you actually go? I learnt that you should think of it as three separate zones; your comfort zone, your stretch zone and the panic zone. By going into your stretch zone, you will gradually increase your comfort zone. However if you push yourself too far and go into the panic zone then you are at risk of making your comfort zone smaller.

We also looked at the labels we have had throughout our lives. I was amazed at how long the list was and I am sure that it would have been longer if I’d given myself more time. We looked at what labels we wanted to keep and what ones we didn’t. For the labels we didn’t like we looked at why they made us feel the way we do and how we could change that.

One of the activities we did was not from the RenewYou course, but I really enjoyed it and want to find a way to use it in my Girlguiding trainings. Felicity had a set of Chiji Cards which contains 48 images designed to “help participants create their own metaphors and gain more insight into the session or activity”. Of course I was immediately drawn to the owl. Once upon a time it would simply have been because I love owls, but this time there was more to it. When I had a tarot reading in Spain there was one card with an owl as part of the image. Curious to see if my love of owls had happened for a reason I asked what it represented. The lady doing the reading explained that it represent the wisdom gained from a situation, be it good or bad. I found that both comforting and empowering. It seemed fitting for the day.
When you attend the course you receive a copy of the RenewYou journal. It was much bigger than I was expecting and when you see what’s packed into it, you understand why. The journal is split into three parts. The first is used on the day and is full of exercises and plenty of space to record your answers, ideas and thoughts. I’m a neat freak so I used a notebook on the day and plan to transfer everything over to the journal when I get a free moment. The second part contains 52 short articles about your ongoing personal development designed to be read each week in the year following your course. The third section contains 13 interviews with inspiring women (it was originally going to be one for each month, but Jane states that she couldn’t choose which to include so added a bonus).

I would recommend this course particularly if you feel you are at a crossroads and need some direction. The trainer will not give you the answer, but help you to realise what’s important to you and trust your inner voice. I’m really glad there was just two of us that took, but I’m I would have still benefitted for the experience in a larger group. I’m looking forward to the next year and reading the different articles that Jane has written.

September Favourites

I wasn’t going to do a favourites post this month for a couple of reasons. Firstly I am really behind on writing and scheduling my posts (I've got a colour coordinated calendar and everything!) and I thought my time could be better spent on writing the ones I feel are more interesting. Secondly because I didn’t think I really had much to share, but looking back over my bank statement it seems I was wrong about that. So here are my September favourites.

The Wild Unknown Tarot Cards
I have wanted to add these cards to my collection for so long and managed to order one of the last original sets before they get published by HarperCollins. The artwork is absolutely beautiful and the cards just feel different to the glossy ones I'm used to. Actually need to learn how to read tarot cards properly now so that I can use them.
Girlguiding Goodies
Not particularly exciting, but I’ve needed a new waterproof for ages now and knowing I was going to be marshalling at Use Your Voice, I decided to treat myself to a Girlguiding one so that I was on brand even if it started chucking it down. I wasn’t overly keen on the old ones, but I’d heard good things about the new style and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s nice and lightweight, has plenty of pockets and when I put the hood up I found that it was strengthened so that it does flop over your face. Apart from the fact that I prefer my jackets a little longer, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the best waterproof I’ve ever had. If you are a member of Girlguiding then get this waterproof – you won’t regret it!
My other guiding favourite this month was my Use Your Voice goodie bag which all participants and volunteers received. My friend Helen who was the Lead Volunteer for the event always jokes that she’s disappointed if she comes away from a guiding event without a new tote so of course Use Your Voice had it’s very own. Now that we have to pay for shopping bags, I have to admit that I like collecting these. I went shopping at the weekend and chucked a couple in my handbag. So handy! Anyway, as well as the bag itself, in it was a travel card holder, lanyard, pen (you can never have too many pens) and, most importantly, the event badge. Love a badge, I do!

Work Bag
I’ve been in my job for just over a year now (a year last week if you’re interested) and I am gradually taking on more responsibility. This includes going to more meetings and wanting to look the part I thought I should get a smart bag that would also take my laptop. I’ve had an eye on a bag from M&S since before Christmas, but was a bit put off by the price. Then a couple of weeks ago M&S had a 20% off weekend and when I got to the till the cashier took a further 10% off as I had an offer on my Sparks card. I got a £100 bag for £70! It was obviously meant to be as when I went to find the link to it for this, I realised that they’ve stopped doing it.
Fitbit Alta
My second Charge started to fall apart again and when I contacted Fitbit they said that it had been discontinued so they could only send me an Alta instead. Awesome, because that's what I would have gone for if they hadn't replaced it! I love the Alta. It's much more delicate looking than the Charge and you can change the straps. There's even a silver one available that makes it look like a bangle. Much smarter for meetings seeing as I use it every day.
Bits for my Room
My room is now decorated and close to being completed. It looks better than I could possibly have imagined and even though I have a load of old boxes to sort through, I feel more at home in it now. I’m going to do a tour of my room post in the not too distant future so I won’t go into detail about where everything is, but when we went to B&Q the other day, I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of bits. I got this wicker heart to hang from my window and a new bedside lamp as my turquoise one didn’t really work with the colour scheme and more. Mum and I also decided to get this ceiling fan and light so that I don’t overheat in the summer.
Part of my room rejuvenation has involved sorting through all my clothes with a view to getting rid of two of the three sets of drawers that I have and fit all of the items that need to hang up in my now much smaller wardrobe. This was actually a very positive experience because I tried everything on as we went through it and was amazed to see that I can now fit back into a lot of my favourite things and I’m making good progress towards fitting into the rest. I got rid of a lot of things that were now too big (Yay!) and some smaller bits that I realised I would probably never wear again even if I could fit into them. Having chucked out at least one bin liner full of clothes, I decided that meant I could treat myself to a couple of new bits. I got this dress from Boohoo (ordered two sizes as I wasn’t sure and needed the smaller one – GET IN!) and this dressing gown and pyjama top and bottoms from George at Asda. The dress is a little shorter than I would usually go, but I think I can get away with it by wearing a pair of leggings underneath. And the dressing gown? So, so, so, so soft! Give me my duvet and Netflix and let me veg out in it all day!

There were more things that I wanted to talk about this month, but they are all Christmas related (do not judge me, I’m trying to spread the cost out) so I thought I’d do a special ‘Christmas Favourites’ nearer the time. In the meantime I’m going to try and catch up on my posts before I end up telling you about things that happened months ago!
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