Puppy therapy

Whenever I see puppies I feel happy. Their sweet puppy breath, little pink toes and fat round tummies make me want to sweep them all into my arms. I watch them play, they’re silly and often uncoordinated as they wrestle with toys, blankets and each other. When they sleep in a puppy pile my heart melts.

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”

Bern Williams

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Wordless Wednesday: Winter beauty

Coloured leaves
Seasonal colour
Clear blue skies and reflections on lake
Clear blue skies
Frosty morning
Frosty morning

That balance thing…

A while ago I wrote about finding balance. There was too much going on in my head and too many things I wanted to do, something had to give. Your feedback helped, I prioritised the things that were important to me as well as being ones I could realistically accomplish. My health is important, at 45 and with a family history of bowel and breast cancer I am becoming more aware of what I eat. Although I haven’t gone the whole hog in quitting sugar I have reduced my intake and I’m eating more whole foods rather than reaching for what is convenient. This has been a relatively easy step to take and experimenting with new recipes has been fun, plus it makes me feel better.

I put ‘The Artist’s Way’ and ‘The Barefoot Investor’ aside for now, although with a restructure looming at work I may need the finance advice more than anything else on my bookshelf. The weekly online photography course with David duChemin has also taken a bit of a back seat but not because I’m not interested, I’m just a little distracted and finding it hard to focus (pardon the pun). What I am doing is following David’s advice from the first week of the course which was to care deeply about your subject or be deeply curious. It wasn’t difficult to think of something that I care deeply about and as a result I have been taking my camera to the shelter each weekend and photographing some of the dogs. In doing this, I am becoming more familiar with my camera and thinking about the result I am seeking rather than just taking aim and shooting. Not all dogs make it easy, there are plenty of missed opportunities, blurry faces and lots of close ups of their nose or chest as they jump up at me while taking the shot.

Art class, like volunteering is a non-negotiable and it is 2-3 hours a week where I can work on my drawing and be with like-minded people. It is therapy and it helps to shift my brain from worrying about the pettiness that can make a working day unbearable to worrying about which shade of blue is needed to make those hills recede into the background. My trolley of art materials is fully loaded and I have finished one surprise pet illustration and have two landscapes on the go with a couple of potential commissions waiting in the wings. Meanwhile Hubby and Bundy make the most of the peace and quiet by sharing the floorspace in front of the television for a weekly dose of rugby league.

Have I found balance? Yes, to some degree but there is still more I want to achieve and I’m hoping that the cooler weather will help. The hot and humid weather really wore me down, zapping my energy and my motivation. Thanks again for the helpful advice. Have a great week!

 

Travel theme: Paths (of Scotland)

My posts are few and far between at the moment as I struggle to find focus and think of things to write about. Thank goodness for Ailsa’s latest travel theme on Where’s my backpack? as I have some paths to share from my 2016 trip to Scotland.

Woodland path through flowering wild garlic
Wild garlic in flower almost conceals this path through the trees at Dairsie Castle.
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A well worn path past holiday homes at Crovie in the Scottish Highlands
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A path of daisies leads you up the hill for fabulous views of Gardenstown
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Pittenweem pathway from St Fillan’s Cave
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The ruins of St Andrews Cathedral
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The Fife Coastal path, St Monan’s
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Up the garden path

Finding balance

Pastel painting of a Tawny Frogmouth.
Pastel painting of a Tawny Frogmouth. His face mirrors my feeling at the moment.

2017 was going to be the year to spend more time on my art and and photography, attend a few workshops and make the effort to ‘just do it’. I even ditched the Master of Marketing I had enrolled in at the end of 2016 because I knew I could not commit to study, do the things I love, stay married and work full time. In November I signed up to do an online photography course with David duChemin which I am slowly progressing through and I recently bought The Artist’s Way because I thought it might be beneficial to my creativity (or lack thereof) once the other program finishes. I have also been looking into the idea of selling some of my work through online shopfronts like Printful or Fine Art America and perhaps offering pet portraits.

That, said I find myself keen to improve my physical and our financial health. On my desk are books supporting those idea’s: Scott Pape’s The Barefoot Investor, Sarah Wilson’s Simplicious and David Gillespie’s Eat Real Food although I know I have no hope of getting hubby to ease up on his favourite sugary beverage, Rum and Coke.

With all of these potential ‘balls in the air’ the following questions have crossed my mind:

  • Am I trying to do too much or is it a case of better managing my time?
  • Can I squeeze more into my weekends and mornings?
  • Is this perfectly normal and others manage it fine, even with children?
  • Am I overthinking it?

The question of moving from full time work to part time isn’t an option at this point hence the interest in online shopfronts and the Barefoot Investor. One day I would love to be able to dedicate more hours to my art and photography than I currently can and possibly make a little money to support my habit. The other things I can’t and won’t give up is Hubby (of course), walks with Bundy and my Sunday mornings at the Animal Welfare League. Spending time at the shelter and giving homeless dogs the love and care that they all deserve feeds my soul and makes me happy.

Unlike my previous posts this post has been more of a brain dump, me trying to get my head together and sharing it with you. No doubt it is going to require more processing, hopefully without experiencing analysis paralysis. Have you experienced something similar? Would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your answers to my list of questions.

Cheers!
Sam

Wordless Wednesday: window dressing

Window display while cruising the canals of Venice
No washing hanging from these windows in Venice

A walk in Springbrook National Park

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Springbrook National Park, Queensland

Springbrook National Park  is located in the Gold Coast hinterland, 45 minutes from the coast and not far from the border dividing Queensland from New South Wales. It is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and declared by UNESCO. The earliest humans to live in this area were the Yugambeh people, now acknowledged as the traditional owners. Throughout the park you will see signs written in English and in Yugambeh language.

Saturday was the perfect day for a walk in the Springbrook National Park, my friend and I choosing the Class 3 Purling Brook Falls circuit  which is 4 kilometres long and takes the average person 2-3 hours to complete. Add another 45 minutes if you want to visit Warringa Pools. If you’re keen on taking photographs, want to stop for a bite to eat or have a swim then add a bit longer. There are shorter and longer walking circuits plus a couple of lookouts if you just want to admire the view.

Temperatures can be cooler in the park, we wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt and felt comfortable for most of the walk although we did see plenty of people wearing gym gear but they were moving at a much faster pace than us. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers helps avoid ticks and leeches. I also recommend taking a bottle of water and a snack or two plus sunblock and insect repellant, you can still get sunburned walking through the forest and the mosquitoes can be vicious. There are a few locations that are fenced off from visitors, including the top of the Purling Brook Falls and the pool at the bottom for safety reasons and possibly to protect the immediate environment.

Springbrook provides the visitor the opportunity of seeing and hearing a variety of wildlife, we frequently heard the call of the Eastern Whipbird and Bush Turkeys are extremely common. When walking along one section of the park we heard the rustling of leaves as something moved slowly through the undergrowth. Patiently we waited and were rewarded with a glimpse of a goanna, eventually he decided that it was safe to come out of hiding so we watched him as he crossed the path and ventured up the hill and undercover. Lorikeets, kookaburras, wrens and robins are also common, but some of them are so small and move so quick that I didn’t stand a chance when it came to taking a photo. Seeing a pademelon flee from the verge and into the bush as we drove back from the ‘best of all’ lookout was a special treat, it is not often that we get to see this type of wallaby.

Having packed enough nut bars to feed a small school group, we grazed throughout the walk and rewarded our efforts at the end with a visit to The Fudge Shop. The coffee smelled too good to resist and we bought a chunk of lemon meringue and creme brûlée fudge for an extreme sugar hit. If fudge is not your thing they do serve ice cream and there is a small selection of local produce including arts and crafts for sale.

I imagine that Springbrook National Park is really popular in the warmer months, and that the creeks and waterholes fill up with day trippers and families camping nearby. At the Natural Bridge section of Springbrook you can see glow-worms after sunset, their environment is particularly sensitive so there are rules around visiting this location. The Natural Bridge is easily accessed and the walk through subtropical rainforest to see the naturally formed arch over the creek is well worth the effort.

Having been on the Gold Coast for 17 years, I cannot believe that I have not spent more time exploring such a spectacular part of Queensland. It definitely won’t be that long before I return to Springbrook, there are more walks to do and it is a wonderful way to get some exercise and experience nature.