Big or Small Adventures - Does it matter?

Does it matter if you have a big adventure or a mini adventure? Yes, it does. I think so. But not in the way you might expect: I think that the mini-adventures count for an awful lot because they're realistic. And in a point I will come back to shortly, who decides the difference. 

I love Instagram in the way that other people love Pinterest and Facebook. I enjoy sharing photos of life and seeing those of others. But like any social media stream there are those feeds where you daren't look because they make you feel a bit....blurgh. Some people seem to be on a constant merrigoround of global travel, funded goodness-knows-how and with an endless stream of swoonworthy photos. Those lovely folk are amazingly lucky, and I bet they're having an ace time, but for us, we need something else...

Whilst I like to post a nice picture rather than a hurried snap of my sweaty face, I'm also mindful that my feed shows what is possible around the edge of a normal life

I love the mountain shadow cast below Snowdon. How perfect is that peak! 

I love the mountain shadow cast below Snowdon. How perfect is that peak! 

You see, like most people I work. I have a demanding full time job, a home to keep clean, cats to run round after, a husband to negotiate life with and a small business to build. I don't have kids, but it's not like I get a lot of rest. I worked hard to get where I am. So turning it all in for a round the world trip isn't as possible as it once might have been. These, after all, are the lives we make for ourselves.

But what is possible are shorter breaks with bags of adventure and heart. Sure enough, we get away for a fortnight or so when we can, but that's not always possible (like this year). Sometimes, like this year, I am mainly holidaying by myself. 

A deserted beach, no swimwear....I'll have a dip in my underwear then thanks!

A deserted beach, no swimwear....I'll have a dip in my underwear then thanks!

I think what's missing from the canon of adventure literature and media is the story of those who are fitting it in around the rest of life. Those who are showing what's possible on a smaller budget, and with less time. We need to see both. So when I report on my adventures it's not to say 'look at me' but in some small way, I am trying to redress that balance. I hope to inspire others to seek the mini adventures, not to show boat.

I was only in North Wales for 2 nights this week (best part of 3 days) but I rammed in a couple of mountains, a night summit, a couple of swims in the sea, a couple of nights under canvas (read nylon), star gazing and plenty of biscuit and Pot Noodle eating.  Camping was £6 per night, and I spent about £40 on food and parking tolls at various places. There was also petrol. But I think my fun-size trip was pretty epic for around £100. One heart doesn't need much to sing. 

This could easily be the Sierras or a faraway desert land....Wales? Yep!

This could easily be the Sierras or a faraway desert land....Wales? Yep!

I really believe you can fit in a lot if you have the right spirit for it. Importantly, it doesn't require you to remortgage your house, or even sell your house and possessions. With creativity and spirit you can know better the beautiful world on your own door step. You can think differently.

In the end, who decides what adventure is worthy of the label big or small? It's a state of mind and a reflection of contentment with the world that's open to you if you seek the openings. I long for a 12-month trip to the high mountains of the world, but for now it's not happening. What is happening though is exploration closer to home: and don't forget - where you call home, someone else is moments away from buying a flight to visit as their 'must see destination'. it's all just a matter of perspective...



New art for a new season

It has been noted by an Instagram buddy that I'm in a creative place at the moment, and this is probably true though I'd not recognised it myself until she said it. 

And though it's a cliche, I certainly feel at my most creative when times are challenging, free time is short and the seasons are changing. I don't actually have a great deal of spare time at the moment, but I am more or less running home and sitting straight down to make and create. In my lunch hours I am trying to write, and on the weekends I'm juggling putting orders together with necklace making and the need for fresh air. I find the more pressured I am (by my own creation of course) the more efficient and focused I am with how I use the time allotted to task. If it sounds regimented, then it probably is. 

I'm not a big fan of lengthy explanations of art work: I often find that at best they end up being better than the thing they're justifying. How often I have enjoyed the insightful essay sat next to a blank white canvas, and felt underwhelmed by the (lack of) painting itself!

So I will keep it brief:  I seem to have a preoccupation with colourful, round things at the moment. The beads are more-or-less round and my new paintings are all round. I have an endless round well in my head that I want to keep drawing on, and it hasn't occurred to me yet to change the shape. 

Paintings by Ruth Allen 2014
Paintings by Ruth Allen 2014

(I've been posting these painting on Instagram, hence the rubbishy photos)

I would say these new paintings are more closely aligned to the poetry I enjoy writing than anything else. I enjoy naming them as I do a piece of short writing, and for the main part they capture a single moment in time as I see it in my head; as if through a window. I've never been particularly concerned with the bigger picture in art or writing; I am far more interested in the moments that almost pass us by, the remembering of a memory seen before....that sort of thing.

I hope you like them. 


Another post on authenticity. I know, I know.

Authenticity is a topic I come back to time and time again, as much for my benefit as yours. Well, OK, entirely for my own benefit. I keep looking at authenticity because it is my ideal home, and the home I want to keep. 

I'm sure many people who are creating, or not, can relate to the barriers to authenticity which seem to get amplified through time spent on social media. I imagine most of us love it and hate it in equal measures because of the challenges it poses to our self esteem, sense of worth, abilities as artists and people. I know I do. I value social media in all it's forms for how it has let business flourish, but I also fear the anxieties it creates within me. Is my work as good as theirs? Why am I not getting help with promo? is being unique a good thing?  I don't have an art degree, am I fraud? Sometimes it's a minute-by-minute battle to stay afloat and keep it all reasoned and balanced. Sometimes you need to withdraw, recharge, rethink the 'strategy'. 

Then yesterday I came across this interview with Artist and Illustrator Lisa Congdon on Meighan O'Toole's website, a sort of mini-preview of her new book (which I must read) and brought to my attention by Viktorija from AndSmileStudio (It's no surprise that Viktorija saw something in this interview enough to tweet the link because she's another artist I find very giving, open and authentic. Three qualities I very much admire.) Lisa offers a great deal of insight over a wealth of art topics, but it was the closing ten minutes of her interview that really hit home the most on this occasion. 

So I thought I would summarise some of what I heard in a conflation of Lisa's words and my own evolving thoughts. Some of the things she mentions very much mirror a process I have been going through over the last few weeks and will continue to do in a bid to keep myself and Blue Eggs and Tea on the authentic track; the track that's right for me. I hope you will find this combo of thinking a help if you're feeling in a similar position? 

1. Surround yourself with creative inspiration and support. Create a world for yourself. 

Social media is like a big loud party in a huge club where you can't see or hear anything properly it's just all noise. And the thing is, I always preferred a quiet evening in the pub, or tea and cake at the local cafe. Too much noise isn't nourishing, and too much noise from sources that don't speak to your own values and morals can be draining. So I am working on streamlining the noise I hear, and maintaining the voices who help build a positive community. This is an ongoing process, and isn't easy. Sometimes the voices we're drawn to are destructive, even when they don't mean to be. Someone unfollowed me on twitter the other day. I guess because I talk too much about stuff she doesn't care about. I felt affronted for a sec because influential unfollowers for a small creative business doesn't feel helpful, but then I realised I don't understand her world either. So I guess we unfollowed each other in the end, and that's fine. 

2. Work with Your People. 

Not everyone will love what you do. Not everyone will like it. Some might hate it and think it's rubbish, and talentless and not worth touching. That's OK (It almost hurt to write that but it's true.) Actually, as Lisa rightly points out there is space for everyone, and not being beaten down by fear of those you don't please is really important, because your energy can be better spent working with those who do Get It and Get You. I am always so inspired by the people I consider to be my Blue Eggs and Tea family, because I value your support that comes in many forms. I know you're with me as I develop my style and try new ideas. You have my back and that's an empowering positive feature of social media.

3. Don't be what you're not. 

This is so obvious as to be almost not worth stating. But actually it's more nuanced than's about not selling out on your ethos and ethics, your morals and what makes you, You. Whenever I create something or say something on social media I have to consider will this 'be me'. Will it reflect my image and how I want it to be reflected. If not, then I don't add it, post it, say it. But this is only partly authentic I guess, because those who know me will know I struggle with not saying the things I really want to. But holding some things back isn't about not being authentic, it's about saying I'm a layered person, but you don't need to hear it all right here and right now and if you want to know it then be friends with me and I will talk to you about it another time. It's about staying appropriate, staying true to your North and not worrying about fitting in with the prevailing wind. It's about believing in your own style and your own world even when that world over there might look appealing for a moment. You know deep down it's not for you. 

4. Inspire and support the right way

Be nice, be kind has always been a core motto of mine. Be nice to everyone is Lisa's take. The essence is the same. Don't be boastful and showy. Don't knowingly make people feel bad. Don't be competitive in a destructive way. Don't use the humble brag. Don't shut doors in people's faces when they seek advice. Take time to help and share knowledge. Don't be status obsessed or hung up on who has more followers, or sells more, or has a nicer home, or goes on better trips. All of these things waste your precious time and there very genuinely are way more important things than what you wore and what you painted. Be nice to people and people are nice back. Wish people the best, and they wish you the best in return. This can be so hard when you're mired in your own frustrations but I want to aim for this for sure. I guess this sometimes means betraying the inner voice that wants to have a tantrum, and can this then be authentic? Well, yes, it's authentic to a greater good instead of the insecure inner-child.

These are things I'm working on in the quest to earn my right to stay in my most loved house of authenticity. I probably have no right to be here, the mortgage is huge. But I love the way it looks and feels and smells, and I would dearly love to open it out to all my friends so we can get together and talk, and feel happy and content with our selves and our own style. 

Blue Tit necklace R Allen 2014