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20 Days Later!

I’ve completed my 20 days of blissful painting and sketching in the rural Welsh retreat.
I did experience loneliness from time to time, and the lack of conversation was difficult to adjust to, but the process of painting brought me the quiet calm and reflection I sought.
What I couldn’t imagine was the escalating impact of the corona virus whilst I was isolated from the news. Fortunately Simon came over to Wales last night and gently brought me up to speed with the changes we are having to endure going forward.

The next weeks / months will be very hard, but this last 20 days has helped me explore and understand some methods that helped me cope:

1.Writing down my thoughts, feelings and fears. I did this through writing a postcard a day to Simon, and keeping a journal of thoughts and sketches.
2.Losing myself in something – for me it was sketching and painting. This was more about the process than the outcome and I would lose hours engrossed in a project. It took me away from my feelings of loneliness.
3.Acceptance – embracing my feelings and allowing myself to feel sad, recognising it was normal and my mood would change in time.
4.Talking – I didn’t have this option whilst in Wales, but now I’m back home I’m fully exploiting the positive power of sharing and community support.

Over the next few weeks I hope to balance much needed family time with whatever work is possible, and of course painting. Health permitting, also be writing up my “20 Days In 2020” journal – watch this space!

Keep positive and safe,
Janet
xx

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See you in 20 days!

Me in WalesThe car is packed full of food, and essentials. Pedro is safely tucked in and we’re off for our 20 day challenge.

All means of contact will be turned off once I get to Wales, later this afternoon.  Hope you all stay well, and I look forward to catching up with you when I get back on 21st March.

Don’t forget the work produced will form an exhibition at the Canal Heritage Centre throughout May: https://www.canalsideheritagecentre.org.uk/exhibitions

Lots of love, Janet xx

“20 Days In 2020” – 2 weeks to go!

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Well, it’s nearly here – my 20 day challenge to cut myself off from my normal world of social media, wifi, tv and contact with others.
On Sunday 1st March I’ll be making my way to rural Wales to start my three weeks of isolation and painting. My beautiful dog Pedro will be my only company.

I’ll be reflecting on the past 18 months since my diagnosis of younger onset Parkinson’s Disease, and trying to express my emotions and feelings through painting.  I’ll also be keeping an illustrative journal.

I’m taking more than 20 different size canvasses, loads of paper, paints, pencils and charcoal.
I’ll be filling the car full off food for both me and Pedro.  I’ll also be taking my yoga and running gear, and definitely my knitting and a variety of books for those long quiet evenings.

The questions I’m most frequently asked about the “20 Days in 2020” challenge are:

Q. What will you do for fresh food?
A. I’ll have some for quite a few days, and then I’ll move on to tins and long life supplies.

Q. Will you be contactable?
A. No, there is no wifi and my phone will be turned off.

Q. Will you be safe?
A. There are a couple of other caravans in the farmer’s field, and there’s a farm house near by.

Q. What will you paint?
A. Who knows, that’s the point of the “20 days” project.

Q. Will you have contact with anyone, and go out shopping etc?
A. NO, not if I can help it. I’ll be taking everything I need with me.

So that’s the plan for the first three weeks in March and I’m apprehensive but also really looking forward to it.
I’m especially looking forward to the quiet, the opportunity to think and explore creative ideas, and of course spending quality time with Pedro.

Thanks to Sue Williams and Mark Rubery for lending me their caravan, and Caroline and Steve Bate, and Simon Barnes for their support with this project.

Please come and visit the exhibition of “20 Days In 2020” at the Canalside Heritage Centre, 2nd – 30th May 2020.

Pedro copy
Pedro x

“20 Days In 2020” Postcards From The Edge

Last night over a bottle of wine, my Sister in law and I were discussing my “20 Days” challenge.  The topic for discussion was how I can stay off grid for 20 days whilst regularly letting husband Simon know I’m okay.
Making a scheduled phone call from a public phone will be impractical and a burden.  Even more unacceptable will be hunting for signal and turning my phone on.  I’d be bombarded with the familiar text, email and voicemail notification noise, negatively impacting on the whole project.  Instead we agreed that a postcard a day is the answer. The daily routine of writing and posting the card will be useful and contribute to the journal. This method of communication is in keeping with the quiet reflection and expression this project is all about.
So that’s the plan- just better remember 20 stamps! ☺️
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Knitting Together

This is a little tale of two parallel knitting journeys:

Freda 69 is an experienced knitter, using the practice to help her cope with the loss of her husband and distract her from her grief.
I’m 48 and a knitting novice using it to help cope with a restless mind and changes in dexterity as hands and movement deteriorate due to my recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

The knitting journey started with a chance conversation at the social dining club “Friday Club” with Freda about my husband’s love of Nordic style jumpers. Freda offered to knit the desired jumper and the discussion was quickly followed with trips to town together to find an appropriate pattern and wool. The wool sourcing missions also included cakes and coffee and a good chat about how we both were feeling.

Our second sourcing mission into “Knit” in Nottingham was successful, and after discussions with the wonderful Ellie. Freda signed up to a knitting challenge beyond what she’d expected – a really complex pattern. I then saw a lovely knitted hat in the shop window and Freda talked me into my own knitting challenge to learn to knit a relatively simple bobble hat.

Whilst Freda was creating, washing and checking her test piece in Beeston, Notts, I was away on a quiet break in Norfolk getting bitten by the knitting bug. After a couple of false starts I completed my first hat, and then after a mission to find a wool shop, I knitted a further two for Christmas presents.

Freda was mastering the complicated pattern and giving me regular updates about her progress. I was aware of the complexity of the pattern, and Freda was aware of the money I’d spent on the quality wool. There was trust and belief in each other and a real level of respect.

I never expected Freda to have completed the jumper in time for Christmas, but at a “Friday Club’ meeting in early December, Freda and good friend Peggy announced with glee that it was nearing completion. We talked arm and body lengths and made some calculated decisions about when to stop. They both came round for lunch the following week and Freda presented the finished jumper. It was truly amazing and the three of us stood and admired the creation.

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On Christmas day 2019 I gave my husband Simon the jumper and explained the story behind it. Of course I couldn’t do full justice to the adventure we’d been on to create this work of art, but it fits perfectly and he loves it.

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Once again I’ve been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness and generosity, gaining a friend and a jumper through this journey.
We’ve hopefully both benefitted from the healing properties of knitting and helped each other with our particular struggles with bereavement and acceptance. I’ve also been reminded that friendships, and creative challenges come in all shapes and jumper sizes. xx