What I’m Into (March 2014)

Tim and Jon taste champagne

Tim and Jon taste champagne

Jon went away for almost a week on a VIP trip to exclusive Champagne Houses with one of our best friends, who was celebrating his fortieth birthday. My mum heroically looked after us while he was away. Jon returned with a happy heart and a full car – we are now fully stocked with champagne for the next decade or so.
Bollinger Vineyard

can anyone work out the champagne house this was from?

can anyone work out the champagne house this was from?

My BFF and her husband are going to the Far East – to live – for two whole years. I am excited for them and sad for me, and it was really lovely to be able to spend the weekend and do a proper send-off. The boy prayed a lovely prayer for them before they left, and this made me cry a whole lot.
The boy can now write his whole name – with no prompting. I find this both weird and very exciting. I’m sure we didn’t learn to write until we were five. He also taught me the word ‘halocline’, which was an unnerving experience. My kid is three, and already he’s expanding my vocabulary. This month he went to his first party, and returned deliriously hyped up on fun and sugar.
I celebrated another year of age! I got an art journal and oil pastels as a present (see below), and had a nice chilled-out day at home, with some steak and paleo cheesecake (yum).
birthday selfie
art journal
My friend Abby gave me this (‘His banner over me is love’), made from pages of John Steinbeck, and sent all the way from America. It sits above my ‘day bed’, where I do my writing, and it makes me happy.
abby norman banner

  • Circle of friends – I loved this book about three friends growing up together in small-town Ireland and being introduced to the temptations of suitors in Dublin. The film had much of the book’s sweetness. Although the acting was great (Minnie Driver was perfect for the role), the screenplay took all of the shock and twists out of the plot of the book, which was a little disappointing. So – although the film was still enjoyable, get the book, not the film.
  • Fair Game – this film stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, about the whole ‘weapons of mass destruction’ debacle and the war in Iraq, based on a true story. I’ve watched a few films on this issue now, but this was really interesting to have the perspective from the secret service, rather than politicians or army. It was fairly compelling viewing, and we sat in silence, a little stunned afterwards. Powerful film, and wonderfully acted. Worth viewing.
  • American Idol – this is probably my favourite line-up of judges ever. I am a big fan of Harry Connick Jr’s glasses. I’m rooting for Alex and Jena.
  • Revenge – a guilty pleasure.
  • Nashville – dear writers: please, please let Gunner and Scarlet sing together ALL THE TIME.
  • Musketeers – I can’t wait for season two.


(Reading didn’t really happen this month.)

  • Penny and Sparrow – ten boom. I fell in love with the song Heroes and Monsters (“the moon’s gonna rise no matter what”), when Elora played it for a Story Sessions Write-in and have been searching for this album ever since. Their sound is sort of indie-folk, campfire harmonies, singing wistful tunes. It’s a nice album to blog to. You can’t seem to get it in the UK, just MP3 download on Amazon.com, so I was delighted to find it on noisetrade briefly (sadly no longer there).
  • Gungor – I am Mountain. I have learnt that a Gungor album takes about three listenings before it’s ripe, and I still feel like I am getting under the skin of this album. The sound is really fun – a sort of Wild West edge to it, like the Kill Bill sound track, and there are some great rhythms. The lyrics seem to be less overtly Christian than previous albums, and more about trying to seek and find meaning in the world. You can catch them singing I am Mountain, A Long Way Off and Yesternite live on Relevant.magazine.com, which will give you an idea of the album. My favourite at the moment is ‘the beat of her heart’, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the underworld – it’s just haunting. I love everything they produce, and in many ways this is more accessible and catchy than their second album. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.

Someone needs to remind me just how long an ME relapse takes to recover from. It’s now 10 weeks, and I’m still not back to where I was in January, still rationing every energy-spend carefully, still limiting phonecalls or Skype conversations with friends to 3 per week. I’m starting to wonder whether this is my new normal. Since the suspected labyrinthitis back in October, I also spend much of the day feeling dizzy. It feels like I’m on a boat and have maybe had a glass of wine as well – the walls and floors don’t always stay where they should. (It’s a good job I like wine and boats). Another month has passed with no book-writing, and I am being gentle with myself. The words will come when they are ready to.
Art journalling
This is a ‘collective’ from Story Sessions – a bunch of us are exploring art journalling for the first time. Elora Ramirez, leading the group, introduced me to the concept. This is more like a journal than a sketch book or scrap book – where you record your feelings, but through colour and swirls and ‘found poetry’ and quotes. It’s SO MUCH FUN. I am very musical and good with words, but I am decidedly unartistic, so this is a step into the unknown for me. I am limited to pencil and oil pastel, as I can do that lying down (watercolour requires sitting-up energy, which is pretty scarce these days), but there is something transformative about slowing down enough to colour in a word or phrase, and it is really good for me. I am a massive fan. Here are some pages to give you an idea:

spring/ hope

spring/ hope

found poetry (you're supposed to make it look arty as well)

found poetry (you’re supposed to make it look arty as well)

Found poetry – (see pic above) is where you rip a page out of a book, and underline phrases that jump out at you, then make a poem from those phrases, just as you found them. It’s poetry for cheats! Such fun! (This one was taken from the pages of a violent thriller – makes for a great angry-poem). I am lucky to be tutored by Jamie Bonilla, who is the expert on found poetry and makes beautiful things every day from words and colour.
Over to you:

  • What were you into in March?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

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16 Responses to What I’m Into (March 2014)

  1. Stephanie 24th April, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    Happy belated Birthday! I love that you got art supplies. 🙂

    Relapses…yes, take longer than you ever expect and and adjusting to them costs more than you want to pay, but healing can be found there and hidden blessings as well. I hope that is true for you.

    I’m nearing eleven months now, but finally, finally, seeing some improvement. Not that I can do so much more, but the basics are noticeably less difficult. I’m grateful.

    • Tanya 10th May, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      I’m so grateful for those small but significant improvements for you. (And thanks for my birthday wishes!)

      • Stephanie 11th May, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

        Thank you. It was accepting that I needed to do exactly what you’re doing now that led to those improvements, so I hope you find that to be true for yourself, as well. I think of you often and hope you are adjusting to the change of pace without too much difficulty.

  2. Janice 9th April, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    I just had my birthday in March too! 39. Yeesh. I don’t feel old, but I sound old when I say, “where is the time going?”

    And I applaud you for having a recap every month. I have NO idea what happened in March. None. The only thing I’m positive about is that it could NOT have been a month long. And no way can it already by April, never mind 9 days into April.

    But after leaving town for 2 weeks we got back and our mountain home had gone from winter to spring! It’s been lovely seeing grass and birds and feeling warmth.

    Every month you make me extend my “want to read” list which I never actually get too….

    Ooh- and I love the found poetry thing. Only tried it once with a page from Brideshead Revisted:

    “This life which might well
    have spent years on the ground –
    but by chance smoke rose
    untroubled by any wind
    and seemed to lift us
    a finger’s breadth above the turf
    and hold us suspended.”

    Really, that’s the kind of poetry for cheaters I need! I think I might be more of a reorganizer of interesting words than a maker-upper of them.

    • Tanya 17th April, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      oo, I always love your comments! They make me feel like I am just sitting down for coffee with you. I am totally with you about where March has gone. Where has this whole YEAR gone?? Seriously – I’ve blinked and almost a third of the year has gone already. How is that possible?

      And I love your found poetry! It sounds so breathless and wispy. Poetry for cheaters is TOTALLY the way forward.

  3. Abby 8th April, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    i just like to make you happy.

  4. Mark Allman 7th April, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your birthday picture with us. I’m hoping that relapse would turn for you soon. I’ve started a running plan trying to get ready for my first ever half marathon at the end of June. I’m enjoying listening to my music on Spotify. I like it better than Pandora. It lets you make your own list of songs to listen too.

    • Tanya 8th April, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      Thanks, Mark. I’m so excited for you that you’re doing this half marathon! A plan is definitely the way forward. And – confession – I both love Spotify and am completely scared of it. I’m not quite sure how to get lists and do other people’s lists etc. I seem to wander on a path of ‘if you liked that, you’ll like this’ and then wonder how on earth I get back again and who it was I spent two hours listening to! It’s good fun all the same, though.

  5. Rebecka 7th April, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    I really have to try art journalling! I’m trying to be more creative but my brain is too tired most of the time.
    In March I was into “O Happy Fault” by Audrey Assad (I’m playing it on repeat), taking photos of flowers with the help of a cheap macro lens on my phone, and foot baths.

    • Tanya 8th April, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      I can definitely empathise with the ‘too tired to be creative’ thing. And I’m so pleased you’re loving Audrey Assad! She is amazing. I love photography for when I’m tired. There’s so much of art that is about seeing – photography is an easy way of ‘seeing’ things afresh. You can tell a story with your iPhone. And foot baths! I have a new foot massager thing, which I’m hoping will be helpful. You’ll have to let me know how the foot baths go.

      • Rebecka 14th April, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

        I’ve been taking foot baths with epsom salt, I just can’t remember why they were supposed to be helpful. Haha. Also, this post made me want champagne!

        • Tanya 17th April, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

          Sorry for inducing the champagne craving!
          And you’re in luck! I can tell you why you’re taking foot baths with Epsom salts – magnesium. Meant to be good for palpitations and muscle twitching and all kinds of other things, and bathing in Epsom salts is a really good way to up your magnesium levels (so i’m told). Hope it helps! (I use a magnesium dermal spray – seems to make something of a difference with heart symptoms).

          • Rebecka 17th April, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

            Oooh, brilliant! Thank you!

  6. Leigh Kramer 7th April, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Love that your son is expanding your vocabulary! I saw Circle of Friends before I ever read the book so reading it was a shock to the system. But I agree Minnie Driver did a great job in the role! I took an art journaling class several years ago and loved the experience. So fun!

    I’m sorry to hear this relapse recovery is still underway and will be praying for you.

    • Tanya 8th April, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      Thanks so much for your prayers, Leigh, and for being speedy-speedy on here with the comments! Much love.

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