Creating My Odyssey

Artist / writer / explorer of life & creativity / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Friday, 22 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: OLGA GETS AN OUTING!Going to Prague in the winter...

Creating My Odyssey: OLGA GETS AN OUTING!
Going to Prague in the winter...
: OLGA GETS AN OUTING! Going to Prague  in the winter, is never a good idea. You certainly freeze your butt off, but Olga love...

Going to Prague in the winter,
is never a good idea.
You certainly freeze your butt off,
but Olga loves it there! 

Allow me to introduce Olga,
The furry friend on my head.
I bought her at market in Edinburgh,
But we think she's a Czech instead!

I'm so glad I wore Olga in Prague,
she helped keep my top knot happy
But Mulled wine helps a good deal,
both keep my brain going batty!

She saw a good deal of Prague,
We stood on the buzzing Charles Bridge.
One of many crossing the river,
known as Vltava - a wonderful image!

We travelled a lot on the trams,
rattling from point A to point B,
Get on, get off, get lost (we did!),
Many wonders and places to see.

The Castle is hundreds of steps high,
Olga managed, no problem at all.
Starbucks is at the top, you know -
A magnificent view to enthral.

We wandered around the streets up there,
Mostly cobbled, as many roads are,
And beautiful buildings everywhere,
Then back downhill to town - not far.

Charles Bridge is pedestrians only,
Artists and musicians do their thing,
Souvenirs are sold in their hundreds,
Including much jewellery and bling.

You can buy Chimney cake here,
sweet pastry spirals baked over fire.
Filled with yummy jam or cream and fruit.9
So fattening - too many could be dire!

We took Olga to the bridge after dark,
Still buzzing, it all happens at night,Eiffel
So beautiful with the lights all shining
It's worth the walk for such a sight!

Many buildings are Art Nouveau style,
One of my favourite kinds.
There's often artwork on the wa─║ls,
Almost dressed up to the nines.

Wenceslas Square (which is just a road),
Is famous for Art Nouveau styles,
Lots of curling iron beautiful art,
We stayed and passed a while.

On our last night we climbed a tower,
It's almost a copy of Eiffel,
Olga adored the amazing view,
climbing zillions of steps was a trifle!

Finally on a normal road,
No tourists or some such,
We found a cafe the locals use, 
And ate a super lunch.

We'd reached the end of our trip,
Which really had been great.
Olga had enjoyed it so much,
For her next trip she just can't wait! 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: SOMETHING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT A boxed canvas supp...

Creating My Odyssey:
A boxed canvas supp...
: SOMETHING SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT  A boxed canvas support with an artboard glued to the surface. Acrylic paints squeezed  straight from...


A boxed canvas support with an artboard
glued to the surface. Acrylic paints squeezed
 straight from the tube, allowed to dry,
then patterns painted on them.

An art board painted with thick, textured acrylics,
and pieces of painted wood and a twig adhered.

Boxed canvas back to front,
the surrounding frame painted

I love anything that's different from the norm, particularly artistically speaking, and I'd love to hear from other artists who have fresh and original ideas. So do contact me  and let's talk!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: GRAPHICS& PLAYING AROUNd!*********************...

Creating My Odyssey:

: GRAPHICS & PLAYING AROUNd! ********************************************************************************** What fun...



What fun!

I tried this a while ago, writing in OpenOffice, but copying and pasting onto my blog didn't work.

It' worked this time!

Well, I'm having a good ol' play and see where it takes me!
Trying out all the different fonts is enormous fun!
I just love these fancy fonts!

I love it!


Anyway, that's enough for now!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: YOUR STORIES I've been reading one of my newslet...

Creating My Odyssey: YOUR STORIES 

I've been reading one of my newslet...
: YOUR STORIES   I've been reading one of my newsletters which has really inspired me! Alexandra Franzen http://www.alexandrafranzen...

I've been reading one of my newsletters which has really inspired me!
features a 'show and tell' post every so often. What a great idea, I thought! So I'm going to do something similar. So if anyone has any projects they're working on, do tell me. Whether it's creative, connected with travel, a business, home renovation, gardening, a hobby...
Another idea I've had is a more personal one. If you've  recovered from depression and anxiety or any other mental health issue, and are now working on a project you've been unable to pursue due to your illness, I'd love to hear from you, and I will write a post featuring your stories.

So, get to your keyboards/grab a pen and paper, and get writing! 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: SPUNKYAND EVER SO SLIGHTLY WACKY!This is how...

Creating My Odyssey:


This is how...
: SPUNKY AND EVER SO SLIGHTLY WACKY! This is how I might justly describe our creative writing group, which I hav...


This is how I might justly describe our creative writing group, which I have, when the discipline moves me, expanded to include an art group which meets at my house the week following our monthly writing group gatherings. 

I'd been a member of both a local writing and art group for some time and thoroughly enjoyed both. I joined them as an aid and therapy for my brain - I was very up and down back then - and they worked a treat. The tutors were excellent and I grew very fond of them, but I can't remember which group came first! (Not that it matters.). I think I found the creative writing group initially - all kinds of writing, no real restrictions - and grew to know and enjoy the company of the members. Three members in particular. Two of them, lovely peeps, were members of a local art group as well. They suggested I pop along, so I did. Another great group. 

I didn't want tuition as far as art went, I just needed encouragement and inspiration and to swop ideas with other creative minds and the discipline to actually DO IT!  And this I did. So I belonged to both groups for some years, and the discipline of writing something to read out and create art every week transpired.

This all occurred while Husband was still working. When he retired I carried on as before and he began voluntary work on a local charity Accessible Boating. Ultimately he became deputy chairman of the charity, but he needed something else. He's a very creative bloke. He writes, and he's in continual building mode on his model railway, which occupies the garage and is the best one yet of all the railways he's built. Fabulous! I suggested he join the art group, so he did, his ultimate quest being to to paint a halfway decent backdrop to the railway (half done!).

Then Husband and I were introduced to open mic (open mike/microphone) nights by my writing group. These events occur all over the country and consist of like-minded creatives meeting up in the evenings and sing, play instruments, read poems, short stories, anecdotes, put artwork on display - you name it, anything (almost) goes. They usually take place in pubs or clubs where there's a reasonable entry fee, and even in members' homes. Because these events mostly cater to amateurs, there are very few rules - watch your swearing and don't make your offering too long otherwise your fellow performers won't get a look in and your audience will go to sleep. They're a great opportunity for those trying to break into the biz, such as poets, actors, singers, instrumentalists, artists, and to practice to a (hopefully) forgiving audience!

I'd grown used to reading anecdotal material and silly poems to my writing group, so these events held no real fear for me, and Husband was used to holding the floor at work, so reading out loud held no fear for him, either.

Sadly, a few years ago our bubbly art group tutor left to be replaced by someone who just didn't fit the bill for us. We left. And I was expelled from my writing group (true) for becoming too outspoken and critical! I had been cured in the brain department and now appreciated that, despite my fondness for the group, it had turned into a glorified coffee morning.  Another member, a friend, had left previously, and she was holding small, intimate writing sessions elsewhere. We joined her along with other creative friends and we've grown and matured into an intimate group of singers, instrumentalists, artists and writers. We all get on so well and hold 'mini mics' in each others' homes. We provide food and drink, and we play and sing and read and show art. Great stuff.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find another art group, so, my brain cured, I decided to hold afternoon sessions with our creative friends in my own home - the first time I've ever been able to do this. It worked, and I decided to hold them the week after our monthly writing sessions. This also holds an element of discipline - remembering to put it in the diary and invite members along.

Currently, Husband is the only male.  Our other male member had to leave, but Husband does love being surrounded by 'his' harem! We're always on the look-out for new members. I decided to title this article 'Spunky and ever so slightly wacky' because there is definitely an element of this in the group, and a sense of humour is a definite must! No sense of humour? No admittance!  So if anyone in our area of the UK (Hampshire) fancies a bit of creative company and inspiration. do please holler!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Creating My Odyssey: SWASHING MY BUCKLE!******************************...

Creating My Odyssey: SWASHING MY BUCKLE!
: SWASHING MY BUCKLE! ************************************************************************************ Although my fascination en...

Although my fascination encompasses the wild west - mostly - when it comes to dressing up and re-enactment, wiki/English Civil_War, cavalier and eighteenth century male costuming has always lit my dripping wax candle as well. Eighteenth century breeches, boots, velvet jackets, men's shirts - perhaps filly, tricorn hats, guns and swords are sooo exciting! Who doesn't want to swash their buckle? Okay, not everybody, but I luurve it! (Shame about my big bum. So not the right image).

     I've invariably worn my favourite feathered stetson, guns, knives and fringed pants or calf length 'buckskin' skirts as and for a long time the cavalier look fought alongside wild west, but the wild west won out! 

     Why? People frequently ask me that. My fascination grew after watching
The Virginian, Smith and Jones, and High Chaparral on telly during the sixties and seventies, and
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid the cinema (my westerns have to have humour). Perhaps I was a fella in a past life but I often wonder if it's in my genes/jeans.
An ancestor, great Uncle Herring, went to seek his fortune in the gold fields of British Columbia According to family lore he was 'burnt out of his homestead' by Indians but survived to head south to Los Angeles and join Sunkist , the orange juice production company. Wonderful story. Another family member (by marriage) prospected in Dawson City, Canada Up until the 1930s, when prospecting, he took up residence in a cabin that's been restored and is now rented out as the 'Gold Rush Cabin'  to holiday makers. I've gotta visit and stay there.


     Back to reenactments. I managed - finally, to indulge in a few years of wild west living history, dressed in buckskin fringes, stetson, pants and holstered Colt .45 as Kitty Le Roy, (the real item ain't someone I'd emulate today. I don't gamble or dance!). 'My' Kitty Le Roy is a saloon-going prospector/adventurer, and I re-enacted a gold rush camp with my pard/Husband quack Doctor Jack Coltrane. I enjoyed it once we had the tent up and running. Husband, being a bit of an exhibitionist, loves dressing up and this forced him to totally relax, away from his highly stressful job. 
     But damned anxiety got in my way, even after I'd recovered from depression, until I realised that living history, while I'm glad I've done it, just ain't my bag, man, which I feel sorry about. Interesting, because I had to distinguish between feeling anxious because of my illness, and anxious because I was genuinely anxious and that it had nothing to do with being unwell. Confused I was. I couldn't precede each event without being riddled with anxiety, because wild west events always, because of the nature of the thing, involved people (strange, that). I felt shy of folk (back then) and was constantly trying to prove myself - 'Hey, look! I'm Kitty Le Roy!' - until I reached the conclusion, after I had fully recovered and could see more clearly, that I was trying to do/forcing myself to do something that really didn't suit me. Such is life. I'm not an exhibitionist (shame) at heart, but while I was depressed, I was desperate to show off my interests, and this one in particular, because I'm an older woman into the west and guns! And my epic novel, Alias Jeannie Delaney, the life story of a devastating cowgirl who's the fastest gun in the west, came into that category.

     Time has passed and I still love the idea of dressing up and indulging in visits to festivals or conventions. Star Trek
Steam punk Mediaeval Maybe all three at once! I particularly fancy steam punk
wild west. Factual history with a bit of fantasy thrown in. I adore the costuming! Husband's niece, seriously into pirates, has influenced me big time. In fact, pirates, particularly the female ones - Anne Bonney and Mary Read and Grace o'Malley - definitely float my galleon! Pirates are bad.
They travel galleons in the tropical high seas - I adore travel, the sea and the tropics, so this encompasses several interests all in one go - nicking treasure from equally bad, usually rich, people. I want to be a pirate! Husband has said he doesn't want to know cuz he was the one who had to organise it all. I totally get that. He said that if I really want to do something, I've got to organise it and he'll turn up on the day. Maybe I will.

Bonney, Anne (1697-1720).jpg
I research female outlaws, pirates, cowgirls, adventurers, you name it, and love the idea of emulating them. I browse lady pirates, 'normal' cowgirls and steampunk cowgirls on Pinterest  and the spark pops up in my brain. 

     Just to round off, A few years ago we had our daughter and twin granddaughters stay with us over Halloween. We all dressed up - Husband was Lurch the butler - - suits him. He's tall and can be gaunt when he chooses. Daughter was glam witch, the girls were mini witches and I was ugly old hag witch who hated children (figures). When local children knocked on the door to trick or treat, Husband would put the appropriate music on Michael Jackson's Thriller and open the window so that the music would drift outside, and we would answer the creaking door with big cackles from me and a gaunt 'Good evening.' from Husband. The kids would run screaming. No, they didn't - that was the Adamms family. After shrieking at the kids that I hated them and would have them for dinner, we'd hand over a bagful of sweeties. We all loved it and we were expected to repeat this performance every year in our cul-de-sac. We managed the next couple of years. Last year we made a Halloween animation film. Terrific fun!

     Yes, dressing up and being someone else for an hour or two is fabrilliant! I fully recommend it. I'd love to hear from readers who do any of this!

* Please let me know if you appreciate the links, or do they detract?

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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Creating My Odyssey: I subscribe to umpteen zillion blogs. Many of w...

Creating My Odyssey:

I subscribe to umpteen zillion blogs. Many of w...
: I subscribe to umpteen zillion blogs. Many of which centre around mental health. HealthyPlace is one of them, and possibly the best be...

I subscribe to umpteen zillion blogs. Many of which centre around mental health. HealthyPlace is one of them, and possibly the best because it's so extensive, so I decided to share them with you.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Creating My Odyssey: WARNING! THIS IS THE STORY OF MY NOVEL...      ...

Creating My Odyssey: WARNING!

: WARNING! THIS IS THE STORY OF MY NOVEL...                                                                                      ...

Creating My Odyssey: WARNING! THIS IS THE STORY OF MY NOVEL...      ...

Creating My Odyssey: WARNING!

: WARNING! THIS IS THE STORY OF MY NOVEL...                                                                                      ...

Got the better half of an afternoon  to spare? I know I've talked
about this on my Facebook page until I and you are blue in the face and my dear readers are saying: 'Oh, no - not this again!' But - I have to. It helps. A lot. It really does.
     When it comes to my novel writing, which still causes me more angst than anything, I write out my convoluted, weird thoughts because it definitely helps to get it down on paper - or screen -  even though I've completely recovered from thirty years of depression and anxiety - a major miracle.

     Therefore, this is the story of my novel.

     Many, many moons ago (during the sixties, to be more precise) I was a young girl, growing up. I was/am very creative. An artist and writer among other, myriad, renaissance soul, eclectic things.
I was also growing a fascination for the wild west, particularly for the unconventional, cussin', fast shootin', rough n'tumble gals of the period. And there were a lot of 'em (I've researched hundreds of 'em). I watched The Virginian, The High Chaparral and Alias Smith and Jones. My western had to have humour. I also saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the cinema.
     My dad owned a .177 calibre air rifle and I learned to shoot it through an (open!) window at empty cat food tins and empty plastic washing up bottles. I weren't too bad, either. Dad called me Annie Oakley. I loved that.

     I think I must be reincarnated from either Annie or Calam(ity) Jane. Over the years, as my fascination for the west grew, my parents told me about my maternal great uncle, by marriage, who went west to Dawson City in Canada and prospected. His cabin has been restored and is now a holiday let. I have to visit. I have no choice. 
Although he married, he didn't have children. Another, paternal, great Uncle Herring, a blood relative, also went west. Apparently, according to family, he was 'burnt out by indians' but survived to head south and joined Sunkist in Los Angeles. Apparently he didn't marry or have children either. Until, in recent years I discovered a sepia photograph of five Herring cousins in Los Angeles. Oooh... interesting.

     I have yet to research all this.

     To cut an extremely long story a bit shorter, my fascination for the west grew to the point whereby I was desperate to emulate those women and dress in buckskinned fringes and don guns. My feminist leanings had encroached on the west. Eventually I acquired the kit. I was extraordinarily lucky to marry my soul mate who, in the marriage vows, promised to follow me into this madness provided I did the same for him. Fair 'nuff. (He loves dressing as quack Dr.Jack Coltrane, pard to my Kitty Le Roy, whom I read about in a Titbits magazine years ago. I've since changed my persona although I keep her name cuz my gran was Kitty). 

     I now have a  Facebook page:  Kitty Le Roy's Wild West Saloon, and website: Kitty Le Roy's Wild West, and I've acquired a number of western pals on route. All this to add to all the other subjects a renaissance soul enjoys. (Writing, travel, the paranormal, cinema, science, boating...), and which I talk about in this blog, Creating My Odyssey, which is my creative mental health blog.          
     Which brings me nicely to the reason I'm writing this. 
     Over thirty years ago I began to visualise a story - Alias Jeannie Delaney. My protagonist is a charismatic, devastating cowgirl who's the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual. She's a cowgirl, outlaw leader, jailbird, deputy sheriff, rancher and, finally, mayor. The best way to describe her is to visualise a female Robert Redford. Like that. The closest portrayal I've seen so far is Sharon Stone in
     'Look -' I remember Husband pointing out to a passing bus back in the nineties. ' - they've written your story!' 
     And there was Sharon Stone on a banner on the side of the bus. I was delighted. 
      I drew loads of images of my heroine in the early days of my marriage, using photographs of blokes as reference, and I found her extremely exciting. Still do. I had to tell Husband, but I was embarrassed as hell. How would he react to my idea of this macho but beautiful woman who did everything John and Clint did, and more? And the fact that she's bisexual? And the fact that, despite everything I tried to do, I couldn't make her less devastating and beautiful? In the end, I decided that that's how she is and that that is one of the reasons for the story - jealousies for the way she is earns her umpteen enemies. This thought made me really excited. I handed my drawings over to Husband  and cringed in the bedroom. I couldn't face his possible reaction. Some minutes later he appeared in the bedroom.
     'What are you worried about? She's really sexy! Get that story written.'
      Problem being I'd been brought up by a family who would not have understood and thought me odd, anyway. I could never have gone into a detail. I was far too embarrassed and still am. I smothered Husband in grateful kisses. Poor man. Which is why I had to write her story. I had no choice.

     Then I had the kids. And post natal depression. Twice. depression  And that developed into reactive depression. And that impinged on my western hobby and my novel writing, something Husband had been concerned would happen. He was right. I couldn't - and still can't - watch westerns or listen to the music from western musicals without feeling sad. We think that's because my mind - which has a mind of its own - says I want to be part of the film/music piece as my western persona, but can't cuz I'm a woman! Although we're slowly beating said brain into submission, the feelings are still there. I'm seeking help for  that.
     I struggled through those years but continued writing The Novel, on and off, throughout the years. I was, still am, desperate to get it out, to show the world that women like Jeannie - in some format or other - do exist! 
     The Novel is epic, charting Jeannie's life from birth in New Orleans in 1865, to 1910 in Wyoming. It's in five parts, and over a hundred chapters. BIG! Husband's slowly chucking stuff out of the attic, and that includes the very first drafts (typed on a manual typewriter back in 1985 with one hand while I bottle fed baby daughter with the other. Shows how determined I was!). Those first drafts are stuffed in a cardboard box and plastic bag. I've peeped at bits of it and thought: 'Wow! I have improved!' Well, I should jolly well hope so! I'll be keeping that first draft (not stuffed in a cardboard box and plastic bag) for posterity's sake.

     Three years ago I had my medication crisis. Long story short - again - I had been prescribed with Prozac ( which made me suicidal over Christmas.
*(Please bear in mind that medication is a very personal thing. What works for one person may not work for another). By sheer luck and through wonderful neighbours, we were introduced to the brilliant mental health team who prescribed a medication combination (known in the trade as - technical term, haha! - California Rocket Fuel. 'Gimme! Gimme!' I remember laughing at the time) and a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. which does work given the right approach and support. I was lucky. I had both. Together, and with the amazing help of my scientifically minded Husband and a lot of hard work, four years later - I think it must be by now - medication and therapy have literally cured me. I've never felt like this, ever. Even as a kid, I was known as moody Annie in the family. Because of this literal cure (bare in mind these things are very individual. We all react in different ways to such things) I started my blog principally because I wanted people to know that depression is one of the easiest mental health issues to be helped. It's 'simply' a case of finding the right treatment. Not easy.

     But - the ol' brain still ruminates and cogitates. In more recent times, desperate for feedback for The Novel, I joined umpteen writing groups on Facebook and started posting chapters to loyal pals. I've had excellent feedback, encouragement, critiques and suggestions. And I'm printing out each chapter for Husband to critique. But, despite the fact that I've typed 'THE END ' many times, it remains a beginning, muddle and end. It's such an epic story, it tires me out, and, when a low mood does descends on me, we know it's connected to the novel. Many things can trigger (haha! Very good!) things. A piece of dramatic music, a film, a song. I then have to get to my laptop and deal with the story. I was concerned about plagiarism (it's such a masterpiece, you see), so I'm being careful. And I must seek psychological help for this before it sends me barmy, because The Novel won't be finished any time soon.

     So there we go.  That's the story of my novel.