Almost a year later…

Well, it’s almost been a year since I have written on this blog, I think partly because I could not think of a topic to write about and still presently struggling to think of ideas, but I’m hoping once I start writing again it will get the ideas flowing…

My last post was about my New Year’s resolutions for 2015, one of them being ‘A sketch a day’ . I managed to keep it up for about 3-5 months but not for the whole year due to illness and fatigue getting in the way but it has helped massively to improve my art skills. It also helped direct my focus to something positive and creative. I mainly use colouring books now as I find them relaxing and don’t really have to think up new ideas(which I seem to struggle with lately).

With regards to my bucket list, it is still very much in my mind and it’s what keeps me going every day. I have tried many new things this year and proud of how far I have come. I have been off sick from my job as a Nurse for nearly 18 months now, so many issues come with being off sick for this long, it affects every single part of your life; financially, socially, your career & psychologically. I have learnt many things during this time, one of them being;

You can still set small goals and achieve little ambitions and dreams, even when you think you can’t or because of illness getting in the way. I’m a great believer in helping myself as much as I possibly can and getting something good out of a bad situation.

I also realise, you have to see the positives even if everything that’s happening to your life is negative or not as you planned or wanted. If I hadn’t had this time out due to sickness, I would have never had the opportunity to do most of the things below.

Over the past 18 months;

  • I have read more books
  • Started yoga classes
  • Achieved a Merit grade for my Art & Design Course * (which I did for half-a-day each week, for 1 year)
  • Attempted to start a 3-day a week science course – lasted a few weeks as it was too much due to illness/fatigue/ memory & concentration but happy I gave it a try
  • Started a 3D Ceramics Course instead (half-a-day a week – I have missed a lot of lessons over past months due to illness & need to catch up)
  • Completed a 1 week Art Therapy Course
  • Started volunteer work – admin work/ charity / café – but with my latest relapse of bad fatigue & illness and being bed/housebound. I’ve had a little break from it for the last few months to help me recover & rest.
  • Joined a Choir
  • Went to a cooking workshop – Sri Lankan vegetarian curry
  • Started Piano Lessons again/ and took a piano exam
  • Started learning the Ukulele
  • Cooked new recipes
  • Started meditating every day
  • Learnt basic Spanish (on an app)
  • Learning a new word each day


Most people will wonder how the hell have I managed to do all that with being off sick too?

Well the answer is; imagine someone who has no dreams, no ambitions and no motivation…. and now imagine the complete polar opposite to that. That’s what I am… for me, it takes more willpower and motivation to stop myself from doing new things and taking on too much. I am completely addicted to the feeling of achieving my ambitions and goals, no matter how small or big they are – it’s what I believe keeps us going in life, and creates a sense of excitement, achievement and happiness.

I am still working on developing skills that I have lost due to illness – which has affected my brain – including cognitive ability & memory and also physically with fatigue & general illness from being on a chemo drug for the past year, it has wiped me out completely.

I realise now, it will take time to get back to where I once was. I have changed a lot since a year ago, my mind-set and attitude to life has changed. This time last year, I frantically made lists of things to do, to try get me back to work and to have some sort of life again, feeling the pressure against time to get back to it. I was always trying too hard, and resisting what was my current situation, not realising I was actually setting myself back further by not listening to my body and instead listening to my erratic mind.

I’ve always been such an ambitious person and have loved achieving things, it’s just part of my personality, I never used to rest much and was always ‘on the go’. It’s been hard to adjust from the person who I once was to the person I am now. Having bad fatigue and illness after such little activities such as; having a shower or going food shopping would have been unimaginable to the person I was before – I could once run 10 miles and still not feel tired. To go from a person who was dedicated and spent years through my career helping others in need to then being the one that needing to be helped – I just could not accept this at first and still find it hard. The whole process has been difficult to accept, realising that something is not in your control and even worse because of how much it is impacting on your life. Despite this, I feel so much stronger and wiser, beyond my years. It has really put things into perspective, and has shown me what’s really important in life, and how you can achieve happiness purely from inner peace and concentrating on the little things. It’s made me feel so grateful for all the things I used to take for granted on a daily basis. I now look at the world in a completely different way – for this I am very thankful for.

I am finally learning to pace myself, and follow a written schedule that includes activities and ‘rest time’ , it’s incredibly hard for me but I’m hoping if I carry on how I am now, I will learn to live the best I can with my illness and to keep progressing to make improvements. It will just take time, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my illness is chronic/long-term and I may never get back to the person I was before but I now realise this does not matter, it’s the present time that is to be focused on and looking ahead. There is no point wasting energy mourning the past and what I’ve lost in life, and instead I choose to use all my power and energy to healing myself, and getting one step closer to getting my life back.


Thanks for reading!


Ceri 🙂


‘A Sketch a Day’ – Week 1

It’s been 7 Days since I started my New Year Resolutions. One of them
being to do some form of art every single day.

So far, I have managed to stick to it. Some days I have lacked motivation but forced myself just to do a quick 10 minute sketch. Other days I enjoyed it very much and got very excited to what to draw/paint next.

I have learnt that, using watercolours is harder than it looks, especially matching and mixing the right colour. I have found that sometimes it’s best not to over complicate what to draw and to keep it relatively simple but perfected to the best of my ability. On those days I am lacking motivation or have not got much time, a simple 5-10 minute sketch will have to do. As long as I put pencil/pen/ brush to paper at least once a day then I shall complete my 365 day challenge.

Each week will include a particular aim.

Week 1 Drawings

Aim: focus on using simple pencil sketches, pen & watercolours

Day 1:

I found the arms & legs very hard to draw and also matching the right colours but overall pleased how it turned out.


Day 2:

This Robin took me about 30 minutes in total. It was far more challenging than I thought, especially trying to get the right shade of colour for the red & brown.


Day 3:

My first zentangle fish 🙂 I enjoyed doing this one!


Day 4:

The moment I saw this picture I thought I need to have a go at painting it! It’s so cute, and I love this style known as nursery art.


Day 5:

This one again I loved doing, under nursery art too. They were separate images which I found and put together.


Day 6:

This day I was lacking serious motivation, and kept putting off drawing. I did this very quickly in 5-10mins. I’m not really that happy with it but it could have come out worse, I guess I will improve as the weeks go by!(hopefully)


Day 7:

This painting/sketch I did in a total of 10 mins – timed with an alarm. It’s not perfected how I would like it to be but I need to learn this is the best I can do in a small amount of time.
I may set this goal of doing this timed sketch once a week to see how fast I can produce work & hopefully will improve in time!

5 mins – sketching
5 mins – watercolour


Week 1 is done 😀

Now onto week 2, still deciding what my aim should be for the week, I may focus in on one particular subject area, or topic eg just draw different birds whole week or just Zentangle all week. Haven’t decided yet, any ideas? Need to get my thinking cap on! 🙂

Cross Stitching

I have never cross-stitched before and I finally decided to give it a go.


If I am completely honest, the idea of cross stitching never really appealed to me, it seemed too monotonous and tedious. Involving no creative flare, except following a pattern, which is provided.

If you are going to cross stitch especially for the first time pick a BIG and clear pattern to do. Mine is quite small and I have struggled with finding the holes.

What I have learnt on my cross stitching journey;

– It is good for keeping focus

– spacial awareness, I struggled when putting the needle underneath and knowing which hole it would come up, it would take me a few times to get it right
– a magnifying glass would come in handy

– very important to find where the Middle is. To start the pattern from the middle, it is best to fold the material in half horizontally and vertically so it comes out like a cross.

– Different stitches – cross stitch , half cross stitch, 1/4 cross stitch, 3/4 cross stitch, small full stitch, horizontal rows, vertical rows, back stitch , ending stitch, French knot

– It all seemed a little too complex for my first cross stitch so I stuck to the simple cross stitch

– it takes a LOT of patience

Here was the result:


Not bad but I can see lots of mistakes! For Christmas I got some new cross stitch patterns which are much bigger & look easier to do, which I am pleased about, so that shall be my next cross-stitch challenge 🙂

Book Review; Eat That Frog

By Brain Tracy

My first book review! It has been a while since I have completed a book.

This one took me 8 days, and is only has a total of 112 pages. I give this book a 4/5.

I truly recommend this book for people who have trouble with procrastinating and who have set new goals this New Year and want to stick to them.

I loved all the different theories & concepts.

One, is how to organise your ‘lists’ and how the concept of ‘eat that frog’ is to do the job that is most important/the one you may least want to do first.

There is the ABCDE method. Where you have your list, and next to each point you label A as being the most important task and E being the least. If you have a few very important tasks, these can by numbered e.g. A1, A2, A3

I find this all very helpful, because I struggle with prioritising tasks straight away in my head. As Brian Tracy explains, the best way to keep motivated and actually get things done is to think on paper. Write out a full plan, goals etc so you know exactly what to do and how long it will take.

This book definitely helps to re-organise and prioritise your life! And although I wish it was a longer, some of the things I have read and the ideas I have learnt will stick with me for years!

Definitely one to put on the must read list!

10 Goals, 1 Year

Time to Focus


Since I first became ill in 2012, with this rare brain illness; Nmda Encephalitis. Things changed in my brain, and the way I carry out tasks every day. I went from being such a well organised, productive and focused person to then suddenly becoming a very unorganised scatter brain who can’t focus on one thing for long. It’s like my mind gets super bored easily and I get distracted very quickly by noise, sounds or random things. My mind races too fast from random old memories that have no relevance to new ideas and exciting things. It can be good sometimes, but 90% of the time it is not a good thing. I just want to shout STOP at my brain and get it to slow down, concentrate, and finish the task I am meant to do without procrastinating.


I have decided to do something about this. It’s been 2 years with this illness, and I don’t want any more years like this, not being able to focus for long.


I am going to attempt to change, I started listening to a podcast before bed by ‘Paula Sweet’ and she had topics on ‘productivity, staying focused etc.’ she mentioned she had read the book ‘Eat that frog’ by Brian Tracy.

I decided to start reading this book too.

“The first rule of frog eating is this: if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”

This applies to; when you avoid certain tasks that need doing, and do other tasks instead that aren’t necessarily a priority. This quote means you should do the task you least want to do, first. This way you will have a greater sense of accomplishment and achievement and are not wasting time.


Things I have learnt are that to be productive you need these 3 qualities;

  • Decision
  • Discipline
  • Determination

The most important thing is; clarity, knowing what your goals are or what needs to be done and the order it needs to be put in.

For me, I have lots of determination, and the discipline but lack the quality; decision making. I am very indecisive, and quickly change my mind with lots of things. It’s the ability to make a decision which I find extremely hard, it just doesn’t come naturally to me.

The Seven Simple Steps

  • Decide exactly what you want
  • Write it down
  • Set a deadline for your goal
  • Make a list
  • Organise the list into a plan
  • Take action immediately
  • Do something every day towards your goal



The next thing the book advised to do, is the ‘10 goals, in 1 year’

I have a some from my list, here:

  1. Do 1 sketch/painting every day for 365 days
  2. Learn 2 new words every day for 365 days
  3. Learn to cook new recipes (1 every week, 4 every month, 48 in a year)
  4. Tone, get fit & build muscle (exercise x4 days a week, review monthly)

I will go through the short and long term plans of my goals so I can achieve them. I am excited to do this. And will keep record of it on this blog & Instagram as I go along.

Start it with me this new year, get motivated 😀



My Memory(or lack of)

So after finding out I didn’t do too well on a cognitive and memory function test in the hospital, taken at the end of November 2014.  One of the questions in the test was to draw/copy the picture of a cube, I did this perfectly(my art had come in handy here) So I think I did very well on some aspects but very poor when asked to remember a name and address etc. I’ve decided to do a bit of research and some more practice to improve my memory.

If I am honest, It doesn’t come as a total surprise, as I have been struggling for a while, not being able to read a book from beginning to end, and if I do, i cant remember the story, same with films. Constantly having to take photos of things to remember(the reason why I constantly use Instagram, it’s like a memory diary) or I write everything down, if I don’t do this then I don’t remember, simple as. Constantly losing things which makes me irritable and angry. And I always seem to think someone else has moved the object I’m looking for. But It did come as a little shock when I actually thought I had done good on the test, as I have been practising with the app called ‘peak’ for the last month which is brilliant and includes daily workouts, it has showed my main weakness’ are memory and problem solving. My strengths seem to be focusing.

It made me think…surely if you have the ability to focus and good attention that you should have good memory skills also? But I guess it is not always the case. What I have learnt about myself, is I can focus extremely well on any tasks just not for a long amount of time and I have also noticed I don’t really retain the information I have learnt or what I’m focusing on. It is almost like my brain is not absorbing the information into my memory at all.

So I’ve decided to do some research about memory and how it can be improved. Taken from the book ‘Use Your Head’ by Tony Buzan.

I did a test called the ‘Recall during memory’


I have to read a list of words once, quickly. Using a small card to cover each word. Then to turn the next page and fill in as many words as you can..

Here were my results:


  1. I remembered 7/27 words
  2. ‘The’ & ‘and’ appeared more often but I didn’t notice this
  3. How many words in the last five did I remember? 2 words
  4. Do I remember any word that was different from the rest? – Leonardo Da vinci
  5. How many words from the middle of the list to I remember now? None.



I was then asked to draw a graph including amount of recall and from when learning starts to where learning ends.


To be honest it took me a while to understand this? I still not sure I understand it not sure how you can precisely map on a graph about the amount of words you learnt during the beginning or end of the learning.

I guess it’s just to show I seem to learn more at the beginning and end rather than the middle?!

Memory and understanding

They do not work in the same way, as time progresses, all the words were understood but not all of them were recalled, this is why so many people find they don’t recall much after learning & understanding. The reason being recall tends to get worse as time goes on, unless the mind is given brief rests.

What I have learnt is I need to practice these sort of tests more, I find I get a ‘block’ of nothingness when I try to recall… nothing is there, no matter how hard I try. It is incredibly frustrating but I will not let this stop me doing anything in life, I believe you can improve your memory skills, it just takes hard work and time.

So I shall be posting updates of the tests I do and see if there is any improvement over time.

Problem Solving and Creativity

I have been doing some Psychology Research about Creativity and Problem Solving, taken from the book

‘Simply Psychology’ by Michael W. Eysench

If you think about it, every day in life we use our problem solving skills without realising, when we try and think about what to cook, what to watch on tv, then there are more complex issues such as whether to split up with someone, or improving fitness , moving house, taking on a new job. A lot of problem solving can be related to the ability to make a  decision.

Some of the terms I have learnt:

Convergent thinking

Logical thinking in which there is only one correct answer e.g. Maths equations

Divergent thinking

Thinking involving the ability to think of many useful ideas in novel situations or problems where several answers are possible. e.g. Art, English


The ability to produce original, useful and ingenious solutions to problems


The tendency to produce a large number of unusual solutions to a problem these solutions may be useful or useless.

I have learnt that problems can be; Fairly trivial and short term VS important and long term.

According to Mayer(1990, p.284) problem solving is “cognitive processing directed at transforming a given situation into a goal situation when no obvious method of solution is available to the problem solver”

This definition proves there is 3 aspects to problem solving:

  1. Purposeful, in the sense that it is goal directed
  2. It requires the use of cognitive processes rather than automatic processes
  3. A problem only exists when someone lacks the relevant knowledge to produce an immediate solution

This reminded me that in Nursing, we have what is called SMART Goals; Specific, Measurable, Attainable,Realistic and Time.

Which enables the person to set a goal that is thought through(using cognitive process not just automatic), and are realistically able to reach the goal and something you can measure the progress and the time in which the problem will be reviewed to see if the solution has worked.

So lets get back to; Convergent thinking, this is rational or logical thinking, in which there is only one answer. E.g. Arithmetic problems such as 4×8 = ?  618-479 = ?

Guilford (1987) argued that convergent thinking should be distinguished from divergent thinking.

Divergent thinking involves non-logical processes, and there may be many relevant answers.

To assess divergent thinking by asking people to think of as many uses as possible for a brick or to think of some of the effects of humans having tails. The ability to think of numerous useful ideas in novel situations, is of great relevance to creativity. There have been many definitions of creativity. It clearly involves the ability to produce original, useful and ingenious solutions to problems.

Intelligence is necessary but not a sufficient condition for creativity, creative individuals need to have the good knowledge base found in those with high intelligence in order for their divergent thinking skills to be put to best use.

If you would have asked me a few years ago if I was a Convergent thinker or Divergent thinker my answer would have been Convergent. I was very into science and maths , I liked how they had set answers that I could learn and I liked using logical skills. I did A Level Maths and Biology loved doing equations and learning scientific facts.

Have you noticed in life how Convergent thinkers tend to stick together and the creative/Divergent thinkers (such as those who do English/media/ art /fashion etc) tend to mix more?

Since being struck by a brain illness in 2012 ; NMDA Encephalitis and still have it now, just a couple of  symptoms include ; Bipolar Mania & memory problems. I have become more of a Divergent thinker, very creative , I have a number of different solutions but I have too many and sometimes its hard to narrow down and focus on one option.

I have been both a convergent and divergent thinker. I do think it is possible to be both but in terms of hobbies and career, one tends to overtake the other.

I also think to be a convergent thinker it relies a lot upon good memory skills. But they can have a lack of imagination, originality and creativity because they like to follow set logical processes with set answers. Complete opposite to divergent, who are the creative ones, who have so many ideas they don’t know what to do with! Like it says above being creative doesn’t necessarily require intelligence but if they want to put their divergent skills to good use then intelligence is required.

Hope you have learnt a bit from this and it will make you spot those straight away who are convergent or divergent thinkers and also how problem solving is such a big part of life.




Listening to my first Podcast; Serial

It’s the first time I have properly listened to a podcast and followed a story week by week.

I never knew what to expect from a Podcast and didn’t think I would enjoy listening to it every week but I have.

The Podcast I have been listening to is called; Serial, It is real life, about a journalist who is asked to take a look into an old murder case, that took place in 1999, a school kid who was convicted, he was an ex boyfriend of the girl who was murdered and was sentenced to life in jail. Week by week the journalist Sarah who presents the podcast goes through old court notes, speaks to the convicted murderer on the phone whilst he is in prison, talks to his old classmates and their opinion on it and what they remembered. It goes through the theory that he may be innocent and is the wrong guy locked up.

Some weeks Sarah the journalist really feels it is an innocent guy behind bars that had perhaps been framed for this murder other weeks there is some evidence or people say things that suggest he must be guilty, it is rather a gripping, thrilling and an interesting podcast. I cant wait to get to the end of it to find out if he is innocent or not.

Really recommend anyone who loves Podcasts and crime stories to give it a listen!

‘Picasso, you know.. that famous Artist…?’

Before I found more out about Picasso my pre-conceived ideas were; that he was just another Artist, who had a well known name that people seemed to throw about amongst mentioning such artists like Van Gogh etc especially when people are asked who their favourite Artist is.

The last few weeks on my Art Course, I have finally studied Picasso… All I can say is; What a man.

His artwork is so simple, yet so complex at the same time. How can that be?

Today, I did my first ‘transcribing’ of Picasso’s drawing ‘Head of a woman’


I love how unique his work is. It’s like he was drunk a lot of the time or not with it when he has done his paintings, he is so free and loves adding odd shapes and lines where you wouldn’t normally find them. My art teacher told me something he once said; he used to draw/paint what he thinks, not what he sees.


This to me is very interesting, because whenever I draw I have in my head ‘draw what you see not what you think you see’
So the complete opposite to the way Picasso thought. This shows there is no set way to draw or paint, you do what comes naturally to you.


This quote is amazing, the message he tried to get across was that we are ALL born artists, but it’s whether one chooses to keep the skill as you grow up. Many people who claim they can only draw stick men, and think people who do art are a ‘born natural’. Are wrong. We are ALL born with this gift to draw, it’s actually more of a natural instinct to draw than it is to write.


When you look at a young child drawing, they have no worries and don’t lack confidence, they just go for it! Believing they can do whatever they want to. This, I feel is what Picasso is referring to and where he gets his inspiration for most of his paintings, he paints without the need for straight lines or a ‘perfect’ picture, he does his own interpretation and does what ever he is thinking. I love this.


This one is interesting to me, look how he has drawn the pupils uneven.

I myself am a portrait drawer, I was never ‘good’ at art, I only started a few years ago when I became ill, and very manic with Bipolar (now found to be Nmda Encephalitis) I found it a huge distraction and it kept my high mental energy focused, it also helped relieve anger. I became fixated with doing sketches of celebrities. These weren’t quick sketches, I took time in ever stroke, every shade and shape. I started to feel the need for absolute perfection. It became an addiction, to try and feel satisfied once I finished, but I never did. This only inspired and motivated me to keep drawing more and more. I am not what they call a ‘natural artist’ I have worked extremely hard. I would rub out over and over until I got it right and still do. Art can then become a sort of pressure on yourself to get things ‘just right’ and this is where I love and have respect for Picasso, he didn’t care if it didn’t look right, he did his own unique twist and became famous for it. He inspires me to let loose a little and try just go with the flow when painting instead of being so strict, and having the need for perfection.

Here are some of my portraits, and I have to say I am still not happy with all of the finished pieces, I’ve realised they will never be ‘just right’ if I want that then I should take a photocopy.






Buddhism; Anger

What is Anger?


“Anger is an emotional response related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been threatened.”

William DeFoore, who is an anger-management writer, described anger as a “pressure cooker: we can only apply pressure against our anger for a certain amount of time until it explodes”

“In contrast, some people have also pointed out the possible harmful effects of suppressing anger”

Last week I went to a teaching and meditation about anger, how it achieves absolutely nothing but further pain. How a person who is suffering with anger needs to ‘train’ their mind, and to practise patience. How there are different degrees of anger and the best way to deal with it.

We also touched on how to talk to an angry person, it was explained how an angry person is ‘on fire’ and if you respond with anger it’s like putting fuel on their fire and making it spread even further. However, if you respond in a patient and calm way, it is like putting water on their fire, there is nothing for them to continue to get angry about.

This made sense to me, the only thing I seemed to have concern about is; I understand you have to be patient and calm etc but there does come a point where you may be walked over or labelled as a ‘pushover’ if you accept someone’s anger too much. I think there should have been more discussion about how you don’t necessarily have to respond just with anger or patience you can show your patience is wearing thin of being treated this way by expressing your point in an assertive but non-angry patient way.


Through my own research, in my
Buddha Book


I have found; It is best to leave anger and to be in control of it, don’t let it control you. Have pride with overcoming it. If you hold back rising anger, you are in control.


There is a way to overcome anger; by love.
If you are always in control of your body and what you feel. You will achieve ‘Nirvana’ this is an unchangeable place where if you go you will suffer no more.


Buddha Website; Anger. Rage. Fury. Wrath. Whatever you call it, it happens to all of us, including Buddhists. However much we value loving kindness, we Buddhists are still human beings, and sometimes we get angry. What does Buddhism teach about anger?

“Anger is one of the three poisons – the other two are greed and ignorance – that are the primary causes of the cycle of samsara and rebirth. Purifying ourselves of anger is essential to Buddhist practice. Further, in Buddhism there is no such thing as “righteous” or “justifiable” anger. All anger is a fetter to realization.”