Monograms M and G

Yesterday was a day where I was out of sorts for some unspecified reason. Drawing little, intricate bits of art was the only thing that helped to soothe me and calm me. Along with comfort eating, which was not good way to cope.

I get days like this. I have no idea what triggered this response. It may have been a visit to my accountant on Tuesday and the tax bill to pay – I have absolutely nothing to worry about with either, but dealing with finances is a trigger for the anxiety and depression that are part of my cPTSD.

I know I was on edge about the meeting, even though I knew there would be nothing to worry about. The anxiety had been gradually growing through the previous few days. This anxiety provoked the warning signs of an incipient migraine/stress headache on Tuesday morning. Luckily I caught it in time with painkillers so that it didn’t develop into a full blown migraine and after the meeting I was left tired but feeling more at ease.

Yesterday, the anxiety ramped up again as I went to get the paperwork and bank card to make the payments. So, yesterday I needed to manage my anxiety and tiny, intricate drawings were what was needed.

Today, I know I have to do these things, and I will. I don’t have the anxiety I had about them yesterday. I think yesterday was just too close to a few days of spiralling anxiety as accounts day approached closer and closer.

cPTSD can make doing the simple things in life far more difficult to do. I do get things done, though I do have to be kind to myself at times, making sure I have plenty of time before the deadline.

I used fountain pens on white paper to draw the designs. The M is on paper that is around 4″ x 4″, the G is a little narrower than 4″ for some reason.

After scanning them in, I did a bit of digital wizardry to fill the letters with a gold foil texture, just to see what it would look like, and they look OK to me. I’m not too keen on the black line around the G though. I do like the contrast of the golden letters and the black and white designs around them.

Today, I have to colour the cover for my next book for Dover Publications Creative Haven series. And keep warm and safe. I woke up to a lovely sunrise with a frosty world – everything was covered with white. I know the temperature was down to -3ºC last night as I came home around 10:30 pm, and it would only have got colder as the skies were clear and starry. It’s beginning to go now, but clouds have covered the sky.

The frost is beginning to disappear now, but clouds have covered the blue skies. Snow is forecast for a bit later on today. I like to see snow. I like the way the world falls silent in heavy snow as it seems to muffle the usual background noise of modern times. I’m wise enough to know that for me to go out in snow is never a wise idea; I tend to slip and slide and fall and hurt myself. So, as I have nothing pressing that requires me to leave home, I’ll be staying safe and warm indoors! Once the cover is coloured, my attention will go to February’s templates for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans Facebook group. Someone there has asked for some simpler templates like my dangle designs, so I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

May You Know …

©Angela Porter 2019

…love, peace, joy, health.

I started drawing this one a couple of days ago using a fine nib fountain pen on paper. I’ve spent much of today finishing the drawing and I’ve just started to add colour digitally. Not sure about the colour yet though.

The words appeared intuitively, instinctively as I was drawing. Something’s obviously bubbling in my unconscious mind, most probably a result of the loving kindness meditations I’m continuing to do.

It’s always relaxing for me to draw in this way – just letting shapes and patterns flow from the nib onto the page without too much in the way of consideration or fretting about what appears. Partway through the whole drawing, or even sections, it looks like a total hot mess to me, but I push forward. To give in would be easy, to persevere takes a bit of effort. The effort is usually worth it though; my past experiences have taught me this.

I’m looking out of my window as I’m typing. I can see jackdaws swooping and wheeling in the now sunny skies. We’ve just had a wintry snow shower, which hasn’t lasted on the ground at all. The black feathery jokers are revelling in their fun and games in the air, exuberant in the dry but cool air and the sunshine. There are veritable clouds of them and I know they’ll soon return to their roosts, cloaking the winter-bare trees with their featheriness and raucous caws. I’m smiling as I watch them. I do have a big soft spot for the corvids of this world. Their antics delight me, especially the ones that zoom past the window next to my work area! They whooshed off to my left and now some are whooshing back to my right. What a lovely sight close to the end of the daylight hours!

It also brings back memories of sitting with my cat perched upon my chest, both of us looking out of the window and watching the jackdaws flying by, and in the summer dusk hours bats. His eyes would be wide and alert as his head spun back and forth, avidly watching the flying critters. I’d be equally delighted watching the antics of both the flying and cwtched up critters! So many precious times with my companion to treasure though he has been gone to pusscat heaven for nearly 9 months. I’m sure he’s still keeping an eye on things that fly , wherever his little soul, spirit is residing!

Watching the birds brings me some joy and peace too. And happy memories of my companion of sixteen years.

Another snow day…

After going into work yesterday to a crazily icy site and no heating in the block I work in, snowfall overnight has resulted in some kind of common-sense.

This means that in a little while I get to go back to sleep for a while and keep warm safely at home and not having to brave roads practically closed by snow.  The M4 is down to one lane.  Many roads are closed or passable only with extreme care.  I’ll also be keeping myself, and others, safe by not travelling along side-roads and the school-drive and ‘roads’ in school that aren’t exactly clear of snow/ice in my little Smartcar aka Deetoo (as in Smartoo-Deetoo).

I like snow as long as I can stay safe and warm inside and look out at it safely from my windows.

I do not like the sensation of slipping/sliding on snow in uncleared areas, nor do I like the fear of my car sliding into someone else’s.  I do not like the sensation of slipping and sliding as I walk or drive, carefully, on compacted snow/ice.  I do not enjoy the fear of falling over and hurting myself, which is always a distinct possibility with me as I can trip over thin air on dry, safe surfaces!  The fall always hurts.

Last time I fell over, I ended up in A&E with a very painful foot.  The foot wasn’t broken, luckily, but there was ‘soft tissue damage’ (i.e. ligaments/tendons) that took weeks to heal. Painful to walk for a couple of weeks it was, and I did not like that at all.

In Britain we are not geared up for snow.  It happens for a few days a year, if that, and that does not justify the expense of gritters/ploughs/other snow-clearing equipment.

Years ago, people lived close to where they work and it was easy to get there by shanks’ pony.  Nowadays, people live much further away from work.  Many live a distance away from public transport and would need to use private transport to get to them, if they are running.  It means that on days like today there may not be enough staff in school to look after the pupils safely.  

Years ago, health and safety law wasn’t a big issue either nor did we have the ‘if there’s blame there’s a claim’ culture that we seem mired in.

I am absolutely sure that those who shout loudest about schools being closed in this weather would be the first to lay a claim if their little darling got hurt while walking around a site that had treacherously icy surfaces or because there weren’t enough staff to supervise the pupils who had attended school.

Don’t get me wrong here, health and safety of people is very important and is always the priority for me, as a science teacher, when planning lessons for my classes.  It’s also a priority for me as I really do not like being hurt or damaged in any way, either physically, emotionally or mentally.

I do wish people would understand that the reason the school is closed is because we do not want any accidents on site, we want the pupils and staff to be safe while there and supervised properly too, and we want pupils and staff to get safely there and home again.  

The school isn’t being closed because the teachers are lazy.  We’re not lazy.  Not by a long shot.

We work hard with the pupils in our care and ‘snow days’ mean that we have to work harder to make up the lost time so that the pupils make as much progress as possible, that they are not disadvantaged when they sit their exams, exams that are needed for their future.

We spend long hours after the end of the school day and at weekends and during school holidays marking work, preparing lessons, preparing resources, writing reports, filling in progress sheets, doing extra revision lessons for pupils after the end of the school day to ensure they do well in their exams, putting up displays of work, parents evenings, meetings, concerts, fund-raising events and so many other things that people who do not know a teacher personally and are able to see how their job encroaches on their personal life are unaware that we do or think it all somehow magically gets done by itself.

I try to manage my time effectively and to achieve a work-life balance.  I remain late in school most days a week to mark/prepare work so I don’t bring it home with me, something I had to learn to do as I was a workaholic for many, many years, and I need to take care of my own mental and emotional health and well-being.

It’s not just the amount of work we do.  There are other aspects to the job we do.  We also have to deal with a lot of stuff, such as poor attitudes, bad behaviour, bullying, being aware of children who may be being abused and disclosures of abuse, as well as many other things that my not be easy to deal with.

There’s a lot of pleasure in the job, laughter and smiles with pupils through the day.  It’s all to easy to get mired in the ‘bad stuff’ and forget how much good is done.

What we are not are babysitters, childcare. We care enough about your children to close the school for their safety as well as ours.  We have a duty of care towards them.  Respect our caring about them, don’t interpret it as laziness.  Respect the fact that we follow health and safety laws and don’t ignore them, not just for the sake of the staff, but for the pupils too.

If we seem pleased about a day off, it’s simply because we know we can remain safe and well, we don’t have to face the hairy-scary journey to work, the difficult movement around the site nor the worry of if we’ll get home safely again at the end of the day.