Mindful Wednesday – And Life’s a Challenge!

Mindful Wednesday – And Life’s a Challenge!

Hi there.
Thanks for popping in.
Jetlagged of Kent here!
You think your body-clock has adjusted back to normal,
and then you sleep through the 6am alarm clock 
and wake up at 9am !!
Unheard of!
Ah well. I think the secret is not to fight it.
I remember when the kids were nippers and we used to fly back and forth to California when we lived there,
you could calculate a day for every hour’s time difference 
before they were back on track. 
So 8 hours ? I’ll be back on UK time this Friday!
In the meantime, today is our Mindful Wednesday Blog, 
when we look at other matters of the heart and soul… 
Let’s talk about Challenges. 
Life is full of them.
You don’t have to go looking for them, do you!
I only have to look at the elderly gentleman wandering around Sainsbury’s with his basket filled with food for one,
or the young girl in the wheelchair,
or the young Mum pushing that wheelchair, 
to see life’s challenges. 
I have had my fair share, and so have you, I’m sure. 
We’re talking about stuff that life throws at you,
over which you have little or no control. 
The most important lesson I learned around those challenges, 
is that it is never the event, but how I respond to it, 
that will ultimately affect me.
And when I see the kid in the wheelchair and the elderly gent in the shop, it rightsizes my stuff instantly. 
Most mornings when I drive to work, I see a blind lad making his way along the road. He is very handsome and has a flash of blond hair. I have watched him for years, growing from a school kid into an adult.  
He always walks the same route with his white stick,
always on the same side of the road.
Sometimes I see somebody else helping him at an intersection,
but mostly he walks his path alone. 
He never fails to bring me into the Here and Now. 
Whatever conversation or battle I’m having in my head, 
as soon as I see that young man 
I stop my prattle and get grateful. 
But I digress.
Then there are challenges we set ourselves. 
let’s define the CHALLENGE that I mean here:
A test of one’s abilities or resources 
in a demanding but stimulating undertaking. 
I like that definition. I like the word stimulating.
If you’re reading this blog, you are probably a crafter
looking for inspiration and ideas.
Perhaps you just enjoy the safe and lovely
Clarity Community spirit here, 
and like being part of it. 
Maybe you need stimulation, a challenge. 
And I offer both in spadefuls, don’t I?   
One thing I have noticed over the years is that people who stretch themselves, who set themselves challenges and goals, 
grow and develop more than those who don’t. 
It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. 
The Clarity Design Team for example.
They accepted the challenge of creating art samples for us every month. Month on month, and without exception, I have watched their artwork go from strength to strength.
They stretched themselves, using products they might not necessarily have picked, but in the name of Clarity, 
they apply their skills and learn new ones –
and you know how fantastic their work is. 
I’m not saying they weren’t great when they landed;
of course they were; otherwise they wouldn’t have been invited 
to join to start with !
But it has been fascinating watching them develop,
and deliver a consistency of quality which only comes with rolling up your sleeves and stretching the boundaries.
This afternoon, I am going to add their blogs to my blog, 
so you can check out their art samples and get inspiration from them too. Their work is pretty special. 
It may take me a while to do….this is my challenge to myself:
to learn how to add a reading list to my blog.
I mean, for Pete’s sake!
How can you win a Gold award for best blog 
and not know how to do that ?!?!?
Emma Burns has kindly given me the instructions how to do so, 
and if all else fails, Paul Church will bail me out!
Teamwork makes the dream work!
But now I have a challenge for you.
If you want to improve your artwork and learn new techniques,
start this year by accepting the monthly Clarity Challenges.
Go to the Clarity Challenge Blog and take up the gauntlet!
There are two challenges every month:
The Monthly regular, and
The Calendar Copy Challenge.
If you take this seriously, like a proper challenge,
where your task each month is to master 
either the calendar skill of that month,
or create a piece of artwork in keeping with the set theme or technique, I am pretty certain that a year from now, 
you will know a lot more,
you will be more confident, 
and your artwork will be vastly improved. 
Don’t expect instant results.
But stick at it. 
It works, it really does. 

Have a think about it.
Costs nothing, just time and determination.

Whether you say you can or you can’t do something,
either way, you’re probably right….

love and hugs,
Paul here!
The winner from the Blog Takeover is Magic Maggie.
Call the office.
Ooooh! Got to go! She’s coming back!!!

109 thoughts on “Mindful Wednesday – And Life’s a Challenge!

  1. I love your comments about watching your team develop and I share the sense of pleasure it gives you. I was a head teacher and loved watching not only the children grow but also the staff. To delegate an initiative to someone, provide encouragement and support then watch them grow and develop was very rewarding. You have to be brave yourself to allow others the freedom to take the reins sometimes and I see that Paul has nipped in and taken over those reins for a few moments today!!

    1. As an ex-teacher, I know what you mean about watching children achieving their ambitions. The joy of watching a child create a beautiful piece of art or read a book that they thought was out of their reach. To give them the confidence to have a go or to find a new interest. That is success to me. xx Maggie

    2. Absolutely! That joy of watching them learn and develop and knowing that you have supported and encouraged them in their journey towards adulthood is what kept me in teaching despite testing and levels.

  2. 10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is decided by how you react to the 10%. Saw this statement on FB this morning … so true.

  3. Thank you Barbara for those lovely words of encouragement. I too have enlisted the talents of the fabulous Emma Burns to help with my blog. I am definitely growing as a person since being involved with Clarity. It has given me a reason to carry on since losing my Dad. Everyone here is so helpful and positive. It's the best place to be. Xx

  4. Good luck with your challenge Barbara. I have accepted many of your challenges over the years and have learnt so so so very much. I am really grateful and because of it I have a nice little crafty career on my hands what a way to be retired lol..off to Fleetwood tomorrow hope it goes well..xxxxx

    1. You, dear Linda, are a perfect example of how taking the challenge and running with it truly works. I shall NEVER forget singing 'Those Boots were made for walking with you' at Harrogate. xxxx

  5. Good luck with your challenge Barbara. I have accepted many of your challenges over the years and have learnt so so so very much. I am really grateful and because of it I have a nice little crafty career on my hands what a way to be retired lol..off to Fleetwood tomorrow hope it goes well..xxxxx

  6. Barbara, you are a great leader. It shows. You you pick good people, encourage them, put them in a creative environment and challenge them to do their best and expand outside of their comfort level. The result? Beautiful, high-quality creations by enriched, positive artists. A win-win all the way around. Bravo!

  7. Doing good with the links Barbara.
    I concur with all that you say. I wouldn't be on two of your Design Teams if I hadn't followed and taken part in the Claritystamp Challenge. So thank you for all the encouragement,support and opportunity. Much love and hugs….and it better be my instructions that have helped or am I gonna look a fool lol xxx

  8. It always comes back to the fact there is always someone worse off than ourselves, and we always have something in our lives to be grateful for, it all shapes us, even the plot twists we could happily do without. So we have to choose, is the glass half empty or half full, I've chosen half full and I'm grateful for many things, including being part of a great clarity community and being able to continue challenging myself.
    Peace and Gratidude! Xxxx

  9. You are so right. If you say "I can't", you will definitely fail. If you say "I will try", that is better but you will probably still not succeed. If you say"I can", you stand a pretty good chance of succeeding. You may not be the best, but you will have the satisfaction of real progress in living. You can probably gather that I am stroppy and bolshy and hate being beaten, which held me together over the past three years. I had a bad time before and through Christmas and I now realise it was because I had no real battles to win. Now I am back on track and I will lose all that excess weight. I am not trying but I will do it. That decision has given me so much confidence. My problems are tiny compared to many others. I so admire those that that boy growing up in independence without his sight, and there are many reading your blog who have overcome real hardships and probably never shown their struggles to the world. I am definitely waffling now, so I will just say that we definitely grow as people if we work at beating our problems. xx Maggie

  10. Hi Barbara, where would we all be without you. I hardly ever stamped until I was treated to joining the Clarity new design stamp club as a Christmas present three years ago, and I then enjoyed entering the monthly Claritystamp challenge. I'm so grateful to be on the dt as it gives me a reason to craft and I enjoy it very much, thankyou xxx

  11. Hi Barbara – I started entering the challenges last year when I have suitable products to use for the subject. I would like to add how much of a confidence boost all of the lovely comments are from all the team and how much they are appreciated xx

  12. It is my challenge to myself to enter both each month. I think it helps to have a focus each month on the normal challenge and then of course the calendar challenge is great because you can do the artwork step by step following your instructions. I love joining in here on the blog too. Xx

    1. Hope it's not sore and clears up soon and you manage to colour I was going to try to do a little Groovi tonight but cannot manage it .ive had a rough day if you read the comment I left on julia Evans blog comment you will see why lots of hugs xxx

    2. Hi Donna make sure you look after your eye and get something for it if it doesn't clear up soon. Can't believe it's Wednesday already – this week is flying by! Xxxx

  13. Hi Barb,
    I loved your comments about watching the design team grow and develop their techniques etc. They are certainly a credit to yourself and the company now. When I was in charge of special needs in a secondary school , one of the proudest moments for me was when a 14 year old girl stood up in front of a group of teachers from different schools and also inspectors and talking about a particular program that I did with her in school and how much she felt it had helped her. If I tell you that two years prior to this she would not speak to anyone other than a couple of friends and myself and one other member of my team as she was so shy and insecure. Honestly I could have cried! Even now ( some 14 years later,) whenever I see her she always tells me how grateful she is to me. Isn't that just wonderful', how we can make a difference to someone. I know that watching you and being inspired by you and the team has certainly made a difference to how I craft and I have taken up your challenge this month and hopefully will enter them for the rest of the year ( not promising though!!). Thank you for everything, love Alison xx
    Ps congratulations to Magic Maggie xx

    1. Hi Barb, just me again!
      Just to say I am now officially a member of the Diamond Club- yeah!! Thank you for making it so easy to join with the instalment system. Love Alison xxx

    2. Yes me too.. So exciting, so easy and beautifully assisted by Steve, many thanks to you all for making it so easy and affordable, without that I would n't have been able to do it, so much appreciated X

  14. I have already accepted your challenge and put in my first ever entry into the 'say it with flowers' monthly challenge. I tried doing the calendar challenge using the wee trees but it turned out pants so I've ordered the correct stamps! My problem is that I run myself down all the time (got into trouble at work for doing it last week) but I do realise how fortunate I am despite my demons which stem from a crap childhood. I am inspired by people on the blog, people like Sheila who are up against it but keep plodding on. Since I've been following the blog I go and play more, I allow myself to make mistakes, not everything I do has to turn into a finished piece. In the past I would have given up but now it is all part of the learning and experimenting process. I'm also skint as I just have to have all the tools of the trade. You've got a lot to answer for Barbara.

    1. Thank you so much julia for your lovley comment today it means so much today my sabacious cyst has come back in my breast but I'm very lucky as I have a wonderful DR
      Who rang me after I rang the surgery and prescribed me some antibiotics my wonderful partner full time carer Tom went to the surgery with a photo on my I pad so she could see how infected it was and made time for Tom in her busy surgery each day is a big struggle but its people like you julia who help me through each day crafting hugs looking forward to seeing your calendar challenge on the blog xxx

    2. Barbara…a year from now you'll still be coming up with new stamps and stencils and I'll still be buying them but hopefully I'll have my own original ideas as to what to do with them.

      Sheila, I'm glad you got your cyst sorted without having to leave the house. I had one years ago on my spine which I had cut out but thankfully it has never recurred. I know what you mean about people's comments on here. When I put my challenge card in I did it to push myself not necessarily to win or be named but the comments I got about my card really gave me a lift and they still make me smile days on. Unfortunately the people around me are often eager to criticise but don't compliment so it is good to be with like minded people on the blog.

  15. My life, like so many others, has been a constant challenge for the last 10 years. But I too are a glass half full person, or I try to be. I have lots of positive saying dotted around our home. One in particular about my personal challenges. "You're never a failure if you don't succeed…you're a success because you tried."

  16. You know Barbara that is a really good challenge because I watch your videos and all your T.V shows and buy the stuff to do these fabulous things and a lot of the time I don't get round to it, perhaps this challenge will motivate me to actually get on with it.

  17. Afternoon, I just love the challenges, it streaches me and gets the old brain going.

    I am looking forward to joining the Diamond club, waiting for that phone call to arrange it… as per conversation.

    I find it great fun the challenges and in fact it was because of the Blog challenge that I started my blog…. and the rest is history.

    crafty hugs Pen x

    1. Hi Sheila, mum has been in waiting for a ct scan on her artery in her neck to check if there is a blockage. Still not done so expect it will b tomorrow now. Been in pain too. Just phoned her but had to keep it short as her mobile phone battery is running out.


  18. You are so right in all that you have said Barbara – when you see what other people have to cope with – it always makes you more thankful for how your life is. This week has been a big challenge for my husband and I – and yesterday he had another piece of bad news. However, as it is mindful Wednesday I am going to think of it as another challenge! Your blog and it's wonderful blog family help so many people, especially me. Thank you, Gilly xxx

  19. All I can say today Barbara is thank you to you and your clarity team for all your inspiration your dedication and your wonderful products and most of all this fantastic award winning blog and all the wonderful clarity blog friends who are so supportive of each other crafting hugs to all xxx

    1. Hello Sheila. Sorry to hear your cyst has come back but it's good your doctor is on the ball. What a good idea using your iPad to take a photo so Tom could show the doctor. Look after yourself so you can be crafting again soon xxxxxx

    2. Thinking of you Sheila and so sorry to hear that your cyst has come back, I had one a few years ago — worried myself silly about it. Look after yourself and keep us posted.

      Crafty hugs Pen x

    3. Hello pen thank you for caring your so thoughtful i had a mammogram when I saw the breast surgeon last November she said it would keep comming back and just have antibiotics so I know it's nothing sinister just didn't expect it to come back so soon take care lots of hugs xx

  20. Hi Barbara. Little did I think when I first saw you on TV that a new creative chapter of my life was just beginning. I am so grateful to you for asking me to join first the Challenge DT and then the main DT too. My main challenge is believing in myself and my art; I would say most months I have my wobbles and doubts! So I have to thank you not only for challenging me, but also for believing in me and encouraging me. Love xxx

  21. Your words always inspire Barbara and get us all thinking….
    I have entered this months challenge for the first time and have decided to enter each month as that will give me a focus for my crafting and will help me to develop. I have been looking at other peoples blogs from here and they too are inspiring. I look at your blog every day (in fact it is the first thing I do when I log on) just to see what your wise words and fabulous demos are for the day!! I left a reply further up but would love to join the clarity stamp stencil club and see that you are talking about instalments, so more info please xx

    1. Chrissy, I replied to your earlier comment but don't think you've seen it. If you phone Clarity they will give you the details for the clubs and the instalments etc, hope this helps, Alison cc

  22. Love the monthly challenges , think I've been joining in from the start, might have missed a few mind you. It's great because sometimes when your mojo goes the challenge theme gives you something to focus on and usually kick starts me off again. I love all the work by the DT and entrants , so much lovely work . So I say keep on crafting folks! X

  23. I had no confidence to join in until the eighth Challenge and from there it became a monthly 'must do.' It was a delight to be invited onto the Challenge Team and now that we are posting two examples per month, the old grey matter is being stimulated even more! Sometimes things work out, sometimes I need to return to the drawing board or indeed scrap the original idea altogether but either way, I love finding different ways to use Clarity products. ;~}

  24. Great minds and all that as this is the challenge I have set myself this year to enter the challenges, I managed to miss the deadline for the Paperartsy one last week but am determined to finish the piece I am working on as well as enter the Clarity ones. I am not going to sweat the fact that I missed a deadline, the point for me is to stretch my creativity and to put it out there for all to see. Some will like it, some won't. Some I will like and some I won't, but it will be there for all to see and that for me is part of the challenge I am setting myself, I think Barbara describes it as owning it, signing your art work. Like many of us crafters, I don't really have much confidence in the art I produce, seeing it as merely dabbling but it is mine and it does give me pleasure and as I am working towards making this my work too, I need to be able to face public comment. In my current day job working with sales people, I am always reminding our sales people that the things people say to them are not personal, when they don't buy whatever you are selling they are not rejecting you as a person, so don't take it as a rejection of you as a person. Think I need to practice what I preach and the only way to do that is to put my art out there in the first place. My first steps has been to set up a blog and to start to enter some of the challenges, top of which is the Clarity ones. So watch this space and thank you for the timely push or kick up the proverbial to make sure I get on with it. First step, telling people I am doing it, tick that's done. This weekend I will finish one piece for a challenge. Much hugs Karen xxx

  25. You re so right! I have taken up your challenge having set it for new year and have entered both challenges this month…. 11 to go, one of the really nice and unexpected things I have found really supportive is everyone's lovely comments, it really gives me a buzz and is special coming from fellow crafters, after all friends and relatives are a little biased I feel! ( or not very interested) my 90 year old dad having looked at my recent thank you card with a cursory glance, said " well the trouble with your craft is that people just throw them in the bin"! I laughed and told him he did n't have to! Some of my friends have kept my cards as do my children, but as one of my guru quilt makers ( I did that for 20 years ) wrote a book called ' it's OK to sit on my quilt' I learnt you have to give with love and let the receiver do as they will!! I thoroughly enjoy the process of making the card and thinking about the person as I make it. That's enough for me. While hubby is watching the football I m going to make some cards X X X x

    1. How true Hilary. I have friends who have kept every card I have made for them and other friends who don't give them a second glance but it is the process of making the card that gives me joy.

  26. I set myself the task two years ago to enter the challenge each month, so far I have not missed a month. I have made Top 5 a few times, now that really gave me a buzz. Love it and will be joining Diamond club. Walking into a room of people that I do not know is quite a challenge but I have done that a few times now and you soon get chatting. I enjoy reading design team blogs, very inspirational and they are so happy to share ideas. xx

  27. Evening Barbara you have hit the nail on head for me for 27 years my life was ful of big challenges ice was always lot challenges from moment we adopted Sandie a baby they said would live walk see would be a cabbage I thrived on the challenges to prove medics they was wrong. And still helping others if there was a family needed support a meal I was always there helping I thrived on it all people would say don't know how you do it but I loved ever Minuite of it then just over two years ago Sandie died I lost the centre of my life and purose in life I have struggled eve craft I think tomorrow will get up have a craft day I don't of term or not you have give me a wake up call in this blog I cried through reading it earlier. So I take you challenge haven't enter the monthly change for months I have started an entertainer this week but the other ideas have come want to produce canvases drawing amongst it so I will start with the two monthly challenges I see what happens from there need to push myself to start to fill my time with craft I so enjoy it when I get down to it thank you Barbara for your encouragement love Joy sorry I may not make since but in my head it does xxx

    1. Stick with it Joy – we all love seeing your creations every one is a unique piece and a joy to look at. So glad you will be joining in again!
      Send crafty hugs, Carole (a.k.a. CraftyMrsP) xxx

  28. You're so right Barbara – life is not always easy, but for some it is so much harder, so I count my blessings every day and try to be a positive, encouraging and glass half full person. My wonderful nan used to have a lovely poem that summed this up: "A trouble's a ton, A trouble's an ounce, a trouble is what you make it…" I missed last month's challenge, so I'll get right on to this month's one tomorrow! Susan x

  29. Hi Barbara
    Lots to think about today. I am just about to make something for this month's challenge. It will be the first one I have ever entered but I think it will encourage me to try something different. I am still totally engrossed in Groovi and have just acquired a twin needle pricking tool. When my scissors arrive I have challenged myself to have a go at doing the beautiful picot edging.
    I hope your body clock soon gets back to normal.
    Hugs from Chris X

  30. Hi Barbara, very poignant blog for me today, really made me think how right you are. It isn't until we see someone worse off than ourselves that we realise just how lucky we are. As you know I don't have loads of confidence but I really do want to progress. I will set myself a challenge to make a card for at least some of the monthly challenges this year. Don't want to put myself under to much pressure to do more than I can cope with or I'll be all stressed up, as some months I'm struggling to get the cards I make finished, and need time to try other arty things such as canvases. Hope by Friday that you're over your jetlag. Won't hurt you to have a few lie ons. Love Pam xx

  31. Hi Barbara, I was thrilled but also a little scared, when a year ago, I was invited to join the Claritystamp Challenge Design team. I am so glad I took on that challenge. I created my blog, albeit a simple one, and thoroughly enjoy sharing my designs and seeing all the wonderful entries each month.
    Lesley x

  32. Hi Donna, Sheila, Diane, Brenda and Dot, hope you've all had a good day and been staying warm. Hope your eye is improving Donna. Weatherman saying it's to be warmer through the day tomorrow. Poor you Sheila with your cyst, hope the antibiotics kick in quickly for you so it's less painful. Had my x-Ray results back, it's as the doctor thought, showed wear and tear in several places and arthritis. Be a while before they get me in for physio. Love Pam xxx

    1. Hello Pam – I hope they get the physio sorted for you soon. I think we should all have little plugs in our joints so we can pop a bit of oil in now and again to smooth the aches and pains. Would make life much easier wouldn't it. Look after yourself xxxxx

  33. I must admit Mr Mojo has been rather absent since Christmas but will certainly be thinking about what I might do for the challenges, and sometimes I over think what to do and then don't do anything which is ridiculous. I have looked through all the DT blogs you have added and I must say what a talented lot they are and we will all benefit for having the information about them to hand here for extra inspiration. Sorry you are still getting over the jetlag Barbara and hopefully you will be much better in a few days time but it doesn't hurt sometimes to let your body tell you what it needs. You are right that there are always people who are so much worse off than we are and we should make the most of every day as life is too short. Finally, congratulations to Magic Maggie. x

  34. Certainly given me a lot to think about. My mind has been wandering over the years I've been crafting with friends and loving every second of the Clarity workshops and NEC visits I 've been too. When I was 4 years old I started knitting, sewing and completing other crafty items. Always crafting alone (except for my Mum), post Clarity I'm crafting and sharing ideas with friends and importantly I'm so much more confident. All I can say is the extra confidence came from crafting with friends and learning with Clarity. Thank you Barb.X

  35. Hi Barbara
    Lovely blog today and well done meeting your challenge. I' ve often wondered how to find design team members blogs and now they are here. I will have a look tomorrow. I've already decided I'm going to have a go at the starter kit Groovie challenge you set but haven't started it yet, baby steps to start with. I used to work with VI children all of them real characters and a delight to work with. Heartbreaking too when they struggled with their conditions but we spent more time laughing with them and very little time hearing about ' poor me'. I hope you continue to see your young lad growing and developing for many years.
    Look after yourself
    Love Diane xxxx
    Congratulations to Magic Maggie xxx

  36. Black dog came to visit today. I try to keep him outside the door but he had sneaked over the threshold today – so your wise words were appreciated and I know that I have to challenge myself everyday in some way to overcome the beast!! Much Love – Jayne

  37. Hi Barb, loved this blog post, very inspiring and great observations. I will have a go at the challenges this year, that is my challenge to myself, maybe not every month, but when I can. Paul you do make me laugh. Congratulations Magic Maggie. Take care all. Bx

  38. Don't know why I didn't comment yesterday , but so many of these comments have resonated with me . I never felt like my cards were good enough but I decided that is was going to be fun ,a chance to explore my hidden potential , . My friends think they are great ( they don't do cards ) and I'm now enjoying it and it motivates me . Thank you Barbara gray . Joy now jan

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