Just life

The Joy of being Grateful

This morning for no particular reason I feel grateful. I did not plan to think about the good things in my life when I sat down with my cup of tea with only the Christmas tree for company but with its lights shining and the house silent I felt a glimmer of calm. For that moment, the worries about bills, health, relationships and how to stretch a shoestring budget over Christmas fell away. I could see the good I have and achievements made this year.

My grateful list:

  • The morning hug I will get from my daughter
  • Waking early to see the stunning night sky
  • The welcome from my dog as I have left him for five minutes
  • The taste of the first cup of tea and this time of year
  • The parts of Christmas which matter the tree, music, friends and family.
  • My home
  • Old friends and new ones
  • The arrival of Christmas cards
  • Opening the advent calendar – you are never to old for one
  • Winning nano – that feeling will keep me going for a while
  • Winning NaNo coaching from Megg
  • An unexpected lottery win of £25
  • The book I won from Erin Green The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm

The moment of calm has grown with my list, life is good and I am ready to fight another day. When life’s problems have snowballed and triggered an avalanche of emotions, it is easy to forget the good, the tiny things or incidents throughout the day which if given care are seeds of strength to get you through the crap.

What are you grateful for?

Just life, Writing journey

For the love of trees and solitude: Forest Bathing continued

Reading Forest Bathing Retreat has made me long to be surrounded by trees, soak up the atmosphere and hear the sound of the woodlands; the bird song, the trickle of a nearby stream, the creak of a branch, the rustle of leaves as they dance in the soft breeze and my breath as I inhale deeply the fresh air. I dream of sinking to the base of a large tree shaded under its extensive canopy and write in the dappled green light. I miss the solitude of being able to write in nature alone; the oneness I feel and the creativity it encourages. It is one of the top things I miss since losing my mobility and independence. Herbie, my trusted scooter is lovely. He takes me out of the four walls into the countryside lanes to see and hear the world outside but the true places of interest, those off the beaten track away from cyclists, zooming cars and trundling tractors remain inaccessible. They are tantalizing close. I can see them over the bridge wall or rickety stye and it is hard not to think if only.

If out, I also rely on others to accompany me; gone are the days when I could leave a scribbled note on the side declaring I will be back soon. I dream of being left in a wood for a few hours or even an hour with some goodies – a flask of coffee and cinnamon roll will do, a notebook, a phone to type on and just be.

Be happy

Be creative

Be me.

And mainly be alone.


Writing in solitude without interruption is when I write my best work. My mind is free to grasp the thoughts and words without competition of conversation, expectation and general activity. Sentences flow easier and the clarity of images and dialogue are stronger. The only battle I have is from my own distracting thoughts but add nature into the equation and it is easier to block these and allow creativity in.

I miss the days when as a child, I would grab my notebook or novel and sit by a brook near my home in the shade of trees hidden from view. No parents, arguing siblings or frantic pets. I did not care it was on a public footpath nor that the silence was interrupted by the roar of a busy A road 100 yards away. To me, it was a little bit of heaven and the seeds of Ellfaen were planted.

Now, I must leap into my imagination and allow Amber to amble through the forest. I will focus on bringing nature into my writing room, snap photos of trees I can get to and peruse the web for images to create a forest on my laptop for inspiration and cyber forest bathing.

Do you have a favourite place to write, read or be? Let me know in the comments below. Even better, if you visit or see some wonderful trees and nature on your travels share the joy tag me on Instagram.

Happy writing, reading and if you are lucky a walk in the trees.


Just life

Summer Solstice Blessings

Midsummer is here. My plan to watch the sunrise to celebrate the summer solstice failed because the duvet was too hard to resist and Elsie gave me ideas I had to nurture before they flitted away. I am amazed how quick words and ideas disappear once you open your eyes in the morning. So this is a quick post to say

Summer Solstice Blessings


and count my blessings.

Solstice Blessings


  • it is a sunny day so had my first cup of tea outside which tasted delicious
  • feel energised and more enthusiasm for The Ellfaenian Journals
  • have time to write today
  • my hand is getting easier
  • Percy is still alive


Happy Summer Solstice and happy writing!

Kate Kenzie's Blog

Just life, Writing journey

Birthday Treats and Never Growing Up

This weekend was my birthday weekend and it proved, despite being another year past 40, I have never grown up. I doubt I ever will and no one expects me too.

The jingle from the box would have given him away, even if I didn’t know who was inside. Anticipation had grown this week as my birthday crept closer. I felt the tell-tale sign of excitement deep in my stomach when I thought of holding him, feeling him and seeing him. It only increased when I saw the box. Finally, my very own Iggy.


Introducing Iggy


Iggy came to life when I wrote about Amber’s early childhood. He was her beloved toy, her imaginary friend, confidante and though his role in this book is minimal he is important to her character development. Imagine my delight in seeing this cloth toy dragon in a shop window. It was if the toymaker had seen into my mind and created him just for me, for Amber.

Now he is mine. He may not be as bedraggled, threadbare or floppy as Amber’s Iggy but he is an inspiration and the kick up the bum reminder I need to stop procrastinating and finish this and other projects.  He can glower at me over my laptop when I slack at writing.

I had other pressies to remind me my true age. Room on the Broom from WW. He took the fact I wanted a book to heart and knows I love witches so he had to buy it as “it is the most perfect book ever”. He isn’t a book lover but he is right – it is a perfect book in its prose, plot, characters, and illustrations. No one is too old to enjoy Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.




Finally, I was given Winnie-the-Pooh Exploring a Classic by Annemarie Bilclough and Emma Laws book.  I missed the exhibition at the V and A but my daughter and best friend didn’t. This was a surprise gift and it looks amazing.




I only hope Iggy can work his magic like Christopher Robin’s bear did for A.A Milne.

Time to write.


Just life, Writing journey

Dystonia: The Curse of Writer’s Cramp

Everyone has heard or felt ‘writer’s cramp’. The constant moans of it were prevalent in exam season when I was growing up after writing streams of revision notes and hours worth of exams. The pain, cramp, and stiffness from clutching the pen too tight through fear of running out of time; the overwhelming desire to stretch the muscles from their clenched position to relieve the tense muscles. What many do not know is writer’s cramp is a form of dystonia and for a writer, it is a curse with no cure.

I have a rare form of dystonia which has become generalised and affects every muscle it can think of, including my hands.  In honour of  Dystonia Awareness Week here in the UK, I am coming out of hiding to highlight the debilitating condition of writers cramp because as its name suggests it affect writers.

 What is dystonia?

Mention dystonia and many people will scratch their heads because they have never heard of it affects 70,000 people in the UK. It is a neurological condition that causes muscles to spasm uncontrollably.

How does writers cramp fit in?

Writers cramp is a form of focal dystonia affecting the hands and is task-specific so it only happens when writing. Musicians can also suffer from focal hand dystonia because of the long periods they practice and play their musical instrument.

Writing becomes difficult because the pen is gripped too hard, the hand clenches tight or the fingers extend so a pen cannot be held properly or the wrist twists in ways you do not think possible. The more you write the worse it gets and the words become illegible. My writing can turn from relatively normal to a scrawl worthy of any doctor in a paragraph or sentence. It conflicts with my love of stationery and beautiful notebooks; I have endless notebooks I will never fill and pens I will hardly use.

It can be caused by

  • overuse of the hand
  • poor posture when writing
  • holding the pen incorrectly
  • or like in my case, part of a more generalised dystonia.


Awareness is key to get prompt diagnosis and treatment. There is no cure for writer’s cramp but it can be helped by retraining the brain to write, botox injections or medication.

Luckily we live in a world where technology is readily available so we have access to keyboards and if all else fails, voice recognition. My experience with that can be read here. Writer’s can continue practicing their craft but for me, there is nothing quite as free as letting creativity flow through the use of a pen on paper.

More information can be found on Writer’s cramp here

Happy writing, however, you do it!

Information from my own experience and The Dystonia Society UK.



Just life

Sunshine and Scarecrows

This weekend will be a mad flurry of pillow stuffing, head-scratching and requests for straw in our village. Households will be frantically building scarecrows. Some will be built with the help of children, others will be undoubtedly left to a hassled and overworked Mum (or Dad) but others will have been meticulously planned and in the process of creation for months if not since last year.

It is nearly time for the Annual Scarecrow Festival.

Every year scarecrows are hung, sat or stood outside ready to be admired and judged. Throngs of people traipse around the village with their trusty maps, admiring or laughing at the households efforts. Some are cobbled together with the traditional ‘I need something to scare the birds or people’ charm, others are made with love of a family and some are spectacular. There are stalls, face painting, and crafts and ended with music and drink. It is an event where, even on soggy days, the village buzzes with excitement and chatter; it makes the groups of houses become a community. We need more of that in this world – projects to connect neighbours, find friends and get people to work together. Loneliness is a horrid place. Humans need others, even if we think we don’t.

Last years entries

Our creation will not be spectacular: it has not been well thought out and by the end of it, with the amount of swearing it will provoke, I doubt it will contain much love but hopefully, it will look like Peter Pan. It will be in aid of The Dystonia Society UK a charity close to my heart.

Watch this space

Happy long weekend!