Wellbeing

Cradling deep rooted grief. You’re allowed to work through it.

I am positive that a psychologist could glance at my words and give an explanation far greater than the surface level thoughts I have around my deep rooted grief and what it looks like. However, in this message I will unravel such thoughts and you can nod your head in agreement or pause to think if you relate.

My third boy loves sticking plasters/band aids. Recently I spent a whopping £4.99 on a box of clear plasters only to realise there were a mere 16 products inside the pack ( I’ll let you do the math of what each plaster cost). When we arrived home he decided that his teddy had a sore eye and she needed one of the new clear (over priced) plasters to heal her wound.

Life is a bit like the title of this blogpost- it's about the palette more than the paint. In other words, how paint is mixed, blended,  squeezed out side by side to another colour, is more exciting and/ or damaging than the paint itself.

Not babies not yet grown. I wished them to school, now I wait on their return. Breast pads, velcro and routine replaced by Crisp packets, consoles and trampoline.  The beats of three hearts outside of me.  Hearts started in my uterus. Excluding baby M. 14 weeks, heart stopped, hospital bed, taxi home. Her...

This is the speech I made at my School prize day as guest of honouring October 2021.You can also list to it on my podcast here My name is Aly Harte and I am an artist, educator and podcaster. I hand on heart can say that friends School Lisburn enveloped and welcomed me when I joined in 1999 to study A levels. I loved my time here. To be honest. when the invite came through to speak today, my business was going through big changes- we had signed for a new studio which happens to have a shop front on the main street of holywood- no pressure! My previous Personal assistant Gemma sadly passed away at the age of 35 and, covid has meant that despite many successes, business is even more unpredictable than you would imagine in the creative industry.  I worried that I wasn’t a good fit.
On my podcast this week I share the tips that I have and some words about my own journey (and struggle) to/ with happiness. An ongoing journey where I have to stop, re evaluate and reset every once in a while.
Creativity and healing   Before I utter the words “ I am an artist” it is more than likely that I say “I have three boys” as my opening line.   Our three children and their thoughts, habits and activities shape family life. My career as a professional painter and educator has grown organically around the boys.
Rather than ramble on as to the reasons why we may need these 7 tips right now, I’ll just let you scroll and apply as needed. Stay safe and stay home.  
My widowed Mother exclaims every time I write a blogpost about grief or sadness “ why do you torture yourself Alyson?”. She knows that I weep as I write. Some say it is cathartic to help me come to terms with my own grief from a young age, others say it is self serving. Yet, six years into my writing it feels bigger than that.
You had a turbulent day in work, a fraught journey home and now you’re sat on the sofa in your jeans and sweater after devouring some pasta with your hubby. You pop each wary foot into your slippers with the wool as light as marshmallows around your heels.
I had written this article for a magazine but after watching The Grinch UK with my boys today, I thought there may be some of you who will appreciate it now, in early November....
One son was at Cubs for the evening, another was playing with his wooden train track and the last was mumbling about no charge in the iPad. I had my biggest number of print orders on my art website that week and was amidst the hustle of making myself and my husband a late dinner. Stir-fry and prawns. Nothing too tasking. Without warning or reason the tears settled into the creases of my eyeliner. Thoughts of Dad rushed as I lifted the kids empty plastic cups off the table. The table he bought with his first pay cheque. Now a battered table and, when moved it almost loses a wooden leg. Yet, it holds meaning and it is one of the ways to be close to my Dad who died when I was seven. The older I get the more I cling to the physical elements where he once breathed life. The character of a man still lingering through this wonky table or white bulb light that hangs above my kitchen breakfast bar. A white light bulb light box with the words ‘duneight services’across it. This was the petrol station Dad owned with my, also deceased, Uncle Tom. Memories of him on every crevice and corner of my home. I pass such fixtures everyday and my eyes do not flicker, nor does my heart pull. However, in this instance, while the cinnamon candle burns and the Christmas advertisements begin to ring out on the television, I feel grief in all it’s force. And I cry. Tears flowing. To the point where my two year old asks “did you bang your knee too, mummy?”. Uncontrolled and wet. Wet soppy tears and a yearning for my Dad to be sat with a cup of tea and his oil stained hands from mechanic work at the table he used to own. A need for him to talk about the weather or to lift one of my sons into the air for a shoulder ride. It’s a pain I cannot put lightly into sentences but one that I have learned to let exist. In the busyness and the rough and tumble of being a business woman, a wife and a mum, I no longer reject these emotions and this… well, sadness. So much of my life was spent telling myself that I was “lucky “ because dad died of natural causes instead of being murdered or killed suddenly. Other times I had myself convinced that one parent being alive was all I ever needed and that grieving Dad was my way of looking for pity. But that is not the case. I don’t want attention or pitying eyes on me when I have these moments that stop me in my tracks as I boil potatoes on the hob. I don’t need hands on my back patting me. I just need that fleeting moment in time to remember who is missing so much of my life. Who no longer sits at the table at Christmas. My beautiful cousin died in January and this Christmas we will be without her on Christmas day. After both of our fathers died the two families and widowing mothers merged. Even after we had our own children everyone still continued to mash together like a herd of cattle to share Christmas shloer and cut the turkey. I remember a few years ago as I took the annual self timer shot of our family one of us commented how we have to do these things because “you never know what the next year will bring”. And its true, isn’t it? A few days, hours or months can change a whole lot in our lives. So this Christmas, if you dread the radio playing “the bells are ringing out for Christmas day” or, you find yourself slapped in the face by grief as you bundle the kids to send them to the school nativity. Please afford yourself that time. Tears can be wiped and make up retouched. But memories and moments in the short spaces of stillness that we give ourselves, cannot be replaced. Allow your mind to take that journey of engaging with the smells and sounds that once were. The ones that remind you vividly of the person you miss with all of your heart. Your life is all the richer for keeping the ones you have lost at the forefront. Talking about them, wearing their sweaters (or Dad’s boiler suit like I do when I paint. ) and playing their top 10 tunes on the hi fi that sat in their bedroom. Grief doesn’t disappear but it does linger and I’ve learned that it, in itself, can be a good thing. A two minute window when we are forced to stand still while the world spins - It’s ok to feel sad this Christmas. When your tears are wiped and your laughter returns you will be all the more merry for it!
A psychologist I am not but a living breathing, emotional, reactive human being I most certainly am. Therefore, my blog allows me to share thoughts, some of my life and my (mainly personal) findings in relation to this topic of art and fitness. It is something I am so passionate about and excited to share with you. In this post we will discuss how art and fitness are linked and how they will improve your overall state of mind.

“ The emerging woman ... will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied...strength and beauty must go together.”Louisa May Alcott

From Fifty shades of grey ( Jamie, I’m sorry, as lovely as you are, these movies are terrible) to the more serious cases in and out of court around sexual harassment, women are at the centre.
The new year can create a shocker for people, for any of us in fact who want to strive for better but feel bombarded by so.much.information. As you will see on my social media channels and if you were to meet me in person  you will quickly learn that I am an advocate for self-care. This means that I am not going to tell you that you need to change. Of course you are perfectly entitled to change physical parts of your body if you so desire this year (I have recently entered the world of lash extensions - WoW. Obsessed.).   If altering something or working towards losing weight or gaining muscle makes you stand a little taller or breathe a little deeper then I am all in. I want you to be YOU! Prioritise getting to know yourself over everything else and the rest will follow.
My late Father was a mechanic. He (from what I remember / have been told) was a warm, compassionate and vibrant business man who could turn his hand to any car.
For the month of October I will be giving 20% of sales from four of my art prints (priced between £10 and £30) to four charities related to tackling cancer. Will you join me? I kind of hate using the word ' cancer' because of what it means and how it sounds to so many of us who have been affected either directly or through a family member or friend. My good friend Laura changed cancer to " the melt" for the months following her diagnosis and I think that sums up the sinking feeling as those words resonate. So, with tears rolling down my cheeks and my hand firmly on my heart, I am going to use my little corner of the internet to promote the fight against all things cancer here on my blog and across my social media during October.

Visual artist Aly Harte opens debut exhibition  27 May – 23 June ­­­­- City Artist. Country Born. Sea Inspired Belfast visual artist Aly Harte exhibits a collection of her latest works inspired by the beautiful seascapes of Irish coastlines both north and south. City Artist. Country Born. Sea...

Photographs by Jayne Lindsay photography at Pineapple studios Belfast

This detox was set as a challenge (my husband’s idea, not mine) for personal reasons not related to weight or to body image. If you want to see before and after shots of me then see my postpartum posts here and here. Basically I wanted to feel better and to give my body a chance to cleanse after what feels like a year of drinking wine whenever I want, consuming a bag of fruit gums or sports mixture every other day. Or at least that's what it felt like. I just wanted a change and with most things in my life, I tend to go all in or not at all. I wanted discipline and I wanted to see how it felt waking up on a Monday morning not having had even one glass of red wine the night before while watching Luther . Side note – have you watched Luther? It is the scariest darkest programme I have possibly ever watched. The main character is played by Idris Elba who is just gorgeous. Perhaps that is what keeps me watching rather than the intense storyline that I tell my husband keeps me addicted!?! (I have a boxset blogpost here if you are like us and watch them from start to finish then have NOTHING left to give but a gapping black hole where your box set once lay).

The picture above I am on one of the new pieces of equipment in my gym, David Lloyd Belfast. Wearing a Better bodies outfit.

It comes as no surprise to my regular blog readers that my life revolves around a few simple things- God, my family, my friends, travel and without a doubt exercise! You can read about my health and sickness journey here. One of the main influencers for the name of my blog was my Darling Granny Edna who passed away a year ago this week. She was, unlike myself, not a gym addict but she lived well. By that I mean she didn't drink alcohol ( at least not during my lifetime.), she picked salads over carbs (not that she would have seen it that way. Her love for heinz salad cream over scallions, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and garden tomatoes ran deep) and she drank lemon and hot water every morning along with her porridge which was steeped from the night before (she was on the bircher overnight oats before any of the rest of us!). Perhaps living consciously with regards to my health is in my genes, who knows? Either way I love it and I'm passionate about sharing my journey with you. Now, let's talk you! I am so aware that social media has bombarded you with "new year new you" slogans and "get fit quick" diet plans or exercise routines. I'm sure I am not the first to break it to you - There is no quick fix.

Healthy breakfasts.

I have always been an advocate for breakfast, it may be my favourite meal in the day. Although saying that, I love a cold meats platter lunch, or a steak dinner or a pizza. Nonetheless, a good start to my day includes a decent breakfast. The further I get into eating whole foods and nourishing foods for my body, the more intrigued I am about the variety of good stuff out there which can be sourced locally and/or easily in our larger supermarkets. I asked my instagram followers to share their favourite healthy breakfasts and I have included their recipes amongst the other links.
I can see the eye rolls as this post airs. Finding itself disappearing into the plethora of "postpartum blogposts " and "weight doesn't matter" memoirs. Nonetheless, I have my own audience and ultimately I am speaking to you my dear friend. Women who have stuck with me through this journey of self discovery, who have engaged with me and sent e mails or texts about their own struggles. Those of you who stop me in the shops to say you started a kettle bell class after seeing my video, or made the decision to commit to two instead of three nights a week pilates classes when you realised it's just not possible to do it"all". I love being surrounded and inspired by women like you, in my repertoire, who consistently let go of the need for the "perfect body" as defined by our air brushed society. Seeing self worth as a better guide than any scales or numbers on a machine - you my darling are who this is for.
If you've been around my blog for more than 48 hours you will know that I love NYC (I even have art prints here and here you can buy of NYC). I talk about it a whole lot- sorry. It so happens that I have around 30 great friends who live there so my connection to the city itself is not based on tourism but more on community and a love for some of it's people. As a result of visiting there two or three times each year I get asked quite a bit about places to visit. I am not always sure how to respond as we do many of the same routes and eating when we visit various parts of the city- mainly downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Soho and Midtown. Often I visit NYC and spend so little money or I don't even darken the door of a clothes store. This is mainly because I really just love the vibe of the city and to see our crew of friends, all of whom I met because of Camp Treetops. This was a camp I worked at when I was 18 and re visited to work at last Summer with my boys (read here). So maybe don't view my rough guide as your first and foremost but all of the places I recommend here I have tried and loved and can make your visit so so fun!

There is so much irony in this post I barely know where to start.

Firstly, if you haven't already gathered from the blog, I like to think of myself as a free bird despite the fact that I have a mortgage, a business, two children with another on the way and I own a car.

Look at my pinterest boards and see my ever longing desire to travel.

I love to see the world and I love to bring my husband and kids along for the ride. [caption id="attachment_755" align="aligncenter" width="940"]Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset My son walking to work jobs at camp in upstate New York last Summer where I was the head of the horse riding programme.[/caption]   So, my sudden urge to settle into home life (at the grand age of 32 - 33 in two weeks for those that care) albeit fuelled I am sure by the impending baby in my swollen belly, is something out of the ordinary .

I have always been a fan of interior design and enjoy how my home looks,

Ok, first off, I'm a Mum.

So if you are also a Mum and reading this rolling your eyes at the thought of me in any way helping your morning become smoother- know that I am aware that some days it.just.doesn't.happen. Kids with night terrors, babies teething, lunch boxes unpacked, exhaustion, exhaustion ,exhaustion (read my Motherhood guide here) all add to the stress and, quite frankly, some mornings are a write off.

And that is perfectly fine.

However, when possible I suggest you place these little ducks in a row and see small (hopefully significant) changes in your morning.

Time

Time moves and changes and swirls us about the place. It creeps up and passes slowly, but it is always moving.

Camp reminded me of all of the above