If you’re already a follower of Laura Pashby on Instagram (@circleofpines), you’ll know all about her atmospheric photography and simple, soulful story telling. Now there’s an utterly beautiful brand new book by Laura to enjoy and we have signed hardback copies to give away to 3 lucky readers! Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how to enter our competition and good luck!
Please note: this competition is now closed and the winners notified
Escape inside Little Stories of Your Life (Quadrille, £16.99) by Laura Pashby and find inspiration to help you create – and share – your own moments and narrative. The book is full of ideas and tips to help you become a visual story teller, and to find the wellbeing benefits of mindfulness and creativity along the way.
I couldn’t agree more with Laura’s own words about the central belief under-pinning her book:
‘The little stories of our lives tell of simple moments when the everyday is transformed into something remarkable. Real lives are not defined by bright, exciting events: we don’t need a grand narrative arc. It’s the stretches of time in between that matter, the tiny moments and the daily choices that make us who we are.’
Before I go into more detail about the book itself, and the practical inspiration it offers, I thought we should kick off with a peek inside at some of Laura’s beautiful photography as well as this lovely trailer by film maker Xanthe Berkeley.
How to start telling your own creative story
Combining the wellbeing benefits of mindfulness, creativity and daily photography, Little Stories of your Life shows you how to use words and photographs to capture moments, and how to share these in order to connect with others. Each chapter explores the different ways you can tell stories, considers why you might choose to tell them and helps you to create a patchwork of tales about your life, however small they might be.
There are plenty of ideas to help ensure your photos are telling your story – the way you want to tell it, with tips to help you improve your photography. This very special book is full of creative exercises that will inspire you to pick up your camera and pen and use words and photographs to capture precious little moments from your own life.
There are exercises to gently guide you through how to journal and harness your own inner creativity, as well as tips on writing authentic captions for Instagram, photo challenges and writing prompts to get you started.
As Laura puts it so beautifully:
‘Your stories are waiting to be told. By capturing your little stories, you will open yourself up to new connections, to beauty, to opportunity – and it might just change how you see the world.
‘I wrote this book for the person I used to be, the person who believed that her life wasn’t exciting enough to be recorded, and that a story was only interesting if it was dramatic and eventful. I wanted to tell her that her voice was worth hearing, that her life — all the tiny details of her utterly ordinary life — mattered. We don’t need a grand narrative arc to have a story to tell.
I also wrote this book for you because your voice — and your story — matters.’
A little bit about Laura
Laura is a qualified teacher with an MA in Literature, she teaches storytelling E- courses and spent three years as the deputy editor of 91 Magazine – an independent magazine that covers all aspects of creative living. Across social media, but particularly on Instagram (@circleofpinetrees), Laura has built a sizeable and engaged following.
Win a signed copy of Little Stories of your Life
I am so excited to be able to offer signed copies to 3 lucky competition winners.
If you’d like one of them to be yours, all you have to do is share a few words about what your little stories might be… Be as creative as you like! Post your entry as a comment at the foot of this blog post.
You won’t see your entry appear immediately when you add it to a comment box, but it will come through to our admin area once you click the ‘post comment’ button. Once we’ve logged your entry we’ll publish it.
Please note that this competition is only open to residents of the UK.
Good luck and hope you enjoy! We’ll be choosing the winner at the beginning of December, so why not enter now?
Credits: Photography: Laura Pashby. Headshot: Tim Dunk
Little Stories of Your Life is available to buy in hardback from good book shops including Waterstones and as an Ebook from Amazon..
My story was a dream come true as from being a child I always wanted my own horse, but when younger it was not to be. But finally with our sons going off to university and an empty nest looming I thought “why not”. So into my life came Sam, a pretty basic cob but the kindest most willing horse one could ever wish for. I had him for over ten years and riding him certaining opened up my eyes to nature. Every ride was different, even well ridden ones changed with the weather and the seasons. One met and became friends with other riders and as he loved children they too enjoyed the odd ride. I have a shirt which puts it all perfectly saying “Get a Life get a Horse” both he and I had a wonderful time.
What a lovely story Helen – I love the sound of Sam 😊
My little story 🙂 I run a creative business and for the last couple of years wanted to incorporate more of nature in my work. I have a dog and go on twice daily walks with him. I live in quite a green area of London and love the choice of the fields and woods near me but never took notice of all the little bits of nature on my walks – even things that grow out of the concrete cracks and the trees that line the streets. I started getting into leaf and flower pressing and I started to notice all the minutiae of nature around me. I have a gingko tree right next to my house and I never knew (lived here for 10 years!). I am also learning about what grows naturally in the different seasons and the beauty of seed pods and things that I always regarded as ‘dead’. Slowing down a bit has been an eye-opening experience and my collection of plants is growing. Who knows this may become something more than a hobby but I am just enjoying it for what it is.
I totally identify with this Kashmira – thanks for sharing!
I love this idea and want to be reminded every morning to look for the beauty in the day.
Me too Annie 😊
My life is full of tiny little stories – like the bee I found sheltering under a leaf from heavy rain this morning and that I moved to a more sheltered spot, a bright yellow ivy leaf that I found on my walk, a double bow rainbow where, for the first time ever, I could see where the end landed (but there wasn’t pot of gold!), the fox that made eye contact with me before rushing away through a gap in the hedge, a cloud on the school run that looked like an Egyptian pyramid and a lovely few minutes spent watching a grey squirrel sitting in a hawthorn tree eating the ruby red berries like they were sweets.
Today we met my sister in law for lunch and I made her laugh which sounded like a tinkling bell. Almost a little giggle of a much younger woman. That made me smile, and I saw her as she was, thirty years ago. Just at that moment. And driving home, along a tunnel of trees, we saw the sun streaming down at the end, with heavy raindrops falling through the shafts of sunlight. Such beauty, which we were so lucky to see. We’d chanced to be in the right place at the right time. Then later, at the end of the evening , a ladybird landed on my lap. In November! They love to get into our house to hibernate, but the heating keeps waking them, so we are not really a good refuge. I’ll find her again tomorrow on the window and let her outside. Hopefully she’ll find a more suitable winter home. But I was glad that she dropped by, before her long sleep.
Thanks Jenny – good luck with your ladybird! 😊
Thanks Maggie – you described your tiny little stories so well 💚
I believe my story would start in a barn. Having been involved with horses all my life, I can’t imagine a story without them. Each horse is unique, their color, their disposition as well as their personalities. Their eyes reveal their souls. One is able to hold their large heads in one’s hands and gaze into their eyes. They will communicate if you are patient. As Winston Churchill once said ” the outside of a horse is good for the insides of a man.”
Love this Ann – thank you 😊
M best story was when I went to Mexico and visited the ancient Mayan temple Chichen Itza during autumn equinox the shadow of a snake climbs down the side on one day every year and Mexican people come for miles to see it. I felt very privileged to witness such an amazing sight. It took my breath away, I was in awe
Sounds amazing Maria – thanks so much for sharing!
When I was a little child, in summer after dinner we always went to our rooms to have a rest (in Italy this time of the day is called “la controra” in which everyone is home, rooms are silent and shutters are closed to protect from the hot sun outside).
I remeber I didn’t feel sleepy but I had to respect the family’s rest laying in my bedroom,
so I spent the time watching the shapes that the light painted on the ceiling, passing throught the shutter. Every shape could become the character of a little story …
Thanks Stefania – I spent time in Italy as an au pair and took a while to adapt to the post-lunch snooze – I seem to remember watching the light coming through my shutters too…😊
My little life story is the deep connection I have found with Nature. Although looking back I think it was always there, as a child it was a natural existence. As an adult, my eyes have been reopened. The woods, the deer, the birds and even the coyote are all a part of my daily life. How fortunate am I? What was dreamed of as a young girl is my reality in later life.
Dreams come true in life are definitely very fortunate! Thanks Karen 😊
My job is as a gardener and I am privileged to see those small moments that so many folk miss, the ripening haw, the lost wing feather from the robin, the blue of the sky filled with scudding clouds. I love being close to the earth and the scent of damp and decay as autumn approaches or thrill at the fragrance of the first bluebell or feel my heart beat that little faster when the swallows return. When I am not gardening – I walk. The miles move beneath my feet as I feel both an observer and part of the landscape. Small moments. Precious beyond compare.
Lovely Kate – thank you – and I feel exactly the same way about time spent in my garden or out walking
My little stories would be how fascinated I have become in writing haiku poetry and smaller micro poetry to describe the constant force of nature, the flora and fauna as well as the seasonal changes, time and tides. Observing in my walks, words and emotions just flow in response to this awesome world we live in.
Sounds amazing Ann – what a lovely idea!
My story begins this September with a three hour drive through the mountains to a vineyard in eastern Washington. Watching my husband, brother and two nephews methodically remove 400 pounds of Chardonnay grapes from the vines from the comfort of my wheelchair I breathed in the scent of good earth. A ginger cat crept through the grass, and a shy border collie darted close to me as I enjoyed some sweet tangy grapes. On the way home we stopped to take pictures of the north side of Mt. Rainier. Arriving hom we had many helpers as we squashed the grapes by hand. Then, after putting them through the grape press the twelve of us enjoyed a delicious al fresco dinner. It was a perfect day!
Amazing Ronda – it does sound like the perfect day! 😊
My dream was after running a pub for 30 years to be able to retire and still live in the pub which after a while we got permission for change of use and turned our beloved pub into a beloved home, it was a small pub but now a reasonably sized home and I love every inch of it and always have, lots of our old customers are now friends and visit us regulary still and talk of the old days and we still love a bit of gossip as we always did, the village still has lots of pubs so nobody was cross when we closed and were pleased that we still live here, but not as much as us.
I love this story Sue!
Magical moments are the ones that stay in my heart as well as my mind. The otter I watched playing, quite unconcerned by my presence. The baby marmot in the Alps who trusted me to stroke him. The view from Snowdon at dawn. The moment I found a rare flower. A dragonfly emerging. An extraordinary red rainbow. The sound of seals calling. Coming home from school to the smell of fresh-baked bread. Holding my children’s hands. I must treasure memories as one day that may be all I have but that will be enough.,
So lovely Carol – thank you for sharing
My story is a lovely Roe Deer arrives in our Garden every Year now since my lovely Mum passed away 10 years ago when we bought this Home and 1 keeps appearing every year. Just like Magic
Thanks for sharing your lovely story Rita
My best story is around something we in the UK dont often mention… out of fear, misguided love, I am not sure. At the start of the first lockdown, my father in law was dying of cancer. We were living with him and caring for him as necessary. As it often happens, things changed quickly in ways we were not prepared to deal with, even with hospice visits. The ambulance crew came to transport him to hospice, but he didnt want to go, he wanted to be at home. He fell unconscious as they attempted to move him to the transport chair. One of the women attending looked exactly like my niece. In his last conscious moments he held her hand, and looked so lovingly into her eyes. We knew he thought it was his beloved granddaughter. Even she couldnt believe the resemblance when we showed her a picture. We spent the rest of the day at his side, talking to him, playing his favorite music, telling funny stories… and when a little robin sat on the window sill (which we had always associated with his wife who passed several years earlier) we knew it was time to say our goodbyes. For a man who never believed in the afterlife, he at least left this life surrounded and held in love. May we all be so blessed.
Thank you so much for sharing your moving story Jenn. I’m so glad your father in law spent his final days surrounded by love as you describe so beautifully.
oh the places you’ll go and the stories you’ll tell, we are so surrounded by moments of magic, it only takes a second to appreciate wonder – yet it is so often lost in the busyness and chaos of our modern world – taking that moment to be a part of the universe and just being is when the magic appears – as I stood downstairs waiting for my husband I looked up at our tiny balcony ,we had recently installed planters along the top – the flower plants were growing nicely and just starting to cover the sides of the planters -the underneath of the middle planter had several large butterflys resting there – what a delight! this then became known as the butterfly motel and most morning we would find several guests or more in that one spot – they used this spot all season – I hope to see butterflys using it again this season
Thanks Trudie – I love the sound of the Butterfly Motel!
I have a handful of exciting, big stories….but so very many more little ones! Like taking my dog for a walk in the park, and trying to find that perfect Autumn leaf. Picking a beautiful Dahlia, and finding a tiny snail nestled in the petals. Buying a new skein of yarn to add to my collection, and that happy feeling when I finish each chemo blanket. Watching the seeds I planted sprout, and grown into tiny seedlings and then healthy plants . The pleasure of picking and eating a sun-warm tomato right off the vine, and remembering that tiny seed. The moment when the wings of the Monarch butterfly I’d been nurturing as a chrysalis are finally dry enough for it to fly away. Gathering a tiny bouquet of flowers to put beside my mother’s bed. I have photographed most of these, and many more, moments in my life……some are only pictures in my head. I am so excited about this concept of one’s life being defined by a collection of small stories, rather than one or two big events.
Thanks for sharing some of your little stories Alison – when you add them together like this it’s easy to see what Laura Pashby means about them being the beautiful fabric of our lives isn’t it?
I learnt yesterday that a beloved aunt, who raised me with utter unconditional love and affection, is slowly fading and she is nearing her end. I then decided that grief needs to be witnessed, and therefore set aside a few minutes to honour her life. What a lovely surprise and affirmation to then read your blog! It resonates with me on so many levels, especially now and also because I am severely affected by separation anxiety. I would absolutely love to win this book; we are from South Africa and will be visiting our daughter in the UK for Christmas. I have so much to process at this time, as my husband and only other daughter, both had Covid-19 this year, and both were hospitalized for more than a month. I am so grateful and blessed to still have them both.
I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt, Carisa. I totally agree about the importance of witnessing grief and taking time to honour loved ones we lose. By sharing these ‘little’ stories with one another we gain so much support and shared humanity don’t you think? I hope you have a good trip to the UK at Christmas and that being able to spend time with your daughter and husband after the trauma you’ve all been through brings you joy. Thanks so much for sharing Carisa and take care X
My little stories often feel like one big story until I get outside into nature and then I can make sense of them all. But the natural world that helps me decipher my life is not a remote external sensation it’s actually part of me and when I notice this I regain some clarity. Of course I have to also give some credit to my trusty Beagle who is always with me on these walks as he makes my heart sing, puts a spring in my step and a smile on my face.
Thanks for sharing Lisa – know exactly what you mean – and definitely credit to your Beagle! My Spaniel makes me feel the same way.
My stories will be about all the priceless but ‘free’ pleasures in my life, the laughter and chatter of my Grandchildren, the random ‘love you Nanny’ that fills my heart. My 3 sons all grown up and adult but still like little boys when they are all together with their in jokes and raucous laughter at each other. Sitting in my office in the morning with windows open wide and listening to the birds singing, better than any radio station. Seeing my garden festooned with cobwebs all glistening with dew in the early morning, and the wonder at how those little spiders manage to create such marvels. Everyday there is pleasure and happiness to be found in love of my family and the never ending beauty and wonderment of the natural world around me.
Love this – thank you Kym!
Where I live used to be the centre of a scented- violet growing industry until WW2 when the land mostly had to be turned over to food production. As we had wild violets growing in the garden and it had become possible to buy varieties of violets of different shades, I started growing these beautiful plants for sale as garden plants. The scent even from the leaves after rain is delicate but lovely. I found that most people who came to my garden gate to buy them had a very personal reason for doing so. Maybe it had been their mother’s favourite flower or they wanted a plant in rememberence of picking wild ones as a child. The joy these plants gave others became my joy too.
What a beautiful ‘little story’! Thank you Carol
We are like a bookshop of stories, everyone of them beautifully illustrated from our memories. Some are a bit tatty now, but So lovely to retell ourselves.
Others are worn away at the edges as we revisit them far more regularly than is helpful. I know I tell myself that I am not just an illness, that I am an artist, writer, a mother, an abundant creator. And of course I am all that but the tendrils of illness lace themselves in a way that can be limiting. So bring on the freshly bound books, the new book scent, the sumptuous words, the stories that take us away from body and into soul. Let’s travel beyond ourselves.
I love this idea Susie – thank you so much for sharing.
As I read the post I noticed a tiny spider walking across my desk. Not much larger than a full stop, it reminded me of Robert Frost’s poems, A Considerable Speck. ‘It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,/Yet must have had a set of them complete/To express how much it didn’t want to die’. I placed a pencil in its path. It climbed on with enviable ease, and I carried it over, on the pencil, to the aptly named spider plant that lives on my desk, and where now, I hope, the tiny spiderling has made its home.
Thank you Jackie – you capture the moment so beautifully
I’ve always seen myself as a cross between Kirstie Allsopp and Ma Larkin from The Darling Buds Of May, I had a wonderful childhood, we often went on family picnics to the local woods and fields, always walking as we had no family car, my dad taught me all the birds, trees, insects and wildlife names, as I grew up, I always saw myself as a country girl, after I was married we moved to a Victorian Cottage which is still my home today, in a small village in Leicestershire, as my children have grown up and gave children of their own, I have baked and cooked and sewn and knitted, all the things that make me happy, but one thing was missing in my life, I’ve always wanted hens, I finally got three rescued battery hens this year whom my grandchildren named Elsa, Anna and George !!!, my dream has come true, there is nothing nicer than collecting freshly laid eggs from my girls that warm your hands and then for breakfast dipping your soldiers in, I think I’m finally at my happiest right now .
Thank you Elisabeth – such a lovely story and I definitely could do with a freshly collected egg for my breakfast!
I love this idea and would welcome learning how to capture those little moments which mean so much in a way which truly reflects their perfection.
Thanks Jan – hope you enjoy capturing your ‘little moments’ 😊
My small story is of an allotment, which once was gardened by my grandfather and father, so it has been in the family for many years. I love using tools they used, with faded paint and initials etched into the shafts of spades and hoes. As a small child I relished finding bits of treasure in the soil, pretty broken pottery, small bits of clay pipes, ancient marbles and sometimes old coins but best of all a complete pottery ink bottle. It’s a wonderful place to sit after a few hours work, to enjoy the fruits of our labours and watch a friendly robin feast on the insects we have disturbed. My little piece of heaven.
I love your little story Linda – you sound very like me as a child and, like you, I also feel that sitting in my garden after a spot of work is heaven. I have a battered old chair that is strategically placed in the most sheltered spot in the whole garden and I love to sit there with a cup of tea and watch the birds and insects doing their thing
I’ve always loved nature and animals, being the type of child who walked around with an Imaginary dog on a lead, and would stop my siblings from sitting next to me as, “There’s a baby deer/lamb there!” Unfortunately, our father passed away when we were young, so pets other than fish and hamsters were out of the question because Mum needed to work full time.
Once an adult myself, I was able to bless our family with dogs, always rescued.
My own passion, the love of animals, being outside and able to watch the wonder of nature, I was able to put to great use in my career as I became the Registered Manager at a home for 30 elderly people with severe dementia.
The beautiful grounds were made as safe and accessible as possible, and I was able to watch people who completely changed as they began to dig their hands into the soil of the raised beds, planting vegetables and fruits, sew seeds in the greenhouse, feed or just watch our rescue chickens as they scratched about, sit in one of our gazebos or arbours, and pick flowers for the dining tables. Our resident cat loved to stretch out on the lawn and would know which person particularly liked to have a furry friend on their bed at night.
Not only did the connection between staff and clients deepen with the relaxed, fun atmosphere but with relatives who sought sanctuary outside when it became difficult to converse. So many interesting things to do became a godsend.
As our relationships deepened, we shared so much, and I was often deeply honoured to be alongside family members as our residents passed away.
One particular death stays with me today, more than a decade later. We used to offer families of people who were nearing the end of life ‘put you up’ beds and ensure that they were well fed and cared for should they wish to stay. However, there was one daughter who was particularly nervous about being with her Mum until the end. As the time drew near, I spent the night in the little room I had there, having explained what could possibly be signs that the end could be near. At about 1am a knock came at my door. It was just the three of us, two in pyjamas, one cosy in her pink sheeted bed, forming a triangle as we gently held each other’s hands. So peaceful, beautifully natural, in soft lighting from a lamp, the lovely lady’s breathing slowed and finally stopped.
The next morning I was able to pick a flower that she had tended in the garden and place it onto her pillow. It felt so right, like the closing of a circle.