I have never been a fan of New Year. It’s forced jollity or expectations, ( I find Winter tough and often suffer badly with depression) Society tells us New Year- New You. My husband said let’s try Dry January this year, my youngest child suggested Vegan January. I have said a firm NO to both! If I want to do anything at all this coming year it is to be a hedonist! Now I bet you are thinking.. oh she’s a party girl! Far from it, I much prefer an early night, a good book, and some knitting. Candlelight is sparkle enough for me, good wine, close friends and cats.
I don’t want to just ramble on about myself. So I am hoping that you will tell me what you think and feel in the comments space below. I’ve been thinking about re starting my blog for some time, and so I got to thinking, why? If it’s just a personal journal I can write it in a private notebook, who wants to hear about me anyway? So I’m going to write this blog for me, and for people a bit like me. I really love and value the great instagram community of creative people I am part of. Many have encouraged, supported and inspired me. I have been told by friends that I have many skills to share. So I am hoping here to share my stories, creative process, ideas, inspirations and life lessons.
A little bit of background, I live in Brighton and my flat looks out upon the sea and beautiful communal gardens. ( Something which never fails to delight me daily, as I grew up on a rough council estate) I have a strangely posh accent ( picked up at the girls convent grammar I attended) My childhood was incredibly sad and traumatic and as a result I have suffered with anxiety and depression most of my life. I am a wife and mother, somewhat plump with good cheekbones, and I’m forty three.
Now onto the important bit. In September when my youngest started secondary school, I gained extra time in my day and was excited about all I was going to do. I wanted to do more exercise, put in more hours on my art, have a great routine going, and basically do it all. Instead I got ill, anxiety worsened, and I found myself doing no art. I was frustrated, angry and disheartened. Did I wait patiently for this to pass? No! I forced things, I argued with my body, I tried this and that and was horrified by the mess I found myself in. One morning in Autumn I took myself out into the garden with a cuppa and sat in the sunlight. I looked all around me and saw mess. The mess of all the Autumn leaves, curled, squashed, muddled, crisp and beautiful. I saw very clearly the message nature was giving me. Life is messy, it’s meant to be messy, you can only embrace it.
Nothing changed overnight, but my attitude. I started to see there was a different way. I am not a fan of mess, or slow. I would like colour coded plans, and a whistle to push things along. I would also like to still look thirty and have a perfect beach body. The biggest and best lesson I have learnt is acceptance and trust. Pushing and forcing has only led to failure.
I didn’t think much was going to change but it has. I really decided to start trusting myself, and getting quiet and listening to my intuition. I started to look at success and failure and what they mean to me and to question what is truly important and valuable. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t creative recognition, or getting paid to do textile work. What made me happiest of all was the process, the actual doing of the work, and finishing the work and learning and being part of a community of like minded creative people. Teaching workshops and being here when my children came home. At one point I decided I needed to get a studio, but I found that the idea of a studio was enough to shake up my attitude, and then I realised how much freedom I have working at home if I treat it like a studio. (money saved also, bonus!)
I noticed how much I was living in my ‘story’ and not really living. Worrying, and apologising for being me, and feeling not good enough. So that is why I think it’s more important for me to be a hedonist this year. I’ve begun to feel at ease in my skin at last, and having been someone who is always in my head, I’ve begun to live fully in each moment instead.
Dreams and goals are strange things, important and complicated. Going to art college I felt sure that my path was clearly laid out. You may not be surprised to hear it was messy, and complicated and not remotely how I hoped things would go. I didn’t specialise early enough as I couldn’t find my medium. I had fully imagined myself a photographer, jeweller or ceramicist. Though none of them clicked, and much as they interested me I was lost.
I headed off to do an HND in design crafts after art foundation having been told I could do an extra year top up to get my degree, which turned out to be false..
By then my grant was finished having done 3 years full time education after A levels. At a later date I did another 1.5 years ( half a degree in visual culture ) before illness put an end to that. All in all I’ve done enough time in education to have an MA behind me but have spent years feeling cross that I don’t even have a degree.
Funnily enough the learning really started when I left education behind me. The greatest thing I’ve learnt creatively has been recently. It is FOCUS!
Suffering with depression gave me a foggy overwhelmed brain, relentless viruses and the anxiety pretty much finished me off. So I flitted around here and there, distracted, always inspired, full of ideas, never finishing very much. Also very frustrated.
I have started to say NO a lot more in my work which has moved it on considerably. Trust and intuition have become good friends and I am finding out where my skills really lie, and choosing which ones to commit to working harder on.
Yesterday I had a funny chat with my teenage son about looking up. We were discussing balconies and how people don’t often look up. I’m always looking up and down and often at weeds in pavement cracks. “Yes, but you are weird” he said! “No I’m an artist” I replied.
Well you are not making lots of money selling your work he reminded me. This used to be my downfall. No degree- failure, no regular income from art- failure! Not this year my patient reader!
To conclude, I’m stepping out of the story of my life, I’m leaving failure like a heap of clothes on the floor. I delight in my weirdness, I celebrate who I am. I am an artist, something I was too afraid to say for many years.
My intention is to live as much as possible in the present moment, to keep trusting myself and following my intuition. To draw and make marks and learn and make art everyday.
It is the beginning, there is hard work ahead, but what an adventure it will be!
So I wish the same for you. That you feel free, and alive, and realise how wonderful you already are. I wish you a happy, healthy and beautiful new year. Please tell me what your hopes or plans are for the the year ahead. I am hoping this will be a space for chatting and sharing and not just me writing long essays.