Holding the parts of my life

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The poem from the yesterday {when I began writing this post} the other day was my way back to this space.  I read it just a little while ago and it gave me words to even begin to describe where I have been.

I have been flat for such a long while. But pretending otherwise, because if you fake it you make it, and all of that. You are what you think so I was all on top of everything and holding it altogether and actually inside I wasn’t so much.

But I didn’t think I was depressed. Because I wasn’t crying all the time, and I wasn’t really sad, I was just kind of joyless. Ironic given the name of the blog!! :)

But I was holding it together, to one extent or another, not many people would have realised quite how out of whack I was…because even I didn’t. So..life happened.

Things got a bit demanding on the Board and took so much energy and time to work through the processes we needed to go through unexpectedly as a school, my Beloved was made redundant, both of us looking for work to pay mortgages and all that other unfun stuff but to no avail.

Feeling completely useless and not of service or value to anyone because I was not/am not getting employed in paid work. Losing all creativity (perhaps the scariest thing of all because it just is, really scary, still). Not sleeping except for a couple of hours for weeks. Suffering panic attacks…4 or 5 a day at one stage. Having a difficult relationship with my family of origin and that going to a place that is completely foreign to me, and I was in a place. A place where I had nothing left, just really flat.  Not really sad, though I had tears as well, but I felt more lost and completely overwhelmed than sad.

I was also completely empty.

So I put a brave face on it, but I only had enough for the most immediate of needs, which was not here, and besides with my dearth of creativity, I had nothing to share anyway.

A friend came over and opened a well of tears while she was here but I still felt I could manage this.  I had not yet succumbed to needing drugs again.  I was aware, I was taking self-care steps, I was not weak enough to need drugs.

And then one Saturday we went for a drive to the beach and I saw this view of the ocean (in the photo I took above and it was the most beautiful moment of grace that I didn’t have the capacity to hold it and I broke down and realised I did in fact need drugs. So over the rest of the day I came to the realisation that I couldn’t do it anymore and in fact I needed to go on drugs. Again.

And I snapped a couple of self portraits on that day of breakthorough. As well as some shots of scattering sea gulls that felt a lot like the mixed up detrius of my mind.

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So I made an appointment and went to my most fabulous doctor, and got sleeping tablets, and anti-anxiety tablets, and antidepressants and I evened out…eventually.

I still had no joy. But I was not crying and my panic attacks were only a few a week. No creativity though I did try.

I thought I may art journal my way back but I couldn’t even finish this page and didn’t get any further.

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At the doctors 6 weeks ago she asked how I was doing and I shrugged, and said okay, better than I was, and to my surprise she said she was going to double my dose of antidepressants because she thought I was still under medicated and my usual joy and spark still wasn’t back. So she did.

And the most amazing thing happened.

I felt lighter and actually happy for the first time in over a year maybe. Actually truly happy with no thought at the back of my head about what a faker I was. I made these photos when I was playing.

And I am there now. Feeling lighter. But still no creative urge so that scares me.

But I am here.

Trying to find my way back and trying to figure out what that means for me.

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Tell me kingfisher

#weeklyreflections in my #artjournal this week.

This photo was taken before the journaling and reflection part and the photo looks a bit weird to me looking at it now as though half of the page is missing somewhat.

Just before I began working on this page I saw a kingfisher on our back boundary fence that backs on to the bush. I have seen quite a few birds there over the years, but never a kingfisher before so I was quite excited. It stayed for only a minute once I came upon it, but when I saw this kingfisher sticker while searching for words and pictures for the page it seemed right.

In my writing for this week I have the meaning of the kingfisher (I looked it up in my Ted Andrews books). He said the kingfisher is a sign of peace and prosperity, and the promise of abundance, (my word of the year *gasp*), about to unfold within my life. The kingfisher has an ability to stimulate new opportunities for prosperity which often requires one to dive headlong into some activity.

So relevant for some of the ideas percolating in my head at the moment and I took it as a sign to keep going! :D Though I wonder sometimes whether my signs are in fact signs or I am reading a whole lot into just seeing a kingfisher for instance, but whatever motivates or encourages I say.

I have felt really focused and organised lately. I have plans written down, and steps to get there with deadlines attached. I am doing my morning pages (most mornings), and I feel on track, which is a good feeling I have to say. Taking real action each day certainly feels like more than floundering, which I have done a fair bit of in the past and have no desire to go back there.

Reading the Austin Kleon books and now reading Jennifer Lee’s latest book are leading me to some realisations about where I am going and even more important to taking some practical real steps to get there.

Truth card

Here is this weeks Truth card that I am finishing…or rather redoing, because there is not really that much of the old card that remains.

Truth card #4 (Before)

When I drew this card out I was not sure what I was going to do.  I painted out the background with some white and hoped inspiration would hit.

It didn’t.  This is where I am glad to have a blogging schedule of some kind now because it acts like a deadline and forces me to act, when before I may have procrastinated and waited for inspiration to hit (which it may never have done).  So…knowing I had a deadline coming up I knew I had to do something on the card.

While I was reading (and procrastinating a bit more) I had this wave of inspiration.  I had recently seen this video by Tammy, and I had been wanting to try it, so I figured I would do it on the card.  Since my base coat was acrylic paint, I put some clear gesso over it, to give the card some tooth so the watercolour would work, and also to protect the text a bit more so that I could blot it down a bit if I wanted to.

Truth Card #4 (After)
I am not thrilled with my mandala, I want to get better at them, but I am happy with the card, and pushing though one of my previous bad habits.  Structure and routines are leading to much more creativity.

It brings to mind something I read last night.  I have had this book by Austin Kleon on my kindle for a longish while but have not gotten around to reading it.  I began last night, it is a short though punchy read so I am nearly finished.  In one of his chapters, and I had a brief look right now, and I can’t find it immediately so I hope my paraphrasing is roughly correct.

Essentially he said that while blogging and the internet can be about sharing your finished work, it can also be about the process and snippets, and the dots.  And you can let people connect those dots however they please.  That is I think what I want this space to be about.  My dots, and sometimes that will be finished works and sometimes what inspires me, but essentially my dots, and hopefully there is value to another somewhere in how they connect them.

Also that point while mentioned is not what I actually was intending to paraphrase (truly I got a lot out of the book that is busy percolating in my head clearly), but what I wanted to say was that your online space and blog can be motivating in and of itself to our creative work.  It can push you in the need to create to post about it.  To give you something to post.  You can think of our blogs as containers that need to be filled, and the work we do is what we fill it up with and it can inspire and motivate our work, in a big cycle.  This space can act as the motivation for creating work, as the need to finish this card led me to doing a watercolour mandala today when I was absolutely stuck for what to do for a good few days.

Essentially that is what he said…but a lot crisper and better written.  I recommend the book even though I have not yet finished it…in case you were wondering.  :)

 

Truth Card #3

Crikey!!

Honestly looking at the before cards it is little wonder I never used these or took them out of their little bag. I don’t even know what I was thinking. Was I slapping stuff down to fill up the space, or what on earth?? A duck?! On this message?? I have no explanation. I surely can’t have thought these were finished. Because they sure as heck are not. And this slapping shit down nonsense…you can see I had no idea about collage. None.

But I do remember that at this time I had just found punchinella in NZ! Which was exciting because I had been looking for ages and I was clearly loving that texture. Ugh! I am hesitant to even produce the before photos now, but it adds to the experience to see either how far I have come or my process…or how far I hope you can see I have come.

Truth card #3 (before)

So. Anything would have been an improvement on that palava.

When I first saw the duck I thought instantly of this post I had just read a short time before. I saw ducks in trees  and decided to just go with that. I suck at trees. So I was pleasantly surprised that I quite like this one.

I then had a flashback to the pink plaster flamingoes my grandparents used to have in their garden and we mokopuna (grandchildren) used to ride when we were little…until one of us was too rough (I am sure that was not me) and broke the neck on one…then they were moved and became off limits, but that is where I went to in my head.

So I went with it and painted him pink. Which at the time I thought was madness but as I am writing this, I have just realised that when I have felt truly afraid or alone I have mostly always smelt my Nanny’s scent (not that she stunk I hasten to add…I can feel her rolling in her grave about to disown me!) and so maybe it is not as mad as it first seems to have a pink duck, that could also represent a flamingo and the person I consider one of my greatest protectors. Maybe.

Or maybe I am just trying to make stuff up that isn’t there in order to justify pink ducks in trees! :)

Truth card #3 (after)

Sneaking in

There is no beginning too small according to Henry David Thoreau.  Today I am taking that to heart. #30dayjournal #artjournal

I don’t want to know how log it has been!!  All is well over here.  Living Summer.  The children have been home, we went camping to a beach with no cell phone reception, which you got used to, and now the children are back at school.  I kept telling myself I would blog when this happened, or this, or this, and those moments came and I only wrote posts in my head.  When I scheduled posts I somehow stuffed it up and decided that was a sign. And then our main computer died, which threw me a little loop as blogging as I now have to was not what I envisaged (mad expectations and thoughts I admit).  Until I got to the point I thought I should have something of worth to say.  But that made the pressure worse and silenced me even more…so no pressure, just a hi and I am back. I have journalled a lot including about why I was even blogging and what I missed was the sense of sharing and community and connection, which is after all what any of this sharing is about.  Looking for those like minded souls to connect with and feel less alone with in this world. So that is where I have been, living and wondering if I had anything of value to say.  Not in a deep soulful kind of way but in that way that you don’t want to be clutter in anyone’s life.  But the truth is that I missed it.  And I missed the connection and feeling that I was not so isolated and alone even if I was overwhelmed about how to begin. So I decided to sneak in…no fanfare….just sneaking.  I have still been creating and painting and I have a lot more to say.  But if I do that it won’t be sneaking and instead will involve more fanfare and fireworks so just want to keep this brief!

The life we live daily (card #25/52)

Wow.  Nearly half way.  This practice has taught me such a lot about myself.  Today’s card is very reflective of the latter half of my week as well.

The painting on the front is a painting I did a couple of years ago on a diary page that I have saved in my collage box to use at some stage.  This week I did not feel drawn to a lot of words and when I saw her I felt very drawn to putting her on this week’s card.

Our daily world (#25/52)

Eight weeks ago someone that my beloved used to work with closely was diagnosed with cancer.  This afternoon we are going to his funeral.  He was only 45.

It has taken up a lot of my thinking.  Eight weeks.  The difference that that amount of time can cause to a person’s dreams and very life.  A wake up call of sorts for the rest of us as we sat absorbing the news very shell shocked late last week.  At the start of the year he and his wife still had their dreams and future in tact.  His wife’s future is now very different, and the reality of that is unimaginable for me.  She has been in my constant thoughts.  His whole family have.

It has also made me think think about what I would do differently with only eight weeks.  It won’t be made up with the big ticket items on my list-of-things-to-do-before-I-die.  It will in reality with only that amount of time be the life I am living now.  So is the life I am living now, the life i would choose to be living if I had only eight weeks.

Generally I am grateful to say it is.  There is not a lot I would choose to change or regret about my life as it stands right now.  It would be my lost dreams of a future and missing my children’s future moments that would cause me the most distress.

It has also made me think about the potential of things I want to do but haven’t because I am not sure what I am doing, or how it would all work or what I have to do.  And I don’t like to fail. In eight weeks all my chances and choices could be removed from me, and then one of my regrets would be the life I have not lived and the chances I have not taken even if I bomb wildly.  At least I would have tried.  I won;t be living in the not knowing one way or another, a live only half lived.

So.  That is where I am.  This week.  Looking at those actions that make up my everyday private world, the real live, not those grandiose dreams that go on our lists of things we want to do.  What are we doing in the here and now.  The life we live daily is the life that counts in the end, that says who we were, who we are.  What is it that makes our lives now, the ones we want to be living and that we won’t regret.

The power of eight weeks will be the most lasting legacy he has left to me, it is up to me how well lived my eight weeks are.  A paradigm shift if ever there was one.

Inspired to note my week’s reflections by the 52 card project that Teresa is doing.  Her words are worth reading anyway in my experience, but her words about this project in this post sum up perfectly what the project has meant to me.  “It was my way of leaving bread crumbs to mark my path“. These cards are indeed my breadcrumbs to my path.  Every single one.

Having just read this post, it also astounds me how much it ties up with the thoughts behind my card this week, and the thoughts in my head.  Synchronicity across the oceans.

Live your life well. xx

Rocking moments

RYWLinking up over at Virginia’s as I record the moments that rocked this week

The biggest thing that rocked my world this week was a 6.5 earthquake (hahahaha), thankfully the aftershocks have dropped to only the one or two that we can feel each day and I am studiously avoiding the website that will tell me how many aftershocks we are actually having for the sake of my anxiety and so I don’t become addicted to red wine!!  :)  Also thankfully we had only a little bit of damage.

I won a spot on Nataša May’s art workshop Cotton Candy Girls which was very thrilling and I am looking forward to it!

Also Pixie Campbell’s Visual Quest workshop is opening very soon and I am most excited to be able to participating. It has been on my wish list all year so I am thrilled to bits that the start date is nearly here!!

I am grateful for ICAD, and so pleased that Victoria and I are up to date and on target to finishing this week (post coming up later today when I have taken and processed photos!!).

It is winter holidays over here, and we have had an awful amount of sun and even been hanging about in t-shirts and shorts.  It helps my sanity greatly to be able send children outside to kill each other where I can’t hear them.  We have also had an extra two boys for three days, so the good weather where three boys can go outside and make as much noise as they want makes me very grateful.

We have also had some crafty days (possibly more than just some!!)…

Craft central around here today...

We have also made playdough…

Keeping her handbag close just in case!?

I am also grateful for art mail making it’s way to my mail box courtesy of Jana at Tangled Pen.

Mail art makes me very happy!

I have thought her birds were amazing since I first saw them and I was so excited when I found one in my envelope.

I HAVE FINISHED THE ARTIST’S WAY AT LONG LAST!!!! I have been trying to finish this book for years and years and years. Even joined an online group last year and I just couldn’t do it, but I have done it this year thanks to making my blog hold me accountable and I am so excited by not only that I have finished (and that would have been enough considering how many times I tried to do this!), but also how much I got out of it.

I am also grateful for my online connections and the lovely comments and motivation I get from all of you. I feel blessed for the support and that I have people who see me in this way.

I am grateful that with some challenges and deadlines coming to an end I will have more time to get to the things I have been neglecting and feeling bad about…bonus time!

I am grateful for my beloved who opened the red wine last Sunday and indulged my high anxiety for the most part, as I did things like fill the bath tub with water in case we had the big one and we had no access to water. Also to my dearest snorting sniggering Wellington-based friends…I would probably still share with you LISA!! Maybe… :)

Sebastian is turning 10 next week, so this is my last week of him being in single digits as he keeps reminding me. It is hard to believe that I have been a mother for a decade (it has gone so fast) and at the same time, being a mother for only a decade, it feels like forever, most of the time in the best of ways! :D

And that is me for this week. I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend. :)