As women, we can too easily let go of what makes us. We move to embrace dreams of romance, children and family, and we leave our passions behind. Most often, no one asks us to put ourselves last, but somehow we allow it. Until one day we wake up to realise that we have been investing in and enabling everyone else's gifts and forgetting about our own.
On social media we share memes that say "I'm a mother, my hobbies include going to the bathroom alone..." (you know the one) and we laugh at our collective selves because some days that is the most we can hope for, and because the fact that it is a meme means we are not alone, and most of all because if we didn't laugh at that kind of universal truth, we would cry because it feels like this is what our essence has been reduced to.
I was there. I was lost in a cycle of giving at work and giving at home, and giving when I had nothing left to give, and it wasn't all bad, there was joy, and fulfilment, and pride and satisfaction to be found in all sorts of places there. But every now and then, when I was exhausted by it all, I would scream to myself (or perhaps not only to myself) "No one is looking after ME!" And I felt it, and I felt it hard. But even if loved ones and treasured friends were hearing me, no one jumped in. I had to rescue myself.
I am still rescuing me.
I have started by finding my essence again. For me that is art and the creative process. Making stuff. That is what filled my heart, gave me joy, and made me feel free when I was young. And although I left it behind for love and children and family, it didn't leave me. It hung around until I was ready to find it again.
Art, my long-lost friend, is in my life again because I made time for it. I rather re-arranged everything for it. Because the other life, the one I've left behind, didn't have room. I didn't mind my other life, but this one is better. I feel nourished and nurtured, and like I am finally connecting to what I was made for. I am not wishing any days away, not even the bad ones, I am just wishing there were more hours weeks and years for art. And I wish I made more room for it earlier.
Art is back. While I am still experimenting with styles and re-learning, or learning for the first time, how to work with different mediums I have found what ties it all together. It is about discovering the joy in the everyday, the magic in the ordinariness, the humour, strength, lightness and sense of place right here. And if you happen to find a piece of my art on the wall of your home, I hope you see it too. The beauty of a teacup, the comfort in a pair of slippers, the adventure of a garden, the magic in colour and a well-formed line. I hope you find the true essence of being, the spark of really living, of remembering yourself and what makes you happy, right there on your wall.
For me it started with a "jolt" that meant that I had no choice but to review everything (but that story is for another day). It could have been an ending, but I found a beginning in it, and what a beautiful new beginning it has been.
I don't want you to think it has changed everything. I am a single-mum. I still don't get to wee in peace or sleep right through the night. I still referee far too many fights about who gets the good spot on the sofa. I am the one frantically searching for someone's matching shoe when it is already time to rush out the door.
But there is balance, there is joy, and there is contentment. Not just going out into the world, but in me. And it is good.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!