One of my favourite roles in life is encouraging women. To achieve this, I’ve spoken at many schools, youth groups and women’s events. I do this to inspire women because I truly rate their individual abilities. Action however, as the saying goes, speaks louder than words. I’ve realised I need to talk less – and do more. Putting creativity back into my daily life is part of the journey I am on – I hope it encourages you to explore ways of putting ‘life-giving’ activities into your busy schedule too.
This is 2015 and we have just experienced one of the best summers on record. Tanked up on Vitamin D, I head into the year full of energy, while at the same time acknowledging this year will fly by. This is a good time to take some of the ideas that have been knocking around in my head for years and put them into practice.
To set the scene, I had always intended to use my Fine Arts degree, but life got smack bang in the way – so I resigned myself to collecting and admiring art, rather than making it. When my children were young, I wanted to also encourage their creativity, so I got all the paints out and thought, “This is my chance to create again!” It wasn’t – it was a chance to save the furniture (and the children) from being coated in a rainbow of colours. The idea of picking up a brush and making work myself was laughable. In recent years when my mother would say, “Why don’t you paint or draw again?” I’d wheel out the perfect excuse – “I don’t have the time or the space!”
Fast forward some years and times have changed – I’ve changed too. This summer as I spent time with the family and took pleasure in little things, like cooking outside, reading aloud to the children or swimming in the sea, I knew I was more content. After 42 years of striving to be satisfied with where I was and what I was doing, but most importantly, who I was – being more content is a wonderful feeling. Of course I hoped it might stay at that heavenly ‘summer’ peak, but I realise contentment is more like a river that flows beside the action of life (the highs and lows). However, I know in my gut – I am content in a new way.
This is why my New Year’s resolution is to have a year of production. Not talk or dream – actually do stuff. I’m writing poems, and taking photos, like I started to last year – and have now added drawing back into my life. I’m trying to write stories as well – not sure if I’ll make a story writer, but I won’t know if I don’t try.
In my last column, I mentioned images of others’ houses and feeling dissatisfied with what I haven’t done around our home. So, I’m also using this beginning of the year energy to get stuff done at home as well – working on the premise that action leads to production. Since starting this column I have roped my husband into helping me clear out our ‘dumping’ room to make a space to work, draw and write. After a hefty furniture lugging session this week, I now have a space to work in. It has begun.
Another decision put into action was to gather a group of friends and start a ‘50 day project’. In this project, participants produce something each day for 50 days and share it with the others. One friend is writing a haiku per day (a Japanese-style three-line poem) one friend posts a paragraph a day of the book she’s writing, another a daily love letter to herself (a powerful process of healing). I’m doing ‘50 days of doodles’ using Indian ink. The creative boundaries are – I have to submit the first one I draw (thwarting my perfectionist tendency) – no starting again if I don’t like it, and only spend 5-15 minutes on the drawing itself. The group feels like having creative ‘personal trainers’ – we are committed to each other, and accountable to producing creatively each day. It feels good.
Just so you know – despite my newfound contentment, our house is still chaos. With all the travel that my husband and I need to do for work, and the fact that we have three school-aged children with all their activities – I have plenty of ‘almost’ valid reasons why I could deny these precious minutes a day I am now using to produce. But I’d rather encourage you to join me in doing something that is life-giving from your own place of contentment. I can see that using action to get contentment has failed. Contentment that leads to action, seems full of exciting possibilities.