Working through emotions

Dissolving emotions from Be Creative Daily on Vimeo.

After making the last film which expressed all that I was going through over the weekend, I felt cleansed, I felt stronger.

It was a very vulnerable experience sharing such raw emotions, but the responses I received confirmed that I was doing the right thing in sharing… opening doors for others to express how they feel.

This morning I felt compelled to experiment further with the film, cut it, reverse it, speed it up, to express the fact that sharing the emotions had been a healing experience and had enabled me to confront them, make friends with them, conquer them and move on. (This new film can be seen above.)

It is a long and winding path we travel, but if we acknowledge our feelings and allow ourselves to feel them deeply, we can learn from them also and in doing this, we enable ourselves to feel JOY more deeply too.

This morning, I created a piece of art (see below) which, I hope, illustrates the transformation we make when we embrace our darker, more difficult emotions, work through them and come out the other side shining.

I would love to hear of your own experiences if you feel like sharing.
With love,
Julia x

To be Lonely / To be Loved

I embarked on the 30 Day Challenge on March 1. My mission was to Share JOY through ART. As often happens, the path took unexpected twists and turns. I had not expected this so soon. All sorts of deep-seated feelings and emotions have been unearthed. I am learning to embrace them, feel them, learn from them. 

It seems so strange to be sharing these emotions and feelings when my challenge was to share JOY, but this is part of the process and I firmly believe it will come full circle as I do here. Already, having explored those feelings, I am stronger, they have less power.

In my attempts to share JOY, I have also been reconsidering how important it is to examine the way in which we experience other, darker emotions and rather than hide them, just be with them and let them do their work.

Today, I was moved by the work of Marina Abramovic. I feel am in a very important period of transition and transformation. Discovering her performance art inspired me to make this video.

To Be Lonely / To Be Loved from Be Creative Daily on Vimeo.

“In the deeper sense, it’s about hospitality. It’s that you actually open yourself to the public and show your vulnerability, your contradictions and be there in the full sense for them.”
Marina Abramovic

Clearing the clutter to make way for clarity and productivity

I have been painting a lot the last couple of weeks. Not my usual kind of painting: my art, but the domestic kind: woodwork and walls.

B and I had planned to go to France… to relax, walk in the countryside, breath slowly and enjoy some time out. However, a couple of weeks before we were due to go, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I almost did. I talked myself out of it; he talked me round.

His offer was to stay home with me instead of going away. To spend the time we were due to be relaxing on holiday working hard. There was method in his apparent madness of course. Having spent a fair amount of time with me of late, he had observed the rather chaotic way in which I switch between work and play; the piles of papers that travel between desk and dining table; the general clutter and the way this level of discord affects me on a daily basis. He wanted to help.

With small boy starting nursery next month, I will be working from home on a regular basis and need a fresh start. I need a good timetable, a clear, well-organised workspace and a new mindset. Slowly, but surely the changes are happening. B’s offer of help was the first step. A step in the right direction.

I would be the first to admit that I have too much clutter. Always have had. I don’t know any different. But I do know that I don’t want to live like this forever. I have many creative friends who are also collectors, and like me, they struggle with “stuff overwhelm” and lack of focus. I had fleetingly thought that perhaps the mess was one of the reasons big son is often distracted, but I brushed the thought aside. The idea that I might be more settled if home was less chaotic had also crossed my mind, but then I got distracted. Having someone I care about refer to me as “hoarder” however, shocked me. Maybe that was what it was meant to do… to frighten me into action… it did!

After I wiped away the tears, let go of the anger, accepted the truth, I felt a strange mix of energy and calm. The calm, I think, was acceptance. Acceptance that if things were going to change, I had to change things. The energy, I believe, was the desire to change things. And so I did… or have certainly started to… and the results have surprised and inspired me.

With boys staying elsewhere for a week, I set about sorting through the contents of their room. In the past, each time I have sorted bags of toys for the charity shop, the boys have inevitably got to the bags before the bags have got to the charity shop and removed the contents before I had chance to remove the bags from the house. Lesson learned: remove the bags before the boys appear.

Having B on hand, working hard close by, painting walls as I glossed skirting or sanding doors as I sorted stuff meant that I was not doing it alone and helped keep my spirits up. Stopped me giving up. It would be fair to say that it was very hard going at times.

Clearing took a while, removing everything, dumping a few things right away, then taking little breaks from sanding and painting to sort through more. This worked for me as when I was bored with one task, rather than slowing to a halt, it was easy to move quickly onto another task – sort more books and toys – then go back to painting with fresh energy. In this way, I cleared boys’ bedroom, bathroom and sitting room. After painting their bedroom, I was determined not to fill this beautiful fresh space with clutter. I put things back on the shelves, most important / most used / favourite toys and books first. I was careful not to put back anything I thought they would not use and made sure to get rid of anything that did not fit. Drawers were filled so that both boys could reach their own clothes, giving them more responsibility to select their clothing in the morning and find their pyjamas at night.

On their return home, the boys were surprised and delighted. I am not holding my breath, but it has been two weeks now and big boy still seems determined to keep the room tidy, putting his clothes away when they used to be flung into a pile (if I was lucky) in the middle of the floor and reminding small boy to tidy up his toys before bedtime.

One of the major changes I have observed has been big boy’s ability to choose his own games and engage in independent activities when he would previously have told me, “I’m bored” or that he had nothing to do. Now, it is much easier to find things he wants to play. With fewer toys in the room, he is able to find more things to do. It was very quiet up there the other day and I found him on the top bunk, deep in concentration, playing a game of chess with his cuddly dog.

Same goes for small boy. There are now a number of puzzles he can get down and start on his own. He is able to reach all of his books, select a story at bedtime and the things he used to pull from shelves and leave in a mess on the floor are now out of reach, hidden in boxes or out the door.

Revitalising the sitting room, for me, was a biggie. I had not sat in their for a long time. I had walked in, sighed and walked out many times, but not sat on the sofa, relaxed. I am not entirely sure why, as the difference in the decor is far from radical. But it is now clean, fresh, mine. Before, it had hand prints and finger marks and a drawing or two on the wall done in felt tip by big boy when he was small boy’s age. All that is gone. My walls are milky white. I still have almost as many books on my shelves, but the little bits and bobs on the shelves in front of them are gone. I am free to remove a book without moving something else first and the cds and dvds that were regularly left out of boxes or hidden under sofas are now tucked away out of reach.

And boy, does it feel good!

There is still a long way to go… dining room (also serving as office) is on the cards for September and this will be a major challenge. It is here that the piles reside. It is here that my filing goes awry. It is here that I spend most of my time… feeling lost.

I am confident now that I can do it. In clearing the boys’ room, the living room and the shed (more on that in a later post) we took four car loads to the dump, made three charity shop trips, filled the recycling to overflow, the bin to the top (2 weeks running) and left numerous articles on the pavement outside with a sign saying “help yourself” and they were gone.

I feel happy to get rid of things now. If it does not have a space, it does not have a place and I can let it go. I am sure I will face some difficult decisions as I sort through the next room, but I can see already that space is much more comforting than clutter. I have let go of my belief that a creative home is a cluttered home, and I can see that I will have the space to be more creative if I have space to think, room to breathe. I am aware also, that if this change in environment has had such a positive effect on the boys, it will also (and already has had) a positive effect on me. I will be more focussed. More productive.

The parts I have finished feel like a new home.

In making these changes to my living space, I am also making changes to my outlook. I feel worthy of this shiny new home. I feel ready for the challenges of working on my own business. I have started making lists of things I need to do and when and how I will do them, not just endless “to do someday when I get round to it” lists. I have a timetable; a plan.

For those of you who know me, this may sound a little unlikely, but I am determined. And part of my new mindset is being comfortable asking for help, so look out, I may be calling on you soon!

In the mean time, feel free to check in on me. Ask me how I’m doing… cheer me up or cheer me on. I promise to do the same in return.

And let me know what changes you are making too… what are you doing to create a more inspiring environment; a happier home?

The art of the everyday

It has been a couple of days since I posted here, following my piece on fragility. It has also been a couple of days since I finished a piece of art. I have been giving myself space to breathe and it feels good.

When I awoke with the word “fragile” on my mind the other day, I knew I had to learn from it. Why, when I was doing something I loved, something that should be fun, was I feeling so exhausted? What was supposed to be a pleasure had become a chore and the joy, which was the intended outcome of daily creativity, had been replaced by anxiety. Whilst I was still enjoying the actual act of creating, I was feeling pressure to deliver. Pressure to make something good. Pressure to have something to share, something valid to say. This pressure, of course, came from me, nobody else.

I felt at first, that the important thing was to create something every day, regardless of all else. I made it my mission to push on against resistance, to put on a brave face and create no matter how I was feeling. Whilst it felt good to achieve my goal, the sense of satisfaction was dampened by the emotional and physical exhaustion. This was an unsustainable, reckless form of creation. Surely a better approach would be to do what feels right when it feels right and to acknowledge, examine and seek to understand those struggles and feelings of resistance and learn from them. So, for the past two days, I have taken time out to reflect and return to my original aim for this project.

In sitting back and examining my project so far, I see that in trying to focus on my art, I had lost sight of my original intention. I remembered that my original idea to inspire and celebrate creativity in everyday life sprung from a desire to bring more creativity into my own life and to encourage others to acknowledge and enjoy creativity in all its forms. It was not to stay up too late making art like there’s no tomorrow, worrying about whether or not I would manage to create something original and post my next blog entry before midnight. So on Thursday, a rare day at home with no kids, I did what felt right. I tackled the chores I had been putting off for the past week; I cooked; cleaned; rearranged; listened to music; to discussions on the radio; I went out for dinner on the spur of the moment. I felt great. And importantly, I took the time to notice the creativity in many of my daily actions. On Friday, I did the same. I did what felt right, spent time on activities that bring me joy and I did them with awareness. I had coffee with friends and engaged in lively banter and exchanges of ideas; I worked on the garden – cutting the grass, planting new life; I started a couple of little sketches, but let myself not finish them; I cooked up little apple and blueberry pies, topped with stars; I fell asleep early with my boys and awoke at midnight to spend a little bit of time writing, unpressured. The natural, spontaneous creativity returned.

So today, I am celebrating the creativity in the ordinary and the everyday. I am honouring the inventiveness in the things we do without really thinking… fiddling with a recipe; dressing colourfully; taking a little detour on the way to work; distracting the kids with a new game in the car; arranging a little still life on the bedside table or flowers in a vase… the list goes on.

We create our own lives, every hour, every day, and there is delicious creativity that slips by unnoticed in the smallest of actions.

My challenge to you is to take notice of the many wonderful, creative things you do as you go through your day. Be mindful. Acknowledge this creativity in your daily life, do things with awareness, take pleasure and pride in these little achievements.
Please share your experiences here.

Fragility and growth

Last night, I was wondering what it would be like to create at the beginning of the day, rather than after dark. This morning, I awoke with the word “fragile” on my mind. Feeling somewhat flat last night and questioning myself and my mission here, I had reached out for help. It was suggested to me that I use my creations to track and express my moods and emotions… something I do inadvertently at times, but rarely consciously.

So, this morning I set out to express that feeling of fragility. Blue seemed the obvious colour to use for this word and an egg (raw) seemed the perfect canvas. As I took photographs of the painted egg, two other things caught my eye… some cress planted a few days ago, beginning to grow on a tray in the kitchen and some grass planted out in the garden a few weeks ago, now an inch or so high. In my mind I began to explore the connections between fragility and growth.

I will not go into detail here, other than to say that at that moment… photographing the egg, noticing the growth from the seeds, I saw myself as those fresh shoots… green, new, growing.

In the morning rain, the paint washed off, but the egg remained intact.

When we plant little seeds, they are fragile, delicate, vulnerable, but treated in the right way, loved and nurtured, they flourish and grow. I hope that in acknowledging my own fragility… in allowing myself to be vulnerable, but treating myself with love and care, I am paving the way for fresh growth and new learning.