Finding your voice – #21daysofWriting – Day 14

 

Today’s topic is brought to you by Gina Chapman, who is an all-round good egg & Twitter -type.

When I started all of this, I didn’t know what writing would fall on what date. That a post on “voice” would come on the day of a controversial European Election was definitely not part of the plan.. and yet here it is.

Over the past few weeks and particularly the past few days, the “voices” I can find and hear seem less-than-satisfied. I hear anger. Fury. Hatred. I hear people yelling at other people, sometimes on the same “side”. I hear voices of anguish – depression, loneliness, anxiety – our mental health under siege. I hear fear, loathing, despair. I hear brave voices, kind voices who are exhausted because they are shouted down by louder, less kind, more entitled ones.

I hear sensible, informed scientific voices given no credence or space. I hear the very things I thought I and everyone knew – the earth is indefatigably round – questioned and “disproved”. I hear the denial of rights, the dehumanising of each other to the point we are objects, rather than living, breathing, marvellous, daft, dumb, clumsy, striving beings.

It feels like a shit storm.

I want to switch off, curl up, knit for the winter, watch old movies with cups of tea, drink a LOT of gin, go walk in the hills… do anything to escape the madness. But it’s not going to be that way, for a while….buckle in, good people, we are in an epoch of change…Finding your own voice in all of this may require some care.

I can feel my natural hope and optimism being tested. The stoicism I try to find – the thing in me that says I can and will endure, and that to endure in a good state requires certain things of me – can be hard to locate at times.  I have to work at being kind when I can be, without being a pushover. To call out BS with what grace and humour I can muster – and stand within the reaction that comes back (no-one likes their BS being called. Including me.) without getting vengeful or hateful… it takes practice… sometimes I am vengeful and hateful – I tend not to spread that around, when it comes. There’s enough of it about. Keeping my own council is often better for everyone.

In times of such negative emotion it can feel like an act of rebellion or naivety to seek something more affirming to counter the crap. Words like cheerful or happy, joy or fulfilment, contentedness, love – these words are still seen as trite, unimportant and right now, they don’t get a lot of space. We need to find them space.

Reclaiming and living these words, actively, daily might just be the counter-cultural shower we need to wash away some of the current shit. So if I give myself permission for shameless joy and daft laughter, which starts someone else off. If I grin into the wind as I cycle & someone else grins back. If I take such pleasure in that first mouthful of raspberry brownie that I HAVE TO SHARE THE BROWNIE. If I take the bin out for my bonkers old neighbour because it’s a kind thing to do & no-one walks out of that deal worse off. If I send love to my friends who are feeling hopeless or chewed up, in a more useful, active way than “U Ok Hun?” and try to listen or nudge them to a thing that might help or away from the thing that doesn’t. If I vote in a way that represents the things I most closely believe will be better for me and the environment I occupy. If I politely push back at invitations come to Some Big Place to observe a “manel” bestowing mono-cultural wisdom on the less-well informed or say I don’t want to Chair one at some other Big Place and that statement gets traction. If I do these things and a hundred, thousand other things that make stuff better and less hateful and more harmonious…

If I actively participate in not participating in the brouhaha because I don’t do well in those spaces and my voice would weaken… if I write from my heart and put that into the world, with hope and belief that where we are at right now “this too will pass”. If I do these things…I’m not part of the problem, for now.

So maybe it’s not about finding voice, but finding when actions really do speak louder.

 

I don’t know what to write – #21daysofwriting – Day 13

Today’s topic is from the delight that is James Wilson – verse 8, particularly, is his.

 

Today I’ve tried some Haiku ( 5-7-5 syllable) poems. They can be deliciously descriptive, but the form means they can be…bloody annoying, frankly….you should try to write one though… the form kind of holds you as much as it restricts.

The creation of these required much taping and counting-of-fingers to figure out the number of syllables in a word. Anyone sitting around me on the train must have thought I was a little odd.

I’ve gone with 13 Haiku for 13 days – the original plan was to write 12 verses  reflecting on each of the 12 posts so far, with a 13th to finish… that just got too complex. Went back to what felt simple.

-1-

I don’t know what to
write except I seem to find
The words from somewhere.

-2-

If I seek words they
Slip through my grasp like water
My job is to wait

-3-

This challenge has been
more giving than it would seem
I have found joy here

-4-

I said I would do
Topics allocated to
Me from all of you

-5-

Writing Haiku is
Deceptively slippery
Each word is loaded

-6-

Now I think I am
Trying to write sentences
Not “proper” Haiku

-7-

So let me try to
Be more artfully wordy
In the next verse here

-8-

V&A London
Artist in Residence found
Making giant shells

-9-

A poem can hold
All of life’s meaning in it
Magnificently

-10 –

An empty bottle
Holds the possibility
Of liquid to come

-11-

I’m trying to find
Luscious, evocative words
And trying too hard

-12-

Each morning begins
With publishing written word
Scary satisfaction

-13-

Thirteen days so far
I can see an end in sight
Beginnings start there

 

 

Bees & Butterflies – #21daysofWriting – Day 12

Today’s topic is chosen by Bee fan & beautiful human, Fiona McBride, with whom I have shared many cups of tea and slices of cake.

The whole place smells incredible. That fresh-baked sweetness, tempting to anyone who comes near. Tanya stands back and takes in the light sponge honey-cakes, cooling satisfyingly on the rack, and for the first time in a few days, she feels….. like she’s not entirely crap.

She seeks out a bowl and mixes icing sugar, butter, lemon. No measurements, she goes by the feel of the icing, the sloppiness of it, the weight under the spatula. When it’s beaten enough in the bowl, she scoops a little on her finger and tastes…. The sensation hits her tongue and she assesses… more lemon needed. Two more squeezes, more mixing…another taste – perfectly fine. She leaves it to go hunt the decoration.

Bees. Tiny yellow-and-black bees made of icing. Arrived this morning off the internet. They look so cute. Just the thing.

15 more minutes and she knows the cakes are cooled enough to not-melt the decoration. She slathers the icing on each cake – more messy than the internet prefers – then adds one small bee to the top of each. Beautiful…even if she does think so herself for a second… then immediately remembers how they “should” look and how unrisen the cakes are and how she hasn’t coloured the icing like the recipe recommends. She is a woman without yellow colouring in her cupboard. Only blue & red, after the yellow colouring got spilled last week..One less towel in the house from that incident & a weird jaundice-patch on the kitchen surface. She really is shit.

But 12 cakes exist now. She takes off her apron & goes to wash the flour and icing from her hands and face. She takes 4 cakes and puts them carefully in a deep Tupperware container. Making tubes of kitchen roll, she places them between the cakes to secure them. The Bees swarm merrily. She smiles at them for a second as she puts the lid on.

Box carefully placed in a bag, Tanya checks keys-money-phone and leaves. 10 minutes walk, two flights up and along to the right, she knocks firmly on the door.

Sadie take her time, as always. When Tanya first starting visiting, when she was a kid, either Sadie was quicker or T had more patience… Back then, Sadie seemed invulnerable. Now each time she knocks on the old lady’s door, there is a possibly that Something Has Occurred. Tanya wonders when that shift happened.

But she hears the shuffling slippers and the pissed-off voice “Hold on. One minute. I’m COMING!!” like the door was being battered down. Three locks get unlocked..dark muttering from the other side as if Sadie had cast an unlocking spell. Tanya smiles to herself at that.

The door opens. Sadie glances at the girl and turns immediately, starting back into the house with no greeting, as if Tanya was expected all along.

“Take yer shoes off if you are coming in. I don’t need dog turd on the carpet”

“Afternoon, Sadie”

The retreating figure doesn’t stop shuffling “what you doing here in the middle of the day? `You got no work to go to?”

Tanya ignores her, shucks off her shoes and makes her way through the magnolia gloom to the front room. Sadie’s kingdom. It smells like old lady. Decomposition and wee and  clothes-well-worn. The TV is blaring out some crap gameshow. The room is covered in family photos.  For all her slowness, Sadie has made it back to her throne and sits resplendent.

“If you want a cuppa tea, you’ll have to get the kettle going. And don’t forget to make me one”

“I made cakes, Sadie. We can have afternoon tea”

The old lady flashes a look of genuine pleasure for a second. Her eyes wolfish “What am I? The bloody Queen? Afternoon tea? When did you get posh, my girl?”

Tanya grins to herself and goes into the tired brown kitchen. She fills the plastic kettle and places two flowery china mugs on the side. Teabags are in 1970’s original stoneware containers. Tanya fancies these when Sadie has gone.. they are properly trendy now. She makes tea, adds milk and sugar-for Sadie. Finds the tray with the faded picture of a robin on it,  puts the mugs on the tray. She finds a not-chipped plate and places all four honey-cakes, icing and bees still in place, proudly on it. Tea and cake.

“Maybe we are bloody Royalty, Sadie” she says loudly, coming out the kitchen with the tray.

The old lady eyes the goods on the tray and grins: “I won’t tell if you don’t, sweetheart” she coos. “Splendid”

She leans forward painfully, picks up a cake and studies it. “Whassis?”

“Honey-bee cake, with lemon icing. I made them this morning.”

Sadie considers the cake a second longer, then looks straight at Tanya “Whasswrong?”

Tanya tries to laugh to off “What? What do you mean, what’s wrong? I’m all good, Sade. Baking cakes is all”

The old girl is having none of it. Tanya looks at the decrepit body, the terrible polyester skirt,  the baggy wool tights, the pale blue jumper and whatever that bobbly bloody grey cardigan is and feels unafraid. Sadie is old. She holds no power. It’s only when she looks at the wrinkled, angular face…. Sadie’s dark eyes bore into her. Two small windows, more alive and alert than T’s whole body feels. Bollocks. There will be no secrets today.

Sadie turns the cake round slowly, looking at it from all angles, muttering at Tanya, “ “Baking cakes”, she says. In the middle of the day. And her with a fancy job and a boyfriend. Coming here on a Tuesday. Like nothing’s happening. “I’m all good, Sade”.” She looks at T, “ You’ll have to do better than that, Sweetheart.”

“Try the cake, will you?”

“I will in a second. Pass me m’tea?”

Tanya watches the old girl slurp her tea and unwrap the little cake from its delicate paper wrapping. T’s focus grows intense….the world slows down. Sadie regards the cake for a moment. Sniffs it, impolitely and then takes a bite, chewing thoughtfully…… No reaction…. Nothing..Then…..

“Oh. My. Saints” The old lady looks 20 years younger for a second as she looks at the remaining cake in her fingers, grinning, eyes glittering with glee. She looks at Tanya.

“That. Is. Heavenly, my girl. Heavenly, you hear?”

Tanya, who has been holding her breath, feels tears rising. Her face crumples and she hears herself sob.

Sadie is aghast. “Oh Darling… darling… what’s happened? What’s the tears for, eh?” she coos. “I said the cake was good…”

“I know!” T wails, surprised at the noise she just made. “I made it on to the Great British Bake Off, Sadie”

“Oh My Saints! Tanya my girl that’s… that’s…. Oh My Saints…” Sadie seems unsure what to do with her tea-and-cake filled hands. “brilliant, sweetheart… bloody bloody brilliant.”

Tanya cries harder. “AND I found out Matteo has been shagging…that…ugly cow he works with….. I KNEW he was. I got home from work early when I found out about Bake Off…. She was sitting out in our garden.”

Sadie is baffled by this piece of information “That doesn’t mean he’s been shagging her”

“She was in his dressing gown, naked underneath”

“Ah. Well in that case…… yes. He’s shagging her”

Tanya cries harder.  Sadie puts down the cake and taps the side of her leg, making the sort of “come here” gesture you make to a scared animal. T moves toward the old lady, sits on the floor to her left and cuddles in, awkwardly at first because of their size difference, but the two women seem to meld into each other as Tanya sobs. Sadie strokes her hair and mutters unintelligible things.

“What’s he DOING shagging her?” Tanya asks.

“Do you need me to explain the bees and butterflies to you, my girl?”

“What?”

“The ways of the world. Men’s needs.” Sadie says.. then in a faux whisper “Sex”

“Oh Christ Sadie, no.…. and anyway… it’s birds and bees.”

“Bees and butterflies makes more sense.” The old lady declares. “ A bee would sting a bird. A bird would eat a bee. Stupid idea if you ask me – wrong sort of couple. They’d kill each other.”

“And bees and butterflies work because….?”

“They’d fly about happy. Nice colours. Hang out in the garden pollenating and things.”

“Why would the bee not sting the butterfly?”

“It’s go no beak.” Sadie says, authoritatively.

Tanya recognises Sadie’s tone, one of stubborn correctness.. the conversation, in the context of everything else, make no sense..she gives up. Stays cuddled in.

After a moment or two Sadie says, “Great British Bake Off” reverently.

Tanya wipes her eyes and looks up at Sadie.

“I know, right? I need to practice my Crème Pat.”

“ I’m thinking about the tea party at the end.” Sadie says. She squeeze T gently “When you win, Sweetheart. When you win”

Then she starts to giggle, “Anyways, I don’t know about crème pat. The only pat I’m interested in is the one I’ll put on Paul Hollywood’s Bum!”

The two women collapse into laughter, holding each other, in the midst of cake crumbs and tea and snot and tears.

I am from – #21daysofwriting – Day 11

Today’s topic is from Lesley Moorhouse  who is a Shindig Alumni from Edinburgh… today we go a little Universal…

 

I am from stardust.

So are you, by the way, I’m not getting grandiose on you or anything. (see example here from the National Geographic ) The elements that make up our bodies – Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium, Phosphorus – are shared with, and are likely to have originated from stars. I get strange comfort from this – the sense of being connected to something way way bigger than myself.. a wee spec in the Cosmos…. A kind of celestial puzzle piece.

If you ever want to feel small and humble or wonderfully huge and important – have a look at some of the research and writing that comes from astrophysics or molecular biology. I am in no-way well read on this stuff, but even beginning to look into it all, can start a sense of wonder in me (or terror, if you can’t quite cope with the existential nature of it all… have a go. See how you go). We are inner space, woven from outer space… I just love that.

So you/ we are truly remarkable – stellar, endless, vast, beautiful. You/we are also utterly unremarkable – part of an endless cycle of birth and death. The good news is (irrespective of what your religious beliefs are & I believe this part fits with whatever God you may or may not pursue) when you die your atoms reshuffle and get redistributed into other things – plants, animals, the Cosmos. (I’m not tackling the Soul question here or matters of Heaven etc.) The point being we truly are interconnected, intimately, with every living thing.  We are inseparable from nature around us and intertwined with the Universe, our bodies are created thus. We share elemental building blocks with everything. Whether you believe that, like that, or whether that gives you the heebie-jeebies is yours to work with…. But it’s worth thinking about as you move through your working week.

Everyone you meet is remarkable and unique. Everyone is unremarkable and the same. And you are connected to them. At an elemental level, you are no different. I think that’s so cool.

That thinking might be helpful in these fragmented times. Emphasis not on philosophical difference, but physical and cellular similarities, emphasis on connection and our place on the planet… these things might be worth re-thinking and learning about. I listen to The Life Scientific on Radio 4 in the UK, often, and I’m struck by how spiritual or religious those in the Scientific fields can be.. how seeking empirical truths can still leave space for spiritual pursuits. I like that paradox.

So. I might be “from” Fife and other places I have lived. I might be “from” my family. I might be “from” my gender, ethnicity, education and “from” my physical and emotional experiences which have forged me …I am all of these things, and others…and, on a cellular, elemental level, I am from stardust.

cool.

Reflection

So it’s fun to go a little stellar.. and it’s not an area I’m very knowledgeable about… and as I wrote it, I was thinking how I might be offending those with religion, or get caught up in arguments from science-deniers ( not that it’s written to shock or evoke anything other than thinking wider…).

I love these conversations and the thinking around all of it – It’s so much more satisfying ( and unsatisfying) than binary hate-filled guff that gets spouted. If you are going to think about the stardust in you, it pretty quickly moves to existence and God and nature and can we Believe Things We Can’t see…..can we hold some sense of ourselves in the face of things that are too big to make sense?

So on this one, I’m out of comfort zone and feeling like I need to do loads more research – but I’m thinking, at least.

Procrastination – #21daysofWriting – day 10

 

Today’s #21daysofWriting topic has been offered by the inimitable Michelle Parry Slater who has, in the years that I’ve known her, shown me great kindness and made me think.

 

Procrastination:to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.

“I know I’ve got to deal with the problem at some point – I’m just procrastinating.” Cambridge English Dictionary

“Procrastination is the thief of time” – My Granny

Procrastination – the art of putting off until tomorrow that which should be done today. I have to say, I’m a fan.  It’s a word I don’t think we hear often anymore – much more likely to hear about to-do lists, targets, achievements and stuff. The art of postponement – of waiting until later, of not rushing around like a loony – I sense it’s not fashionable & a little frowned up.  There seems to be a lot of value placed on Doing and being responsible and behaving as expected.

Where you do see folk take time out – refuse to be plugged in or follow the expected rhythm of “getting stuff done” – it still can have a  “I’m doing this because it must be done. It’s Self Care. I’ve scheduled some Downtime/Metime” slightly striving sense to it. Like we need to justify being a bit bloody slow, or unarsed, or lazy or self-loving.

Because somethings are truly awful to do. Insurance renewal, any single lifetask that requires you to be on hold to a call centre, tackling some really crappy conversation. Why wouldn’t you want to postpone these?

I think I have two modes of Procrastinating.

The first is akin to: this is so earth-shatteringly dull… I know I could do it. I know I should do it. I know life will be better/ cleaner/ tider having done it. but, frankly… I’d rather have a cup of tea. This mode of putting off until tomorrow is with with stuff that’s well within my bandwidth (see: Insurance renewal, tidying up the spare room, booking the car in for a service, weeding the garden etc) low-lying first world problem, being an adult in this culture kind of stuff.  If I didn’t do any of these tasks, my life would be a certain way. I choose (eventually) to do these tasks so my life isn’t that way. But this mode isn’t too concerning.

The second is the one driven by fear, inadequacy, ineptitude – the task is bigger, hairier, more complex/ scary than I understand (see: Non “friendly” conversations, especially with people that matter to me, anything to do with HRMC. etc) I don’t actually know I can do it. I might still know I should, but I can’t find the substance, the resource, to get going. Often, it’s because the outcome will be unpredictable (weeding the garden? I know how that will go. Starting a tricky conversation? Not so much). The risk attached renders me frozen – putting off the thing that needs to be dealt with because… I have no capacity to deal.

From there, I can really beat myself up. Knotted tummy. Narrative about how rubbish I am. Guilt. Fear – the whole lovely gamut.

So my question to myself is sometimes: what’s stopping you from doing this (I’m a coach, right? I’m not going to ask a judgemental “why” question & I do believe in doing unto myself what I inflict on others) and then something akin to “does it matter?”  and see where the answers take me.

I see Procrastination as pretty natural. I think we should give ourselves more credit for when we need to do it (when are you procrastinating your procrastination?  Giggling now) and work with the data when we are truly stopped in our tracks, unable to move.

Being kinder and more self aware, allowing ourselves to be a little lazier, a little less competent, a little less intense, a little more daft, a little more messy.. I think these are probably good things… we shouldn’t put them off.

 

Reflection

Hard to write todays in some ways – because on some level I have been taught that procrastinating is a bad thing and we should have more agency/ be more organised etc… something that I struggle to really get behind.

Yesterday’s blog was much more personal…I suppose I’m partly drawing back from

But once I got started, I kind of warmed to it. Thank you , MiPs X

The Day I’ll Never Forget  –  #21daysof Writing – Day 9

Today’s topic was set by Vicki Mallows.  I took a slight liberty as Vicki asked for the shift/ day I’ll never forget… it’s gone in a slightly different direction.

Do I have a day I’ll never forget? A whole day?

I could say I do… write that day… but mostly I really don’t. I have parts of days, fragments and moments. My memory plays tricks – re-conditioning the past in accordance with present information.

Days that are “meant” to be memorable –  Wedding Day, Graduation, Significant Birthday etc – are sometimes less memorable than Normal Days Where Good Stuff Happened – a long walk in the hills on a sunny Saturday. Swimming in the North Sea in April this year. Looking out over Barcelona from the outdoor public swimming pool (the one where Kylie filmed her “Slow” video)  on a hot summer day (OK – so not “normal” but you get the idea)

Then there are parts of days seared into my memory for more awful reasons – the news of my father dying came at the very end of a perfectly “normal” day. I was out at a dinner thing in Edinburgh – I remember the phonecall, the earth shifting under my feet, my world dropping away – forever altered and not even beginning to understand that in the moment.

Memory is such an important part of who we are, and is so bloody unreliable. No wonder life gets complicated, sometimes. We are creatures who live in moments, responding to the Present based on stuff we have learned in the Past, reaching toward a desired Future-state, sometimes without even knowing we desire it. We are wonderful and strange, noble and occasionally unwise. We do our best. We base many of our choices and decisions on memory and story-of-myself, and these are so ludicrously fluid and fickle – we fool ourselves that we are rational, free-willed…. Sometimes? We really aren’t.

Remembering and forgetting takes on a different resonance when you live with or witness something like dementia, particularly in a loved one. The slow dismantling of a life, the fading of Things Remembered, piece by piece is the painful and galling consequence of a brain atrophying. And it is cruel beyond words. As the person loses their memories – they lose themselves. My mother was diagnosed at 58 with early onset. I don’t remember the day of the diagnosis, because by the day it came, we knew it was something akin to this. Months of her making multiple phonecalls on the same night, saying the same thing. Car parked-and-lost countless times. Blank looks over afternoon tea as a well-known story was told. Unable to find the bloody word for the crossword puzzle, despite knowing the answer. Her terror at what was happening to her. Our woeful inadequacy in knowing what to do, how to deal… I have forgotten much of that time – these are things I can’t bear to remember, to dwell on… intolerable memories wrapped carefully up with a Warning Sticker on them. Open with caution. Only now, when friends are facing similar things with their, more elderly, parents do I return to those memories.. and then I can empathise, ask questions, understand the complete hopelessness they feel – that sense of ineptitude, of impotence.

Remembering is important.

Remembering how to remember without derailing yourself is also important.

It takes practice.

So the day I’ll never forget doesn’t exist. .. and I quite like that. I quite like that my inner-hardrive only stores certain things… the stuff that’s in there can serve me well. The memories I’ve made, the memories life has forced me to make… these are the very foundations of who I am and what I can choose. I’m pretty happy with that, to be honest.

And… all of this has led to my “deathbed” philosophy – the one that goes: when I’m just about to shuffle off, I want to look back (because I’m refusing to have dementia. It sucks. I’ve unilaterally decided it’s not for me) and go: Good Memories. Life Lived. These are my Unforgettable things.

Yes. I think that works.

 

Reflection

Ouch. This one… this one got me as I wrote it.

I rarely, if ever talk about my mothers dementia. In part it’s out of respect for my family. I am not the only one who lives with it. The story is only partially mine. In part it’s just so loaded and emotive….I’ve done my own “work” around the illness and the loss and the grief – but you start talking about it & others also want to talk…which is fair… and sometimes, selfishly, it’s hard enough working with it.  It’s a self-preservation thing.

Sometimes it’s good to talk. Sometimes, not so much.

I’ve debated whether to publish… basically because stuff will come back and I’m not sure I want what comes from unwrapping all of this. I’m a little scared.

Mum is now 76 and has been in a care home for a good few years. As someone who has survived with dementia for around 18 years, she is unusual…and now part of a Stirling University study into communication for advanced dementia patients. Her illness means we have, as a family, lived through every non-cheery emotion known to humans. We have mainlined guilt, anger, anxiety, sadness….and, like millions of others who have had dementia in their lives – somehow you continue to live…. If you are anything like me, it means you just want to live as much as you can with as much joy as you can muster.

The writing is bleaker than I expected – lots of death and loss.

I don’t like dwelling here. My preference is more sunshine…

The Ebb & Flow of Creativity – #21daysof Writing – day 8

This topic comes from Annette Hill, fellow @lndconnect aficionado & Director of Workforce Development at Hospice Care.

“Ebb and Flow are two phases of the tide or any similar movement of water. The Ebb is the outgoing phase, when the tide drains away from the shore; and the flow is the incoming phase when water rises again.” ( Wikipedia)

So.. that sounds about right when I think about my “creativity”

In the ebb –it’s not accessible, it’s fading, draining away. Generally that happens when I’ve not been in touch with it for a while – haven’t written or knitted or drawn out stupid doodly-map things that help me “see” a situation. In the ebb, I feel that loss – a disconnect with something, a bit of joie de vivre fading out. I sometimes try a thing – a blog, a scarf, a project – but I’m sort of unfit & can’t quite do the distance…. In ebb, I’m less free, relaxed, more intense about stupid things. I used to not really notice the ebb- state… basically because I hadn’t fully allowed or enabled the flow.

I would notice the flow of creativity when it arrived. I couldn’t not. It woke me up, some nights. Demanding to be exercised, like a excited puppy. I even blogged at the time about noticing the manic and the mellow.

In full flow it is not to be held in my brain or my body – it needs out. Typed out, written out, sketched out, talked out….whatever. It’s just not to be contained neatly. It wants to spill and boil, grow, spread…My creativity is messy and daft, when I try to be neat and serious. It’s risky and edge-walking, when I want to be safe and secure.

As a result it is a vital part of my wellbeing – my mental health, my emotional health… physically, it lifts me and challenges me, but writing means I have to get up and move too….I’m only just beginning to understand how vital creative outlets are… and how, if we don’t have any at all, things can get bad for us…. when I think about my 20’s and how anxious I was – my focus was on relationships and career and travelling and fighting my body & hair for more perfection ( I gave that battle up. To paraphrase Caitlin Moran, “the thing about fighting yourself is, even when you win, you lose”)  – what I wasn’t doing was writing. I’m very egalitarian in my definition of “creativity” – you can find it in cooking, gardening, dancing, coding, accounting – whatever it is that feeds your soul and gives you some semblance of deep satisfaction… the making of a thing, the creation of something.. we are wired to create… I”m not sure I knew that, when I was younger…

These days, my relationship with my creative muscles is somewhat more equal. Where once it would elbow its way in, demanding space, as some part of my brain worked away on whatever mad scheme or blog or facilitated day design or worry that requires attention… like a hostile takeover…. These days, I’m learning to invite it to arrive too – the deal is I  “show up” at my desk or laptop and it comes along too. That it and I both have work to do.  If I catch the flow, it is undeniable and can feel confounding, big. It’s demanding, and impatient – I am, at times, a secretary on dictation: “catch this, would you?”

See  Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED tallk where she articulates this much more thoroughly

So I’m playing with the notion of encouraging flow & reducing the ebb. I’m not Canute. I’m not going to try to reverse any tides… but as try to write every day for 21  days on whatever may come….I can see that the more I talk to it and access it,  the more it becomes a trusted friend, a confidant, a something beloved and precious.

It’s annoying and inconvenient at times… but beloved.

 

Reflection

I had a lot more to say on this one. I was going to get political – about the lack of resources for art and music – but I don’t know enough about all that and the politics might be a distraction. These 21 days, trying to flex my style – trying to be conscious of tone and topic… it has opened up a different part of my creative process ( if I can be so pompous). The want to show up and be disciplined, to practice and attend fully to the writing, as I said I would, not just dash something off means I have to make time and energy for the writing. And I’m happy to. And it’s been more challenging to do that, at times, than access the words… its an interesting challenge.