Pre Ubud jitters

It is nearly time for me to travel to Ubud, Indonesia to immerse myself in yoga with my foremost yogini. Whenever I prepare to travel I ride waves of exhilarating excitement. I plan and research and suspend myself in breathless anticipation. Then the date comes closer and I am struck down with that old friend of mine, fear and anxiety. When getting close to facing that separation from the known, safe, secure ‘home’ and facing the unknown my heart flutters and I experience a week of restricted breathing, overwhelming head chatter and worrying to the point of boredom. I have accepted that this is what I do. It does not stop me craving travel, experiencing new cultures. Travel for me is a liberation from that burdensome responsibility. My habit of doing too much, stretching too thin, putting too much pressure on myself to account for everyone’s needs. Travel is a pure sensory feast. The touch of different sun on my skin, the feeling of the cold air on my nose when I rise as early as possible so as to embrace whatever destination I am in. Going to bed early, not caring if I ‘should’ stay up. Hours walking, meandering, getting lost, finding treasures. That is what travel is for me. Given my nature, I am not what I would call an ‘adventurous’ traveller. I don’t stray terribly far from the beaten track. Little miss sensible still sticks around. But she is freer, less shackled and oh so much more relaxed.

That damn pre-trip fear though still haunts me before each trip. And this time, it is heightened. This trip marks the first overseas trip with Bella.

Each day we breathe air has the potential to be our last. Nonetheless the litany of reasons I should not take my daughter to Bali bombards my head with a shrill voice that is my greatest critic. It crows with glory about sanitation, Bellas food allergy, dengue fever, traffic, crowds, rabies, terrorism. Yes, these things exist. So do car accidents, illnesses and natural disasters. This was painfully apparent with the news last night of the tornado in America. It ripped though a school, killing an unthinkable number of children. Sending kids to school is not a risky venture. Bad things happen, and not generally when you think they will.

And when exactly do I think it is a good time to travel with Bella? Its not like I will stop being cconcerned about her when she is 10 – 15 – 20 … It is an inevitable part of my parenting that I will be a damn worry wart. I don’t think we can control these things. I do think we should continue to live as full a life as possible.

So here I sit, conflicted in heart. Getting deafened by my own mind chatter. I have taken every possible precaution into consideration. Now, I just have to go. That’s the only thing that helps. Arriving to the place, immersing myself in it. Living it. Embracing it. In the meantime, it is perhaps an indication of my restless mind and heart that I have gone into a painting frenzy. The house is dotted with paintings – all of them at various states of ‘drafts’. Till post Ubud (or perhaps during). May you also live your life to the full, despite any fears or worries you may have! J


Purple and yellow chaos

I was looking at the colour wheel. I was thinking of the other canvas I had done, the one where I was not happy with the colour combos. I did not trust myself to go outside of safe. I had chosen familiar colours, comforting colours. The fmailiar and comfortabel howevver resulted in an unpleasing painting. It is when I take risks that I am usually the most scared, of course, but also the most exalted. With that I looked toward the colour wheel, I gravitate to purple. It is familiar. Then I look across the colour wheel and see yellow. Thats what I go with. I dab them onto the canvas. I squirt with passion. The effect is immediate as the water interacts with the paint. The colours bursts, they pop and explode into chaos. Beautiful crazy chaos. Expression. Shackle breaking expression. The feeling is electrifying and I just want to do more. Move past the safe canvases of earlier and throw colour in a rampage onto the canvas of sculpted shapes.
Th exaltation lasts. Every time I look at the canvas I see two things – firstly, that it is unfinished and I want to do more with it but more importantly I see brave, I see fearless I see uninhibited. I am so frequently fearful of looking foolish and ‘getting it wrong’. Throwing colour onto the textured canvas breaks through that fear and gives me permission to breathe, to be, to fly.
A follow up email from the art teacher for the next workshop was quickly responded too. I needed more, more creative space, more techniques more joy. The second workshop similarly created one piece in particular that sung in my heart. One textured piece that resulted in an ancient looking temple design with burnished gold (previously published on this site). My heart burst with pride when the art teacher leaned in and asked ME how I had managed to develop the gold colour. Later I touched it up and added more of the golden touch.
Since that moment painting has become my latest obsession, my latest passion. I paint almost daily – well technically, I do different stages. Prepare the platform, touch up existing paintings. I Ponder and plan my next project. I continue to be exalted. I can sense my inner critic working with me to develop and perfect my painting, rather than insult and castigate me. It is the inner critic I love, the one that is constructive and encouraging not the one that is demeaning and demoralising.
I use it. I use that life force to rev up my passion for writing. To put it out there to expose myself. I start this blog – this time with a focus (as oppsed to an earlier effort!) I am using my creative lessons in painting as the impetus for the pieces I put on the blog. The idea is to have a picture of a painting and the story behind it. The story could be the process that led to it, or the resulting feeling or thoughts following.
This decision, this marriage, is cemented when I watch the movie Finding Joe. The documentary is about the philosopher Joseph Campbell who researched world myths extensively. In so doing he found they all had the same essential message, the heroes journey. Movement from normal to extraordinary through a series of trials and tribulations. To the peak of the heroic success, to integration, reflection and sharing of the lessons with those around you. There were so many poignant moments in that documentary for me. One scene in particular stands out and also one quote. The scene involves children, dressed as Thai Buddhist monks placing offerings and mediating at the feet of a golden buddha. Enemies are threatening, they cover the gold buddha with cement. As a result of their efforts the buddha is not pillaged. It is viewed as worthless, ordinary material. Centuries pass and the golden buddha contiues to be unrecongised for its specialness. It is unrecognised, unnoticed. Until one day, the cement begins to chip off. The gold begins to emerge. More and more people notice and begin to admire the golden buddha under the ordinary cement material. They chip away, buff, shine until finally the buddha stands in all its golden glory. The story is of course a metaphor for the layers of self doubt and bending to social mores that we place on ourselves, We avoid being special, preferring to blend in, find a place to belong. It takes courage to chip away at the cement and present our golden selves. Thats what it felt like with the exploding puple and yelow – extending past my normal to find something sepcial.
The quote that stood out is this – ‘find your bliss’. This is about finding that thing that makes your heart and soul sing and doing more of it. Amen to that.

The rebirth of creative impulse

Nearly four years ago my daughter was born. This is not unusual or amazing to anyone but me. It happens all the time. Children are born, families grow. There are endless posts by mums and dads of the transformational process parenting brings. Those who are parents, might know what I am talking about. Those who have not … think of a moments in your life that changed your perspective on life. Now imagine, several of those moments happening all at once at an uncontrollable pace where you have no control and no idea where or who you are anymore. This is frightening. For me, it was also liberating.

The absence of the career for 8 months whilst on maternity leave. Then returning part time and therefore effectively quashing options for progression left me in a position of questioning. So the writing began. With the writing came a sudden recall of youthful hours spent reading, imagining and story telling. Life events intervened, imagination was quashed by trauma and the necessity to be responsible. There was no time for flights of fancy. I dabbled along the way, a scatty poem there, a diary entry here. Doodles and drawings, creativity expressed through various short lived craft obsessions. It has always been there, the desire to create.

What it lacked, that creative yearning of mine. Was attention. Attention to technique, skill – theory … Essential items! These take time. I know this, however one thing that I could start straight away was playing. Playing with ideas, images, materials, putting stories onto paper – real, imagined and sometimes a bit of both. I now regularly make up stories for my daughter and I have always got a creative project on the go. I love nothing more than attending workshops and learning pieces of creative craft.

What have I discovered? Fear, excitement, expression, dissatisfaction, joy … you name it. The list of reactions and experiences is endless. Family reactions have included encouragement and interest but also hostility and indifference. These latter resonate the most strongly, for like most, I am painfully receptive to negative criticism. They send me into a sea of doubt. ‘Keep it to yourself’, I say to myself. ‘No-one wants to know’. Its selfish, you re foolish. Maybe it is, maybe I am. But then I figure – don’t read it! Don’t look at it. If you are concerned you are being criticised, query – please …. don’t assume. I try to write about my experience, however I am still learning and therefore clumsiness in the telling is a risk. So this blog is the re-birth. There will be sloppiness, there will be mistakes. There will be stuff that is not as interesting to others as it is to me. What I have come to realise is that, despite this, I need to put it out there. I hope those that similarly struggle to express their creativity come on the journey with me.

Without exposure of creativity, there can be no growth.