And repeat…

This is how my art feels at the moment. I find the same colours, the same marks, the same tropes coming up repeatedly. Really this isn’t at all surprising when you think about what life has been like for the past eighteen months or so. When you’re an intuitive painter and you journal about your life, if things aren’t that different day to day, then why should I expect my art to be different.

That’s not to say that I haven’t grown in skill. I think I have. I can see more complexity in a lot of my pages than there was a couple of years ago. I’m learning more about balance and contrast and how to fix things when they’re ‘not right’. But still there are days when I feel like I’m producing the same thing over and over. And when that’s how it feels, you just have to keep on going, knowing that eventually you’ll get through to the other side.

Break the cycle

This page has red and green which make me think of blood and growth. There are also several patterns that peter out, like the squiggle of peach at the top and the lines of white circles. The cream partial circle was the catalyst for the words and then I realised that those other patterns fit with that, too.

Break the cycle. It’s what we’ve been trying to do with this whole Coronavirus thing for ages. But there are other things where cycles need to be broken. Sometimes they’re family traits. Sometimes they’re bad habits. They may be destructive things like alcoholism.

Breaking free can be hard. This last year and a half has set up new cycles in us that we will need to break free of as we re-enter society, as it were.

Looking forward

Things to look forward to.

This page looks happy because I now have a couple of things in the diary to look forward to – lunch with some very dear friends (outside, with all precautions followed), and a tattoo booked in (see @beccimaryanne – fabulous body art). The latter was supposed to happen in April 2020 and has been rebooked and delayed several times. Now, with a booking in September, things are looking good.

It’s amazing how having a couple of things back in the diary starts to lift the mood. Though I still feel anxious out in company, the research on both the places I will be visiting tells me that they are looking after the safety of their patrons, staff, and themselves with all precautions possible taken. I feel secure and safe to visit them.

I say that this page looks happy, but looking back on my pages through the last year, they still have bright colours. I guess if one feels positive on the inside, no matter what is going on around them, it shows.

Should?

Let go of who you think you should be and be who you are.

I was flipping through an old notebook and found this sentence from some notes I took on BrenĂ© Brown’s Ted talk on vulnerability. I keep finding myself coming back to authenticity and how to be authentic. Giving up on ‘should’ is a good start. Of course, there are the ‘shoulds’ that we follow for the safety of ourselves and others – we have a lot of those at the moment.

But what about ‘I should be thinner’, ‘I should be a stay-at-home parent’, ‘I should be better at small talk’, ‘I should be doing more’ etc.? Let’s be honest, we all feel these things on occasion, but let’s not allow those thoughts to take root. Let’s be content with who we are while also allowing for change and growth. None of us are perfect but we are all unique, and our uniqueness is what is needed. If we were all the same it would be a boring old world!

Germination

Germination takes time.

This page was full of seeds when I stood back to look at it. Also clouds and rain and sun. They all spoke to me about germination.

It is tempting to think that we have planted nothing in the last year as we’re probably not seeing much growth. Some seeds take a long time to germinate, though. They need to go through certain conditions before they sprout. We might find, for example, that our resilience is much higher than it used to be, but we won’t know until we need to call on it.

Just as in my raised beds there are self-seeded radishes from last year, we may find growth we didn’t expect popping up over the next year.

Fences

How firm are your fences?

We all put up boundaries, and that can be very healthy. But what about the fences we set around ourselves and our lives that keep others out for no good reason? How firm are those fences? Are they entrenched, thick trunks set in concrete? Or are they easily taken down as you learn and change?

The different shades of pink at the top of this page made me think about the ‘paper bag test’ that was used to determine whether someone was of the right skin tone to enter a gathering. We wonder how people could have built fences over something so cruel and arbitrary, and yet we still do the same today in many ways.

Let’s be ready to recognise, admit, and demolish those fences that keep us apart for no good reason.

Social anxiety

We met up with some family members outside at a local eatery for lunch on Saturday. It’s the first time I’ve been out for lunch since… July I think it was. I could feel my muscles being tense the entire time. Other people touched my cutlery as they passed it to me across the table. The chairs felt too close together for my comfort. I’d forgotten how noisy small children can be, especially when there are several of them all together.

I spent the rest of the day exhausted.

As a way-over-there on the spectrum introvert, I am used to being tired out by socialising. I know I don’t always deal well with groups of people but I brace myself for it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the anxiety of touching things outside my own home without gloves on. I’m sure I’m not alone in my raised level of vigilance and anxiety. What used to be fun is now an obstacle course of things to avoid.

My emergence from lockdown is going to be slow, I realise.

Changing landscape

The changing landscape that results from loss.

More news of loss this week both for the nation and for our congregations. I recently did another page about a changing landscape, but that was what we choose to change because of what we have been through. This page is about the change that is thrust upon us when we lose people from our lives.

Like a building that is demolished, when we lose people there is a change in the skyline of our lives. It will never be the same.

Happy

Do the things that make you happy.

A happy you, an energised you, is what the world needs. (Unless, of course, the things that make you happy hurt other people. In that case you need to take a serious look at yourself.)

This is not to say that you should be happy all the time, but doing the things that energise you means you have a better frame of mind when you interact with others. My family know I’m horrible to live with if I don’t get to do something creative every day. They can see me getting antsy and push me towards the studio with the directive ‘Go paint something!’ That is love. They know what makes me happy and encourage me in it.