Monday, 3 November 2014

Things change

It has been an uncomfortable year of internal shifts and ragged soul-work. Of staring down horrible thought habits and questioning and processing and wearing myself out. I read somewhere (probably everywhere given the blogs that I read) that when you are moving into a new phase of your life it can feel as uncomfortable as hell. That things feel shit right up to the moment that they get good. That you don't know the reason you feel like this is because your bones are realigning again. A new iteration is coming. Someone is being born. Someone different.

I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and thought I looked different. My face seems to have changed shape. I am working towards an exhibition that I've had booked in for ages, thinking I knew exactly what I would be hanging and what I would be working on. Not so. My work has changed shape too. And it feels right that it has but that hasn't made the process an easy one. I keep questioning myself. Will I have enough finished paintings? Will people like my work? What do I do afterwards? What next? Do I need a proper website? And on and on.

This evening I am trusting that it will all come together just fine. I will make myself a cup of peppermint tea, sit in front of the canvas and do the work.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Slipping into autumn

I usually love this time of year. I love the colours and smells of autumn. The rainy weekends spent lying in bed reading. The flat full of lit candles smelling of amber, sandalwood and frankincense. Endless homemade soup. Butternut squash fatigue (this is actually a thing).
This year's autumn has bought with it an unexpectedly bitter after taste. A sense of melancholy and the pressing weight of things not yet achieved. The quiet and niggling (and completely false, fear-based) worry that since I haven't spent the last five years creating a family I should have achieved something amazing in its place. Yes, I have a bad dose of the shoulds. Symptoms include lethargy, ingratitude, endless compare and despair and, in my case, the panic buying of kimonos. Because if I'm a single creatrix, a woman about town, I should be more bohemian and should possess more bohemian clothes. Linen smocks for example. Alas H and M don't sell those.
Luckily the shoulds are treatable with warm baths, getting outside, the last of the year's flowers, painting and nice socks. I'm prescribing myself a lifetime's supply of treatment.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Soft in September

"Soft" was one of the last August break prompts and I really wanted to write a post based around this simple word. I knew what I wanted to talk about and the image I wanted to capture: my belly.
My belly has been through many many things this last couple of years. It has been squishy, slightly floppy, taught with exercise and now it is soft and peppered with what look like tiny shrapnel wounds. Seven of them after two rounds of surgery to remove endometriosis.

Every now and then i will catch my breath and think gosh, what a year.
It has been a year of awkward consultations with gynaecologists who still can't say the word vagina and refer to it as "down there".
It has been a year of imagining my body furring up like an old kettle, endometriosis as lady limescale.
A year of shedding and removing and forcibly excising that which does not belong. Tumours and cysts. Shame. Trauma. The way an old abusive relationship can lodge itself in the body and spoil every piece of attention from the opposite sex. Every cross roomed glance. Every attempt at somehow making life bigger.
A year of internal shifts.
Literally. (My uterus and left ovary pulling itself towards my hip joint, not the onset of arthritis as I had feared).
And figuratively. (My capacity to give a shit greatly reduced, the habit of needlessly apologising disappearing like smoke, my voice returning, shaky but still there. My new Fuck It attitude).
A year of slowing down and lowering expectations. Of realising they were already pretty low and then the sudden impatience to be better! Now!
A year that involved nearly 7 hours of surgery altogether. And my mum crying as they wheeled me back from theatre because no one could tell her where I was and what had taken so long. And me. Off-my-face delirious.
Of itchy compression stockings. Of drips and morphine. Of anaesthetic and the terrible things it does to your hair. Of Pinterest. Thank the moon and stars for Pinterest.
Of researchers standing at your bedside the day after surgery to thank you for taking part in a trial because they had never had so many samples from one person ("we had to keep running downstairs to get more dishes!")
Of crying in the middle of Aberystwyth town centre because the tiredness has taken over again and making it from the bench to Costa is too much of an ask. And, God, it's been 5 weeks since surgery shouldn't I be feeling better by now? (Yes, I really thought that)
A year of my belly changing shape almost continuously depending on the time of the month, bloated one minute, flat as a pancake the next. Post surgery weight loss as the workouts stopped and internal healing began to kick in. It's something they don't tell you- that kind of healing? It burns a shitload of calories.
And now the belly is pale and soft and benign. Calm like the moon. And I am making a conscious effort to rewrite the years' script as summer chills into autumn.

The first time I weeded the garden and didn't collapse into exhaustion.
The mild online flirtation I was brave enough to indulge in at the beginning of the year even though it didn't come to anything. It didn't matter. I said yes.
The family with their cakes and small, sticky affectionate toddlers.
The tribe and the Glastonbury trip in a few weeks. There will be crystals and incense and whole foods.
The way my body has mended and with that, the not minding that it's changed shape at all. Not minding that it's rounder in places. That it has scars. Its recovery a small miracle to me.
The sunshine and the seaside and the water. Sitting on the sand like Barbara Hershey in Beaches. Only in Aberdovey. With Ice cream.
The healing. All of it. Messy though it is.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

August Break: Two prompts in one...

On the table...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

August Break: Drink


A mug of tea. And some backgrounds ready for painting later in the week. I started working this afternoon and found I couldn't stop. I think I have full moon fever- I've too much energy, I'm light headed and flushed of cheek.

I'm now sat watching The Wedding Planner with a glass of wine trying to relax my brain a little bit. Am I the only one who watches Jennifer Lopez's character at the beginning of that film, eating her meal for one, hoovering her curtains, folding her clothes and thinks gosh, that looks like quite a pleasant way to spend an evening?

Saturday, 9 August 2014

August Break: In My Bag

A couple of books
Numerous lip balms
Broken phone
Face powder and powder brush
Compact hairbrush
Teeth flosser
Spare purse
Shells from the beach at Aberdovey
Hair bands
Various pens
About 60p in small change
Just out of shot: numerous receipts detailing an increasingly expensive predilection for coconut water . Also, sanitary products.

Friday, 8 August 2014

August Break: Two prompts in one

My today is knowing that the Tower card I keep pulling out of the deck is beginning to show up in my life. I think things are about to fall apart.

My today is trusting that this will be beautiful. And right.

My today is carrying on with the August Break prompts even though my decent camera broke and I missed two. Hence the smudged selfie (today's actual prompt). Note: the Galaxy Ace does not have a good camera phone.

My today is drinking 2 litres of water and eating foods that feel good. My today is also not berating myself for the bad food choices I made earlier in the week.

My today is walking in the sunshine and taking a proper lunch break. My today is claiming small pieces of my life back and knowing that eventually I will own all of it.

My today is staying with my Mum and sitting in her back garden with a glass of yellow wine, watching the ancient apple tree swell with fruit, branches so heavy the weaker apples fall, small background thuds during dinner.

My today is staring too long out of my office window as the canal boats drift languidly pass.

My today is quiet, many colleagues and friends here instead of at work. My today is feeling relaxed about not going along with them, feeling in my bones that I need a quiet weekend around comfortable people.

My today is feeling the persistent pull of a old bad habit. My today is not yielding to that pull but allowing that ache to exist without trying to smother it with ice cream.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

August Break Day Five: Three

Three teasels. A painting half way through. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have spent a happy two hours at my desk simply playing. No pressure. No need to create a masterpiece. After 18 months of poor health and dwindling motivation in the face of gruelling soulwork, to feel that childish giddiness over something as simple as going to work, coming home, applying some paint and having a glass of wine it's... well... *cue big contented sigh*

You know when you see crowds of teenage girls chatting and giggling, swollen with hormones, garish nail polish, furiously backcombed hair and you can't imagine what could have made them laugh so breathlessly, barely able to contain their excitement? And if you're having a bad day you might frown at their exuberance but if you dug a little deeper you know you would give anything to feel that free again? It feels like that.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

August Break Day Three: Window

The bedroom windows as they were today. Closed with curtains drawn, no sound filtering through from the busy street outside. There were also books, cups of peppermint tea, some dark chocolate and a well earned rest. Even nine weeks after surgery my body is still surprising me with new pinches and pains as it tries to mend itself.
I've never really been a tea drinker until this year and though I still don't like your average cup of English tea, I love a nice, fragrant herbal mix. The ritual of boiling the kettle, letting the bag steep for a few minutes, waiting for it to cool enough so that the mug can be cupped and drawn close, it calms a fretful mind like nothing else.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Friday, 1 August 2014

August Break Day One: Lunch

So i'm participating in this as a way of getting me back into blogging. A prompt, one photo a day and somewhere along the way perhaps the story of the last twelve months will emerge. It's a story that includes new freindships, breakdowns, eight months of therapy, two major rounds of surgery and lots and lots of healing. Roughly in that order. That's the short version.
For now, let's just think about lunch. Which I forgot to do. One pesto salad scoffed whilst prepping for the new term, mind elsewhere until all that was left was an empty tupperware container. But this is lunch number two, a treat after a morning of paperwork. Not lunch exactly but the perfect way to end forty minutes browsing in the Oxfam bookshop; a haven of muted classical music, bookiness and fairtrade chocolate punctuated only by the smell of wet pavement wafting through the door. Ah, the humble Marks and Spencer's caramel tart. Truly the nicest sweet treat you can buy yourself in a market town with no artisan bakery.