When the going gets tough, the tough get knitting.

When the going gets tough,the tough getSome days are just, well, tough.

Take last Monday (I wish someone had); it was all mapped out – the writing, the accounts, the bill paying, the getting tea ready for the step-sons and partner. Then I woke up and things went a bit tits-up because, erm, I just wasn’t feeling it.

At all.

My feeling?

Clamber into bed and pull the duvet over my head. A simple act for someone self-employed one would imagine. Nothing, it seems, is further from the truth. The thought of following that desire through filled me with fear for the simple reason that in 1995 I did just that, and it took gargantuan effort to get myself out of it again 2 years later.

You see I was doing ME/CFS and did it for 23 years. Part of that time was spent in a wheelchair, part in an armchair, parts of wellness and the rest with the duvet over my head. Even though I am well now, there is the teeniest, tiniest, microscopic hint somewhere in my body that if I go back to bed for anything other than illness, that I will immediately become incapable of leaving it.

It’s like the thought of crying sometimes – you know the one, where you suspect that if you start to cry the tears will never stop and you will have to be slapped to stop you, so you stick your chin out and battle on.

It’s all nonsense of course, and saying it really helps.

Of course it doesn’t! We know the folly of our thoughts, but they are there, aren’t they.

The act of acknowledging the fear is a step towards resolving those feelings. Writing helps. Talking helps. Anything to gain some clarity, and doing it in a way which is loving and supportive.

Always gentle.

What is helping me now?

Returning to creativity.

Picking up my knitting, and just losing myself in that rhythmical click, click, click of the needles, focussing on the feel of the yarn as it moves through my fingers, and feeling the satisfaction as the piece grows. It’s calming, centring and grounding, all at once.

I let my mind wander as I picture what it might look like when it’s finished. What embellishment can I use? Will it be useful or just decorative? My current favourite question is, who can I gift it to?

It seems the act of sharing our “makes” is known to create that feel-good factor we all crave – real chemicals in our system, and ones which counteract those which tried to overturn my day. Pretty cool huh!

Who’d have thought that the simple act of knitting could turn things around so simply and so beautifully. And tick my science box too! Double-bubble.

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Let Go of What’s “Right”

When learning to fly, we learn to let go

When I was 12 I was asked to leave the art class, as I was deemed “not good enough” at making art. This was a young person who had scribbled, and coloured, and created with her hands from the moment she had the opportunity to do so, and LOVED making. I believed the teacher’s hype.As luck would have it (if you believe such a thing exists) we moved house to our place on the mountain in Pembrokeshire and I went to the High School in Fishguard (bit of a change having spent several years at a convent school – and I loved it!). I had the opportunity to do art again and I grasped it with both hands.

 

Jonathon Cramp was a skilled artist and was our teacher. Wow! What an eye opener – and he liked what I did. Then he retired – I was filled with trepidation as I knew my life was incomplete without art and I knew I wanted to study Fine Art when I left school. Cue Huw Thomas – also a talented artist, but was also a brilliant teacher, dedicated to encouraging artistry and creativity from his charges.

Bloody ‘ell! How lucky was I? I learned SO much from him and my desire became a BURNING desire to follow art. Unfortunately, my Pop reiterated “you’ll never earn a living as an artist”, which I interpreted as “you ain’t good enough to do this. Do something else.”. What he meant was that earning a living making art requires a certain drive, regardless of talent, and wasn’t a reflection on my ability.

I digress.

Doing A’level art I learned how to create images that were from my heart and inspired by the topics or titles we were supplied with, but they had to be within parameters as they were being assessed for my A’level. When I went to art college, the same thing applied, but slightly less so (in my head). BBC’s Big Painting Challenge left me yelling at the telly because they were leading the contestants a merry dance with their expectations, and doing little to encourage self-expression.

It struck me this morning how stilted my imagination has been. My confidence in my ability to produce something for JUST ME has eroded over the years, and if asked to produce something I’ve checked in very carefully with “how it’s supposed to look”.

STOP IT! Just stop it.

What is the point of creating something when it’s not authentic?

There are times when it’s appropriate to follow “the rules”, like when making a garment or following a recipe, but what happens to our authentic souls when we change the rules to state, “the rules are – follow your heart and your intuition”?

Be authentic.

Be true to yourself.

I’m currently fine tuning a mindfulness exercise which involves creating something, and it’s been a temptation to show how I’ve done it. Knowing that I’m not alone in being so heavily influenced by others and “how it’s meant to look” that I’m going to present it where my finished piece will remain unseen.

I want each individual to tap into their own authenticity, without worrying about others assessments, or judgements. It will be a truly original manifestation of the person, as opposed to a facsimile of what was perceived as “expected”.

It can be a little like being in free fall, but sometimes when we are learning to fly, we have to let go of the branch.

 

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Caution – Black Dog at Work

When life knocks you down, roll over andIt’s interesting how some illnesses can be worn almost like a badge of honour – flu, mumps, gastroenteritis, pneumonia and so on all have a certain credibility; yet mental illness still has a stigma to it. “I’m not coming out tonight as my depression makes me want to stay away from people, sit in a cosy armchair and just stare at the TV”. “No, I won’t do the shopping as I’ve burst into tears in the dairy aisle once too often, and I can never remember what I went for.”.

It doesn’t wash. Continue reading

Just Do It!

Whatever creative thing you are thinking of doing now –

Just Do It!

We spend too much time over-thinking things. Stop it!

Take 5 minutes and have a play with something that makes your heart sing.

Rachael x

Turning around to face where I’m going…

I am a great believer in our ability to listen to the whispers and be guided to who we truly are. In the past this has involved meditation, t’ai chi, mindful walking, journal writing and so on, i.e. a conscious effort to create the environment to hear clearly. I am experiencing another way. Flow. There […]

‘Round and ’round in circles…

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Wonder-woollen!

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A different way of looking at felt

I have a very clear memory of making my very first piece of felt. During my Art Foundation Course at Dyfed College of Art (probably called something more grand now, as is the current trend) I went on a natural dyeing course at a remote small-holding in the Carmarthenshire countryside. It was a beautiful day […]

I have a soft pot for you

To some, writing or creating is like breathing – there is a flow in and out, sometimes more inhalation than exhalation or vice versa, but even though the resistance can be there we can’t help ourselves but do it. I have spent the day itching to be creative outside of work, and succeeded in doing […]