When I say successful* I’m not talking about financial wealth or status ….. my definition of success is knowing that my soul has become deeply embedded with a feeling of contentment that can never be undone.
‘We have little power to choose what happens, but we have complete power over how we respond.’
I’ve been incredibly quiet with art production and on my blog and social media this year but on the other hand I feel like I’ve connected a few dots and have had a couple of revelations that I’m going to reflect on.
I have always had intentions to complete a round up of my year before so now I feel compelled to spill my thoughts out into a written form and share them, probably more for myself so I can remember and celebrate all the good in my life but this process has been very cathartic for me. I hope that you might enjoy a further peek into my journey and find my revelations of interest. But just as I mentioned in my last post that my life and art are deeply intertwined I’ve discovered it’s in the moments of profound personal growth that my art then starts to bloom and flourish.
Over winter and early spring I would sometimes find it hard to see the light in my days and would often feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I actually feel like I have been the most unproductive EVER this year, for the most part my motivation has been crippled, my energy lacking and my creativity has come in short bursts and then left as quickly as it arrived. Sure I’ve completed several paintings but my studio time has been mostly erratic as I’ve felt mainly swept up in motherhood with little time to have space to breathe. I mean this in the spiritual sense and this is something that is starting to unfold in my new works as I’ve left areas unpainted so as to hint at openness and clarity and simply space to work things out.
‘Nothing is random, it’s all perfect. Everything happens for a reason.’
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe – from the Happy Mama Movement podcast
I feel somewhat contradictory to previous statements about accepting the way my life is as I’m the artist that advocates meditation and mindfulness to help overcome things. But I’ve still felt like I’ve been gasping most of this year for precious time to feel my usual calm and contented self. Even my meditation practice has been erratic as I’ve fallen in and out of prioritising it and making it non-negotiable to also being simply too burdened to add it to the list in a day. For the most part I have felt overwhelmed with motherhood and have lacked purpose this year, something that I have never experienced before and when I reflect it still comes as a gentle shock to this former ‘stay up late at night, get the job done, keep on going mama‘. What I have found is that I needed to prioritise self care ahead of work so I could keep going for my children and husband and be able to get through a day and show up again and again.
My husband works long, long hours in winter so I feel like I’m solo a lot of the time with the 3 kids and when you’re doing all the doing most of the time it takes it’s toll right? I’m sure so many of you can relate at given times in your life but it’s something I struggled with often this year. I’ve fluctuated between ‘I am strong, I am wise and I am kind’ mantras to states of desperate, sleep deprived overwhelm and feeling completely lacking in purpose purely through being physically drained of emotional and physical giving. I realised that when my baby was with my nanny I had to look after myself first and take the time to sit still and meditate or read my book or knit and sometimes this time inspired me to paint and purely for myself, not for a gallery or a collection, just to paint only for enjoyment. It was my day off but not my day off and I still felt guilty for it. Then if my bucket was filled up enough I would be able to do some work. And now I’m in a good place, my husband is working regular hours until he heads overseas again in the New Year and we are together as a family a lot and making individual and family time a priority.
‘The best thing you can do for your children is to practise self care and show them how to look after themselves.’
Alexandra Di Cecco – from the Conscious woman, Conscious parent podcast on the Happy Mama Movement
But just like all things, this struggling season of my life has passed and this is what I have learnt.
Accepting that this time in my life was and still is to grow my children mostly alone has been the hardest idea to get my head around. While I kept wishing for more time I know how things change and time can pass so quickly and that it won’t always be this way. I’ve kept telling myself that Xavier will be at school before I know it (he’s almost 18 months) and I will have all the time in the world to paint and do my thing every. single. day. But my heart aches when I think that I will most definitely feel lonely by the end of the week and crave the chaos of 3 kids wanting my attention. They give me the ability to see inspiration in my mountains or clouds, it has become apparent to me that loving what I paint is not enough, it’s my children that lead the way towards my growth and creativity. I can feel that emptiness weighing a little heavy already so again I remind myself that this is the time to be a mama, to be there for my children.
Love is a language and I yearn to speak it.
This is a huge one for me. What I’m about to say is a massive revelation to me and quite revealing. To be loving might seem like the most obvious parenting component and I’ve always thought I was to some extent but I didn’t feel like I embodied it, I craved to be move loving and would write in my journal each night about how in some small way I was loving that day but something inside still left me on empty. Until recently I realised I didn’t need to try so hard, I was fighting my way through each day with strategies to help me cope, – meditation, stillness, mantras, intentions. Instead I found I could just be loving. (massive audible exhale) I’ll explain…..
The last few years I’ve experienced a lot of troubles with my eldest daughter and I even went as far as to label her difficult, she’s really bright but also always insists on getting her way. Little did I know after a bit of help from Robbin McManne from Parenting for Connection that I simply wasn’t listening to my daughter, she was constantly trying to win my attention and I couldn’t see it, I was too focused on the end goal of daily survival. Since hearing and realising that my time is the greatest gift I can give my children I’ve found that I really am now living my loving goal. The endless stories I used to tell myself about my parenting journey have quietened down and I feel renewed at making this discovery while my children are still young. (They are 8, almost 7 and 1) All I need to do is shower them in love, understanding and compassion and this is easily done by noticing their emotional needs and always referring back to ‘I choose love.’
Success in a non-productive year
My greatest achievement this year is undoubtedly my loving, cheeky and knowing little babe. I have him to credit for guiding me to these revelations as I’ve found it so easy to scoop him up in unconditional love and spend a lot of time cuddling him on the couch while the rest of the world ( or housework) can wait. I’ve been more than happy to put my work aside to spend time seeing the world a new and I have taken delight at making him laugh and snuggle into me. He has so much love to give and he is most definitely my greatest teacher so far. I made the discoveries but he was pointing me in the right direction all along, my little buddha of sorts perhaps.
‘Your dharma will wait for you.’ (or, Your purpose will wait for you)
Debra Poneman – from the Happy Mama Movement podcast
And so it is with this quote in mind that my world has softened and I finally feel O.K. This season of my life has drawn to a close as my little guy started Montessori a few weeks ago and I’ve slowly been piecing things back together and planning for next year as well as creating new work for my galleries. I feel such a weight off my shoulders now that I have realised that I have actually been doing the right thing all along this year. My children are flourishing just as my art will again one day. So after all of this, my purpose was actually there, I just couldn’t see it and have released the internal dialogue of not being good enough as a ‘productive’ artist. I’m creating myself a new story and the beauty is I don’t even know what it is yet, it will most definitely unfold next year and I’m open to sitting with and embracing whatever comes.
Thank you so much for being interested in my journey and for continuing to support me and my art while I navigated through this year!
Here are a couple of hiking photos from recent adventures.