Today I find myself exactly where I was two years ago. I’m in a different house, in a different village, so it’s not that ‘exact place’; it’s a mental state. I’m blogging and excited with my preparations to go to Problogger, otherwise known as ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for Bloggers’ because it’s so damn exciting to get together with other people who live out their lives online as they’re working at home, alone. It’s also possibly because we tend to like chocolate too!
But…. 2 years ago I wrote this post, and then I went to Problogger and had a great time, and got inspired, and fired up, and then…. I stopped blogging. So this is my return to my blog after a 2 year absence. Yep, starting over again.
What happened? I got busy, I got tired, I was too busy working on other people’s blogs and websites to work on mine, I was forgetful, but more than that I was overwhelmed. I found myself writing more about how sorry I was for not writing, than anything else. And why? I mean, you don’t care! There’s not even that many of you to care! But I felt guilty and stressed, over something that was supposed to be a fun hobby, and that wasn’t a good place to find myself. I was too busy living my life to record it, and I felt guilt about that. Read the rest of this entry
This week has been absolute joyous madness. And the next month is going to get even crazier! It’s creative chaos time! My husband is The Scrappy Sculptor. He makes sculptures using old, rusted scrap metal and turning it into beautiful creatures and characters, full of life and personality. His work is amazing. Yes I’m biased, but check this out:
I’m also trying to engage with my own visual art to a level where I can hope to make at least a little food money from it. This month is Escape Artfest, our region’s annual festival of all things arty and creative. Jodhi is exhibiting in two exhibitions, I’m exhibiting in one. I’m also teaching a two day master class in clowning, and writing for three writing prizes. So there is a lot of making, writing and searching for inspiration going on in our house at the moment. To top it all off, Jodhi will also be exhibiting in two other exhibitions next month, and these are in western NSW, an 8 hr drive from home (each way). Oh yeah, and I’m on a plane heading to QLD for a week to attend the Problogger event (so very, very excited!). Jodhi’s then going to QLD for a different week, so we’ve got a few long return trips to Sydney ahead for airport drop offs and collections.
So where’s the relaxing and slowing down you may well ask? Well, I’m being very careful and conscious to make sure it’s all managed well. Lots of rest times, energy scheduling, and being kind to myself. Letting go off perfection and embracing imperfection as part of the creative process. That’s always been one of the toughest things for me as an artist and it’s meant I haven’t put as much of my work on public display as I could have in the past, because of a constant feeling of not being good enough. My own standards are impossible to meet, and the public perception of my work could never be as harsh or critical as my own has been. But not anymore. I’m smiling at mistakes. I’m following the paths they open up to see where they take me. And it’s so much more fun this way! It feels more ‘creative’, more inviting of a creative energy, a muse to lead me to my finished work. Creativity has often been a chore in the past because I made it that way with my self-criticism, judgement and perfectionism. So yeah, that’s a 20 year career as an artist that I’ve often made far more difficult and less enjoyable for myself with my own inner “poo-poo”-er. Well, I’m shutting that little demon in a box and throwing away the key. It serves no purpose anymore, and once I caught a glimpse of life without it, I was hooked!
Do you make aspects of your life more difficult than they need to be?
Do you have your own demon or inner poo-poo-er?
I decided to get a new face. Well, I think it’s actually been my face all along. Right from day one I knew I wanted a hand drawn header which reflected my journey, and featured my gorgeous soul-place and home, the NSW South Coast. I also wanted it to give the sense of what I was about, and therefore what my blog was about. A healthy, simple life. The environment. Art. Creativity. Joy. And embracing my inner clown all the while (including while meditating).
A gorgeous soul I studied with at uni decided to branch out in her career and explore yet another of her many of talents: illustration. Hello synchronicity! From the first moment I saw Lou’s beautiful drawings, I knew I needed her ink on my blog. And so, all prettied up, Raw Once More is ME. Once more.
With enormous thanks to Lou Endicott. Please check out her beautiful illustration blog here. And enjoy the joy and sense of whimsy it brings you.
Art and creativity are such important cornerstones to my life. They form the basis of my career, home, hobbies, purchases, my planning, decision-making, marriage, friendships…. The list goes on. My husband is an artist. I am an artist. My friends are artists. And I’ve recently started recognising just how much of a hidden artist my mum is. So I plan to honour this in future blog posts and give you more insight into my creative life, the creative stars around me, and the creative muses that dance through my days.
Is creativity a big part of your life?
Running away seems to be a survival instinct for me. I’m feisty, but when it comes down to the choice of fight or flight, I’m cashing in my frequent flyer points and getting the hell out of wherever. So I’ve been away for a while because I’ve been on the run again. Not literally; I didn’t actually go anywhere, but a section of my brain (officially named The Blog Cortex), packed its bags and hoofed it. I’ve attempted to come back a few times, but discovered The Blog Cortex was only interested in phoning it in from an area with dodgy reception. But today, its back, the bags are unpacked, and the shiny distractions have all been put away.
I think the initial trigger for my vacay from blog land was politics. Australia is in an election year, and quite honestly it’s depressing. That I do mean literally. It’s actually made it hard for me to get up sometimes (hello black dog, my old friend). I’m a deeply political person. I believe in human rights, caring for the environment, compassion, equal access to services etc. You might rightly get the sense I’m a bit left-wing. So political causes, I’m on board with. But I hate politics. Perhaps that’s not strong enough. I detest politics. In Australia at least, our current political landscape consists of posers and bullies, often within the same person. It’s a whole lot of arguing about nothing, calling each other names, clichés, and meaningless diatribe, no policies, and punishing our most vulnerable people in the name of political point scoring. Oh, and senseless bribery. Let’s not forget buying people’s votes with nonsensical incentives. Our politics is sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic, xenophobic and every other form of prejudice you can think of. And at times, downright idiotic. So I hate election years, witnessing billions of dollars are spent achieving nothing but some ego stroking and catchphrase generating.
At the time The Blog Cortex ran for the hills, our then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, was copping a battering from the opposition and her own party for, well, being female. She was then ousted by our Former Prime Minister (who she had ousted earlier), the election was recalled, and the idiocy continued. It was too much. I’m a political person, but I have always wanted this blog to be apolitical. I am known to have the odd rant about politics, but this blog is intended as a sacred, idiot-politician-free zone. But I became so surrounded by idiocy, and so completely and utterly pissed off and depressed by it all, that I couldn’t continue to write about other things when all I wanted to do was scream at these dickheads ruining my country. So The Blog Cortex ran. And kept running.
Then being away from here became a kind of blessing. I decided to take the time out to refocus on why I was here in the first place. What did I want? Why was I blogging? And why, as a self-confessed recovering perfectionist, did I still find fronting up to the page and spewing out my imperfections so scary? I had started to feel inadequate, comparing myself to people who have been blogging for years, and becoming terrified I was just copying every other blogger out there. What was the point of blogging if I wasn’t being original? Except I was. I’ve always written authentically. My blogging voice is still finding and defining itself, but it has been my voice on the page every time. I care about health, the environment, living simply, and ‘finding myself’. So do many other bloggers, so it’s inevitable I’ll write about the same topics as them now and then. But getting it into my head that this was ok was a bit tricky. That it’s ok to be imperfect. That it’s ok to be a beginner. I’ve always felt this need to be the best at everything I do, and being a beginner at things has always been more challenging for me because of it. So I took a bit of time to get the hell over myself, and just be me. The real me, not the perfect me. Read the rest of this entry
Dear Readers, I disappeared (again!). I know it wasn’t that long ago I wrote a post just like this one, but I’ve been in the same guilt zone lately. I had some really shitty days with my illness where my brain had enough trouble remembering my name, let alone writing blog posts. I also had a few things to get sorted out in my head before I returned to the keyboard. So (once again) I’m back. I can now happily guarantee that these disappearances will happen from time to time. Between lupus, ME etc, depression and anxiety, the rest of my life, and those moments where I just need to shut out the world, I’m gonna have to take time out now and then. I’m sure none of you could care less, but as a recovering perfectionist, I’ve had some struggles with not facing up to the screen every day. But, I can finally say I’m now ok with it (I think!).
I have also been touched by some gestures made by a couple of lovely bloggers and readers.
I’m baaaaaaaaack! (Say that in your mind with a creepy poltergeist-type voice for full effect. Then imagine a whiny, nasal, Australian accent, and you got me!) After a wonderful week away in the serenity of the Pilliga, learning to sculpt, and being inspired by breathtakingly brilliant artists, I’m back in my beautiful coastal town. I’ve been home a couple of days, but like lupies and sickies everywhere, I needed a bit of time to rest and recover from my time away. I also needed time to take it all in: to get down to the beach and get my feet wet and breathe the salty air again; to take stock of just how much amazing talent I’d been in the company of; to try to focus and still my mind, racing with inspiration, ideas, creations, and dreams.
I surprised myself, and managed to complete a bust. Not perfect, but in the spirit of being a recovering perfectionist, I feel it’s not bad for my first sculpture!
It’s all due to my amazing teacher Kate French. Kate is a very experienced, talented, hard-working, inspiring, and generous artist and teacher. Her work is beautiful. Please take the time to have a look at her site – you won’t be sorry!
So, after making a commitment to write every day, I didn’t post yesterday. I was hoping it wouldn’t be quite so soon before I broke my promise to myself, but I’m proud that I did. It wasn’t due to lack of motivation, procrastination, or even because I was off having a fantastic time somewhere. No. Unfortunately, it was because of my old nemesis; an enemy that likes to regularly interfere with my plans. You see, I am chronically ill. My body wages war on itself. I have several autoimmune conditions, like a warped lottery list of free gifts you hope never to win: SLE (lupus), sjogrens, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, vasculitis. There’s more, but that’s enough of a list for one post!
I try to live as normal a life as possible. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t. In the past I’ve fought it. I’ve refused to give into my illness and rampaged through life, in denial and determined to show my body who’s boss. Touring the world for a year, working up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, comes to mind as a clear example (and a VERY dumb thing to do!! OK doctors, you were right!). The problem with trying to outrun autoimmune conditions (or any chronic illness) and refusing to adjust your lifestyle, is that these behaviours can only have a limited time frame. And, if you’re as bloody stubborn as I have been, so can your life. A positive attitude is one thing, but denial is another. The media is always throwing stories at us about ‘real life heroes’ who battle their illness and refuse to give up, but there’s a big difference between refusing to give up, and refusing to help yourself. I’ve never denied being ill, just that it effected me.
I’ve finally done it! I’ve created a blog, and here I am (admittedly a few days later) making my first post. This is a very.big.deal. This blog has been in my head for about a year now, simmering away, bursting to be free, but being held back by my protective, over-reactive perfectionist brain. There’s a lot of other ideas and projects still stuck in there, straining against the deadlocked door, but somehow Raw Once More slipped through the keyhole and made it onto the page.
And here it is. But what is it? That’s a long way from being clear, and of course that’s one of the reasons why my perfectionist brain didn’t want to release it – it wasn’t fully formed. As in it wasn’t finished. That’s kind of the only way to know exactly what something like this IS – to see it when it’s finished. Logically I know this, but that doesn’t stop Little Miss Perfectionist having her way. So no, I don’t know what it IS, but finally, after all this time, I’m doing it anyway! Read the rest of this entry