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?
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
So, today was a new day. I imposed an end to my day of sloth and self-pity, although it’s possible that wine and chocolate are still featuring in my evening. I feel the need to apologise to you for yesterday’s post. For my expression of my weakness, exhaustion, my admission that sometimes it’s just all too much. But I’m not going to.
You see, I’ve spent most of my life sick and in pain. I’ve also spent most of my life pretending I’m not. Hiding the pain. Performing on stage and running off after the bow to throw up and collapse. Both in my work on the stage, and in my real life: my acting career didn’t pause when I left work. When people have caught me out, when I’ve been upfront about my illnesses, when someone’s suspected something, I’ve laughed. I’ve assured them it sounds, or looks, worse than it is. I’ve let them believe my illness was more a formality than anything else, I wore it like a badge of honour, but quickly assured I was still completely capable of anything, everything, life throws at me. And for the most part I have been. I made myself be. I’m stubborn. I’ve excelled and succeeded in areas that ‘healthy’ people would struggle to. Even if that meant making my husband carry me into my office and place me upright behind my desk and hover close by for when I needed him to do something physical for me, like answer the phone, or pick me up off the floor.
And in those rare moments when I’ve been completely caught out, when I couldn’t hide it, when the cane came out, when I had to take time off, when someone saw my crying, or wobbling, or collapsing, I apologised. I was so sorry for making a big deal of it. I was sorry for causing anyone inconvenience. I was so sorry for people seeing me like that. I was sorry for my weakness, my exhaustion, causing a scene, disturbing the peace, upsetting routine, being ‘abnormal’. Being less than. Being imperfect. Oh how I apologised! Did I need to? Probably not. My perception was always tainted by my own standards of perfection for myself. But then again….
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’ve written before about being an insomniac. Insomni-maniac is probably closer to the truth. If there’s anyone out there not sleeping like crazy, it’s usually me.
There’s a number of reasons:
- My autoimmune conditions can have insomnia as a bonus
- Most of my medications for aforementioned conditions come with built-in insomnia
- I’ve had depression on and off for a lot of my life, but have had a very bad episode for the last fifteen months: depression causes insomnia
- I keep replaying events and conversations in my head at bed time which one day I’m just going to have to finally deal with
- And finally, that Type A, achievement-driven, million ideas per second, perfectionist personality of mine that I’m trying to control. It likes to spend bedtime planning, evaluating, regrouping, debriefing.
So all in all, sleep is like an exotic destination I dream of visiting one day, and no matter how much work I do to try to get there, I just don’t seem to mange it. Except at about 7 am. I can sleep through the days like a champion, but unfortunately society at large doesn’t really cater for people who function that way. And what makes it more frustrating is that Mr Raw could win gold in the Sleep Olympics – he’s asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Or even beforehand.
As I found myself getting up to my usual crazy insomniac antics at 4am I decided to keep a list of them: Read the rest of this entry
It’s Mothers’ Day in Australia today, so I hope all the mums out there are getting some relaxation and being shown just how much they’re appreciated. If not, go kick some offspring butt and make them give you the respect you deserve!
Mothers’ Day is a bit of a tricky one for me. It carries a lot of emotion. I guess the primary reason is that despite wanting to, Mr Raw and I are unable to have children because of my autoimmune conditions. It’s something we’ve mostly come to terms with, and we’ve celebrated other joys in our life that may not have been possible if we had become parents. But seeing friends my age and younger, enjoying parenthood so much, can still sometimes cause some sadness and longing for ‘what could have been’. Mind you, we’re not alone. I have a few friends who have also been unable to have children. Some are still struggling through IVF, and others have accepted that it won’t happen but are yet to come to terms with the emotions and finality involved. There are many reasons among us, but Mothers’ Day is somewhat of a torment for us all. However, that being said, I love watching my friends who are parents, especially the mums. Seeing these women I’ve known from school, or who I’ve employed, or who have employed me, watching them grow and become strong, nurturing goddesses, giving more love than they ever thought possible to their beautiful children.
My own mother and I have had a strained relationship at times, so it hasn’t always been happy in that sense either. Actually, strained is an understatement. I have issues, she has issues, and together we have more issues. We spent several years estranged. But we have a good relationship again now, and I see her regularly. In fact, I lived with her last year, for the first time since I was 16. So today’s not negative in that sense this year, but it definitely has been in the past.
We also had a family tragedy last year when Mr Raw’s young cousin died from suicide. She chose to take her life on Mothers’ Day. To dramatically understate (because words just aren’t enough), her mother is devastated. Her life now revolves around grief and trying to raise awareness for suicide, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder, in her daughter’s name. This year’s Mothers’ Day is one of grieving for our family, and of course, it will always be so.
I’ve decided to also write about something else for Mothers’ Day, the effect a mother’s influence and bond has on her daughter’s health. Read the rest of this entry
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