Judging by my social media timelines right now, many of us are having lockdown epiphanies, lists of new goals borne from renewed perspectives, our second chance at life, if you like, quite literally for some.
With eyes prized wide open and nowhere to hide or run now, my focus like the rest of the world, has shifted and sharpened, ready for change. I can see clearly now. Now that I’m not running so quickly, so hard and sparingly doing too much in many respects, yet not enough for myself.
In spite of the drain of homeschool by day and deadlines by night (how I miss my former work day) I surprisingly (at first) found a surplus of time on my hands, wades in fact, a bank of all the minutes and hours I’d have previously used in meetings and eatings, school runs and shoots, so I let myself just sit and reflect, feel bored and feel scared.
Like so many, facing the fragility of life, has woken me up.
I’ve sought refuge and safety, as I always do, in the arms that never fail to catch me in a crisis: creativity. This time though, I’ve spread my wings a little further, feeling I have less to lose and while I’ve written here, I’ve taken masterclasses in acting and performance, and creative writing; I’ve read more widely, mostly fiction, (Narnia to Normal People), and most impactfully for me, I’ve finally, finally returned to my first love of painting.
Collectively, these moves in new directions have made realise I want more. More stretching and stimulating, more learning and growth.
I’ve stopped making excuses: no time, no energy, no feasible way and I’ve stopped deeming pipe dreams, just that, pipe dreams, with two still lifes and notes on a novel to show for myself.
And despite worrying I might sound ungrateful here, you know I must be honest and I would like more.
Not the ‘financial more’ (not that there’s any shame in that). The ‘cultural more’.
And maybe you might too.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I love it here. This is my home. It brings me joy. I would just like to develop new projects alongside it, even if they never see the light of day, for me, for pleasure.
In taking the first tenative steps, I’m no longer so demanding from my blog, expecting all my self-worth and pleasure to derive from just one place. I’ve realised it doesn’t have to be that way. That there are many way to be myself. I don’t have to be monogamous to my blog. Yes, this is a portrait of my life right now, and love letter to my kids and will continue to be but I crave communicating and creating in other ways too. I want to write other stories that differ from my own.
I will continue my work here as long as brands want me to, and I will continue to write here as long as I’m moved to but I hope to hold on to these fresh new eyes of because it feels like a healthier place in which to live.
I realise how priviledged I am to even have this choice.
To have built a business that gives me fluidity, flexibility and options in which to choose how I work. I know how it feels to not have choice from my directing days as a new mother.
So what comes now?
I’m in the soft launch phase of a new digital business I feel passionate about, The Working Mother’s Academy, which will upskill parents in how to work and build careers online.
I’m also hoping to return to creative writing: sister projects to my blog, perhaps screenwriting or a novel I started writing just last night.
I’ve always found it useful to write my intentions down on this blog: it makes me feel accountable to continue and perhaps it might help others keen to pivot….
It looks like painting has been my portal to another world, a world I wasn’t sure I was allowed access to again. A new world and old me.
Painting has released this complete and rounded happiness I’d forgotten or erased. Unpacking oils I’d bought and barely used a year ago, transported me back to A Level Art and my 16 year old self, a girl who felt happy for the first time in five years after fleeing a draconian school for a Sixth Form that welcomed and truly wanted her. A place I belonged. That heady mix of acceptance and freedom to be myself, made me feel completely fearless with my art.
It felt wondrous to experience that again. To work without expectation. To just create as our kids do. Not for money or the likes, for joy.
That act of facing a blank canvas and creating what’s in your mind’s eye reminds me of writing screenplays. The beauty of art: drawing, acting, directing, cooking is that perfect delicious paradox: you get to forget your ego and all sense of time, while retaining omniscient control over your work and story. You get to choose your narrative and your ending.
I didn’t allow myself to paint for twenty years in a twisted act of self harm. I knew I loved it deeply so punished myself daily by not doing it.
Then I lost my confidence as you do when you leave your creative muscles to die, and told myself I had no skill or any were now perished.
I didn’t deserve to paint, did I.
On reflection, I can trace the self-destructive turning point to when I chose to study media at Goldsmiths, University of London and not art there, or at Ruskin, Oxford. I’d made my bed.
Despite exhibiting, selling work and being informed I’d broken new ground in my A Level Art at the time (with film installations I’d directed), I totally stopped that side of my life. The part I’d loved since I was two. To draw and paint.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Goldsmiths made a free thinking filmmaker out of me and laid the foundations to the creative career I have now. I went on to win film awards and have my work screened at festivals and on TV and I found other ways to storytell.
I just wish I’d realised I didn’t have to pick a lane. I know that now.
So, I’m making plans, crazy, crazy plans which truth be told scare me to the bone, but hopefully not enough to stop me. Not this time.
Read some Wonderful Women interviews to feel inspired.