Birthing a new life

Saw this on Facebook today and felt like it so aptly described my current feelings. At first glance, I quite identified with the newborn foal particularly at moment 0:22 – you know, the “faaaaack what is happening to me???” moment of pure struggle and confusion. But then the music kicks in and the mum gets up and starts welcoming her foal to the world, and I was like, yeah, that’s actually me, I’m the mum. I’m birthing a new life.

The process is totally nuts and exhausting. I have no idea what’s happening. I’m pushing like hell. I want to cry, but then all of a sudden, there’s this little thing to care for and get up on its feet, and we’ve got to get all this damn goo off you! Think I’m still in the pushing/crying phase right now…

This past week has been another ride on the new-move-rollercoaster. We had our big annual community conference at work where I met lots of beautiful, creative people. They are so inspiring, and it’s hard to believe my job is to support their amazing work. These are events are always so good for my soul, and I’m so glad the timing worked out for me to attend and lead a few sessions. I also went on a day trip to Healesville with some work colleagues and got to cuddle a wombat, see koalas and kangaroos up close and feed a bird out of my hand! It was pure Australian magic.

Work has been complicated too though; it’s just like starting a new job and I’m not sure where or how I fit in yet. At the same time, the housing question has been looming large over my head, and I was crushed to learn the two places I was most excited about seeing have been taken.

After two months living out of suitcases, I’m craving some stability. I’m keen to find my yoga studio and get out my art supplies. I miss my friends and family. Patience! Why is that such a hard one?

My affirmation for this week: I treat myself and the universe with loving patience.

Pause

I find creativity comes in oscillations between production and consumption. May was an incredibly inspired month where I got so much shit done!

I began taking myself seriously as an artist for the first time in a number of years. I have tapped into a stream of creativity that I had been ignoring, and it feels so good and right to be in the flow of my natural talents again. Ideas come fast and furious, and in May I successfully harnessed a lot of them into real projects.

I got screens made for some of my artwork and printed the first round of river silhouettes. I photographed both the prints and handkerchiefs and started my online shop, Cry Me A River, where I’ve already had a few sales!

I also continued working on my mandala drawing series and began working with a 3D pen to transform them into more physically-present objects. I registered for the Jerwood Drawing competition and set up my artist portfolio website too.

I was also extremely productive in my job. I helped put on two major events and was on the team that put together our very first TV ad!

May was also the one year anniversary of my blog, and I managed to post something nearly every day!

Phew!

So now we’re into June. June has definitely been a lot quieter and more consumptive. Taking some time to recharge. Had a few sad things happen that I am sitting patiently with. Alas, it means less blog posting. But don’t fear – I will come around to another productive point and have loads to share with you.

I’ll leave you with this song from John Wizards, a South African musician I recently found. I love how his music sounds poppy but feels orchestral with movements and progressions and layered compositions. Plus the guitar wailing in this one is just too good.

Herd of Human: connecting with strangers

I was waiting for the bus a few weeks ago, when it was still very cold. I was waiting at the stop with a young guy. We both kept changing sides of the bus stop so as to avoid the wind. We must have waited there for ten minutes, each performing this perfectly-synced but unchoreographed dance around the stop and its shelter. We’d catch each others’ eye every now and then and exchange a “oh this cold!” expression.

At last a bus trundled down the street towards us, but my heart sank and I let out a very audible sigh when I realized it wasn’t the one I needed. It was his though, so he stuck out his hand to wave it down, but as he heard my sigh, he began Continue reading

Herd of Humans: “But I love you!”

You don’t expect anything to happen on the tube. Actually, you actively try to make sure nothing happens on the tube; everyone make sure to avoid eye contact, burying themselves in their reading material or music. Some people find this frustrating. They think it’s a moment for true human connection, or at least acknowledgement, and it’s all a big waste that we are smashed in there ignoring each other, but I don’t mind it anymore. We’re all in a tiny space, we’re all tired, and we’re all just trying to get somewhere else. The most pleasant way to endure it is for everyone to just keep to themselves quietly. But every now and then something happens that pulls everyone from their private lives pressed into one carriage and makes them into a real group of people with big, beating hearts. Like last Tuesday. Continue reading

2013 In Review

hudson river new years eve

We closed 2012 last year on the solstice by releasing several dozen paper lanterns into the Hudson River. We had so much to commemorate at that year. So many things came to an end. That also means it set up 2013 to be a year of rebirth.

And rebirth it has been. 2013 has been a very full year, full of new experiences, sorrow and great learning.

At the end of January, I left my home of ten years, New York’s Hudson Valley, to move for my job to London. I felt a deep sorrow upon leaving. It wasn’t angsty or troubled; I did feel called to leave after all. It was more like the purest mirror image of all the love I had for the Hudson Valley.

London was full of familiar things from my childhood (like relatives and tube announcements) yet also plenty of surprises. There was more snow in the UK than in the states, but nowhere to ski. I had more fish pie and tea in my first week here than I’d had in my whole life.

In March and April, work sent me back to New York for a few weeks for a conference. It was strange and overwhelming to be back amongst the leafless boughs and calm, wide waters of the river. I cried when I saw the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson. We took some nice hikes that trip. It was hard going back, but somehow, even through the relief of being somewhere familiar and homey, the Hudson Valley didn’t feel like the right place to be anymore. When I returned to the UK, I caught myself saying, “I’m glad to be home,” and was surprised I thought of London as home already.

Upon return, I started getting really committed to living in London. I started taking advantage of the ease with which you can travel around Europe from London by taking myself off on my first real solo journey to Ireland. I spent the weekend on Achill Island. The dramatic landscape, misty, moss-covered rocks, and gregarious people totally won my heart. I’ll never forget my weekend as the honorary guest at a stag do full of Irish doctors. When I got back, I spent my first bank holiday weekend at my cousin’s seaside cottage in Devon and christened my new wet suit (yes, I peed in it).

Those first few trips sparked a travel fire within, and I ended up taking more than 20 trips this year to 7 countries. That’s more traveling in one year than I’ve done in my whole life. Seeing the world has been revelatory. Every place has its own quirks that add up to enormous differences. And yet, each new place also seems surprisingly the same as the last, and the people filling them full of the same triumphs and failures as a more familiar set.

In addition to traveling, living in London has provided me with the opportunity to get involved with more serious sailors than in New York. I started sailing at the Queen Mary Sailing Club in the RS400 fleet and even did a couple of races in keel boats in the Solent. I even got the wonderful opportunity to sail a “big boat” in the Round the Island Race. It was exciting to be a part of a truly world-renowned sailing event and has left me hungry for more.

I’ve done a lot of looking outside of the city to enjoy my life, but I’ve also learned ways I love being in the pulse of a crowded metropolis, like going to live music shows. I’ve begun exploring music and going to shows in a way that most people discover when they are 15. I feel ridiculous for being such a late bloomer on this front, but I’m so glad my “music phase” has arrived!

I also have done a lot of great drawings and a few linocut prints. I started making DIY tutorials, and hand-drawn illustrations on tote bags (that you can buy). I tromped all around London, exploring the city, seeing great live music, and sailing. And I got promoted at my job!

I’ve decided to stay in London for another year or two and I’m really excited thinking about all the things I could accomplish while I’m here, but that’s another post entirely!

I have never done an “end of year” summary for a Christmas newsletter or anything like that. But I am loving writing this post and feeling like I should start making this an annual thing. It’s really changing my perspective. I had been thinking about this year as a pretty sad one; there was a lot of change that left me feeling upended and rootless. Going through the year has reminded me of all the good work I’ve done. It feels great to have done so much traveling and good creative work.

Gratitude is the key to happiness. Ain’t it so? I am so thankful for all my opportunities, even the hard ones. I can feel all of this sprouting very good things within me and for my future.

How was your 2013? What are you thankful for that happened this year?

Gratitude is the key to happiness.

I absolutely believe that gratitude is the key to happiness. Saying thank you keeps you humble and it keeps you from taking all the wonderful things in your life for granted.

Gratitude is not about complacency. It’s not about saying, “Thankfully I have this shitty job.” Real gratitude acknowledges the good in everything, but it doesn’t offer the good as an excuse to endure the bad that can be changed. Thankfully, we all have the power to change situations we don’t like, and in the meantime, a pinch of gratitude every day goes a long, long way to keeping you happy and sane.

Today is the day to take more than a pinch. The harvest is in, we rest from the work of the summer and pause before heading indoors. Thank God we made it through another year. Please help us survive another one.

There is so much I feel enormous gratitude for. The opportunity to come to London is definitely one of them. It has been a really hard ten months, but I have learned more about myself, happiness, and what I really want from life in those few months than I have in a long time. I’ve also reconnected with my creativity and the adventurer in me.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me this year! I would have a lot less to feel grateful about without the lovely people in my life.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

hand turkey

I made this HandTurkey at work (yes, I am thankful for my awesome job).