Where the rest of the world has turned right, I’ve chosen to turn left…over and over again.
Isn’t that what all of us driven by creativity have to do? Our world does not value creation, unless is brings economic rewards or fame. Following a call to create means making really hard choices. Especially when you grew up in a environment where you were taught to fit in.
I did, in spades:
My early world was one where you didn’t question, you worked doing something you were, at best, nonchalant about, you saved, you fit in. I had no concept there could be another way, not for the likes of me. I learnt to push away pain; to not talk about how I was feeling, I hardly thought that mattered. I learnt that the things that lit me up – like colour and baking and singing – weren’t important in the ‘real’ world. I was told that my instincts were, at best, frivolous.
And by the time I was 20 I was over 20 stone (280lbs).
Being obese in my childhood affected me in so many ways. I was not normal – I was ‘the fat girl’. But it also gifted me many things. Once I found the determination to shed – I lost half my body weight in my early twenties – I realised I could do anything I set my mind to.
As I felt my way in the world in my 20s, my attempts to be ‘successful’ lead me to situations I had to get out of: it was the being there that made me realise they weren’t me.
Over the next decade my life unravelled. I gave up the job with Microsoft that I drove to in my BMW and found work in London for a music charity, cycling there every day. I ended my marriage to my first boyfriend to go it alone. I left the UK to move to Italy, where I knew no-one. I dropped all processed foods from my diet. I stepped way out of my comfort zone to build my own internet-based life coaching business. I chose my musician-boyfriend, knowing the joy he brought me rather than worrying that he wasn’t earning money. After 5 years with no periods, and longing for a child, I chose to forgo fertility treatment believing I could heal naturally.
It took all this and more to lead me to what part of me knows I’ve been all along – an artist. I could not have followed the joy I felt any earlier. I had to learn to trust my feelings, I had to learn that what society teaches is toxic, I had to exorcise demons by choosing again and again to stamp my foot down and do what I felt was right.
The birth of my son and the traumatic events that followed shook my very concept of myself. I remember often saying, “I don’t know who I am any more”. It was here, at age 40, that painting called me – weakened and looking at the ruins of the life I’d known around me, I chose to waveringly, and with the help of my now husband, stand up, pick up a brush and daub some paint onto a canvas.
And, from that moment, what an amazing guide art has been for me. When I paint I feel like I am coming home. I play; I follow my whims. I value the places my curiosity takes me. This has transformed my way of being in the world, my state of mind and my relationship with myself; it is helping me forge a deeper, more whole, more peaceful and more satisfying life.
Choosing to create, however we do it, is challenging is so many ways. If you do, I salute you. As you look at my work and read my words, I hope that you’ll touch and be touched by that eternal creative force that is available to us all, where-ever we are.
Find out more about my natural paint-based art here.