Where the rest of the world has chosen to turn right, I’ve turned left, over and over again.
It didn’t start out like that though…
I grew up in a ‘normal’ household at the heart of a ‘normal’ society. I was taught how to excel at fitting in. I learnt to push away the pain that I felt; to not talk about how I was feeling, I hardly thought that mattered. I learnt that the things that lit me up weren’t important in the ‘real’ world. I learnt how to defer to other peoples’ opinions.
And by the time I was 20 I was over 20 stone (280lbs).
Being obese in my childhood and adolescence affected me in so many ways. I don’t remember being 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 my job with Microsoft to work for a music charity in London, swapping my BMW and house in the suburbs for a bicycle and a London flat-share. 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 caffiene, wheat, sugar and 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 didn’t pick up a paintbrush until I was 40, but I’ve always known I see things differently, I’ve always known just how deeply beauty drills itself into my heart. But I didn’t even entertain the thought that I was an artist. There was no question: I had to do something more real, more practical; to be successful. Other, more talented, people were artists.
And yet, I say that part of me always knew I was an artist. I remember, in the midst of my striving to make my business the biggest success it could be, standing in floods of tears in the middle of a busy shopping street almost pleading to my boyfriend, “I think I’m an artist”. But there was no way I was going there. I had things to experience and process first. So, I carried on pushing, led, on my good days by a driving passion to create and share and, on my bad days by a hungry ghost that needed to share her values and find success.
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 that painting called me – weakend 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 own whims. Valuing the places my curiosity takes me transforms my way of being in the world, my state of mind and my relationship with myself and through this it is helping me forge a deeper, more whole, more peaceful and more satisfying life.
As you look at my work and read my words, I hope that you’ll touch and be touched by that eternal creative forve that is available to us all, whereever we are.