Something Magical

I've always been a bit of a thinker.

I can remember being 6 or 7 years old and pondering the age old questions "Why are we here?" and "Do we get more than one go at being here?" I remember very clearly being in the back of the car, with my parents up front driving along the motorway, pondering these thoughts as I looked out of the window. Y'know, the way you do.

It doesn't take much for me to find myself having a good old ponder about something or other that's popped into my head. Pulling at the proverbial thought string and then tying myself up in knots, 'til I come out the other end, either feeling a lot clearer about something or being absolutely none the wiser.  I genuinely like thinking.

Since getting ill, the one thing that I've had in abundance, is time to think. And one of the things I've realised is that there can be a lot of stuff rolling round in my mind that perhaps isn't always doing me any favours.

When your body won't do what you want it to do, the very means by which you move through life becomes out of your control.  Life itself feels much more fragile, much less safe. Things become very basic.  The small things in life become mountains to climb.  Especially when you're experiencing pain and physical discomfort.

Before I got ill, if I was feeling a  bit blue, I'd get myself into the great outdoors and go for a good walk. Pondering all the lovely things I was seeing along the way.  Birds, flowers, leaves, the sunshine.  Or I'd take a dance class, go swimming, or rock climbing.  Generally do something physically demanding until I felt lifted again.  It worked well, and I never had any weight issues as the more I worried about stuff, the more physical exercise I did.

Not much of an option when you haven't got enough energy to scratch an itch...

At the beginning of last year when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed I started doodling, as a way of passing the time, and keeping myself upbeat.   It's very easy to get very low, and find yourself feeling worried, isolated and alone if you let your thoughts run away with you.  And my thoughts were running away with me. I realised I needed to find a new way of expressing myself that didn't involve high kicks.

Drawing and painting were the love of my life, alongside ballet, when I was a child.  I took art as an exam subject whilst at school and struggled to understand what was expected of me by the exam board and teachers at school.  I passed my art exams but in the process lost a lot of confidence in my abilities.  Picking up pens and pencils and committing anything to paper became a bit of an issue for me.  Was I doing it right? Was what I was drawing any good?  I had somehow become really critical of my own drawing and painting skills and couldn't seem to let go of those critical ideas.

Last year, scared stiff and feeling vulnerable, I decided it was time to let go of the bully inside my head who was giving me a really hard time whenever I wanted to draw or paint anything.  I picked up pens and pencils and started to get what ever was in my head out onto the paper without thinking about whether it was any good or not.  My only plan?  To fill the paper with fun and colour.

Something magical started to happen.  No matter how overwhelmed I was feeling, no matter how many scary thoughts were floating around in my head, when I picked up my art journal and started to doodle, my mind calmed down. So I kept picking up the pens, even if only for short blocks of time.

Very unexpectedly, and to my great delight, I discovered I had found something that gives me as much joy as dancing ever did.

But I still had a nagging doubt at the back of my mind.  "You've never painted on canvas.  Artists paint on canvas.  What if you can't do that?"

As a result of this persistent doubt, I'd never painted on canvas in case I was s**t at it and I would then have to let go of my dream of "really" being able to draw and paint. Waving it off sadly, while blowing my nose noisily into a lace-lined hanky, and silently sobbing to myself.  I'm nothing if not quietly dramatic.

Then, in January, I thought,  "Screw that!  If I never put a paintbrush onto canvas I'm never going to know.  I might very well be ruddy bloody good at it."

So I sat down and over the past few weeks, I've had a go on three small canvases I had in my house.

Have you ever found that a huge fear you had was completely unfounded?

26 comments

  1. Well done for facing your fears, Emma, with fab results! I have a thing about learning to drive, and soon I will have to as we are moving to a house with no transport links, and 4 miles from civilisation. I must seize my apprehension with both hands and throttle it!!! Wish me luck . . .

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    1. How have your driving ambitions been going? Have you managed to throttle that fear to the ground and drive like a wild thing with the wind in your hair? I do hope so, but if not, softly, softly, catchee monkey (as my old university professor used to say!). Sending lots of smiles. Em x

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  2. I identify with a great deal of what you write. I was always a thinker - hell, I have a degree in Philosophy, and you don't even consider studying a subject like that unless you enjoy pondering the universe and your existence within it.

    And of course I also know the illness. Part of my healing process has been learning to let go of overthinking - finding ways to periodically let go of the conscious mind and not take it seriously.

    Like you I have discovered a creative outlet - for me photography.

    As for fear of not being able to do something, that has become less over time, as I've come to realise the truth of a comment I once heard, which said something like:
    "I came across a book that was called 'How to be great at anything!' Inside was a single page with a single word: practice"

    And it's true. We somehow expect that if we're not good at something straight away, then it won't be for us. But as another great quote from a famous photographer goes, "Your first 10,000 photos are your worst" :)

    Once I accepted these things, I was less worried about being bad at anything new I might try :)

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    1. I love what you've written here about keeping on at something and getting better as you go. Since letting go of self-judgement when drawing and painting, I enjoy it so much more and the results are far better than I ever imagined. I can see the progress I am making when I look back on older blog posts. Thanks for following my creative journey. I appreciate your support and input. Em :0)

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  3. Emma, thanks so much for this post!! I relate to your creative fears, have tried painting many times and 'failed' therefore decided I wasn't a true artist because I couldn't paint!! How ridiculous these ideas in our head are formed!!! You are so right, ALL we need is FAITH and to LET GO!!! Your canvasses are gorgeous!!!!!

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    1. Thank you! How are you? I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply to your lovely comment but now that things are settling down with my sister and her treatment, I can spend a bit more time blogging. Sending smiles to your corner of the world. Em x

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  4. From one "member of the tribe" to another: it cheers me to hear that you have rediscovered one of your talents, and that you embraced it again despite your fears, and also how you are moving forward despite the limitations that chronic illness has placed in your life. Way to inspire, Emma!

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words! how are you? Are you enjoying a bright spring? I hope so. Sending love and smiles across the miles to you. Em x

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  5. with me, I think its life in general!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Emma, and for painting those truly beautiful canvases
    xx

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    1. I know what you mean! I'm really glad you like my canvases. They are now hanging on the walls in my house and I love them! x

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  6. Well done, Emma, your paintings are delightful. You CAN do this! We are so often our own worst enemy when it comes to self-doubt, aren't we? I hope you do lots more painting, and show us your beautiful work. xxxx

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    1. Lovely words! Thank you! Your support really make a difference. I can't believe it's taken me over a year to reply to your lovely comment, but now that life is calming down a bit as Charlotte's chemo is nearly done, I have some time and energy to blog again and it feels FAB! How are you? I'll be catching up on my blog reading over the next couple of weeks so will be popping by soon. Em xxxx

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  7. I like to go for a walk to help me sort things out or deal with difficult feelings. So I wonder how well I would cope if I could not do that. I suspect you are the glitterly one Emma - giving us inspiration with your art and your tenacity.

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    1. Thank you for those beautiful words of support. They really touched my heart. I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply to your lovely comment, but now that things are settling down a bit with my sister's chemo, I can get back to spending a little bit of time blogging. Em x

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  8. Well done for trying something new, Emma! I'm so glad you found something to add more richness to your life. You and I are on the same wavelength this week - I wrote about losing my singing voice to illness, but unfortunately, have not found something to replace it with. -Jocelyn

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    1. How are you? I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply to your blog, but life has been demanding and energy has not been able to supply demand! I hope that you are enjoying some bright spring days. Sending much love your way. Em x

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  9. You know, I have been trying to take up pen, pencil, brush, *anything*, frankly for a while now. I've finally picked up a needlepoint canvas I started early on in my illness and put down years ago when I got to a particularly difficult part. I hope this may ease me into painting at some point, though I must say it's so easy to pick up and put down needlepoint while I am still intimidated at setting up painting supplies. Yet you've inspired me to push myself into letting my creative side shine again. Thank you!

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    1. I hope you find the energy and time to do some more creative stuff. I know how much of a difference it makes ot me. I can somehow get into a place of "flow" for short periods of time and find myself lost in a beautiful place of imagination and daydreams and making them appear on the paper. I love that feeling so much. It takes me out of the exhaustion and discomfort and I can feel something other than ill for a while, which makes so much difference to my days. Sending glitter and smiles to your neck fo the woods. Em x

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  10. Love tour style! maybe its time for me to paint too, I've never tried but I need something to help me cope with my illness.

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    1. I find drawing and painting so lifting. It takes me out of the illnesss and I can get lost in a world of imagination for a short amount of time and forget about the discomfort and stress of living with a chronic illness. That makes such a huge difference to my days, do you know what I mean? Sending glitter and smiles to your corner of the world. Em x

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  11. Hello Emma ! I am on a Blog Hop today and hopped over from Ted & Bunny. Your canvases are delightful. Well done for giving them a go.
    I need to walk & would be lost without it so would try to tap into my creative side.
    My life line at the moment is volunteering in the local charity shop where I laugh, sing and have fun.
    When feeling low the other week, I text some co workers & we met for half an hour at closing. It lifted my mood.
    So glad I popped here today.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you came by, and am so sorry it's taken so long to reply to your lovely comment. My sister has been undergoing chemo for breast cancer and so there hasn't been a lot of energy left over for me to blog as it's been quite stressful watching my sis fight the illness. Now that her chemo is coming to an end next month, it feels like there's more time to do a bit of blogging. How are things with you? Em x

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  12. Emma ... thank you so much for sharing all your thoughts and anxieties here, you are very brave to let go of these feelings and I completely understand how scary it must have felt to not only pick up your pencils again, but to finally fill a canvas. Or three. And what joy you've brought to my day. Your works are so beautiful ... they are treasures and you must be so proud of your achievements!! I look after my husband who is unwell and I used to walk and run everywhere. Now I'm indoors a lot and have recently started knitting. Like your art, knitting calms me down. It's not the same as exercise, but it does the job for now:) xoxo

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words of support. I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply to them. My sis is coming to the end of her chemo now so it feels like there is more time for me to do a bit of blogging. I've missed it! I'm sorry to hear your husband lives with an illness too. I like knitting too but tend to end up with loads of holes if I don't really concentrate, so I prefer splashing about with paint and pens! Sending you huge piles of glitter. Em xxx

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