The Power of Art as Therapy Part 2- Self-Exploration & Reflection Unequivocally Me 2.0

The Power of Art as Therapy Part 2- Self-Exploration & Reflection Unequivocally Me 2.0

A creative life is an interesting and challenging one. My mind has so many fleeting ideas. It takes practice to catch the right one and transform it into physical form.

Being creative has taught me that completing cycles carries over into life to help me finish things that I start. Not everything mind you, I am a work in progress!

The irony is, that once that thought is out there, if you don’t action it, someone else will. How many times have you heard someone say “I thought of that years ago. That was my idea.” Well technically it might have been, however, if you do nothing with the gift the universe gave to you don’t expect it to hang around! It wants to be birthed into the world.

The creative process made me question everything I ever thought myself capable of doing. For me that meant the four P’s. Patience, persistence, perseverance and practice.

Remember when I told my art mentor Lynn that I could not draw animals or people? Have you seen my art? I can most definitely draw those things, and so much more.

Let me take you back to Christmas 1978. There was a whole school competition to design a Christmas card and everyone had a chance to draw something. Granted, I had lost my Dad that year and the teachers probably all got together and thought it would be a nice gesture for me to be the winner. Of course I don’t know that as fact and I certainly wouldn’t have known that back then. So, when it was announced that my drawing had won the competition, I was so excited. My little stick drawing of Joseph and Mary kneeling down looking at the crib with baby Jesus. Designed by Michelle Potter written on the back. The very first time I ever saw my name published in ink.

My neighbour was someone I looked up to like a big sister. She was two years older than me and most days her, her sister and myself all walked to school together. After the winner had been announced she came up to me in the school corridor and told me that my drawing was really bad. That there were so many better drawings than mine. Then she blurted out ‘You just won because your Dad died’. My little heart was crushed. Looking back now I know she was probably jealous, because to her, I was getting an awful lot of attention, but to my seven-year-old self, it was like she had torn the sun out of the sky just because she could.

It planted a seed of doubt that me winning had nothing to do with my talent. I was now questioning, like most things that happened around my Father‘s death, that people wanted me to be happy and were doing nice things because they felt sorry for me, with of course the exception of my neighbour!

I believe this had a big impact on my art at a young age. It was the creation of a belief pattern that if I did something well, people I loved were going tear it down and often it was someone that I trusted. That being good at something brought out jealousy and nasty behaviour. From this moment I started to think it was much better to blend in and not stand out.

This pattern was repeated, confirmed and reinforced in different forms throughout my 13 years of classical ballet and schooling. I deliberately sabotaged myself and never excelled at anything because success meant I wouldn’t be liked. And I really needed to be liked.

Throughout all my childhood challenges I wish I’d had someone to encourage and nurture the creative side of myself. Someone to show me that I never really wanted to be like everybody else. I think the closest I ever got was my high school drama teacher Miss Collins. She was petite with short blonde spiky hair, wore baggy jeans and vests. (Very 80’s). She was a little bit out there and I loved her for it. I especially remember the day we all sang the Na na na nananana, nannana part of ‘Hey Jude’ so loud in a portable classroom, the teacher next door came in to see if our class had a teacher. I’ll never forget how red Miss Collins cheeks went with embarrassment.

A very important lesson for me is from the book ‘The Artist Way’. Julia Cameron uses the analogy of an elephant. That different people in your life will only see parts of you. Your work colleagues may only see the trunk, your family may see the side and your friends the tail. Very rarely will anyone see the entire elephant. Your entire self.

As an adult I now understand how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. To do what I love just for the joy of creating. It was never my intention to make a business out of it (if I can even call it that). It’s a platform to show off that baby Jesus Christmas card and If I make some money in the process then yay me.

The Power of Art as Therapy Part 1 – Transformation and Growth – Unequivocally Me 2.0

The Power of Art as Therapy Part 1 – Transformation and Growth – Unequivocally Me 2.0

I didn’t specifically mean to go down a pathway of art as therapy and a form of healing; rather, it found me.

It was 2012, and I was still in recovery from my stomach cancer. My life as I knew it had been turned on its head. In a parallel universe, I’m sure I was enjoying motherhood and socialising, and my hopes of finding myself again included rejoining the workforce. This timeline, however, looked very different.

I started back up again at a weekly women’s circle, and my circle mentor suggested that I try pastel drawing. Up until now, I had only ever played with abstract acrylic art, and I dabbled with some cartoons. My mum was the artist in the family, not me!

Side note: In truth, when I first started Circle in August 2009, my interests were mainly focused on developing my psychic abilities. As it turned out, this was not a class about chakras, crystals or the paranormal. Most weeks were spent peeling off layer after layer of belief and societal patterns, fears, religious dogma and lifetimes of karmic dross. I learned a lot about myself during these years, and it had its time and place in my life, but by August 2017, I was grateful when the spotlight didn’t fall on me on a Monday night. There was a moment when I knew in my heart that it was time to step out of Circle. It had been brewing for a while, and one thing I knew for sure was I shouldn’t feel worse when I left than when I entered. It had become a toxic environment for me. It is an interesting reflection knowing that Circle itself became something that I needed to let go of.

Lynn Whitty (Shiona as she is known in the Spirit Art World) became my art mentor for many years after 2012. I remember getting my first packet of mungyo soft pastels and driving myself to her then home in Springvale (southeast of Melbourne). She had the most amazing acrylic painting, which had been an Archibald entry, hung at her front door. I stood there in awe and thought to myself, ‘ One day, I want to be able to paint like that.’

Lyn is a bright and colourful character. Her modern hairstyle, funky glasses, and laugh make her stand out in any crowd. The room she taught from had a room full of easels. It was warm and cozy, with years of pastel dust staining the carpet. I felt instantly comfortable. As several other ladies came in, chatting, mingling and settling down with cups of tea, Lynn asked what I wanted to get out of class. I stated “I can’t draw animals and I can’t draw people.” Boy, was I wrong!

My first drawing was of a man in a green cape with a wolf. It was pretty two dimensional, and his eyes were a little close set, but considering I had never used soft pastels before, I was really proud of what I had achieved.

Something shifted in me during that first lesson. I realised I was capable of much more than I had imagined. Getting through stomach cancer and surgery had mostly been out of my control. I had to hand my life over to other people. I had to trust that the doctors, surgeons and specialists did what they were trained to do.

There were many lessons in there for me, including that of letting go and being more vulnerable than I had ever been in my life. This ‘creating space’, however, was a place that was just mine. A place where my inner child could learn and play.

My inner child! Of course, I had been neglecting her. I had all this grown-up, responsible stuff to do. From the age of 6, when I lost my father to bowel cancer, I became the responsible one. My childhood had been cruelly snatched out from under me, and now, with the help of my cancer, I had a chance to embrace her again.

This time, she could be encouraged, nurtured and supported, and I realised it was my job to give her the time and effort she needed to flourish. I was starting to really understand the meaning of gratitude and abundance. My vulnerability had opened up possibilities. It created a place for growth and transformation, so that is what I chose.

If I could get through stage 3 cancer, then my life, as I knew it, had already jumped tracks. What did I have to lose? The worst that could happen is that I could fail dismally. But how was I ever going to know unless I gave it a go?

My Wednesday mornings became my ritualistic art day. I set up a small easel at home in our family room and I worked at my craft every single day. This was the beginning of my art as therapy.

 

 

Lets Start At The Beginning – Unequivocally Me 2.0

Lets Start At The Beginning – Unequivocally Me 2.0

Hello and welcome to my Substack

Some of you may have been following me through my website or blogger posts, ‘ Unequivocally Me’.  I have decided to move onto this platform as it is a little more flexible regarding features.  At the moment, all my content will be free, and I may, down the track, have some additional reads for subscribers only.

I thought I would reintroduce myself to those who don’t know me or would like to get reacquainted.

My name is Michelle, and I am a full time Artist from Melbourne, Australia.  I have been married for 20 years and have two children.  I am also a step-mum to my husband’s girls since they were teeny tiny.   I have had many professions throughout my lifetime and discovered the ‘artist within’ when I was diagnosed with stomach cancer at the age of 39 in 2011.  Due to the nature of my surgery and recovery, I had to relearn how to do many things, including what life was going to look like with a few missing organs.

Travelling through the last 13 years has been an enormous learning experience.  I have gained an unfathomable amount of knowledge about how my body works, what I am truly capable of and how critical kindness and community is.  It has been nothing short of a colossal initiation into what my life should have always been.  I thought I had it licked!  Number 13, lucky for some and all that.   Well, the Universe wasn’t entirely done with me.

The same week I was sharing my cancerversary on socials, I was heading back in for scans as part of my yearly cancer screening. You guessed it, pancreatic cancer. I can’t say I was surprised as my fatigue had hit an all-time high.   Fortunately for me, my spider senses were already tingling. I’d started working with a dietitian and a diabetic educator in October 2022 and was only a few weeks away from seeing an endocrinologist.  I knew my body was up to something, and I made sure my concerns were being heard.

This diagnosis has come with some new challenges, as well as circling back over some old trauma just to make sure I’d learned my lessons.  I have come away from the experience with a renewed sense of wisdom and understanding, and amongst the chaos, there has been my constant – art.

My intention with this blog is to share what I have been through and how I have navigated the trickier parts of life.  How my use of creativity and art has had the power to heal, inspire, and transform me. By sharing my journey and experiences with art as therapy, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own path of self-discovery and healing through creative expression.

My purpose is to live an authentic life. I want to continue to support and empower others just by being me.  We can all harness the healing power of art to navigate life’s challenges.

I hope you’ll join me.

Michelle xx

If you are reading this blog from my website please consider subscribing to my free content over on Substack.

Another Bumpy Ride

Another Bumpy Ride

Hello My Arty Friends,

If you are not connected to my socials you may not be aware that on the 24th July 2023 I was diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer.  I remember clearly writing about my previous stomach cancer experiences and how my perception of time changed. Hearing the ‘C’ work again after 12 years was like watching two cars collide in slow motion, only this time I felt like I was observing the accident rather that sitting behind the steering wheel.  I love explaining things in metaphors, so let’s call this ‘the 2nd baby’. Anyone that has experienced childbirth knows that no matter what anyone tells you first time around, nothing can actually prepare you for parenthood.  Second time around you know what’s coming and even though the experience maybe similar there will be new lessons because no second baby is ever like the first baby!

In 2019 I wrote a letter to my past-self which I will share some part of. It tells a grueling tale of what I would have said to myself knowing what I know now. The lows and highs of cancer. The sadness, grief, hope and gratefulness all mixed up in a messy soup of medical appointments. The weight loss, the hair loss, the friend loss. The additional financial burden that’s placed on a family and the lack of support and understanding that the primary Carer suffers.  I soon worked out that a wig only made other people feel comfortable, so the night I decided not to wear one to a school open night was met with awkward stares and parents avoiding eye contact to avoid conversations.  The absolute clincher was a school mum’s jesting, calling me a ‘skinny bitch’ post-surgery.  I assured her that she could also be as thin as me if she was prepared to go through the same thing.  Some people are soooooo inappropriate!

‘You are going to lose a lot of weight and I mean a lot. You are probably going to kick yourself for wishing you could lose weight.  You got your wish but not the way you thought it was going to happen.   You know those chubby cheeks, those voluptuous breasts and wobbly belly you hate so much when you look in the mirror – you are going to lose it all.  In fact, by the time you have finished you are going to have to change everything in your wardrobe, even your shoes.  It was nice at first but when those curves that define you as a woman start to disappear even you will be shocked at your appearance.  You will actually walk past a window and smile at the person looking back at you because for a split second you didn’t realize it was a reflection and you didn’t recognize the girl looking back was you. ‘

Reading back through that letter it is clear how much I have grown and I’m not the only one. The level of support provided by the hospital has improved so much over the last decade that I honestly don’t know how I managed it all by myself the first time around.  This second diagnosis has been challenging for my husband and children who, once again, have to watch me go through more treatment, surgery and 12 to 18 months of recovery.  I honestly have no idea what life looks like on the other side of this, but I have some comfort in knowing that although this is another high mortality cancer, we caught this one early.  It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m out of the woods, but it does give me more options due to early cancer screening.

As this tumour is in my pancreas and not my colon the recommended treatment has to be privately funded.  My family needs to raise $61,000 in order to pay for a ‘mismatch repair deficiency cancer’ that decided to grow in a non-government funded organ.  This covers approximately 21 treatments and then the next two years are free of charge.  If you would like to help us financially I have started a GoFundMe page where you can donate.  If you prefer to own some of my artwork you can support me by purchasing through my shop.

If you would like to know a little more about the science, here is some information regarding Lynch Syndrome and its associated cancers along with information regarding Keytruda which is the immunotherapy treatment I have been put on.

Lynch syndrome (previously known as HNPCC) is an inherited genetic mutation which gives people an increased chance of developing certain cancers across their lifetime, often at a younger age than the general population (i.e. before 50 years of age). 

These cancers include, but are not limited to:

  • Bowel cancer*
  • Endometrial cancer (lining of the uterus)*
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Hepatobiliary cancer (liver/gallbladder)
  • Urinary tract cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Skin (sebaceous adenoma, sebaceous epithelioma, or sebaceous carcinoma and keratoacanthoma)
  • Small bowel cancer

https://lynchsyndrome.org.au/the-facts/what-is-lynch-syndrome/ 

Most cancers in people with an inherited MLH1 mutation will have a tumor biomarker known as “MSI-high” or “MSI-H” (microsatellite instability). This biomarker indicates that the tumor has a feature known as “mismatch repair deficiency,” which is also known by the abbreviations dMMR or MMR-D. Testing tumors for mismatch repair deficiency or MSI-High can be important, because these tumors are more likely to respond to immunotherapyagents known as immune checkpoint inhibitors

 People with an MLH1 mutation may qualify for clinical trials looking for more effective treatments for cancer. Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is an immune checkpoint inhibitor used to treat metastatic or advanced colorectal cancer. 

(https://www.facingourrisk.org/info/hereditary-cancer-and-genetic-testing/hereditary-cancer-genes-and-risk/genes-by-name/mlh1/cancer-treatment# )

For the first time, Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) will have its listing extended on the PBS to include the treatment of unresectable or metastatic mismatch repair deficient colorectal cancer.

This is the first immunotherapy treatment available to Australians with this type of cancer, which cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to an area outside the colon/rectum. 

Keytruda® belongs to a new class of immunotherapy medicines that help the body’s own immune system to detect and fight cancer cells. The drug is already available on the PBS for other types of cancer, including lung cancer and melanoma.

https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/landmark-pbs-listing-for-australians-with-bowel-cancer#:~:text=For%20the%20first%20time%2C%20Keytruda,mismatch%20repair%20deficient%20colorectal%20cancer.

A new health report from consumers reveals over 80,000 Australians, at increased risk of developing one or more often-aggressive primary cancers in their lifetime, don’t actually know that they’re at risk from a hereditary cancer gene.

Lynch Syndrome Australia Founding Director, Ms Beth Fairbank said only 5% of Australians with Lynch syndrome have been diagnosed.

“It’s imperative that people with the gene are diagnosed early in order to increase cancer prevention and early detection. 

For a person with the gene, they have a 70% chance of developing a Lynch syndrome-related cancer (including bowel, endometrium, pancreas, stomach, breast, prostate, kidney and skin cancer),” said Ms Beth Fairbank, Lynch Syndrome Australia Founding Director.

https://lynchsyndrome.org.au/australias-untold-health-story-lynch-syndrome-media-release/

This path has so many casualties. There are depths of self you have to dive into to find strength, hope and healing that only comes with a cancer diagnosis.  I am refining what is important and who I want to spend my time with.  I am relearning not to set expectations around those that show up and those that don’t. I am having to find forgiveness for things that I thought I had already forgiven and letting go of people, situations and emotions that I thought I had already released. The cycle has come back around and its time to lean back into the dis-ease so I can peel off another layer and clean house, yet again. This ascension stuff is hard work and I can only say that a cancer free body and true enlightenment will be the ultimate outcome from this experience.

 

Michelle xx

Re-Braving in 2023

Re-Braving in 2023

“I am re-braving after a difficult stage that un-braved me.” – Jeff Brown.

2022 was indeed The Tower’ for me.

January 2022, things were starting to open up, people had already started planning for a mask free future, but my hesitation had all but turned me into a paranoid skeptic who saw how ugly and selfish the world had become.  I had already distanced myself from certain social media platforms and as much as much as my reflection started to resemble Shrek in his swamp, I reveled in the luxury of just being able to put my phone down to alleviate any drama that was going on in the outside world.  It was generally nice not having to people.

School began, my eldest heading into year 12 and my youngest being able to attend his first year since commencing high school.  Just getting accustomed to having the house back to myself felt weirdly quiet.  I can’t say I missed the smell of the air fryer or the fridge door constantly opening and closing, but we had worked out daily routines so we were not constantly getting under each other’s feet.  Getting reacquainted with myself took some time but I missed the kids and the company.   I knew that life, as we all knew it, had changed and just as I had had an enormous amount to time to think and contemplate the last 2 years, I was not prepared for what was to come.

On January 18, 2022, I went in for my yearly colonoscopy. This is part of my cancer screening and is something that I have done since 2011.  My histopathology came back showing the removal of a tubulovillous adenoma with extensive high-grade dysplasia, and lots of other medical terminology that no one ever wants to see on a report.  I cannot tell you how much my heart sank. My specialist of 11 years was now all but retired to Queensland and his office admin were under strict instructions not to contact him under any circumstances (unless it was his week on in Melbourne) so getting hold of the right people to give this the urgency I felt it needed was nothing short of challenging.  Getting past the frustration of pouring out my history to medical receptionists and being able to speak to ‘someone’ that would call me back sent me into meltdown.

Living with a genetic predisposition to gastrointestinal cancers is not something you can fully appreciate unless you are living it.  Its not like a cough or cold that you ‘get through’ and then your life becomes healthy again.  Living with this constant threat of another ‘C’ is my life.  Fatigue and fall out from multiple surgeries is a daily grind.  I have to prioritize everything, and I mean everything.  From what I can do in a day, to who and what I give my energy and time to.  What I eat on a daily basis can affect my hydration levels, my bowels, my ability to complete tasks and how much I can do physically.   AND let me tell you, no matter how much spiritual work I do and how positive I am, shit things happen.  Shit does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how kind or generous you are. It doesn’t matter if you give your last $20 to the homeless guy outside Woollies or how many self-help books you have beside your bed.  Shit doesn’t care how much money you have in the bank or how many friends you have.  Shit just happens.

Two gastroenterologists, my oncologist and a colorectal specialist later I was given the option for a partial colectomy or close monitoring (quarterly colonoscopies).  It was explained to me that the partial colectomy involved the removal of ¾ of my bowel with a 12-18 month recovery and the possibility of a temporary or permanent colostomy bag.  The thought of having to endure the same recovery as my gastrectomy was more than I could cope with so against my oncologists wishes I went with the latter.

This experience cracked me open to my very core.   My mental health suffered on a scale I have never experienced.  For the first time ever, I knew I could no longer do this on my own. I sought medical intervention for my anxiety and depression and by May 2022 I was speaking with a psychologist and on medication. It almost seems insane that I waited until I was right on the edge of self-destruction before I took these steps.  My belief was always ‘I can do this on my own.’ Surely with all the self-help and spiritual guidance I had for support, seeking medical intervention seemed weak. How can I be a Reiki Master, a Lightworker Practioner, lead women in Circle, know all that I know and need help for my mental health? It felt like I had failed. That by doing this I was ‘a fake’ and clearly not spiritual enough to heal this myself.  Pushing past all these belief systems was challenging.  I accepted that being vulnerable was not a sign a weakness and even if we have all the answers we need inside, sometimes its a hell of alot easier if someone is holding your hand as you walk through it.

Not all that long ago I listened to a podcast from the Spiritual Tradie and he spoke to someone regarding our ‘Spiritual tool shed.’  That we have all been living in a state of overwhelm for such an extended period of time that even if we feel we had all the spiritual resources at our fingertips, some of us forgot where we put the key to the shed.  This was me in a nutshell.  I was thrown back 11 years when I was just a babe on my spiritual journey.  While everyone else went on re-planning events that were delayed through the pandemic, I was being thrown back into a space of the unknown, of poking and prodding, tests upon tests, hospital and specialists’ appointments.  So, not only was it was imperative I stay virus free but I had to navigate what this potentially meant for me and my family. And I cried and cried and cried.

2022 was also a huge year of acceptance.  Finally facing my health issues head on and really accepting my limitations, which grieved me more than I had imagined it would.  Letting my grey hair grow out (for a time) and seeing the 100% me.   It’s a weird feeling being a woman in her 50’s, it truly is a bit of a void.  It’s like a light switch turns on and you start the see the world differently. You certainly may not feel ‘old’, but your reflection lets you know otherwise. I remember my mum telling me that when women hit a certain age they suddenly become invisible. We sort of slink into the background. We let go of the last strands of youth but have to learn to reshape that into something new.  Something inside us stirs and if we give ourselves permission, we can make own rules. Simply nod your head and leave the youth to make their own mistakes as you start to weave a new life, your way.  No ‘bullshit.’ But this to is something we need time to adjust to, and for a while anyway we feel suspended in that space ‘in-between’.

Last year un-braved me so much that I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to face what may lay ahead.  I am proud that I resourced myself, learned how to take better care of me and I am happy to report I am in a much better place now.  If you are having a tough time, know that there is help out there if you seek it, and if you don’t know where to start, go and speak to your GP or a qualified medical practitioner.  It is okay to be a complete mess and to have no idea where your life is going, no matter how old you are.   The Tower always brings extreme emotional turmoil, chaos and scary adjustments.  If The Tower has entered your life, then it’s time to rethink your foundations, open yourself up to a clearer spiritual path and a more truthful existence and remember you don’t have to do it alone.

Today is not forever. <3

Michelle

Image Credit https://unsplash.com/@sammiechaffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn

The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn

Welcome to the year 2022 and a different world.

My blogs have been few and far between and 2021 was no exception.  As Julie Andrews would sing ‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.’

This won’t be your usual upbeat blog because lets face it 2021 for the most part was pretty shit.  I felt like Artex, the horse from the Neverending Story, slowly sinking in the Swamp of Sadness.

For those living in Melbourne Australia, I can only compare my experience to slowly being tortured.  Each lockdown got harder and harder.  The frenzied toilet paper grab of 2020 was replaced by cynicism when we watched the same thing happening in other States.  Some of us even scoffed at a 3 day snap lockdown in Queensland.  Watching queues of people lined up outside Coles as they prepared to bunker down for their long weekend.  The mental and emotional toll it took on myself and my family was more than I could bare.  Lockdown number 6 broke me, not to mention my Doctor, who would download more on me than I did on her every time I booked an appointment.  Psychology waiting lists no longer existed because of the overwhelming surge in mental health issues amongst our community, including our children.

Our neighbour laughs about saving on petrol but wearing out 4 pairs of shoes doing laps of his garden, but all jokes aside it was incredibly hard watching the rest of the Country getting on with life while we were being treated like District 8 in the Hunger Games.  Instagram posts of diners smiling at open restaurants, family gatherings and going on holidays, while we had security guards standing at funerals making sure the bereaved were not comforting each other and maintaining social distancing.  If you think I’m exaggerating, I am not.

Then there was the division. Not just the overwhelming grief of leaving behind any sense of normality, but the personal impact this had on my friendships. There became a clear line within the Spiritual Community. In the end my friendship list and who I followed shrank as I watched many around me no longer aligning with my truth.  The option to ‘unfollow for 30 days’ on Facebook became a futile attempt to not offend.  As someone that works within this community with my intuitive art and women’s circles, I was somehow supposed to remain impartial to the constant barrage of posts and opinions from others.  Telling me I was a ‘sheep’, I was ‘living in fear’, that I needed to ‘wake up’, that my choices were not the right choices.  The kindness and generosity of the first 2020 lockdowns were torched up in flames along with a severe lack of empathy and understanding for other people.

Watching this all unfold last year had a huge impact on my spirit and my heart, withdrawing me into the safety of my own shell.   My initial enthusiasm to extend myself to run online women’s circles and share my teachings via zoom in 2020 had long fizzled out.  Instead, my daily outings became walks within my 5klms radius or getting my essential shopping whilst doing my best to avoid anyone that even remotely looked like they wanted to engage in conversation.   Things got pretty dark, and I don’t mind admitting that in retrospect.  The ultimate in shadow work, one might say.

Jumping social media platforms was my creative savior. Watching everything you have created come to a complete standstill is devastating for a small business.  The lack of growth, reduction in views and interaction seems to be all driven by the push for paid advertising, and you can’t spend what you don’t have.  I discovered a brilliant Art Community on Tiktok and landed on my feet. Arttok has inspired me to step out of my own way and try new things. All the while being truly authentic to who I am, not someone I thought I had to be to drive people to my business.  And as with anything new it has taken up a lot of my time. Learning how to use the app, recording artwork progress, editing, learning how to engage people and to draw the right people to my account so I stay on the right side of TikTok!  It has been full steam ahead.

My daily routine and coping mechanism. My creative outlet, my ‘new art tribe’, and my sanity. However, it has not come without its shadow side and finding a balance between escapism and inspiration has been non-existent. I admit I threw all caution to the wind and totally burnt myself out in the process.

It was a year of clarity and introspection.  The weight of the collective grief was huge and here I was one little human not wanting to burden anyone else.   I am a Reiki Master, a Lightworker Practitioner and a qualified Women’s Circle Facilitator, this was my chance to shine. I worked long and hard to attain my qualifications. Years of personal growth and self development behind me and if anyone had their shit together surely it should have been me?  Well, just letting you know I didn’t, and I certainly didn’t do anything wrong.  Accepting what is, is sometimes the only way to walk through it.  The darkest of times is when we have an opportunity for the most growth, and if there is anything I have learned through my life’s experiences it’s that these times can create huge breakthroughs as long as we are willing to work through them instead of avoiding or dwelling to long on the negative aspects.

I’m not going to lie, my post lockdown lethargy feels like I have been to war and my energy is still quite depleted. As I unplug for a bit to recharge I feel like I have finally turned a corner.  As far as goal setting for 2022 I feel I need to be more fluid, like water, so I can bend and move more easily with whatever is heading my way.  I would love to hold Circle again in my beautiful big tent which has been a great refuge during these hard times and although bookings are looking up I would really like to work with more watercolor, so I will see where that takes me.

I know it’s been tough, really tough. A lot harder for some than others, and there are no guarantees that just because you’re a good person that good things will happen to you.  Those story lines only play out in fairy tales. Life owes us nothing, it’s about experiences and it’s up to us to create the life we want to see.  In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi  “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”