Big, Bold & Blue

bold-and-blue

Although my distance vision is still reasonably fine for my age (53 and counting), my near vision has been deteriorating since my mid-forties and for the last five years or so I’ve needed glasses for close-up work – reading, writing, sewing, painting, photography and using both my laptop and mobile phone.

Recently even with my glasses on I’ve been struggling to focus on tiny details close up, so yesterday I finally had my eyes tested again and sure enough, my old original prescription was way off – oops!

I decided to find new frames, so have chosen something very big, bold, and blue. They’re a lot more immediately noticable than my last frames but I like them, they’re really comfortable to wear and and most importantly everything close up is focused clearly instead of being slightly fuzzy and blurry – much better! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Focused 

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One Liner Wednesday: Hammers and Nails

Abraham Maslow wrote in ‘Toward a Psychology of Being’ in 1962;

‘I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail’.

I think that’s something we’re all guilty of to a certain extent – we come at life with all the biases and preconceptions and stereotypical judgements inherent in our family, our culture and our society, as well as the cumulated tacit knowledge gained through our own life experience.

We tell ourselves we make objective, logical decisions based only on what we see before us, but without really thinking subjectively about why we see what we see; without really appreciating how often we actually respond emotionally to what we expect to see, and therefore react accordingly. It stands to reason that if the only tool we carry is a hammer, why on earth would we see anything in front of us but nails, because that’s what we’re equipped for dealing with at source?

So many of us carry around daily our invisible (yet potentially destructive) emotionally triggered hammers without even realising it, oblivious to anything other than our own distorted worldview and blindly believing it emphatically to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

For example I know I have a hugely problematic lack of trust of all people I perceive to be in authority over me – my life experience to date has taught me that people who claim to be acting for me generally have their own best interests at heart, not mine. From parents to past life-partners to politicians, I now expect to be let down as I have been before and often feel defensively that an aggressive pre-emptive strike is my safest option – I effectively aim to take them down before they take me.

But in recognising that pattern of expectation, in realising that it is in fact me being pre-armed with my invisible hammer that makes me see everyone in authority as a prospective nail to be hammered down and bent into shape, I can at least try to temper my reaction each time a similar situation arises, giving myself time to make a more informed choice about the reality of the perceived threat in front of me before whacking the hell out of some poor innocent bystander caught up in my twisted version of truth…

One Liner Wednesday

Busy Doing Nothing

If I do nothing of any consequence today, what will happen? Will the sky fall in? Will the heavens open and lightening strike me down? Will my parents disapprove? ‘Probably not’ is the potential answer to the first two, and ‘Most definitely, but thankfully they’re not here to see me’ applies to the third. So why in my mid-fifties do I still have such a massive emotional problem with the idea of deliberately doing nothing for a day?

I’m a grown woman, sitting here in my own home, with nothing overly pressing to do. I’m not working today, we have food in the fridge, I did the laundry yesterday, and I’m not going to suffer unduly if I fail to run a duster over any hard surfaces and a vacuum over anything softer for a couple of days or so. I’m currently sitting curled up on the sofa with my laptop balanced on my knees, and already I’m feeling guilty.

Why is keeping constantly busy considered to be such a valued activity when measured against the ignominy of effectively lazing about doing nothing? I contemplate the necessity of telling myself I don’t feel well, or I’m overly tired, or find some other kind of self-justification for my planned inaction. But what is so wrong with me admitting to myself that I just don’t want to do anything much today, for no justifiable reason?

I don’t even want to be creative and go out and take photographs, or draw or paint, or write poetry – I just want to rest idly, let my mind wander as it will, and let the world pass me by. So I’ve decided that today I choose to value resting over the appearance of enforced activity simply because society expects it from me – but as society rewards busyness over idleness, perhaps I’ll simply consider myself busy doing nothing instead 🙂

A Hard Slog…

Life can feel like such a hard slog sometimes, where everything seems to be closing in on me, clamouring for attention until there is just no relief to be found anywhere. Right now I feel unsettled and on edge and out of sorts and plagued by a deep-seated tiredness. Not the satisfactory muscle-aching sting of physical exhaustion that comes from many hours of hard active labour, but the all-pervasive world-weary emotional apathy that permeates every fragile fibre of my being and seeps like rising damp into my soul.

Nothing seems to alleviate or ameliorate my current condition. I try applying all those creative little tricks and tips I’ve amassed over the years to cheer myself up and chivvy myself on when the going gets tough, but to no avail. Right now more than anything else I feel tired of feeling tired all the time. I go to bed tired, I toss and turn and struggle through too few hours of restorative sleep, and then I wake up again tired and unrefreshed. My whole body aches dull and dismal, my joints creak and cry out, my skin sulks sullen and stagnant.

I simply feel overwhelmed by it all, my brain busy trying to continue to fire on all four cylinders whilst not only has my internal battery effectively drained so low it has lost the ability to recharge itself but also my spark plugs have become constantly crudded up with extraneous crap. It feels as if I’ve lost my drive like some clapped-out old engine coughing and spluttering along on a rusty old chassis, elevating even the simplest and mundane of life’s everyday journeys into something more reminiscent of the Labours of Hercules.

But however depleted my drive may be at the moment, thankfully my determination has stayed impressively intact. So as ever I hold on to the hope that in time this too shall pass, the hard slog will eventually ease off and I’ll start to see the light at the end of the tunnel again. And in the meantime I’ll just get on with it all as best I can, travelling this long and winding road slowly but surely with the sole focus of not blowing a gasket, having my wheels fall off, or otherwise breaking down along the way… 🙂

Daily Promp: Elevate

Daily Prompt: Lurch

Life has not felt very stable lately.

My husband and I are in the process of juggling with some major life stressors all at the same time, and although so far we have succeeded in keeping at least one of the balls in mid-air free-fall at any given moment while skillfully catching and throwing the other two in alternate hands, it is definitely taking its toll on both of us. Things just feel precarious, as if at any moment something may just rip the rug from under our feet and leaving us falling into despair.

But we’re both still here, juggling away together in the hope that one by one these stressful situations will eventually become resolved enough so that we can begin to feel on sure footing again instead of constantly lurching from one near-miss crisis to another. And in the meantime we’re both just going to work, paying the bills, and finding whatever little snippets of enjoyment we can create in between the focus and concentration required in always keeping our eye on one ball or another… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Lurch

Inspiration, Interpretation, Imagination…

Hmmm… I know so far I’ve only done one simple flower colour study so it’s very early days, but I’ve been reflecting ever since on how it felt this afternoon to be painting again after all these years. Physically I absolutely loved the feel of the brush in my hand, the steady flow of the paint, and the diluting wash of the water, however clumsy and awkward my technique may have been to begin with. I know that technically, patience and practice and perseverance (as with everything else in life) will help me improve in time.

But emotionally I can sense I’m still too tied up in how I feel something ‘should’ look when put to paper, as if the only criteria that mattered for judgement was to reproduce a near-photographic representation of my subject matter for scathing critique under extreme scrutiny. As if true-to-life matters more than true-to-me. Of course, if the purpose of my painting was indeed to achieve that level of accuracy (for example if I were painting someone’s portrait for them) I suppose then it really would matter?

But I think I simply want my subject matter to provide the baby-steps beginnings of my own creativity, be a spring-board point of inspiration that I can choose to interpret in my own way, letting my imagination decide what to do and where to run with it. After all I’m not 17 any more, I don’t have a set syllabus or class curriculum to follow, or for that matter a teacher or parent to please. Rather, I have the absolute freedom to please myself. I can be as abstract and off-beat and making-it-up-as-I-go-along as I want.

So why do I struggle so much with recognising and accepting that artistically creative adult reality? Maybe the question I need to be asking myself is – who am I actually painting for? Because maybe that’s partly what has been blocking me for all these years, maybe at heart I’m still that insecure little girl always yearning for approval from others, trying desperately to feel good enough but all the while knowing I will never be enough for some people no matter what I do…  🙂

Daily Prompt: Prickle

old-water-colour-paints

These are my old watercolour paints from school – well, what’s survived of them, anyway! I haven’t actually done any watercolour painting since 20th May 1981, and the reason I can be so confident about the date is because that was the day I sat my Higher Art practical exam, just before I left school… I found the old exam paper with my paints 🙂

old-exam-paper

I never intended to give up painting altogether, because although I wasn’t ever great at it I really enjoyed it, but after leaving school I worked for a while, then got married and had a baby – actually three babies, one after the other – and somehow there never seemed to be time to paint. I carried on tentatively drawing (mainly simple pencil sketches) for a while, then that too dwindled away to nothing.

Over the years I have occasionally picked up my drawing pencil every now and again, but never my paintbrush. In fact, although I still have my paints I have no idea where my brushes even went, or my watercolour paper for that matter? There were more tubes of paint initially, but sadly after close inspection these nine were all that were salvagable – mind you after 36 years of total neglect it should probably be more surprising to me that any are still usable!

Recently I’ve been feeling the stirrings of creative curiosity again though – that prickling sensation of anticipation that comes with a renewed desire to have another go, just to see how it feels after so long to wield a wet paintbrush on heavy paper, feel the flowing undulations of diluted colour spreading out and tinting the pristine page beneath. I think that’s why I like using watercolours so much – there’s a delicate softness of touch to it, a gentle fluidity that resonates with me emotionally.

My mum was an art teacher before she got married, and she always used to paint with oil paints, and my eldest daughter moved on from the bright acrylics of her teens to the pastels she uses now. But my favourite medium was always watercolour paints – whatever else I experimented with along the way I always came back to watercolours. And now here I am at 53, itching to pick up where I left off 36 years ago.

The thing is, starting painting again requires an initial outlay – fresh paints, and replacement brushes and paper. Nothing too fancy, I don’t need to equip an entire studio, just get the bare minimum to give it a try. But if I’m actually going to do this then I need to commit to starting somewhere, so I guess there’s no harm in picking up a few basic supplies, and taking it from there – how exciting…! 🙂

Daily Prompt: Prickle   

 

Daily Prompt: Glaring

One glaring omission from my personality seems to be a naturally happy gene – it’s not that I’m never capable of feeling happiness, more that it requires a deliberately proactive shift in my internal emotional mechanism for me to seek out those rare moments of satisfaction and joy and contentment and truly appreciate them for what they are – it feels to me like happy is just not my natural state of being.

I once began studying for a Master’s Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, and in spite of really looking forward to the academic challenge, emotionally I struggled with the troubling feelings it raised within me right from the very start. Sitting in a class of bright, cheerful, positively motivated people, it soon became clear to me that – just as I’d always felt in childhood – my brain simply didn’t function in quite the same way as everyone else around me.

We completed a lot of personality tests and suchlike as part of our course, and as usual everything we explored seemed to indicate towards me having a depressive personality with bells on. It was as if my brainwaves resonate on a completely different frequency to the rest of the class – no matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t fit in to the prescribed mould for successful students of this subject. And the more time passed, the more depressed I felt about it all, so I chose not to study my Master’s degree to completion – I gave it up for good, only one third of the way through.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I sit around all day permanantly wringing my hands in an oh-woe-is-me kind of way, or can’t function like any other adult in the outside world when I have to. It’s more that where the general level for feeling happiness sits flirtatiously within comfortable reach for the majority of the population, for me it remains consistently and tantalisingly elusive, well beyond my natural grasp, and can only be reached after a concerted effort on my part.

It feels to me that at heart my parabolic range of everyday emotional peaks and troughs plots overwhelmingly below average on a regular basis. In a world of Winnie-the-Poohs and Piglets and bouncy Tiggers, I’m definitely one of life’s Eeyores – but I suppose at least now I’m an Eeyore with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology… 🙂

Daily Prompt: Glaring