Saturday, March 01, 2008

February's Take it Further Challenge

I have failed to complete this month's challenge, despite a lot of time spent thinking about the theme, "I've lived long enough to remember...." I've had a lot of fun reminiscing and made several false starts. I thought about the fact I wasn't old enough to be a hippie and always wanted a bell to wear round my neck.... and thought about making a doll version of me as a hippie, complete with bell. I thought about the mats that used to be under everything when I was a girl, on dressing tables and sideboards, and embroidered linen tray cloths, tablecloths and handkerchieves, whereas now we use a wipe-clean, pvc-coated tablecloth, paper tissues and antimacassars are alien to my home... I made long lists of things from my past and memories, and had an enjoyable conversation about this with my Mum, children and niece as we waited with hot chocolate to go on the London Eye last week. However, nothing really took off.

During this past week I've seen other people's responses to the challenge, and one spoke to me. I can't access the relevant one to credit the creator at present as Google seems to be having issues just now, but it was called "Inner Space", I think. The artist said she kept coming back to this image and it would not go away, despite all her attempts to do something more relevant. It had to be made. That spoke loudly to me about my difficulties.

The fact is that my health problems have caused a massive fracture in my journey through my life, and clearly I have not yet come to terms with all that it means. I remember being able to hold down a busy and stressful full time job, keep a house clean and tidy, share caring for my baby daughter with my lovely husband and have time and energy for other things, too. I lost a large portion of all that through my illness, was forced to retire from my career on health grounds and have struggled to cope with everything ever since.

The upside of this was that I turned to creative pursuits as a way of finding fulfilment despite my limitations and I had the opportunity to learn and develop new ways of expressing myself through art and textiles. However, I find myself often feeling blocked creatively, almost paralysed. Sometimes I will learn a new technique when this happens, which usually serves to permit a partial unblocking, but it is very frustrating that something within me is stopping my artistic development.

I think the crux of the matter is that I have not come to terms with the bereavement I've experienced of the life I had before ME/CFS. It is hard to put into words what I'm coming to understand, but I need to accept the changes and embrace them to allow myself to grow into my creativity.

Looking back has been painful because of what was hard-won but then lost. In so many ways, my life now is better and richer than before, despite the frustrations of chronic illness, and I have to let go of the losses and embrace those gains and move forward. To find a way of expressing this through art would be good, but it's not a task to be done quickly. But I think I've started.


goodworks1 said...

Thank you for sharing this about your health challenges and creativity. I so identify with what you are saying and feeling...

Carol said...

Hope this challenge has managed to get you on the road to peace over your health issues. Thinking of you and sending you good vibes.

verobirdie said...

I don't agree with you, the February TIF has not been a failure for you. You may not have produced a piece, but you made the thinking part, which is great.
Do you know this blog ?
Do papy Jowynn a visit if you don't know her. You have many things in common...

Gill said...

Sue, such a sensitive and thought-provoking post. I have only known you as you are now - a talented and extremely creative woman who achieves so much more than many of us who don't face the health challenges you have yourself. Seems to me that you have responded very effectively to this challenge and though it wasn't in the form of a finished piece of textile art, all outcomes are to be celebrated. Like the previous commenter, I think you've actually achieved the most difficult bit. The rest is just the making...perhaps one should call on one's artisan staff? ;-)

MargaretR said...

I do so agree with Vero and Gill. I don't think your Feb challenge been a failure to finish, but a successful beginning of accepting your life as it is now. You are a very creative lady, a loving wife and wonderful mother.

Hélène H said...

Hello Sue,

I saw your post on the TIF blog and came here to see your thoughts. I have also been unable to complete the February challenge (yet ?), because it made me think of unpleasant things, things you cannot easily design at short notice.

Yesterday I read about an exercise that said "try to draw the thing that sucks up your energy". Do you think you could maybe draw your illness or your feeling of failure ?

Take care,