Fade: the process of becoming less bright, to disappear.
Creativity: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
I wrote last week that I’ve committed to the 12 week Artists way program by Julia Cameron. It came about as I was looking for a bookclub to join in Amsterdam. I’ve never been a part of a book club. For many years I didn’t even read books, it wasn’t a priority. It wasn’t something I grew up with in my home either, neither was homework for that matter. Don’t worry I don’t need therapy for that. I played outside most days (all day) and I lived near a national park so my head was full of stories and my imagination was wild.
I still need to daydream, my imagination is still wild but now I need to read too. Mostly I read for curiosity, a little for escape but I prioritise reading. I call myself a minimalist which in my mind is about principles not necessarily stuff. Although many of us live without a lot of stuff because we have other priorities, daydreaming and reading are among my priorities. Now that I think about it my mum always have a stack of Mills and Boon next to her bed. Maybe she read to escape, she’s a daydreamer too.
I read stories, mostly memoirs. One of my favourite books is Savage Summit the stories of the 5 women who have summited K2. I have no desire to summit such mountains but I’m in awe of the mental strength these women possess. My mum is strong like that. That mental toughness has seen her through some pretty tough times. A migrant in her 20’s she married and settled in Monbulk on the outskirts of Melbourne. She is a fierce mother and I have never doubted how much love she had for us growing up but I also read that there were times she felt incredibly isolated. Her parents, 8 sisters and 4 brothers back in Holland, living in what was then a country town without supports for new mothers. A serious car accident in her 50’s in which there was not a part of her body that wasn’t in someway broken, testing all her resilience and mental strength. She is now 73 and carries disabilities from this accident but she still hikes up mountains (small ones) and travels the world on her own. My dad not so much, he’s happy bowling and living his quiet life. He no longer wanders mountains, he sticks to the streets. The world makes him anxious and his ankles hurt.
As the Dutch say “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. I have Dutch blood. On this day in Spain I hiked up to the summit of Mulhacén (3479m) from the village of Trevélez in the Sierra Nevada range. It is the highest peak on mainland Spain and rival Mont Blanc and Mount Etna topographically. It was a tough 10 hour hike. My legs cramped at the summit, my knees buckled by the end of the relentless downhill and I’ve since lost toe nails (3). I’m stronger because I hike. Fact. I also get super powers from hiking in nature. True. Especially, when I do it on my own. Truth. This was a hardcore kind of hike. I like to push myself. Oxfam 100kms in 25 hours…of course I went back the next year to crack 4 hours. That is me, I have been at it for a while. But the same benefits come from any type of hiking or time in the outdoors. At any level.
My parents are practical people. They never asked for more than what they could afford and they never pushed us one way or another to be anything, they let us fade into ourselves, to find our own way. Of course we could shine but not on the backs of anyone else, only on our own merit and we never had pressure to be the best or the brightest. We had to work hard for our accolades, take responsibility for our own risks and wants and learn from our mistakes and sheesh I’ve made spectacular ones. I think this helped me to become a practical dreamer and to be creative in the way I live. I dream, oh I dream but they are realistic for my life and my personality.
I have no desire to be the brightest star on the block. In fact I happen to agree with Julie Cameron in her thinking that audacity is often what makes people appear as a bright star not necessarily talent or creativity. Shit, I’ve tried that, nothing great is coming from that place. Balls to the “be brave” (at any cost) meme. Audacity channeled with honesty not hustle or bullshit that is what I’m interested in, I respect that. I’ve learnt from you lot who share from that place. It is in the ability to fade where I find the magic and the right kind of brightness. The one that feeds contentment not ego. I thank my parents for showing me that we contribute because we are part of something bigger: a family, a community, a society not purely to consume more for ourselves.
Into a phase of creativity I dive. Learning about it, breathing it, feeling it, embracing it and it’s awakening something that has always been here I think. There is a reason behind this phase, a WHY if you like. I want to stand for something. I want to stand up for a world where we recognise what matters and I’m not sure how to do that with words yet, written or spoken. Something is brewing, bubbling in my mind. I remember a little girl who at 12 learnt to sew from another mother. She made clothes for cabbage patch kids to sell at a market in order to raise money to travel to a Jamboree in Indonesia. The same little girl who kept secret home made diaries and jotted down things she noticed and heard people (adults) talk about. The one who build rock gardens around tree stumps because she loved the feel of rocks and soil and the beauty of flowers. She was a creative.
I don’t need audacity to be shine bright, I’m already bold. My mum taught me that and I hike alone in nature, that keeps me brave. I practiced creativity on SM and that has absolutely played a huge part in getting me here but it is no longer enough. It doesn’t feel as meaningful as it once did, I’ve grown away from it. I’m not logging off from Insta, I adore all the creatives (the artists and the creative ‘livers’) who have entered my life through that ap., but I need to focus on the longer words that I’m seeking. I need to create more depth in my photography and writing. I need to fade. Fade into creativity and nurture that part of my soul. That is where the magic is, the magic that has a purpose, it is time to unfurl that.
How does that look practically?
I withdraw into myself a little. I play A LOT of music. I read. I stick to The Artist’s way for the 12 weeks I’ve committed. I write each day. I hit publish sometimes. I nurture myself by walking and cycling in the woods. I’m not drinking alcohol. I focus on sleep and good food. I say no to sharing my private time. My walks are mine. My morning writing is mine. I dance with the kids for fun. I ensure that the kids take responsibility for helping at home. I don’t do it all, we live in a family and learning to contribute starts here. I commit to giving the kids time after school with my full presence (I’m lucky my husband cooks). I listen to them when they talk to me, I notice them, how are they travelling? I don’t rush, I take time. Yes, even when I have things to do and places to be. I accept that sometimes I will stumble, stumbles are important. I make adjustments. I hear my critic and I reply with a deep breath ‘you are creative Fran and it is your time to nurture that, you are allowed’. I’m intentional. I create without expectation. That is the plan. Something for me to come back to.
My whole life has been a series of chapters. I take the things that matter to the next page and leave what doesn’t fit behind. I work on one chapter at a time. I can’t do it all at once but I know what I need by acknowledging how I feel and I take the time to uncover where those feeling are coming from. Grumpy, why? Angry, why? Bored. why? Tired, why? Vulnerable, why? Stressed, why? etc. Then I change something. This new journey to deeper creativity comes from feelings of grumpiness, contentment, desire, boredom, inspiration, vulnerability and longing among others. I no longer want to be a shadow artist and activist. The timing is right, it follows on from taking a few years of actively choosing simplicity, finding a creative tribe and living a little more consciously. It comes from living in my ‘real’ life each day with all the feelings, not waiting or wishing to arrive somewhere.
Girls just want to have fun. Cyndi.
I’ve got the magic in me – (boys final) Arca-magic.
Need to fade into reflection? Here’s two for that. What do you need to fade into, what needs your love? For me it’s my creative heart.