What the heck has happened here? It feels like Mount Inspiration the volcano has erupted. The lava is spilling and spurting, it’s in free flow. I can stop the lava, the words. There are stories at every turn, in every conversation, the words are forming sentences in my head as I run, they invade my dreams. Heck, last night I couldn’t even sleep on account of the words that wanted to be written. You’d think for someone who wants to write that’s a good thing right? Except the more I write those words, the more my heart goes out into the world and in creep the niggles followed by the doubts.
Aren’t kids the greatest teachers? Little mirrors into ourselves. This morning on our way to visit family Jimmy is wearing a shirt and it’s hot, so he asks me to take it off. ‘Wait, when we stop’ I say. Jimmy, who taught himself to ride before I could even think about the old ‘hold the bike with a scarf’ trick decides he won’t wait. He slowly works his way up those buttons and teaches himself to undo them. Of course he does, he is dogged that one.
So here we are living the Dutch life. Rain and all. Can you believe it has been a week? Actually it has been a little over. This is my first instalment of Dutch life. Somewhat more relaxed, iPhone snaps not photography works of art, nothing super profound. The posts where I will share our transition into this flat land of tulips, patat (chips and mayonnaise), exciting environmental policies and fun traditions that I can’t wait to experience with my five crazies. Maybe a few Franisms, stuff that makes life easier with 4 kids. You can take or leave them.
You know I like the deep thinking, story telling type posts but I am not always exploring what goes on in my head and connecting dots. I live a fairly normal life with all the things that go with having a husband who doesn’t know how to put the lights in the light basket and darks in the dark basket. Maybe he’s colourblind, I don’t know. My kids race each other on their bikes as they revel in the exhilaration of cycling on the roads. It scares the b’jesus out of me, shit, have I done the right thing moving them here? I like that they feel that kind of freedom so I ignore my fears. I think this is probably normal fear. They also tip boxes of lego out every.single.day and seem to want to be at the fridge or in the cupboards on the hunt for food NON-BLOODY-STOP.
My neck has been stiff for the past three days so my return to running is on hold which is a bugger because I want to do a trail run in December. I am not eating enough vegetables and I really need to drink more water. I am happy that I haven’t had a wine for the past two weeks, am writing loads (obvs.) and am getting out in the woods. I still want to shift the all that cheese I ate while travelling and I got a flat tyre on my second bike ride. Yep, plenty of mundane here in between the thoughts and bursts of creativity. That’s why the creativity and hiking are so important to me…it nurtures the insides, the loner, the daydreamer, the soul. It keeps me steady.
Fade: the process of becoming less bright, to disappear.
Audacity: boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.
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.
One sunny afternoon in April 2004 Greg, baby Tommy (6 months) and I wandered through the enchanting city of Venice, or, as the Italians call it Venetzia. We fell head over heels in love with this romantic city. We rambled through the cobblestone streets without direction. Many memories were made during this trip and the Venetian mask I bought there has survived 6 or so house moves, my minimising and it now sits all whimsey on my typical Dutch window sill. The type that has plants and edges so closely to the street that you feel part of the daily life that walks and cycles past throughout the day. The mask has been broken and glued back together. It cracked in half again this trip, the feathers look a little worse for wear but it still lives here. I treasure this mask with it’s own story. It reminds me of how Venice felt to me that trip, mystery to uncover. On our most recent adventure I walked over the bridge into Venice with a question a friend had recently asked me on my mind. If I had a perfect memory would I risk it by going back and trying to recreate that moment again?
It’s a great privilege to be alive, to feel alive:
To give a smile.
To receive a smile.
To share kind words.
The gentle unfolding of what I would do in The Netherlands began here. In this moment, at the Sagrada Familia. I didn’t realise it then but a significant shift was moving within me.
‘In the shadows’ I called the shot. I’d looked for the typical tourist shot. The one that would capture this grand, whimsical masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, architect and artist.
I enjoy running, I always have. I’m not a fast runner nor will I ever be. I don’t run for speed or times (I did years ago). Now, it’s purely about the meditation, time out, fitness and endorphins.
This trip I am endeavouring to run often. It can be scary heading down a path you don’t know. Really scary. Some days there are overgrown paths, graffitied abandoned buildings, some days the paths are silent bush paths, others the beach is alongside me and my fellow joggers pass by with a “bonjour” or a “hola”.
Many thoughts come when I run and on some days, I’ll get the big brain farts. A new term I picked up from the lovely Cybele Masterman of Blah Blah Magazine. It’s the brain farts I’m going to write about while I travel.
“The mind is a beautiful thing because of the paradox.
It uses itself to understand itself.” ~ Adam Elenbass
Space, is a wonderful thing. Once you find it, it’s not something you want to let go of.
For me when there is space there is quiet, clarity, and in turn, peace. Delicious peace.
It’s not always sunny, but storms are easier to weather when there is calm.
The greatest lesson in finding simplicity I can share is to learn to simply say no…because when you do that enough you can then begin to say yes to what matters, to what makes your heart sing.
Around this time last year I watched a few insta friends as they took to the streets snapping photos for the @24hourproject.
Could I do that? No way. a. I would need to ask people if I could snap them (remember I am a shy introvert). And b. I’m a photo-taking hack, not a photographer.
Fast forward a year and a I’ve taken a whole lot of photos. I have built some confidence after helping Zoë with her One Girl fundraiser. That fundraiser showed me that one of the reasons I keep my life simple is so that I can jump on board when something I care about crosses my path.
So, when this year’s project came up and it turned out that I would be in Dublin on my own for the weekend and a little gentle encouragement from Rachael aka @thebowerbirdgirl (an actual real street photographer), I signed up.
It would have been easy to say no but what an adventure I would have missed out on. I’m not sure how it happened but I adopted the persona of Fran the street photographer. I actually thought I was one, maybe I really was.