After The Changes: Life And The Creative Life

During the last few months I’ve kept thinking about this blog. I’ve been reprimanding myself for not having posted anything since last September. Haven’t I had plenty to talk about? Yes, as always. Haven’t I had the time? Well it does take a good chunk of time, but I could have made the effort. Haven’t I had the motivation or inclination – obviously not! And now, on a UK heat wave day, sitting inside the house to keep cool, it’s suddenly become urgent, bubbling up within me to write a post and fill the silence. And here I am. I’ve seen bloggers needing some space from posting letting their readers know. They decide on a time frame for themselves as to when they will resume and as a reader I’ve appreciated this and said so: catch up when you’re back, I say, have a good break’, thinking to myself good for them, and hey, it means the rest of us can feel validated in taking a break too. But somehow I couldn’t make this decision for myself. Too logical for me perhaps, too definitive, so I’ve left it drifting instead, like a directionless air balloon with no one guiding it…

On the plus side, at least for me, I don’t think I’ll ever puncture the balloon by deleting the site, because somehow it has become part of me, an important outlet and means of expression and connection with other creative people in the world. And that’s a valuable thing to me:>)

Anyway, let’s get going with after the changes I was waiting for, what life has been throwing at me, and where my creativity has fitted into this. Just my corner of the world here in the Scottish Borders, aside from all the other strife going on.

Reading over the last post of waiting for changes, the changes I was waiting for have happened:

My hubby has now adjusted to his reduced working hours and he’s working from home when he can. Work-based delegating has eased the pressure and stress on him. He’s yet to find some new pursuits but I guess you can’t force these things and his path is his, as mine is mine. He has been very much occupied with becoming ‘the primary care giver’ for our grey cat, Sasha, who’s been going through some changes of her own. Diagnosed with an enlarged heart, we thought we might be losing her, but with a twice daily tablet given by mouth on an empty stomach (just try giving a cat a tablet and ensuring it doesn’t eat afterwards when it roams free) she’s recovered from her lethargy brilliantly. Now she brings in her catches and kills to be ‘admired’ by her primary care giver who she adores, only to be confused when he either saves the still alive wee mousies or voles or sparrows, or seems intent on whisking away the generous feast. Her trials were not over however. One day, after she’d been out all night, she finally came indoors, trailing her tail behind her. On closer inspection there was a gash half way along rendering her unable to raise, flick, or swish her lovely tail. We have no idea how she got her tail trapped or bashed, but it was off to the vets and then off with her tail! Now she has a stump. But hey, she’s still fit and healthy, lean and stealthy in fact –her new nickname is ‘Battlecat’. So I’m thinking that maybe my hubby’s new pursuits might well be in the world of cats – something of no surprise to me whatever.

My sister, who was living with my mother during acute covid times while her divorce went through and while she found her own house, is well settled in her new abode, together with Harley, her two year old, muscle-bound Staffordshire bull terrier. This home making stirred up a passion for interior design in both of us and pictures of prospective sofas, chairs, and decorative artefacts flew back and forth across WhatsApp replacing the house for sale links which had previously held sway.

My mother has adjusted back into living on her own in her own space again, which she loves. Word searches, jigsaw puzzles, and quiz shows occupy her time. Her short term memory and cognitive problems are still an issue but on the whole she’s doing okay, having just turned 84 the other day. The bungalow she lives in has been refreshed with some new wall colours and her garden has been saved from the weeds – well just about!

As for me: I have been doing what I was waiting for, being there for these 3 family members and helping as much as possible. I’ve also learned some new skills, like applying for attendance allowance (believe me, no mean feat!) and a disabled blue badge to help with Mum’s mobility issues when shopping or parking at medical appointment venues. I’ve been developing patience, forbearance, and acceptance – so much acceptance. There have been doctors appointments, or should I say phone calls –  just try getting a face to face visit these days. There have been tests, and lots of worries to address. Saying my mother worries a lot is an understatement, a gross miscarriage of justice 😉 I’ve been doing more town driving with multi-lane roundabouts – hitting the road with my modern country music giving me the right kind of vibe and keeping me upbeat in the right zone. I’ve been learning I can still sort a garden out even if my lower back complains or if my joints feel like they need oiling. And, as I intended, I’ve been embracing these kinds of transformational changes and tasks fully, working with what feels right or best at a particular time, for me, or for my family members. I suppose in short, it has been a success.

But this all said, I think I feel moved to post today, because I’m ready for some perspective on me and my creative life. I’m sitting here with a sensitive tooth which because it’s a root filling, only just done in March mind you, will probably have to be extracted. Well that’s what I wanted in the first place. Bring it on. And I’ve got a sore foot. No cure. Just wait for the joint to fuse then the pain will cease, says the podiatrist. Well, bring that on too! And for months now, a sore lower back/butt. The physio on the phone, after the ‘fast track referral’ wasn’t sure where the origin of the trouble is. Well how could she be sure without doing a physical exam? Just do the exercises I’ll send you a link to, she says. I think I’ll try a chiropractor my sister’s been visiting in Durham instead. Combine it with a Mum visit.

Life-wise, I turned 60 in February. Friends who I share this fabulous number of living years with have been saying now is the time to follow our passions, list what we still want to do in life and go for it! But they’ve also been drawing attention to their back pain, foot problems, the physical wear and tear of life, not being able to do what they used to do with energy and ease. Not being able to get up from a squat without holding onto something to push themselves up. Oh, the shame! The brain is willing, but the muscles don’t seem to get the message. All this inevitable aging is kicking in. And it’s a case of me too despite trying to hold onto my youth. And then there’s looking after elderly relatives at the same time as trying to look after yourself. The phone calls from a GP about your mother, or your mother herself full of worry. One worry after another. So, grabbing life by the horns at 60 is not so straight forward. Go hiking in Arizona? Yeah, but you’ll need decent boots with plenty of cushioning support and orthotics in, you’ll need anti-inflammatory meds, and there’s no way you can carry a backpack! And you’d have to make sure your mother gets her shopping delivery. Just thank God you’ve got a sister who can see to your mother or there’s no way you could even imagine just going off to do your own thing.

So there is all this and the need for some new perspective at this middle age stage in life. A way to navigate the divided responsibilities you’ve taken on for others, as well the responsibility you owe to yourself. Personally, I never really knew how this would work out. Especially for my painting and writing – my creative life. They both slowed down while I was waiting for the life changes, but they are going at a snail’s pace these days. I imagined they would be a relaxing outlet, a personal focus to return to as a way of nurturing myself. When I sit down to do them, this does happen. The creative flow is there to dip into. It’s the sitting down to do it in the first place that’s the problem. And the self reproaching that goes on too! Finding the right balance for one’s creative life is always a challenge, but with too many life’s necessities and responsibilties pulling at you, it’s only inevitable that you can’t find the right head and heart space that you yearn for. Awareness is at least something we can work with. That and to be kind to oneself.

I’ll share my latest painting here with you: ‘Frosted Flora’, acrylic on canvas.

And at least I’ve almost reached the point of commencing with Part 5 of my WIP novel  – there are five parts, so the end is just about in sight and I love it so far. It’s working title is ‘Midlifers: Rethinking Happy Ever After’.

And on that note, I wish you well if you’re still out there in blogging or blog-reading land. Stay safe, well, and happy. Let me know how you are doing :>)

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