It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post – almost four weeks. I hadn’t meant to neglect my blog, or to stop writing things, but so many things – all of them good – have happened, that I found my writing was shelved for a little while whilst my focus was on a major life project.
It began with an idea that my sister and I considered last year. Both of us are freelancers, or at least, determined to be the boss of our own businesses. For me, it’s all about writing, with other major creative ideas a possibility in the near future. Whilst my sister has a whole panoply of creative ideas, some to do with photography, writing, and making beautiful things with fabric. At the moment, we still live with our parents (and my husband), and neither of us was feeling that we had the space to grow and create in our rooms.
I’ve considered working out in cafés before, and in other dedicated public spaces (such as the Royal Festival Hall), but liked the idea of having everything I needed with me – books, desk, music, and so on. We brought up the idea of having a ‘shed’ or some kind of building in the garden – we are lucky enough that the house comes with a long garden – but didn’t think too much of it until we spoke to our parents about it, and they seemed keen on the idea.
It wasn’t until some money came through from our Gran and our Auntie Marjorie (our Gran’s cousin who also passed away last year), that we started thinking seriously about the things that could make major improvements to our lives. Our parents have a lot of renovation planned – I started that off in March and April by painting my Mum’s study, and helping with getting that project moving. A friend of the family had recently had a beautiful cabin built for her artists studio workspace in the garden, and having seen that, we felt that this could be the solution we were looking for.
The process started in March, when we visited Dunster House, who build garden buildings, offices, and studios. The end of April was spent clearing and dismantling an old shed, having gardeners level the ground for the building, many trips to the tip and recyling centre, and having tree surgeons cut down an eucalyptus tree, which was sadly dangerous in the wind anyway. The studio cabin was built in early May, and since then we have been painting the inside and outside of the building, painting old furniture, taking trips to IKEA, B&Q, and Homebase, and generally spending time bringing things up to scratch. The garden also needs landscaping seeing as the levelling has meant part of it is just soil and lacking plants and flowers.
With this project, I have felt my enthusiasm for life returning. It’s not so much the studio itself, but the painting, the gardening, working with my family towards something together. I’ve spent more time outdoors, more time doing physical work. It started with deciding to paint my Mum’s study for her – something she needed someone to do – and is still ongoing with the last piece of furniture being painted, and the studio needing a second outside coat of paint. It is extremely satisfying to do something with your hands, and see it transformed before your eyes. I have come to realise how much I love to create physical things – photography, crafts, painting, restoring and transforming furniture – and that this is something I need in order to feel like there is movement – flow – in my life.
After the stasis of last year, especially, the movement and change of this year has been crucial in making me feel more like myself, and helping me to change old habits and mental blocks. I think that when you are feeling stuck in life, when you need to see something differently, creating space for doing things is incredibly important. It’s easy to become trapped in cycles of rumination, worry, and stress, when all we have is the current moment here, now. Making flow and movement – whether physical (such as walking or painting), or mental (making lists, writing, drawing, etc) – helps our minds to feel like something is happening, that we aren’t as stuck as we thought. In a busy life, we have to make spaces for reflection and quiet, where we can just be – or do.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be settling into the studio, and will post more photos, writing, and reviews – as well as getting on with my novel and essays book. I’m looking forward to sharing this adventure with my readers and hope that the rest of this month is productive and creative for you all.
‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’ ~Viktor Frankl