Sorry it’s been so long. Several reasons, but the main one is that I have been miserable. I tend to pull away from people when things are not going so well, so I’ve been ignoring phonecalls and text messages, email, and most other forms of communication. I currently have 15 voicemails, 4143 unread emails, and 12 other (Facebook/WhatsApp/Viber/text) messages.
I really hope that hasn’t caused any of you to feel as though I don’t care about you. I really do, but I am just finding it hard to make connections at the moment.
Part of the problem is that I am still processing some recent medical stuff. It’s hard to respond to the, “How are you?” questions (honestly) when I don’t know the answer. I also feel a certain amount of responsibility and guilt for sharing miserable and negative stuff with people, making them feel sad. I like to work out how to put a positive spin on things before I share them with others.
Another problem is that I haven’t been well. No one thing in particular, but lots of little things in combination have meant that I have been spending the majority of my time in bed. There have been some wonderful exceptions to that – film marathons with friends (this counts, even though I was technically still in bed – sofabed in the sitting room), a few trips to the park, to the local gelateria, and even a trip up north to see Husband’s family at Easter. These exceptions make me feel more human, and remind me of who I am, once the veneer of medical-badness is stripped away, and I cling to the memories of recent adventures and plans for future adventures; little lights in a tunnel that is sometimes very dark and very unpleasant.
I haven’t been able to bake or knit much recently (I haven’t even picked up knitting needles for almost 2 months), which hasn’t helped my mood. Those two things made me feel as though I could contribute something to the world – I love to give things to people, as well as enjoying the process of making them. It’s been hard not to feel like a waste of space, and a colossal drain on NHS resources, when I’m not able to make anything tangible. I get to the end of the day and feel as though I’ve accomplished nothing. Watching box sets and reading Dickens doesn’t really count as a worthwhile contribution to society, does it?
I’ve been trying to find other interests and other ways to feel productive within these new limitations. I have been drawing and painting a little bit, and trying out several other craft techniques. As part of my New Year’s resolution this year, I have been keeping a creative journal, in which I write, draw, design, plan, collage, doodle, etc. I suppose it’s a Smashbook of sorts.
One of my long-term goals, when I left hospital in November 2013 (after a 3-week inpatient rehabilitation programme), was to sign up for a course to learn new skills or improve old ones. That hasn’t been as easy as it sounds. Early mornings are out, for reasons that I explained in my previous post; evenings are difficult because I’ve usually run out of energy and run in to pain; at the best of times, I struggle to sit for more than a few hours, so each session/class would need to be relatively short and/or close to home. Mondays are generally a write-off after the weekend, when I use all my energy in order to spend quality time with Husband; likewise, I try to rest on Fridays, to conserve energy for the weekend. All these factors limit my choice of courses quite considerably, and that’s without even thinking about whether the course interests me, or if it would be physically possible. With all those limitations, it’s taken a while, but I’ve found a course that could have been made especially for me: Experimental Pattern Cutting and Design (intermediate) at our local adult education centre, which is a 15 minute ‘walk’ (in the electric wheelchair), or 5 minute drive, from home: 2 hours on a Tuesday afternoon, for 8 weeks.
Frustratingly, the course was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of interest, but I met with the tutor, who went through some of my sketches, photos of previous projects and patterns I’ve drafted, and gave me lots of helpful advice and criticism. One of her suggestions was to put together a more formal portfolio and apply for a course at the London College of Fashion, Camberwell College of Arts, or Central St Martin’s. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I might be good enough for anything like that (I’ve spent my whole life being nudged towards the sciences, and firmly put in my place – Not an Artist – by art teachers), so I felt really encouraged, if somewhat shocked! In addition to giving so much of her time to meet with me, the tutor emailed me with lots more information and guides for further reading/projects to try, and offered to meet me again to talk about the projects, and any stumbling blocks I encountered.
I don’t think my body would handle the travel to and from any of the above colleges (except perhaps Camberwell, which is pretty close to home), let alone the physical demands of even short courses, but it has certainly given me food for thought. I’ve signed up for Craftsy courses (online video-based) on couture sewing techniques and drawing, and have been working my way through those, as well as a couple of books and lots of blogs.
This has all come at just the right time, and has given me such a boost. I have something exciting to occupy my mind, and so many hands-on projects for when my body is feeling cooperative. I’m currently sewing a dress and a jacket for myself, making adjustments to the patterns, and using the couture techniques I’ve been learning. If they go well, I’ll be looking for volunteers for my next project. I’d really like to sew/design things for other people, but I’m not terribly confident yet, and I’m quite slow – a combination of actually being slow (tactfully, I’m a meticulous detail person) and spending a lot of time in bed. I’m very happy, but am trying not to let myself get too excited about these fun projects – it seems as though the more emotionally invested I am in something, the more likely it is that my body will find some way of sabotaging it!
I’ll post photos of some of my recent creations soon. I know I still owe you posts about my bladder operation, a medical update (sigh) and photos of the garden (Husband has been doing wonderful things!) and the cat, who is ridiculous and hilarious, and is still a ray of (sharp and spiky) sunshine in my days, but those posts will have to wait for another day – my sewing machine is calling to me.
Until next time…
** Love life; Dream big; Be positive **