Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Abundance and self-sabotage

Fresh herbs and jam from our lovely neighbours

After a very wet summer the West of Ireland has been blessed with a beautiful autumn, and this corner of the world has been showing its most photogenic face. The raspberry bushes in the garden are still heavy with fruit. We make baked apples from the yield of our trees. The kitchen is well-stocked, and we have been building fires with wood and turf given to us as house-warming (thanks Adrian!) gifts. People have been so kind and welcoming and generous. The abundance of all these gifts and of having everything we need fills me with gratitude, and I feel settled and secure in a way I haven't felt since my childhood . It also brings into stark relief how my anxiety manages to wrestle me out of the moment and the process and plunge me into all kinds of imagined dramas and scenarios.

Life has been good, more than good, on so many levels lately. And yet I fret and worry and regularly get into a panic (though thankfully very few actual panic attacks these days). I never trust it when things go well and am an expert in self-sabotaging my own happiness. Being busy has been beneficial because I simply haven't had time to navel-gaze, but it doesn't require a lot of time to get worked up and anxious about things as they happen (or seem to be happening or about to happen). During the summer I was convinced something terrible was around the corner because the irrational part of my brain told me I didn't deserve all the good things that came my way.

I banned the word 'stress' from my vocabulary in the belief it would make me feel less stressed, but I obviously have been using synonyms instead, with the same result. It bothers me how busyness is worn as a badge of honour by so many, yet I have been going around telling everyone how incredibly busy I have been. I have created priorities when there was no need and turned enjoyable things into stressfests (the 's' word again...), all of my own making. So my prescription for myself for the remaining months of this year is less doing, more making (using my hands to 'make', be it gardening, cooking or painting, is my 'drug' of choice at the moment. I haven't been for a run in weeks, and have touched the yoga mat only once or twice), and less worrying, more letting go.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rocking horse

When I was preparing for our exhibition in August I decided to do another version of the rocking horse I painted for a festival artwork a few years ago. I have fond memories of the rocking horse we had as children (it was a rather minimalist angular grey horse on a green bow, and we got it from friends of the family whose own children were older), and whenever I see vintage rocking horses or other vintage toys I feel this wave of nostalgia for the world of our childhood and the glimpses we got into the childhoods of our parents and grandparents via the toys we inherited. The first rocking horse painting was part of a series with a melancholy-tinged fairground theme, and I am not sure what I'll be painting after this one, but it's a motif I find myself drawn to.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Four senses - October 2015

Sound  "All We Want is Love" by Ane Brun. I wish there were a word (because I am about to use a range of clichés) for that feeling when you hear a new song and it is so beautiful your heart hurts and you are reminded of the other times this has happened in the past with a song (for me, for example, with "Rising" by Lhasa de Sela), and there is that sense of coming home and recognition and enchantment. [Photo: the Burren under its duvet]

Smell  |  Smelling roses in the Botanic Gardens. The variety and the subtle differences and the imaginative names! One reason I use a rose moisturiser is for the scent.

Sight  |  Progress in the garden. Still a lot to do before the cold weather comes, but the doors of the shed  (some of the frame hanging loose) and various other things are painted and the grass is cut, and we are getting on top of the weeds and briars.

Taste  |  This non-dairy (bó is cow in Irish) ice cream. We are not off anything at the moment, though we attempted a sugar-free house (everything in moderation these days) and I do try to limit my intake of sugar and dairy in particular. We may have eaten this sandwiched between a meringue and whipped cream on one occasion.

As always, I link to products, etc., so it is easier to find them and because I like them. No affiliate links or any such thing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Old place, new place

Tea with Kathleen, Oil on canvas

Our 'everything' room, with the beginnings of a sea of cushions

One of these days I will be back to a regular blogging schedule, but meanwhile the (rather wonderful) craziness of my life right now continues. With so much happening at the same time I have been a very bad friend to some people, but as my sister likes to remind me, the other person could get in touch, too. For some reason I tend to carry massive guilt with me all the time, about everything thinkable, but the world doesn't revolve around me, and I am aware of the danger of unintentionally making yourself far more important than you are. So less guilt, and one thing at a time.

At the weekend we had two of our first visitors. One of them was my good friend and now ex-neighbour Kathleen, the octogenarian who looks younger every time I see her, and I finally gave her her portrait, which is a lovely memento of the countless cups of tea we had together when I lived in the chalet. I had offered it to her from the start, before the exhibition, and then wondered whether she actually wanted it, as some sitters are reluctant to have a painting of themselves, so I made sure to double-check. 

Most of the painting I have done recently has been painting-decorating (photos to follow), and I am lucky to be living with a man who is not afraid of pink. He even asked for some things to be painted pink. Today one of my students was wearing a beautiful ensemble of colours and print, and when I complimented her on it she said she really needed it this morning, foregoing a muted outfit. Colours do have such a big impact on our mood. For the house we have decided to keep most of the bigger pieces of furniture neutral and put the colour in the details, the objects and the art. Now that autumn is here and it gets dark early, I look forward to some cushion-cover-sewing sessions by the fire, with quite a bit of pink.