Lost and Found: A journey of creative re-discovery
I remember distinctly sitting in the car on the way home from a trip away with the kids. My husband, Max, driving next to me. It was like the words jumped out of my throat.
“I’m jealous” I blurted.
Knowing full well we had a long 3 hour journey ahead with no way of leaving, I opened up.
“I’m jealous of you. You have your thing. Your gym thing, your buzz for fitness, your passion that you’ve turned from a love and a hobby into your job.”
I explain suddenly – almost to myself as much as Max – that I felt confused because I loved my job. I had no desire to leave it. I love my ever exhausting family life. All the obvious life boxes felt ticked, and yet something was missing.
Max has the amazing capacity to tune into your every thought and seize the opportunity to make sure nothing is left untied (albeit not when it comes to day-to-day plans…you know, just the big emotional ‘I’ve got a problem’ stuff). He’s a problem solver. And that day, that drive, he rose to the challenge.
We discussed my love for creativity which I didn’t have (make) time for, my frustration with drawing and my lack of patience with painting. And then he reminded me. I love(d) to write poetry. I hadn’t for a long time, perhaps now-and-then when the words flooded out, but I hadn’t got back into my stride since the ‘blip’ of anxiety last summer.
The experience of being thrown from my perfectly functioning place of comfort and “controlled chaos” left me quite out of sorts. But at the time I didn’t realise what this spell of acute anxiety was trying to telling me - I needed a way to relax and re-centre myself. Not mummy. Not wife. Just me. On one hand I knew I had to recharge my whole being, to draw myself out of the constant crying, and the exhaustion of feeling like life hand crumbled down around me. And on the other hand I felt like my only option was to immediately find the energy to search for a way out. And I was lucky enough to want to.
You have mail
My research, my desire asked so many questions – should I go on a retreat alone? A childless holiday?
Max suggested I find a way to put stuff out there. Share my poetry, for myself mostly.
I set up an Instagram account under the name @ThePoetryMum and started playing with apps and videos and how to post poetry in an interesting visual way on the platform. With just this small creative outlet, I began to rediscover me.
And then a friend, @HonestLittleOne, sent an off-the-cuff email for a calligraphy workshops that she thought I might be interested in. The company, Quill London, run a range of calligraphy & brush lettering courses at central London locations. Most are just an evening or a day long, so not too much of a financial or time commitment for busy people trying to make space for creativity alongside juggling the rest of life. I signed myself up and promptly put it to the back of my mind. Some months later, as it got closer to the day, I began to get excited. I had a feeling I might just enjoy it – and if I didn’t, that’s fine, it was one evening to myself, learning something new and being creative.
The spark had been sparked. I held the nib in my hand and dipped in the ink. “Slow down…” the teacher said to me. She then repeated this mantra to me throughout the evening. A small part of me knew this request to slow down could be applied to more than just the lesson that night. I knew the excitement and enjoyment of the workshop had overrun me. I became so enthralled by the technique and skills required to learn this modern lettering style. I left wanting to do more. And so I did.
I’d found my thing
I have been practicing most evenings, once the kids are in bed, and developing my technique for nearly a year. You can check out my creations here. I’m far from perfect. But the journey has led me to a platform where an inspiring community of letterers live and work. It has shown me that by putting yourself out there you are pushing yourself into new areas, new opportunities and are #alwayslearning. It’s a place of fascination and of immense creativity. And it turns out there’s a ton of research showing that creativity is a great way to relieve anxiety and maintain healthy well-being. But most of all, I have found my thing. I have reconnected with the world and I know, from here on, I will always have an outlet, a place to recharge and be myself.