Monday, 8 June 2015

New Hip - New Resolutions

Here I am, faster, stronger, fitter than before and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound five weeks after my operation to fit a second hip replacement - so I've got a matched pair now!

When I say 'leap tall buildings', what I actually mean is, I can manage on one crutch now and again. I'm not going to tell you that occasionally I shuffle across the kitchen without them, in case my surgeon reads this.....

If any of you have suffered with arthritis, you don't need me to tell you about it.  How it's not only debilitating and painful, it's ageing - and I'm not old: I had my first hip replaced aged 46 - and depressing, and gradually closes your world in, because it's easier to say "No thanks" to invites because it's uncomfortable to sit or walk, and you feel guilty about moaning.  
Also, people often expect you to have improved - "Oh, isn't that hip any better yet?", because they can't conceive of a non-life threatening condition that just lingers on, without any of our 21st century quick fixes.
Or - worse, they mimic you hobbling down the high street! And laugh!
I really don't know how that's meant to make me feel - and I do still have a sense of humour... although I confess it's been a bit strained at times.
One of the worst bits is that your flexibility disappears, making getting up and down from the floor impossible. Putting on socks, for example - I'm so glad when it's summer and I'm in sandals!
I gradually stopped doing everything I loved.
On my last motorbike trip, I physically couldn't climb off my bike. That was September 2014.
Cycling went the same way.
I could still swim, but the chlorine irritated my sinuses and made me miserable and I was getting enough of that from my hip!
Even driving was uncomfortable. 
But anyone who's seen me hobbling around for the last six months with a stick will know that I still managed to walk the dog - luckily he's older and has learned not to expect to much from me these days.  Bending down to pick up his poo was a challenge!

But anyway.  I'm going to stop talking about the misery of arthritis - but don't forget about it the next time you see someone hobbling about who needs a hip replacement.

I'm still writing away at my novel, which has been a life-saver whilst immobile - and I finally began to paint again at the end of last week! Yay! Get the flags out!
Once I started to paint, I couldn't seem to stop.
I painted all day - collapsed after dinner - and then, as I started to think about what I'd painted, I had to get out to my painting studio and crack on with it until bedtime!
Painting lifts my soul in a way that nothing else does.
I mean - I love my motorbike, I love cycling, I loved windsurfing (haven't been able to do that for quite some time now!) and I really really used to love throwing myself down enormous waves on a bodyboard and a racing surf-ski!
Writing satisfies my creative spirit in a similar way to art - but that connection between my soul and my paintbrush is like nothing else.
Sometimes - ok, often - and I know I'm not the only artist who feels like this - sometimes I lose faith in myself.  I have crises of confidence where I think that everything I paint is rubbish. I've learned now, that this sense of self criticism is a necessary means of pushing myself on - but it's very destructive.
When paintings don't progress according to plan, or deadline - I'm really not a nice person to be around.  'Bear with a sore head' doesn't even come close.
If only, like Photoshop, I could 'undo' bits that I've overdone, or messed up - go back to just after the beginning, when it all looked so promising..... hahaha.  Yeah, right.
But when a painting seems to be appearing as if by magic out of the end of your paintbrush.... when it seems to be bypassing your brain and takes on a life of it's own......when you look at it later and think, 'how did I do that?' -well, that's worth all the moments of frustration and helplessness in front of a failed painting - and it's what keeps me in front of my easel, when maybe business is slow, or inspiration is lacking, or other distractions lurk.

There have been many times in my life where I haven't been able to paint - due to ill health or family crises. My head begins to think that maybe it's time to get a 'proper' job.  One with a pay slip, and paid holidays, and weekends off.....
But that's followed by a terrible, crushing feeling and I can't quite get my breath, and I realise that I HAVE to paint.
When I sit in the countryside, with my nifty little box of oils, I'm so happy.
My body relaxes - it tells me that this is exactly where it wants to be, thankyou.
If I get a scrap of paper out of my pocket and make a few marks with a pencil to remind myself of something I've seen, I'm happy.

I'm not happy wasting my time, sitting in my studio doing nothing, waiting for possible customers, and I'm not happy being indoors all the time.
The last few years - difficult ones due to the illness of a close relative and my deteriorating hip - have  underlined my need to 'seize the day'.

My website needs to be re-built, my van needs new decals, my studio needs new signage. I'm at a classic 'creative crossroads'
So my 'halfway through the year Resolution' is to give myself what I need to be inspired, and get out there and paint more often, while there's still some summer left.
I still have my lovely van, although I haven't been able to use it in the way I'd planned for over a year now - and as soon as I've bought myself a little step so I can get into it,  I'm going to get out there and PAINT.
Don't worry, I'm keeping my lovely studio in Cowbridge - I just won't be there quite as often when the sun shines...

I'm also going to be running some workshops, because the other thing that I miss is other creative people, and I've always enjoyed sharing my knowledge.

So - new hip - new resolutions. It's all looking good :)
Thanks for reading x