There’s a lot going on at the moment, with opportunities popping up all over the place. Such a change from just over a year ago, when Geoff had just became employed again after two years of no work and the financial crises and monumental worry that went along with that. You think when you’re in the middle of this kind of thing that when it ends you’ll feel like breaking out the bubbly and dancing round the kitchen with a huge smile on your face. Not so.
The reality is that when it’s gone on for such a long time, you become worn down by it. Your heart and emotions go numb, because if they didn’t you couldn’t keep going, and it takes some time after it all ends to bring yourself back to you again. It’s taken me most of this last year to let go of the protective shell I put round myself and to start moving forward into a new kind of life.
Three months ago I suddenly realised I could buy books again. The fact is that I could have done this at any time in the last year, but I was so used to thinking that I couldn’t allow myself any kind of luxury that that belief had become ingrained in me. And then, a few months ago, I was searching the library’s database for a book I wanted to order and read, and they didn’t have it. The thought came suddenly – I could buy it! And so I did. A small example, but it shows how you adapt your thoughts and actions to suit the situation, and how difficult it is when things change for the better to remember to let go of those beliefs and adopt new ones.
One thing that always gives me great pleasure and satisfaction, and that also had been missing from my life during this time, is going on workshops and learning something new. Two weekends ago I went on a sequencing, editing and bookmaking workshop with John Blakemore, and I’ll write some more about that in due course. For the moment, it’s enough to say that the weekend was inspiring, fun, frustrating, tiring, and wonderful, and that it felt so good to be able to do this sort of thing again.
Another thing you think, when you come out of survival mode, is that you can then fire ahead at full steam with what you’d really like to be doing. But it doesn’t work that way at all – well, not for me anyhow. For the first six months of last year I was still doing Airbnb almost full-time, and was so tied up with it that I had no energy to even think about other things. By July of last year I’d made the decision to stop, instead letting two rooms in the house on a long-term basis, and suddenly I was free again. However, that freedom went along with feeling just a little lost and confused. What was it I had wanted to do? It was hard to remember.
Then some things happened to move me along. I went back to a women’s networking organisation I had been going to before all of this kicked off, and my ideas about using photography as a way into mindfulness and self-awareness went down very positively. I still hadn’t done anything very practical about it, however, but the turning point came a couple of months ago when I was asked if I would take part in a local radio show where I would be interviewed on contemplative photography and anything else I was up to Knowing I had a deadline was exactly what I needed to get me moving again.
So my radio interview is next weekend, which is both terrifying and exciting me in equal measures. I’m in the process of being taken on as a tutor by Inspire (who run the local arts, culture and library service), and they seem very open to the kind of ideas I have for new workshops. I’ve been told of another, private, organisation who run countryside-based one-day workshops and I’m just about to approach them with some things that I think would be a good fit for them. I’ve made some enquiries about putting on a solo show in Newark Town Hall Museum next year, and I received an email the other day asking me to take part in an exhibition on contemplative photography to be held in Leicester. All of this has happened in the last two weeks or so and I feel a bit as if I’m on a rather delightful runaway train.
The photo above was taken last spring, on the first holiday we’d had for over five years. There are a number of things that I like about it – the soft pink profusion of the clematis blooms against the delicate blue sky, the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural, and best of all, the way in which the clematis has made excellent use of what it was presented with. I’m sure there’s a lesson there for us all.