Friday, November 16, 2018

Owning the bad times

I've been having an increasingly difficult year and November is a difficult time for me.  A couple of people really understand how crap it's been because I've told them everything that's going on AND they understand me but I think most people don't really know. 

This is partly because I don't always say, for a variety of reasons that include:
  • life isn't crap all the time
  • things are ongoing and nothing new to say
  • things are not just my business so I don't feel I should share
and chiefly
  • other people are having a crap time too
but today I've had a bit of an insight.  I've always believed that suppressing things, avoiding talking about them, avoiding acknowledging them and making light of them lead to ill health.  For me, I'd say about 90% of what is wrong with me physically has an emotional root.  It's not lost on me that my plantar fasciitis started up around the time my parents began having problems which caused worry and stress.  Of course, having got a physical problem you're often stuck with it and it may need treating by conventional means.  Bodies and minds are complicated.  My parents' lives are settling down but I've got plantar fasciitis, which notoriously can take months to go.

I digress, slightly.  The insight is this:

Having a crap time will do you harm, whether or not other people are having a crap time.  Own it.  Acknowledge it.  Behave appropriately in response.

You can share this with someone else providing they're going to let you.  You don't need anyone looking on the bright side or saying 'at least ...' or similar.  The point is to feel what you need to feel.  Shout or cry if that's you. 

I'm very fortunate to have a few friends that totally get this.  Possibly they've been wondering when I'll wake up to it myself.

This really is not a call for sympathy though it may seem like it because I haven't been sharing it recently, for all the above reasons. 

I've been having a crap life recently.

If you have too, then own it.  Don't wallow, but don't pretend either.  You'll feel better for it in the end.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Being me - and going with the flow.

Updating my website is no longer an open job. I've been working on it most of the year when I'm not at home and it's been quite time-consuming.  It probably doesn't look much different but it is considerably slimmed down, made more phone-friendly and the galleries and some of the other images have been updated.  Six years is quite long enough for artwork to become out of date.

I'm not good with 'open jobs'.  There's a point at which there are too many of them and I feel stressed and unable to tackle any of them well, so it feels really good that this one is off the list. 

In the mean time I've had plantar fasciitis for several months, which in my case anyway is exacerbated by stress, and means that I am limited in what I can do.  It took me a while to work out, therefore, that once the website was updated, what I really needed to do was be Jane Vernon, Artist.  I've been busy filling time till I was better or till I was at home for longer and all the while a little bit of me has been becoming weaker without my realising; the Tinkerbell effect if you like.  I was being useful, completing several other open jobs; I was going with the flow, riding the uncertainty and all sorts of other very good things, but suddenly I realised I wasn't being me.

It's difficult and subtle.  Balancing being me, the essential me, with helping others close to me, being patient with my foot and keeping on top of domestic chores.  What brought me to my senses was arguing my case with a health practitioner who is working on the plantar fasciitis with me.  She wanted me to do less rather than more and I knew that was all wrong.  Even if the foot gets worse, I have to do the things I do.  I was reining myself in and hadn't realised the damage this was doing.    

So now I am embarked on a new course - being me, but going with the flow as well.  If I'm too tired to do anything I'll go to bed and listen to the radio.  If I want to sit and write something I'll write it.  If I want to cook something I'll cook it but if I want a takeaway I'll have one.  Mostly, though, I'm going to do the work I want to do.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

In the middle

I began writing this post when July had just begun, planning to write about how my various challenges were going.  Then Life took over and now it's almost the middle of August.  Still, a halfway report of sorts.

This was the first 64MillionArtists January Challenge ...

"January 1st: Self-awards. Create the certificate or trophy you'd like to be presented with at the end of 2018."
I can deal with almost anything apart from uncertainty. At the beginning of a very uncertain year, this is the award I'd like to receive

... and that was my post.

Halfway through the year I have to say that I think I'm doing really well,   It's certainly proving to be a year full of uncertainties but so far I seem to be surviving.  It's been stressful, taxing, difficult, life-changing even, but I haven't lost the plot.  I haven't got majorly ill.  I haven't behaved irrationally or unreasonably and I haven't piled more stress on myself.  These are really quite major achievements for me.

At the beginning of the year I knew I'd be working less but never imagined that I would be letting go of the need to work.  As a result, the work I've done so far has been what I wanted to do.  Some of it you've seen (if you've been looking) but some is for later, hopefully next year's Another Beastly Art Exhibition, and some is still in development.

I decided not to grow vegetables.  This is only the second time in forty years that I haven't grown any, so is a really big deal.  The first time was when we moved in, in May 30 years ago, and was because we were preparing the veg garden with a load of manure and dividing up into separate beds.  I decided that it could do with a bit of rejuvenating again and that I wouldn't stress about being late with getting things started and so it's been.  Not much rejuvenating done yet, but there are plans.

There has been more uncertainty, and also some of a different sort, than I was expecting but that's the thing about uncertainty - you never know what's coming next.  I'm well aware that more could be on its way that I've no idea about and that the year isn't over until the fat lady sings, but what I'm reporting on is my ability to ride the uncertainty.  Which is going pretty well so far.  I'll report back at the end of the year .... unless I don't.

On the subect of challenges, I really enjoyed the whole of the January Challenge and have continued with 64MillionArtists The Weekly Challenge and I'm delighted to say that so far I have completed every single challenge. I've also taken on the Photo A Day challenge.  I did quite well with this too until Life really took over and 26th July was my last photo.  I hope to get back to it but am not setting myself any deadlines and I also won't be attempting to catch up with the missed photos.

I don't know what's next.  What I do know is that I'm adapting better than I thought I could.


Sunday, April 8, 2018


Is it just me?  

This week’s 64MillionArtists WeeklyChallenge was this:

Post a photo, drawing or some text which encapsulates POSITIVITY. You might want to capture something specific which has a positive impact on your life - a friend with a million-dollar smile, perhaps, or a joyful pet. Maybe there's a particular place that brings out the best in you or some inspiring words that lift your spirits. 

This made me feel quite angry when it arrived.  At the point when it dropped into my mailbox I was not feeling happy and for good reasons and I was resentful of the idea that I should try to be positive.  It seemed to me that positivity was something we were being told to strive for.  If you’re down, do something which makes you feel positive.  Why?  I have good reasons for feeling down.  They are real.  My ‘negative’ feelings are real and appropriate. 

I have nothing against feeling positive and nothing against things which promote that feeling.  It was the word ‘positivity’, a concept that we should be striving for, to which I took exception.  I had a piece drafted about these feelings.

Then I spoke to a friend of mine and found that she didn’t really agree with what I was saying.  There are people who do need to try to be positive because otherwise they’d just go under.  Some people have a lot to be negative about and no real choices so every little bit of positivity helps them carry on.  Conversely, I thought of other people I know who perhaps aren’t the most positive people but who don’t seem to have all that much to feel complain about. 

So maybe it’s partly a personality thing.  I suppose I am generally a fairly positive person but when I look at my life I have many things to be positive about.  I seem to have been lucky if you look at it that way, which I suppose I do.  If you look at the negative things, I’ve certainly had my fair share of those too, so maybe something happens in me which stresses the good things in life.

However, when I do feel down it’s important to me that those feelings are validated.  I have a right to feel miserable, or depressed, or even hopeless.  I don’t want someone coming along and saying “Cheer up! Think of …”.  And that’s probably why the word Positivity got right up my nose.  So, for those of you who are not feeling positive right now - if you’ve got a good reason, then I’m sorry.  There’s probably nothing I could say or do which would make you feel better apart from recognition and validation. 

If you want to know what things have a positive effect on my life then I can easily list some of them, in alphabetic order: 


and there are probably a dozen more I could suggest.   However, if you want me to talk about Positivity, then I’m afraid you’ll get a grumpy answer.