Two New Challenges and an Old One

Inspired by Margaret Keane's Big Eyes.
Inspired by Margaret Keane’s Big Eyes.

These are my challenges. Hear me roar and keep me accountable… I also take brownie-like motivation!

Challenge One: Encouragement Correspondence

About a year ago a friend of mine said something that has echoed around my head ever since. He said (potentially paraphrasing as my memory might have edited it a little): “Gaining new friends is great but actually I want to keep my current ones.” The context was that as graduates, young adults, etc, moving all over the country and trying to make life work as we’re told it’s meant to, we tend to drift away from amazing people completely by accident and wonder what happened. I was shocked into this a little harder last month when I realised that I had barely seen or spoken to one (in fact more than one, but this specific one caught me off guard) of my bridesmaids, someone I had told I did not want to lose from my life, in over two years. I could list off my excuses but honestly it was pitiful. Most damning is that if having a baby means you lose all your friends the human race will either become extinct or get really lonely, really fast.

So my first challenge to myself was simple: be a better friend, be more encouraging, make the effort to get in touch, don’t just sit and wait but grab the shoulders of the people I care about and tell them how amazing they are. This is starting through correspondence, letters predominantly. I use to love writing letters and one of my favourite summers of the past is where I draw on a ton of postcards and just sent them off regularly to amazing people. It made me feel connected, I hope it made them laugh or feel loved (because they were), and it kept the stupid voices in my lonely mind at bay. This time I am trying to fit in as many as I can, on whims, when I get a spare moment. It’s not necessarily a huge letter but I’m hoping that as communication begins again so will conversation. Really my only hope is that I might make one of them smile when they need it.

Challenge Two: Self Portrait Kick

I was sitting atop my bed having just finished watching Big Eyes (which is a great film but a little traumatic at times), the true story of Margaret Keane, an artist whose husband took credit and made her life miserable for about 10 years. I was sitting there thinking how great she was, and generally enjoying that Bear had finished the film with the word “Amazing!” when I started crying and couldn’t stop. When Bear asked me why I just started bawling out that I used to spend ~4 hours a day in the school art room hiding away from the world being inspired and painting and drawing and just producing so many ideas, and now I couldn’t remember the last time I actually used my hands to create much at all (I was ignoring some of the graphic design stuff because I’m sorry to say a computer does not have the same feel as being covered in paint and ink and whoknowswhat. My wonderful husband in that moment decided that I was going to get some space to do exactly that (maybe not 4 hours a day but still!) and we spent the May Bank Holiday clearing out most of the desk so that I could put some art supplies into it.

I decided that if I was going to kick myself into gear I needed to get out of my comfort zone and really practice for a bit. To me this meant self portraits: I do not often like pictures of myself, I have never really enjoyed creating a piece based on myself, and yet there was so much inspiration out there, and so many ways I could take it. By doing a daily self-portrait I hope to stretch myself and perhaps get to know myself a little better, in confidence, in style, and in body. My first is, of course, inspired by Margaret Keane’s Big Eyes, and although I’m a little concerned that every other piece I ever do will look like my eyes are raisins it came out OK and loosened me up. I don’t think I’ve ever taken on “kitsch” but I enjoyed it and her story deserved to be spread a little further. Hopefully by the 5th of June there will approximately 30 self-portraits for you all to peruse.

Challenge Three.

This blog. I am so sorry to people who enjoyed reading about my crazy life because my updates have been horrendously rare and not necessarily the best pieces of writing. Although I hope to completely redesign my site (hopefully making it all more professional and comprehensive of what I actually DO) I will try to start writing again. What I can’t believe is that by writing my last angry letter post I seemed to have remembered why it was so useful to me. I enjoy communicating truth, and I try very hard to make sure my writing is good, truthful, and ideally positive.

Someone recently said I was an Evangelist. Now from a normal point of view this is weird Christian mumbo-jumbo. To me, as a Christian, it was a little terrifying because I’m not exactly an extrovert. However, the context of that name was that I communicate with people, I try to lift people up, encourage, and inspire, often through writing. This has been on hiatus but actually it’s also what I’ve been doing in a way through my essays. I will be trying to share those too in the near future but I can’t just ignore this either. I will try to be better, promise.

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