Anxiety is my superpower.

I opened my computer the other day to check something and somehow found myself on Facebook (how does that happen?).

I followed a link someone had posted to the page of a blogger I have long admired but rarely read (not sure why): Glennon Doyle Melton (of Momastery).

I scrolled down, glancing at the small amount of text she had prefixed her latest blog posts with, until one stopped me in my tracks.

This is what I read;

‘Yes, I’ve got these conditions—anxiety, depression, addiction—and they almost killed me. But they are also my superpowers. I’m the canary in the mine and you need my sensitivity because I can smell toxins in the air…’

Without reading the post in full, I slammed my laptop shut.

I shuddered, consumed with fear, with doubt.

I couldn’t read another word.

It was too close to home.

If you replaced the word ‘addiction’ with the phrase ‘addiction to self-salvation projects’, or ‘addiction to overwhelming and misplaced responsibility’ it could be me.

Suddenly the words I put on the page and sent out into the ether felt ridiculous.

They felt small and insignificant. They felt inconsequential and unnecessary.

Glennon’s way with words and ability to connect made me feel foolish, as though I was a poor copy. I wanted to shut my blog down and post one final statement, as a parting gift:

For all further support and encouragement – see Momastery

I felt like an imposter, a fraud. As though my stories were too small and too personal. That my contribution was not needed.

What right did I have to be setting myself up as any kind of voice in this arena? I don’t know enough. I haven’t read the right books and my life is messy. I certainly don’t have all the answers figured out.


 

Alongside these feelings of self doubt, one other thing remained.

A word burnt into my retina remaining long after the laptop was closed.

superpower


Anxiety is a part of me. I don’t know how long it will be for. Maybe forever. Maybe not. But it is one of the things that makes me unique, that gives me insight, that alerts me to potential harm, that softens me to other’s pain, that allows me to see emotional truth quicker than some others.

And, I am beginning to realise, it is my superpower.

I have learnt to identify with my pain, to see it as a path to healing and understanding. I have accepted my weakness and realised that my experiences can be helpful to other people.

But, superpower?  This is another league. Another level.

And the more I have thought about it, the more the word has rolled around on my tongue, the idea rattled around in my head, (whisper it)… the more it has begun to feel like the truth.

Maybe this idea was a bit too hot to touch when I read it in Glennon’s post, a bit too bright to look at. Maybe, alongside the self-doubt, this white hot truth caused me to look away, to shield my eyes from the reality.

But, my anxiety is my superpower.

Like any superpower it can be destructive and I have known many, many of those moments, when this force threatens to swallow me whole, to destroy the very essence of who I am.

But like any superhero, the more I take this knowledge, these experiences, and use them for the benefit of us all, the more I see the force for good it can be.

My vulnerability is transforming my anxiety into a superpower.

My writing, and talking, and witnessing, and sharing, converts the power-sapping kyptonite of my anxiety into a force to be reckoned with.

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So I’m going to keep on writing, despite the doubt and fear, and despite the feeling of being an imposter, because superheroes need to use their powers otherwise they end up fat and disillusioned like Mr Incredible.

I will write when I feel inspired and try to write when I don’t. I will write as honestly as I can. I will write because it makes me feel alive.

I will write pointing to the potential dangers and hazards ahead. I will write to shout about the unhelpful ways of living that have made me ill. I will write because “me too” is a powerful phrase.

I will write even though someone else can do it better. Even though someone else has thousands more followers than me. Even though my offering feels paltry alongside theirs.

I will continue to write. To sing like the canary in the mine. Because, anxiety is my superpower and I’m going to use it.

 

On discovering a surprising habit which calms my anxiety.

In my battle against the anxiety I have amassed an arsenal of weapons.

I moderate my alcohol and caffeine consumption, try to eat and sleep well, practise mindfulness, exercise regularly, use 7/11 breathing techniques and try to schedule in time to rest.

But recently I noticed a new habit that is also having a big impact on the pull of anxious thoughts.


I am fairly well at the moment. The past six months have been some of the most stable and relaxed I have known in a while. I have managed to do many things that, even a year ago, would have seemed impossible for me to contemplate.

Take this week as an example. We have been staying in Wimbledon, house-sitting and enjoying a change of scenery. Yesterday we took a long tube journey to meet up with some friends in hot and busy central London, to eat at a place I had not suggested and did not know, after which we took another tube to spend the afternoon in Hyde Park.

And I was fine. In fact, it was fun.

This is major.

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Matt Haig took to twitter this week to write:

I think anxiety is best understood as a condition you have to manage, like diabetes. You don’t get rid of it, but you can get on top of it.

He is right. Even though I am doing well, I have a tendency towards anxiety. Maybe when I am older and wiser I will reach a zen-like state and anxiety will have no hold on me, but for the time being it occasionally still does. I have a predisposition.

Feeling anxious is horrific. From this place of relative calm I can see just how ill I have been and how debilitating it has been, for me and my family.

Even now on days when I am doing something new, or in a situation I can’t control (especially when I am physically trapped for example on a boat, or on the underground), I need a few tricks, a few habits, to stop me spiralling, to keep the intrusive thoughts at bay.

And I have a new trick which has become unexpectedly useful, distracting and calming me: photography.


Earlier this year I decided to start to improve my photography skills. I have a good camera. I knew (I still know) I was not getting the best out of it.

I read a few tutorials and they all said the same thing: if you want to get better at taking photos, you have to take more photos, preferably every day. So I signed up to a daily photography challenge on instagram (#thebethadillychallenge). At first I took snaps on my phone, one every day which related to the given prompt, and posted them on instagram. Some early ones:

prompt: joy

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prompt: today

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I quickly became was frustrated at the quality and variety my iPhone could achieve and I started to use my ‘proper’ camera. The photos got better. I started to learn how to shoot in manual mode. I learnt how to manipulate the field of focus and read articles about composition.

But as I took my camera out and about with me I realised something else was happening. I wasn’t just improving my photography skills. The act of picking up my camera and looking through the view finder also relaxed me.

By looking through the small window on the back of the camera I put a space between me and the never ending barrage of stimulation the day presented. It gave me a moment to pause, to separate myself from the action, to re-frame it.

Taking a photo takes my brain down another pathway, one that has nothing to do with my health or anxious thoughts. Instead of scanning the horizon for catastrophe, I have become a beauty-hunter. I am looking for good. Even on a miserable day, when the kids are ill or doing-my-head-in, I am looking for a way to capture the moment that is pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t change the reality of the situation but gives me a different way to see it.

It is also a reminder of the impermanence of everything, a way to time travel. A way to leave this anxious moment and fast forward into the future. I am taking this photo now, later I will be looking at it on my computer, the moment will be over and I will be looking back on it. It remind me that everything passes, the good and the bad.

Like this week when, while on holiday, my ten year old was sick and I took this photo.

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As I did, I separated myself from the anxiety crouching at the door whispering that we would all now be ill, and instead I enjoyed the blue of her eyes and her nail varnish against the pink of the blanket. I remembered again what a privilege it is to be able to care for while she is poorly, to have the time and space to stay home and stroke her hair. I remembered she would soon be well again.


The other week we were in Anglesey and decided to go on a boat trip. Matt had been suggesting this as a potentially fun activity for as many years as we have been going to Anglesey (about seven). This year I ran out of excuses and agreed. Although due to the aforementioned improvement in my mental health it didn’t stress me out as it would have, it was still a bit of an ordeal. I had to have a few straight conversations with myself.

As we pulled away from the harbour on our way to ‘puffin island’ I could feel the familiar tide of anxiety rising within me. I started to feel trapped and hot. My stomach started swirling. But instead of panicking, instead of feeling unable to escape my thoughts, I picked up my camera. As I looked through the lens I felt I relief. I felt in control. I realised again I could choose how to see the world around me.

It was only later on, as I transferred the photos from my camera to my computer I realised it was picking up my camera that enabled me to divert my brain from the deluge of thoughts threatening to swamp me. I recognised it was this action that gave me a moment to pause. It was this action that distracted me, that reoriented me.

And, amongst a load of fairly ordinary pictures (because, honestly, editing out the crap shots is the joy of digital photography), I also took these photos:

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In the battle with the unknown terror that is anxiety, new habits or practises give me back control.  And as I compose a new photo I am reminded, there is always good waiting to be found.


I am not very good at leaving my posts with a question, inviting suggestions or comments, but one of my desires is that this blog acts as a sign post. Pointing to ideas that might help, to possible routes to health… to hope.

So, in this vein, what habits or practises improve your ability to withstand anxiety?

Please add your thoughts in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thehippochronicles

 

For the summer holidays: Learning how to slow down.

I went to see my Nan yesterday. Nan is 95 and has lung cancer. She is pleased to know she will soon be leaving this planet and has wanted the Lord to take her for a while. All my friends are dead, she tells us.

Although obviously weakening she is still bright and fairly active. She gets tired more and her eyesight is failing her, but apart from that you still wouldn’t know she was ill unless she told you.

I like to talk to her about her life, and have recorded a number of interviews with her over the last few years. She has told me about her earliest memory, getting in trouble at school, serving with the WAF in the Second World War, meeting my Grandad and settling in Folkestone to raise her children and live a quiet but happy life growing vegetables in her garden and taking long walks by the sea.

She often, regularly… okay, every time I see her, tells me that she is glad she isn’t bringing a child into this world now. She shakes her head, oh no ducky, I’m glad I don’t have to do that. I mean, what are they going to do? 

IMG_7137She worries for her 13 (soon to be 14) great-grandchildren. She rolls her eyes about the economy, about immigration, about the state of politics. But her main concern for our little ones growing up here and now, is how busy it is. How noisy. How frantic.

What are they going to do? she asks.


We came to Anglesey yesterday. The kids finished school for the summer. We went home, packed, ate a quick tea and got in the car. By 9pm we were here.

Life here is slower. It refuses to rush.

It is slower than in the city, where demands and requests ping through, where the timetable of Mum’s taxi never gets a break, where homework needs to be in, appointments kept, and the to-do list keeps growing.

 

If I moved at this slower pace in Liverpool, it would be easy to feel as though life was passing me by. I would feel I was missing out; all the possibilities of how I could be spending my time, how I could be contributing, what I could be accumulating, achieving, producing.

Here, in this quiet corner, those frantic thoughts feels like a lot of hot air.

A ridiculous notion.

It is difficult to transition from the break-neck pace of normal life to this calmer, more measured pace. It feels odd.

It is hard to slow down.


As soon as the kids came into our room this morning they wanted to know what our plan was for the day. Where are we going? What are we doing? 

Matt and I were determined today needed to be a slow day, a day of recuperation. This is a difficult concept for children who are constantly on the go, moving through the day from one activity to another with barely a pause.

We had a lazy breakfast and at about 11:30 left for the beach. At the beach we walked and threw a tennis ball between us. The kids bickered and asked how long we would be staying. The sun came out and we got a picnic blanket out of the car and the few snacks we had packed. I took out my book and began to read. Matt lay down and was asleep in moments, the warm sand and the sun on his face better than any herbal sleeping aid. The kids asked when we were leaving. We cajoled them and placated them with ice-creams. We sent them to explore the rocks, to paddle in the sea. We lasted a couple of hours.

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When are we leaving? they asked.

If it is difficult for Matt and I to slow down even though we have looked forward to it and read about it and desired it and planned for it, how much harder is it for the kids? They have little understanding this is what they need. We have given them no road map.

And we all need one.


Tomorrow will be slower, we will all have spent a bit longer decompressing from the 24/7 nature of normal life. The conversations will be easier, the pauses and silences longer.

After tea I asked Matt if he wanted to walk down the lane with me. We talked about the jolt your mind and body feel when it suddenly tries to slow down. And the faster you have been moving the harder it is, the greater ‘stopping distance’ you need.

We talked of how good it is when you manage it.

We looked at the wild flowers and the ferns and breathed deeply.

IMG_1562IMG_1587We are learning. We will learn.

We will teach the kids.

My Nan’s words ring in my mind. Life is too busy, too hectic, too noisy.

But I feel hopeful we can change. That we will keep trying.


Maybe this time we won’t pick up the pace quite so quickly when we return to real life. Maybe this slower pace, where it is more possible to be present and to be open to the possibilities of the day, will permeate our lives a little more when we return, and we will all be better for it.

On realising I don’t always know best.

Some weeks I have a phrase that hovers around me no matter what I am doing.

This has been one of those weeks. And the words have been:

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On Tuesday they got ‘magnetic letters’ status.


Relinquish:

to lay down or surrender. To give up ownership and authority over.

To release from your grip. To loosen your hold and let go.


This week I have had to relinquish control of a number of things:

My diary.

At the start of the week I had so many things I wanted to get done. So many people I wanted to see.

But I hadn’t factored Matt or the kids into my plans…

Big mistake.

Because they also had lots of plans. Matt had numerous late-night work events he had to attend and the kids also had sporting clubs and music lessons. They always have a certain level of expectation of me as a taxi service, but this week we took it to the next level. End of term means extra rehearsals and parties which equals lots of time in the car. It also happens to be both of my girls’ birthdays in the next week and the to-do list has been off the charts.

It was only on Sunday night when I realised this was how the week was going to be. For a while I struggled to maintain a good humour about it. What about me? What about my work? Why was that always the thing to get dropped, the thing that suffered?

Relationships.

Oh my, this is a biggie.

This week I have realised there are numerous relationships I have been trying to control. This hasn’t been a manipulative, out-for-myself, endeavour. It hasn’t been done knowingly. There was no grand plan.

And it has come from a good place. From a place of love. Of longing to see those close to me have the revelations, and experience the freedom, I have found. To show them that they don’t have to do it all, that they can be kinder to themselves.

But, although well-intentioned, my trying to get others to see what I see, and to see how I see, has been a form of control.

And, even uglier to admit, it has enabled me to hold onto my frustrations with these relationships. Stroking disappointment like a pet, comforting myself with the knowledge that I am right. Because these special people don’t act like I think they should, and don’t respond how I think they should, I have started to think that I am better than them, that I am superior in some way. I have jeopardised the relationship, because I can’t accept that we are not, at this moment, on the same page, because they don’t agree with me.

I have realised that trying to control other people will drive a wedge between you. It will upset the balance of equality and mutual respect. It will leave you feeling frustrated, it will leave them feeling used and manipulated.

It is no good.

My health.

(yawn) A seemingly endless struggle.

I have struggled to relinquish control of my expectations of my physical body for a while now. I try and get it to do what I want, to behave how suits me, to keep up, to keep going, to not show weakness. But this week, again, I was unable to keep up with the match-fit pace I had subconsciously set for myself.

Due to fluctuations in my monthly hormonal cycle (yeah, my period) I found myself working with about half the amount of energy I am used to. I felt wiped out, spaced out and a little on the anxious side. I had to relinquish control of my expectations of my body. I couldn’t keep up. I needed rest more than usual. I had to give up on the ridiculous to-do list and instead enjoy a cuppa with a friend, watch a little tv, and accept that I was going to be cooking the easiest and most basic of dinners for the kids.

Why is this lesson so hard to learn? Nearly seven years into acknowledging and accepting my physical weaknesses the default setting is still telling me I should always be able.

This belief that I should have a large capacity for busyness and activity is still proving hard to re-write.

(Side note: why do we expect ourselves to consistently have the same level of energy and focus on every day of the month? I’m thinking there may well be a reason for energy and hormonal disturbances – other than the obvious – maybe it is a nudge to slow down, to alter your pace, to allow for a quieter few days… Maybe if we accepted that it could be a good thing?)


And the thing is, the nub of the matter, the crux of it all is:

I don’t want to relinquish control.

I think I know what is best. That my solution is the one that will work. That my ideas are the correct ones. I often find myself thinking that if everyone just did what I said then it would all work better.

Staying in control gives me a feeling of safety, of security. If I am right and you are wrong then I don’t need to be challenged by your ideas. If my plan is the best one, then I don’t need to listen to any others and I can carry on with the way that feels most comfortable to me.

But, control is a mirage in the desert.

It looks real. It looks like something that will give you the power and make your life better. But sooner or later you, I, we, realise control is impossible. It is a pretence, a facade, an empty shell. A really great advertisement for a completely faulty product.

If you think you can control life, you will soon be proved wrong. One day someone will let you down in a way you didn’t see coming, or your health will fail, or a loved one will die.

And the longer we carry on thinking that we somehow have the authoritative best plan, the longer we think everyone else needs us to get it right, to keep the trains running on time, to hold it all together, the worse it is, the tighter you have to hold on. Until your grip becomes vice-like and painful.

IMG_7522It is not good for you. It will make you ill. Spiritually ill, emotionally ill, physically ill, mental ill, relationally ill. Like a poison, it will infect you, and eat you from the inside. Through bitterness or disappointment, through anger or fear.

So, if we can’t control even though we want to, what is the alternative? What is the opposite of control? Because I am sure it isn’t indifference, it isn’t inaction or apathy.

No, I think the opposite of control is:

Acceptance.

Accepting the world as you find it.

Accepting the week as it unfolds. Accepting others how they are. Accepting your health as it is.

And this is the secret to peace.

It is about openness. It is about vulnerability. It is about acceptance.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not talking about being a doormat. I am not talking about being taken for granted, or used. I am not talking about laying down all your hopes to serve your family every day and night. I am not talking about never challenging those you love, or offering them wisdom. I am not talking about accepting your physical fate, eschewing doctors and medicine.

I am talking about walking in loving kindness. Loving kindness firstly to yourself. Accepting your weaknesses and frailties. Recognising your passions and desires.

And then out of that place of self-compassion, finding the loving kindness for those around you. Loving them enough to accept them as they are, with their faults and blind spots.

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And so, although this week has been a frustrating week, where I haven’t achieved what I had hoped, when I have felt weak and woozy, and where the kids have demanded a lot, it has become okay. It has even been good.

As I have put down my need for control and tried to look with acceptance at the content of my days, at my loved ones, at my own body, I have found I am able to be in the moment, to relax, to be present.

 

 

How to be Creative. Part 3: Start at the beginning.

 

As Maria sang in the film The Sound of Music,

‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’.

In fact, it is the only place to start.

The only way to start.

With the first step.


I am the kind of person who has a new creative idea every hour, it often feels like I catch it on the breeze. It is rarely a logical thought-process looking to solve a given problem. It is a moment of whimsy, a random string of connections, like lights on the runway leading me in the direction of creative flight.

I cannot see it all, but a glimpse of it becomes visible in my peripheral vision. It draws me in. I turn my head to try and understand it. I gather the crumbs, the sensations, the words, to make sense of what I am dreaming of.

And then I get stuck.

I don’t know how to begin.

IMG_4913I am not a very practical person. I want to dream and be able to speak it into being without the hard work, without having to do the admin or raise the funds, without having to make a plan and work through it step by step.

I want to jump straight to the end. I want to see how it will work out. I want to understand exactly what I am making and the straight path that will lead me to my desired outcome.

I want to see the whole thing at the outset.

I want to know who my team are and how many months it will take. I want to know where I will raise the funds and how I will sort out my childcare. I want to know the structure the project will take and how it will hang together.

I want to know if it is worthwhile. I want to know it will succeed.

And this barrage of unanswered questions often stops me before I start.

It feels overwhelming.

And little old me, on my own with my notebook, is enveloped and discouraged by the number of possibilities and the decisions I would need to make. I am frustrated that I cannot see the entirety of it, that I don’t know everything at the beginning.

It paralyses me.

 


But I am learning the only thing I can do is start with number 1. I can only begin by asking the question,

What is the first thing I need to do?

 

It might involve discussion, or going to the library, making a phone call, or looking at my diary.

The first step isn’t a big one. By its very nature it has to be small. It is just the first thing.

The first thing is NOT writing it, or booking the venue. It is NOT taking out a loan, or buying copious materials. It is NOT writing the press release or visualising the end product.

I can be impatient. I am not good at starting with 1. But 1 is where it is at if you want to do anything.

Rob Bell writes in How to Be Here;

“Far too often we don’t start because we cannot get our minds around the whole thing. We don’t take the first step because we can’t figure out the 17th step. But you don’t have to know the 17th step. You only have to know the first step… Start with 1.”

And let your first step lead to your second step, which will lead you to your third step. Let the discovery of step 10 lead you to the unlikely conclusion of step 11, and the unexpected partnership at step 12. Let the unforeseen outcome of step 35 lead you to new brilliance you could never have predicted at step 36.

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Knowing everything at the beginning does not set you up to succeed, it sets you up to miss all the exciting discoveries you would have made along the way. It sets you up for predicability, which although feels a safe place to be, is very dull, and means your work will never sing as it could have.

Start at the very beginning. Don’t be paralysed by the unknown. Dare to take the first small step and see where it leads you.

 

 

23rd June: A poem for today.

As I drove back from dropping the kids at school today this poem floated down to meet me.

I feel confused about the decision our country has made today, and it is difficult not to feel hopeless.  When things seem to change so rapidly it is hard not to feel out of control.

But some things are still the same. The air I breathe, the ground beneath my feet, and the scent of the roses in my garden. We forget our days are so brief, and the earth so old, so knowing.

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Who can think they own the earth?
That the leaves on the trees unfurl at their command?
Who believes they make the sun rise and set?

From dust you were born and to dust you will return.
Eventually the ground will swallow you again.

For a while she allows you to walk on her land,
to feel the sand beneath your toes,
to lie in her meadows and wash in her streams.
She knows you are temporal.

She looks on your borders and smiles a sad smile
On your carving up of wealth and wonders,
why do you think you are in control?

She is the one who remains.

The globe will continue to rotate
The sea will continue to kiss the land
The sun and moon will continue their dance,
long after you are buried and gone.

How to be Creative.Part 2: Exposing the lie that will stop you before you begin.

This writing lark is relatively new to me. For the past fifteen years, for better or worse, between pregnancies and breast-feeding, I have been trying to form a career as a theatre director. Scrabbling around, looking for scraps of work. Work that would fit in with my childcare, work that would develop my skills, work I loved and work I took because it seemed like the right thing to do.

This was my passion. These were my people. This was the path I trod. I stuck doggedly to it.

Then a couple of years back, after a season of great emotional turbulence, I wanted to write a few things down about what I had been through. I wanted to document the journey and see if I could describe it in a way that might be interesting, and maybe even helpful, to read.

I started this blog.

Having spent the previous fifteen years working with accomplished playwrights, having always needed a skilled writer to choose the words, having regularly told people when they asked, oh no, I’m not a writer,

Here I was, having a go.

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I don’t know what made me start. It was one of those moments of action. Where a pinch of adrenaline and a dose of bloody mindedness propels you into something new.

But there was one lie that nearly stopped me before I began.


This was it (beware because it sounds a lot like common sense):

I thought you had to do one thing, to get any good at it.

And I had already chosen.

I had used up my quota, and put all my eggs in the theatre basket.

This idea was formed and honed and emphasised in many tiny ways.

I had seen media representation of fame and celebrity, the idolisation of a certain person because of their ability to sing, or play tennis, or survive in the wild. The recognition of the way they pursued their one goal until they achieved success and public recognition.

I had noted the skepticism when someone who had achieved in one area tried something new. The generally acknowledged agreement that they couldn’t possibly be good at more than one thing.

I knew the oft-quoted phrase, “the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get”. I had read Outliers (well, I hadn’t read it, but someone had paraphrased it for me) and knew how Malcolm Gladwell had researched and discovered that Tiger Woods, or Mozart or the Beatles had risen to the top of the field in their chosen profession because they had put in the pre-requisite 10,000 hours of practice.

If I was going to succeed I thought I had to be doggedly determined, to pursue one great passion at the expense of everything else.

Throughout my youth I had also picked up on a narrative in the church environment I was a part of. The talk of discovering your calling and working out what your destiny was. The idea of dreaming one dream and running after it, with single-minded determination and assurance.

I hadn’t heard much talk about evolving, about trying things out and having a go.

Not on the television, or in education, or  in the church.

I heard a lot of talk about success and achievement.

Not a lot of talk about the freedom to play.

IMG_5613I had forgotten, or maybe I never knew, that you were allowed to change, to grow, to develop, to explore new ideas, to find new ways of communicating and expressing yourself.


I still LOVE theatre. I will definitely be doing more of it.

But I am also allowed to try other things. I have given myself permission.

And as I have started writing, new possibilities have opened up, not just for my blog and my writing, but if I can discover a new passion that I love totally unexpectedly at 34, what might I discover at 38, or 40, or 50? What new adventures might there be up ahead?

I have opened my eyes to the beauty being forged all around me, there for me to participate in if I choose. Beauty forged by all sorts of artists, in all walks of life. Because we are all artists, we are all craftsmen, creating and curating a life out of the moments of our days, expressing it in ways as unique as we are.

And we can collaborate. With others – blending our skills and passions- and (this might sound a little unorthodox) with ourselves.

Just as you would cross-pollinate to create a new species of flower, so I am learning to cross-pollinate my interests, mixing them up and experimenting with them in different environments, seeing what happens when my growing knowledge of gardening finds its way into my writing, realising that my eye for a good image has been improved by my time directing, and this in turn has impacted the composition of my photographs.

One idea, sparks another idea, which sparks another thought and a chain reaction I had not anticipated takes place.


Now. There is a lot to be said for focus. For giving energy and commitment to learning one thing, or prioritising one discipline. I’m all for that. Right now, for me, my main focus is writing. I am reading books and blogs on writing. I am talking about writing.

But this doesn’t need to stop me trying something new. Who knows where this new fertilisation of ideas could take me?

By risking the unknown and following my curiosity, I am opening myself up to a greater freedom, a greater abundance.

I am re-learning to play. Giving myself permission to explore and investigate. To mess around, to try.

It is a lot of fun.

And what about you? Don’t just read this and think it isn’t for you too.

Are you stuck in a certain way of doing things?

Is there something new you would like to try?

I promise you, it isn’t as scary as it seems.

You might be surprised where you end up.