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Making Special

I'm thinking about next year already. I can't help myself.

When I was going through my art therapy foundation course, I was drawn to a concept by Ellen Dissanayake; the idea that to make art is to 'Make special'. It's an idea that I reflect on from time to time when going through a creative drought and fear the well of inspiration has truly dried up for good!

When I contemplate how inactive I've been this year in the mark-making-paint/pastel/pen-on-paper kind of way, I then consider how active I've been in distributing energy elsewhere, albeit in mainly tiny, quiet, largely unseen and dog focused ways!

I think we're in the age of feeling like to be doing anything meaningful means it needs to be seen and published or otherwise it isn't real or trustworthy?! I definitely gauge my worth by my productivity at times and as happened so recently, the 'show and tell' part of me felt an immense quietening, so you can imagine the rest. I lost my voice, my purpose, my enthusiasm and with it, Myself.

For 2022 my chosen word of the year was 'Lead'.

Far from leading, I spent many hours crawling through the rabbit holes of social media anxiously following, following, following those discarded carrot-top ends of inspiration, only to keep reaching a dead end; emerging muddy and feeling cold. That cold feeling of looking for something and leaving empty-handed over and over. Ironically the 'Lead' sign I'd hand painted and outlined in gold glitter; blue tacked onto the wall of my studio, spent the year attempting to escape; hanging on by one corner at a jaunty angle. It was instructing me to just forget about it for this year, that it was a bad fit for the energy I was riding. In defiance, I kept pressing it more firmly into the blue tac... each time with more force, in the hope something would literally and metaphorically stick.

I've taken it down now.

It took just short of twelve months to realise that 'to Lead' was not my calling this year.

2019 though.. that was a good year.

An inspired year.

A creative year.

A Pre-covid year (Just.)

A fruitful year of busyness and worki-ness and things that just make sense-iness with plenty of of artists dates sandwiched in-between. The peanut butter to my life if you will- sweet and gooey and holding it quite pleasantly together. 'Artists dates' is a term coined by Julia Cameron in her book 'The Artists year'. She knows her stuff about kicking creativity back into life when it's taken a wander and I dually followed her instruction as a recognised expert in this field, along with her advice on morning pages, which I still practice to this day (when the mood takes me!!). Artists dates not only sanctify this sense of 'making special' through the process of planning and thinking about them but also cement the realisation that I (little ole' me) am special enough to deserve a day on my own, doing what I love ... usually involving a train trip into London (an adventure, a change of scenery), tea and cake (to soothe and nourish) before a slow and intentional saunter around an exhibition in a gallery of my choosing (to learn, to be inspired.) A gallery will forever be my chosen place of worship. It holds the same reverence, colour and shiny-ness of the big church experience and creates enough space to allow clarity in the echoes of my thoughts, as well as guessing at those of strangers quietly shuffling around me. The joy of the silent dance.

Go to the places that feel important to you and by osmosis the preciousness of the place of your choosing and those who you may choose to keep company with will shower you with a unique blend of 'special' that tickles beneath the skin and ripples around your blood and through your soul as happiness. It is indeed a special feeling.

My ego during my low ebb was telling me that the best way to fix my low creative output would be to make more of an effort with my art, that I am lazy and that I should stop making excuses and try harder. Becci of Wild Luna Yoga mentioned her love of dancing as a release between her yoga and holistic teachings. It lead me to consider if what if in fact the key to enlivening my creative practice again was to try something different, diverting my attention to something other than the issue that has been causing the feelings of stuck-ness and to other things that have 'special potential'.

She reminded me of how I used to love dancing. My sister in laws' 40th birthday party recently presenting the perfect opportunity to move against my usual slow, stop and start and cautious awkwardness of the day to day. Wiggling and invigorating a bit of mojo back into my limbs and mind; the music cleverly coaxing and stripping my rhythm out of me once more. Nothing brings back the immense sense of youthfulness, hopefulness and possibility than the heart thumping bass that accompanies a string of early noughties garage tunes! There she is... a glimmer of me .... who I was and who I still could be.

So this year I'm giving gravitas to the ideas that move me or thoughts that distract me, noting them beneath the heading of 'a pursuit to feel special'. Rather than new years resolutions and instead of just a word, it activates the idea with an energy, a warmth and a motivation towards offering a balanced sense of self- importance, a suggestion of positive intention and a movement towards a more fulfilling and happy existence not only for myself but everyone existing in my orbit. Things don't have to be large or brash or newsworthy to be special, you may be an introvert like me (who loves to dance on occasion) where intimate and cosy and candle lit is much more to your taste.

I think the art to 'making special' is when you feel a softening, comfort and importance around existing in a way that suits who you are and grounds you to what makes your insides glow, basking in the anticipation for seeking out the special in another day and holding onto the special in the parts of ourselves and others that we are grateful for.

What will you do in the pursuit of making special from this moment and beyond? x

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