I love this picture and I’ve been thinking about it over the last few weeks for a few reasons. It was taken around October 2020 and it was literally one of the first shots of the studio being finished after renovations. Having this studio has been one of the most thrilling things for me.
We bought our place in Otaihanga in early 2018, when we were still living in Sydney, and we moved into our house here August 2019. I started working out of the studio pretty much straight away, but jeez, it was cold! I’d only last about 15 minutes in that first winter, before needing to come back into the house again to warm up. So we got to work and had the walls insulated, we painted the walls a nice fresh white and put carpet down. This picture is when paint was still drying and it was really just very fresh and very new – Chris and I were just admiring all of the great changes to the space.
The opening of my studio was a really special milestone of 2020. We celebrated the studio refresh with friends and family and then I opened up for the first time on the 2020 Kapiti Arts Trail. Thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point – family and friends and people who have visited the studio, celebrated with me and championed me from a distance in this time of limited travel!
Studio open for the Arts Trail 2021
Working on wellness
My first studio-based programme ran this year in the studio. In addition, I had my own creative work underway and podcast recordings also taking place in the studio. It’s been awesome to welcome others into the space, including creative folk, business owners and wellbeing practitioners. I’ve felt very nourished by all the conversations that I’ve had with others interested in living a holistic, integrated life. There have been healing chats in and outside of the studio about how to how to work through some of the more challenging situations that come up in our lives.
One of the things that’s been difficult for me over the past 20 years is managing pain. I’ve had a lot of it and I’ve tried a lot of different things. And over the last year, I’ve done some new things to address that pain. And one of them is obviously looking at fatigue. I’ve made a conscious thing for me this year to try and slow down. To be still more often and to not get into that overload state. I know I’m still a work in progress but in fact I’ve made great strides this year.
I explored hypnosis to access and understand deeper rationales for that pain, and I’ve come through on the other side with really good outcomes. I’ve been gradually stepping off medication. I’ve been looking at alternate ways to manage residual pain. And I don’t think that I would have had the same journey as I’ve had if I hadn’t had really great people who were spiritual and kind and generous and light to talk about these things with me as we work on our creative ideas. I thank everyone for that. It reminds me that painting and creativity is for everyone, and it is for all of life. It’s not just about making art, it’s about helping us take the journey, helping us to look into ourselves, helping us to find meaning and find knowledge and wisdom and insight and as a as a creative form of expression, but also comfort.
podcast guests Lisa Call and Kim Chamberlain
Colour as nourishment
Colour is so nourishing. If you’ve been to my studio you’ll know that pink and teal are everywhere! Interestingly enough, while these colours are very big for me, yellow is also an important colour in my life with its connection to communication. Orange is also huge – it’s vibrant, fresh, innovative and full of life – and deeply connected to our creative abilities. I have really enjoyed spending time with my Mindful Creativity students in the latter part of the year, as we journey through a series of colours and spend time exploring our response to each one.
This year I’ve been working with the chakras and in particular, with the sacral chakra – some of you will know this is the orange-hued energy centre below our bellies. For me this chakra has been the focus of my efforts untangling my pain – because for the last 25 years, my pain has sat largely in the pelvic area which is where this chakra resides. I’ve been exploring ways in which I tax my creativity energies (possibly too much, too often, without enough of a breather in between energy spurts). I’ve been exploring where I hold stress (same place, same reasons). The colour orange and the orange chakra have talked to me a lot this year. Here are some of my reflections:
- Pain is a gateway to understanding myself better
- My pain often comes when I’m trying to process a lot but not giving my body enough time and space to do that processing. I can get blocked by trying to cram too much through my system without allowing enough time for filtration, processing, and digesting energy and life in general.
As well as continuing to work on my own writing projects, I’ve had a wonderful year of books and have a bunch to recommend to you. The two novels by Australian women that I’ve particularly adored are The Lost Flowers of Alison Hart and After Story. Both were just beautiful feats of storytelling and nourished me deeply. Phosphorescence was a family adventure and enabled us to connect over books during lockdown which was just awesome. Audio books have been a saving grace this year and I’ve really found the experience quite different to reading. I’ve particularly enjoyed the Rosie Trilogy. And Belonging made me cry – not just the poetic writing but the deep, thoughtful ways of seeing how we hold parts ourselves back from the experience of connection and belonging – and what we can do to enable ourselves to belong more fully.
This is the year, of course, that we got our gorgeous puppy Magic. He makes us laugh and he’s grown an enormous amount. I’ve talked to many people about my work this year managing pain and they’ve often commented that having made such good inroads on the health front could very well be tied to the fact that a beautiful animal has come into our lives and our little family. I agree. I think Magic has made my heart burst so often that it can’t help but have an impact of my sense of wellness.
Living the Life
Chris and I knew we’d found something special when we bought our place in Otaihanga in 2018. Life on the Kapiti Coast is good. People are friendly. Nature calls from a hundred different directions every day. Creativity flourishes here. The studio is open. The garden is full of lovely corners to explore. You really must come and visit.
Chris and I hope to see you soon!