When I have loved myself enough….

This beautiful picture is from the artist Irina Vitalievna Karkabi ,  the state of bliss and contentment is so tangible; it has resonance with the Art Nouveau artist Klimt, there is such delicacy and beauty, she is breathtaking it uplifts me every time I see it.  

After the cold bleakness of Winter, Spring bursts forth in new growth and renewal. Everywhere bulbs push though frozen ground to bloom and brighten our days, daffodils dance in the March winds and April Showers. I have been through a similar process of renewal – having time to myself has given rise to one of the biggest areas of growth in my life so far. I want to share some of the great things I have learned in the last few weeks not just beautiful art but two wonderful books that heal the soul.

This little book, is simply a delight – written by Kim Millen and published by her daughter Alison. The wisdom between the pages offer an opportunity to really touch base with your soul. Each page begins with ‘when I loved myself enough… ‘ and follows truths that also soothe the soul. Such as: ‘When I have loved myself enough I learned to meet my own needs and not call it selfish’. Or ‘When I have loved myself enough .. I stopped fearing empty time, and quit making plans, now I do what feels right and I am in step with my own rhythms. It is also worth reading the introduction and the postscript by Alison. 
You can buy a copy on amazon or you can support your local bookshop – either way it is a wonderful gift to give yourself. 
The other book is also about self acceptance – Amanda Cass’s illustrations enhance Dodinsky’s wisdom that takes you on a journey to loving who you are and accepting yourself. It was while reading this that I had a real ‘ah ha’ moment; it felt as if the ice and chill of winter had finally begun to thaw and the sun was breaking through – ‘love yourself better’ – I like the way you can enhance different meaning in that one phase, it resonated with my soul, because until you can love and accept who you are – can you begin to understand that you are worthy of all good things. 
My life has been transformed in the short period between my last post – a personal journey but I wanted to share a small part of it here. 

A creative dilemma

The Ego urges you to accomplish, while your soul merely asks you to enjoy the process
I used to follow a wonderful blog it was full of patterns and brilliant links; the blog was updated almost daily but one day there was a short simple post to say that she felt it was time to stop blogging about life and live – I knew what she meant. 
I was initially disappointed that there would not be more of her wonderful posts, but at the same time I realised that this small blog had the potential to become a monster if I wasn’t careful. While it is lovely to write and share things, it is all too easy to look at the blog statistics and want to see more hits or more readers, or even a few comments then the focus on getting more.. more and more. 
I think that is the tipping point, as a creative it is wonderful to make something, a picture, a cushion or a bag, I was simply making something that I liked then I started to share things with the world then the ‘audience’ becomes a vague person that I wanted to please. Suddenly it isn’t about the process it is all about the outcome. 
lotions and potions – I broke one of the candle holders! 

I noticed it when I started getting my projects published, it was fantastic seeing my name in print, but from that moment on everything I focussed on was for the magazine – I found I was making things that were publishable but not necessarily what I wanted. I love hand sewing, but I never did anything hand sewn because it would not be published, and I stopped drawing altogether. 
It took me several attempts before I mastered crochet flowers
Another aspect that I found the cause of stress was that sometimes a project develops, a mistake, or an idea happens while I am in the process of making something, but when you have agreed on a specific idea magazines are not always flexible – after all they are in the business of selling, they have a brand and know what they want in the ‘box’.  Readers expectations come into this a lot and I am one so I know! One day I had a terrible disaster, the cushion that was to be published had got ruined in the wash, the teal velvet had run over the white fabric, the only reason I washed it was for the magazine, I scoured the shops looking for replacement fabrics, and since it was a winter project and I was sewing it in August, there were no winter fabrics in the shops. For me I had realised that I was not gaining enough out of doing it. I thought about approaching other magazines, but that would mean more output. 
I love to live with the seasons, I enjoy celebrating the small festivals that are part of our connection to the changing seasons, but magazines have a three to four month lead time, so I was writing out of sync, it meant that I could not focus and enjoy the moment. 
It is nature that nurtures our creative spirit
It isn’t just me that feels the pressure, I was chatting to a dear friend of mine who makes things to sell because she needs the extra money it brings in. She has found the whole craft fair process a roller coaster of mainly dips. One customer picked up a handmade item that had taken my friend hours to make and suggested she was selling it too high, the customer wanted to pay a minimal amount because she considered that my friend was clearly doing it for fun. How can it be fun to see your hard work knocked down for a few pounds? 
I like a bargain but I love even more the delight of paying a good price to encourage someone’s creativity, I would much rather have that fondness for a lovely handmade item than beating someone down to a rock bottom bargain. 
have values changed? 
I feel that our culture has lost its way a little, we see companies always seeking to make that extra profit regardless of the impact that it has on communities. We ourselves have begun to value what we do only in terms of how much someone will pay for something. In addition we are all supposed to be extra-ordinary, children aren’t told to get a job they are told to get careers, it isn’t enough to simply make things, we have to sell them, and lots of them! Let’s hear it for a life more ordinary! One where we don’t have to strive to be better or bigger, who measures that anyway?
I really don’t know what the answer is, other than to step back and do our small thing.. encourage one another. It is about balance, let us remember that sometimes it is about simply having fun, enjoying the process and forgetting the outcome. Only then can we allow ourselves to play, take chances and let go. That is when I think we create our best work, even if it is just me and the dog who agree!