How it all began ...
In July 2013, whilst reeling from the after effects of a very acrimonious two year divorce battle, countless appearances before a judge to protect my home from my former partner, further hearings to fight the mortgage lender against certain repossession, and then a ridiculous civil claim by my former in-laws, it's fair to say, I just didn't have the time or inclination to think of doing anything remotely creative. Those few years, and the last few years of marriage definitely marked the lowest point in my life and the least productive of my artistic practice.
I found sanctuary in my riverside studio during this time, and whilst I fulfilled a few projects, my heart wasn't in it. I spent a lot of time sitting on the rocks or slipway with the two infamous local swans, sharing my lunch and talking. Well ... I talked, whilst they just listened. They really did. The hours spent together, every week was the only time I found any sort of peace in my head.
Somewhere along the way I had lost me, I had lost the person I was, I had become a shadow of the girl that I was previously, that love of life and creativity, drained away, every last drop, and used in evidence against me. How had I allowed it? How had it happened? How indeed had I not noticed?
I knew things had to change.
Someone wise once said, It's not the strongest, nor the most intelligent that survives, it's the one most adaptable to change.
And change I did.
By chance a client in Bermuda, offered us ( myself and my son ) a house in Bermuda for a few weeks that summer. We didn't need much persuading and we were soon packing our bags. Whilst picking up some last minute holiday essentials in Conwy, I met a lovely lady, Michelle Davison who was setting up a new cooperative art and craft shop in the high street. She suggested the possibility of selling my original art and stocking my children's books in the shop on a trial basis. I was flattered, so agreed to drop off some books before we headed off on our adventures.
I will write more and include extracts from my writings in Bermuda in my next post, as I want to focus on what happened on our return. Calling in at the shop to see if Michelle had sold any of my books, I was informed that she had suffered a major stroke. How quickly life can change, so unexpectedly. Whilst I was across the Atlantic on a journey of healing and self discovery, Michelle had been on a journey of her own.
But what I witnessed over the subsequent weeks, was sheer hard work and determination, and absolute bloody mindedness, as Michelle put in 100% effort to fight her way back to health. She was back in her beloved shop before she had fully regained her speech or the ability to walk unaided, never mind use a calculator or phone. Learning to master everyday things like this must have been a very tough challenge, and Michelle coped amazingly well. I felt like a fake, after all, it was only a marriage break up I had gone through, it put things in perspective for me. Sometimes one gets so wrapped with ones own problems, it does us no harm at all to have a good shake up. Michelle is not one to dwell on her own problems, she was so supportive and encouraging to me, and all the other artists in her shop. Still is. She doesn't know it yet, but she is a huge inspiration to me.
As she got better, we discussed ways in which I might introduce more designs and stock into the shop. I began to feel that spark, that energy inside of me, absent for such a long time, begin to flicker ... so, the fire was not entirely extinguished after all ... just considerably dampened, a reflection of my spirit.
My trip abroad, had been more than a trip, it was a turning point, the proverbial line in the sand. Like John Lennon before me, I found my mojo in Bermuda. It awoke my senses, from the moment the passenger doors opened on the aircraft and the the heady aroma of Jasmine and Hibiscus hit me, and the nightly chorus of crickets and frogs, to the almost nightly lightning displays over the seas brought my senses to life. It goes without saying that the colours and the light were so completely stunning, it was just what I needed, just at the right time. It would be too dramatic to say I healed there, but it was where the healing began. When I left Bermuda, I was at peace with myself, and about to enter a new phase of creativity.
I had nothing. All I had amassed through my working life, property, savings, possessions, all gone. I had nothing. And after paying for the flights to Bermuda, I didn't even have a penny to my name. I was flat broke, but I didn't care. I knew I was not lost and knew what I had to do.
More importantly I decided I would never look back.
'The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new.'