It’s okay to enjoy your work

Depression & Anxiety, Thoughts & Ramblings

Over the weekend I caught up with Chris, the man behind Criss-Fit (follow him on Facebook or Instagram). He recently became a personal trainer, so I wanted to feature him as a creative over on SONZA. I’ll share a link to the whole interview once it’s up, but there was one thing we talked about that I have been working through and would like to put in the public forum.

It’s the idea that if we are doing something we love, we should feel guilty about it. Now, on paper (or rather, on screen) this seems absurd, and yet it’s something I’ve struggled with for a really long time. It has only been in the last year that I’ve actually identified it as an issue and begun to work on it.

Before I started writing this post, I was working on yesterday’s page for the 100 Days Project, and I noticed this feeling of guilt. I put the page aside to write this post, because I think it’s important that we don’t feel like this. I believe that when we are doing things we’re really passionate about, the world is a better place. It’s why I became a teacher, it’s why I share my work, it’s why I try to encourage others, and it’s why I spend my time on things I love and care about.

Last week I spent a whole afternoon making these journals, and it was bliss.

But while I am doing these things, a little voice pops up sometimes and reminds me that other people are slaving away at their desk-job, or walking miles to get barely-drinkable water, or working hard physical labour. How dare I spend my time on something so frivolous and enjoyable as art?

I try to reason with it. I’m doing this project to build my connection with, and to raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world; I’m publishing to inspire children to follow their dreams; I’m interviewing awesome people to raise their profile; I’m sharing my experience of depression and anxiety so people know they’re not alone. But I know that those aren’t really why I’m doing any of it. I’m doing it because it helps me, because the process of creativity is a wondrous experience, and because I love being a part of other people’s transformations.

And I am entitled to make and share my work for those utterly selfish reasons. I am allowed to spend my time doing stuff I love doing (and some things I really don’t like doing). While I still feel responsibility to help people less fortunate than I, the way that those more fortunate than I help me, I am only human, and I am only here for a short time.

There are a few people close to me who have died, in my lifetime. When I look back on why they are so special to me, and why I looked up to them while they were around, it has nothing to do with what they sacrificed for others. What I admired about them was how they lived their daily lives with passion, and how kind they were to others. I loved them for their uniqueness, and even for their ‘flaws’.

I want to end this post with an Instagram post from my friend Amanda, that really struck a chord with me this week: “Be proud of who you are and let it come out in everything you do.”

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Painting, Creativity & Intuition

creativity, News, Thoughts & Ramblings, Visual Art

It’s been a while since I blogged (sorry), partly because I’ve been productive and focused, but mostly because there has been so much learning and insight that whenever I sit down to write something, I want to talk about ALL the things.

Story of my life.

So I’m going to try to keep today’s post to one topic. Painting. Creativity. Intuition.

One of the perks of working at a bookshop is that you get reading copies of books (not Fantastic Beasts, unfortunately). Some time ago, my manager recommended one to me: Iris Grace.

I finally got round to starting it last week and WOW. If you’re not familiar with her story, Iris is a young girl on the autism spectrum. The story is written from her mother’s point of view, from her own life and marriage to the grief of Iris’ diagnosis, to seeing beauty in her difference.

Now the reason I started reading it had nothing to do with autism, and everything to do with art. Below is one of Iris’ paintings. She’s only four or five years old.

'Explosions of Colour' - Source: https://irisgracepainting.com/paintings/

‘Explosions of Colour’ – Source: https://irisgracepainting.com/paintings/

The book describes much about Iris’ perspective (through the lens of her mother) and about autism, but what I picked up on the most is her sensory awareness, her deep connection with nature, and how she is able to communicate this through her paintings. My first thought when I saw her work?

One day, I want to paint like this.

I’ve blogged about my identity as a creative, an online persona, and just as a human being, several times before (here and here, and also on my old blog here and here). It’s obviously something I’m still working through, and that’s okay. Since working solidly on my painting with the goal of an exhibition, I’ve realised how much I am ‘in flow’ with painting; how easily it is able to transform what is inside me into a tangible product (exhibition details here if you’re in Auckland and interested in attending).

Reading Iris’ story has inspired me to do what comes naturally, and not feel apologetic: it is not selfish to dig deeper into myself. It’s helped me realise that intuitive art, à la Jackson Pollock, is real and true; I don’t need to have an intention or conceptual meaning before the work is finished.

Most of all, it has helped me realise that I am an artist (as a friend was trying to help me realise the other day). What’s interesting is that when I embrace the identity of being ‘an artist’, I feel a lot better about my writing as well. It doesn’t need to be excellent in the usual methods of judgement, because it is a creative work of art – not a traditional work of fiction.

So in all of this rambling, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve found my way home.

Also, expect to see a LOT more art in the future.

Zee 🙂