I hope that you are snug and comfortable reading this.
It is a stinging cold, windy Winter here in Ireland, however I am enjoying January. December was not much fun. In fact, some days were so painful that I found them excruciating.
A sense of loss caused a tsunami of tears, and that water just kept on flowing. My core felt hollowed out. At one stage I told friends they’d need a canoe to come near me!
Grief and love
Crying is part of the healing process, and despite the grief of December, I am still here. Many people feel anguish at Christmas, while for others it is a season when depression peaks. Well done to everyone who, an emotional level, struggled through the month. You made it!
I won’t write any more about the passing of my loved ones for now. Let’s bring the focus back to creativity and some general January themes.
Art and wellbeing
As an artist I paint and write for myself, and as a curator I produce events for others (more about my current project below). Through paint, text, and mixed media, in my own work I am choosing to celebrate love, life, and healing this month.
Winter solstice rest
Around Winter solstice I took loads of rest. Marathon sleeps and spending a few hours alone every day helped me. My dad’s life had ended around solstice a few years ago, and I needed to find peace.
Everything begins in the dark. Despite the avalanche of emotions and memories, in time I knew that sorrow would stop leaning so heavily on me. Loving support waited for me, solid and patient on the riverbank, as I waded through a swamp of loss. Precious people! As I started to feel better, an idea for a new painting emerged.
Mixed media on paper 15cm x 20cm (detail).
Layers and stages
The painting I am working on for January is on paper. It is about 75% complete now. In daylight all the nuances can be seen, and I love being at this stage of the painting process, swept along by colour while at the same time I have to be careful not to over-work the piece and ruin it. At this small scale (15cm x 20cm) a painting is more vulnerable in many ways.
A happy January
I’ll leave you with a question: what does ‘happy’ mean to you?
To me, it equates with feeling comfy and content in my own skin while having energy to make art and write every day. These are my pleasures. Soul callings that have been present since childhood.
‘Happy’ to me, is simple by definition. Spending time with my beloved, my son, and friends sustains is, and yet I also need plenty of solitude. Last but not least, certain fluffy visitors add extra laughter to each day.
Goal-setting and gremlins
January has been commodified. The pushy, goal-setting messages are as predictable as cold rain and sleet.* I am not a project (and neither are you) to be tackled with a smiling ‘off to work we go‘ attitude and a set of tools every January. ‘New year, new you‘ my arse. Any kind of real change or evolution takes time, mistakes, and patience. It also requires you to commit, whether that is to your yoga, walking, study… there is no quick fix and certainly no finish line. We are all constant works in progress.
If you land on this post and you have found it impossible to keep the rigid rules imposed by yourself when you set new year resolutions, take heart. ‘Living your best life‘ is an over-used cliché, and having the basics is actually amazing. Survival is all that some people can aspire to at times. Anyone who is seriously struggling may forget that being alive is a miracle. Maybe we all take it for granted at times? I certainly have done.
Millions of people set goals in Winter, but very few sustain them. So what. We’re only human. Some people lean towards extremes and allow their cravings to take over completely, like a midnight-snacking gremlins running amok!
Should do, could do
If you look around, consumer culture is all about ‘doing’ more and spending more. It is a relentless broadcast of lists; things to do, things you should do, stuff that you could do…
In truth, Winter is not the ideal time for making major lifestyle changes. This is biology and common sense.
The gift of time
“Springing into action” is associated with a different season for some very good reasons. In Winter, I’ve learned over the last 15 years that to give myself the gift of time is the best thing to do. Some calm time to softly ponder your own needs could be lot more helpful than anything available in the January ‘sales’.
The light inside
So, what is it that makes you happy? It is not about ambition, it is about looking within. Try it and see.
Happiness is an inside job that starts with knowing yourself. It would be great if more people could do a little bit more of what makes them happy every week (once it’s healthy-ish and legal!).
For some people it’s a hard-core workout, while another may strolling in the fresh air, and someone else may enjoy baking or crafts.
As for me, I’ll continue painting and writing my way into Spring, enjoying being cois tine, and lots of early nights.
Current community project
For readers who appreciate writing, art, and variety ‘The Kerry Nest‘ exhibition may interest you. Get in touch if you’d like an invitation to the exhibition launch. You are warmly welcome to celebrate with us at the Kerry Writer’s Museum in Listowel.
Bye for now,
*Sleet usually falls in cold weather. It is rain that has frozen particles within that bounce on impact. If sleet falls for an extended period it can rest on he ground like snow.
People on my mailing list get to read more in-depth writing and see each new art series before it is added to the website. Every now and they they get entered into competitions and bonus gifts on purchases too.