I was on social media a couple of days ago, scrolling through and admiring all the beautiful pictures and I thought, wow...this all looks so wonderful and...well, perfect (which of course it does, people usually only share their best images with us). And I thought, I wonder what my feed looks like to other people? It shows me painting in a nice studio, I share pictures of places I've been, my work in progress. I suppose thinking about it, to some people looking in it might look like a fairly peachy lifestyle going on there.
So it led me to write this blog post today, to share a bit from behind the scenes.
In real life, I live in a small terraced house, built in the late 1800s on the edge of a village near the Pennines (this is a vast area of wild and bleak moorland in the north of the UK). I often dream of living by the sea (and one day I will again) - the amount of people over the years who have asked me if I live at the coast is amazing - I'm guessing it's all the coastal work I've done that might make somebody think that, but no, we have a humble little house with a leaky back door and a broken gutter that for now, is home.
I try to organise my day as best as I can so that I'm making the best use of the time I've got before my daughter comes home from school. Some days are great, and I feel very efficient and on the ball. These are the days where I might do a couple of social media posts, and a bit of work in progress films for my Instagram Stories. I enjoy my days when they are full and rewarding, I like to cook and take walks, notice the small stuff like flowers blooming or a sudden sky full of swallows diving and swirling above.
Other days don't look like that. I sometimes struggle with fatigue and migraines, and instead of pushing through (as I used to) I have learnt to allow time to feel better and practise a bit of self care to replenish the energy levels. On days like that it can feel frustrating when all I want to do is crack on, but in the long run I know that a rest, a bit of yoga or a nice walk with my family will pay dividends.
I sometimes get anxiety or feel a bit flat, especially in winter. Winter is my nemesis and each year I try my best to navigate this difficult season as best as I can. In the last few weeks I have instigated a new routine of walking three times a week, whatever the weather. I tend to develop hermit like tendancies come January, but I am committed to keeping this up, and on really dark days will perhaps go swimming instead.
Some days, I don't have any inclination to paint at all. As I shared in last weeks blog, creative funks can appear out of nowhere and at first are disconcerting and the cause of much anxiety as I fret and worry over what's going wrong. Apathy is an unwelcome visitor and at times like this, the last thing I want to do is post pictures of my work, as I feel so detached from it! It's something I'm learning to handle, rather than dwelling there for too long, but it still knocks the wind out of my sails when it happens.
I have an eleven year old daughter who has just started high school. She is an absolute sun beam but like all children, has her own growing pains which need tending to. Family life is very rewarding but it can also be super challenging at times too.
Hurdles still show up for me, and they will continue to do so, because that's life. It's a journey of highs and lows, and we are always going to find ourselves in negative situations with people, or just with ourselves and our own state of mind as we go through life. These moments for me are not instagrammable, and to be honest, I wouldn't enjoy scrolling through my feed if it were full of depressing content! I like to feel inspired and uplifted by what I see.
These days I recognise when I need to detach from social and give myself some breathing space. I leave well alone for a bit and come back when I've got something positive to share. I'm not going to start posting super personal or depressing stuff on my social channels because I don't think it's professional or relevant to why I'm on there, my aim is to inspire people by what sharing what I do and how I do it.
I suppose the main message of this post is a gentle reminder that behind every photograph is a real person (even I forget sometimes as I compare my life with the photoshopped perfection that I see daily). Social media is a place where people share their best bits, and it's wise to remember that as we scroll.