Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A Prescription for Happiness (when life gets tough)

Evening Light

I'm sitting in the coffee shop, and through the window I can see a blue sky streaked with long, grey clouds, it feels calm and yet although I committed to write a blog post each week I am sitting here struggling with what to write.

Sometimes it flows, other times it stalls.  Like today.  Maybe the best thing for me to do is to write about this, about what happens when our commitment to something wavers, or feels blocked.  What do we do?  How do we move forward from this almost crippling feeling of not being able to create something?  Why does it happen?

A couple of weeks ago I was firing on all cylinders.  I felt insanely happy, I had a positive mindset, everything was going well and I had ideas for new paintings that were literally coming out my ears.  I love it when I'm flowing in the momentum like this.  Crazy good stuff kept on happening, all the traffic lights were on green for me, I got great parking spots at the mall, life just seemed to feel easy and good the whole time.  I've cracked it, I thought - this is it!  

And yet, it wasn't.  Because a few days later I felt myself sinking, I felt a familiar panic rise in my chest, invisible fingers grasping to keep hold of that happiness which seemed to be dissolving...wait, I thought....don't go - I like feeling this way...but the feeling slipped away, and I was left in a soup of fatigue, feeling deflated and without motivation again.  In that moment I didn't know how to hold onto that positive vibe.  I didn't want to feel rubbish, I wanted to feel good the whole damn time!

So what caused it?  

I sat and gave it some thought.  A couple of situations within our family got a little tough over the last week.  We are coping with a recent bereavement (my partner's Dad passed away) and since the funeral, quite naturally so, my partner is really struggling to come to terms with what has happened.  My daughter also suffers with anxiety which leads to late nights where she cannot sleep...these things are going to take time to heal, but sometimes it feels harder to deal with them than at others.  All you can do is go on-wards and through, you cannot circumnavigate grief or an anxious child.

I have also noticed that my mood levels naturally wax and wane each month, and at certain times I am more alive and focused, when at others I succumb to nasty headaches, crave naps and feel sluggish.  I finished the painting that you can see at the top of this post, and despite having lots of ideas for the next, I found myself empty and staring at the blank canvas with no idea of what to put on it.

I found myself talking with my partner about that, about the feeling of panic that my positivity and motivation had gone for good.  He wisely reminded me that it was just a few days each month where I needed to be kinder to myself, to retreat and do what I needed to replenish and feel good again.  To listen to my body, to allow myself to nap, go a bit more slowly and so on. 

The ideas do come back, the positive feelings come back.  But we have to listen to our bodies and take time out now and then.  It's OK to do this - in our fast paced world where the focus is on achievement and perfection, give yourself permission to check out, take the nap, eat soup, go for a walk in the forest.  We seem to naturally give this advice to those we love, who need a bit of extra care, so why do we hesitate to prescribe ourselves the same healing medicine? 

Living a life committed to making your dreams real, creative or otherwise, takes stamina and patience.  It's not going to happen overnight.  You will hit peaks and you will descend into the troughs.  It's all part of the journey.  Accepting this and allowing yourself time to navigate the hurdles that life throws at you will make it so much more easier.  As I write all this I'm smiling to myself, because I knew this all along but I'd forgotten, in the midst of my low mood and panic, I'd simply forgotten.

So today, I'm finishing this post then I'm going present shopping for a birthday gift.  This afternoon I will cosy up with some good reading and a sketch book and see what happens.  I'll do some yoga before bed, and a meditation with Ravi Shankar to help me sleep better.  I can feel the fog is slowly lifting and I'm coming through - such a good feeling.  And I know that in a day or so I will be back in the studio, painting my soul out onto canvas, writing with perhaps more vigour than today.

Remember the light is always there, even in the darkest bits when it feels impossible, it's still there, shining and waiting.


  1. It is so nice to read your blog, as very often I feel myself slipping into a low mood..I do suffer from anxiety and dwell too long on things, but as you say " it's nice to realise that particular cloud is going". Hopefully your energy and enthusiasm will come back soon.

    1. Thank you Sue, lovely to hear that you are enjoying my blog - I think its easy to feel as if we are the only ones isn't it? I hope you're ok and thank you for your kind words xxx

  2. What a lovely blog. That has lifted me out of my 'wintery feeling blues'. I haven't picked up a paintbrush for months now...just totally lost my mojo. I sometimes think, okay, that's it, I'll probably never paint again, but I can't let it go. I think about it all the time. People like you inspire me to get up into my studio and do it! Thank you :) xx

    1. Thats lovely to hear, Im so happy that you feel inspired again!