Sleep, Baby, Sleep

“A lot has happened. It’s time to write about it.”

You’re right, WordPress email, a lot has happened. Lots and lots. Ups and downs. Clouds and sunshine. And something that has significantly altered life as I know it.

When I started this blog I’d thought to keep it related to my creative life. Stuff I create, stuff that inspires me, trials and errors and arguments with paint and what-not.
But what about when ‘other life’ and creativity collide? Would I go ahead and share personal stuff with the world? (That’s being optimistically broad, isn’t it? Ok, sharing personal stuff with you, wonderful readers I’ve never met.)

Well, I’ve arrived at that bridge, so here we cross…

Two weeks ago I had to say goodbye to my best friend: my four-legged best friend who actually picked me that day at the pound, just before Christmas, more than 15 years ago.
She was a skinny mutt with tiger stripes and a massive smile. It was love at first kiss (where kiss = a flappy-tongued assault on my face)

Fast forward through dog training years, learning to play fetch, destroying backyard plants, tearing up bean bags, and many a car ride with her big staffy head out the window.

Fast forward through injuries and recoveries, illnesses and health, walks in rain, storm & shine, and getting her own special ‘sparkle jumper’ for the winter months.

Time is both long and short; the living and the remembering. And time changes everything.

Last October we lost her ‘pound sister’, Kara, to a stroke, on a day of such magic – incredible synchronicities and happenings – you’d swear she knew her time was up and orchestrated the most amazing last day for herself.

Love for my girl, Tahni, doubled after that. But time, we knew, was getting shorter for her too.

Walks became shorter, dinners smaller. My active girl was wearing out. Well, her body was wearing out; her mind was determined as ever.

I knew I had to call it when she could no longer walk easily. The change came so quick. One week to the next. One day to the next. Legs that were weakening. Legs that couldn’t support her. One leg that became 3 times its normal size through fluid retention.

Neither of us wanted to let go.
But I know that both of us chose this lesson to learn, coming into our lives as we did. We chose to learn that letting go is really about allowing ‘mortal’ love to become ‘immortal’. Yet even this awareness needed a little extra nudge at the time.

One of the difficulties with this kind of decision is feeling it’s ‘right’. Right thing, right time. It was certainly the right thing to do. Love can endure incredible hardship, but I didn’t want that for my little girl, as much as she was determined. (She’d rarely let on if she was ever struggling, and didn’t like the fuss if you did find out! Must’ve been the 80% staffy!)

Right time? This one plays with your head a little more. The ups and downs of that last week provided both doubt and confirmation. But I guess sometimes we just want some other sign. Something beyond ourselves.

That sign came on Tahni’s last morning, on the special temporary lawn built just for her use.

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Some people believe that feathers are signs from angels. I don’t know where I stand on that exactly, but over the years I’ve experienced different fae magic so for me this came as a message of comfort and relief. (The way it sat up, we couldn’t miss it.)
It was the right time. All would be well.

A few hours later our wonderful vet arrived.
On her own bed, in my arms, I don’t think Tahn and I have ever held each other so close as in that last minute. Then she slipped into sleep and beyond, letting go of a body that, we learned, was more worn out than we knew.

This was my first big experience with grief, with having someone so close, then having to let them go. (Kara was close, but Tahni was closer for me.)
I’d expected the tears but not the extreme lightheadedness & cold symptoms as my body reacted physically to loss.

Time again became strange, detached. The world continued while my own stopped. Trapped in the circle of last moments, and thoughts and feelings that were unknown and raw.

How I found myself dealing with it though, was creatively.

I found solace in working with photos: editing, adjusting, arranging, and filtering. Another outlet was writing in the ‘Elvish’ language, Quenya. Call it engaging with the ‘magic’, or simply escaping into something both academic and creative at the same time (I’ve studied it intermittently since 2002). For me it felt like the right way to express my thoughts.

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‘Farewell my beautiful friend, you are my treasure and I’ll always love you. May you shine upon my path until our next life.’

Who knows what impels us to do things in certain ways? Who knows what frequencies we tap into at times of great emotion? And how the unseen things of the universe arrange themselves to comfort, teach and inspire through different channels?

The first 3 days were the hardest.
Even now I’m still adjusting. I’ve realised just how much my world revolved around her – for more than half my own life. It’s the physical loss mostly. I have enough of a psychic streak to have shared moments of connection since, so I know she’s fine. But the little things catch you at least once a day – the impulse to go and pat her, see her, even wave as I walk past where her bed was.

What can I say? She was a massive part of my life. Always will be.

So after these days and weeks of recovering, adjusting and redefining (I’ve never been without animals at home), I think I’m ready to get back into the swing of it. Creating n stuff.
We’ll see what mess I can make with my art supplies this week 🙂

Thanks for reading.

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The title for this blog comes from this beautiful song by NZ band, Broods. For me, it says it all.

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Moment of Truth

So after a week of scribbling, splashing, sketching & scanning (enough words beginning with ‘s’? I think so), I wrote my cover letter with the link to my new online portfolio, typed the publisher’s address and pressed send. [insert massive sigh of relief here]

I’d eventually got to this: (and a few others)

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After lots of this:

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I did it!
I submitted something.
I actually put something out there for the publishing powers to see.
Don’t know if anything will come of it. They’ll only get in touch if they’re interested. But hey, it was a great exercise in getting something organised, and crossing that threshold of will I/won’t I. I’d been meaning to do something like that for a while (by a ‘while’ I mean weeks… ok maybe months… alright, yes – years!) and this deadline finally got me looking lively about it.

Here follows an insight into the past couple of weeks, by way of an ‘Artist Heart Rate Monitor’ diagram, or emotional scale, with reference to causal factors. (Lab coat on for that sentence)

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It was indeed a little stressful.
The good news is, I survived. Not just survived, I came out of the experience with a realisation: I was doing what I love. It wasn’t just an idea any more, that I wanted to illustrate or at least make art. (All very romantic in one’s mind.) I was living it for a few days – essentially giving it a go, trying it on. And I liked it.

There’s always the chance that dream and reality don’t line up. What seems perfect in your head – what you imagine doing, feeling & being, with that lovely soft-focus lens of an ideal, may not translate to the mess, the tests of will and patience, and the frustrations of actual practice. But in this instance it felt right.

So now, in order to support concurrent addictions to chocolate, books, and art supplies (really, Kel, you need to stop – when you see that Sale sign just walk away, just say no! You can do it!) …oh, and other vital living expenses, I need to find ways of getting paid for said art.

A recent FB post from a well-known fantasy artist offered some encouragement about this very thing. She mentioned that artists/creatives today have the best opportunities to make a living off their work. Now, more than ever, with the internet, creative sites, online galleries, printers etc, we can get ourselves out there and sell directly to those who are interested, anywhere in the world. Pretty darn cool, right?

So that’s next on my list (it already was, actually, but I think it was bumped back when this other thing popped up). My new challenge: to not let this one slip from weeks to months to years. To get an online market stall up and running by… the end of the month (at the latest).
I think mentioning it here is giving me a sense of accountability, which I need. (A shout out to those who read/follow – thank yous! You’re keeping me honest) 😀

Back to last week’s big step though, I’m just proud of the fact I followed through. There were a few times when I questioned myself – am I ready? Is my work good enough? Is it cheating to use some older works? Will it matter that most of the ones I’m using are trading card size?

Then a flash of insight came through that told me: it’s not about what you do, it’s about you just doing it. Your lesson is in conquering your doubts and fears for this round (there will be many rounds throughout your lifetime). Knowing that you stepped up, stuck with, and succeeded where you otherwise might’ve chickened out. (I nearly did, during one particular fight with the watercolours, as time ticked down like it was riding a trolley downhill with no brakes.)

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I realised in the end I was doing it for me first, and for them second.
Of course, I would love to hear from them, and be accepted, and dive into the world of being published. It’d be an amazing bonus. But I say bonus because I guess I’ve already had a win. I’m happy with what I achieved in a short space of time.

So it’s done.
It’s gone.
And it’s here if you would like to see what I threw together 🙂
It’s a work in progress, as no artist is ever done, and I have much room to improve and expand.

One last little story I want to share, for anyone who is interested in ‘everyday magics’ (synchronicity, coincidence, and other fun things)…
This happened last night.
It was getting towards midnight, I was lying up on my pillow reading, when I notice a big mama house spider has joined me – on my shoulder!! Being Australian, of course these guys are dangerous, they’re on the second tier: ‘toxic’ rather than the first: ‘deadly’ (which is where dear little Arbie the Red Back sits). I tend to forget that though, and think of them as low risk, coz I like them. They set up camp on the edge of a window and catch flies and things (and toss the discarded bodies all over the windowsill when they’re done – I must have a word to them about that.)
Anyway, I see this big hairy ‘friend’ and have to think quick – a flick of the shirt gets her onto the bedcover, where she proceeds to crawl onto my open training bag. I grab a container and hold it in front of her, half expecting her to scuttle away, and ask her if she would please step in (yes, I talk to spiders). She obliged, without hesitation. (Spider-whispering is just another skill I offer.) Relocated outside, everybody’s happy.

Aussie black house spider; every home should have one.

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Afterwards, my thoughts went as follows: why might that happen? Creatures are messengers. Why a spider?

I had a new deck of oracle cards sitting on the bed which I hadn’t yet opened. They’re called ‘Animal Magic’, and come from Transference Healing. I’ve worked with them before but this was a deck I bought for myself recently.
‘Look up Spider,’ a thought urged.
I started working my way thought the plastic wrappers.
‘Wouldn’t it be funny if Spider was the card sitting on top,’ another thought added. I was already getting a funny feeling.
Finally inside, the bottom card was Unicorn, and the top card was… Spider. (!!)
So I turn to the book that gives info about the card, the meanings, etc. what I found was:
Spider = Creator
Reading through, the last line of the first page jumps out, “…she calls you to ‘create, create, create.'”

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Have I any right to doubt myself when things like that come through? Haha.
Life has some interesting ways of getting messages across 😉

Till next time, may some everyday magic brighten your day too!