A-Z Challenge: H is for Hobby

Painting as a hobby unsettles me, but I honestly don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Painting unsettles me in the sense that part of me just wants to find (and stick to) a comfortable format that works for me so that I can do it successfully and feel good-enough about it, basically building the ability to churn out multiple variations in a similar style in a satisfactory creative cycle of rinse-and-repeat. Yet deep down another part of me always wants to keep on trying something more, keep moving forward by learning new skills and new techniques rather than just settling for what I can already do, what I’m already comfortable with achieving.

There’s an internal restlessness and a curiosity in me that questions the wisdom of sticking blindly with the self-limiting safety of familiarity. Instead it seems I want to keep pushing my creative boundaries beyond my comfort zone because however hard I find it to do, I know that ultimately, constantly challenging myself to try new things – deliberately unsettling myself time after time – stops me from stagnating in life…

For this year’s April Blogging through A-Z Challenge I’ve decided to follow the art-inspired theme of me, now in my 60th year, exploring and experimenting with how to paint using acrylics, gouache and watercolours. After a couple of false starts this is a relatively recent journey I began in earnest a few months ago. So far it’s been an even split between fun and frustration, getting to grips with all these new painting skills, but I’m determined to keep going with it this year and see where it takes me… 🙂



Typically, on the day I’ve posted ‘F is for Fear of Failure’ in my A-Z Challenge about painting, I find I’m stressing about a particular painting in progress that may actually be a potential fail.

Ironically, part of the reason I’m so stressed about this particular painting is because it’s supposed to be getting done for my A-Z post tomorrow, and the added stress of feeling the need to paint a ‘good’ painting for sharing on my blog is basically making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

And as if to add insult to injury the A-Z guys have helpfully posted ‘F is for Fun’, reminding us that the challenge is always supposed to be fun… Ha! They are, of course, entirely correct…

So today I feel a bit dismayed and disappointed with myself that I’m letting it all bother me so much. It’s a painting, that’s all. Pigment put onto paper with the help of a brush and a little water. And I’ll either work out a way to make this one work, try to paint it again, or I’ll paint something else instead.

Oh yeah, and I’ll also remind myself to get a life, too! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Dismay

It’s Complicated…

I seem to have a very complicated relationship with painting…

It’s one of those life things that should ideally be quite straightforward at my age – I like the idea of painting, and right now I’m lucky enough to have both the time and the money to play about with experimenting with painting, so what’s the problem?

The problem, of course, is me. Because painting for me isn’t just painting, it’s a veritable button-pushing exercise in psychological angst. The whys and wherefores of it all, still partially-buried in the long-distant past, are certainly explored and unraveled but not, it seems, quite yet fully overcome.

What should happen – what I’d love to happen – is that I simply decide to paint, I get out my painting stuff, and I just paint whatever I want to paint just for the fun of it. What actually happens is the equivalent of an entire Shakespearean soliloquy inside my head in which I replay my entire not-good-enough back catalogue of reasons telling myself why I’m going to fail.

So when I do actually get round to doing some painting, it’s not just painting, it’s a Big Deal for me. It’s me overcoming my fears and dealing with the inevitability of failure, which I’m really uncomfortable with and is a hugely persuasive reason for me not bothering to try in the first place.

But I’m going to be 60 this year, and enough is enough. Nobody else on this planet cares if I’m good or bad or indifferent at painting, only me, and that’s just how it should be. And one thing’s for sure, I’ll never get any good if I don’t try, and keep on trying. And then try some more.

So as I said, I seem to have a very complicated relationship with painting…

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Complicated

Just Breathe…

I don’t know why I get depressed. Or at least, I don’t always know why I get depressed.

Sometimes it’s a reaction to something – like right now, I’ve recently been made redundant and it’s left me feeling very vulnerable and a bit lost, so perhaps it’s not too surprising I’m struggling a bit emotionally at the moment, up and down in mood, frustrated and fearful and tearful at the drop of a hat.

But at other times there’s no real rhyme nor reason to it, yet I start to feel the familiar tensions and anxieties that are the precursor to a full-blown depressive episode and so I try harder to force my everyday life activities to over-ride that restless black void hovering so close on the periphery of my vision.

Sometimes that avoidance strategy works, my mood starts to lift before I descend into the darkness and all is well, but at other times I realise with sadness I’m already there, being sucked down silently into the welcoming blackness in a well-oiled elevator with no emergency stop button.

Once I’m at the bottom, I stop fighting it and just throw in the towel. The panic subsides, a lost cause in a chasm of despair. Like being sucked into emotional quicksand I just keep emotionally still, force myself to relax as best I can, let it all flow under me and over me and all around me and envelop me.

I am surrounded in thick black fog and yet I can still breathe, so I just do that – I breathe. I keep calm and hold my heart safe and instinctively feel my way through, going about the barest minimum of everyday activities of life as best I can, until eventually the darkness recedes and the light returns and I find myself free again, until the next time…

JusJoJan/ SOCS: Throw in the Towel

Reflection and Contemplation

This week’s Weekly Prompt asks if we find the stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter boring?

In general, even though I don’t personally like to participate in the harried extremes of it all I still find the social and cultural norms of the expected frenzied lead-up to Christmas and New Year far too chaotic and stressful for my liking, and usually I’m just quietly relieved when it all calms down again and life can return to normal. So as a rule I don’t find this time of year boring at all, instead I find it peaceful, something to look forward to. For me there’s always something comforting in being able to take our foot off the gas en masse and just idle along from one cultural calendar hot-spot to another.

In particular, though, I was made redundant from my part time retail job on 6th Jan this year, so rather than have everything return to normal I’m currently dealing with the imposed-upon change of being a full-time housewife again for a while. It may be a bit early in the year to think about spring-cleaning but for now I’m really enjoying clearing out cupboards and sorting out the cumulative detritus built up from last year. We also have some (more) major DIY projects to undertake in the house this year, so I’m getting into the swing of things with preparation and planning for that.

I’m making a point of being creative too – our new crochet blanket is coming along nicely. It’s probably going to be finished too late for making the most of it over this winter, but it will be perfectly in place in readiness for the next. It’s nice to be able to sit quietly on the sofa, warm under the weight of the blanket being made, without feeling guilty about the time spent ‘doing nothing’. I truly enjoy spending time at home, and I’ve been cooking some of the more time-consuming dishes it can be difficult to fit around working patterns, which is lovely to be able to do.

So all in all I don’t ever find this time of year boring – I find it a time of reflection, of contemplation, of emotional feeling and healing. A time to catch my breath, to hunker down and hide from the world legitimately, balancing out the busyness of the end of the last year, building up and banking my store of smiles for social interactions that will inevitably be spent during the following seasons’ outgoings… nope, definitely not boring at all 🙂

Stuff I Worry About

Today’s inbuilt WordPress Daily Prompt asks ‘What could you do less of?’

Ah, good question… The immediate answer for me is probably ‘Worry…’ because I have to admit I’m a bit of a worry-addict…

There is a part of me that tries not to worry so much. I try to logicalise and rationalise everything and remind myself that as so much of what happens in life is totally out of my control anyway, then why worry about it? The past cannot be changed, the future hasn’t happened yet, the present moment is all we have. We are where we are, what will be, will be… We have to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are.

But there is another part of me that constantly contradicts that wisdom, the illogical, irrational part of me that fights against such zen-like flat calm. Surely if I just tried harder I could do better, make things better, feel less nothing-y? So I worry about feeling not good enough, and about feeling guilty for being not good enough, and I worry about whining about it and feeling pathetic and weak and nothing-y.

I worry about getting old and infirm, I worry about getting to the end of my life and regretting not having done the stuff I want to do while I still can. Not flights of fancy stuff, real possible stuff that is realistically within my grasp if I only find the courage to reach out and grab it. But I still worry too much about being judged and found lacking, and I worry that worry stops me from getting on with it all before it’s too late…

So I suppose I worry most about tying myself up in knots so tight I can’t get myself out of a worry-straight-jacket of my own creation, bound up in an emotional shroud of fear that pins me down so effectively I spend the last couple of decades of my life in a self-imposed mummified decay, watching the rest of the world go by without me… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘dict’

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Question

Weekly Prompt: Flight


I have boundary issues, in that I find I’m not very good at setting normal interpersonal boundaries between myself and others.

I do understand how it’s supposed to work, and I do understand how and why I have these issues, but what’s not so clear to me is how to fix it fully, once and for all. I do my best, but what tends to happen is that when things get too much for me and I feel totally overwhelmed I find I put up solidly serious emotional barriers and simply withdraw from people, which sadly can feel a bit like rejection to those I love…

I’m hopeful I’ll eventually find a way to fix this issue so that I have a more positive sense of self with normal boundaries between myself and others, even if I do have to go back to therapy to find a solution… 🙂

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Boundary


I hold tight on this flawed fairground ride
In a maelstrom-bound fast-rising tide
Fear just won’t go away
Gains more power each day
Keeps me taut as a wire inside

How much pressure-warped time must elapse
Before internal tension just snaps
Things spin out of control
Panic drowns out my soul
And my hold on life starts to collapse

Without warning I feel myself fall
Lose my balance with sickening pall
Like some nightmarish dream
Things are not what they seem
My reality nothing at all…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Warning

Word of the Day: Elapse