When Life Gets in the Way

There have been some things happening in my life recently that have meant that I have not spent the time I want to in my studio. There are some big life changes coming. One thing that is happening is that I will be giving up my home studio so my mother in law can come live with us. It is the first time in 14 years I will not have a space to work in and I feel…vulnerable and sad. Don’t get me wrong, I give up the space willingly beause this is what is wanted and needed but I feel the loss of it very keenly indeed.

This was precipitated by a couple of accidents my Mother In Law had which means that she is now in hospital for awhile, prior to which we were visiting and caring for her on a daily basis at home…Now we are at the hospital everyday from morning to night and hospitals are not the most creative of spaces to be in. My days are a lot of note taking of medical concerns and understand health care systems, learning to navigate elderly care spaces and trying to be an advocate, helper and keep up the flagging spirits of someone who is in pain and feeling mentally low.

My family have been looking after the needs of my mother and mother in law (I often just refer to them as the mothers but that seems to confuse people into thinking I have two mothers who are in a relationship with one another) for many years now. The primary care of them falls on mine and my partners shoulders and since covid, we have noticed a steady decline in their physical and mental health. So we have been on call 24/7 with them for the last 3 years.

When their care needs are high, often my own work is put aside. Life gets in the way and and I find myself getting burnt out, resentful, teary, exhausted. Its really difficult to keep up the creative energy flow state when every ring of the phone startles you because it may be bad news or someone wanting you to do something for them on top of everything else you already do. Its hard to find your way into imaginative spaces when you are in a state of hypervigilance constantly.

While I am at the hospital, I have been finding moments to draw or read. Sometimes, if I forget my sketchbook, I draw in my medical notebook. I take art books in with me to flick through and read for inspiration. I find when I do this, I am more likely to be able to get through the long days without feeling like my whole life has been taken away from me. I don’t try to do any serious artistic work. I am not making huge life decisions about the way I want to take my art career or trying to write business plans. But indulging in imaginative drawings while my mother in law is sleeping doesn’t take away from time I need to spend paying attention to what is happening in the room and it helps me to keep practising my art skills in an easy and non pressured way.

I get to soothe that part of me that needs to express itself in some way through visual means. No-one is judging the quality of the work I produce, least of all me because this is not a space for perfectionism. This is just a space for taking my mind away from quite traumatising and hard to live through moments and into a moment of respite. I think when life gets in the way, having those moments of respite where I can sink into being who I am wholly and completely, is really important to my mental health and ability to cope.

There is always going to be something. Life is always going to find a way to get in the way. I think however, what I find helpful in this moment is keeping a vision in mind of who I want to be and where I want to be going and firmly walking towards that, even when those steps are small and shuffling.

P.S. Please note that I wrote this blog late last year and then life really got in the way and the blog about that is coming soon. My Mother in law is no longer in hospital…but…spoilers.

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