Hi there, I’ve been missing in action a bit since my last post where I finished off all guns blazing, determined that Chemo wouldn’t completely effect my life and then reality check, boom – here come the side effects!
I’ve been waiting to find a few hours where I feel ‘normal’ but it’s yet to happen so I’m trying to push myself to get on with it, before it all drives me slightly mad. I am hoping for the elusive ‘4 days of feeling good’ this week before the next treatment on Friday, so you may see a flurry of activity from me then,…we’ll see.
But, first of all, can I just say a huge thank you to the many people who read my last post and sent such lovely encouraging comments. I was well and truly overwhelmed by the response and also so glad that you appreciated the way I wrote it, i.e. with positivity and a dash of humour which was exactly the way I intended it to come across.
As I get used to this new way of life, it’s naturally drawn me back to my word of this year ‘Value’ which has now taken on a whole new meaning whilst I’m having treatment. I’ve never under-valued my life and always felt very lucky and grateful for the opportunities that were coming my way.
But I think when something like this happens and you’re going through chemo treatment, you don’t appreciate the real basic, normal aspects of life (explained later) that get cruelly snatched away from you, albeit temporarily, in order to make sure you live a long life!
So, if you are putting off starting a creative hobby, business or just joining a creative group, because ‘normal’ life gets in the way, then there are lessons to be taken from the path I’m on the moment, and really value where you are at and that ‘normal’ life is a gift of an opportunity, without I hope sounding preachy.
If at this present moment in time you are feeling good and energised, I can’t stress enough, to take full advantage of that. We don’t appreciate feeling ‘well’ enough or make the most of using that to channel our work or creative goals.
I’m completely guilty of this, it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut, humans are drawn to a regular routine, and often the path of least resistance but when that wellness and energy is taken away from you, you wish you’d done more with that time.
However if energy is lacking both physically or mentally it’s worth addressing this and consider what you really want to do, not just feel able to do.
For example; If your dream is to paint your favourite view on a hillside, requiring to carry your equipment up there, stand up most of the day, be able to stand the potential weather elements etc could you do that or would your physical fitness hold you back? And if that is the case, could you change that by getting some hill walking practice sessions in first?
Similarly, is your mind up to a challenge, or do you find it difficult to get rid of that negative voice chipping away at your confidence? Does it make you stop before you even start and completely put you off?
This is not an easy one to tackle and you may need help to re-programme that inner critic, by speaking to a good friend, coach or mentor. If the investment gets you out of that stagnation and moving forward closer to your dream, then it is completely worth it.
There are many creative ladies in our WOW group and we all support each other, especially when the inner critic kicks in
Life is busier than ever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build in some time for yourself. It’s all about priorities. You are just as important as every member of your family and if there is an imbalance of time devoted to other members and yourself then it needs addressing, or you’ll forever feel resentful and wonder ‘what if?’.
Many people I know now schedule their creative time or self-care time into their planner or diary, just like they do everything else, because it is that important.
It may be good to spend some time examining why it is so important to you – getting your thoughts down on paper makes it more real and actionable. Have it somewhere easy to hand to go back to when you need some extra encouragement.
If you find planning in time overwhelming then start off small and build up. Have a think about when the best time would be to do something, for example if you need complete peace and quiet, consider getting up 1 hour early one day, make a coffee and enjoy the peace whilst you create or if you are good at multi-tasking, whilst the kids are doing their homework on a Sunday on the kitchen table, set up stall next to them so you can do your creative activity whilst still answering the odd homework question.
This is the biggest dramatic change for me in this whole treatment process, more so even than how I feel physically. Because of the treatment I’m having and the type of cancer I have, i.e. a blood one (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) I am likely to soon become what is called Neutropenic, which basically means I’ll have no immune defence to viruses and bacteria. This means for at least the 6 months I’m on treatment that I can’t go to any public places for fear of getting an infection, which can then be pretty dangerous.
So that is the likes of supermarkets, cinemas, concerts, shopping centres, shops, restaurants, leisure centres, libraries etc etc. Bear in mind, most of the time I am out and about, at these places and all the creative groups I attend, I effectively feel like I’m now in jail and have a huge case of FOMO!
My last concert before the week before treatment, James Morrison at Sheffield
I love eating out! This is going to be hard!!!
I never anticipated that having cancer would effect my freedom so much, just knowing I can’t go to these places is a huge mental battle for me. I have a new level of respect for all people going through this and find myself trying to think of places I can go, but other than walks in the fresh air (typical that it’s winter!), driving about and visiting friends ‘infection-free-only’ houses, there really aren’t many options. And I know it’s to keep me safe but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Me in my ‘infection free’ car , although I’m not sure it is the state my kids leave the car in!
So, all those simple places to visit that we take for granted, my message is; DON’T! We are incredibly lucky to live in a western society where these simple pleasures are on our doorstep. My life prior to this was full of making the most of these opportunities; I’d go to art festivals, author events, art demos and workshops, craft markets, writing groups and photography workshops – all to get a huge fix of creativity that would inspire my work and meet like-minded people.
I’m going to miss art demos and festivals!
Plus, of course I’d run my own writing workshops and our bi-monthly WOW Wednesday, local community accountability group, both of which I can’t currently do, although I’m hoping to join our WWs via Face Time!
So, if you can, and want to, then do. Get out and use that freedom, take your wares to a public craft event to sell, check out trends on the high-street, extend your skills by attending workshops – don’t think, oh I’ll get around to doing that next year! You can just never tell what might happen.
As a creative person, I’ve no doubt you’ll also have creative friends, colleagues or social media creative people that you hold in high esteem. I also have no doubt that many of you think, how do they do it, I wish I could be like them, I wish I could really go for it / make it into a business, etc etc.
I myself have many of these people and many of these thoughts BUT also don’t underestimate the fact that other creatives will look at you in the same way and because of this, you too have the potential to be a good creative role model and by that I just mean, YOU ARE DOING IT, not just saying it! – you are actively pursuing your dream.
Creative people usually by their very nature start off timidly and seek reassurance, each person taking that leap encourages other people to do the same.
You don’t have to have the most amazing Instagram account or shop, the mere fact that you ARE USING YOUR TALENT is impressive enough, because creativity is unique. What you do is special and even if you don’t know that yet, many people around you will believe it is.
To me, (and feel free to slap me if you don’t agree on this) NOT using your talent or skill is a crime and a huge waste of what could be a key ingredient of living a full-filling life.
Look at it this way, if our children hear us going on and on about wanting to write or paint or play the piano but we don’t have the courage/time/impetus to do it, what do you think that is teaching them?
We tell kids all the time, they can do or be anything they want in life if they put in the hard work, but if we can’t be bothered to do that for ourselves for something we tell them that we are really passionate about, then what message is that sending to them?
We need to lead by example and make our kids and others proud of us in the process. Nothing makes me feel more a-glow than when my children say ‘Wow, that’s really good mum!’ when I show them a piece of art work or read them something I’ve written.
To go one step further, if you felt comfortable doing so, I’d say pass on that skill or talent you have via workshops, and spread the creative joy and well-being benefits further. It’s a very easy way that we can help people, through doing something we love.
I couldn’t get by at the moment without my support team; my family, close friends, new friends, far-away friends and social media friends are all cheering me through this and keeping me entertained!
It goes without saying to not only appreciate your support team but support them right back. Every creative I know needs encouragement, our work is incredibly personal and so it’s scary putting our work out there for the world to see but the more you do it the more confident you will get and you’ll grow the audience who loves your work too. Plus, you learn from other immensely talented creatives out there too.
I’ve been thoroughly spoiled with flowers, books and even a chemo care kit, all from my lovely friends and family…
The word ‘value’ means so much more to me now, and whilst I can’t fully practice what I preach on all the above, I hope sharing these insights, when the basics are taken away from you, boosts and encourages you all to follow those creative dreams whole-heartedly in the here and now!
Make the most of your passion, health, time, freedom and support team to get you going, I promise you wont regret it.
Please do let me know if this has resonated with you or has helped to get you started on your creative journey at all in the comments below and until next time, hopefully on one of those good ‘4 days!’ ….
Juliet, aka The Curious Creative x