In my bedroom hangs an unfinished painting.
Every night when I go to bed, I look at it and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It makes me think of..
is it the veil of a bride?
or is it a waterfall that covers up immense beauty still to be discovered?
or is it a hidden city where the buildings are rooted to the ground like plants with bridges leading to…I don’t know where.
Some days it makes me think of one of my favourite things. Rain. When it rains so much and hard that I can’t see through the rain-curtain that rolls from the roof. I don’t know what will be left after the rain. It’s so loud that I can’t hear what the person next to me says. It’s just me and the rain and what I know to be true behind the veil.
I wait to see what will still be true after the rain.
I search in anticipation to see what I need to see and then I fall asleep.
In waking up I fall in love with the piece all over again.
In love with the delicateness in the give and take of the colours that look different and new again in the light that the morning brings.
In love with the lightness that I feel.
In love with the little imperfections that reminds me that there is room for change.
That reminds me that nothing is permanent. Everything is permanent until it’s not. Not to me any longer.
After the rain, my truth (that always has room to) changes. I am no longer who I was before the rain. It’s a new day.
The girl sat and stared out of the window. It was still early, night was still deciding whether or not to open the door to day. In the background the washing machine gently rolled the to-be-washed-alone shirt around and around. “What kind of a life is one that has to be lived in isolation?” the girl wondered.
Scribbling away in her notebook to leave evidence that there was in fact a life being lived between the edges of photographs, the girl started to ponder about borders / no borders. Which option is the freer option? Sometimes borders – emotional borders, country-set borders, bank account borders – are set as freedom protectors.
Pondering and pondering about questions like these for days, weeks, months – the girl decided to rely on the idea that made her feel happiest on the inside. “The idea that freedom lies within borders, tend to be driven by fear”, she thought and she decided that the idea of “My sky is your sky is her sky is his sky” felt much more bright-eyed, open-hearted, open-armed and definitely promoted hugging on a regular basis.
She felt relieved about her conclusion and pondered about it no longer.
Taking Flight by Liesel Beukes
Have you ever heard of the ten-year-old mayor that solved the riddle of the crying umbrella? Well, it’s a true story – a friend of a friend saw the umbrella with her own eyes.
The town of Onki-O used to have a normal “moustache”-aged mayor (if you know what I mean). The people loved their mayor and the mayor loved his people. One day, an umbrella flew into town with the cunning old northern wind that lived for creating chaos when there was too much peace around.
The umbrella was a pinky red, almost like the colour of a man’s face when he knows that he is in trouble. Something was strange about the gift from the northern wind. It didn’t take the people of Onki-O long to figure out what it was: It rained from within! It cried!
As the days went by and the trees changed colour, the town of Onki-O grew sadder and sadder with the sobs coming from the umbrella. This was a big concern for the mayor. When even the children of your town stop laughing, something MUST BE DONE!
The mayor has tried everything.
First he tried to hang the umbrella over the river to let the tears flow away with the river, but the fish became so sad that there was no more dancing on the water.
Next the mayor tried a street corner near the best bakery in town that promises “Our fragrant bread brings a smile to a head”! My, oh my! Within a month the merry bakery turned into a blues café!
The mayor then considered bottling the tears, but the idea got not one, but five “REJECTED!” stamps all over the paperwork by SWADRA (Sad Water Drinkers Anonymous).
The mayor has puzzled and pondered and pondered and puzzled. His advisors had no more advice, his councilors no more council and his gurus no more guru.
So he did what any caring mayor would do. He set out a “Wanted!” poster that read:
“Solve the puzzle of the umbrella that cries
and become the next mayor as your prize!”
This was a puzzle-O to the whole of Onki-O. Everyone tried to find a solution and every day the mayor listened to a hundred more failings. Just as the mayor thought that burning the umbrella seemed the only way, a little boy pulled on his jacket.
“Mr. Mayor, I think I might have a solution.”
The mayor that likes kids to know that they are taken serious, goes down on his one knee to listen to the boy.
The boy started to explain: “If water flows downwards they form tear-drops that brings sadness. When water flows upwards it brings happiness in the form of a fountain. I think that the umbrella doesn’t want to be an umbrella. I suspect that she wants to be a fountain. I believe that she cries herself into a puddle because it lets her see a reflection of herself like she would most want to be seen.”
The boy turned the umbrella upside-down and there was an immediate switch to happiness – the umbrella fountained, the fish danced again, the children laughed again and the whole town was happy.
The bakery stayed a blues café, because the sad-happiness of the music reminded the people of Onki-O that looking a certain way, don’t make you a certain way.
How true these words have been for me this year!
In 2009 I married a wonderful German guy and in 2010 I joined him in Germany. In my eyes moving to another country isn’t exactly easy. As a part of the residency requirements I was lucky enough to attend German school, where I met some wonderful new people. We continued German classes at my house afterwards. Living in a new country where you only partially speak the language is quite intimidating; everything in your life feels insecure. At the time I was studying accountancy, but somehow I lost my way and my whole body seemed to rebel against it. You know how it is when you’re supposed to be studying, but you can’t pick yourself up from the couch, you just lie there miserably with ZERO motivation. This was quite a challenge for someone like me, who prides myself on never giving up… a very important lesson! Sometimes it’s okay to put something aside and sometimes it’s even acceptable to quit! Before I studied accountancy I studied art. I then started my own business in South Africa before the move to England. During the six years I lived in England I experienced the most devastating creative block ever which in my suspicion is how I ended up working as an accountant and studying accountancy.
Strangely enough my creative block seemed to slowly fade, with the time that I had on my hands, here in Germany.
New Year’s Eve 2010. Normally my sister and I would have a little ritual, where we would write down all our resolutions for the New Year and evaluate the one’s from the year before to celebrate or mourn its fruition. This year however, with my sister being in South Africa and my new German friends not being that interested, something else came along. In Germany, on New Year’s they play a game called Bleigießen (Molybdomancy in English). It is a game, where you melt a little tin/lead figure (e.g. a horse shoe) in a spoon over a candle and then you drop it into cold water to see what shapes it make. Mine formed a dung beetle with five balls of dung! I couldn’t wait to get home to Google the significance of dung beetles. I found that they do have quite an amount of followers. With its importance in nature and its sacred status among the ancient Egyptians, I decided that this wasn’t a bad sign at all, and there and then decided that each of the 5 “dung” balls would represent a project for the year. I keep this on my desk to constantly remind me of my goals.
Dung beetle and five balls of dung
I asked my husband, if he would like to join me in working through Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way”, and to my surprise he agreed. This was so lucky for me, because though I am persistent, I am not always that consistent, which is what you need to be to write your morning pages for twelve weeks in a row. My husband has this super quality of just getting on with it and getting things done. (“Morning pages” consists of writing three full pages of ‘stream of consciousness writing’ first thing in the morning, every morning, for the whole 12 weeks of the program.)
I decided to ease back into my creativity slowly and made “One step at a time” my motto for the year. When I didn’t know what to write in my morning pages, I just kept writing “One step at a time, one step at a time”, until I had something to say again. By June I have completed twelve paintings and I held my first solo exhibition, my husband and I have partly completed a children’s book and I am in the process of designing a new illustration range. The books that absolutely supported me through the process so far are The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachery. The first one helped me deal with my creative block and the latter kept me going. Super inspiring!
I am so excited that I am able to practice my first love as a full-time career…one step at a time…savouring the journey.