I have been set the challenge this week to spend 7 days focussing on gratitude, which is one of my favourite things to do. It makes you take a moment to really appreciate what you have in the midst of the bustle and hustle of everyday life. I can easily get caught up in the challenges of parenthood, work, running a business, and the million things I have to think about in planning our around the world adventure, so this is timely.
I did a similar challenge to this a year or so ago, and focussed on people, which is an obvious focus because it is after all the people around you who have the most impact, we are relational creatures after all, so this time I wanted to think a little bit outside the box, but also relate it to our upcoming adventures.
Yesterday was Day 1, and I gave thanks to my Husband, because without his inspired idea, we wouldn’t be planning for this adventure. I totally tried to close him down, and had he asked 2 years ago before I did any self development, I would have succeeded, but thankfully it put a seed of curiosity in my head, and I have learned to listen to those seeds. This morning I started to consider what else I was grateful for and I floundered as it was just people that kept popping into my head, my Son, my Mum, our wider family and our friends. Think differently Mand, get those creative juices flowing, aaaaaand Bingo!!
So today I am going to be grateful for my imagination, creativity and love of the arts, something that I have relied on to get me through some difficult times.
It has allowed me to really appreciate art in it’s many forms, given me the freedom to get lost in music, moved me to tears when watching a dance performance, given me a break from myself when immersed in ‘creating’, boosted my awkward teenage self confidence when I discovered my love of design (and that i was actually quite good at it). When I listen to opera, it takes my breath away, quite literally. When I watch an Argentine tango, I often catch my body secretly moving along with it, like it has it’s own will, in fact any latin music does this to me, so I’m looking forward to finding the sensuous latin diva within when we hit South America!
When I watch ballet I feel such utter joy at the precision of the performance and the beauty of their bodies, the costumes, the elegance and recall that time back in Leeds when I got the opportunity to work as a ballerina dresser for the English National Ballet, an absolute dream come true. Watching at the side of the stage as they performed Swan Lake is a memory I will always, always have with me.
I am a visual person, we have quite the creative streak running through our family, and I did study photography for a while when I lived ‘Oop North’, so I guess that’s why Instagram is my social media platform of choice. I see things as images, and I remember things as images, and as such I am eternally grateful for my sight. My Grandad was a photographer, and I guess this is where I get my passion for it, and looking forward to taking his 1960’s Pentax film camera on the road and teaching Freddie how to use it. Sadly Grandad got glaucoma later in life and it blinded him. It was downhill from there for him and clearly, like me, sight was one of the most important things for him. To lose it was to lose such a big part of who he was.
Essentially, Art in it’s many forms moves people, it inspires and provokes. It can be used as communication, satire and activism. It can challenge and shape perceptions, or it can evoke emotions and be aesthetically pleasing. It tells stories, stories which can be different for each person that views or experiences it. It can be cathartic and help people to make sense of, or move through difficult times in their lives. It is in the human spirit so it will always ‘be’, and whilst many artists are made through education, many more are born, inate, creative beings to be celebrated.
A couple of years ago, Johan and I went away to Prima Vera festival in Barcelona. It’s our one and only holiday together in the 6 years we’ve been a team. For Johan, music is his thing, he is extremely passionate about it and cannot go a day without having music in his life. At that festival, we went off together to watch Anthony & The Johnsons, live, a dream come true for us as a couple as our musical tastes are often at odds but with this band, we connect. And you know what, we both just stood there and cried like a pair of douchbags. So here it is for you to enjoy, alomst exactly where we were standing, hugging and sobbing. What moves you?