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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Seeking Joy

"Joy is not in things, it is in us"
(Richard Wagner).

I love this quote by the German classical composer. It made me smile when I found out the quote was attributed to Wagner. As a child my father would play Wagner on the piano late at night as I lay upstairs in my bed. The dramatics and intensity of his classical piano pieces were not what I would call soothing bed time music. I was sent off to sleep to this music as if being sent off on some crazy, fast paced adventure promising danger, challenges and much tension. And I loved it! 

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend to a women's story sharing circle. I had never been to anything like this before. A group of a dozen or so women gathered together in a small room above a pub in Melbourne and sat in a circle taking turns to share their own stories on a moment of joy.  Being my first time in this circle I was asked before the proceedings started if I would like to share a story of my own. Although a little nervous I said yes. The stories these women all shared in this sacred circle told of moments of triumph, overcoming challengers, transcendental happiness, friends who made an impact on our lives and of life and death itself. What amazed me about all of these powerful stories shared was that the most profound moments of joy often comes from a moment of despair, grief, sadness and feeling lost. My own story came from the same space. I told of the moment I knew I had to change my life and look for another adventure to pay my bills. You can read about that moment in one of my earliest blog posts: All about me

This sharing of joyful stories came at the perfect time. I should preface this paragraph by noting that I am generally a positive person. I choose to share and focus mostly on what is going well and on the hope I have for my own dream path. The last few weeks however I have been searching about for my own joy and feeling dare I say somewhat disheartened. It's easy to forget how far I have come since making this career change and embarking on a life to call myself a working artist. Working as a freelance artist can be filled with uncertainty and doubt  - and a fear of how the rent will be paid next month! Recently a friend and I were discussing that being a creative is a little like being a frog in a large pond. We have to keep swimming and searching for those lily pads of opportunity. Sometimes a fog rolls over the pond and it's hard to know what opportunities lie around or near you. And sometimes you might think that you can see through the fog and so you swim towards what looks like a lilypad.  But often what you thought would be a lilypad ends up being nothing more than a floating piece of wood that you can't hold onto or sit on. It's the constant rejection and the search for the next "gig". My actor friends are always auditioning, my musician friends are alway trying to score gigs, my writer friends always looking to secure publishers and my illustrator and design friends are always pitching. There are times when you feel you have been swimming for an age desperate for a rest from all this uncertainty and just trying to keep breathing amidst the knock backs.  This constant seeking can make one weary and tempt you to give up on your dream. I have been lucky over the last twelve months on my journey in having lilypads of opportunity to leap onto. Some of these have come in the form of artist in residency teaching in schools, acting gigs (some corporate and some television work) and paid illustration and design commissions. I have never been without a contract or a client in the last year. This last month or so I have been however been floating back into the fog of the pond calling out for new opportunities and met with nothing but fog.

Pulling yourself out of the fog is not easy. 

Dr Seuss says it perfectly in my favourite of his books "Oh! The places you'll go"
"You'll Come down from the Lurch with an upleasant bump.
And chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. 
Un-Slumping yourself is not easily done".

Oh Dr Seuss. You know us all too well (after all you too were a creative). So the question for me is how to get out of this slump. And the answer for me is this: To accept the slump. To witness the doubt and fear and let it pass through. To keep making work and sending out my creations into the world. To come back to what brings me joy. Art. And the making of it.

I. Won't. Give. Up.

(Sometimes it helps to shout it out to the universe. Also to shout it out with a quick dodgy but colourful illustration).
So this week I decided to work on the illustrations that make me smile. Just going back to searching inside myself as to what makes me feel simple joy.   And for me that's usually puns. And flowers. So I drew two new punny designs (to read about my absolute love of puns in a previous post - Puntastic!) and decided to put two of favourite illustrations out into the world in a different form. 
So I have spent the week updating my Redbubble shop.

Here is a sampler of the puns:
(In keeping with my own personal fog)
I Avo Crush Available on all kinds of products via Redbubble

And here are the two floral designs. These illustrations I made for an Art Show last year and until now were just sold as limited edition prints under different titles. I have renamed them "Floral He" and "Floral She". I have them framed in my bedroom and they always make my heart smile. I decided to send them into the world available as not just prints but on apparel, duvets, mugs, stickers, cases and other awesome products.

So whats next?
Well I really don't know.
But I know I will keep going and seeking my dream path.
And be open for the moments of joy.
And right in this moment after writing all of this down I am realising.
I AM feeling the joy.


  1. Lou we all share the same story ;)
    We have to make tides to transform the pond into a lake

  2. Lou we all share the same story ;)
    We have to make tides to transform the pond into a lake

  3. Eli! So true. Hope your creativity is nourishing you and making you feel much joy lovely soul :-)