It’s edging up to the end of my year-long fellowship – time to reflect on just what I have done, the skills I have gained and the learning I have gained. There has been a lot so probably best to think of it in seasons…
The Autumn was indeed a time of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
A two-week residency teaching me about honesty, integrity and authenticity. And that I don’t have to like everyone all of the time. And that things are complicated – at best, many people are just muddling through. Just like me. Kind of reassuring and unbelievably scary at the same time.
One of my main challenges at this time was the voice in my head saying ‘why me?’ and doubting the validity of my place at the table. Actually, it wasn’t so much in my head – it took over my mother who, on reading the biographies of the others attending, asked ‘have they made a mistake? Could they still ask you to leave?’
And I also heard a phrase: the ends don’t justify the means, which has resonated for me through my whole year.
A focus on my digital presence – through work with the marvelous Sinead MacManus and 8fold – resulting in setting up this blog and finally getting to grips with Twitter, Linked In and Facebook. Also leading to blogging for Huffington Post and other sites, and an excellent, resource rich online course called Creative Entrepreneur Roadmap (Lateral Action) with Mark McGuinness getting me to look under the skin of what I want to do and work out exactly how I can do it better in the future. Just watch me next year as I take these lessons further and develop my business.
I went to Budapest and became reunited with politics as a puppeteer of culture. Became drunk on experiences as well as schnaps with a programme of cultural activities that astounded – well, all but the ballet. And met my coach.
My coach – Isabel Mortimer – the highlight of my journey this year. Pushing, challenging, laughing, niggling, coaxing, forcing me to confront myself. In many ways the only journey any of us need to go on is the one that takes us inwards. It’s all there. Why we want what we want. Why we stop ourselves from getting it. What we could do if we let ourselves. She’s given me the question I am taking out of this year – what would it mean to be audacious?
And a book. Alongside my fellowship I have been reading many books but one really stands out. Now watch out – it sounds a bit hippy, but stick with me. It’s called Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman and is by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Like the coaching, it’s made me reflect inwards, and through the power of story and archetypes it’s enabled me to dig deep and find elements of myself I thought I’d lost. Big claim for a book. Just read it yourselves.
I’ve also attended some amazing events including Culture Hack North in Leeds which showed me just what could happen in a short space of time if people shared a common goal and had a fair wind behind them. I’ve discovered a love of live art – thanks to the Live Art Development agency and various practitioners, and I’ve also spent time with some of the others on their fellowship journeys, in particular Laura Kriefman – helping me loosen and play, examine the minutia and also feel exhausted (I truly believe Laura lives on a different time plane where each day has three times the number of hours in it) – and also Micheal Trainor – helping me tackle the big ones – what is art, what is an artist and what is art without meaning?
Next time… winter and spring.