Monday, 22 July 2013

Mid-Life... crisis or natural transition?

A change is coming upon me. A life change. A lifestyle change.

Is this what is called, “mid-life crisis”?
It certainly happened mid-life. Or more correctly, around fifty. I doubt that it’s the middle of my life, as I doubt I’ll reach a hundred… and anyway, do I want to?

But, “crisis”? I've always thought the word to mean a violent disruption. Not sure if I like the word itself. I think I prefer, “transition”.

A turning point in a lifetime of re-routes.

I’ve read that, “the midlife crisis is an emotionally uncomfortable period that men and women go through between the age of 45 and 60”.
And is, "a dramatic emotional upheaval in a person's life".

I dunno. I don’t feel, “emotionally uncomfortable”. Just, different.

Not everyone experiences it. This change. But I guess, those who undergo an internal change, handles it in their own way.
And, we’ve all heard the stories of what some people do at this time in their lives – often involving fast cars, Harley Davidsons and/or members of the opposite sex.

Is it a condition exclusive to the modern/first world?

I don’t seem to recall stories of my older European family members ever mentioning it. Their countrymen lived in sparse surroundings and toiled the fields all day with horse and plough, right up into their seventies – and some even beyond.
They often recalled being happy within their communities and simply grateful for fresh water, good food in their belly, a roof over their heads and warmth from the fire to keep the winter cold and wandering wolves at bay. And prayed for a long, happy, healthy life.
They recalled peaceful lives. Difficult at times, but peaceful.

That was before “the war” that is. Then, their world literally went to hell in a hand basket.

Many of their loved ones were killed. My own grandfather shot in front of his youngest daughter, my mother. Their simple homes destroyed. Their beloved homeland politically torn asunder. Their lives never to be the same again.
The “lucky ones”, fled their oppressors to become refugees in foreign lands.
Displaced Persons.
The thought of a personal “crisis” in their mid-lives would be a luxury to even consider, when self preservation and protection of their families was their main - only - objective.

But, I digress as I ponder such things. And, I feel a sense of guilt that I even bring up the subject of my post.


As I approached this (my fiftieth) year, I felt something within me shift. The need to simplify. To pare back the superfluous in my surroundings.
The need to accumulate “stuff” dwindled. 
Is it a natural progression of ageing? Knowing on all levels that, “you can’t take it with you when you go”?
Or, am I simply more content to have less in my life and that what I have, has purpose? 

The catch cry is to, “de-clutter”.

I find that my head is so busy with happenings in my life, that I don’t want my home surroundings to reflect busy-ness.

The dichotomy is, that I create “stuff” for people to buy. It’s my income – one that I depend on. I love making what I make. And people happily buy what I make.
But I sometimes consider that I am contributing to consumerism. Not to the “greater good”.
And it does my head in.
And I have more guilt.

Ahh, guilt. “It’s such a euro thing”, hubby tells me. He is a laconic Aussie male who considers it to be a wasted emotion.
He reckons that when I’m old, I’ll be in my rocking chair, with a shawl over my head, wringing my hands and worrying about the woes of the world – that I can do nothing about.

Sigh. It isn't easy living with me. He has good humour and the patience of many saints :)

For years, I bought things and stuff. Whatever caught my eye and my fancy. Mostly not expensive, but also, mostly not necessary décor items. Being easily distracted by shiny, glittery things in magical, mystical shop windows.
Perhaps, I put it down to the need to surround myself with distractingly pretty items after a lonely childhood of neglect and abuse from alcoholic parents.
I don’t blame them (now). They were victims of circumstance. And maybe one day here, I might elaborate on that story further.

But, it was hard for me nonetheless and, even years after running away from leaving home, stuff seemed to fill a void – yet, it never satiated.

I also surrounded myself with broad, bold splashes of colour. Everywhere.
Every home hubby and I lived in, matched the interior of my artist’s paint box.
Blocks of outrageously painted walls and richly toned, riotous fabrics and furnishings. What felt “right” in those days, not so very long ago, seems somehow jarring to me these days.
Distracting even.

I feel I don’t require a cacophony of colour surrounding me as much as I used to.

Although, I have to say, my language remains as colourful as ever, haha!

And I'm always thinking in a kaleidoscope of hues – mostly of the glazes that seem to sell well at markets and festivals. Clay work is never far from my thoughts.
And, trying to keep my studio “clutter-free”, is a losing battle for me :)

I seriously doubt that I, myself, will ever be beige. My nature is too fiery to be permanently, ummm, sedate. And, I’m not into a pristine, pure, all-white décor - seeing as I allow dog/s to have the run of the house and thus, furniture :)
Colour in one form or another will always feature in my life – I am after all, an artist. Carmine red and alizarin crimson flow through my veins as surely as blood does.

Though, it seems I crave a more peaceful (neutral) palette at home. And, “stuff” doesn’t seem to capture my interest as it once did.
Now, I seem more entranced and captured by the simple fluttering of autumn leaves as the wind shakes them down to the ground – a shower of buttery golds and flaming reds, catching the light as they twirl and zig-zag their way ever so gently to the ground.
And I marvel intently at the flashy red and green plumage of the King Parrots that come to visit.

Nature's colourbox.

In a world where traffic congestion is worsening, huge shopping centres replace the family run corner stores and greedy corporate giants, like McDonalds, sadly smothers yet another long established eatery that provided locals with “real” healthy food, I yearn for a sanctuary where I can close the door and seek a sensory solitude, free from excessive noise and visual clutter.

Calm amidst chaos.

My busy mind craves quiet surroundings. And, functional, honest items and materials that serve a purpose, yet are beautiful in their form. Where everything - well, most things - have a reason for being.

A wooden table, uncluttered but for a simple jar of flowers.
Clay or wooden bowls, made by hands, not mass produced, to be vessels for soup, cereal or fruit.
A garden filled with herbs - for health and healing.
Robust second hand furniture with character.
And linen. Pure linen. Simple, honest, natural.

It also seems the fibres of my being long to reacquaint with the flaxen fibres of my European heritage. Yeah, corny I know. But, something… ancestral, calls to me.
A land of quiet, cold, crystal clear lakes bordered by tall dark pine forests. Where the cultivation of flax, and methods of manufacturing linen of exceptional quality go back centuries in my mother’s “old country”.

A beautiful vintage fine linen tablecloth, given to me by my aunt years ago at my wedding, enticed me to learn the history of this long regarded, deeply traditional textile which is commemorated in folk songs and annually held celebrations.

I made a pledge to myself that, as our old bedding (cheap poly-cotton) wears thin, which some seem to do very quickly, I would save to replace it with “real” linen with a homespun feel - there's something about the old-fashioned textural quality.
Purchasing a few items at a time, when I can afford to. Piece by piece. Each hard earned, making them all the more precious and appreciated.
And these durable linens will (hopefully) outlast me by many years, such is their quality. Heirlooms of tomorrow.
Oddly somehow, this seems important to me.

The other day, a small linen sample arrived from “the old country”. To see and touch before I buy. And, almost instinctively, I smelled the package. As if I could somehow instantly connect and be transported by drawing in the essence of its origin.
Is this inherent? For, I watched my son do the same as I passed it to him hours later when he came home.

As for many other items in my home, there will be a gradual culling. Garage sales and donations to op shops will find homes for them.
Hubby is most pleased about this decision by the way. “Less crap to cart around when it comes to moving”, says he.
As long as he has somewhere to put his road and mountain bikes and a workshop for his tools, he'll be happy.
And move we will, in the next couple of years. To a smaller dwelling, who knows where – yet to be determined.

Another good reason to reduce the non-essentials in our life.

Of course, there will be a few pieces that will sneak their way into a “sentimental” box. A small selection of irreplaceable things from hubby, my mother and dear friends.
I know. Memories are irreplaceable and need not be represented by things. But, for now at least, I’ll keep one box that has special contents.

There will always be a small collection of my art – like hand painted birds on tiny rustic wooden “canvasses”.
Books that transport me to far off places to meet old friends.
Chimes. I’ll always have my wind chimes.
My apothecary cupboard, brimming with herbs for ailments and concoctions of cures.

It doesn’t seem like a complete conversion to minimalism. And it isn’t. But for one like me, it is quite the transformation.

[sim-pluh-fahy] to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier.

Years ago, I read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and I fell in love with this man’s philosophy on simplicity. Certainly not his own original idea, but one he espoused so very well in his writings, that he captured the hearts of millions. And continues to do so with each generation.
Even back then, what he wrote, spoke to me and seemed right. A seed planted. Waiting for germination, once the rubble had been cleared away and light penetrated the dusty layers.

I guess by simplifying, I’m trying to make some things in my life less complicated in this increasingly complex world.

This may come as a surprise to those who know me personally. Who’ve been in my homes and shared my life.
It comes as a surprise to me too.

I can look back and enjoy the memories of my phases in life and I don’t regret a minute of my bold creative expressions that resulted in life-size illustrations painted across entire walls.
Like huge story books.
I thought at the time, that I would always paint large emerald green dragons over doorways wherever I would go!

But, I’ve lived long enough now to know that change is inevitable.
In any form.
At any time, not just mid-life.
It can sidle up to you quietly and gently coax you into going a different direction, or it can hit you like a freight train at 100mph, derailing your previous plans and shunting you onto another track.

And when it happens, it’s best to go with the flow. For, I believe, it's meant to be.
I don’t speak of change that is forced upon one against their will or wishes. In that case, I say, fight for what you believe is right and best for you at the time.

It’s the change from within that I’m talking about. When it feels right. And, harms none.

Adapt, and it will fit like a glove.

Right now, the change that is happening… fits me well.


Thursday, 4 July 2013


In these busy market weeks, I'm taking time out for winter-blue skies and silver-blue soft velvet noses.

 Back soon!