Do you create something? Perhaps you write, or draw, or paint? Perhaps you cook, or garden, or sew, or knit? Whatever your creative pursuits are, creativity is part of being human. For some of us, it is what gets us out of bed each day, and what fills our thoughts as we sleep. Creating can be everything. If I cannot follow whatever the creative pull is at the time, I can experience depression and anxiety. I have always been a multi-passionate, multi-creative person. This includes painting, writing, designing, singing, acting; and particularly, writing words and creating stories.
Sometimes this kind of multi-creativity can lead you into pathways that distract you, or leave you overloaded. I describe it as being like a bird, distracted by shiny objects. The thing is, I can have so many passions that it can be hard to stick on a road to the ones that will ultimately bring me joy. There has been a lot in the media about “joy” lately. Yet, joy is but one emotion. All emotions are important. Nobody can be joyful at all times. I have certainly experienced more than my fair share of absolute desolation and despair. I have also experienced many times of exquisite joy. That, is a life.
If you have followed me for a while, you will have seen me go through many changes and metamorphoses with my business, just like a butterfly. I often see a new idea and follow it, my eyes bright and my heart fully open. All of these are great ideas, and, potentially, things that would indeed bring me joy. Just with the Sustainable Home Hub, I have gone from this being the Recycled Interiors blog, to studying design and offering styling consults, to working with brands, to social media consulting for sustainable brands, to having our retail store (even bricks and mortar for a time), to our Directory, and just recently, the idea of a brand agency.
But as I grow older, I am brought to a place where the word ‘focus’ has been resonating inside my mind. It is in fact my theme for 2019. And jumping from idea to idea is not focus, and, it is not helpful for my physical or mental health. I have to remember, you can not be all things to all people, even if you want to. The word “No” is one I have struggled to learn over my life! In recent months, my health and all of the numerous chronic conditions I have to manage, including type 1 diabetes that has become very brittle and gut paralysis that has worsened, have been very difficult. Life is wonderful, but when you live with hidden disabilities, it can be rough. Focus is of the essence here. I rise each day between 4.30-5.30 am and am an incredibly productive person – I am a machine most days! But, I have to recognise and acknowledge my need for self-care.
As many writers will tell you, for as long as I can remember I wanted to write. I was writing stories before I started school, even winning writing awards for my writing as young as 5 years old. Poetry, stories, fiction and non-fiction – I love to write it all. Reading was my favourite pastime. I would bring literal boxes of books home from the school library over the holidays. We were so lucky because my parents were teachers and we would go into the library during the break, to borrow more books. It felt so deliciously special! I would read all the time, walking around the house, at the table. If there was no book handy, I would read the cereal packet! Being a writer is as much about being a reader, as it is about creating your own words.
Yet, I remember when I was in high school, the only writing option offered to me as a career, was journalism. I was advised and directed against a creative career because it was “nice,” but not a “real job”…. So, I put everything into that idea during work experience, and held dreams of being a journalist. When I didn’t get into that as my first choice at university however, as well as being gutted, I followed a different path and spent most of my career as a social worker. During that time, I did lots of amazing things, I helped many people, founded a charity, won awards, and was very successful. I wouldn’t change any of this. I also did lots and lots of writing – firstly on my diabetes blog, and later, this one. As a blogger, with the shift in the media landscape and the evolution of the internet and social media, I had become a journalist.
But still, I felt that I was not following my joy towards writing. Yes, I was a blogger and writing is everything in that, but writing books, real paper books that you can smell and hold in your hand? That hadn’t yet happened. As a lifelong reader and book lover this is so important to me, it is almost like something that I have no choice in, it just has to be done. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to write and self-publish a picture book for children with diabetes – which you can see here if you are interested. Then, in 2016 I decided to self-publish my first book on sustainable living – which you can see more about here. But the dream to write books, published by a traditional publisher, and to be seen, bought and read by people out there in bookshops, (especially writing fiction for kids and young adults, my personal favourite genre to read), had still not happened.
Last year I decided to go for it. I did a course at the Australian Writer’s Centre in children’s writing, and, I am proud to say I completed a middle grade novel. This allowed me to flex my fiction muscles, and prove to myself that I could complete a fiction book. With my writing currently, as well as blogging here and at my author site, I am in the midst of writing a fantasy novel for younger teens – The Forest Keepers, which I am totally enjoying, and planning a non-fiction book about living a gentle sustainable life, while reducing your eco-anxiety. This writing work is bringing me more joy than I have ever experienced in my working life. The creative flow during the times I sit and write my stories, has already enriched my life, and given me the motivation to keep moving towards this life-long dream. I am also 4 months away from completing my PhD in psychology. This does not bring me joy. It is not the writing I want to do – in fact it squashes my joy, it deflates me. However, I am so close that I am determined to complete something that has been part of my life for more than 5 years.
I was given the opportunity to represent an amazing eco and ethical homewares brand recently to retailers and designers. I was very excited by this idea, and was then able to collaborate with a couple of other amazing brands, to start building an agency. My creative brain went into overdrive about the possibilities for this new agency direction. But, even as I worked with the lovely people at these businesses, and started planning, I knew in my heart that this would not be following my mantra of ‘focus’. On the contrary, especially when I have had terrible health in the past few months, this would lead me away from my writing dreams I am so determined to follow, and potentially be bad for my health. That is why I have decided this is not the right direction for me, and you might notice I have taken the brand agency details off our website and social media.
My name is Helen and I am a writer.
I have always been a writer and I will be a writer until the day I leave this earth.
I will keep blogging and sharing my thoughts, tips and inspiration with you here, about living a more sustainable life. My words will help to change lives and make a difference to our beautiful planet – this is so important to me. We will keep building our sustainable directory because it has such potential to also make a difference, and to help support me and my family while I write.
I will secure a literary agent, and I will become a traditionally published author. I will complete my PhD (and pass!) and know that I have left that legacy to those still working in diabetes, where I spent so many years of my life, doing such important and ground-breaking work.
So here I sit, my hands poised above the keyboard, fully focused. I am locked into position, knowing now that words matter. That stories matter. That a creative life is not “just a hobby”. That stories are the very foundation on which culture is built, on which humanity communicates, learns, entertains, shifts the political landscape, effects change, voices what is happening, what has happened, and what is yet to come.
It is words that make us human.
It is words that will change the world.