On Feeling Grounded

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Home is a mindset.

Last year I felt uprooted for thefirst time. I had been living abroad for a while, so the challenges of being a ‘foreigner’ were not new to me (I put this words in between commas because I think you can be a ‘foreigner’ at so many levels, you can be a ‘foreigner’ to yourself, even!). But life has this ability to take you through the though path, always. It doesn’t matter if you’re a planner or an obsessive perfectionist (moi) it’ll get you. Just give it time.

I was living in a place I didn’t like. I was working as hard as ever but it never seemed enough and I didn’t get what I was aspiring to (a full-funded PhD) and I realised that being a good girl and working ’till death doesn’t always guarantee success. Sometimes it is just what it is. Funny enough, looking back, I feel almost grateful I didn’t get everything  because that’s what is making me be more creative than ever to pay my bills, which in return, means more confidence and new skills. But that’s another story.

Yes, I felt uprooted. Unstable financial situation. First year living without my parents money/safety net. Friends going (when you are a postgraduate at uni, friends are ALWAYS going away all over the world and you spend all year heart-broken).

And then, Brexit happen. And Trump happened.

So then I was feeling uprooted inside and outside. The world was uprooted. Not good times for being a woman / immigrant / artist checking out FB or the news.

That made me think that perhaps feeling uprooted (or grounded) had more to do with a mindset. A button I could just push somewhere in between cells (if I could find it). I started making lists.

What makes me feel grounded?

Art. Writing a story and getting goosebumps in the process. Yes. THAT feeling.

Doodling and letting my wind wander away. Like meditating.

Running on a windy, sunny day.

Being in nature. Wild nature. The Highlands.

And… Northwest Literary Arts.

Let me rewind a bit here. When I came to Lancaster I was 21 years old and about to start an MA in Creative Writing. I had wanted to be a writer my whole life, but of course I was too shy to say it aloud. It was one of those impractical dreams, almost stupid. As freshers, we got a special welcome from the Graduate College. There wa this one speaker in this welcome event, a woman. She happened to be studying a Creative Writing PhD (I didn’t even know you could study writing at that level). She was also a podcaster (radio and podcasts have also been my passion since always). I connected with her immediately. She lived for what she loved and she was passionate about it. She owned it. And just by listening to her I felt I could these things were not unattainable, or impossible. Sometimes, what you need is inspiration. And she gave me that.

You may be wondering who that woman was. Well, meet Yvonne Battle-Felton, author, creative, proud mum and one of the best artists I know. If you’re around the Lancaster area and you’re into books, literature and stories you probably know her. If not… check out what she’s up to, because she’s always bubbling with new ideas and projects.

Yvonne was not only doing a PhD and a podcast, it turned out. She created a community in Lancaster. She co-organised with Naomi Kruger (another cool lady, writer, and great inspiration) the Northwest Literary Salon to bring authors and interview them at Lancaster once every month. They also doe Stories at the Storey, an open-mic night that is like a roller-coaster of emotions – I’ve cried, laughed and got scared all in the same night.

What I love the most at what she creates is that she gathers people. Whenever I’m in her crowd I feel I’m in a family of lost brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters. Art has that effect. It warms everyone up, it brings that buzzing energy into the space and it is to laugh and have exciting ideas. Thanks to Yvonne’s events I’ve made friends and met amazing professionals. Month after month, they also helped me reaffirm my core belief: I am an artist, I am creator, and I can make a living on it. And I’m not alone, because there are others to met along the way.

But, most importantly, her events made feel at home.

Yvonne has just oppened a Patreon to help fund all these cool events – and I may have something to do with it, as since I read The Art of Asking my views on crowfunding changed completely.

Now, I don’t have much money at all. In fact, I have to keep a really tight budget because doing a PhD full-time means I cannot have a full-time job. And all the part-time jobs I have are temporary. You know, the zero hours contract… all of that deal. Plus, freelancing here and there. There are good months, bad months. One never knows.

I wish I could support all the amazing creators I follow and who have a Patreon. Fran Meneses. Audra Auclair. Amanda Palmer. Nicole Antoinette. Lucy Knisley. I want to give money to them all because they inspire me daily and they make me a better person and a better artist.

But I always felt that had to wait until my financial situation allows me to spend £20 per month in art just because I want to.

However, I donated today for Yvonne. It’s just £1, and I know it’s not much, but it’s what I have at this moment. If you love art and believe in someone’s project, would you not pay to make it happen?

If you live around, if you believe in art bringing people together, please go fund Yvonne. She makes things happen. Go to one of her events, meet her online and you’ll get what I mean, immediately. I promise.

Let’s protect what we believe in and makes us feel grounded.

PS–

  1. If you have read this, please, share it. I don’t usually ask, but in this case I think is important projects like Northwest Literary Arts get out there. Cheers 🙂
  2. You like the cute cat in my doodle? He’s called Charlie and belongs to my good friend Anne Cleasby. He’s the cuttest and he can jump like 4m high to haunt a moth.

 

 

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