It has been few years, it has been a weird time, time we almost don’t remember anymore.
Getting on a plane, leaving isolation we so got used to was not an easy task. It has been first time I haven’t been back in Slovakia for few years and it did feel loong. It felt overwhelming coming back too, emotions I was not ready to have, people I was not ready to see, because everything was too much.
Yet once I crossed the door of my parents house I knew this is going to be a nice time together. And so it was. We made multiple trips to forest to pick up mushrooms, we did some little hikes, we just spent time together and I enjoyed and took in every single moment, walk and memory, because we never know when they are going to be last.
That was surely what pandemic thought me, we just never know and it can happen from one day to another, suddenly. I still cannot travel more often due to finances and life struggle, but at least I am trying to enjoy the times I am there as much I can.
These are memories I want to cherish, simple things, simple moments.
Every day life became difficult I had to be mindful about my spendings I had to walk to work 45minutes instead of getting a bus, just to safe not even two pounds.
This period brought some other things into my life. I had to become even more flexible then ever before and so I have started doing deliveries on my bike. Bike what was standing in the hallway for good few years without me using it much. Me who haven’t been doing much of exercise than walking 45min to and 45min back from work.
And so I have started doing deliveries.
The first ones took me forever. If there was a hill it was way too long, but no one has ever complained. I guess they felt sorry for me. My bike became my best friend as without it I would not be able to have some additional income. It saved me. Patiently waiting for me to pick it up from the realm of forgetfulness of its existence. I thought of selling it so many times, but something inside me always said ‘wait you might need it one day’.
And so I waited.
We rode the roads of Edinburgh together, learnt to ride with big buses and cars on the road. I became so fit that I was riding bike absolutely everywhere, felt the freedom wen speeding down the hills of Edinburgh and satisfaction when reaching the tops of the uphill streets.
Until one day I arrived home from yet another delivering trip hoped off the bike and suddenly gear with chain just dropped on the floor.
I knew this was beyond my capabilities to repair it. Just about that time I changed my job and I was not in immediate need of money. I always felt as if the bike has waited until I am okay and secure. I was mesmerized by the fact that the gear fell not on the bumpy road when I was speeding down the hill and what would cause me severe injury if not worse but exactly in the moment when I got off the bike. I had tears in my eyes how grateful I was this little unalive fella ‘waited’ until I am sound and safe back home. I felt obligated to at least try to reappear it and so I took it into the bike shop. Seeing surprise in guys faces operating the shop how I survived riding such bike I knew this was the end of our journey together. Getting it fixed would cost me way too much money what I was not able to pay.
I took the purple friend into the downstair bike cupboard where he sat for another year.
I just was not ready to give him up.
He saved my life. He was with me throughout the most difficult time when comes to financial situation. Until the right time came.
I woke up one morning and walked with bike by my site to the bike station where I donated it for repair or parts purposes. It still can be useful for someone and it still can make a difference in someone elses life as it did in mine.
I cried when I left the shop.
I felt so silly.
Why am I crying after a thing what is not even alive?
It saved me when I was in my worse and without it I would never make it to the other side.
It was there patiently waiting until time came and I needed to figure out how to earn some extra money.
And It waited until I was not riding it to actually break that I am left uninjured and okay.
Despite more likely possible coincidence these all events happened I will remember my first Scottish bike to be more special than just a thing used for moving from one point to another. For me it was somewhat magical keeping me safe and helping me in my darkest times. It thought me there is always a way even if hard and uncomfortable, but there is always a way.
I will always remember you my little purple wheel friend.
I cannot smell anything. Who would of thought this would be an issue.
Past few days I am shaking hands with covid possibly for a first time. Although I believe I had it at the very start when no one knew what it was as I thought I am going to die. Worst flu in my life. But this time I have been tested and I definitely have it. Surprisingly it was worse than what I would expect after such long circulation within society, but I do meet people on daily basis so who knows how many different doses have I got.
But back to the smell. It is so annoying.
I make a coffee at the morning and I can not smell it. I think I have never realised until now how smells are big part of my every day life, how they alter my mental state. Smell of fresh grounded coffee just starts the day.
I can not smell the laundry, floury smell of new tried detergent.
I can not smell if I need a shower. What one could get used to if other people around couldn’t smell either 😀 I can not enjoy smell of the parfume I put on at the morning.
I can not smell the fresh breeze through a window or I can not calm myself down to sleep with some lavender in aroma lamp.
Honestly it feels as a torture and thinking I might not get my smell back hunts me.
All those little things we smell on everyday basis and either improve or deteriorate our mood and they are all gone.
I make food but I can not smell it, it honestly take away a huge part of the experience even though my taste is still there for now.
Observing the world, being an artist. I guess that is what I always felt to be, yet I find it so difficult in our nowadays world. Was it always this way, did the artists of past struggle similar way? Not to have time to do art, just be and observe? Never ending loop of bills to be paid, responsibilities and people to be attended, moving constantly somewhere learn and do more. If only about art I wouldn’t mind but it is almost everywhere I go. In every job I do, do more, learn more, take more.
I truly struggle balance it.
Maybe it is me, as I have decided to go 2 paths not only one. I want to be an artist but as well a counsellor. Can I be both? What about the rest of the jobs I do to pay bills. Than come people into my life snatching my time. Maybe when I finish the course finally, but then I need to set my practice and again more work to do.
Sometimes I wish for day to have 48 hours and for me to have endless energy, because sometimes I am just tired. Tired to do anything, just watch a tv and rest. Should I pick up a brush in these times? Force myself to draw or paint even if there is no energy left?
I don’t know.
It feels as maybe that is exactly what I need to do.
Despite my classes twice a week I just don’t create. No video, no drawings, no paintings, no guitar. My life last year became work, studies and close people. Is that it? What about that calling within, what about it? How to fit it in? Should I go study art instead of counselling?
But if I would I wouldn’t become an artist in the first place, I wouldn’t face my demons who inspired me but as well were slowly destroying me. I would never make my first exhibition and I would probably struggle to this day to really start doing something with my art. My counselling practice helps me to move forward, uncover yet another layer of myself, because I need to understand, need to know.
Because everything connects to each other, us people in between each other, but as well us within ourselves.
Everything has its purpose, its place. Things connect within each other and within environment, places, seasons, areas, buildings, elements. Everything connects and this connection doesn’t let me not to move forward. Always there is this need to understand or if not understand to at least observe, capture.
Sometimes I wander what exactly am I doing? As my whole life is observing, letting go of, capturing, starting new, moving, living. I guess that’s the whole point. I don’t think that we need to pick up any career or path, we don’t need to become something, label a box where others can fit us in. We just need to live, let the life move us towards the destiny we are supposed to live. It is challenging at first. Trust the life.
But I am realising that the whole experience makes sense.
Years of inspiration exchanged for years of work and responsibilities. We can always decide to change something if it doesn’t serve us anymore. I am slowly changing again finishing one thing in order to start something else connected but different, finding always space for creativity, for art, even if that means only once a week. I need to make sure it is there that the hand practices with brush and chalk, that I process throughout visual art making, that all I do, experience and create becomes a part of the process towards the one or few final pieces. I can feel them within, but I do not know yet what they are going to be. I am getting there though and I know they will emerge one day in this life. I just can’t step off the path I stepped on few years back and I need to keep moving creative way.
I haven´t created for so long and so came a little project in my way. My flatmate asked if I would like to participate in his show with some creation of sorts.
That was a final push I needed and I created short video not about learnings of past year, but as well about beautiful places around Scotland.
Overview of times in Scotland, overview of past years and if there is possibility to find inspiration even is such challenging times we live in. It is funny realising that even in places we go to so often they are changing every day all it takes is for us to open our eyes, quiet our mind and be present.
I haven´t left Edinburgh in past year and all got to explore were close by hills. Any other time I would be wanting to travel further and explore, but it wasn´t really possible in the past year. How grateful I am I got the chance explore the hills in all seasons in all times of the day. Every single time I went it was a different experience which I enjoyed very much.
Come to have a little look with me what not only so well-known Scottish nature can offer.
When I moved to Scotland one thing I haven´t understood was why people talk so much about the weather. How it is outside how it is supposed to be later in a day and if this prediction will be accurate.
´Always have a jacket with you even if it is sunny outside,´ my friend would advice me.
Few mistakes later getting soaked in the rain what came out of nowhere down from clearly blue sky I learnt my lessen. It was not unusual that there would be rain in the part of the town where I live yet sunny not only on the other side of Edinburgh, but even in the next neighbourhood.
One day my parents came to visit me.
´I don´t need to take my jacket it´s sunny outside´
´Dad take the jacket with you it might rain´
´But it´s sunny outside´
Few hours later…
´What the heck is this weather here I am putting jacket on and off like crazy.´
I had to bite my tongue not to say ´I told you so´
Scottish weather is truly very unpredictable. One day I have experienced 4 seasons. Actually more then only one day. I guess in time one gets used to or at least convince themselves they got used to. Last winter I tried a little upgrade to better cope with windy cold weather. I´ve started doing cold showers firstly every day later every now and then and seams as I don´t mind the cold that much outside anymore. I can´t say the same about people around me unless they are Scottish, they´re resistance to cold I certainly haven´t achieved yet. Going out to the hills in late November, maybe it was already December and my friend coming out of the building in only shirt and fleece in his hands.
´Aren’t you going to be cold?´ me asking covered in winter jacket wrapped up with scarf.
´I have the fleece and the hat. I´ll be fine.´
Seeing children on their day trips in the town during the winter and them wearing only a jumper, girls wearing skirts without tights suddenly makes total sense. First time seeing this I was little shocked, but I guess that is exactly the way how you build the resistance to cold.
Spring is here now the wind is still a bit cold though. We still can´t sit inside of café, so morning coffee on the bench with freezing cold wind is not always delightful, yet there is something about it. Certainly something one will remember. ´Do you remember when we had that coffee on a bench in freezing cold?´ Maybe different memory then ´Remember when we got that cocktail on the sunny beach,´ yet still somewhat special 🙂
And Winter came…the winter has been very kind to us this winter. It has been the most snow I have experienced here in the past years. It has been only time I have experienced snow here in Christmas time. It is almost as a nature would give us a little present a reward for times spent at home, not travelling, not meeting friends and family or going to life music or other inside winter time events. Snow came unexpectedly and brought a joy to (for many) more and more grey days. I certainly felt a joy of a child when snow came. There were people playing snowball fights on streets in early morning hours, just enjoying the moment, the present. Joy of being allowed to experience cold white snowflakes on the cheeks. Going to snowy hills was certainly a little miracle of this Christmas. Beautiful sunsets and beautiful sunrises. People enjoying themselves in the safe hug of the nature.
Not long ago I was worried how these winter months will be. I promised myself to find something nice about them, because they can be here quite dark, sad and difficult. And this year without possibility to meet much or go visit family they could be even more difficult. But I was wrong. This winter is one of the happiest I have ever had. Very different, yet that makes it special I guess. So many surprising and unexpected beautiful moments and joy in little simple things. Come with me to have a look how the winter in Scotland can look like.
I can´t count how many sunsets I have seen in my life. Yet this year they happened to be even more special. As November comes sun is getting lower and lower. We are in the time of the year when days are the shortest. Sun rises at 8.30 and sets at 3.30. We are still lucky, as it is not as dark as in the very North, but comparing to Slovakia one can feel it quite a bit.
When I walk during the day I see the sun being low all day not reaching very high. There is a beauty in it as it covers the city in the warm light. One day I got an inspiration to go chase the sun. My dad would often tell me a story how he as a little child always wanted to walk towards the sun and reach it. Innocent little soul not understanding that it is not possible.
For few weeks I have been going to close by hills even if for couple of hours in busy weekends, just to catch last bits of the daylight. Thanks to this project my November happened to be so beautiful. Every weekend I was looking forward to go to mountains and watch this beautiful scenery which happens every day again and again and we miss so many days of our lives not seeing this miracle.
I certainly felt every single time as the sun gave me energy for another week. I would go on my own or with friends I would go in advance or even missed the sunset. Yet every time it was a special occasion, special moment and special day. Usually November is a little sad month because winter is inevitable. This year I enjoyed the November probably the most in my entire life just because I went to see something what is here every single day yet we just often don´t see its beauty.
Leaves from trees are slowly changing into mush-mash of wet slippery cover on the path walks and trees appear to be more and more naked. I guess I am ready for winter as well.
Tiredness is most present every day, as my body would like to tell me to slow down, reflect.
I have been very busy lately, trying to balance all present in my life. I enjoy all, but I am learning to do just as much I can in a day.
Pandemic times don´t add much.
Do you find yourself sometimes creatively drained?
I do. Days even months of not picking up the pencil. Is it for us to push through or just let it go itself? In my own experience the answer is somewhere in the middle.
My creativity heightened lately and I made myself a promise of drawing every day for one month. It is not easy task to accomplish and as I am writing this story I have already slipped few days trying to catch up now.
Have you ever heard of Ink October Challenge? I am doing it now in November. Hoping to continue on everyday quick sketches even after the challenge. That is for another story though.
As I look out of my window weather is less promising every day. Yet we had quite few beautiful days even little inversion, which I am hoping to experience again. Edinburgh covered in cloud, one suddenly felt as being in the part of Harry Potter Books or Sherlock Holmes stories.
Picking up leaves on the way home, creating fall inside of the flat. Enjoying times with friends. Experiencing that even in times as we live at now there is still a lot to see and experience. I guess we learnt to live with virus, there are restrictions present in the past half of the year and I only can conclude that this time brought a lot of positives into my life as well.
Nature become more important than ever, appreciating every new day being healthy, every meeting with friends. Being grateful for the job I have which allows me get away from not only isolation, but as well away from the fear of the virus, which many experience nowadays.
But enough of talking, let me show you little things which make life so special even in times of pandemics.
What is it you enjoy at the moment? What makes you happy?
Oh no Christmas is coming, what will I get to my family?
I barely earn for living how am I going to afford Christmas this year?´
These were my thoughts last year about this time of the year.
Christmas can be a struggle, when comes to presents for our loved ones. We want them to be useful, meaningful and personal, but sometimes we just run out of ideas. Last year I was fairly worried about Christmas, because I didn´t have much money so there was a limitation what to get them. But I hate giving people staff they don´t need just out of giving them something. I had those experiences when I just had no idea or no money and I usually wanted to dig a hole in the sand and put my head in it when I could feel disappointment in eyes of my loved ones. Maybe it is my fault that they got used to how ´perfect´ and meaningful gifts I always try to give them.
I had to find a way how to make them happy but won´t cost me fortune or better almost nothing as I could barely afford living. Something what I will feel as I found a way how to give them something meaningful as well.
So I dived into memories of conversations we had lately.
What did they say they like or wanted?
My mum was talking about how she struggles to find inspirational pictures for her paintings. Her eye doesn´t let her watch for too long into the computer monitor and she doesn´t know where to find something nice.
There it hit me. I could make her an inspirational book with some pictures which she could draw and paint. I bought blank notepad and few magazines in the charity shop and started looking through them for some nice pictures.
Faces. Nature. Paintings.
Something she could paint and learn from.
Just sticking pictures felt empty. What could I fill it with?
Recently I got an ink and old-fashioned ink pen. Perfect. I can write some meaningful quotes inside and make a book out of it. Very personal book for my mum, that every time she opens it some inspiration comes out for her.
It was very enjoyable creative process, even though it took me very long time to finish it. Finding pictures, drawing some backgrounds, searching and writing quotes according to theme of the pictures…
I guess it will be better seen what I have done in visual.
So if you struggle financially or with ideas what to give to your close people, maybe this can be an inspiration.
It can be a great gift for someone creative you care about. Have a look inside this personal book and maybe it will be inspiration for your Christmas present :).