Well I have officially started my mat leave. Actually, I officially started my mat leave two weeks ago but it's funny how you can fill up spare time with lots of things to do. For some reason, blogging right at the beginning didn't occur to me. However, since Baby Standring is still stubbornly cocooned, not really interested in coming out, I thought that I would try for my last blog post that will probably not have anything to do with kids/ my kids/ parenting/ family etc.
My mat leave started earlier than I had originally planned. I wanted to go to the end of first semester so that my replacement could jump in and start their own thing the beginning of second semester. Funny thing about plans, they usually never go according to what you wanted in the first place. During Christmas Vacation I developed severe pain, weakness, and tingling in my hands. So much so I couldn't hold utensils the right way, drive, open anything, type or write. I was concerned with the state of my hands, thinking these two appendages are probably going to be pretty important in the next few months and need to be in top working condition. My doctor told me that some women develop pregnancy induced Carpal Tunnel due to the extra fluid in your body. Although not common, it is not unheard of either. I was prescribed two very stylish, personally made, wrist braces to see if that would make things better.
Well it did make the tingling go away, for the most part. The pain and weakness would get better with time. But I was still concerned about driving 30 minutes each way to work (in the winter where conditions can change within hours) without having the dependability of my hands. So I started mat leave early, cut out the drive back and forth, wore the braces, and miraculously my hands have been getting better day by day. It gave me an insight to what people with arthritis and constant carpal tunnel have to go through everyday to function. I now say that I have complete respect for you ladies and gentlemen after living it, and still living it as they aren't exactly healed yet. It's awful not being able to do the things you enjoy because of the pain radiating from your hands which you just can't stop.
So what have I been doing with my spare time? Well.... getting back to an old friend and love of mine. Art. I have always had an artsy brain since I was very young which my mother encouraged. She would buy me new drawing pencils, water colours, paint brushes etc for presents to keep my interest going with some pretty good quality art supplies. (I still have my first set of professional drawing pencils I was given at the age of 12.) She would praise my work and critique what I could do to make my paintings and drawings better. Although she never was an 'artist' she does have a great eye for what is aesthetically pleasing and gave me ideas to accomplish this in my work. She would even sign me up for different art classes to gain some knowledge about the mediums I was using and techniques to bring to my work. What an awesome mom!
As I grew older, entered high school, art was pushed aside for things that would get me into University and secure my success in life. So long paint brushes, hello physics- kind of thing. This was a trend that would continue for many years, sadly, as there just wasn't enough time in the day to be creative. However, every few years I would take some time to return to my artistic side, give into it, and become a creating machine. I took time in the later part of university to do an Oil Course, take Fine Art credits, and really allow myself some artistic time. Looking back, I probably should have tried to do a double major in History and Fine Arts. It would have made the whole of my university career that much more enjoyable.
So now, with time on my hands like I never had before and with the encouragement of my husband who, for the exception of one of my pieces, really enjoys my work, I thought that it was time to get creating again. I mean.... I am passively creating life inside me maybe I can turn this into being a participant for creation through new techniques and artwork? Now with the internet and a plethora of materials, courses, and information at your finger tips, I could take courses from home that could challenge my style and teach me new techniques.
Thus I was introduced to the Strathmore Online Art Series Workshops! Free of charge I was able to get a new lesson every week for the month of January. The workshop was a multimedia course designed to loosen artists up, and be more free with their painting. The artist, Traci Bautista, guided her students to create using doodles, layers, mantras, and a whole pile of different print making techniques. I was in LOVE! This completely went hand in hand with my more impressionistic style of painting while showing me how to mix media to create pieces that I have always been envious about.
I had the drive... I had the desire... I had the time... and the materials.... and the online course... but my stupid hands would not co-operate with allowing me to paint for more than 30 minutes at a time. I usually am unstoppable when I start a new piece. I will sit for hours and hours until it is completed. So the fact that I had to start and stop was very frustrating. The only positive thing that came out of it was that I really had to wait for some layers to dry before continuing with the piece. If I would have plowed right through it, I would have created muddy pieces without any depth or life because the different mediums would have just mixed together. It also gave me time to reflect about where I was heading with each piece and I turned artwork that I thought I would hate, into prints that I absolutely love. Apparently, it pays to be patient and stick with it. You never know what the next layer is going to bring out.
So my carp for everyone today is to get back to something creative that you enjoy. Something that you have been putting off because of time constraints or thinking that it just doesn't fit with your lifestyle anymore. Whether it be writing, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, woodcarving, scrapbooking, t-shirt dying... ANYTHING! It's good for your soul to be able to express itself through something you create with your hands.