Love Is Love Is Love: Working To Make Things Better

Around 5 years ago, my life changed in a fatal kind of way. When I was in America, I was given a diagnosis that made feel like I was looking down a barrel of a gun and made me question everything in my life. This crazy plot twist, that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Tramedy, set off a bunch of things in my life. The past 4-ish years have been personally-health-awful, but yet through this difficult time this happened:

Last night I picked up my crazy amazing big prestigious award from the Houses of Commons, like some kind of rock-star. It was surreal, and I’ll probably never get another opportunity to experience something like it. But it was such an incredible evening and I met so many amazing, talented, smart, giving and generous people who work within healthcare,  specifically within radiography and oncology care. We should be so proud to have these people – and people not acknowledged working day in and out within the NHS just like them – and in our country.

It’s more than anyone could ask for and it’s an absolute rare privilege; To be recognized for trying your best to help others. I’ve never really been acknowledged before,  but I can’t help but feel heavy with gratitude to everyone who got me here, as thanked previously in many, many blog posts previously. Because this award is just representative of everyone who got me here.  There is no greater gift than being able to be part of something bigger than yourself, trying to make things better for others. And so the honour of being part of narrative alone is incredible.

Then I got home, back to the north, anxious about the U.S.A. Elections, fell asleep and awoke to Trump president-elect.

When I fell sick, I had so much angst because I felt like there was so much left to do and so much more love to give in life. I’d cry because I felt sorry for myself. And I felt ashamed even more for behaving that way, for being weak. But then on reflection I realized that the tears  flowed because they needed to. Because things were building up instead of me like a pressure cooker, and I wanted to keep moving forward.

I was crying because I wanted to live, because I was afraid of not being here.  And I was afraid of being forgotten.

So having gone through that, and 2015 UK General Election and Brexist Ref vote – I figured we need a hope-of sorts – a plan of sorts. Here’s what I’ve learnt from my few years living invisibly and wanting so bad to enjoy life again. And how Brexit, and Trump and a million refugees stuck around the world make you feel powerless and everything is lost. But

Trust me when I say this time is short & this life is both terrible & beautiful.

Resentment & anger are inevitable & sometimes are important, temporarily,  but it’s important to not take up residence in that place. I PROMISE you deserve better. Even if you voted Trump. You do deserve better.

I promise you there are people who will leave you in life, but that others will embrace you unconditionally in your brokenness.

So you go out & run fearlessly in the direction of love. You are never alone. Your tribe is out there. GO GET IT. And please keep laughing. Joy is salvation. In the darkest, lowest moments, being able to find something, anything to laugh about can save you.

We never stop. We never give up. We fight for each other and protect each other.

Living and giving kindness is the best revenge. 

The most creative challenge of our lives is learning how to approach our own inner darkness with curiosity, empathy, and friendliness.

And that’s where it’s all going to come together.

Sometimes in life, if you are very lucky, you find the grace in having it all blow up in your face.

Our jobs for the day (life): Tell the truth; Be kind & curious; Love all people with all your heart; Don’t put up with any bullshit. 

Love Is Love Is Love, we’ve had a bunch of set-back but that just means we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but lets keep working to make things better – for ourselves and for those who are voiceless, victimised, invisible or who can’t say it for themselves. There is so much more that what unites us than what divides us.

Our work isn’t done, and we need each other and others less fortunate than us, who are REALLY struggling need us. So don’t wait to be called, because you’re already being beckoned.

unnamed.jpg

Advertisements

Every transformation that we are witness to changes the world, & this in turn, changes us: 3.5 weeks of lessons in PhD-kingdom

It’s only been basically 3.5 weeks of being an enrolled PhD student. And what is it teaching me?

Well, I’m being schooled,  once again.

I keep being met with questions of what I’ve done – and I try to justify my lack of products with: “I’ve been doing it for 3 weeks?”… but people want something more concrete, I guess.

At first people  told me I should be reading, and reading lots! Getting together my bibliography. That’s what I should be doing for the first weeks they said. So my first week, I diligently sat in the library and looked up interesting books and downloaded paper after paper from the library gateway on creative methodologies and healthcarec(& spent a hefty time on twitter). Then the second week rolled around,  really quickly I might just add, & other people started saying that I really should focus on the making art bit because, you know, it is a practice led PhD after all and I don’t want to get to christmas and have nothing to show for it. Too right. So I started making some really terrible pieces of parts of work/thinking process (you know, it always starts off that way, so not too worried at this stage). Then week 3 was met with that I *really* should be focusing pretty much on the REF1. which has to be submitted in literally 6 weeks now. Scary AF.

So I’ve sat and stared at my REF1 form on word for about a week now, feeling the pure weight of re-framing, of patching up the holes of my research proposal, maybe even changing it slightly, of finding out an extensive and integral and good literature list.  Of finding artists to reference and draw from, of figuring out where I sit – art? design? healthcare? sociology? anthropology? (it’s obviously all of those things, but hot damn) —  trying to get my head around my potential methodologies and the pitfalls that they entail, and figuring out how long everything *should* take me to create a plan of sorts, and lets not even talk about my issues of ethics – and my potential plans in place whilst I endure a long ethics procedure — all of this needs to fit into 1000 words. No joke. And I have insane imposter syndrome that it’s not even funny.

My head of studies told me I needed to take a few weeks to just play, to knock down these boundaries I’ve learnt/built up during the past few years. To reflect upon all of the things I’ve experienced, and frame them. To see the tensions that lie within the frameworks of healthcare methodologies and artistic/creative methodologies – how these paradigms work. How they oppress and close discussion or the opposite or even offer more opportunity.  I wrote quite a few reflections, maybe I’ll share some on here in due time.

I applied with a proposal for my first symposium talk in London(combining art and healthcare together – more info soon) and got it, showed folks how to use drawing as a research and reflective tool at the IPE conference at SHU, and I’ve got the radiotherapy annual conference in Jan to present my other design research from earlier this year. All of which I’ve started to pull together over the past 3 weeks too.

I’ve drank a lot of tea, I’ve sat and stared at the walls in my studio. I’ve moved into my city center apartment/flat.

But mostly what all of this has taught me is that when the ground shifts, the next chapter begins. Here’s what I’ve been thinking and learning and trying to tell people when they’re super confused about why I’m using artistic practice-led work to create healthcare change.

Making things can expand one’s understanding of what it means to be human. Finding the vehicles for exploring the edges of your experiences can be really, really scary but it’s a great way of transforming thinking into practice. Change is inevitable, adaptation is optional.

Every transformation that we are witness to changes the world, and in turn, changes us.

‘Making’ is a process. In comes from ‘doing’. Doing something. ‘Making’ can bring you face to face with your own agency. ‘Making’ has some of the qualities of an echo. It can travel in space and time and come back to you in the form of a feedback loop.   It helps to make something that you don’t necessarily understand. And even if you think you understand what you are making, the act of making it will change your understanding of it and you will feel yourself get bigger.

I have been exploring my own tracings, teachings, drawings, wanderings and wonderings, feelings, thinkings, questionings and assumptions ever since to better see what can happen when something opens and something else falls… out. And like all ‘critical making,’ it attempts to create a context to make tangible some of the possibilities that can drive passion and engage spirit by striving to go beyond the things we know and towards our own reckoning.

‘Critical making’ can remind us that even when we act alone—as an artist, as a designer, as a healthcare professional, or as a hermit—in isolation, we are part of a larger community.

Seeing is a reflexive process, and like an echo it can find its way back to you. Of course, it all depends upon listening. Everything depends on listening. Listening is different from hearing. Hearing can tell you which way to go. Listening can tell you who you are.

I’m having to re-learn to be diligent, and teaching myself to be better with my time, and my work. I’m practicing at staying awake and  trying to be attentive to what is elusive, fantastic, contingent, different and barely there.

I said that i was going to take every single opportunity I get as a PhD student. And I’ve attended nearly 75% of everything open to me, talk wise within my free time.

I plan on paying attention to everything. And remembering what Linda Sikora said when I feel crazily over-whelmed with all of the above.

She says that, “It’s more important to keep paying attention and to follow your attention wherever it goes, than it is to think about meaning and content, because meaning and content come from paying attention to the world.”

canada.jpg

 

In search of a resolution

Before i embarked on my North American clinical & holiday experience, my GP suggested that maybe I should talk to someone who has the time to listen — about everything — from my crazy medical journey to my past dotted with potential traumas. So after a few days of being back in the UK, I saw that recommended counsellor to talk about my nearing 4-5 year medical journey.

I wasn’t best pleased about the idea. It felt like a personal failure. I wasn’t even sure what we’d even talk about — and I certainly wasn’t pleased about the potential things he might make me do – a group session of our feelings perhaps, keeping diaries, ect? Really not Smizz style. But I duly went along because I’ll do anything to feel better, or cope better, and if my nearly upcoming 2 year long headache is something to do with a personal-trauma then let’s get it sorted.

But I was pleasantly surprised. VERY surprised.  I can’t explain how nice it was to just talk to someone impartial who listened compassionately – who was really helpful. He was consistently open. And I don’t think I’ve ever had someone so good at listening, listen to me before. I spoke about how hard it’s been. How misunderstood  & alone I feel in the (health) system. The constant feeling like my time is limited. How I want to make a positive difference. How i feel like a hindrance – to friends, and the NHS. How it’s completely changed my life upside down, inside out, and all the big adjustments I’ve had to make to keep living life as normally as i can. how it affects my work, my relationships, my social time. How it’s hard to live life normally, when it’s no longer my normal life. He made lots of suggestions – including that I should continue to live my life to the fullest.  I left feeling a lil bit lighter. With more food for thought. Because I’ve been dealing with everything alone for some time now, I’ve read A LOT of stuff out there on coping with life adjustments, chronic illnesses, chronic fatigue & pain – ect, ect. And I’ve adapted A LOT of these into my life, so I’m coping well, so I don’t have to go back unless I want to go back and chat – whenever – — since I’m already doing what some of the services offer – and have an awesome support system of friends & fam (who read my whiney long emails and blog posts and tweets). It was especially nice when he said I should be proud for how far i’ve come & how i’ve coped. And that feels weird that I needed to be praised for it — but I guess I needed my struggle to be acknowledged on some level – to feel like I’ve been heard & that it’s been really difficult.

I tell the world wide web about this experience because i know I put off ever going. But I’d recommend and encourage anyone going through something that has changed your life, a struggle- current – ongoing – or past that has changed you, something that’s not resolved itself, if you’re feeling really low, alone, need someone to listen to you – you should go (it’s free, obvs – and it’s really not like you’d expect it be. I genuinely can’t say how good it was) You’re not alone . The cancer of so many struggles is feeling like you need to deal with it in isolation. & it’s difficult because certain (medical) experiences are all uniquely personal. But let others help carry your burden. I know that I’m super lucky because I’ve always got friends and fam who will help me carry the burden – but there’s always more – there’s always stuff there that you didn’t know was there.

So I was up this morning, watching this sunrise — thinking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 14.19.43
There’s a lot I don’t know, there’s a lot I’m still learning. When I think I’m letting go, I find that my body its still burning. 
And I’m still held down, and Its still got me living in the past. Come on and pick me up. Someone help me clear this wreckage from the blast. But i’m alive. & I don’t need a witness to know that I survived. I’m not looking for forgiveness but I need a light in the dark to search for a resolution.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve gone from 0 to 100. I’m going to try and start rock climbing (once i get my dodgy foot looked at) – i’m back on my fixie and I’ve told myself — I’m going to go a search for the Northern Lights over this next year.  I really want to use this crazy medical/life experience to make the pathways so much better for future patients / service users. We should see every act as a contribution to a finite set of acts, all building to a contribution of goodness to the world. We should not delay working on the things that make us feel alive in the world, and help the world feel alive. We spend so little time trying to make the most out of the time we get. Your time is too valuable to let a moment go to waste. Steal as much life as you can out of each day

The Heart of The Matter: Hope.

About 2 weeks ago I found out that I’ve been shortlisted for another award, this time for — “Most innovative student-driven digital tool” — for the design of my *future* Radiotherapy Treatment Patient Information App – “RADcare”. And I’m still blown away by the shortlist. I don’t think I’ll win, but this definitely feels like one of my most proudest moments of my life so far, and I don’t know why? I’m just so honoured and surprised by being shortlisted!

My story is one we can all relate/resonate with. I got stuck. Like, really stuck. I encountered an illness I never saw coming – and for the first time in my life – felt really lost, and out of control.  At such a young age too, in the middle of building my artist career, and shaping the rest of my life. I felt so misunderstood. And when you’re not understood, you feel almost worthless. Dealing with these feelings on top of very distressing symptoms whilst trying to continue to run your life as normal as possible is actually really hard.  I had experiences with the healthcare system – both amazing and poor. As a patient I often felt powerless, stupid, a hindrance — and ultimately — voiceless. This lead itself to personal anxieties. Sometimes I felt like no-one cared. (But this was not true at all). But also I got treated every-now-and-again-like family. Like an old friend, with kindness, love and care. I’ll never forget those moments. And I soon realized that, that’s all I wanted to do; To make people feel cared for & important, and needed, and even loved. And as with my art practice, all I’ve ever wanted to do is make a positive difference. To help people. To make people think, think of the injustices, to act upon these inequalities, to feel better, to make the world a better and more just/equal place. People are struggling all around us. Every single one of us has something we’re struggling with each day – although the degrees of struggle are massive.

People need people, and they need truth, heart & hope. Authenticity wins, every time.

I look to the world around me, with this continuing experience in hand. And I see that we need coffee shops, sunsets and roadtrips. New & old songs, planes, trains and food. Fast internet connection & Twitter – but most of all – we need other people in our lives.  And at some point in your life, you will need to be that “other” person to someone else who needs you. You will be their living breathing, screaming, invitation to help them believe in better things.

We do not know how long we’ve got here. We don’t know when fate will intervene. What we do know is that with every minute that we’ve got, we can live our lives in a way that takes nothing for granted. We can love deeply. We can help people who need help. We can teach our children what matters, and pass on empathy and compassion and selflessness. We can teach them to have broad shoulders. And that’s all I want, really.

My friends say that I’m a “Smizz of all trades, master of none” – because I go out of my way to learn new things if I can’t understand it. That’s why I do work in all areas, from art, to printing, to photography, to web and app coding and designing – I’m very well read in political & economics too – and now radiotherapy/healthcare.  If you’re unhappy with something – don’t wait for someone else to make the change for you.

So every encounter that I have with a person at work (colleague, friend, patient, ect), or outside work, I try to make them feel understood, AKA – valued/respected/dignified. 2 days ago, I did a first day chat with a patient & at the end I said I was a student – and she said, “That explains why you’ve spent more time with me & listened to me.”  Time is extremely fraught in all of our lives, but we must make time to try to understand people and their journey.

So that’s why I decided to make my Radiotherapy app (RADcare). To hopefully help patients and their careers understand what’s going to happen, be able to feel like they can take more control by knowing what’s going on and have good, coherent, interactive and personal information covering all aspects of their radiotherapy treatment journey.  I hope that by all of us having a better understanding, we can make time for the really important things. I hope the app will be really useful in the future, and really helps patients and their loved ones going through their journey, a better – less stressful – journey. (It’s worth pointing out here that the app is just an addition to a service & MUST NOT be used in place of information contact in person with healthcare professionals).

Living with an illness, or after, is really, really hard. Normal life is never normal again.  It makes changes – both psychological and physical – that you had never anticipated. But it’s not all bad. I now feel more empathetic to other struggles than I ever did before, I cry more than ever at injustices (not on you- so no worries), and I know now that time is what ever you make it – the days are long but the years are short.  It’s not about your grades, or your clothes, or car, or house. It’s about being with those who love you, doing what you love, and trying to be the change we need.

I hope I can bring big heart to every thing I work on. I especially hope I can achieve it with the app. Life is hard. And I wouldn’t have got here today – feeling extremely loved – without the support of all my amazing friends (you guyz!), course-mates, my mom & bro, my colleagues (NHS, uni, art, Doc/Fest- ect), my doctors & other healthcare professionals and everyone else.

Hope you can help me evaluate the prototype app soon! Much love, Smizz!

Shingles for the Singles: There are things you know & don’t

Donald Rumsfeld once said there are things you know and things you don’t. Sometimes you are aware of your ignorance and knowledge, other times you are not. This means that there are known knowns (the knowledge you know you have), known unknowns (your awareness of your blind spots), unknown unknowns (you are oblivious to that knowledge), and unknown knowns (the subconscious—that native knowledge you take for granted).

I use this a lot in art. It’s the thing that guides you. The bits of the subconsciousness shines through. You make decisions without really consciously knowing why you did it, but you know that it’s the right thing to do. But I got to thinking about healthcare in this setting, and in life and living in general. The “gut feelings” when you know something is wrong (or right), how to use empathy, and how you know what choices are the right choices. 

About 3 months ago, I got major bad man-flu, which turned into horrific shoulder side pain, which turned into a crazy now 62 day constant headache, with now a side of Shingles. On top of everything else already going on with me. You guys know where I am if anyone wants me to buy them a lottery ticket. I’ve been having the worlds longest constant headache (i’m so sure it’s a Guinness world record – 62 days and counting). I went back to my GP to tell him it was day 50-something,  with a crazy painful rash (which i thought was either allergic reaction or Bedbugs!)  and the cool GP was like,”Yeah it’s shingles.” I knew what shingles were, like mostly old people get them, but I didn’t really know WHY I got them if they’re not contagious like chicken-pox.  Motherfucking shingles. We high-fived.

From the printout he gave me, I learned that shingles comes out when your immune system is low enough, which is why it’s so dangerous for the elderly. My GP is always saying I’m stressed, or I work too much. I don’t think this, however. I’m now super suspicious that my headache could be shingles related. But how do you know?!

This shit reminds me not to take life and work too seriously. I will be like, remember that time when I ran myself down so much that I nearly gave myself half a numb face for life from the worlds longest headache because Shingles came out. That time i nearly blinded myself with Shingles. Plus, if you didn’t know, Shingles really hurtS, guys!

But here’s the thing, we know stress is bad for us. We know that we shouldn’t take life so seriously, all-of-the-time. But it’s a knowledge we know but never listen to. I get angry with myself, that I’m still feeling shit, that I’m still getting sick, that I’m still taking up peoples time with this stuff. But I hope I will always be frustrated from this stuff, because otherwise I think I’d be missing the point. We don’t know how much time we have been allotted in this world. And it’s an unknowing unknown that should help us to be more knowing about how we use our precious time.

And I tell you all of this, because it  serves as a reminder to myself, but I also hope you can learn from my shingle-ness. Try and be less stressed/run-down so you don’t get unnecessary shingles.

I am completely fascinated with the the levels of what we know and un-know, and I’m going to let this help guide me through things.

This is going to be my first 4 days off – in a long time – in which I will literally be doing nothing & not have the guilt of not doing something like revising for exams (as I worked late to finish a crazy deadline this week). And  you know what, I’m going to enjoy every single minute of not knowing and not having an agenda. And you should too.

 

 

 

 

Faith & Doubt (Happy Chinese New Year, Y’all)

I like that Chinese New Year is celebrated in Feb. It gives us a reason and a chance to reflect on what we were hoping to do with the new year at the beginning of January.

Since I’ve been sick, I tell myself that i should never do all the bad things I do again. I should be a better person. I shouldn’t swear, or never drink another can of coke. I try to be the most clean-living person you could hope to meet. But life goes on. Things change, intentions get lost, you say another swear word & order a coke with your take-out food.

I had the MRI scan of my head on Thursday. I’m not a claustrophobic person, but it does feel really tight in there. It makes it almost hard to breathe. I was fine until they administered some contrast medium dye & I was instantly sick as a dog. I don’t think I’ve puked infront of people since I was 5. I spent the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself & embarrassed.  I had what they call a ‘mild’ reaction – something that only effects 1-5% of patients. What odds? Whilst in the machine, trying my best to stay completely still, breathe & not feel trapped or sick. I got thinking about Survivorship and our odds.

I tried for a while to live everyday  like it was my last. Whilst it was fun, and I did some wild things, kept saying “the drinks are on me!”, & i bought my mom ALOT of stuff for christmas, what I ended up with was a pretty shoddy bank balance of being waaaaayyy back in the negative over-draft. It wasn’t ideal.  When you live with this nagging small thought in the back of your mind that you might be dying, you feel like you deserve to spend the rest of your life on permanent vacation. And the reality is, you can’t. You must return to real life. Return to your family, friends, and colleagues.

But how do you slip back into the ordinary world, and your ordinary routine and being your ordinary self when you don’t feel like yourself? When you still feel gruelling poorly with probably only half of the energy you used to have?

I know quite a few people going through some tough things at the moment. All different kinds of tough. From family related, to money related. This is for you guys, to the people who are flagging, those whose energy is slowly decreasing in their personal fight. To those who feel like they’re loosing ground on something, or not responding, or struggling to face something. You’re amazing. What ever you’re going through, whatever it is – it can’t take away your spirituality, your intelligence, your friends or family. It can’t take away your love. Belief & Survivorship is everything.

 

How do you get through these crisis when you feel like you’re missing something, or feeling powerless? I, of course and unfortunately, don’t have the answer to that but I do know that you have to let others help you out, because it really does help. It’s others belief in me, and my want/need to believe in something better for myself and others that motivates me to keep on working. Since being sick, I’ve lost some of my independence  I moved back home to be looked after, I needed to be driven home from having needles stuck in my eyes at the hospital, I need my friends to casually bring up how I am doing so I can get off my chest whatever crazy things have been happening. Their support and belief has gone so far.

What you learn in survivorship is that you learn something new, a perspective almost. There’s this Chinese proverb – which says something like sometimes you need to burn down your house to be able to see the sky. It’s hard. And who knows if I will live, or if my friends problems will resolve themselves – but it gives us an excuse to have another chance at something. I want to work for something more than just myself.

I love riding my bike. One of my love/hate things about Sheffield is that it’s built on 7 hills. Big hills. One day when I was riding down a hill on the outskirts of the city, an unexpected bend came up in the road , a sharp unknowing dangerous turn turned into an open landscape, where trees lined up, and all these hills with the crazy chaotic awesome city behind me and peak ranges stretching to the horizon popped up. I realize now that this is my metaphor for how  life is.

The same bike, I’ve been hit by a car on twice. The second time it happened, i was stunned and found it difficult to get back up off my ass. That’s the point. We’re always getting knocked off our track. You don’t just overcome the odds once and that’s it… Things just keep, you know, happening.

A time to reflect, to gather your belief, get rid of any doubts is a good time. That’s why consciously  celebrating the New Year is a great idea. A month on from my last post about being better? I’ve began ALL of what I said I would do – with 2 exceptions that need to be solved. I’ve not been getting up early nor going to bed early. And I’ve been casually wasting time – like as if it wasn’t precious enough.

Well here it is, again, a reminder to myself. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME SMIZZ. WORK HARDER. BE NICER. BE BETTER. – How to do this? I think organzing my time better would be a big help.

Dear friends, you’re a survivor – be proud. Don’t let doubt cloud your vision or challenge. See you on the mountain side. 🙂 HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEARS Y’ALL!

DSCN3894 copy

 

 

Friendsgiving : Things in Life To Be Thankful For

On Thursday my amazing friends humoured me in re-doing our new Thanksgiving Tradition! We’re all British. Not one of us has American relatives, but we decided to do it because I’m a somewhat wanna-be New Yorker, and by the time November comes around, I’m already super missing the USA. My friends get this. I’m so lucky to have them.

We use Thanksgiving as a great excuse to actually do the meal we said we would do allllll year. It works because Thanksgiving is just the  1 day, and we make sure it’s traditional American cuisine, it provides us with enough rules so that we actually follow our plans through to the end.  We can’t move the day because we’re tired, or have no money. Ect, as- lets face it, we all do try to put things off, esp. if you’ve had a busy week ect.

I know Thanksgiving is pretty much a gracious tactical error of kindness from the Native Americans, but it does provide a great excuse for reflection and to tell people you’re thankful for them without feeling too Hallmark-y or stupid.

Here’s some things I’m Thankful for this year (in no particular order, they’re all equal):

1.) I am Thankful that I’m still alive, and healthy enough to actually still do what I need to do. Even though I’d love to be fixed. Hopefully soon!

2.) I’m thankful for my amazing friends and family who are unwavering with their support, generous in spirit & time, and loving unconditionally. You guys put up with a lot from me. I’ve never needed to have some people to listen to me moan, get some advise, or be pushed to figure out what’s wrong with me in my life as much as i have had this year. I think some of you actually saved my life by pushing me to get things checked out, or helping me to get there. This is just incredible. I’ll be frank, I didn’t even recognise my amazing support network until I needed it. Perhaps, that’s normal. But as I’ve said before, I’ve never felt more loved in my life, and i’m grateful to be. Thanks guys. I hope that I can give back what you give to me.

3.) I’m thankful for the amazing roadtrip and adventures that I’ve done with friends this year. There’s nothing else that makes you feel more alive than being part of the moment. I think travel helps with that. Being there, testing your limits, creating or showing up for moments that take your breath away. I’m thankful I got to go to USA again. Mane, I LOVE that place!

4.) I’m extremely thankful that my friends and family are well. I’m super thankful that my bro has found something he loves and enjoys and challenges him in a great way. I’m thankful that my mom seems content. I’m thankful that my nan is still here & healthy!

5.) I’m exxxxtremely thankful for all the AMAZING opportunities that have been given to be this year. Drawing a TEDx conference, getting a Site Gallery Residency, doing Doc/Fest again (one of my most favourite things to do in the world), teaching at University, writing my first real funding bid for someone else, Waterstones hiring me back (because they’re an awesome bunch of people to work with) and most recently – my new contract in London, ect. Seriously. I can’t quite grasp just the amazing chances I got this year. I can’t thank everyone enough, because most of these are just cuz other people gave me a chance, took a risk. I hope it paid off for y’all!

6.) I’m thankful to live in a country where Healthcare is free/affordable. I’m even more thankful for all the healthcare people that work relentlessly in a system that is currently under a lot of strain. Doctors, Nurses, assistants, receptionists – you guys rock. NHS is justa  beautiful thing.

 

I think in order to live the best life this is probably some good advise/reminders:

Try to wake up early. Get enough sleep. Show up. Learn how to think. Be genuine, but be nice. Use envy for motivation instead of destruction. Do what you say you’re going to do. Ensure balance in every area of your life. Confront repressed thoughts immediately. Surround yourself with people who are better than you (but remember the thing about envy). Work out every day. Be good at what you do. Do what you love. Money as a means not an ends. Travel. Test your limits. Read. Get lost. Test your ideas/thoughts. Remember, everything you think is important – isn’t. Everything that you think is unimportant- is.  Have good friends. Never settle. Lean in to it.

 

What’s going on with me.

It’s been a small while since I last blogged. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will know i’ve been poorly/ill/sick.  And still am. Everytime I start getting my artworking life back in order something else happens.

I’ve been having bone ache, almost constantly for 3 weeks. It’s coming up to a month soon! It started almost immediately after my Site Residency finished (thankfully!) Although thinking back, there were signs of whatever I have there too – but I just thought I was simply tired from working late, exchanging lots of ideas & keeping down my other jobs.

I have night-sweats (like wake up soaked), my arms specifically feel like something is stabbing/eating away at me with pins and have a numbness about them like when you’re donating blood & the needle gets really uncomfortable, i’m fatigued for no reason at all, i’ve lost my appetite (some days it’s there though),   sometimes I’m super breathless – not like i can’t breathe but like i’ve not got enough oxygen and i have bizar heart-palpitations which from time to time make me feel really light headed & fainty. And yet i’m totally 100% in myself! Like i can do everything, go to work, ride my bike, finish stuff, i look ok,  just not to my usual energy levels.  I took painkillers prescribed by this hot doctor, but they made me 100% worse. I had an alergic reaction to them. Who knew?!

My second Dr tried to make out that I was depressed. LOL. This is not the case!  (i looked the other symptoms of feeling depressed and I don’t feel sad) Or stressed/anxious. And for those people who do suffer from the above: I SALUTE YOU! if you have the deal with the above regularly! Having been stressed/anxious i know the above is also not that.

People say its because i’ve cut Coca-Cola out of my life. I’m sure it’s not that. It’s been 2.5 months and I’m drinking the equivalent – Tea, and ribenna/Lucazade. Originally we thought it was a virus, but after feeling constantly the same – i had some bloodtests. I’m just waiting for the outcome. So if you do follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter. Here is my apology for constantly moaning. And by Tuesday we should have diagnosis! And some peace & quiet from the hypacondria.

Yeah! And to my friends, thanks for being supportive! I honestly can say that i’ve NEVER felt like this in my life.

 

 

Advise to myself, to-do-list, reminders for life generally.

remember everything is connected.   start anywhere.   learn to fail, or fail to learn.   master yourself.    create your own systems.    good questions are very important.    strike a balance between thinking and doing.    mind and body are not separate.     exercise.    walk when you can.     books and travel are more important than cars and houses.    keep a journal/sketchbook/blog.    every person is your teacher.     no segregation by age, gender, race or sexual orientation.

never forget that things change.  act or be acted upon.   learn to filter information.   enjoy the company of free spirits.   heart and head in equal masures.   creation > criticism.   reading is essential.   laugh when ever you can.    the world is not a burden.    keep a reading list.     never stop playing games.    dont hold peoples games against them.     decide which games you want to join.    feel free to change your mind.   money is a means not an ends.

resist cultural paranoia.  read nietzsche.  read kerouac.  study john cage.   self direction.   photography and video, but dont get lost in the medium.   loose connections are often as pivotal as close ones.   character is more powerful than public  opinion.   read emerson and theoreau.   swim in the sea.   why do you want the things you want?   when you feel sad, get active.  there’s always more work to do.   you are not your job.  be aware that the majority of the world is anti-intellectual.

majorities usually devolve to the lowest common denominator.   none-the-less learn  to work in groups.   most peoples ideas of “cheating” revolve around archaic systems.   as soon as you get power, disperse it.   absolute power corrupts absolutely.  ignore any of this if you need to.   involve yourself with things greater than you are.

have a mission.  think ahead.  leave a legacy.  economic injustice is nothing new.  economic injustice institutionalises racism.   don’t tune out poverty or madness.   help others who are close to you first.  people, NOT numbers.  socratic method = specific > general.  rationalism doesn’t explain everything.    learn from people as well as books.   spend some time in new york city.    try and be polite.   we wish to use history only insofar as it serves the living – Nietzsche.   life=thought.    infinite contingency.

follow links/subconsious flows.   1 -2- 1 relationships.   studio as a room of one’s own.    post studio art vs family living.    whose office can you borrow?   start your own business.  learn to forget the right things.   delegation of power as a means of democratic circulation.   learn to be your own best teacher.   your teachers are those who might be of some assistance.   homework is for slow students.    a good student assigns their own work.    if all you have is a hammer, every problem is  a nail.   what artwork isnt pedagogical to other artists?

academic but not dry.  my great moments of education so far involved flirtation.   sloppy, sexy, intellectualism.  crush as theory object.   feel free to have your own sense of humour.  charisma as commodity.   community building as enlightening self interest.  ideas are a dime a dozen.  fabrication for the masses.  intense boredom is a resource.   it’s a privilege  to be alive right now.  more hours in a day.   be so busy that rejection never fazes you.   lifelong learning.   buzzwords and data clouds.  uncommon sense is in demand and in short supply.  copy /paste/delete.   use your library card. easy come – easy go.  seperate your wants from needs.  whether for a job or a  lover,, make sure you want instead of need. don’t be needy.

don’t fear making mistakes in public, just keep going.   feminism taught – the personal is the political. surprise yourself.  our problems help give meaning to our lives,  in many respects giving is better than recieving.  never wait for freedom – seize it.

Things to worry about & not to worry about:

In 1933, renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows.

 

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?