I listened to a very powerful podcast entitled 'Love thy Villain' recently, hosted by Matthew Syed.
You can find it here.
In it women discuss what happens when they shake off expectations and niceties. I am not talking about become a real 'villain', but just about living life fully, and worrying less about how others might see us. I am conscious of friends who find it hard to set boundaries, and aware that I have become much better at setting boundaries since I thought I might die from breast cancer. (I didn't).
It seems a shame that this revelation required such a dramatic trigger, and I hope that the podcast will help others to feel empowered to make changes.
I tried to find out more about the concept of villain era, and in fact there is very little written about it. It is mostly a TikTok thing, and I don't participate on TikTok.
I found a definition that frames it more positively;
Villain era ; 'a shift in a person's priorities as they reject the societal pressure to always play nice'.
The key to embracing your villain era includes
I have been feeling further 'empowered' since I started thinking about all of this, and wrote myself a list of wishes for the future, on my trusty typewriter, Olive. As you can see, Olive isn't hot on grammar or spelling, but then she doesn't worry about little things like that!
She does have the capacity to surprise though, and no one was more surprised than me when she told me that I yearn for a red cloak and matching boots. I am on the case.....
So how is my list going?
I have cancelled my FRPS assessment for October, as I am not in the slightest bit ready. I don't even have an idea yet, or something specific to say, but I will keep planning for next year, and stop putting myself under too much pressure.
I have successfully made kefir, and sometimes enjoy it, but at other times I can barely eat my breakfast as it tastes so fermented. To my surprise, my other half ( OH) is fully embracing its medicinal properties. So there's a win.
I set off next week for a rail adventure. Bilbao, San Sebastien and Biarritz. This will be a test for a more extensive trip in the future. All alone. I want to see the Guggenheim, and this is my chance. Also to catch up with my nomadic son along the way.
I have just managed a week's hiking holiday in the Dolomites on hand luggage only, so now have my packing list down to a fine art. The hiking was another solo trip, as OH is unable to hike on rugged terrain. I have been really missing mountain hiking, so I decided to 'do it anyway'.
It appeared that women love hiking in mountains more than men. Or at least they like the safety of a group with the challenge of some strenuous hikes. We were 14 women and just 2 men for this adventure. The uphill climbs at altitude were sufficiently challenging for me to ditch my camera and rely on my phone alone for photographs. And it wasn't really about the photography. it was about hiking in the mountains, which makes me happier than anything else that I do.
It was good to find that others had also left their significant others at home in order to fulfil their dreams. I could not compete with the elderly sisters from New Zealand who have been to Nepal five times, and who raced past me up the hill. I will train harder next time. Running up and down the dunes was not enough; I should have been wearing a back pack weighed down with water and waterproofs......
We walked on ridges with far reaching views.
I cannot explain how good that felt. Not villainous. Just uplifting.
And now the summer is heading towards an end I have plans to work on the rest of my list.
A 'red cloak and boots to match' is really me telling myself to embrace my alter ego; a more adventurous and bolder version of myself. I could certainly be a bit more courageous with my clothes, and I do believe it would feel great to walk on the beach with a heavy red cloak wrapped around me like a cocoon.
Going to the ballet is another thing that I don't do enough of, and fits with the instruction to 'indulge in each and every interest that you have'. I will have to add choral music to the list, too. I used to sing a lot, but somewhere along the way I lost my voice. Listening is a reasonable second best.
So where does art come into all of this? I have tried adding some silver leaf onto a cyanotype, which didn't go too well. New skills take patience and time. I tend to forget the thousands of hours that have gone into getting myself this far on my artistic journey.
I have various things that I would like to try, including a wire sculpture, inspired by the work of Gego. There are workshops that a braver me would be running already. Making a wish list has been a vital reminder of what I wish to achieve.
I have pinned it up in my studio and on the wall in my home office.
I am working on it steadily. Some of it will take time, but knowing what is on it makes me feel positive.
I met some lovely people on my hiking trip, one of whom shared this extract from a Hermann Hesse poem with me.
'A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.
High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.'
My list is an attempt to journey forth and throw old habits off........
What would you include on yours?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to escape from the day to day juggling act that is ordinary life, and stay in a place where the only thing that matters is your creative practice?
I am recently returned from a residency at Vashon Island, near Seattle, where I had just such an experience for a whole three and a half weeks. To say that I had a wonderful time would be an understatement. It was refreshing and revitalising in so many ways.
Many people wonder what an artist residency actually is. I would describe it as time spent in a new place, focussing on your art, in a supportive environment without the day to day distractions of normal daily life. It might just be for a week, or it could be much longer. Some residencies are free, and others are paid, often with the option to apply for a grant to support the time away.
So why should you do this? Is it worth your time and money?
I will give you 10 reasons why you will find it worthwhile. If not more......
That feels like enough reasons for now.
Here's a little book that I made in my first few days when I was still finding my feet.
If you are tempted, then here are some good websites to get you started.
Res Artis- worldwide network of artist residencies
Artjobs - search for residencies here
And don't forget to follow the hashtags #artistresidency and #artistresidencies on Instagram.
Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more or if you have any good tips.
Caroline Fraser - an ordinary life
on life, suburban living, art, creativity, photography, book art and travel.
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Welcome to Caroline Fraser Photography
Colourful abstracted and traditional photographic landscapes, book art and workshops. Capturing the moods and beauty of nature whether in wild open places or in small sanctuaries in suburbia.