Last week, in an attempt to not be in the studio after the girls got home from school, I bought some plants for us to pot in our tiny, unloved and ignored back garden.
Three days later I found myself still there, out in the rain, at 10 o'clock at night, cutting down holly tree branches, pulling out weeds and digging out all the crap that was growing in between Each. And. Every. brick on our path.
And a week on, we've gone from this (and this is actually a couple of years ago before it really got out of hand)....
Gardening has never been my thing. I'm not very good at growing things and if I'm honest the whole thing scares me. I'm frequently amazed that I've managed to grow two such fantastic girls and figure that's as good as it gets.
But this last week I've suddenly discovered a real pleasure in working in the garden and transforming it in to a space that we now all want to spend time in.
Not a single day goes by where I don't create something. And for the last year I've felt a bit like I've been on a hamster wheel, constantly working, constantly trying to catch up, trying to make up for the time I was missing while my mum was in hospital, trying to focus and catch up after she died. I booked a lot of big events to do last year, before I realised that it would be my last few months with mum, and I haven't caught up since.
But I love what I do and even of I didn't have to do it, I'd still do it as much as I've been doing it (although taking away the stress element and the fail element would be nice). So even when I've had a day off, I've tended to find myself in my studio anyway, because if I'm not making something I feel kind of lost.
Last week, when I surprised myself with the energy and inclination to create something in the garden, using my hands in a completley different way, with no planning, no working out of patterns, no delicate, intricate tools, I was shocked to find that this is what's been missing.
In the time since I lost mum, I've kept going, because that's what you do. I haven't talked about it to anyone, and I haven't let myself think about it. But when I'm sewing, or cutting and measuring, I have a lot of time to think and thoughts and memories that I'm not ready for try to force their way in.
But the simplicity and shear physical effort of digging out huge, cemented in border stones, or digging out massive, old, angry (I could be projecting there!) root balls, meant that my mind has had time to go quiet. And I've had the chance to create something real, with a life of it's own. With life that grows.
The fact that we now have an outside space, that we're using every day is just an added bonus. It's a lovely bonus though, and I'm really loving the fact that I can now sit outside and enjoy the (ever fleeting) sun.
I've never understood it before, when people have said that being out there, digging in the dirt is good for the soul, but now I get it.