You need rain to make a rainbow

As I sit here trying to find the words to write this blog post, a part of me wonders if I need to share so much of my personal life in the first place.

It's true, I don't need to say anything at all - but I've been trying to deal with so much recently that it's pretty much all I have to write about.

Where to begin...

Well, the month of fashion weeks began and I was raring to go. My first fashion weeks... how exciting! All those clothes to illustrate! I was also quite terrified that I wouldn't be up to it - and in many ways I wasn't, although that was mostly down to the way I approached it.

Learning curves can often be steep and difficult. My confidence took a bit of a pounding, but my love of illustrating didn't desert me, I just didn't know if fashion illustration was right for me. It was a real 'what shall I do?' moment. I just felt swamped by he sheer number of clothes and accessories... I was drowning in content I couldn't hope to keep up with.

I guess what I learned was that I like to produce considered images with character. I love drawing faces and abstract details - not a complete up-and-down look reminiscent of a runway photo. I love the looks captured by the photographers who work with fashion houses and designers on their promotional shoots for the collections - they provide great context to the clothes that is full of the character I love to try and illustrate.

This approach takes time. I'm conscious that Instagram requires me to post every day, if not several times a day, to keep my existing followers happy and to gain new ones. Still, I just can't post work I'm not entirely happy with... I can't be something I'm not and that's that.

Besides, I've been trying to carry on working while other things in my life have been really difficult.

This is the personal stuff I was talking about...

As you know already, Little Bear had started pre-school and despite the problems of commuting by bus and working from a temporary studio, she loved it and it was all going better than I could have hoped.

Then two things happened...

My dad got sick with a chest infection and had to be rushed to hospital in the middle of the night as he couldn't breathe. He has other health problems, and so this was serious. While in hospital he had a heart attack... his fifth in three years. It is a miracle he's still alive to be honest, but every time he's rushed into hospital again we wonder if this time he may not make it. To our complete disbelief, dad was then sent home while still quite ill because there were no beds available on the cardiac unit to continue his treatment.

On top of this, my mum is partially sighted and although she's fiercely independent, she needs my help too. I visit at least three times a week, take her shopping for groceries and generally try to keep her spirits up.

Then something happened at Little Bear's school last week. I had taken a happy, confident and eager little girl to school and I picked up a very distressed and unhappy one. I have been trying to get to the bottom of what caused the upset, but whatever it was the teacher did not do the one thing I'd asked her to if Little Bear ever got upset - call me.

So, on top of everything else, my heart was being broken because my child had wanted me, her mummy - who she's never been separated from since birth - but mummy didn't come because a stupid professional, who I had trusted to care for her, thought that distracting her with some colouring was good enough.

Well, after several days of trying to reassure my baby that mummy is here and isn't going anywhere, of dealing with new behaviour, including anger and tears that come from just the tiniest of things like choosing the wrong book for bedtime - I admit I've struggled to find the energy to keep juggling everything, let alone the motivation to do so.

Then, this weekend a light appeared at the end of what had become a very long, dark tunnel.

Firstly, my latest submission for the Draw a Dot Instagram Open Call made it to the final selection. This endorsement of my work couldn't have come at a better time, after the disappointment I'd felt over what I saw as my failure to perform during fashion week.

Secondly, my dad, through some amazing inner strength, showed signs he was improving, so at least I'm not jumping out of my skin every time the phone rings.

Finally, yesterday, Tom, Little Bear and I went to the woods for the afternoon and it felt like it should - a lovely, fun, peaceful family day out. It's been a while since I've been able to relax that much. There's something about being amongst the trees that I find so healing anyway, but as I watched Little Bear playing and laughing, I saw the child I recognised - my dear, sweet, happy child.

Yesterday it felt like a turning point. I got some sense that things will be okay - for now at least. I felt like I could breathe again.

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