Where The Wild Things Are; Finding Creativity In Wild Places

My passion for spending time in nature originated as a child. Like most of us discover from an early age, the outdoors offers up an exciting playground. Trees to climb, rivers to paddle, clouds to watch. These are all things that ignite sparks of imagination for a child.

Growing up in rural Dorset sounds like the perfect idyll doesn’t it? We lived in the lush green countryside next to a dairy farm. I had dens all over the place; in an old pig sty, in the barn where the bats lived, in the hayloft where the swallows nested. I used to sit and read our pigs stories, convinced that their grunts were in appreciation of my characterful voice.

But in truth my childhood wasn’t a happy one. I was a troubled child, never quite fitting in, preferring my own company. Perhaps it was because of the abuse I was subjected to by my Stepdad. I will never know what kind of child I might have been had he not come into my life. But what I do know is that despite the trauma I experienced, my solace was found outdoors. I used the one ticket I had to escape; my imagination.

Wandering the land around the farm certainly gave me a sense of physical freedom and it was here that I could imagine another world. I could escape into a world of stories, poems and pictures. I would write and draw about the adventure and magic of the land; Wild horses, woodland witches and magic happenings. I still have the books that I wrote and illustrated, and sometimes read them to my own children. It gives me great comfort to know that I had this form of escapism when I was a child.

This creativity followed me through life; art, music, poetry became an important way for me to express myself. I was drawn to other creatives, and when I left school I ran away with a group of circus performers and travelled Europe for several months. It was to be a life changing experience, to live like circus gypsies on the road, using our imagination and creativity to earn a living. I learnt to stilt walk, ran children’s workshops and busked on the streets using dance improvisation and costume. But although I enjoyed the freedom, I felt as though I was living someone else’s idea of a creative life.

It was during this trip that I met an artist whose outlook on the world taught me a great deal about what motivates us creatively. His commitment to his own path inspired me to continue with what came naturally to me; My writing. We had a brief love affair when we returned to Bristol in the UK. We spent time together talking about what inspired us and would often sit together, in our own seperate worlds while I wrote and he sketched. He went on to become one of the most well known graffiti artists in the world; Banksy.

However, I went on to become a much lesser known alchemist; converting poetry into lyrics and stories into songs, I wrote music to set the scene. This became my life and I eventually became a singer/songwriter. But by this time I was battling with my mental health; depression and anxiety often sabotaging any potential opportunities that came my way. My lack of self confidence eventually resulted in me withdrawing from performance, and after 20 years working hard at a career in the music industry I turned my back on music all together.

Having children was also a big part of this decision. My life in music just didn’t seem to fit around being a mum. I retrained, got a ‘proper’ job working as a bookkeeper which was flexible enought to fit around family life. But, in short, being disconnected from my wild, creative side while continuing to battle with my mental health was like a form of self neglect. I’d silenced my own inner voice, and hidden the only true way for me to express myself. Eventually, after years of trying to be someone else, I suffered a complete burn out. Panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and an overwhelming anxiety that threatened to engulf me, all raged at me. It was at this point, at the age of 42, that I was diagnosed with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder). A condition that I now realise I have probably been living with all my adult life.

And so, I began a journey of trauma recovery which not only required immediate NHS therapy, but now includes my own form of nature therapy. Getting out into nature is, like when I was a child, the only place I can feel free. I find a sense of calm that I’m so in need of. Wild swimming, trail running and walking is all making me physically healthier and noticeably less stressed. But more than this, the most wonderful, unexpected thing has happened; I feel wildly inspired by my surroundings. I feel creative again!

It began as a flicker of a flame deep inside me. The way that nature makes me feel is so transformative that I feel I must respond. This flame of desire has grown inside me and I feel driven to reply to the wild in the only way I know how – to write, to draw, to try and capture these incredible experiences and try to express how grateful I am, and what it means to me.

And so, this deeply buried form of expression has begun to resurface. Wild words are again on the tip of my tongue; poetry has begun to spill out of me, artistic ideas and creations are all coming to me, and I am inspired to create! And this river of creativity that started as a small mountain spring at first, now flows like a torrent, into an ocean of possibility. A celebration of where the wild things are, describing the beauty and magic that it bestows upon the world!

And in doing so, there is a synchronicity that takes place between me, the world, and my inner child. We are one again. I have something to believe in, and trust again, something that is GOOD and PURE. It seems that the power of nature is not only that it can show us how to grow and adapt, but it reminds us that we too are a part of something great, something natural and good. That by connecting with nature, we are connecting to a life source; a gift, a belonging, and our true authentic selves.

I feel this is the way things were meant to be, and this is the key to a happy future. We just have to keep looking for where the wild things are. And when we are lucky enough to find it, we mustn’t turn our backs on it, we must embrace it and tend to it, because THIS is what makes the world a magical place to live in.

Girl Gone Wild xx

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