1. Hello, silver lining. I realised that losing one's job is a licence to call oneself a full time artist.
2. The indulgent anticipation of travel. I woke up on Sunday morning next to the boy that I’m crazy about. He hugged me good morning and whispered, “Just imagine what country we’ll be waking up to in four months”.
3. Trying something new. Spending the night asleep on the floor, just because we could. I woke up feeling delightfully aligned and surprisingly well rested.
4. Inspirational women and mutual admiration. Van Badham: internationally renowned playwright, lecturer, and (as of this week,) successful author. She epitomises all that is young, vibrant, and ever so wonderful about the creative world. I last saw her in London in 2009, but she was back in Oz this week for her packed-to-the-rafters but somehow still adequately supplied with wine book launch in Leichhardt. Last night in Wollongong she reappeared; thin, fabulous, and self-assured (as always) in a gorgeous yellow cardigan and those divine silver tights. With her “low threshold for wank”, she undermined every pretentious hipster in the room (and there sure were a lot of them) with her sharp wit, infallible intellect and natural eloquence. “Brenna is fabulous,” she said to her friends, “journalist, writer, talented artist - and she organises exhibitions.”
5. Being able to let go. My book collection, which has sat neatly stacked in six storage boxes for over a year, has been halved. I now own only the best, most treasured stories, and can pass the others on to new homes. The romance associated with traversing the globe, free of possessions, with no reason to return and nothing to tie me down (you know the script) has outweighed my previous penchance for op shop bargains and darling bric-a-brac which would have otherwise beautified the fictitious home of my dreams.
6. The first day of spring smelled like cut grass, salt spray, jasmine flowers and warm earth – every cliché I had hoped for. Also, the grass is growing faster than the guineapigs can eat it.
7. When experiments just work. Strawberry sorbet and rice milk makes the best non-dairy strawberry milk. And the vegan chocolate cake, which called for silken tofu instead of eggs (I only had firm tofu so I was sure it would be lumpy), the batter of which was so runny that I never thought it would set, was absolutely divine.
8. The excitement and anticipation of change. When all your friends have the same colour hair, it’s time for something drastic. My hair doesn’t define me anymore. It’s high time I cut it off.
9. Define success. My measure of artistic triumph has always been superficial: artists sell work. I concluded that those ‘sold’ dots on the wall would be my only ticket to that painfully elusive club which I had craved membership to since, as a guilty five year old, I secretly and indulgently paged through mum’s copy of ‘Nudes of the Renaissance’. Selling my first works was exhilarating, but I have since realised that I became an artist long before the frames were on the wall. I had organised and executed an exhibition, I had made art for this exhibition, I had filled diaries with sketches, and (may I indulge myself briefly,) I had three exhibitions running simultaneously, at the same time, concurrently, in chorus, and all together at once. I had made art because I wanted to, not because uni declared that I should. I had become an artist without even realising it.
10. Staying positive at your worst. Now, I’ve filled out a lot of those mental health questionnaires in my time. There are two questions they always ask: “How often do you feel worthless?” and “How often do you have nothing to look forward to?” I realised this week that I always answer these questions the same. No matter how bad things get, I know I’m special, and that there are always things to look forward to.