Hi, I'm Claire. I am Mum to Jonathan, who's 11 and Charlie, who's 3. I am happily married to Dominic. I run my own business, a local parenting magazine, and I have a part time job within the Local Education Authority co-ordinating a new qualification across a partnership of secondary schools. I live in Yorkshire in a beautiful cottage in a rural village.
The last couple of years have been madly busy, but my creative pursuits have kept me sane. This blog is dedicated to wonderful creativity: my resolution for 2009 is to be more creative, learn new techniques and grow.
5 years ago I was hit by the broody bat. Well, not so much hit as mugged by a bunch of broody hoodies. Conceiving and delivering a baby became an obsession. Charlie arrived on the 30th June 2005. However, ironically, I slipped into a deep post-natal depression that left me frightened, lonely, frustrated and bitter. How could what I wanted so much be so dreadful? Poor Charlie had colic and an undiagnosed lactose intolerance, so he would regularly cry for 8 hours solid. However, the depression felt almost unrelated to him: I was too tired, too tested and too overwhelmed. One of those overwhelming feelings was love for the person who had changed my life so profoundly. It was a confusing time. What helped me, strange as it sounds, was cooking. I have always been an enthusiastic cook (I spent many a teenage school holiday cooking recipes from my Mum's books whilst she was at work) and I thought I could cook well. But I needed a diversion and cooking gave that to me: I could complete the tasks on a list and feel a sense of completion that isn't possible with a small, 24 hour baby. I may even have gone over the top: by the time Charlie was 6 months old I had made 150 jars of jams and chutneys! However, the wonderful process of creativity gave me solitude when I needed it, emptied my brain when it craved quiet, gave me something to think about and plan, and gave me a product that proved I had achieved something.
A year later we moved from London to Yorkshire. I was in a much better place mentally, and felt the need to reflect on my experience and help others who may be feeling the same things. It was a convoluted set of circumstances, but it led to me starting the magazine. I have learned such a lot from running my own business that, whatever happens, I can take away knowledge, experience and growth. However, one notable opportunity it brought was the opportunity to write. I always loved writing, I had planned to be a journalist when I grew up. I especially loved creative writing. Here I was, suddenly, with a chance to write for a proper audience. It was amazing, it encouraged me to read more widely, to analyse the writing style of everything I read and to reflect on my own work. I'd hate to mislead you: I am no Jeanette Winterson. However, it was another, fun creative opportunity that changed my focus and allowed me to grow.
This year, prosaic and unrelenting tiredness has taken hold. The sheer emotional scale of the post natal depression and the uphill battle of establishing a business whilst managing a young family has finally hit me.
My plan for this year is to find balance and this is the intention of this blog. I love creating, I love making. I hand-made most of my Christmas presents this year and it felt like a blessing. It felt like the twinkle had returned to my brain. Let me be perfectly straight, from the very beginning, that I make no promises about the quality of my endeavours - there will undoubtedly be as many failures as successes. That is why I am going to have a "lessons learned" page. I am no expert in this field at all. However, as an enthusiastic amateur, I am in it for the adventure - I want to just see what I can do, if I put my mind to it.
Unwittingly, I realised today, I have also set myself a new challenge. Photography. I need to photograph the things I make, and so I guess that is something I will challenge myself to improve too.
So, here goes.... It might not be pretty, but it sure as hell will be fun!