This morning as I walked to work, the sun came out just as I was crossing the railway line. It was such a cheering sight – especially after what feels like weeks of rain, and a particularly stormy few days here. It seems ages since we’ve had any sun, but I think that’s more imagined than meteorologically accurate!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this lockdown much harder than the others in terms of seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccine is obviously very encouraging, but the heartbreaking sadness for all the people lost and so badly affected by this, and the endless sense of doom – not helped by the cloudy gloom that’s been hanging over London of late – have made it particularly tough going. And I consider myself one of the lucky ones – my family are safe and well, I’m not having to home school, and I’m able to carry on working; it’s all ok. But still it’s hard to find sunny moments.
Last night watching the inauguration of Biden and Harris, and in particular seeing Amanda Gorman, the US Youth Poet Laureate’s incredible piece The Hill We Climb – it suddenly felt like some dark clouds might be lifting. So the bright sun today not only raised my mood, but seemed to reflect a shift in the world as well. Although as yesterday I was discussing the problems of ‘pathetic fallacy’ with the teenager I work with (I’m part time Learning Support for a very lovely GCSE student – a job that I’m very glad to have been able to continue during lockdown) – maybe that feeling of the world becoming a little sunnier was just wishful thinking!
It did make me think though, that this week there have been many reasons to feel encouraged and cheerful – maybe even hopeful – about the future.
Earlier this week I had a zoom chat with an old friend Jess, who also runs her own business, so that we could both decide on some aims for the next few months, and talk through any worries we have. It’s nice to have a pal to do that with! One of my favourite things about Jess is that she is genuinely encouraging – she will often make me stop and properly acknowledge how well something is going, or how far things have come, rather than letting me brush things off with a shrug of the shoulders. Jess is a relationship coach, and part of the way she helps people change their patterns of behaviour (whether with work colleagues, or with family) is to encourage them to notice the good things that others do. (Jess made a show about this in 2019 – called Do You See? , which I directed. It was a Ted Talk Cabaret – yes we invented a whole new genre!) I think noticing and encouraging is a habit that could genuinely make life better for everyone.
Encouragement sits at the heart of Bumblebee too. The big aim of course is to encourage you to be more creative, but I know that creativity too often comes with pressure. As I mentioned in last weeks’ blog, sometimes just getting started is the hardest thing – and it’s easy to let self-doubt creep in and make the creative process tortuous. But it doesn’t have to be, if we try to swap the pressure for gentle encouragement. I came across a little bit of wisdom from artist Jesse Sussman, that I shared on Instagram the other day:
“Maybe art isn’t about talent. Maybe art is about expression.
Maybe the greatest talent is giving ourselves the permission to express”.
I feel like this should be written into the Bumblebee constitution. Give yourself permission. Encourage yourself and encourage others; it might just feel like sunshine after the rain.
Here’s a few more things I’ve felt encouraged by this week:
My mum and dad are getting their first vaccine doses this week
Wednesday was Bumblebee’s busiest day yet – 4 new Bees in one day!
I’ve been doing yoga once a week since November and I can now put my hands flat on the floor when I touch my toes
Inspired by February’s Big Bee book I’ve been writing (and illustrating!) postcard stories – I’ll promise to share some sometime!
Spring is coming – little crocus shoots are coming through in the garden
What do you feel encouraged by right now – either creatively, in life, or out on the world!? Comment below if you’d like to share!
And here are some links:
Jess’ website, in case you fancied a nose around at what she does.
Amanda Gorman’s poem is here – it’ll be 5 minutes of your time well spent!
I hope you find some encouragement and cheer this week, and happy Bumblebee-ing!
Love, Imogen x
More creative prompts for January’s books!
Big Bees – The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk by Kate Davis
Read ‘Cryptography’. Now find a high point – an upstairs window, or out on a walk – and map what you see before you. Take photos, draw a map to the scale that suits you, create a key, draw some elements from different angles, and include any details that matter to you.
Busy Bees – White Fox by Chen Jiatong, illustrated by Viola Wang
Using the front cover of the book as inspiration, create a snowy scene. How does the snow change the landscape? What peeks through the snow? Can you place the characters from the story in the scene? And can you find a way to make the ice and snow glitter in the light?
Mini Bees – Aaahhh! By Guilherme Karsten
What is the loudest sound you can make? Can you invent a musical instrument that makes an incredible sound? Collect tubes from the inside of loo rolls and build your own version of a didgeridoo, or find papers that crinkle, things to bang – have an experiment!