Athletes and Artists

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I’m no athlete that’s for sure…

I admire the women athletes who have begun talking about how their menstrual cycle affects their performance. I admire the marathon runner who allowed her flow to flow to make the point. I think I am probably too old to make such a personal and public performance/demonstration, and I certainly had the sort of upbringing that continued and reinforced the taboos. But I’m older now. I am more of a feminist now. I see the importance of eliminating such taboos now. I think it would have been helpful to me as a young woman to know more about my own body. How I have come to know it is through my own experience. I could not have done, and would not make now, that public a stance. Some things are too ingrained. But I can support and admire. And of course I can write.

I am 57. Peri-menopausal. Every 28 days (or close, it’s getting rather more unpredictable lately) My heart sinks. Here we are again. Surely I’ve done enough?

Those things have an effect on my work. Of course they do. Many days in the month I have boundless energy, I am well up for life and art and gigs and fun…. but…. Yesterday, to be frank, was a fucking miserable day. Really. I dragged myself out of bed just before noon, having hardly slept until 4:00 ish, when I descended into a deep and weird-dream-filled sleep until 11:30… THAT day. My joints ached, I had a headache, my eyes wouldn’t focus properly, I had cramps… the whole box of delights.

I read a little and drew a little. The drawing was grim. Fitful. Frantic. Vile. Cruel. It was a direct representation of my mood on the page. Bones and blood and gnarled forms. I slumped in a chair. I ate the wrong things at the wrong time. I snarled at anyone who approached, in reality or virtually.

Today is a different day. Throughout the awful days I try to tell myself that I will be ok tomorrow, or the next day. I try not to make important decisions or do important things. But of course you can’t always predict with accuracy which day it will be, and some things you have no control over. Sometimes the gig or the work elsewhere is on THAT day and I’ve spent 45 years just getting on with it. These days I do less, but it still gets to me. Every woman will have similar experiences, some more, some less.

Anyway… the point of all of this is that in amongst the abject fog of yesterday, an idea started to grow. It had germinated ages ago I’m sure, but I have only just recognised it. From under the quilt and hot water bottle the connections between the drawing, the songs, the sounds began to coalesce around The Tenth Woman. I knew it was there, I trusted it. I’ve been working through it every day for months now. And yesterday, overnight, and this morning it has become real.

My work goes in cycles as well as my body. Every part of those cycles has a purpose and meaning. One part relies on the other. I can’t have those periods of high energy and productivity without the periods of stillness and pain.

For The Tenth Woman, this is how life is made. This is how life is lived. And it is certainly how the Art is made.

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