Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life

Jessie Elliott – society, stereotypes and sparkle

March 21, 2024 Claire Waite Brown/Jessie Elliott Episode 95
Creativity Found: finding creativity later in life
Jessie Elliott – society, stereotypes and sparkle
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Helping everyone to find their sparkle
From a young age, Jessie Elliott struggled with the idea of being her authentic self, feeling the pressure to conform to certain preconceived roles and expectations. She felt the need to shrink herself in order to fit in, stifling her creativity and inner voice.
After the tragic loss of her father, Jessie took a bold step to move from Australia to Scotland, seeking a fresh start where no one knew her past, a period of her life marked by numbing her emotions and avoiding the pain of her loss.
Returning home, Jessie found herself slipping back into old patterns of seeking external validation. It wasn't until she faced postnatal depression following the birth of her first child that she realized the importance of focusing on her own joy and well-being. This realization was the catalyst for her creative reawakening.
Jessie's creative outlet, writing, became a powerful tool for her to process her emotions and connect with others. She has co-authored a picture book titled The Mum Who Found Her Sparkle, inspired by her own experiences and the desire to help others find their joy. The book challenges stereotypes around motherhood, aging, and gender roles, and emphasizes the importance of community and support.

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Researched, edited and produced by Claire Waite Brown
Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips
Artworks: Emily Portnoi
Photo: Ella Pallet

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You know, I'd had a few instances in my life that had, you know, made me a bit fearful of really being who I authentically was. I sort of felt like I needed to shrink that to fit particular roles or ideas. So I think I kept a lot inside. What I ended up deciding to do was pretty much burn my life down. Around me, I was in the last year of my traineeship and I decided that what I needed was to be somewhere where no one knew who I was or what I'd experienced. I was just numbing though. I was just numbing myself out and I didn't have to process what had happened. Sometimes, you know, grandparents are represented in a way that they actually look like great grandparents. We could challenge that a bit. You know, we could challenge those stereotypes around aging because that's not what every Hi, I'm Claire, founder of Creativity Found, a community for creative learners and educators, connecting adults who want to find a creative outlet with the artists and crafters who can help them do so with workshops, courses, online events and kits. For this podcast, I chat with people who have found or re-found their creativity as adults. We'll explore their childhood experiences of the arts, discuss how they came to the artistic practices they now love, and consider the barriers they may have experienced between the two. We'll also explore what it is that people value and gain from their newfound artistic pursuits. This time, I'm chatting with Jessie Elliott about losing and, more importantly, finding her sparkle, and Hi Jess, how are you? I'm great, thanks Claire. How You're very welcome. It's lovely to see you. So start by telling me about the creative outlet that Well, probably one of my biggest ones right now is writing. So I have written a picture book with one of my very, very good friends. So That idea, an idea sort of came into my head, how long ago now was it? 18 months. I was just out of the fourth trimester with my daughter, so my second baby. And I just thought to myself, ah, what about a story about a mum who lost her expression? And sort of from that moment, it all kind of just snowballed and I reached out to my beautiful friend. Mary Sotiropoulos, who is a primary school teacher. And I remember I shared the idea with her and she was very encouraging, very supportive. And I said, no, no, this is a joint project. So, you know, 18 months later it happened and the mum who found her sparkle was born. It was just this really, just wonderful way of me being inspired by an experience I'd had after my first child, my little boy, of postnatal depression and anxiety and using, not only having that as a creative practice, but creating a bit more, you know, language, some accessible language around when we might be struggling or might have lost our sparkle. So just creating some of those opportunities to have those conversations with our little ones and be able to feel worthy of focusing on Yeah, we'll talk about the sparkle and why you felt it was needed, your own experiences and what you used to get your sparkle back as well. But let's go back to you as a youngster, were creative activities a big part of your childhood at I probably, like so many people, would definitely not necessarily identify myself as a creative kid. I always tried to be a good girl, which I know, you know, a lot of people experience. You know, I'd had a few instances in my life that had, you know, made me a bit fearful of really being who I authentically was. I sort of felt like I needed to shrink that to fit particular roles or ideas. So I think I kept a lot inside. I know though, I did early on learn that I felt, I guess, a lot of validation and an ability to connect with someone in making them laugh. I learned really early on that that was a way, yeah, that I could connect with others and still kind of share a bit of who I was. So I found that it has been had an interesting impact on my life growing up. But I love to read and everything like that. I mean, I'd make up stories with my Barbies and, but I mean, I couldn't draw, you know, I couldn't do those things that I told myself would mean I was a creative, which I know it's Definitely. I've heard it so much recently as well and I'm talking with people all over the world and they're all experiencing the same thing but not realizing that all these other people are experiencing it as well. So then if you said about wanting to please and be in the right role, so tell me about how your education continued, what your plan was, whether it was your own plan, I don't know maybe you were influenced in kind of what you went on and wanted to I was always someone who wanted to fight for someone who was facing discrimination or being marginalized. I always felt a very strong sense of justice and fairness. So that was something that has always stayed with me throughout my life. I think it definitely influenced the education I tried to go into. So I did apply initially for social work at uni and I didn't get into social work but I got into social science and could major in sociology and community development. And I had started at uni and I was maybe a few weeks in and I saw a job for a trainee community worker in local government. And I remember my dad showed me the ad and I thought, oh, yeah, that might be fun. That'd be really great. I just need to have started a degree in social science. Yeah, I'm doing that. This sounds awesome. I had no idea a job like that existed. In Australia in high school, your careers advisor gave you this really big book of careers, of jobs, and it was like, there you go. Who's won? Who's won for that? And I had seen social worker, but in terms of community planning, community development, I had no idea those types of roles existed. So I applied for the role, I got it, and I changed to external study and worked full time. And I was with that organization for five years in the trainee role, but I guess For me, that's when things kind of probably got really, really tricky because I lost my dad to suicide. And at that time, so I was 22 and I did not handle that very well at all. And what I ended up deciding to do was pretty much burn my life down around me. I was in the last year of my traineeship and I decided that what I needed was to be somewhere where no one knew who I was or what I'd experienced. So I left for Scotland. To go. Wow. Yeah. So, um, a little bit, a couple of steps back was that one of my very, very good friends, she had been accepted to go and do a semester abroad. And I said to her, what would you think if I came with you? And she said, okay, well, we can go to Leeds, Belfast or Dundee. And I said, well, my dad always wanted to go to Scotland and he never got there. How about we go to Scotland? She's like, Dundee it is. So, so she applied to go to Dundee Uni and my plan was that I was just going to go for five months. I was in a relationship. We lived together. We had a dog together. And, you know, with my work, it was, you know, I said, oh no, I'm coming back. I'm just taking five months leave without pay. I'm coming back. And I left. You know, hugged my family goodbye. I think at the airport that day though, I remember my mom being there, my sister and my partner at the time, and we're just sitting and I'm waiting to go into that next stage where family couldn't go anymore. And mom just started crying. She was just like, you have to go now. Like, this is torture. You can't just keep sitting here. So I was like, okay. So I put my big girl pants on and left. And that trip. My friend Laura, obviously, knew me, but it was a completely new experience. And I hung out with her for a couple of weeks while I sort of found my feet. And then after that, we really had very separate experiences. So I got a job at a pub and I did everything. Like I did kitchen, bar, cleaning, everything. And she had her uni friends. And sometimes we'd come together, but it was really incredible to have also our own circles and, you know, our own things going on. But I got to do what I thought I needed to do. I was just numbing though. I was just numbing myself out and I didn't have to process what had happened. And so I got to kind of just. be whoever I wanted. And I think I felt very sort of close to my authentic self as well during that year because I think for me when I just experienced such a tragedy, it's like all of the rules disappeared. I was so angry that that had happened and so sad for losing my dad, but I was really sick of following the rules and I just I went off the rails, obviously. But I think, you know, for me at that time, it was probably the real first dark night of the soul that I'd experienced. And nothing obviously was the same since that time. And I ended up staying for nearly a year. My friend came home after her semester and I stayed. And at one point that was going to be me, you know, I was going to live in Scotland. I was never coming home. This was me. And I remember even walking to work one day and just feeling this overall sense of calm, like this is exactly where I needed to be. And I don't ever remember. There was only probably one other time in my life that I had felt that. And it was the first time I had experienced loss and that was when Um, when I was 17, I lost my very, very good friend to cancer. So I remember, you know, a month after having that experience, maybe a little bit more, just, you know, just having this just moment. I don't know. I'm not quite sure what sort of was the lead up to it, but you know, I think sometimes I like to think it was that person coming back and just making sure I knew that I, you know, everything was okay. You know, I was where I needed to be and I was loved. And I was supported. So interestingly, those are probably the only two times in my life I remember experiencing that feeling of just being calm and safe and loved. So that's pretty unique, I think, in my life to experience like those moments. But yeah, I remember I stayed in Scotland approaching a year. I just started to feel this intense ache for home. You know, I missed my mom. Her and my sister had come over to visit. I'd been okay after that still for a few more months, but I just remember just feeling this ache. This is where I needed to be at that point, but it's not where I'm staying. And you know, that experience had been what it needed to be for me. In saying that, I remember talking to my sister and she said, you've only got a few more months. You've said to yourself, you're going to come home at this point after the year. Do that. You can do this. You can do this. I went on a few more holidays because everything's so close. I It was incredible. Well, if you're going to come all that way, that's right. And I'm pretty certain my sister Shanna said something to that effect. But during that time, you know, I was just numbing. I wasn't actually doing anything yet, sort of just numbing, I think, and wanting to process, but not really knowing what I needed to do. So do you think, looking back on it, and we'll talk about the future in a minute, do you think that that numbing then meant that what you had been putting down came up again I feel like probably it happened when I experienced postnatal depression and anxiety with Finlay. It's so fascinating. I just remember sort of falling back, I guess, into old habits and old beliefs when I came home. So that familiar environment, you know, it sort of just, I slipped back in. I didn't slip back into that job. That wasn't sort of a possibility for me at that time. But yeah, I do remember just sort of looking for that external validation and for people to tell me who I was and what I was meant to be doing. It was so fascinating. I even, I remember I had this job and it was in an industrial area. I was the general manager's EA slash receptionist slash person who invoiced slash people who nearly did payrolls. Like I did everything. And I just remember not, you know, I couldn't advocate on behalf of myself. I was just trying to please everyone and trying to be who everyone wanted me. to be. I had a lot of working through internalized misogyny and, oh, I even hate to say it, but it was this little bit of a pick-me energy. I hate it. I hate saying that. You know, like there was still this, you know, looking to people older than me, looking to men for that validation. This person who I sort of reported to, who I just remember would say the most inappropriate things and I would never feel like I could call this person on it, but he was clearly taking advantage of the fact that I was young and well, it was just really odd. Like it was really odd, but just a time in my life when I again just slipped back into trying to make everyone else happy and yeah, just not focusing on what I needed, what I wanted and holding people accountable around me either. So yes. So you can see that now. What has changed? Yeah. To allow you to be able to vocalise that now and be, to me, certainly talking to you right now, quite a Ah, I got, um, I got sick of myself, Claire. I am absolutely over this because experiencing what I did with Finlay, you know, just feeling that maternal rage of, Why is this on me? Why is this happening to me? Where is my village? It sort of started very quietly because I would sort of try and shove it down, but to a point where I just couldn't, I could no longer ignore that it was there and that I wanted more. and that I deserved more. So, yeah, I think that that was definitely the catalyst for me not accepting that I could continue the way that I was and knowing that I had a voice and that I absolutely can share that voice to challenge rigid gender stereotypes, do my part to bring about gender equity. I'm raising a son and a daughter. I have a huge role to be able to bring my children up to expect equal division of labor in a household. It's so fascinating. So much of it starts there, people feeling worthy of rest and for their own joy. I think that's again, you know, with Sparkle, just something that it's a conversation I wanted to contribute to, but in my way, because I think I find it very easy to be silly and like to use humor. That is like a default for me. And it's something that I really enjoy, even though it did somewhat start as this ability to connect with someone and, you know, receive that. Um, it wasn't praise, but it was attention, but I sort of, I learned like, yes, you know, that's a way that feels really good for you to help others feel safe and welcome and valid. So yeah, it's, it's become a bit of a, a superpower and one that I absolutely enjoy using and definitely even support my creative practice, which Speaking of creative practice, how does this come in and how do you then use that, know you want to do something with that and how do you physically, logistically Yes, that's right. And I started a little bit with my biggest, Finlay. So I would set a certain writing task. I didn't know why I did this. It sort of just happened after maybe nine, 10 months. I sort of said to myself on a Monday, you do this. On a Tuesday, you do this. And I found a real good sense of purpose in that. It was, you know, having a bit of not structure, but it was if you can write a few sentences about this certain prompt in a day, then Like, that's awesome, like great job and you've done something for you amongst all of the noise and everything else and people needing you. So it started small like that. And then that grew and grew and grew and I started writing more about my experience and I ended up getting published in Elephant Journal when I think it was, you know, maybe Finley was maybe 18 months old. So just writing about an experience I'd had. So the article was called Toxic Professionalism. for traits that are considered professional but are actually toxic. So I wrote that article. Um, it was quite a few thousand words and yeah, published it and it got three and a half thousand reads and I think maybe 80 hearts and all this type of thing. So the message kind of really resonated with people. So you just, again, more of that ability to connect with others through sharing vulnerably, um, your experience. So I sort of just kept going, kept going. But when I was leading into having my second Esther. I knew how important it was to have that space for my creativity for her. I knew how important that was. And so it started with me having this plan. I had a book, my fourth trimester creativity book, so that little period of time after having a baby, that fourth trimester. And I said to myself every day, I'm going to write something or take a photo or make a video. And it's going to just be about one, just like a sharing my experience, but two, tuning into what I was feeling emotionally, because as a good girl, I had no idea what I was feeling ever. I really struggled to identify my emotions properly. So it was wanting to try and honor that as well and build that skill and get a bit better at that. So I started doing that and it was writing, but then it became making collages on Canva and then it became making reels, which I had so much fun doing. progressively sort of grew. And as that happened, the trust in myself and my beliefs around me being creative were really just challenged in a greater way than had been before. So, you know, I just had this situation where I was gaining in confidence and I was feeling really brave to try new things. And when that, when Sparkle came to me, when she came to me, I had done so much work over my life to believe that I could say to that idea, yes, you're safe with me, I will bring you to life. So yeah, I had done a lot to sort of lead into it and it definitely wasn't for me, it wasn't for me just deciding one day I was going to do it. There was a lot of work of I'm assuming you recognised that this was helping with the way you were feeling soon after having Finlay. So when you decided to do it with Esther, were you afraid that you were going to go through that again and you were using the fourth trimester diary ahead of time to Yes, I was terrified. I think we both were. I think Mitch and I, we didn't speak about it specifically, but I think that he was also quite terrified of what might happen, you know, mentally with me. And because it wasn't the first time, I had depression after my dad, after we lost him, and leading into conceiving Finlay, I had anxiety such to a point that we couldn't conceive for nearly 18 months. And that was brought about by a unique situation in my life, not related to Mitch at all, but it was, you know, one of those things you just can't say. But it was a situation in my life. And so, quickly giving a little bit more context to that, once that particular person was removed from my life, not through anything that I could do, but they were removed, we conceived three weeks later. So, isn't it? So, it's very interesting. And that's not everyone's experience, but that was a unique experience that we had. So, yeah, I'd had a few. experiences with depression and anxiety and then had the postnatal depression anxiety with. But yeah, I was just, I knew how much it helped. Like you said, I knew that it was something that I needed to focus on to make sure I stayed mentally well. And I can't even compare, even in the slightest, both of those experiences of becoming postpartum. They're just completely chalk and cheese. The birth was chalk and cheese. So yeah, it was just so interesting to have such a different experience and how much it impacted me when I had that for me when I knew I needed something for me. I needed to plan for my creativity just as much as I planned to get a postpartum doula or that we had friends and family provide us meals. I knew that I needed to include that element to stay really mentally well in the postpartum. And I mean, look, I mean, obviously I was already postpartum, but in the second time, You know, I think it's really for me too, because I had done a lot of work learning about, you know, the myth of the perfect mother and intensive mothering. I'd done a lot of work looking at these stereotypes, these standard, these beliefs we have about what it means to be a mother. And I had been able to start unpacking them to a way that I could throw some away that I didn't feel resonated with me. And I could understand that what we are expected to do is is not possible. We're being set up to fail. Because I didn't have those things as such of a bigger deal the second time, I happily had a lift in-house. It was fine. Things got done when they got done or they didn't get done at all and I didn't give come a long way from what you were telling me about when you were younger and in your young career and these roles that you feel you should be fitted into. And as you say, motherhood has got so much external roles that we're shown how it should be and how we should be as parents. So it's a really lovely long way that you were able to get past that and let go of that. So is that a bit of a theme with Sparkle as Yeah. I mean, obviously with Mary, she experienced postnatal depression. So it was her and I really bonded over having some similar experiences there. So the idea came about, you know, wanting to really inspire mothers. But I think what ended up happening is it is this beautiful book that can inspire anyone to shed their shoots. and then, you know, feel supported and encouraged to follow their joy. So that's sort of been where it's gone. And I mean, like with all art, we can't control how people perceive it or experience it, can we? We bring that idea to life and then what happens after that is what happens. But we have got so many beautiful messages from women in particular that have read the book and then just felt quite emotional about how seen they have felt through that experience. So it is centered on mothers, but we love that a lot of people get different things out of it. Esther, my two-year-old, she loves looking for sparkle in all of the individual pages. And there's another little page where they're in a train carriage and our mum and T and Oscar, her little ones, they're in a glow stick party. And we'll get to that page and Esther will do a little dance when So yeah, just her experience, just having that joy, you know, is very different to, you know, maybe a fellow mum who also experienced not even necessarily postnatal depression anxiety, but felt the pressure around her when she became a mum and didn't feel like she could have anything for herself. So yeah, just a very, very different experience for each individual. But within the book too, going back to my real passion for gender equity, we've got our dad character in the book. He has no speaking lines, but he's a very important presence in the household in that he's a very active participant. We've got him illustrated folding, washing, and not practicing weaponized incompetence. Mom and the kids go for the day, and he's not screaming out the door, when does the baby need to go to sleep? He's like, what? Yeah, that kind of thing makes my husband so cross and you still see it on things like TV shows. Yeah. Weaponized incompetence. I only heard that for the first time the other day. That's quite amusing. But yeah, my husband gets really, really cross when blokes are shown to be buffoons when the mother's not there and he's like, we do that. We can do these things. And I still find it remarkable with everything else in this day and age that that kind of imagery still out there and Yes, there should be rules. There should be rules. There is some really great resources that I forget the organization, but I'll find it and let you know, but they provide some really great guidance on how illustrations are represented in picture books. But there's some great resources out there for authors and illustrators that if they're passionate about that, which we all should be. I shouldn't say should. Claire, I shouldn't say should, which would We're doing our best. We are doing our best. That's all we could do. But yes, so there is some great resources. The other thing that I really love about our book is so at the end, because we do a bit of a before and after. in an illustration. At the beginning, we've kind of got it, you know, mum's really just, she's clearly, she's sad, she's exhausted. Sparkle is out the window, just looking really concerned back at mum and, you know, the house is very, very lived in and everything like that. The kids are happy though, like they're doing their thing and loving it. Dad's there folding, washing and there's a little bubba that's then pulling all the washing back But then at the end we've got that exact same scene but Sparkle's reintegrated into mum, she's there breastfeeding, the dad's doing his thing, the kids are playing and then we've got grandparents. So grandparents are in the kitchen and they're just helping out doing some bits and pieces and that's also for us, you know, demonstrating the importance of a village. It's also important for us in how we visually represented our grandparents because I think sometimes when you see picture books, for me, I would look at those grandparents and they don't look like my mom. My mom's a grandparent and sometimes grandparents are represented in a way that they actually look like great grandparents. We could challenge that a bit. We could challenge those stereotypes around aging because that's not what every grandparent looks like. So, you know, we've got a bit more of, I want to say realistic, but only because that's my lived experience, but we've got a different representation there to challenge that Yeah, there is definitely that. There's an advert on the telly here and the woman in it, she says she's 50 and I'm looking and she's got like a seven-year-old grandchild and she looks about 75 and I'm like who thinks that that woman is 50 and she's playing with her grandchild so therefore she's retired and where does somebody get that idea that that's what a I'm 52, I'm And that's a whole other conversation, isn't it? You know, how we represent women in various types of media. The ages of women that we select that are the actress to play a certain role, it's just, it's obviously, you know, adds to our conditioning when we're growing up, but just reinforces these ideas and beliefs when we're older as well. It's really damaging, isn't it? And it's not real. Yeah, it's quite remarkable. Yeah, and I mean, in May I turned 37 and I'm so excited about it. I remember being 18 and I had a different vision of what a 37-year-old would look like because just based on what I had seen around me and it's just so wildly inaccurate and ridiculous. And I mean, we are all different, but yeah, it just, it wasn't what I saw growing up. It's just so, yeah, it's fascinating and a lot for us to Well, talking about phases of life, and we're not talking about phases of life because that's another pigeonhole that is put on a people, but I am thinking about you now that you've got this confidence and you've got a new awareness of your own life, what you're seeing around you, representations, and you said, was it Esther's two and so Finlay's older? Nearly five. How are you seeing things for you next, because often parents are showed with the little ones and then there are middly ages of children and parents that are relevant to that, that you don't have any problems. It's only babies that make things hard for you. What are you imagining for yourself as you grow as a parent, your children grow, and the way you're using your creativity and what you've done with the book? What thoughts have you got going forward? What a wonderful question. It's such a beautiful thing to think about. For me, with writing, that's definitely something I will always continue to do. I have a couple of other projects in the works now, but that little local government heart, that's actually still very alive and well. After my quarter-life crisis in Scotland, which obviously I loved, I did a couple of other jobs, but I've landed back in local government. So I've been back in local government for maybe, I think it's nearly 10 years. So I have still been doing various roles within that community planning, community development space. And I think just these last two years in particular, my ability to advocate not just for myself, but on behalf of the community when necessary for, you know, needs and gaps I'm seeing, or even feel confident to put forward ideas, all of that has I trust myself so much more and I'm not looking for that validation. I know what I'm seeing. I know that my experience will support me in taking these next steps. So I trust myself. Already, there's quite a few incredible projects I'm getting to do in my current role back at the same local government that I started my career at as a trainee. So that's very, very special. I'm working with a lot of the same community and there's some colleagues that are the same as well, which is phenomenal. So it's just been incredible doing this full circle and coming back and then being able to share everything that I've experienced and everything of me that's relevant for the role there. And I'm finding there's a lot of crossovers too, so that's really great. But yeah, I think for me, I adore local government. It's a very unique experience and I will absolutely continue in that role. It's a wonderful feeling. You know, I've gone and I've tried other things and I know where I really shine. So I'm super excited that I have learned that about myself and then had that opportunity to come back. But with my writing, it's definitely going to be something that I continue. With my second title, I'm actually working with our local suicide prevention network. For me, I just wrote it as a goodbye letter that I needed to hear after we lost my dad and the intention behind that message. really resonated with that group who I'm a part of now and so they want to support bringing that title to life, which is really incredible. In Australia, it's very much a gap in children's literature because it's a very hard topic to talk about, rightly so, and it's very different to Sparkle in terms of the way I have to manage my energy and time spent on it. It's yeah, it's definitely a completely different. I These things are often hidden from children and people will say, well, they're too young to understand and that we're going to paint a picture that the world is always lovely and everybody has a lovely time trying to keep children happy. You experienced it as a teenager, but bad things can be experienced by children at any time and also your friend dying of cancer as well, you know, that can happen to really young children. It could be their friends, it can happen around them, it can be their grandparents. These things can happen at any time and if they can be explained nicely and relevantly so it doesn't come as a big surprise and then a scary shot, Absolutely. And even just allowing that space for conversation. So Finley, he's had two losses within his little life. So a little girl in his class actually passed away. And I know, I mean, that was experienced, I think, very differently by the class. There were some that were really, really great friends with her and Finley, they would play together sometimes. She wasn't one of his best, you know, core group of friends, but he absolutely knew who she was. And from the daycare's perspective, they had a lot of parents that said, don't you dare mention this to my child. And so that must have been so hard for them to navigate. I know from my perspective, I wanted to make sure that Finlay found that out from me because there were going to be kids there talking about it because some of her very good friends went to the funeral. So there was going to be discussion. So I wanted to be the one to tell him so that if he had any questions, he could ask them. If he needed to feel his feelings around that, that I was going to be there. for that, at least in that first instance. We've engaged a social worker, and so he's got some ongoing support as well, you know, that was sort of triggered from that experience, which I'm very grateful for, and he's a very expressive kid, so I'm very grateful for that. Being a little boy, I'm very grateful that he's as expressive as he is, and starting to be really good, even more so now at naming his emotions, so super proud of my little dude. But the other really big loss is that in November we lost my mama, so my grandmother, his great-grandmother, and he had been around her several times a week since he was born. He actually got to even provide that care too, so he would be there with my mum or Aunty in some of the days that they had him. And, you know, he'd bring her food or things like that. So he was very involved and so was Esther in that care. And I love that they both got to see that, you know, what it means for us to, to support each other and take care of each other and change our lives around so that we can do that. And I think for me, like this woman, she was my second mum. She was there every day of my life and my sister's life growing up. My mum and dad worked. They took care of us. We never went to daycare. And this is going off on tangents, Claire. I'm so sorry. But I was there when she passed, and I was so grateful that I could do that. I didn't think for one minute that would ever happen. You know, you just think it would happen in the middle of the night. And, you know, I've got family responsibilities. I wouldn't be able to just leave and go. But she went peacefully, surrounded by all of us, and yet to just be able to be there and support that. I got an even deeper level of appreciation for what it means to care for the people around us and how important that is. A job title doesn't follow us to the grave. It doesn't matter what our business card said. It matters how we made people feel around us. I think that was just an even bigger you know, just confirmation for me that yes, it's so important for me to make sure I'm filling my life with things that bring me joy, but to also make sure that I'm paying attention to what is important. And for me, my family's joy and being present with them is also incredibly important. Yeah. Oh, thank you, Jess. Getting I never know where my tangents are going to Yeah. It's really, really important. And it shows, I think it does also illustrate, as we've spoken about your journey with yourself and understanding about what's important and what's good for you. Yeah. Which in Yep. Yep. Reflected in the last page of Sparkle. When Yeah, there we go. Perfect. Okay. Before I move on to say, thank you very much. How can we connect with you? Is there anything else we I know, I've gone off on all these. I just appreciate so much, Claire. You're having me on and you're a beautiful interviewer. You have a beautiful way of helping people feel really just calm and able to share what they want to share. So You're very welcome. Thank you. So, let's talk about how people can connect with Well, we've got Mary and I, my wonderful dear friend. We have a joint Instagram for our book. So, it's just at The Mum Who Found Her Sparkle. On that, we share all sorts of things that are going on for both of us because we actually live four hours apart. Yeah, so we've got this beautiful space that we come to together just to share what each is doing and we also run a very fun yearly campaign called Sparkletober in the month formerly named October. And so we welcome anyone and everyone getting involved in that. It's really just people sharing things that bring them joy, bring them their sparkle. And just for me personally, my Instagram is the love and purpose project. I share all sorts of mostly sparkle related things, but also I try to be. On that page, very aware and draw attention of what's happening, happening globally, or even at a local level around gender equity and suicide awareness. contributing, doing my part to raise awareness about what's happening for people. So, yeah, that's right. That's where we are. Perfect. Thank you so much, Jess. I've had an absolutely lovely Thank you. Me too. Me too. And how wonderful it's just opposite ends of the day. It's so great that we can Thanks so much for listening to Creativity Found. I hope you enjoyed this episode and gained some value from it. If you did, perhaps you'd like to contribute a small monetary sign of appreciation, either by becoming a regular supporter from as little as $3 per month using the link in the show notes, or if you are listening on a value-for-value enabled app such as Fountain, Truefans or Podverse, feel free to send a few sacks my way. I also occasionally promote products that I personally use, so please use the affiliate link where relevant if you are buying from those fine

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Coping with loss
Numbing and self-discovery in Scotland
Old habits
Confidence and advocacy
Creative practice and motherhood
Challenging parental stereotypes in 'Sparkle'
Discussing loss

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