Thursday, October 22, 2009

inHERview: Dixon Hill Girl

this month's inHERview is with Helen of Dixon Hill. Helen is a wildly talented big dreamer.

i met Helen at Squam Art Workshops, where we shared a cabin, sat fire*side & walked paths through the woods ~ arms & hearts linked together.

Helen's participation in the inHERview project provided me with the opportunity to discover more of her giftedness. she is a flavor*full one, this Helen. read on & savor the delicious*ness...

Who are you?

I'm a country lass at heart, rooted in place and season. A dreamer, tumbling with ideas. A perfectionist who's trying hard to reform (and failing miserably). A big kid in grown-up clothing. A girl who's desperate to give something of value to the world. And a creative spirit, of course, who just likes making stuff.

I remember telling my first-ever schoolteacher that I liked 'making things'. And that's pretty much what I do. I've dabbled in soap-making, chocolate-making, glass-painting, and textile art of various kinds. I've been a piano teacher, apprentice florist and a nervous harp-player at weddings. I'm a would-be writer, beginner photographer, an event designer extraordinaire (well, lots of piano parties, several egg-rolling contests and one wedding to date...but it was a pretty spectacular wedding if I say so myself...and I'd love to do another J).

As a child, I dreamed of becoming a Blue Peter presenter (BBC children's magazine programme - the presenters get to make lots of things out of sticky-backed plastic). In the end, I did something even better. For several years I ran crafting workshops, initially for children, later for adults, too. They were the perfect vehicle for my disparate crafting tendencies because we made something different every month (though we never did use sticky-backed plastic). Miniature gardens one month, handmade beads the next, Easter bonnets or cosmetics or bird food the month after that...whatever we did was tied to the seasons and traditions of life.

Three years ago I left the workshops behind to accompany my husband to the States. But now I'm back. Bubbling with creative ideas, dreaming big dreams.

Ten random facts about me:
  1. I collapsed at the altar on my wedding day (I was ill L)
  2. If I laugh too much I get hiccups
  3. I was thrown out of the Brownies for earning too many badges (it's true)
  4. My nickname used to be Helen Hat (I always wore hats)
  5. Despite years of trying, I still can't roll my Rs
  6. I usually prefer to sit on the floor, rather than in a chair
  7. I love to read aloud to an audience
  8. If I turn round one way, I feel obliged to turn back the other way to unwind
  9. My secret talent is an ability to divide pies and cakes into an odd number of evenly-sized pieces
  10. I look seriously younger than I am J
Where can we find you?

Online, you can find me at my very young blog, Dixon Hill Doings.

And you can see images of my world here - on Flickr. That world exists in the Pennines of northern England, where I live in an old cottage on a hillside, surrounded by moorland and sheep. And I love it!

What makes home "home" for you?

My little family - cat, dog and husband.

Where do you feel most at home?

With my wellies on my feet.

How do you spend your days? Nights? Weekends?

They all run into one. Maybe I should consider defining them more. For the moment, at pretty much any time of the day or night, weekday or weekend, you might find me walking the moors with my dog; sitting at my desk, connecting with the world via my laptop; engrossed in some creative project or other; chatting with friends and family; cuddling with my cat; or perhaps playing the piano. Oh, and occasionally doing everyday, household stuff! My special treat when I feel like being indulgent is to watch a film.

Having just returned from the States, I'm not yet doing anything that officially resembles 'work'. But plans and schemes are afoot!

How do you define your tribe? Who is a part of your tribe?

To me, tribe is about belonging. And, in truth, I'm an outsider, a fringe-dweller. I always have been. I'm coming to the conclusion of late that lots of us creative types are. I've never felt I quite fit anywhere and, until just recently, it bothered me. I longed to fit in. But these days I can accept my 'edge-ist' nature and am looking for the silver lining.

Having said that, I have many circles of friends and acquaintances. I'm especially at ease with children and with elderly folk. I have a great extended family as well as a much-loved surrogate family who treat me as one of their own. For many years, my piano students formed another family of a kind for me. And there've been other groups along the way, tribes where I've fringe-dwelt more or less comfortably, some fleeting, some more permanent, some in the real world, some in the virtual. I recently declared myself in need of a new tribe with which to connect and share in a meaningful way...and, just a couple weeks later, found myself amongst the Fireside Beauties. Someone was listening.

What does October mean to you?

Autumn! - always my favourite season; a drawing-in of the nights and of the year; a bittersweet, melancholy something hanging in the air; turning leaves, crunchy leaves, glorious colours; lighting the fire for the first time since spring; wood-smoke curling into the sky; pumpkin-carving gatherings around the kitchen table; harvest festivals; my brother's birthday; digging out my snuggliest wrist warmers, cowls, coats, boots; soup and other comfort food; berries in the hedgerows; Russet apples, pears, pomegranates and figs; sedums and dahlias and crocosmia in the garden; and the Virginia Creeper blazing crimson on the front wall of our cottage.

What makes your heart sing?

Sunshine and blue sky; smiles; flowers; fruit; fresh air; birdsong; the smell of box trees; the sound of a distant aeroplane on a lazy, summer afternoon; church bells; bookshops; blank journals; colour and texture; beautiful textiles; cashmere cardigans and pretty dresses; the voices of those I love; the faithful, unquestioning devotion of my lovely cat and dog; the satisfaction of having created something; the possibilities the internet has opened up for us all; the possibilities life offers us; early morning stillness and ravishing sunsets; being appreciated; having my creations appreciated; living in such a beautiful spot on this earth; knowing there are people who love me so much they will always be there for me; giving; discovering that I’ve inspired or helped someone; the excitement of knowing there’s so much more to this life than the physical world we see; finding like-minded souls in all parts of the world; listening to the Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4 whilst I craft or bake; losing myself at the piano; the reception my fledgling blog has received.

What nourishes you?

Time spent each morning in stillness and meditation and prayer; being outside, steeped in nature; the love and support of those who love me; sunshine; sleep; lots of fresh juices and smoothies and salads.

What dream are you dreaming?

Of hosting creative retreats in the not too distant future, here amongst the beauty of the Pennines; where folk can come to be inspired and to connect with themselves, one another and with the world in a fresh way. I figured out a while ago that my purpose in life is to create, to inspire, to encourage. This is one of the ways in which I’d love to see that worked out.

What adventure are you participating in?

The adventure of life! Sounds totally corny, but it’s true. However, I only began to gain a full awareness of life as an adventure two years ago. I’d moved to America most reluctantly a year prior to that, giving up a life I loved. At the same time, I knew there was something more out there for me. I hadn’t a clue what it was. My only hunch was that I shouldn’t fill the void I’d created with activity for activity’s sake. So instead, I sat with the space - just left oodles of time free of any fixed obligations and waited to see what would come. At first I was aimless and lonely. But gradually, the journey began to unfold. It’s very difficult to put into words. It was partly discoveries about myself, partly discoveries about life; and a large part of it was a new and positive outlook which came to me unsought. The connections which led me from one thing to another probably wouldn’t be obvious to anyone but me. But lead they did...and have gone on leading to this day. The bottom line is that I’m now aware of a joy in simply being alive that I never experienced before. I’m so incredibly excited by the possibilities life holds and our power to create the lives of which we dream. And it just keeps getting better.

What are you reveling in?

Being back on the moors and geographically closer to the people who mean the most to me; the earthy colours of October; crisp mornings, misty mornings; autumnal fruits; blogging; a ‘dress phase’ in my wardrobe.

What are you anticipating?

The prospective visit of a dear friend and her daughter, all the way from Texas (my ‘roomie’ from Squam in June; we’ve communicated on an almost daily basis ever since).

What are you committed to?

Sharing myself in whatever way seems appropriate. At the end of the day, I have nothing to give the world but myself. If I can help or encourage or inspire or delight someone by sharing whatever time, resources, wisdom, experience, talents life has gifted me with…then I’ll do it.

Seeking the common ground. Focusing on the things which unite rather than the things which divide us as individuals and as communities. We’re all on this journey together, and we’re a lot more alike than we tend to believe.

Helping people to discover the joy of creativity and all that brings with it - self-discovery, confidence, possibility, connection, satisfaction, joy.

What song is singing to you right now?

A song I wrote back in the summer, entitled, "The Colours of My Dreams." Writing it was rather an extraordinary experience. The music came first, the words only revealed themselves gradually. It was as if they were already there, fully-formed; I simply had to peel away the layers one at a time to discover them. So first one phrase would come to me; then another. It wasn’t really a conscious process. And I had about two-thirds of the words in place before I realised what the song was about. Most odd. Anyway, it turned out to be about a girl who is finally stepping out of the shadows and into her own glorious light. So I guess it‘s autobiographical. I always knew deep-down that I would be a late developer in terms of finding myself and my role in life. I’m so grateful that my time appears to have come.

What words are speaking to you right now?

Barbara Sher’s book, "Refuse to Choose!" I’m a scanner all right (if you haven’t come across the concept, it’s someone who has so many interests/abilities that they never know which to choose….and they either flit from one thing to another or never actually do anything because they’re frozen with indecision or fear of making the wrong choice). The problem is, I’m so much of a scanner that I read the first couple of chapters with exultant joy and relief…then got side-tracked by something else of interest and the book got put on one side. Must get back to it!

If you were to "tell the world just one thing" (as Jewel sings) what would that "one thing" be?

That life is extraordinary beyond our wildest imaginings; that the possibilities are endless; and that we can create whatever life we choose for ourselves. And if you don’t feel or see all that, then ask yourself why not…and keep asking question after question for as long as it takes until you finally arrive at the place where you do feel it. And when you get there, write your own story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, gem, for another inHERview!
Thank you, Helen, for sharing so much more!