Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Landing a dream and delivering a book

I've heard people liken writing a book to having a baby. I've just had a little laugh with myself because I realised that it was about 9 months ago that I embarked on one of my life's biggest adventures. Today, I received the cover design that will grace this particular gestation, and by the end of the week my book When Your Superpower Becomes Your Kryptonite - A map to help us find the treasure in ourselves, will begin it's journey to the printer. 

Here is the official "description" for the book:

In When Your Superpower Becomes Your Kryptonite Tracey Hewitt writes about taking responsibility for our own lives and happiness, and the ways in which we might care for ourselves as kindly as we care for others. She compares our journey through life to a sea voyage, likening our unhelpful habits to hurricanes and pirates that can blow us off course and sink us; and identifies the positive habits we can cultivate to keep us on course, and our treasure safe. Her own experiences serve as the lessons and cautionary tales as she shows us that we are indeed our own greatest treasure.

I have to tell you that this was fun. Hard work, scary as hell, exhilarating and frustrating at times, but mostly, fun. Sitting here at this point, so close to the final push before delivery (you see, it really is just like having a baby!) The thing that stands out most for me is that at almost every stage, I didn't really know how to do it, but I did it anyway. I may have baulked, stalled and gone round in circles for a while a dozen times along the way, but I continued to find that if I took just one more step, the next thing would become a little clearer; and one step at a time, I arrived here - with my photo on the back of a book beside an "about the author" blurb.

None of this is to say that I did it all alone! Kerrie Phipps and Natalie Holmes, as my book coach and editor respectively, have been endlessly helpful. Caitlyn Hewitt of Hewitt Consulting and Communications (otherwise known as my daughter-in-law) patiently snapped over 200 photos in the quest to capture the perfect author portrait. Truly. 200 plus images. I'm not even kidding, I don't know how models stand in front of a camera all day every day!

What I want most to say to you right now is this: That thing you've always dreamed of doing? That secret ambition you've never shared with another soul? That big, wild, outrageous idea that you don't believe you're capable of pulling off? YOU CAN. You can make it happen, one tiny step at a time. Get your brave on and ask for help when you don't know the way, but keep going. I want so much for you to do your own special thing - because I'd love for you to feel the excitement and sense of accomplishment that goes along with landing your very own wild and crazy idea.

When Your Superpower Becomes Your Kryptonite will be available through online booksellers (as a paperback, or as an e-book) early in the New Year, but if you'd like to pre order a signed copy, for $25.00(AU) plus postage and handling, email me at and I'll get it to you before Christmas. Unless you live outside Australia in some far flung corner of the world - and lets face it, pretty much anywhere is far flung from here -  in which case, I'll get it to you quick as I can. 

In the meantime, do something today that will put you a small step closer to realising your own Big Thing - if I can do it, I know you can too!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Do It - Even If It Scares You. Ruminations On Creativity and Fear

This post has been brewing for a while now, and I've found around two thousand reasons not to write it. I have just realised why, which I'll get to in a minute, but first, I want to tell you about my friend, and a conversation we recently had.  My friend is a talented artist. Anyone who lays eyes on her work recognises her talent immediately. Yet she doubts it, and herself.

In the course of our recent conversation, I was busy trying to encourage her, and tell her she truly was worthy of recognition as an artist, and she bravely shared that she has started work on a new piece for a competition. Then she faltered, awkwardly finding it hard to articulate what she was feeling, with an "Oh, I don't know. It's hard to explain."

She didn't actually need to explain. I know.

"You're worried that this time, it won't work. That this time, everyone will find out you've been fooling them all along. That you really are no good and all that work you've already done was some kind of fluke and you probably can't do it again."

The look on her face was, I think, a combination of relief and horror. "Yes! that's it exactly! But, how did you know?"

I knew, because it's the exact same story I tell myself every time I begin to wade into the waters of creative endeavour. Every. Single. Time. I also - as a result of extensive investigation - have come to understand that's it a common story many (if not most) creatives tell themselves - so thankfully, I felt a little braver sharing that than I once may have.

The act of creating something is quite a mystery, and often when I'm done, it seems a tiny miracle this thing has come through my hands to the world. From which point it is very easy to fear that when I begin my next creative attempt, the tiny miracle may not show up; and I'll be shown up for the fraud that I surely must be.

Fear and I have been having some deep and meaningful conversations lately. Deciding it's time to write the book I've been wanting to write for - oh, I don't know, my whole adult life - got Fear's juices good and gushing.  Thanks to the writings of Elizabeth Gilbert (whose new book Big Magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear is about to arrive in my mailbox -  I can't wait to inhale it), I was inspired one day to try having a chat with Fear.

What I've learned is this: Fear wants to keep us safe, which isn't always a terrible thing. But it can't distinguish between an oncoming train and the light at the end of the tunnel, so it jumps up and down and tells us to stop right there, and get off the tracks because we are in danger of meeting our mortal demise.  Predictably, the closer the oncoming train - or end of the tunnel - gets, the louder and more demanding of our attention Fear becomes. And that's the key - it wants our attention. So, these days I have a chat with it.

"Thank you for working so hard to keep me safe. I appreciate how well you've done that so far - I'm still here, thanks to you. You're right; I might make a fool of myself if I send this manuscript to a publisher, I might even get some negative feedback on what I write; but you know what? I'm OK with that, because I want to live a life of adventure and courage and boldness and authenticity, and I will survive if someone out there doesn't like what I write. I promise that I'll create the best thing I possibly can, and I'll give it everything I have. I promise to acknowledge you when you tell me you see danger. I need you to come along with me, but you can't drive the damned bus!"

It's astonishing the extent to which Fear quiets down after that. Much like a small child - all it wants is your undivided attention for a moment, and then it's happy to go off and pull the wings off flies for a while, during which time - if you're smart - you can get a chunk of your creation progressing nicely. Someone once wrote a book called "Feel The Fear - And Do It Anyway." I never read it, but the title winds its way around in my mind frequently. Because that's what creating is all about. I know I'm going to have to meet Fear head on every time, but I also know I'm going to do it anyway. Sometimes, like this post, it might take me a while to recognise Fear is what's stopping me; but here is this post, different from the posts I usually write here, written now. If you're reading it, that means I felt the fear and hit publish anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An Uncomfortable Model

Later this year, my creative efforts and I are off to Bush Christmas - an exhibition showcasing the work of rural and remote artists and artisans, held in Toowoomba in December, and I'm pretty stoked to announce that yours truly is to be the Featured Exhibitor for Day One of the exhibition.

What that means, is that I'll be there, set up with some goodies from my studio, ready to chat with anyone who is prepared to stand still for a minute, and share the delight of colourful, fun materials. There is potentially going to be a product addition to my offerings this year... There is a book in the pipeline! But more about that, later.

For now, the fabulous Bush Christmas organisers need photos and information to update their website and begin promotion. 

This is my least favourite part of this job. As a model, I make a good cook; and I agonise for hours over what to write about myself that people will find interesting to read. Thankfully, my daughter-in-law, Caitlyn, knows her way around a camera, and proved skillful in sneaking some shots of "the artist at work in her studio" that didn't leave me feeling awkward. 

I think she did a great job, and I particularly love this photo, with DO IT NOW on the inspiration board behind me. Not only because the kick-in-the-pants directive is helpful; but the focus is off me! 

When our "photo shoot" was finished, I bit the bullet and wrote the 'about me' piece to accompany the profile picture:

In between knocking up mustering smokos, doing budgets and bookwork, and managing the office for our Central Queensland family farming business; I create artwork, write, and prepare art journaling classes for people who are keen to flex their creativity, but aren’t sure where or how to start. I believe every human possesses an innate desire and capability to create, and have made it my business to help others unearth and explore that desire. Their eyes light up, shoulders loosen and they smile. A lot. I have a passionate belief in the transformative power of creativity.

Gleefully abandoning an art teaching degree in the 80’s to marry my salt of the earth farmer, my city upbringing gave way to the adventure of country life, where I’ve spent thirty years raising three high spirited sons, while fine tuning my skills in fine art, photography, writing and textiles. Ironically, the art teaching I was anxious to flee from has become a source of delight and fulfilment.

I have a tendency to think a lot more than I speak - there’s lots going on in my head. I have a thing for funky cowgirl boots, yoga, and soulful conversations; and my grandbabies think I sing the best “Incy Wincy Spider” the world has ever heard. Others might disagree.

Over the years, Bush Christmas has been a catalyst for a lot of amazing opportunities for me, along with the many other talented artists and artisans who exhibit there. You can follow Bush Christmas on Facebook for a look at some of the clever work happening in sheds and studios all over rural Queensland, and New South Wales. 

I'm off to the studio to get busy... safe and secure in the knowledge that I won't need to smile for the camera for a couple more years!

Monday, June 15, 2015

She Could Be Anywhere - Art Journal Page
©2015 Tracey Hewitt
 For some inexplicable reason - known only to the Gods of confusion - things have been chaotic here for the past couple of weeks.  New babies, growing babies, special visitors, annual reviews, feeding the multitudes, tax provisions, weaning calves, birthdays, unexpected departures, physiotherapy, coaching sessions, and home butchering - are just a few of the things that have landed on my plate lately. 

So it felt really wonderful to claim an hour in the studio and let it all pour out onto the page.

This little lovely has a background of acrylic paint and torn book pages on watercolour paper, while she herself has been brought to life with Prismacolour Pencils. 

Sometimes, when I feel like I'm done with the drawing, some words will want to be added to the page. 

"She could be anywhere... and she chooses here... with her heart in her throat"

are the words that fell out of the white paint pen and onto the page. (Have I ever told you how much I adore that Sharpie white paint marker pen? It's a cracker!) And, while this face was never intended to be me; those words feel like they belong to me this week. Of all the places I might ever have ended up; I am here. I choose here. Even when things are hectic and demanding. Even when I struggle to find time for the things I need to do; much less the things I long to do. Here is where I choose to be. 
Even when my heart is in my throat. I still choose here. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Until fairly recently, our family's focus has been solely on breeding cattle. These days, the human breeding programme is escalating beyond any ones expectations.

I was touched when the youngest of our princes - Keelan, and his wife Madi, asked me to take a few pictures of them in the last days of her pregnancy, to commemorate the bump. This picture was one of the last shots, taken while furiously whirling knobs and dials on the camera - adjusting aperture, and shutter speed, and all kind of things to try and catch them in silhouette, with that amazing sky. Thankfully, they took care of conveying the tenderness part that this shot really needed - I could hardly see them through the viewfinder, and was, at that point, laying flat out on the grass in a most bizarre and undignified position. I'm probably not going to tell you how many shots it took to get this one lovely one. Suffice to say there were more than one on the camera that were immediately deleted because they were completely black.

This precious bump will be Grand baby number three for us, and another one, due in a couple of months, will make four, in just over a year. People around us seem to think this is some kind of amazing turn of events - I guess going from no grand kids to four so quickly doesn't happen to everyone!

It's a tremendous joy and privilege to watch our sons make their families... and this grandparent thing is the sweetest gig ever! I have to confess though, that while I adore these little babies, there is a part of me that's itching to paint and draw and create up a storm with these tiny humans... right now though, Payton, who is 14 months is only interested in eating the sidewalk chalk, and Levi, at 4 months is a long way from even being interested in it at all... so I guess I'm going to have to be patient, and make the most of the wonderful photo opportunities in the meantime. Looking at this photo is occurs to me that this would make a fantastic stencil/mask for a journal page. I'll work on that just as soon as I've sung Incy Wincy Spider with Payton (complete with actions)  and snuggled with Levi until he wriggles to a spot with his nose in my armpit... it's his favourite position - go figure!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Serious Fun

Seriously. Fun is serious stuff.

This little tin came into our lives as the packaging for a rally car drive gift certificate. And no, it wasn't me doing the rally driving! I leave that thrill seeking stuff to the man in my life (the one I married - though the ones I gave birth to are all up for that as well, as I think about it!) I was, however, quick to grab the tin, and squirrel it away in the studio, because, really...what could be better than to open your traveling art supplies tin and be reminded that what you're doing is Serious Fun? 

There is a group of Serious Fun seekers hanging out here with me on a Sunday afternoon lately... I'm teaching them the basics of art journaling (and art, as well, with a focus on low pressure and low anxiety) and, as is inevitable when one teaches, they teach me things as well. One of the important things I keep discovering is what a great benefit it is for grown up women (and men!) to set aside their responsibilities and obligations for a couple of hours and just muck about and have some fun. To play. They leave looking somehow lighter, and brighter; and seeing that is Serious Fun for me.

This trolley (which my Dad made for me many years ago) has seen duty in my life for all manner of purposes. It's current role is by far my favourite. All those drawers are chock full of inks, sprays, pens, pencils, pastels, paints, stencils, stamps, watercolours, tapes..... so many opportunities for Serious Fun in there; and it can wheel out of the studio and onto the verandah, where all my Serious Fun seeking companions can dip in and share in the fun with me. 

Play is recognised as being critical to childrens development... and there's more and more evidence that it has powerful importance for adults as well. (Check out the writing of Brene Brown if you need  any convincing). I know for sure that I've got more to give and am much nicer to be around if there's been a little play time in my day. How about you? What counts as Serious Fun in your world? I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to have fun - tell me what works for you!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Learning the Hard Way

Say Hello to Casper. He's an old man now - by cat standards, at least. Well into his sixteenth year, he - along with his brother Garfield - has been part of our lives for over half of our kids lives. He's an introvert. He hates lots of people, and new people freak him out so much, he's been known to quietly disappear to the shed when visitors arrive, only to return after three or four weeks living on mice and sleeping in the hay when he's sure the intruders have departed. Unlike Garfield, he is NOT fond of cuddles (or BBQ chips, but that's another story for another day), and might choose to come and sit close beside you if it's cold; or, if you're trying to perform a task which is made much more difficult by the appearance of a cat under your arm!

Casper pretty much does his own thing- as is the want of most felines - and provided he is fed frequently (he isn't actually all that good at catching mice) mostly keeps to himself and out of my way. Most of the time...

Which brings me to this:

This is my Peerless Watercolour Palette. See how the left side is all crisp and white looking? And how muddied and watery and splotchy looking it gets towards the left side? I guess it's my own fault, but, is the weird green pond water in my paintbrush water jar really more appealing than the fresh, clean water in your cat bowl, Casper? Apparently. So much more appealing in fact, that he not only drinks out of it, but knocks it over, all over the studio bench, drenching my journal, causing pages to run, and - most alarmingly - drowning my favourite watercolour palette and discharging all that delicious colour. 

As you might have guessed, I was pretty bummed about this. Actually, "bummed' doesn't put near a fine enough point on it, but it's somewhat unladylike and undignified to swear about it and put into print the words I uttered at the time. 

Casper has done this before - numerous times, but, I'd been lucky that nothing got damaged - usually just a puddle of nasty greeny looking water on the bench, and me muttering to myself that I need to learn not to leave the water jar full when I'm done in the studio, before the spill wreaks havoc with something special. 

Sometimes, we seem to have to learn things the hard way. Reminds me of that John Wayne quote. 
"Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid."
I'm off right now to empty that bloody brush water jar, before Casper decides he's a feline Michelangelo.