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Growing Pains

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Plant a seed. Nurture it. It will grow.
How I came to write as a guest writer on this poets’ blog is somewhat miraculous and frankly a result of a lifetime of growing pains. ‘Growing Pains’ takes me back to childhood. Its innocence replaced by a wiser knowingness through pitfalls of uncertainty, the failures embedded within the joys of achievement as I slowly ‘matured’. What I hadn’t banked on back then, was how growing pains remain with us throughout our lives.

I’ve learnt resilience whilst working through fear, rejection and loss, and found with persistence the strength to move forward. I strive to grab every moment with passion, to live creatively and authentically whilst connecting, embracing and sharing with others making it all worthwhile. I learnt early on that one cannot go it alone.

In today’s quickly changing, rather disturbing world we are being bombarded with serious challenges. We are being forced to get to grips with letting go of the old, embracing the new and moving through the malaise hoping to come out the other side better for it. I am experiencing growing pains as never before and my guess is that I’m not alone in this.

I have made things throughout my life as a way of processing my experiences. It is a way of making my thoughts and feelings real, tangible. Sometimes I do it for sheer amusement (nonsensical drawings and poetry). Sometimes I do it to escape from real life. Sometimes I create things as a way of working through some of my growing pains. No matter the reason, creating something makes me feel better.

Growing Pains

Moleskine Sketchbook - Ink and Coloured Pencil, January 2020

In reflecting on my childhood,I have my parents to thank for being here. I am the seed they planted, nurtured and helped grow into who I am. However, I have my mother to thank for emotional sentimentality. She remarkably kept intact two large boxes of drawings, writing and other school materials as evidence to the child I was and a testament to the process of becoming; the learning, growing, changing, discovering the essence of what makes me, me. She recognised and valued this ‘becoming’ and her way to hold on was to keep physical hardcopies.
  This sentiment for nostalgia was passed down and amazingly many of these artefacts have survived at least a dozen house moves over five decades and across two continents. My mother was one of many in a long list of very special people who have provided safety and security for me over the years, people who I fondly call my teachers. Those who fed and continue to feed my hunger to learn, explore and encourage the creative processing of my discoveries through different visual and textual means with a focus on storytelling.

Growing Pains

Published in The Tower, a primary school publications - written age 6


Growing Pains

Shammy - waxed crayon, created age 5

I grew up loving to draw and making up stories. The Shammy drawing is a prime example.
Here we have an interesting blend of reality versus magic. Katy is flying through the air being pulled by grandma’s rather large miniature poodle lunging at a cat that seemingly has been surprised. As a result, it has launched itself upwards in front of some distorted blue building. The red hair and pony tails add to Katy’s tidy hair style (mom was a real stickler about hair). The blue jeans have a decorative pattern which could be flowers, typical of the 1960s. The dog’s cropped tail clearly has a puff at the end.   I drew all the time. I also spent a lot of time alone. My sister and brother were much older and moved away when I was quite young. When I was a teenager, my parents separated and I drew and wrote even more. This helped me focus and to escape from the growing pains. It was good for my mental health and wellbeing. My creative work helped me through many difficult experiences throughout my life including the loss of my brother to Aids in 1990. As a way of dealing with these emotions I did a series of drawings illustrating journal extracts.

Growing Pains

AIDS series - Scraperboard 1990

Moving countries was a massive change and one of insurmountable growth, and it has not always been easy. After living in the UK for over two decades I continue to grow and develop. I have always said that England gave me the gift of poetry.Living in this country, so rich in literature history, has inspired me to write more and integrate my poetry into my creative work. I practice and experiment and through all the rejections and failures I hold onto those small morsels of success.

Growing Pains

Illustrated ABCs - waxed crayon, created age 5


Growing Pains

66 Years and Counting - Multi-media on paper 2013 (West Ox Arts Gallery Exhibition)

I thought I would leave you with this. It is something written nearly four decades after creating 'The Story Writer' and the drawing of my grandmother’s dog pulling on its lead. A lot of living and creating has gone on in between.I have never shared any part of this poem before, as it is too long a poem to read on an open mic night. It is 191-lines and written when I did not have the confidence to share much of my creative writing work.
It is an excerpt from ‘The Poet’s Pen’.Not only is there a hint of déjà vu from the Shammy drawing but in it I feel depicts the frustration and hope that goes along with the growing pains and struggle of the creative maker within.
…The Poet’s eye as dog pulled taught The lead to arm and tipping man Who pulled back dog and gave command, “Sit,” and dog he sat, he did Whilst Master scanned the ghostly grid Of papered floorboards, chequerboard That captured men and captured sword His blasted pen that he had thrown Across the room to where, unknown Until he saw it laying there The Poet sighed and smiled aware That soon he would return again Like boomerang with fingered men That flung the weapon, sword now resting On the floor in spider’s nest and Would remain till cobwebs cleared Inside his head between the ears Once he’d finished basking in The sunshine washing o’er his skin As oiled pistons plugged to sparking Energy for brain embarking On new paths to bath in writing      Something worthy and exciting…
  Thank you for reading.
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