• Getting my head straight

    I have just one day left in England before I fly out to Finland to perform at this year's ANTI festival. One day to make sure I have everything I need, finish all my preparations, both domestically and artistically and get my head in the right place for the trip.

    Am I excited? Not yet. Right now, I'm feeling very scared. Right now, my head is not in the right place. Right now, I feel overwhelmed by what I need to do, not just before I leave for Finland, but when I get there too.

    The biggest most scary feeling is the thought of leaving loved ones behind. It was something I struggled with before I did 26 marathons in 26 days, and it's something I'm struggling wih now. The fear is twofold: will they be ok? And of course I know they will be. Will I be ok? And of course I know I will be. But that doesn't stop me worrying, doesn't stop me crying about it. But it also won't stop me performing. My practice is about the power of the ordinary; it's about daily domestic endurance: dealing with things that you just don't know if you can deal with, but somehow you find a way to deal with them anyway. I'm a mother and I'm a woman and I'm an artist. My roles are all interlinked, intertwined and ensared within one another. The draw, the link, the connection, the bond I have to my children takes my breath away: they continually surprise, delight and confuse me. I can't be without them. They came from my body and I relish the opportunity I have to nurture and support and confuse them. Leaving them behind feels like I'm leaving a part of myself behind. I know they are getting older now, I know that soon they will be old enough to leave home, I know that life will carry on regardless for them while I'm in Finland, I know they'll be ok and that in all likelihood a week without their mother around to fuss and nag and get in the way will probably be an important part of their development. But that doesn't mean I won't feel guilty about leaving them. Just like the society that I'm a product of, I'm torn between the seemingly opposite roles of being a mother who stays at home with her children and the desire to be a mother who goes to work and is an independent woman. Both roles can be positive role models, both roles can be supportive and nurturing. But doing one role can make you feel as if someone is missing out on something, doing both roles can make you feel like you don't have the time or the energy to do anything well, or make you feel like you just can't keep anyone happy.

    Although I don't intentionally make feminist art I am a female that makes work about the power of endurance; the beauty of resilience; the art of keeping on keeping on. I balance being a mother and a woman with being an artist. It is inherently feminine. This work stems from the breakdown of my marriage: it started as a repsonse to the lack of words I, or anyone else, had to fully understand the situation with language. It was too big for words; too traumatic; too explosive and too powerful to restrict with language. I couldn't make sense of it, for there was no sense, there was no order and there was no control. I went to a place beyond reason. And then, just as I thought I was beginning to find some structure to my life again, I've been thrown another curve ball: I've been sent to a place without reason again, a place where I can't put my feelings into words, I can't explain what's going on because it's just too big. I can't comprehend it but I know that I like it. Running Beyond Language started because of the breakdown of a relationship and has now become a piece about the start of a relationship: a connection between two people that is strong and resilient and powerful and has no sense to it; it is beyond reason: it just is. Except now it means there is someone else I don't want to leave behind, someone else who I don't want to go without. I know I'll meet new people in Finland and I have no doubt that most, if not, all of them will be lovely, generous, kind, open and friendly. I know this because I've exchanged emails and had phone conversations. But I'll be going on my own, not knowing exactly where I'm going and who I'll be meeting. I'll be running in silence, in a space beyond reason, without sense, without barriers. I hope I'll still make connections with the people who come to watch, come to run, come to wonder; I hope we'll find ways to communicate beyond language. I hope that I manage to convey my thoughts well at the talks I'm giving, that people will find them interesting and engaging. I hope that I have fun. I hope that Finland is beautiful. I hope my journey goes well. I have a lot of hope because there is a lot of doubt.

    So how do I get my head straight? To be honest I'm starting by letting it be incredibly wonky. I'm not feeling great but that's ok. I'm scared of being silent. I'm scared of being on my own. I'm scared of leaving people behind. But it's ok to be scared. I'm human, and I'm learning that acknowledging and allowing all of my emotions helps them to pass on. So I'm acknowledging that I'm feeling scared, feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious and apprehensive. And then I'm going to get practical. I'm writing down how I'm feeling as a way of releasing those emotions. I'm planning to go to bed and rest, whether or not I sleep, I will rest. Over the next few days I will eat well and drink lots of water. I've written a list of what I need to do and tomorrow I will get up early and do everything on my list. I will say goodbye to my family, to Zach and Noah and Jamie and I will probably cry, I will probably cover them in snot. And then I'll blow my nose and get on the plane and do the job I'm going to do. I'll get to Finland, I'll meet new people, make new friends. I'll give my talks and do the best job I can. I'll run for 26.2 hours and I'll do it in silence. I'll feel rubbish sometimes and at other times I'll feel elated. If I need to take the weight off my feet I will. If I need to sleep for 5 minutes I will. And then I'll come home, I'll pick up my domestic threads and I'll keep on keeping on.


    • 1. Sep 1 2015 11:12AM by Filomena

      You are an incredible woman and an inspiration to us all. I will be cheering you on from the UK. Go well my lovely, go well. xx

    • 2. Sep 1 2015 10:19AM by Andi Osborne

      You'll be stellar Vicki, you were certainly an inspiration to me at Spitfire. Have fun and run strong. Silent ????? well just get some musical earworms :)xxxxx

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