“As I stood alongside one of the local campdraft canteen helpers, wiping dishes as she washed, she looked across at me and asked “Tracey, are you writing another book?”
“Actually, Yes! I am.”
“Oh I can’t wait to read it,” she said, and began telling me that after she read my recent book the first time, “I had what my husband calls a mid-life crisis.” (“You read it more than once?” I asked, incredulous.)
She prefers to think of it as a ‘pre’ mid-life crisis. She described sitting on her back veranda, in tears, angry and hating herself, asking what the hell she was doing with her life… and she told me that what I wrote in my book When Your Superpower Becomes Your Kryptonite gave her a nudge. She has now enrolled in a course and has decided that when her kids go off to boarding school in just a couple of years, she’s going to university to get a physiotherapy degree.
It turns out my book is moving people, connecting people. I doubt there are any sweeter words in the world.
This time last year I was deep in the writing of that book. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to write a book, let alone self-publish. Yet, here it sits beside me. My mantra has now become ‘I don’t know how to do this, but I’m doing it anyway’, because I love how I feel when the thing is done – empowered, strong, unrestrained, and so connected to my best self.
I have some difficulty putting the focus on myself as I write this profile for the magazine – so I thought I’d see how my inner critic Muriel might describe me:
“Tracey Hewitt scares me. She is creative and big hearted, and finds something to love about everyone she meets. Honestly, she’s bloody dangerous. She has these big ridiculous ideas about making art and writing books and she puts her most vulnerable self into her creations – exposes herself so completely, that people must think she’s stark raving mad. I don’t understand it at all, yet she keeps meeting people who thank her for what she makes, telling her it changed their lives and reassured them, knowing they are not the only ones who feel the things she feels. So she keeps making all this vulnerable stuff! It stresses me out so much!”
My days are spent running administration for our 27,000 acre family farming business located about 560 kilometres north-west of Brisbane , as well as bookkeeping, meetings, managing, organising, coordinating, cooking, washing, tidying, looking after and connecting with others, driving, and juggling. Not so unusual. But, there is this little sliver of myself that whispers for my attention. That occupies the spaces in my mind when the task at hand is mundane. That voice has led me to make art in one form or another my whole life.
I love the opportunity to initiate a conversation about being kind to ourselves, to help others see the treasure they carry in themselves, and encourage them to bring that treasure to the world.
Following my curiosity, listening to my longings and saying yes to opportunities even when I was uncertain that I could pull them off has taken me along some winding and interesting paths – from solo exhibitions to designing a mosaic mural for a big community art project to publishing a book.
From gleefully abandoning a degree in secondary art teaching – certain that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher – to thirty years later discovering that perhaps I am in fact a teacher, but not the schoolroom kind.