How the Heart Informs Our Art

My childhood memories of Christmas are pretty darn scratchy, dear reader. Not patchy. Scratchy. Like chook scratches in loose dirt. Hard to decipher. Vague. No hint of a plot.

And yet.

Some of my favourite glimpses (I won’t call them memories) are from the Christmases we spent at my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm on the Murray River in Victoria.

Summer was a novelty back then. As a kid I was always surprised (and ecstatic) to see it return. Yesssss!!!!

I LOVED summer and I that loved farm.

Them cows. Them cats. Them cousins.

The big ol’ farmhouse ringed by a Photinia hedge. And behind that hedge, a rambling garden with thick, cold couch grass where you could stretch out on hot nights and stare at the stars.

All this, plus an airy sleep-out on the back verandah where guests such as yours truly and her Christmas bride-doll were housed. (I kid you not. Bride-dolls were my absolute favourite when I was six and it was 1967…)

Later, much later, time spent on that farm would inspire my Truly Tan books. And I’m fairly certain it influenced my tree-change back in 2018.

Morning Kitty. See how he glows??

The heart, dear reader. It clings to happy memories. It relishes those giddy glimpses into other ways of being, other lifestyles. It never forgets the moments when life swirled and danced and felt deeply magical.

And, I’ve discovered, if given free rein the heart will try to recreate those moments. Whether that’s with small gestures in daily life—I need a ginger farm-cat! I must have hydrangeas under the bedroom window! Can we add wisteria or perhaps a screen door to this apartment?

These memories might inform our art, our music, even our cooking or clothing. Or in my case, they might pop up via creative writing and storytelling.

Either way, a happy heart longs to express itself. It suffers when caged, suppressed or denied the opportunity to share, celebrate or relive its joy.

Wisteria on my front verandah.

When I was in London last month, I spent the good part of one morning poking around Watkins Bookshop, near Leicester Square.

Do you know of the shop, dear reader? If, like me, you are into the woo, the esoteric and the spooky, a trip to Watkins is probably on your To Do list. Or your vision board. Maybe it’s scribbled on parchment and tucked in a spell jar along with a manifestation crystal or three. (I recommend obsidian for such magic…)

Hydrangeas on our back verandah. It’s not Christmas without hydrangeas.

Weirdly, for me, I didn’t buy anything particularly esoteric or witchy. For some reason, on that day, I was more interested in other titles.

I bought Big Magic, by Liz Gilbert (I gave my copy away years ago and thought it was time I re-purchased and reread).

I bought a little book of spiritual teachings by Deepak Chopra (nifty size, dear reader, handy for reading on the tube).

And I bought, The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer.


This is not a book review. (I’m hopelessly lazy when it comes to writing book reviews, they feel too much like a uni assignment). But I will say that while The Untethered Soul is stylistically simple, its content is deeply profound.

Singer explores the idea of approaching life with an open heart.

In particular, he suggests ways in which we can transcend the tendency to close our hearts, and demonstrates how a closed heart actually blocks the amount of energy available to us, leaving us weary and depleted. Doomed to make the same mistakes over and over.

The heart, it seems, is our main energy source (not food or sleep or fitness or… Red Bull).

It takes enormous effort to go through life with a closed heart — which is the default position for most of us because we think it will protect us. But it doesn’t protect us, it just makes us cranky and sad.

An open heart (hooray, hoorah!) lets life flow, and all that is troubling or threatening or disturbing, doesn’t snag inside us. It simply drifts on through.

It’s counterintuitive but try it. Especially at this time of year when you might be required to spend time with people who, um, give you the willies…

Just stay present, approach those pesky cads with an open heart, keep your personal energy supply flowing and you might find that love is all that remains.

But this in not a review.

All’s I’m sayin’ is grab a copy of The Untethered Soul if you’re interested in the nature of consciousness and the quest for inner freedom.


Here’s a Christmassy picture I drew ages ago:

Open hearts, energy sources, childhood memories. This blog post has wandered far from where I thought it was going.

I’ll write again tomorrow, dear reader. I am officially on holidays so I have more time to gather my thoughts on paper and to pen you copious lines.

Plus. I thought I’d set myself a challenge to blog three days in a row. I’ve never done that before!

And besides, I want to give you a garden update.

And show you how we decorated the shed.

And how I made Christmas cards.


More soon!

Sending big love and big magic, today and every day

Jen xo

Advance copies of the Truly Tan series have been arriving on my doorstep, this week. The entire eight-book series is being rereleased in January 2023. Available in all good bookstores. (Except Watkins in London…)

4 Replies to “How the Heart Informs Our Art”

  1. That’s a good way of putting it Jen, childhood memories are like glimpses.They’re tricksie and amorphous. I’ve been living in my childhood this week, trying to write a blog. I quizzed my siblings for details and they had completely different memories of the same event. The farm memories sound lovely, especially the star gazing. I can almost hear the cicadas, or is it the ringing in my ears? 🤣

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