I feel like I have to start off this post by saying I am maybe not in the best frame of mind. I have been working really hard on a few things outside of my creative endeavors and, therefore, been a complete slacker at blogging. I have been thinking about this month’s topic and had more than a few thoughts about what change really means. As a result, this post may end of being less informative and more like venting…a bit. At least I will stuff in a bunch of sweet pictures.
Life is change. There is nothing that can be done about it. Even sitting still in an empty space, things are always moving and changing, no matter how minutely. But some of the most important changes are the ones you actively choose to make. A month and a half ago, I joined some friends in The Artist’s Way. My goal was to really learn how to carve out time for myself and really foster my creative side. Doing quickie projects is okay, but I want to build up a long-term and meaningful body of work. That’s not just going to happen on its own. But in the process of doing all the exercises listed in the book, I find myself thinking a bit more critically about my own life. And that has helped me come to a few realizations.
Everything is connected. It sounds really obvious, but it’s easy to forget. There are several areas of my life where I know I could be doing better. I need to stretch everyday to keep my back in shape. I need to take my multivitamin with a glass of grapefruit juice so I actually soak up iron. I have to do chores…the list goes on. Any smart person knows if you want to make changes to more than one area of your life, you really should start small and choose one. If you try to make big changes in every area at the same time, you are setting yourself up for failure. But when you make changes in one place, it does start seeping into others, even if they seem totally unrelated.
Since my husband quit traveling full-time for work and I began staying at home, we have had some time to clear up junk around the house that has been bugging me for years. Trash cans filled, carloads of donations to the thrift shop and things finally finding homes. The house is getting pulled together and clutter is clearing just in time for a little guy to learn to crawl. And what else started happening? I feel less guilty about stepping away to paint. I feel less stressed about clutter and have an easier time when I do make it to the easel. It’s wonderful how effort put into one part of your life will move and make changes in other places.
You really, really can’t force things. Have you ever had company over last-minute and instead of cleaning (because you don’t have time), you just throw everything into a laundry basket in the master bedroom? And then the next day you have to take care of this big basket of crap? That’s like trying to make any change in your life super fast. The changes you make may look great on the surface, but they have caused disarray and problems in other areas. When you take time, you don’t disguise the problem, you really, truly fix it. Instead of buying a box to keep stacks and stacks of magazines in, you can clear out all but one or two you want to read. Instead of wishing you had better skills as a painter, you could set aside thirty minutes a day to actually work on it. But whatever you do, take your time and get in deep. The long-term benefits are worth it.
Look backwards only when you need to. I really, really rock at beating myself up. I always say things like “If I had set up my jewelry bench a year ago, I could be selling stuff already” or “If I had better support for my artistic inclinations growing up, I could be as good as __ now”. That does zero good. None, nothing. When you are only beating yourself up for things you can’t change, that’s not constructive. Looking forward to decide where and who you want to be is so much better for you. Setting goals, large or small at least leads you to making real changes. Wallowing doesn’t. If you are going to look back, look at how far you have come.
On that note, I think I am feeling much better! As I said, I am unsure how helpful this will be to anyone reading it, but I won’t know until I send my words out into the wide world. Best wishes to all of you who are working to change and improve your lives. And happy Friday.