A friend of mine sent me a postcard while on a cross country trip (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, if you are curious) with the above quotation on it. And it struck me as being very true about me.
I am happy in my life and my creative work most of the time, taking on more projects, juggling as many balls (and knives and flaming swords) as I can, because I love what I do. And I push myself to do more and more until I can’t take anymore and I collapse in exhaustion or illness. Lack of sleep spurs inflammatory responses in my body that make me crave bread and sugar, which then triggers more inflammation, and all of this makes my psoriasis flare up. And then I get down about everything emotionally because I’m so drained. I rest up, resolve to be better and kinder to myself in the future, and I end up in a continuous cycle.
Since realizing this about myself post grad school, and knowing how unhealthy working like this makes me, I’ve tried to become more conscious of my pacing. I’ve begun taking care of myself better over the years. And now, I can tell when I’m about to hit a wall and attempt to take steps to get back on track. Like last night, I went to bed as soon as I got my son down, at about 8:40PM. So rather than the 4-5 hours I’ve been getting almost every night for the past two months, I got closer to a cumulative 8 hours, which is what I needed to begin to recover.
It is such a difficult balance act. On the one hand, I want to push myself to create, because that is what makes me happy, but on the other hand, I don’t want to work myself into an early grave or neglect my family. Ideally, if and when the creative work is able to provide a living wage for me, my schedule will be much easier to balance, but I have to acknowledge that self-sufficiency may never come, especially in today’s society.
Anyway, this quote gave me a lot to think about, and I’m sure I’ll be reflecting on it a lot more in the coming months.