I’m attempting to shift my sleep cycle to get up before my kids do in order to do yoga/some kind of exercise and a little journaling. It is tough because I generally like to have a little time to myself in the evenings, but the truth is I’m pretty wiped out by the time we get done with bedtime routines and nightly chores anyway, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to create post-bedtime unless I’m really on the crunch for a deadline. So, it is going to be a rough couple of weeks, but if it works, it will be much better for my mental health and my ability to deal with day-to-day stresses. And hopefully that will energize me during the day for being more present for my kids and more focused during the few hours I do get in the day for creative work. Part of this stems from committing myself two weeks ago to do inner work that includes meditation
I finally had a physical, my first in over a decade. I’m starting to try to figure out some of my autoimmune issues. My suspicion is that I have the beginnings of psoriatic arthritis, and I’m meeting with a rheumatologist in September. I want to avoid any pharmaceutical intervention as long as possible, since I’m not yet 40, but having a diagnosis will help point me in the direction of life changes I can make to help myself.
I start a new part-time sew-from-home job tomorrow too, just ten hours a week to start, which is all I can handle while simultaneously taking care of the kids’ schooling and trying to slowly build up originalsbykatharinetracy.com. I’ve got one costume commission and two prom dress alterations I’m doing right now too, so it’s been a busy time, and more difficult than it should be because I’ve gained a little wait and lost some pep and vitality this year. Working on sharpening my mind and body so I can give more to my family, my community, and all my creative endeavors without burning out is important.
My husband also kindly picked me up a half-day relaxation package at a local spa for Mother’s day/early birthday gift that includes time in a massage chair and a 60-min float tank session, which I am definitely looking forward to. It might be a month or so until I get around to using it, but just imagining an entire hour of sensory deprivation and a couple more hours of pampering is enough to keep me going.
So big personal changes for me. Adjustments and fine-tuning to help me grow as an individual and as a member of this crazy human race. Looking forward to what may come creatively out of all of this.
“Magic may be real enough, the magic of a word or an act, grafted upon the invisible influences that course through the material world.” – from Robert Edmund Jones’ The Dramatic Imagination, quote attributed to Santayana.
I rediscovered this quote while reading through some old school papers I wrote back in grad school, and it carries a lot more meaning for me now. I’m hoping maybe it will inspire some of you as well.
I finally made a sale over at my Fine Art America gallery, a greeting card of this painting. The email notifying me of the sale took me by surprise, honestly, a pleasant surprise at that. The dollar amount is meaningless, but it was a poke to me that someone saw my art enough to enjoy it and want to take it home.
As I posted the image above, my 4 year old came over and sat in my lap and said “Oh my god, mommy, that’s a really good painting!” (My 10 year old has picked up “oh my god” from his classmates, so now of course the 4 year old is saying it, too.) Then she wanted to see some of my other artwork, so I showed her the Gallery page, and I felt another little poke.
There aren’t enough hours in the day, and I only recently recommitted to taking care of my own health and well-being again, which has to be a priority so I can have more to give to others. But with that, I hope the energy I have been lacking will come back to carve a little more time out for creating and sharing here. I’ve been missing it a lot.
This time at home with my children this year has been really great, but it has left me with not a whole lot of time and energy for writing here or tackling big projects. Add on some freelance costume and sewing gigs finally, and trying to update Originals by Katharine Tracy monthly, it means there are sometimes weeks of no writing or art. I still always carve out time for music even if it’s just 10 minutes on piano every day, but there were a couple months at the start of the year that I couldn’t even play the uke or flute because it seemed like too much effort. The cycle of feeling energized and then almost burning out has been a theme this entire pandemic, and if I’m honest, my entire life. There hasn’t ever been anything like steadiness, which definitely keeps life more interesting.
I have songs and poems and stories and art inside that I hope I will have the chance to manifest into reality. I always chip away where I can. In the meantime, I’m continuing with focusing on my biggest creative endeavor (my children) and consider it such a profound privilege to watch them grow and help shape them into amazing human beings. I am pursuing my costume and sewing work, which is satisfying creatively in different ways. And I have learned to let myself off the hook a little bit. I cannot be a “creative machine”. I don’t need to feel guilt when I need to rest. I’m finally learning to ride my own waves, and that’s where I need to be.
Where are you all emotionally at this point? Hopeful? Despairing? Taking things in stride? Wherever you are, I wish you well.
I finished my ballerina bunnies! I am so enamored with their cuteness. I left them fairly undetailed because they are going to be shrunk to about two inches each for the fabric design I have them planned for, but I think they are kind of charming in their sketchiness, and I hope that you agree with me!
The black and white one is inspired (but not an exact copy) by the rabbit we adopted this summer. She is named Spotticus, or Spotty for short, and she is quite a love.
You can see some of my other fabric designs at Spoonflower. I’m trying to do one or two new releases per month, which will hopefully mean more art coming this way.
Working on some fun new art this week, the first time in a while. I’m hoping to use these as a new fabric design over at my Originals By Katharine Tracy and Spoonflower shop next month, but even if they turn out unusable, it’s been fun designing and drawing them out. Tonight I will start to color them.
I’ve honestly had a very difficult time tapping into my creativity lately. Having an idea that is super cute and literal fluff has been a relief. I don’t know what the future brings, but I can’t shoulder the collective burden as much as I have been this past year.
My husband gave me my first ever set of oil paints for Christmas this year, and we finally took them out and played with them this weekend. This is what I started.
It is maybe not the easiest choice to start in on a human with zero reference photos, but I had the image of Spring as a goddess in my head and this is what came out. Hopefully as I add details, it will be less garish.
Overall, lots of fun! I love the way the paints layer. It will be good to experiment. I get a little nervous about the kids or the cat accessing the painting since it takes so long to dry but we shall see how it goes.
It’s taken me longer to put out this video. Adjusting to life of forced social-distancing and distance learning for my son has been a challenge. But we are hanging in there, and I hope all of you are as well.
This has been a rough couple of weeks. By the end of both weeks of homeschooling, I was feeling drained, anxious for the kids, sad that I won’t be able to see some family before they move from a 1.5 hour drive away to fifteen hours away. My husband’s one job has him out but his part-time job is considered essential business (and oh how I shake my head at cigarettes and beer and lotto being essential) so he is still out and about more than he should because we need the financial security right now. I feel like I am overburdened carrying the emotional weight of my entire family on my shoulders.
So I had to give myself time to grieve. Grieve for the loss of innocence my son will definitely have of all this. Grieve for my family I don’t get to hug goodbye. Grieve for myself and my sense of timing for my online bespoke clothing and costume shop I was finally ready to pull together this spring, because I can’t afford the start up nor does it seem a wise business venture when so many don’t know how they will be paying their rent or mortgage. Grieve for my friends in the entertainment industry who are unemployed and considered expendable by much of the population. Grieve for those dying alone in hospitals and for their families unable to say goodbye.. Grieve for this country and this species and this planet. It’s a lot to process. And it will be ongoing for the duration.
But letting my grief out let me move forward and cut myself some slack, something I always have to do. And I am doing what I can. Getting moving as much as possible. Creating little bits of art. Making masks that I’ve been donating to local medical facilities. I’m dipping my toes back into writing and making music again.
Today, I painted this tree in blossom on a paper plate while my 3yo daughter experimented on some plates of her own. She insisted on adding the black strip on the edge for me.
I still feel some hope for the future. That this will be the wake up call we need as a species. But I also know that so many people are still not ready. Still, these are interesting times to be alive. Sometimes I wish it was a little less interesting.
I am creating this list both to share with all of you and to remind myself in the long days ahead when having everyone at home will start getting overwhelming.
If you live with others, take this time to truly enjoy the company. I have the feeling that this is a make or break time for a lot of relationships. Keep the communication flowing, let the little things go, and find the humor whenever possible.
Keep moving. Get fresh air if you are able to, get some kind of exercise routine going for you and your family, if you have one. I like putting music on and dancing like a fool and doing workouts at home anyway. My son’s karate is live streaming his classes and he has P.E. recommendations that I participated in with both kids tonight.
Get done those organizational or cleaning or yard projects that you have been putting off. Today I realized that light fixtures in the bathroom aren’t actually frosted like I thought… oops.
Consume media that you wouldn’t normally do. Project Gutenberg is a great resource for free books (though throw them a donation if you can). Try to learn something you’ve never learned before.
Create as much as you can, in any way as you can. The creative process keeps you happy and healthy.
Take the time to get to know yourself as you currently are. As you can handle this, of course. There is so much opportunity to really grow through all of this.
Stay connected to other loved ones as much as possible through phone calls and video chats. Check on people. This is tough when you have kids you are trying to manage through school work and not destroying your home, doubly so if you are trying to work at home on top of it, but even if it’s just a couple people a day, it will make a difference to both you and them.
Stay connected in your community if you can, and help those that you can as opportunities present itself.
Do something kind for yourself every day, and do a teeny random act of kindness for each person in your household.
I am a creature of action, and I refuse to allow this time of social distancing to bring me to my knees. I know many people are trying to cocoon themselves, and by all means, do what you must for your well being. But we owe it to ourselves and each other not to succumb to apathy and neglect. Take care of you, take care of your loved ones, and let love win over fear.
Do any of you have big projects you are tackling or tricks to keeping yourself sane in this time? Please share them with me!