I have a lot going on in my head right now. The currents are threatening to thrash me about and pull me under if I let them.
- At the suggestion of a friend of mine who already works there, I applied for a job in my former field at a big university in a state my husband and I have never considered living in before. I had a phone interview a couple of weeks ago and have been invited for an in-person interview next month. I always have the tendency to worry about things ahead of time, and while I’m shoving the actual logistics of being offered and accepting such a job and selling the house and uprooting my family to the furthest dusty corners of my mind, they are still making their presence known. I have been having all kinds of feelings about this prospect bubble up, sometimes simultaneously – excitement, dread, panic, happiness, flattered, a positive outlook toward a new adventure, the irony of having applied to many university positions years ago with nary a bite and now to have it happen when I don’t know if I really even want such a position anymore, the irony of having decided to make this the year I go freelance and get more time with my kids. It’s a lot. I’m excited to interview, to see the situation that’s available. The idea of a stable job with real benefits and a pension and paid time off is appealing. But it’s not what I wanted. On the other hand, a lot of people don’t get what they want, and providing a secure environment to raise my children may be worth the sacrifice of my wants. Again what I’ve talked about before – others’ needs coming before my wants. The position though is interesting, a mix of creativity and organizational work, and the situation seems posh. But this may be yet another year of BIG DECISIONS AND CHANGE for us, when I thought we were fairly settled. So there’s that.
- I have two freelance projects I’m doing – one for an individual client and one for an entity – and both have been fraught with delays from other people. So now, on top of my full-time job and sneaking out of state for an interview next month, I’m going to be working incredibly hard to pull off these two contracts. Other people holding me up is frustrating. Having to chase after people for contracts and money and answers to questions to start working… it’s a pain.
- I’m finishing the last part of Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Idea, and it has been challenging me in really great ways. But now I’m contemplating the workings of life and humanity deeply while all this other stuff is going on.
- I’m letting myself carry more than my share of the outside world lately, allowing myself to get sucked down by it all.
So, in the midst of all of this, I have to keep myself centered. I have to take care of myself in the ways I know how and shut my mind up enough to be able to listen to the intuitive inner self. I need to keep stepping forward in the creative process. It’s going to be really difficult, but I am up for this challenge.
I spent time tonight with blank ledger lines for the first time in eons, wrestled with lyrics to a second verse, and made significant progress (for me). It feels good. Now I must stop because I need to tackle a commission before completely losing steam, but I am giddy enough to share that progress has been made!
This is especially good because last night when I had set aside time to delve into my novel for the first time in ages as well, my teething daughter made that an impossibility. So getting to touch my piano tonight and tap into creativity in a way I haven’t in a long time soothed my wounded creative from last night.
My hope is to do a little time five days a week working on my own compositions, then have one day to sing from my collection to help build my voice back up again, and one day to play the flute a week. I know life will get in the way of that, but with set days to work on certain things, I’ll at least get a couple of hours in each week, which is loads more than I’ve been getting.
As part of my commitment to releasing more work this year, I’ve set up an Instagram. You can add me if you like here. I plan on posting progress pics of artwork and to begin with, I’ll start posting old poems that I’ve already shared here, and maybe do some more readings that I’ll then upload onto my youtube channel. Maybe I’ll even be brave enough to record some of my music, but probably not for a while! Once in a while I’ll crosspost to the blog, but I’ll try to keep things fresh.
Next week I’ll hopefully get around to updating the contact buttons on the various sites, link everything together, and add the first content to my Instagram account, but I wanted to let you all know in case you want to be the first to start following. I generally follow back unless it’s an especially spam-y account.
I found this quote I had pulled from a book I read and written out way back in 2010, and I wanted to share it.
“The skjald is,” he says, “the chosen lookout of life who must reveal from his mountain what he sees at life’s deep fountain. When gripped by his vision,” he says further, the skjald is “neither quiescent nor lifeless but, on the contrary, lifted up into an exceptional state of sensitiveness in which he sees and feels things with peculiar vividness and power. I know of nothing in this material world to which the skjald may more fittingly be likened than a tuned harp with the wind playing upon it.” The hymnist Gruntvig quoted in Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark by JA Aaberg.
The skjald in Danish is a poet but moreso, one who speaks truth of the surrounding world even when others don’t want to hear it, or in ways that others can’t always understand. It is a definition difficult to translate into English, but I love this metaphor of a tuned harp being played by the wind. I feel very connected with this entire description.
This past week, while waiting for people and on mini breaks at work, I read through my blog from the very beginning, way back in 2012. It was an interesting trip back for me. Eye opening, and very helpful in finally honing in on the next direction of my life.
The first few years of doing this blog focused a lot on writing as that was what I was prepping for release into the world. I also kept talking about music and art projects that I wanted to tackle. And I really miss having projects that I am passionate about. I miss all parts of that process.
I also posted my dream schedule of balancing parenting with being a freelance creator, and I am so far from that dream at the moment, it is laughable. Working full time (plus) in theater left me with barely any other creative time, let alone quality parenting time, and while the job was fulfilling in different ways before the leadership shift and it gave me the stability to get a mortgage and health insurance to have my 2nd child, I was so much happier when I was only working part time for them. Then going back into a different full time position doing bridal alterations has been draining in a very different way, and because of the hours the shop is open, even though I am physically working less hours, I still feel like I never get to see my kids or create anything extra. Especially since I’m still self-healing from last year. I feel all this pent up creative force longing to burst forth though.
So, the goal for the past couple of months now has been to be freelancing by the end of the year and becoming the at-home parent. Once that happens, I will still do some alterations. I will do some costuming work too as it comes up and as I can find time to do it. But I want to focus the bulk of my energies on my kids and on creating my own work again. I need to feel that passion for creating that I get sucked out of me by scraping myself dry through overwork.
There was a time, long ago, where I made gifts for everyone. Then I started getting more involved with career and trying to earn money via my creativity, and I pushed myself to let my work shine and promote my stuff every chance I got. This was really important to making myself feel like a “real” artist. But it also put a lot of pressure on me to have the end goal in mind and my work suffered.
Now, with my creative time coming just in little chunks, I’ve dipped back into the past. I have started doing sketches or making little things and sending them to friends as a token of appreciation or just to say I care. I don’t take pictures, I don’t show anyone outside my house, I just create and let it go. It’s been freeing, to say the very least.
Going forward, I want to strike this balance between play and work more and more, until hopefully they will be one and the same. We shall see how it goes.
I have been absent again from posting here lately. The baby has been teething and starting her one year growth spurt, and I have also snuck away on a few short trips with the family, visiting the 1000 Islands and Buffalo/Niagara Falls. It is so much work to travel with kids, but the time with friends and getting close to nature was well worth the effort. I feel more grounded, more accepting of the current state of affairs in my life, and ready to allow myself to expand again after feeling retracted for so long.
My time to create has been so short, and this was one of the biggest things I had to come to terms with. Almost all my efforts right now are going into creating my sister’s wedding dress and jewelry. The only writing I’ve been doing lately is an occasional email or letter, and I haven’t had any time for music or painting. Because my energies are being poured into my family and into the work that allows us to survive, and that is where they need to be right now. Because the love I have for my family and the joy I experience witnessing my children grow makes the sacrifices worthwhile.
All this to say that my creativity is not gone; the fire has merely been stoked, waiting the right opportunity to blaze once again. In the meantime, I will guard my embers and feed them as I may.
I’ve still been feeling rather stuck on where I want to grow next creatively and career-wise in life. There are excuses, some more valid than others (lack of sleep due to baby – very valid excuse), but I realized lately that I’ve partially been sitting around waiting for some signs from the universe. Aside from allowing myself to be trapped in an office job for about a year and a half longer than I should have let myself be back in the early 2010s, my life path has always progressed organically. I’ve mentioned before that I decide I really want to try something out, and it happens. Opportunities come up and I take them, and they may not be specifically what I had planned, but things progress. I work my butt off, gain experience, and that’s what life is for me. Taking opportunities as they come. But before I decide I want to do something, I spend an insane amount of time hemming and hawing and waiting for a nudge or hint that I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes I get involved with very serious doubts on whether it’ll be good in the long run but just trust that I’m meant to be at certain places at certain times. A healthy way to live life, I think, but I’m pretty sure I don’t get to have it that way this time.
I have to take action myself. I preach taking personal responsibility and I know that there are inherent human freedoms, and I have to now step fully into the weight of that and take charge of my life. Which means deciding what I really want. Which is something I’ve always had a difficult time doing. And I find it doubly so now, because beyond a vague desire to “be creative”, what I really want is more time with my family. Which we’re working toward, but I miss that ambitious drive to push me through on projects.
I think I also have always wanted outside validation, a stamp of approval that my work is good. All of us creatives have that to a certain extent, don’t we? I want to march to the beat of my own drum, but I want other people to be tapping their hands along to the rhythm. It’s almost like my whole life I’ve been looking for permission to create the way I want to. And if I didn’t get that outside validation, I kind of just stopped pushing forward with that side of my creativity. Which is a tough thing to admit, but it’s true.
So I have a lot still to process in these realizations that hit me a couple of weeks ago. But processing through this is A Big Deal, and this will lay the groundwork for the next part of my life. A life path I will choose wholeheartedly. It will still be eclectic, and I’ll probably still be all over the place in my creative instincts, but it will be mine.
I video recorded myself playing piano and singing two songs the other night and then watched it. And I was able to not be too overly critical of myself. Which is huge progress. My perfectionist streak which I’ve battled for years to channel into productive paths has gotten in my way a lot, as has stage fright that rose up sometime between undergrad and grad school, so the fact that I didn’t cringe or shy away from myself is a very big deal.
The songs were two I worked on with my voice teacher last year – a Joan Baez song and one from the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I knew I had certain nuances down before I even started playing. The next step will be to record myself playing my own music, and at that point, I can let the perfectionist out a little for tweaking purposes.
Music is so important for healing. I’ve said it often that it is the one area I’ve felt a lack in my life since leaving undergrad. So I’m glad I can introduce it into my life again.
The world has seemed especially bleak lately, hasn’t it? Disturbing videos, articles and op-ed pieces pointing fingers and hurling blame for every societal ill we face, people becoming inundated with guilt and fear and hatred, our so-called leaders and the elite growing more open in their hatred of the general population by the minute it seems. It’s a lot to process, perhaps even too much to process all at once. Which is how it’s designed to be, right? Keep us spinning until we’re dizzy and then we’re just grateful for the slight pauses to catch our breath.
To ground myself and not get sucked in by the chaos, I keep two visualizations in mind. First, each individual person is a drop in the ocean of humanity. So that image of myself as a drop of water in the sea keeps me humble and allows me to go a little easier on myself because a drop of water is sometimes swept along with the collective chaos of the sea. It’s okay to let myself go with the current at times. But a drop of water is also strong. It can continuously purify itself if it gets contaminated through the process of evaporation, always returning back to it’s original molecules. It can shape stone over time, especially when working with other drops. It is the source of life on this planet.
The other visualization is remembering that humans are made of the same stuff of stars, as Carl Sagan famously said. The star I visualize being from originally is a big blue one. This helps me keep my higher self in mind and not give into the pettiness and despair as often as I sometimes feel pulled to. Also, I’ve been working on this visualization to give myself permission to shine. We all should shine as brightly as we are able and not let fear dim our lights.
Do you have any visualizations that you have been working with lately to further your creativity/productivity and keep yourself from sinking too deep into the current muck and mire of modern life?