Have you noticed..
...that as artists we have a built-in need to be in the limelight, on the radar? It compels us to keep ungodly hours, say yes to every opportunity, push ourselves past the point of exhaustion and even common sense. We jump on the treadmill for months at a time, "eye on the prize", onward and upward. Maybe it's New York, maybe it's art, whatever it is, it seems like the last year has been an all-out sprint. And I've loved every second of it.
But I've been taking a break. Over the last two months, I've dug myself in and retreated to my rabbit warren. I've said 'no' to people who have asked me to do projects with them. I'm catching up on the rest of my life. It's winter. It has been frigid outside. This helps. I've settled some nagging financial issues, "found" money in the process, have been reading, researching, making art, making medicine and even... making space mentally for a love interest.
New York is challenging for women, considering the ratio of men to women. But in all honesty, I'm not sure I've been in the right mindset to have a man around. I'm ambitious, I have goals and maybe I have been a bit unwilling and nervous about setting aside time, again. Life has a way of giving us what we ask for. So I'm dialing it back and focusing. And it feels right.
Maybe the list above doesn't sound like time off. Technically, it's time off from putting my efforts towards creating opportunities for others - curating ate up a lot of my energy. It is something I love doing but it was time to turn inward, focus on me, making, my needs. These shifts in focus tend to be cyclical. Like the seasons, I move from one state of mind to another. Funny enough, in my contemplative period, despite some anxiety about taking my foot off the gas and not actively looking for opportunities, they kept presenting themselves. I have a teaching opportunity coming up. I will be sharing how my art practice has come to embody all aspects of the wise woman/healer/medicine woman, including making ceremonial objects, medicine and creating spaces for shared cultural experiences, (curating and my Project Space). I've been asked to do an interview for an art publication and will have an article published in another. I have also been invited to be on a panel in gallery in March. We'll be talking about feminism and the Irish, Pagan deity, the Sheela na gig, who has been in the center of my thinking over the last months. (Details later...)
For now, back to the point. Is this frantic phenomenon unique to New York? Is it the 21st century? Is it normal to set such a crazy pace for ourselves? I've lectured my son about his insane schedule as a Neurosurgical resident and couldn't fathom why my daughter would work until 8 or 9pm on a regular basis. But I was doing the same.
These schedules give opportunities for our bodies to succumb to illness. We have limited supplies of energy and we need to dedicate some of it to healthy eating, cleared minds, focus on loved ones and rest.
How much is enough? How much is too much? Who decided this was what our lives should look like? And more importantly, does it actually serve us? Are we happier? Are we more secure? What happens when we take time for ourselves? What happens when we spend more time with family, friends, loved ones, with people who support and honor us?
I have a magnificent group of friends here in NYC. These are people who will show up if I ask for help. I know this. They have, routinely. This gives me solace. Do I want a partner too? Yes. What will that look like? How will he fit in? I haven't found the proper balance in the past. I've given too much, not enough or a combination of the two at various times. Maybe it has to be cyclical, like my work.
I'm asking these questions because I know I'm not alone. I've talked to many of you and I know that this is what we do. I look around and I see exhaustion and equal ambition in my peers. I'm wondering how often you take your foot off the gas and take a break, take some time off, slow it down, take a nap (!), think, read, research and live the rest of your life?
Maybe it's time.
As usual, this post started a newsletter, sent out to my mailing list and now it has become part of this blog, where I share strange coincidences, experiences and insights that have shaped my life and practice.
If you're interested in Herbal Remedies from a trained Herbalist (me), or want to check out some of my ceremonial objects or Social Practice, please do.
I write these posts in a conversational tone and I'm always thrilled to hear from people. Don't hesitate to comment below to continue the discussion.