Gratitude, Re-Charging, and New Beginnings
This week I am finding time to return to my roots: Making things with my own two hands. In the midst of much bigger studio events like launching my first book, planning and teaching several workshops, and continuing with the Make Thrift Mend project I have also taken a few hours here and there to creatively recharge. Yes, recharge. Because I've learned that when my work hours become a series of spreadsheets, unanswered emails, and computer to-do lists my energy for all this work starts to shift.
I try to remember the incentive I had three-years-ago when I made the leap into freelance with a newborn at my side. I wanted a flexible schedule, I wanted to be able to work from home with only part-time daycare for my son, and I wanted to work towards a sustainable career based in my studio practice. As businesses grow and work expands the demands for organization, planning, and communication increase. This feels like a natural progression.
But when our career is dependent on a creative practice it's all too easy to spend less and less time creating work while spending more and more time managing the work. This too seems like a natural progression, not particular to being a freelance artist but to managing any career that continues to expand.
But how do we stay centered in our original goals while managing the day-to-day operations? I think that's the million dollar question, right? My latest answer is about balance and diversifying my work day. Not the balance we imagine as perfection but balance that simply feels good. Sometimes this just means closing my computer for the last 30 minutes of the day and turning to my needles and threads.
I ask myself, "Why do I do this work?" and my answer is always about meaning and connection. Because there's a meaning derived from creative work that I want to hold onto. There's a connection to my surroundings, community, family, friends, and to myself that I try to keep in focus. There's an inspiration, a connection, a satisfaction that comes from making things with my own two hands. This connection cannot be recreated by maintaining spreadsheets, emails, and calendars. Of course, it cannot expand without them. So, it's about achieving balance between the two.
But as I head into the Thanksgiving holiday and consider the food and people and place where our holiday will be hosted I also try to stop and think about gratitude. About thankfulness. About intention. And mindfulness. But mostly about connection. I try to transfer this thinking about my studio life into this intention with my personal life. I reflect on the last year in my studio and also clarify my vision about what I want the next year to bring. After all, the New Year is somehow just around the corner.
I'm also simply insisting on finding more time to make things. To try new techniques. To make things with my own two hands. Creatively recharge and stay inspired. I attended a weaving class this weekend and I'm trying my hand at my first weaving; I took an infinity scarf apart four times (yes, four) before I created a knitting pattern that I actually liked; and I found minutes and hours in a busy work week to finish these linen throw pillows for my living room. I loved the Japanese printed linen fabrics so much and promised myself that I would finish these pillow covers.
I'm giving myself permission to insist on joy being infused into my work life. That's right, joy. And to allow myself to be a beginner at things like weaving and creating basic knitting patterns to stay inspired. But I'm mostly finding a few hours here and there to recharge. So that I might have the energy to continue expanding my studio life to include more than I could have ever imagined. It feels like the only way forward.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. May your holiday be filled with gratitude, joy, maybe a little extra time for crafting, and also respite.