So how’m I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
Theme of the week: Out. Of. Sync.
You know that feeling? When you’re kinda off track and just can’t seem to get back on? Yeah, that one.
I mean, I suddenly realized that it’s been weeks since I got back from music camp, and except for the yoga classes I have to get to because I work at the studio, I have completely forgotten to exercise.
What happened to my lovely habit of going on a walk on my non-yoga days? Gone. Kerploof.
And I didn’t even notice. That‘s how out of sync I’ve been.
But being out of sync isn’t necessarily all bad. One day this week I was in the City having lunch with Ann Rea of ArtistsWhoTHRIVE, brainstorming to see how we might join forces. So, a good thing.
And two days this week I was in the City, roaming the Impressionist exhibits at the Palace of the Legion of Honor and the De Young and the Fisher Collection at MoMA with my parents and my visiting aunt. Also good.
And – oh, yeah – I did manage to finish a new song and record a new video. Which also definitely counts in the good column.
But early departure times to get up to the City, combined with late bedtimes to get work done do not a happy camper make. And I don’t know about the rest of you migraineurs out there, but sleep disturbance is a really reliable recipe for a migraine.
And so it was.
The rest of the week followed suit: even more than usual I feel like I’m barely chipping away at my monstrous pile of things-that-must-be-done.
And meanwhile, the house elves have not been magically cleaning up after me, and messy surroundings invariably leave me feeling messy in the head
Bleah, bleah, and triple-bleah.
Lessons learned and forward progress
Do you ever feel so preoccupied with your growing to-do list that it renders you incapable of enjoying time away? Because you feel so guilty that you’re not chipping away at your to-do list that you can’t quite relax and appreciate what a cool thing you’re doing right now?
It’s a pretty common feeling for me, and given that we’re all living in a society that was brewed in a Protestant Work Ethic cauldron, I know I’m not alone in this.
Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that I always feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it.
And also that I always manage to get stuff done when it really needs to be.
So in other words, the stress and anxiety is probably mostly (if not all) just a feeling.
Perhaps reality is not as stressful as I frequently feel it to be. Make sense?
I’ve also figured out that feeling guilty for taking time away from my to-do list is not particularly useful. In fact I’ve known this for some time, but I’m starting to make more effort to let those anxious and guilty feelings just wash off me when I notice them starting to cling.
Like meditation, it’s not so easy, but it does make a difference.
And a role model
Then I read a comment by John T. Unger on an IttyBiz blog post. In 6 Things They Mean When They Say They Have No Money, Naomi writes about customers who email to bitch and moan that they have no money and your product is too expensive (and btw, can they have it for cheaper — or free).
It’s a great post, and it got me thinking about how frequently I use that excuse in my own life (though it would never occur to me to send an email complaining and asking for a “feel sorry for me” discount), when in fact it’s not that I have no money, it’s just a matter of priorities.
For example, I’m feeling super-anxious about paying for an upcoming co-counseling workshop that will cost me close to $200 to attend, and a friend’s play that will cost me another $50. But when another friend emailed me a link for the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival today I was practically leaping to hand over the credit card I’m desperately trying to pay down in order to go to the festival for the whole weekend. (As it happens, they only take checks, so my credit card is safe.)
But what got me thinking even more than the post itself is John T. Unger’s comment. He writes:
Back when I still had both a day job and an art career (so, like a decade ago) I often spent the rent money buying work by other artists. Or that expensive out of print art book I just HAD to have, etc. I had two reasons for doing this:
1. Original art is usually one of kind. If you come back later it may not be there and you might be kicking yourself over missing it for years. The rent, on the other hand, is always there. If you pay it a little bit late, well, they’ll still take your money. Maybe you pay a fee. Whatever. You still have that great piece of art until (and after) they kick you out, right?
2. I could argue that people NEED to buy art, but I’m not going to. People DO need to pay the rent, if they want a place to keep the things they spent the rent money on. My point being this… you’re unlikely to hustle, or get clever, or take a second job to buy a piece of art. But if the rent needs to be paid, you will because you HAVE to. So go ahead and get the luxury that you must have and can’t afford. Do it now, and then figure out how you’re going to make the extra money this month to pay the bills.
It worked for me. I had to work harder, but I wound up with great art and books and a cool loft to keep them in.
First thought: I am way more risk-averse than John T. Unger! Spending the rent money on anything but the rent would tie my stomach in knots.
Second thought: he really has a point. And I can see how such choices could make a person work harder.
Third thought: although I’ve been (possibly overly) frugal with my spending on things that will improve my quality of life and general happiness level, I’ve actually been following a similar plan to John’s, albeit with time instead of money.
As in going to special museum exhibits (during business hours) with beloved family members.
As in going Argentine tango dancing twice this week, instead of staying home to work all night (to make up for time away during the day).
As in spending Friday night and Saturday morning (ahem.. Saturday all day) abjectly not working.
Of course it wouldn’t work to not work all the time, but just like John T. Unger always managed to pay his rent, I always manage to get the critical stuff done. Sometimes it means staying up way too late, but stuff always gets done when it really has to be. (Note that this does not seem to apply to housework, which is why I’m rather annoyed the house elves haven’t shown up yet.)
So although I’m not quite ready to spend my rent money on other stuff I want, I’m pleased that I’m able to spend some time doing things that make me happy, even when I’m stressing out (as I almost always am) about all the stuff that needs to get done.
And just as it seems to take me three days of not working on a deadline to get me in gear to actually work on it, perhaps all the time out of sync this week is exactly what I need to get in gear and back in sync next week.
I’ll keep you posted.