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?
First, a story:
Back when I was 19, I collided with a car while riding my bike to my summer job teaching nursery school.
I was zipping down the sidewalk on the left side of the street (a no-no), and came up to an intersection where a car on the cross street was about to turn right. The driver was looking to his left, watching for oncoming cars, so he never saw me, bearing down from his right.
I thought he would stop. But he didn’t stop.
And by the time I realized he wasn’t stopping, it was too late for me to stop.
(Note to self: when in doubt, stop. This is true for many things in life, not just moving vehicles.)
Suddenly my front wheel slammed into his right front wheel, and I was airborne.
Thankfully, neither of us was going highway speeds, or I might not be writing this post right now. Later I would discover the my front wheel was totaled, but at that second I knew only that I was flying. Then, wham — I found myself perched on the hood of the car, impossibly balanced on my left hip.
In the rush of adrenaline, a zillion thoughts spun through my mind:
You f*cking moron! You didn’t stop! And you didn’t even look to see if the coast was clear!
Geez, I’d better make sure I stop and look right when driving…
Am I okay? Did I break anything? (Yes, and no, in that order.)
Dang, I should have slowed down and stopped when I saw that car in the intersection…
Now I’m going to be late for work!
What sticks with me most from that experience, though, is the memory of being perched on the hood of the car. For a second or two, my body was so perfectly balanced on the pivot point of my hip that I literally couldn’t move. The world seemed to stop for a moment. It felt like I might be frozen there forever.
At this time in my life I was heavily, passionately into dance (my first serious Bliss-following endeavor), about to head off to Juilliard in the fall, and I remember marveling at how balanced I was in that moment.
Dang (I thought), if only I could find that kind of balance doing pirouettes in my dance classes!
Of course, I did eventually manage to tip off of my hip and slide off the car, the world started spinning on its axis again, and life proceeded to lurch along at its normal pace.
The ever-elusive quest for balance
That instant after the crash has been something of a metaphor for my life ever since: I’m always seeking a state of balance, rarely achieving it, and when I do, it’s for a fleeting moment (and ironically, now that I think of it, frequently after some kind of radically imbalancing crisis.)
This week was a great example. After months of craziness before and in between music camps, things are settling down again, I’m finding a groove. And this week, art, music, life, business — all seemed to converge and harmonize in the most beautiful way.
:: The Universe is sending me cool validation for my writing
I’m guest posting!
The Abundant Artist published the first in a series of guest posts, which was then picked up on Brazen Careerist. Plus I was invited to guest post on Scoutie Girl.
And most exciting of all, a sweet opportunity landed in my lap to be the top mover and shaker for another website.
But until it’s official, I’ll just leave it at that. Stay tuned… (Yeah, I’m a tease. I know.)
:: I’m making art! And okay with being a beginner… mostly
The huge revelation this week was that my goal to make art every day is not about adding inventory to my business, but about allowing myself space to be in kindergarten. This finally got me painting again, playing and experimenting in a brand new medium.
Result: I made five paintings in five days.
I’m even managing (mostly) the inevitable anxiety that pops up around whether I like my work or not. I posted painting #5 above precisely because I didn’t particularly like it when I painted on it (though it’s been growing in me). But as I wrote in my guest blog post, art is in the eye (and pocketbook) of the beholder. Even if you don’t think your work is art, or of value, somebody else might!
Although I wrote this (and thanks to everyone who retweeted it), I still have to remind myself of it on a regular basis… Going back to kindergarten as an adult is never easy. I want to be facile, now. But the fact is, with every canvas I paint, I’m learning what it’s like to work in this medium. And baby step by baby step, I’m finding my voice.
It’s all herky-jerky newborn limb-flailing at the moment, which is frustrating, but exactly as it should be.
:: The Thriving Artists Project is moving forward
Yes! I had two fantastic interviews, with Chris Guillebeau and Will Edwards, with two more scheduled for next week. Forward movement is good!
:: Music gig opportunities are springing up all around me
The Universe has sent me some clear validation for my music lately:
• I got to debut my ukulele playing (and my new ukulele song) at today’s gig at the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts. Sold some CDs, gained some new fans on my mailing list. Took a step forward in my goal to master the art of performing solo. (And discovered I need to triple my repertoire of uke songs before I can carry an hour all by myself! Ah, well. More herky-jerky newborn limb-flailing. Or perhaps toddling.)
• A friend invited me to sit in on his gig at the Unity Day fair on September 19, offering me a portion of his brief, 45-minute set, simply because he likes my music and wants to support me and see me getting more exposure. (How awesome is that?)
• Another friend with the same intention invited me to sing on her radio show, the Sisters of Sizzle, on September 29. (Ditto.)
• The day after that, September 30, I have a lunchtime gig at the SF Arts Market. (Gotta find an accompanist, since I’ve got an hour to fill, and tripling my repertoire in a month is a tall order…)
:: And among it all, work got done
Amazing how that happens. Somehow, I’m managing to follow my various Blisses while at the same time completing client deadlines.
And going to two potluck music jam parties.
And spending time with important people in my life.
If I’d managed to get a night of Argentine tango dancing in, life would pretty much be complete.
Ah, well. Perhaps next week.
The ever-elusive quest for balance is, after all, ever-elusive.
That’s it for this update.
Jim Porterfield says
Melissa, we must be some sort of Astrological identical twins. I collided with a car while riding my bicycle as a teenager (in my case because I was watching a girl who’s sweater seemed to be two sizes too small for her figure).
Now I’m sitting completing the first entry for a weekly blog on a page provided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mine concerns rail history, travel and preservation.
And like you I have inexplicably become “in demand” as a speaker, with gigs scheduled for California, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Ohio this fall.
A multi-book contract is said to be in the mail. And another proposal is going out this week.
All pistons seem to be getting a spark right now. See you on Oprah!.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Ha! Your collision story cracked me up! (Only because you obviously survived it…) How very archetypal. 😉
We are definitely leading parallel lives. Congrats on all the successes!
And re. Oprah, from your fingers to god’s eyes, as it were. 😉
Cory Huff says
Don’t forget the little people when you’re famous!
I’m glad things are working out for you Melissa – it’s good to see success in those I know.
Melissa Dinwiddie says
Teehee! 🙂 Thanks Cory! You’ve been a tremendous help to me, and I hope we get to work more together!