Choosing to follow the flow may not make the chaos disappear, but it certainly turns the volume down.
I have been living in a state of “WTF” for a while now, not really knowing what to do next and picking random tasks from my to do list that seem like they should be prioritized. There has not been much of a cohesive plan for 2019. Well…that’s not true. If you recall, the official plan was to have no plan and to just do what feels right and makes me happy.
Yesterday, something extraordinary happened: it all started to come together. It’s as if four projects and all of the related tasks regarding those projects have been swirling above my head for five months. They were flying around so fast, it was hard to even see them clearly. It made me completely uncomfortable and feel as though the strategy of not being a slave to my calendar was perhaps ill conceived.
However, yesterday, as I was finishing framing nine paintings for my June 7th show, I looked at the collection and realized that indeed, I have a cohesive series to present. Not only is it done, but I LOVE it. The Lovely Mess series is complete (minus one last painting I’m working on now), and each painting is dreamy, emotional and optimistic all at the same time. I am extremely proud of this series and for me it is the marker of an important milestone: the moment my writing and my painting crossed paths and became one expression in two formats.
Creatively, that is a huge accomplishment. Until now, the writing and the painting have been separate entities. Painting was an expression of my subconscious, and writing was the organization of my chaotic hamster wheel brain, in an effort to figure out what’s behind the madness. Now, those two things are actually one. My subconscious no longer feels like some mysterious no mans’ land that I’m just now discovering, and my brain feels more tapped into the subconscious and able to draw out what is actually happening under all the noise. That’s amazing.
Emotionally, an additional shift has occurred. I have written before about how expectations used to drive me crazy and ultimately drove a good friend away. I used to say that I was fine, “as long as I knew what to expect next”. Nothing made me more uncomfortable than to be in a state of unknowing…except maybe the uncontrollable-ness of other people changing plans that affected me. That shit used to drive me absolutely crazy.
However, two things have happened that have fundamentally changed the way I think. This first is surfing. One thing I learned is that being a control freak and being a surfer do not mix. I am constantly at the mercy of the surf report. Waves, tides and weather…three things that I have absolutely no control over. Over the past couple of years, I have changed from one who would get seriously irritated if someone cancelled or changed plans on me, to being that completely annoying surfer who is regularly making last minute changes in plans due to the surf report.
I’ve also become a person who giggles when people want a straight answer out of me regarding future plans. My favorite giggle inducing question is, “so when are you going surfing next?” Dude, I have no idea. Whenever NOAA tells me it’s time. Thankfully, my close friends are understanding if I move our breakfast dates. They don’t hold it against me and man, does that make me feel like a fool for my past pissed off-ness.
The second thing that impacted my need for knowing what comes next was to throw it all up to the Universe this year, and simply do what hundreds of eye-roll inducing motivational posters tell us to do: Follow My Bliss. This was not comfortable for me, but when I surrendered, I mean FOR REALS surrendered to that which makes me happy, pretty amazing things started to happen.
I got into two new galleries. I was featured on HGTV and interviewed on a nationally recognized podcast. I received great press in Bend regarding my show. My creative expression deepened and I took my first cross steps on my surf board. BAM.
What made me choose to shift gears? It’s pretty simple, the other way wasn’t making me feel good. I felt a lot of pressure from my calendar and marketing plan and I realized that all of those deadlines were causing me to burn out. I think that’s why this year felt like such a difficult motivation. I was tired.
Did I accomplish a lot with my calendar as acting CEO? Yes, I did. Was it an important thing to do my first two years in business? Yes, I think so. It helped me build my CV quickly which has enabled me to leverage myself in broader ways. Was it making me happy? In short term bursts, yes. But in the long term, I was feeling boxed in, anxious, and exhausted.
I’m not necessarily saying that I should ditch all my time management tools, but the time had definitely come for me to chill the fuck out. One thing is for sure. The change isn’t effecting my business all that much. In fact, in a way, I think I’m getting further in my reach. I mean HGTV!!!!!
Actually, I have swung in the opposite direction to the point that I now look around and see a society of sick people who are working themselves to death. I could write a whole essay on this topic. It’s like if we’re not constantly working, we’re failures. I believe in hard work. I’ve always been a “worker”. But I feel that in our culture, there are two lines of thought: you either work tremendously hard and be a success, or choose not to and be a lazy failure.
What about those who want to enjoy life NOW? What about not working our assess off for decades, at jobs that are not spiritually or emotionally fulfilling, while putting all of our money in investment accounts for retirement at 65. I mean, what if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow? Seems like a pretty big gamble.
I’m choosing now. I’m choosing happy. I’m choosing the path of least resistance. And want to know a secret? We can all make this choice. It may seem scary and it may not look how we think we want it to look, but then that’s the point, isn’t it? To see things as they are and not how we imagine them to be in Future Land. Can you imagine what would happen if every person on the planet stopped worrying about the future and the expectations surrounding it? OMG. That may be the liberation that world needs.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.