Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just Breathe

Flying Girl Comes to Meet Her Heart, or Just Breathe
Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils, Golden Fluid Acrylic on paper, 5x8

Here's what I've been thinking today.

Balance is not a static thing.

You don't find some set of circumstances where everything works and then just stay there, finally, everything going like clock work. That's a fantasy.

No. Balance is a fluid dynamic thing, and not about finding that one perfect answer and staying there. Balance is about always moving. It's about letting the setbacks and overwhelm and successes and understandings all kind of ride together so that you keep moving.

It's like running. The act of running is basically throwing yourself off balance so that if you don't catch yourself, you fall. By catching yourself, again and again, you move forward, speedily. I can't imagine how we could ever run without upsetting the perfect stasis we had in stillness.

Where does this come from?

Well, I realized that I have lost my ability to just sit down after the kids go to bed and paint. Now, I sit down and watch tv, surf the web, check email, flip through a magazine, and maybe sketch a little.

Last night, I watched American Idol, and then said, WTF? Why am I not painting while I sit here watching the boobiest of the tube? So I set the creaky wheels into motion, got my paint set, my journal, my anxieties and set up ready to go.

See, the thing is, I want to get my novel done, and I want to do so much else, so I thought I would ease up on my goals for painting. But what that has led me to, is a lack of commitment. I'm still painting, but, I will let myself go on a message board for three hours instead of doing my work (and my joy, let us not forget that this is a passion, not just an obligation).

Listening to Jen Lee's portfolio project podcast, and having her talk about Jen Lemen painting a hundred paintings, well... I thought, I want to do that! I can do that. I've done that. Why am I not doing that?

I feel like I let myself off the hook for my personal commitments, and got lazy.

What does all this have to do with balance?

The thing is, I am seeking balance. I want to live and be an artist. I want to be joyous and be productive. I want to make money and paint for the wholeness of my soul.

So afraid was I that I would be overwhelmed, that I low balled myself. I dropped down to the bar I had set for myself. So. Back to our inquiry about Living into Art. If I set the bar too high and don't give myself a break, I burn out. If I set the bar too low, I get lazy and don't achieve and lose focus and my practice falters.

How can we set a happy medium?

How about 5-7 new paintings a week. Finished. Or art pieces... so I can explore a new medium now and again. That means I paint every night, but can allow one or two not to be finished, or to take a couple of days. That would equal 50-70 paintings from this point, since it is the end of week two. You know. I have done some art almost every day, but because I knew I didn't have to finish, I was just phoning it in. I wasn't putting my heart into it.

Ah. There we are. Back to the Flying Girl. I was wondering how this post would connect.

How do you reach your heart? How do you meet it, when you know where it is, and all you have to do is make the journey? You just breathe. You point yourself in the direction you know you need to go, you set off, and then you JUST BREATHE.

You don't panic over having too much on your plate, or not enough. You don't kick yourself for not flying as fast as you think you should. You don't doubt that you are going in the right direction. You don't think you are a failure because the wind blows you off course, you just readjust your flight plan and keep going.

I see her, that heart, right over there... on the horizon... off I go.

Remember to breathe.

How are you doing on your goals? Is there some readjusting that you need to do to your flight plan? Is there some anxiety you need to let go of?


Anonymous said...

Balance is fluid...I love that.

It brings to mind those small picture hanging levels. When I was a kid, I love that bubble, ya know? I loved just walking around and sitting that on things and seeing where that bubble would land. And trying to find the things that would put it as near as possible to that center point.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had "life levels?" Then we could just aim for the center and be happy when we even close. :)

Anonymous said...

Remember the old "there is a time for everything...". I know I try to remember that when somehow I just don't seem to be doing the things I "should" be doing. But whenever you encounter a "should" look out! Something is out of whack. Sometimes my 'wasted time' has been the most productive - just not in the ways I thought.

Jena Strong said...

It always connects, eventually. Just the title of this post would've been enough.

Genie Sea said...

Imagine if we had to think every time we needed to take a breath. We would be hyperventilating all the time, anxious for the next breath. Yet, it's so natural to breathe. It's essential. Yes indeed it is.

May you find the balance to produce as much as you yearn without hyperventilating :)

Awesome post as usual :)

Pherenike said...

Really interesting post. Im not doing the portfolio project (I came here via jen lee) because I am in the middle of The Artist Way but its a great idea.

There are so many of us going through the same or similar struggles, its really nice to know Im not the only one out there!

Shayla said...

Well put about balance and very true. As for the readjusting, I've had two burnouts and finding the happy medium has always been rather baffling. So, I have to fly rather slowly now, but it's still flying :)

Jessica Dawn said...

I found you through blisschick...

I was hit by...

"Well, I realized that I have lost my ability to just sit down after the kids go to bed and paint. Now, I sit down and watch tv, surf the web, check email, flip through a magazine, and maybe sketch a little."

I know that feeling. Plus, my son can't stand it when I stay up. He yells down the stairs every night, "aren't you going to bed mom?" Haven't quite figured out how to stop that.

Thank you for the inspiration to do, do, do...turn off and tune into myself.

paintandink said...

"Balance is a fluid dynamic thing" ... fantastic words of wisdom. Thank you.

Super Nova said...

I don't know if you know this...but this flying girl is me.

plain and simple

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