Work Less=Ways to Recharge when you can't afford or there is no time for a vacation.


This summer I got burned out on teaching. Essentially, I booked myself in a way that left me no breaks for vacation. One thing after another and another. Like an addiction, I had been laying stuff on myself for the past year, do more, manage more, you can handle it. Almost like the more I completed, the more accomplished=satisfied I would feel. It wasn't all about accomplishment. Some jobs were about keeping my word, and some, in the past I had enjoyed, why not in the future. Nonetheless, I began to obsessively dream about traveling back to Spain and I felt really discontent about my life here.

I composed lists like this in my journal

How to feel like you are living in Europe for the summer
-Take bike rides and walks
-Be open to adventures
-Give self permission to be lazy
-Talk to strangers and create new relationships
-Shop at the market
-Attend late night unexpected parties.

or Lists like this

I dream
to travel to Africa
to backpack Europe with Cam
to go to India, South Aftica.
to scuba dive
to surf

Keeping to these lists was a little harder as I was working full time.
There came a day when I could not even convince myself that I had to do something. My mind and will went on protest. Mid-July my work became a little simpler and I started to have an hour or so in the afternoons so I began to think of mini- vacations; writing at coffee shops, reading books, drawing, naps. It seemed to catch me up, but I wasn't able to recharge myself.

One job ended and another started. Finally I decided to let one of my community college know that I was not able to do one of the classes they had offered me, art appreciation, a class that is particularly time consuming and not my second nature. I needed a break. Plus I was on for a class at another college. I could not keep up at that pace (4-5 jobs).

That class has ended up not filling. Suddenly I am theoretically about to have some time. I just haven't entirely seen it yet. For the first few weeks I had a lot of outside prep at my middle school, then I had written applications due for the GRB and CAT applications. I am having money anxiety, in spite of the fact that the work still continues. Funny how silly the mind can be. As an artist I want to be responsible, healthy, mentally sane. I pride myself on paying my bills, so even the notion of possible slow times freaks me out. This is the same thing I've wanted the entire summer. Here's what idea wins. To invest in the needs of myself and the odd workings of my soul is to invest in my own career and well being.

Bottomline one of hardest thing about being an artist is balancing the time it takes to work jobs with studio time and with application time. I am excited that with this new space I might be able to apply to more shows and residencies as well as finish up old projects. Acknowledging all my travel bug obsessions, I am considering putting in a Fulbright application.

Troll sleeping beauty- this is what I felt like this weekend going out. To backtrack, as a result of all the work, I became a troll this past summer, because I was often too tired to go out or just not wanting to be social. People don't believe me when I say I am a forced extrovert, but its true. Sometimes I'm at an event and one of the following three things happens.
1) I don't know what to say to the people around me.
2) I've forgotten someone important's name.
3) I'm just wanting to be making something at the studio but I've come out because as my grad writing teacher said "in an art community you go out and support your friend's stuff cause that is what you do and they are your contemporaries and thats how you make a scene."

Friday evening I'm sad, its one of those days when I've accomplished a ton of work in my apartment, but have not left the room. I didn't feel accomplished, i felt emptiness. Not knowing what I wanted to do, Cam talked me into going to Travis' house were I was crashing,unbeknownst to me, a "guys nite" This was probably my first ever true guys night. In typical guy style there was Bison Burgers, beer, and action flicks (Iron Man). In a more surprising element I did get to hear the guys discuss shoes (eh gads I felt so unstylish in my birkenstocks), being a waterboy, soccer players (what was a woman's fantasy athlete?), and car accidents. I was happy that all these guys let me join in, they cheered up my previous melancholia.

Saturday after a rousing day of studio-booksale, I went to investigate Emily H's Spore Project. In summary, Emily is traveling to the pacific northwest in her van. Robert Long has built a small walled in space that fits in the trunk of her car. Pulling together works from many different friends, she has assembled a traveling art show of work that she intended to reflect St. Louis, community, and land use. Arriving at Arcadia studio, I went downstairs to see her tent ( a craft popup tent that she has draped with a patchwork of colored fabrics) surrounded by table with art setting on it. People were hanging out at the loading dock looking at Simiya Suduth's sculpture in Emily's car gallery. These appeared to be a series of ceramic forms resembling stalactites. The shorter forms had upside down mason jars attached to them that contained plants. They were possibly biospheres, although I am not sure if they were engineered for the plants to grow. Around 9 many people entered Emily's tent and she did an improptu performance with her new guitar pedal.

After that everyone was invited to Kevin Harris' space for a sound performance. Kevin has a made a series of instruments that are one part electronic, one part found object, and one part mad scientist. A fan kiln appartus spun and emitted different tones depending on its speed. As he manipulated a flashlight up and down a series of shrieky tones responded. Kevin has one of the best studio views in town, you can see the Mississippi River through the windows. I overheard Michael Allen aptly describe the experience of this music space as he imagined the noises were sent out by the tugboats on the river.

Emily performed again after Kevin. I've been a long time friend of Emily and I think I can fairly say, and if you know her you'd agree, she's a bit of a Diva. Her musical influences to my understanding have included; growing up singing in traditional catholic church choirs, listening to goth, girl rock, indie rock, folk, kirtans. Her voice used to mainly focus on the operatic. A few times we were in some gypsy music circles and we had fun playing of each other( me on guitar and backing vocals her lead). Truth be told she did not like my lady soul music and one summer complained about how much I played Aretha Franklin. What a surprise to hear here finally belting out some soul sista like chants. Almost like she was possessed by African spirituals, that had to escape her body. As she sang, she layered her own voice, and tried to harmonize with her past self. Finally I was getting a sense for her stage name Ghosts I have been. In true diva style she was singing with her favorite voice, her own. Great show and Good Luck to Emily on her adventures.

(stencil by Cam Fuller)

Older Performance by Emily
Also I have been reading a bit of this blog about local art stuff and I just found they wrote some nice stuff about our riverfront space. St. Louis Art Map

In summary, lots of work (tired), less work (charging), moderate work (trying to recharge).
and Ways to recharge besides working less include:

-cook meals or go out to eat
-read books
-visit a library
-garage sales or visit Cranky Yellow, old junk is inspiring.
-do something cultural; visit an art museum, circus, concert.
-go watch someone else do something, do not be the main act.
-yoga and other forms of physical activity, but its not about accomplishment or competition.
-writing letters to old friends, facebook will do ok.
-a really great tasting food- it could be a drink, dessert, main course, whatever.
-visit some place that has history for you, like a place you used to live, it will remind you why you left, usually with relief.
-international grocery stores
-make art in a way you don't usually
-people watch
-read poetry or write poetry
-space out on youtube or TED I recommend the Elizabeth Gilbert talk.
-start watching a really bad tv show for a few days, even you people that claim to never watch tv. i.e. I have now seen 3 episodes of the Seeker.
-Sale shopping,( I'm a girl that loves loathes fashion).
-complete unfinished project, ah what a relief to not have to think about that one anymore!
-find things to take to Goodwill and do it!
-Go on an I-spy walk with a confidant.


Lisa said…
You know you are always welcome at my house in Morocco :)

Hope you are able to get the breaks you need!

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