Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Capacity's Edge

There are times when I feel like I'm just not keeping up with all the things an artist needs to keep up with on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Now is one of those times. Usually I call this state overwhelm and indeed, that is what I'm feeling. But more and more I'm thinking that it is where I live nearly all the time these days. At the edge of my capacity to handle the multitude of details in my creative life, let alone add more to the growing lists of projects, tasks, communications, stuff I'd like to check out, oodles of blogs I've been meaning to read, etc.

I feel like a whiner because it seems I've been complaining a lot lately about not having enough time to do everything -- live this life, manage a household, take care of myself, my family and loved ones, make art, market my art, buy, package, post and ship fiber products, search for new suppliers, take a walk occasionally, spin, blog, AND relax and enjoy myself. And everytime I read a new blog post from wonderful folks like Chris O'Bryne about all the things we could be doing to do more with our art/our blogs/our websites, etc., I feel like I'm just not keeping up.

Ten years ago when I lived in Southern Humboldt...I'm not sure how I managed to do this, but for three years I
  • gardened intensively, raising everlasting flowers on a virtually "impossible" piece of land with only minimal creek water, major pests in my organic garden, no topsoil, etc. -- harvested flowers twice a day in summertime, made dried floral products, and sold at the local farmers market
  • worked part time for nonprofit organizations
  • designed, produced, marketed and sold my beaded jewelry, including doing 5-7 out-of-area shows a year completely solo
  • baked biscotti for all the local coffeehouses
  • vacuumed a 1000 square foot 2-storey cabin weekly
  • stacked and managed four cords of wood each year, schlepping wood through the snow in wintertime, keeping the stacks covered with humongous tarps, that kept the often not-as-dry-as-desired wood slightly moldy yet continuously got chewed up by wood rats and voles
  • regularly changed the oil in my 1979 Honda Civic
  • kept the brush away from the house in summertime by weed whacking, to the point where I could barely open my hands for a week to ten days because of the repetitive gripping action on the whacker

...well I could go on and on. What amazes me today is that I was able to do all these things back then, that I had that much energy. And I didn't seem to feel guilty, I just did everything that needed to get done. As I'm writing this, I'm feeling guilty that I'm not doing whatever it is that I REALLY set out to do today...no, I'm sitting on my backporch enjoying the sun's heat and the mild air, nursing my lower back.

I'm just wondering why it seems so imperative for me to do so many things. When I lived in the country I kind of didn't give a hoot if I kept up with the outside world. Now I feel impelled to, in my own way. I think I feel that if I'm not doing everything I can in every moment (darn near), that I'm not doing "it" right or well enough. I keep saying I just want to make art, but artmaking absorbs very little of my life, in reality.

Perhaps this is what being on the edge of a breakdown feels like. But I think it's more like a "break open." I've been thinking recently that I want to do my life differently now, but it keeps showing up the same because I don't yet have those new habits or behaviors or thinking that will usher in a change in my outward reality. This is what I've been wrestling with lately, and I'm thinking maybe this deep unrest is what's been driving my sense of overwhelm for the past couple months. I don't know for sure. I need to meditate on it. But not right now.


Chris O'Byrne said...

Hi, Connie. Now I'm feeling guilty about being he cause of your imminent break down! :)

I've been going through a lot of these same things lately, as you know from my latest couple of blog posts. It's time for a big change, a huge step forward, without losing touch with the friends I've made.

I've been going crazy with all of the information that keeps piling up. I've subscribed to all of the blogs of all of the artists I've met. Help! I've also subscribed to many other blogs, and podcasts, and Twitterers... Until yesterday it was starting to drive me crazy.

Yesterday I gave up trying to answer every email and read every blog and listen to every podcast. I let the stream of information continue to flow and I stay in control by choosing to either bathe in the stream or just dip my toe in it or even just stay out of it completely. I choose when I come and go. When I realized I could do this, it changed me profoundly. I subscribed to several more blogs and podcasts and I just briefly step into the flow, pick out a few interesting things, and step back out. It's a wonderful feeling. I'm going to do the same with the rest of my life. I don't have to see every rare bird that comes along or learn every bluegrass song that interests me. It is so freeing and so wonderful and I feel so relaxed and comfortable. I can't control all of that, but I sure can control how I choose to interact and react.

Thanks for mentioning me! Check out the newest craziness in my life at CreativeTribe.TV.

Peg in South Carolina said...

I have days like that. I get angry that I have to go grocery shopping, that I have to wash clothes, etc..... And I likewise feel sometimes overwhelmed by the information overload. But as Chris says, it's picking and choosing your battles, so to speak. Walking helps enormously. So does spinning. Both calm me, though in different ways. And knowing (though I often forget) I enjoy what I do and I'll never do everything and that doesn't matter.

Chris O'Byrne said...

Oh, Peg, I had completely forgotten about walking! Every morning, now, I go for an hour and a half walk, out in the desert, completely alone, and I feel so revived and refreshed afterwards. Finally I have time to process. Isn't walking wonderful!

Connie Rose said...

Thanks Peg and Chris for your comments. I guess I am in the process of picking and choosing, and letting myself off the hook for those things I choose to tune out. It is hard, though, isn't it? There are so many wonderful things to partake of. It's like the world is this enormous candy store, but I think I'll just stick with the paper candy dots, thank you very much.

Sweet Irene said...

I am not in a very good position to give you advice now, as for me all that matters now is love and if it is strong enough and the rest is so unimportant to me. It's the nourishment that feeds me, but I suppose your art is also.

Sue O'Kieffe said...

one of the things that struck me when reading your post is that you seem to be assessing yourself against the person you were when you lived in So Hum, and well heck we do change. prioritizing is not easy for me either. so many choices. every day is a new adventure. find what brings you pleasure and turn the rest over to the Universe. Have you ever read or listened to the words of Abraham-Hicks? more on the Law of Attraction.....(www.abraham-hicks.com)
~sue okieffe

Connie Rose said...

Thanks, Irene, for what you wrote. Last year, as I was falling in love with Scotty, I felt exactly the same -- all that mattered to me was love, nurturing what was becoming, being soft inside...this morning I am in that soft place again. Scotty reminded me to love myself as much as I love him, and today, that's right where I am...soft, quiet, peaceful.

Connie Rose said...

Thank you, too, Sue. I have heard some of Abraham, on CD, and of course I've seen and read The Secret. There's a copy by my bed. Thanks for the reminder to soften up and let go.

Hugs to you all today, Wednesday.

Bonnie said...

I recently started tuning into your blog. I just got back from a 2 week trip and am madly catching up. When I read this post, I thought it was me talking (and several of my friends as well). You are giving voice to something felt worldwide. I think we all must be picking up a vibe (as they used to say)Change is certainly in the air. Speaking of "The Secret", I got a copy of the DVD and played it continuously as background while I was working on a piece recently. That worked!

Connie Rose said...

Thanks for your comments, Bonnie. I've just added you to my list of artist links. I've been to your blog before and love the work you're doing. Us fellow one-of-a-kinders need to stick together!

All the best.

joyce said...

I'm a long time lurker on your blog, because we have a lot in common -- we were both born in LA (I'm in Alabama), we're both fiber artists and dyers, and on and on. And strangely, we're both sort of in this obsessing about how we *used* to accomplish so much more than we do now at the same time. Some days I wonder how I used to do so much -- now, getting up, getting kids off to school, going to work, yada yada yada, and finding just a wee bit of time to knit or make art seems overwhelming. I have computer overload too. Maybe you just need to fly back here, and we'll go off somewhere and have a good cup of joe and spin together and ignore everything else :)

Connie Rose said...

Joyce, thanks for your comments and for saying hi! I love your blog and just subscribed.

Where'd you go to high school, or did you leave L.A. before then?

I was in Alabama last year, believe it or not, attending Edwene Gaines Prosperity Teachers Workshop, in Valley Head. What a beautiful place that was.

Have a lovely weekend, Connie