Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Time to Reflect

This August, I engaged in a process of doing a seasonal review of my creative life and my personal life and looking for that ever elusive work-life balance. (Ha ha ha.) A thoughtful review of the last season is something that I had not done regularly or quarterly before, I would become more reflective at year’s end, but had not really engaged in a deliberative  process.  

It’s interesting to note how much we live in the “tyranny of the now” and the urgency to complete the tasks of today. We often overlook the reflective moment of reviewing your calendar, planner and looking at what tasks were accomplished. It’s a reality that lots of tasks, projects were accomplished!

I guess it is a matter of the “glass half empty” perspective. We tend to look at the tasks that were not accomplished and focus on them. I started to ponder why we put more weight to the tasks that were not accomplished than to the those that were?  The burden of the many items still on the “To Do List” seems heavier than the steps forward that were made. It’s human nature, I guess. However, shifting that perspective can re-direct us to more self-compassion.

Reflecting On the Past Season

In my review, I found that since spiring time, I’ve made a lot of art, participated in multiple Zoom art classes and was able to have a display of my work this summer! There are more accomplishments, but I don’t need to give you the whole list! On the personal side, I was able to enjoy a relaxing time at our mountain lake home. I’m really happy for that. The ability to be in connection with nature: the sky, the clouds, the mountains, and the lake was healing and uplifting for the spirit. If I shift my perspective, the ability to reflect on that wonderful, summer time allows me to access those moments again, even as we dive into the busy fall season.

Looking ahead the fall, my goal will be to bring into my “To Do List’ some times that allow me to self- reflect and have self-compassion, while treating myself tenderly. It is so beneficial AND hard to do with all the competing needs, wants and desires and all the people we need to support in our lives. But it comes down to the fact that it’s a necessity!

Listening to a The Mel Robbins Podcast today, I was reminded of the shame that we put on ourselves when we fail to meet the expectations of the perfect house, the perfect body, or  the perfect life. The guest speaker – author and therapist KC  Davis – said we wait for motivation to do the task, when starting the task can give us motivation. If you can’t manage to wash the whole sink of dishes, wash two dishes. She didn’t say and now you will feel like doing all the dishes magically. But what I heard her say was allow yourself to not feel the burden of having to have clean dishes all the time. (Also, she said use paper plates! Find a way that works for you.

Of course I’m using a household example because many, many people don’t like to do the dishes. But it applies to everything that that you shame yourself about. If you don’t like your car being dusty, and you feel shame every time you open the car door, because you don’t have time to go to the car wash, maybe give yourself grace that nobody cares that your car is dusty. Or squirt it with the hose for five minutes.

Motivating for the Season Ahead

In terms of art, I have heard this many times – artists lack the motivation to get started, to think about a whole piece of art from start to finish. The recommendation is to just start, you don’t have to feel motivated. You can get some paint out on a test paper, or test board. Push the paint around, play with color, collage a little. Something usually opens up and suddenly the artist in you wants to do more. Again, I am not saying you magically become totally motivated – but it chips away at the guilt/shame that you have not picked up a brush in months, or whatever.  I find just going to my art space – whether it’s a corner somewhere or a whole studio – and starting to “clean up” I become motivated to start working. It just the small step forward that eases me out of inertia.

And similarly, I often lose momentum on habits. This May, I joined an art group, called the Connected Artist Club, led by artist Alice Sheridan. The group has tons of good information and publishes many checklists and worksheets and planners and I love that stuff! I dove in enthusiastically to help myself feel organized in my art life. However, by late summer led to a slacking off of the use of the planner, and I feel badly about that. I feel like it was a “fail” because I was moving ahead by using her tools. But now is the time to get back to using the tools — at the level that works for me and without recrimination if I stumble again.

This season, by baby steps, I would like to find the combination of self-compassion and dedication to organization that feels good to me. No rush, as I have until the end of the year to work on this. But it is a worthy goal. I will keep you updated!

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