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Priorities of an Artist

When did sleep become a priority over writing? For at least three years I have given myself the gift of writing, every morning first thing. For thirty minutes to one hour (if I was on a roll) I grab my little book and fill pages with words. Because I am a business writer for a living I have the tendency to think in a more linear fashion when creating on a laptop. There isn’t the meditative calm that comes with writing longhand, and first thing I have the luxury of ignoring editing, but simply capture the thought and the story.

More recently, my body let me know in no uncertain terms that getting up at six-thirty wasn’t working anymore. I began to sleep until 7 and thus eroded all the way into my precious writing time.

How is it impacting me? I am not working on a current project. I have insomnia and the stresses of my life crowd in much closer. I have more anxiety attacks and my PTSD is triggered. I miss the elation that comes after the morning practise. When I have to tear myself away to get ready for work, because the story is at a critically exciting point and I want desperately to know what is going to happen next.

I feel like I am short-changing myself in a large way, choosing sleep over the meditative healing practice of writing. Why is it that the balance is always out of reach? There is never enough time to enjoy life, to keep my home clean, to participate in community, to get enough exercise, be with extended family and get out into nature. I never reach my goals in terms of work-life balance.

I keep looking forward to retirement, when I have this fantasy that my home will be cleaner, I will be calmer. I will have time for the workouts and the Yoga, being a full-time artist, gets enough sleep. I don’t know how realistic it is, but I don’t know what else I can do except look forward, because there is no time in my day as it is to change what is.

My deep and true priority is the writing, but my 62 year old body says otherwise. If I honored it, I would find a way to retire now. I would honor its need for rest, and my spirit’s need to be an artist, to create beauty.

I wonder if I fully honoured only what fed my spirit for a couple of weeks, what the change would be in my life? I know my house would not be clean and orderly. I wonder what the overall impact would be if I only honoured my inner artist, and did not worry about community, or how clean my house was, or commitments outside my practise as an artist. Maybe I will try it. Take the walk first. Design the jewellery first. Do the writing first. Maybe I can learn to live with the fact that my house isn’t the way I want it to be. Last Sunday I cleaned and gave myself time to go for a walk when the light was still warm and pleasant. I ended up spontaneously visiting with family instead, but the point is that I let the house go. I didn’t vacuum. I didn’t worry about getting home and making dinner. Someone else stepped up when they got hungry enough.

Maybe the key to it all is giving ourselves the freedom. Not holding ourselves to our self-imposed expectations of perfection. It’s not like anyone ever comes over to my house anyways.

That’s the plan. Keep to what feeds my spirit first. To hell with everything else. I’ll report out in two weeks and let you know how I did.

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