Less Doing, More Living

2009 was an expansive year for me… I had work featured in the finale of the major local runway fashion show this spring, styled models in my own fashion show segment (ok, only three outright, the other two were “borrowed” and I didn’t do their hair/makeup, but it was still a lot of concepting and manual labor!), founded an art collective that’s produced four events this year, celebrated 1 year of blogging on Tu Scene, was a featured interviewee in several newspaper articles, on two long-format radio interviews, one television interview and joined my first board. Whew!

Not that I felt I bit off more than I could chew though. This growth was a necessary and long-overdue character-building experience. The past couple of months though, I’ve felt borderline burned-out. Or just in need of a break that lasts longer than a three-day weekend. In need of time to relax with my family (husband and dog), with myself, work on my own artwork outside of group collaborations, re-focus on Tu Scene. The dayjob has been going in high-gear since October, and every time I’ve seen a potential break on the horizon, it eludes me with the infliction of some new task for work. It’s not that I’m not up to the challenge, but I keep finding myself double-booked, overpromising and underdelivering. And while I can take criticism of the results of my work, I hate being the flake in the inception of a project I’ve committed to. That irresponsibility, that unreliability is so not “me.”

In the vein of a break to pursue personal work, I also feel like I need time to get to know people. I’ve been blessed to work with so many talented, brilliant, kind artists on various projects who also just happen to be amazing, fascinating individuals, but feel like I haven’t been able to get to know them as friends so our relationship could continue outside of mutual goals. Part of that is my own choice. Work is a protection mechanism for me. If I keep the relationship mostly professional, I don’t risk the personal entanglements of navigating a friendship. The other part of it is that I sincerely do take a great deal of pleasure in simply realizing a dream, especially one that’s been built with others. (I also wonder, with anyone I’ve worked with, if the feeling is mutual [not reciprocated, but shared/understood]?) But it’s gotten to the point that I’ve almost forgotten how to just be with people, to spend time with them, pursing interests that don’t have to have any accomplishment on the other end, i.e. “hanging out”, “chillin’ “, whatever you want to call it. So my motto for 2010 is “less doing, more living.”

Not that I’ll stop being an overachiever, as I always have been, but realizing that I need to just back off when being tapped for a project. As an early Virgo (born August 28) leaning more towards Leo than Libra, there’s a stuck-up Leo side to my natural community-serving, genuinely concerned Virgo-ness that wants to look good and take credit for things, feeding into the negative self-critical aspects of Virgo if I pass something up. Maybe that’s why I enjoy my Libra family and friends so much, they ground me away from all of that and help find a balance. At least until the point where we start driving each other crazy, like my cousin and I. Childhood best friends all the way through much of our 20’s, born 6 weeks apart, we’d need space when she felt like I was being controlling and harsh, and I felt that she wasn’t sticking up for herself when she had every right and credit to her accomplishments as an individual to do so.

Part of this is also motivated by my husband. Ironically, he’s the one who has the knack for maintaining long-distance friendship. When I was a child, my best friend from 4th grade and I continued to write letters for four years long after I’d left the school after just one year. I always had long-term pen pals, one from Germany, one from Australia. My husband, on the other hand, moved around a lot more than I did and never kept up contact with any friends he made in school. Now, it’s the opposite! He keeps in touch while I make excuses for letting things slide. It’s not that I feel jealous of his strength, what I feel is more admiration and respect, much like the other things he’s good at that I simply could not imagine myself doing, like teaching everything from first grade to ex-con adult education. The way I witness him doing it is through correspondence, being more open about himself as a person than as a writer/artist, and through spending time with others for a movie, coffee, drinks, exercise. Things that I just said I seem to have almost lost the understanding of. (And to be really self-deprecating and completely honest, an understanding that I’m not sure I ever had. As a naturally shy person who was not taught or had the expectation of practicing basic social skills by my parents like answering the phone or shaking hands, I’ve spent my entire life since leaving home at 17, almost 18 years old, studying/analyzing for myself the basic courtesies of various social situations.) For me, it all rose to the surface when we visited Austin for four days in December, after almost a year and a half of being gone from the city we made our home for 10 years. I was genuinely happy to meet up the longtime friends I was able to, and still happy to make contact with those I didn’t get to see in person. But the experience was eerily like my sophomore year at collage: all the people I felt I knew in high school and formerly spent a good deal of time with, I realized had not actually been friends. And since there’s a chance we may be moving out of Tucson later this year, I’m determined not to let that happen again, because a piece of me will always be here that will never find a home anywhere else.

In 2010, I’m trying to keep those long-term life experiences in scope and in balance with continuing to build my mission as an artist through less doing, more living.

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