Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little spark

Everyone feels this way at some time or another. Actually, many times throughout the course of a lifetime. We've worked hard, achieved a lot, but all at once, the elation fades, and we feel drained and empty.

I am feeling this way right now. Things that used to excite me are feeling like an effort to get done. The boundless energy I used to take for granted is not as plentiful as it used to be. My brain used to be percolating with ideas 24/7, and now it's a little slow to grind into gear.

Maybe it's the changing seasons, which are always a stressful time. Maybe it's the beginning of a new school year, which can feel challenging to even an experienced teacher. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a 48-year-old woman, which means I will eventually be facing some major physical changes. Maybe it's the fact that I've worked at the same places for 8 years, which can be a tough thing for a Gemini who would gladly change careers once a month.

Interestingly, I'm not at a loss in the studio. I have a million ideas for new paintings -- in fact, well beyond what my wallet can afford in art supplies.

But I'm just feeling a little sluggish, in general, a little not-quite-myself. A little resentful of obligations, a little tired of the same-old-same-old.

In an attempt to bring a little spark back into my daily life, I have decided to embark on some Artist Dates, a concept created by artist adviser Julia Cameron. The idea is that you schedule a weekly (or bi-weekly or monthly) date with yourself, when you go somewhere that stimulates your senses, touches you aesthetically, and helps you to, as Ms. Cameron puts it, "fill the well."

You go alone, so you're not running on anyone else's opinions or schedule. You don't have to spend a lot of money or even go far from home. It can be as simple as spending some time at a farmer's market, enjoying the colors and smelling the produce. You don't even have to do anything artistic while you're there -- no sketching or journaling involved, for example -- just be present and aware and take things in with your five senses.

One of my caveats for myself in this endeavor is that I don't go anywhere specifically art related -- no galleries, open studios, or even art museums. My reasoning is that, as soon as I go to a place like that, I am so career-oriented that my brain starts running overtime. "Maybe I should try painting with that color." "I'll have to email the artist and ask what kind of stretchers she uses." "Maybe I should mail a packet to that gallery." That's the very task-oriented treadmill I'm trying to get off of!

So we'll see what comes up. I notice that a local church is having its annual fair in a week, and there are a few cool historic homes in my area that I haven't been to yet. There are local plays and dance performances. I haven't visited the area Audubon sanctuaries in a while. Here goes ...


Karen Jacobs said...

I approve! I mentioned before that I'm taking walks in different locations but I can't seem to get into the 'go to a movie' routine which I thought would be easy. Inspire me! :)

Catherine Carter said...

It's funny how much energy it takes to "let go"! I'll let you know how things go ... go to a movie is another good idea.

Becky said...

Russell's Garden Center in Wayland is a great place to explore

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you, Becky! Anywhere with growing things is bound to be inspiring.

Deborah S said...

You could go to the greenhouses in Wellesley College. Just walking around the campus is inspiring!

Deidre said...

I had the same problem for over 3 months this summer. I just felt worn out by circumstances. Then suddenly, it was over; don't really know why. I think just taking a break is really valuable. You never know what's going to set you back in motion.

I also have the same craving for change. I worked at the same job for 7 and a half years and all of a sudden I knew I had to quit. Impulsive, reckless, still don't know if it was the right thing to do, but I don't regret it.

"Be present and aware..." Good advice in any situation. I know you'll get that spark again. It's all cyclical.

Catherine Carter said...

Deborah, great idea and very close to my house. Thanks!

Deirdre, thank you for the supportive words and relaying your own experience. I know it's just part of the cycle of life, but it can be frustrating when you're wheeling along and suddenly slow down. Let's hope a little "change of scene" will shake things up a bit!