I skipped a blog Friday because I celebrated my 35th birthday by interviewing for a job, working, spending the afternoon with my kids at the park and spending my evening on the couch with my husband. Admittedly, all my “downtime” involved responding to texts, emails and thinking about how I would meet my deadlines, but I took some of the day off because I know what happens to freelancers and the artistic energy when we don’t take time to reboot.
So, though Friday’s blog is generally dedicated to my thoughts on parenting, I’m publishing these five things that every artist needs to make the time for. Without these five things life won’t be as enjoyable and stress may take root in the creative spirit.
Most people won’t argue that family is important and most of the artists I can think of feel strongly about making time for those they consider family. For me, I have to constantly remind myself that I have two adorable children under the age of 3. I don’t have to remind myself because I fear I’ll forget them like a cup of coffee on top of my car. I remind myself because the bigger picture is that spending time at home working on my laptop while they watch Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer isn’t the kind of quality time that encourages kids to feel connected to the Earth, inspired and healthy.
When I say artists should make time for education I don’t mean everyone should go back to school literally, but I decided to earn a second bachelor’s degree, and I may well pursue more advanced degrees and certifications. What is crucial to being an artist, working freelance or in the twilight hours of “free time” after a “regular” job, is to stay informed about your industry and to never grow stagnant.
Education means reading constantly. Not always the news feed of former high school friends, but the articles published by others in your industry. I found new inspiration when I started following influential blogs by both friends of mine as well as by respected thought leaders.
Getting educated should never be thought of as an event with a finish line. Education is a process and those who continue to learn, continue to grow.
3. Making Money
The picture on the right shows the perspective my family sees most often. My 2-year-old daughter, Meredith, took this photo if you’re criticizing harshly. Artists, whether they are writers like me, musicians like my husband, illustrators like my sister or photographers like many of my best friends, must make time in their busy schedules to work.
Working “from home” is often viewed by others as a fancy name for unemployment, but when you do it right you balance the skills and experience you offer with your schedule. The trick is to make sure you don’t take on too much (I know this well!) and follow through on delivering quality work.
4. Down Time
Down time doesn’t always mean free time, and any artist will tell you that free time is never free. But, the importance of down time means allowing yourself time to process and feel inspired. I literally write this blog in my mind while making coffee, after working on editing a sports feature video for a class and doing my laundry at a coin-operated laundromat. My need for down time often collides destructively with my desire for perfection.
This blog idea literally came out of my attempt to de-stress my life by re-prioritizing and accounting for what matters most to me. My attempts to grow my business must step inline with my love of my self and my family. No one is any good to anyone else without time to think, process and, quite often, heal (which is also a reason I added antioxidant-rich green tea leaves to the raspberry iced tea recipe I wrote for Tascia’s Teas).
I put family in as number one and number five because family means not only those with whom an artist lives and loves but also the tasks and responsibilities that come with loving a family: loving yourself. Making time for family means taking care of myself by eating well, cooking at home as often as possible, and exercising.
My husband called me last Thursday, hiding his fear that my cat was dying. He told me he didn’t want to alarm me, but Remy was spinning in circles and vomiting; I needed to get home and get her to the vet. I honestly thought we would have to put her down before my birthday, but when the blood work came back the vet informed us that her issues could be managed with medication and we could re-evaluate in three weeks. The sad stress of having to help my cat with medicine twice a day is a constant reminder to take advantage of life. Every day is a day I need to do something memorable with my kids. If I have to make time to work or educate myself, then I strive to set a schedule where they have healthy and educational activities as well.
Many artists truly don’t have families, and some of these people become so lost they no longer have themselves either.
These five things are here as a giant reminder of what I have decided is important in my life as an artist and someone willing to work hard, but not at the expense of my happiness and enjoyment of life. The only problem I have now is to balance these five pieces of pie equally and stop taking on too much work and education so that it bleeds into the slices saved for family and my freedom to think, staying inspired.
How does your pie chart compare? What are you denying yourself in your attempt to stay artistic? Let me know in the comments!