Deep thoughts and pretty pictures

As I was saying yesterday, I’ve been cycling back and forth in the past month between well-organized, focused activity and weary blahs, and I’ve come to realize that this is a natural part of my self-growth. I went to a foot workshop yesterday with Anthony at City Yoga (very enlightening; go here to read the New York Magazine article that inspired it) and he said what I’ve been thinking, which is that change is always painful. “Think about it,” he almost barked, “when have the major changes in your life ever come from a place of comfort and ease? Change hurts… that’s the point.” That’s what makes Julia Cameron refer to jump-starting our creativity as a “rebirth” process, complete with contractions. I’ve come to appreciate that process in my own life as I work to figure out what to do with myself as a non-grad student. Each major new self-insight, and the accompanying changes I make in the way I live my life, come only after I go through a period of incoherence, when I don’t want to write, don’t really want to talk to many people, and don’t feel like sticking to the routine that serves me well most of the time.

(Reading and discussing Harry Potter with my cat, however, is an appropriate blah-time activity.)

One of the major discoveries that has developed from my most recent funk (from which I’m only just emerging; I give it a few more days until I feel fully myself again — today I am unbelievably cranky) is that I’m no longer trying to decide what to do now that I’m not in academia; I’m trying to decide how to be. It’s not about a job anymore, or “work,” or what to do with myself. It’s about who I am and who I want to be. It’s figuring out the whole person, not just the single aspect of my life that has to do with getting paid for doing something. I left grad school thinking maybe I’d want to do art/writing, but now I’m thinking in terms of a much bigger picture. This is kind of a revolutionary thought for me. It is deeply satisfying, because it means all the work I’ve been doing on all the different parts of my life — decluttering the apartment, doing yoga, walking more, eating more healthily and cooking at home more, shopping less, and drawing and writing — is toward a common end. All these things are not just distractions from “real” work; they are the real work. Does that make sense? I used to get into a state of total frustration because I felt like these things all took away from each other; I felt like I only had so much time and energy and money and I was being spread way too thin. The coolest thing about realizing everything is toward the same goal, is that there’s synergy for me now between all these pursuits. Exercise isn’t separate from shopping isn’t separate from eating isn’t separate from writing isn’t separate from politics — when I work on one, I’m also helping myself with all the other parts. I don’t know how else to explain it. I just feel very whole and mindful and balanced, for the first time in a long, long time.

An unexpected side effect of this new philosophy has been the realization that just making art is no longer enough for me. Even if I become an internationally celebrated artist and writer (ha!), well-respected, prolifically creating works that live up to my own standards and receive acclaim from all other quarters (ha! ha!), I won’t feel like I’ve done all I can. That used to be enough of a dream for me, but now I am thinking more of people, and of how to develop my courage and experience enough to do some work that will really make a change in people’s lives. Humanitarian work would be good, or activism, or human rights, something along those lines. I know I am not brave enough right now, and I haven’t enough knowledge nor experience, but after my “why aren’t we revoluting?” entry a month ago, I’ve been thinking and thinking about it, and I’ve decided this is something I really care about. I don’t know how or when I will manage to take the kind of action I’m thinking of, but I’ve mentally added this to the life’s work that is myself. This intention to make a difference is part of me now; I’ll be working toward it in everything I do.

Whew, thank you for reading all these deep thoughts. πŸ™‚ On to something lighter!

I wanted to share some drawings I’ve done in the past month — you see, I told you I wasn’t doing nothing during my funk — along with my commentary. They’re not major breakthroughs, but I did them, and for that I am proud and grateful!

Here’s a quick sketch of Lyapa sleeping on her back in the adorable way she often does. (Sorry for the horrible picture quality.) It’s a very minimal drawing but I’m pleased with the Lyapa-ness of it.

A quick marker drawing, an Olympics-inspired gymnast (and exercise in proportion), a girl in action (exercise in movement), and an elegant lady (more proportioning). I’m pleased my people are looking more like people these days, and less stiff and flat-looking. I still get the heads wrong, but I think I am getting better. We went to Body Worlds yesterday and I brought my sketchbook and pencils, so I had fun learning about musculature in a way I never could from most models! I haven’t tried drawing people again after the exhibit, but I’m hoping I’ll find the experience has helped.

I’m really happy with how this one turned out, given that I scribbled it very quickly.

Before and after. I liked the soft, friendly look of the first marker drawing, and I’m not sure whether the “improved” version is better.

This is a double source of satisfaction for me. I needed a better way to store rarely-worn shoes, and not only did I find it, I had the brilliant thought to draw labels for the boxes so I’d know which shoes were inside. These were great fun to do and I’m immensely pleased with them.

That’s all for now, folks! I feel considerably less cranky after writing this all out. Thank you for reading!

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]