artist’s way II: week five

We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish.  We want to be generous, of service, of the world.  But what we really want is to be left alone.  –Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

In reality, I think it has been five weeks since my Week Four post.  While, I am clearly taking my sweet (and super procrastinate-y) time working through The Artist’s Way this second time, I am still finding it useful. I am working on getting out of my shell and taking risks, embracing opportunities and attempting to hope for the best.  I have submitted over sixteen exhibition proposals and applied to three artist residencies.  I am working on a new body of work, and continuing my Visual Journal 365 series.  I have been attending art openings (which have been awkward since I don’t know anyone, but at least I am getting out).

Work in progress--I am playing with a very intuitive style, a lot of patterns, layers, textures, and abstract forms.
Work in progress–I am playing with a very intuitive style, a lot of patterns, layers, textures, and abstract forms.
Work in progress--
Work in progress–
Work in progress--
Work in progress–
My hair, before--
My hair, before–
My hair, after--
My hair, after–

I cut my hair. I did this last time as well. I didn’t think I would, but I just became so tired of it—I kept pulling it back every day. Eventually, I became fixated on chopping it all off. My hair was a good length, but I find something tremendously beautiful and freeing in having the majority of my hair cut off.  I think many women (and perhaps some men?) would agree that, sometimes, substantial life changes necessitate substantial hair changes. It seems absurd, I know. However, the visual change helps make the emotional transitions easier.

Moving to North Dakota has been a struggle. I am blessed to have several college friends in cities nearby, but that doesn’t make the day-to-day less lonely.  I am doing my best to enjoy this new chapter of my life, but I am feeling incredibly isolated, despite living downtown, and being basically surrounded by people. I had the bleak realization that most days, my only human interaction is with my husband (with the exception of the occasional cashier or barista). I also realized, I have been avoiding my morning pages because they force me to confront my own staggering loneliness. It is detrimental to avoid them. I know they are very productive—facing emotional issues, inner turmoil, and buried ambitions which all eventually promote a very positive mindset shift—it is all part of the process. However, with sadness lingering in the back of my mind on a daily basis, bringing it to the forefront every morning with my three pages of stream-of-conscious writing is undesirable (to say the least).

I have experienced a few interesting moments of synchronicity these past few weeks–

As I mentioned, I have been applying for several national and international artist residencies and fellowships. I had found this process rather intimidating, since I hadn’t ever written a project proposal. I continually postponed the act of sitting down and writing my first draft, and let fear of inadequacy fill my head—the exact same way doubt had previously overwhelmed me, years ago, before I wrote my first solo exhibition proposal. However, I finally sat down—and wrote.

I embrace the idea that if other people can achieve these things, I can too. Many people who are less talented, and many people who are more talented have achieved impressive solo exhibitions and received prominent residencies—so why not me? I have an idea in mind for a new body of work I want to develop, and I love the idea of being surrounded by other inspiring creatives—sharing ideas, concept discussions, explaining motivations, etc. therefore, I am trying. I am putting forth my best effort and my best intentions.

Anyway—I was into one application, and I needed a phone number for one of my references. He is currently very busy and I was getting close to the deadline, so I assumed I would simply have to delay my application until next year (which was fine, because it was a fairly ambitious goal on my part to be applying for the rather competitive residency). However, on the date the application was due, I received the email from my reference with his contact information, and I received an email from the institution—informing me their system had been down and the deadline had been extended by a week. I know it sounds silly, but I felt like the universe lined up like that for a reason. I don’t necessarily think I will be lucky enough to receive the residency, but for some reason, I needed to finish the process, maybe something else will come of it.

Belle in my sweater-we can share.
Belle in my sweater-we can share–at my old kennel job.

I also started a new job this week.  Before we ever moved here, I was hoping to get a job at the local animal shelter.  I doubted they would be hiring, but I figured once I had my car, I would stop by and volunteer at the very least.  My previous two years working at a kennel taught me, I love animals–and I particularly love helping animals who need stability, patience, safety, love, and forever homes.

One Saturday, my husband and I were out for a drive, and we were going by the shelter.  I asked him to stop, and I figured I could fill out any volunteer paperwork, if that was required.  (I had also discovered the shelter was within biking distance of my house.)  I was giddy (yes, giddy) when I walked through the double doors–because they had a We’re Hiring sign posted.  I picked up an application, I returned it the following Monday via bicycle. I interviewed the following day, and a couple of days later I was offered the job.  Of course, it is a fairly entry level job, caring for animals and kennel cleaning.  It is by no means a glamourous position–but in a strange way, it’s perfect.  I want to use my time to help animals, and if that is providing a clean, loving, and safe atmosphere for them, then I am happy.  Needless to say, I was surprised how me getting a job seemed to work itself out.  I am excited to have a job, I love that it involves animal care, and being physically active–even though my body is definitely not used to being that active yet.  The hours are great–leaving me plenty of time to work on all my art goodness throughout the week as well.

 Week Five~Virtue-Trap Quiz (Fill in the blank):

1. The biggest lack in my life is___human connection.
2. The greatest joy in my life is___art.
3.  My largest time commitment is___work.
4.  As I play more, I work___
5.  I feel guilty that I am ___lazy.
6.  I worry that___I will always feel lingering sadness.
7.  If my dreams come true, my family will___be surprised.
8.  I sabotage myself so people will___
9.  If I let myself feel it, I’m angry that___I don’t know where to start.  I am so easily intimidated and nervous.
10. One reason I get sad sometimes is___because I feel like I am failing at being alive.

Week Five Exercise~Wish List:

Fill in the sentence with the first thought that comes to mind.
1.  I wish– we would move back to Europe.
2.  I wish– I didn’t feel so lonely here.
3.  I wish– I weren’t irrationally nervous around new humans.
4.  I wish– I could publish a book of my art journaling pages.
5.  I wish– we traveled more.
6.  I wish– summer weren’t ending.
7.  I wish– my close friends and me lived closer together.
8.  I wish– people wouldn’t care that I don’t want kids.
9.  I wish– I always felt comfortable and confident on a regular basis.
10.  I wish– I didn’t feel so out of place in the US.
11.  I wish– I didn’t have to reestablish myself locally as an artist every time we move.
12.  I wish– moving were easier and less expensive.
13.  I wish– I were brave.
14.  I wish– I could sing.
15.  I wish– I had a sense of rhythm.
16.  I wish– I didn’t like sleeping so much.
17.  I wish– I were less hard on myself about my eating habits.
18.  I wish– I felt more motivated.
19.  I most especially wish– I would keep up on my morning pages.

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