If you read my last blog, you get an idea of how busy I have been on the days that I feel well enough to be busy. It's been hard for me to be still when I feel like my work is calling me. But, many days I have been still because I had no choice. If you are an artist of any kind, you understand what I mean when I say that my work was calling me. That drive just doesn't go away when you don't feel well and it is coupled with the pressure of knowing that I am self employed and if I'm not there, what will happen to my business? As I prayed about that during the tough days, God helped me to rest in Him, knowing that He is in control and when the time is right again, my business will still be there and it can still grow....later. The important task at hand was getting well. So, as soon as I felt well enough, you can be sure I was back at work as much as I was able to be. I still have days of not feeling well (especially right after chemo) so I feel like I need to make the very most of the days that I do feel well and I tend to just work and not communicate much with people, waiting for a slow moment to do that. But, when the slow moments come, I'm exhausted and put off communicating until another time. It's a vicious cycle but I'm trying to explain a bit why I haven't written much in social media or called those close to me. Aren't we always trying to balance so much in life? It doesn't change even when you're sick.
I talked in my last post about how I was able to get some things done for Christmas events and sales and then was blessed with some unexpected work in the last couple of months. After finishing the paintings that had deadlines, I realized that another exhibit at Tamarack was approaching with a submission deadline very close. I thought to myself, "What do I have that would work for that theme?" The theme was "Music in the Mountains," which I thought was a very fun one and always want to participate in the exhibits. Years ago, I had done a painting of my grandfather's violin but I no longer have that. Thinking.... thinking.... Oh, I have some adorable photos I had taken of our grand-daughter playing a ukulele beside her daddy strumming his banjo. Collin, one of my husband's musical sons, loves to pick up any instrument in his collection and begin playing. It is a joy to watch little Braelyn join him with one that she finds to be her size. She watches him so closely and imitates each movement of his hands. I would love to capture that in a painting. So, I began to sketch from one of my photos. I was trying to figure out what to use for a background - should I have them in their living room, which was actual, or should I place them outdoors which is more colorful?....
During all of this, I was feeling the stress from having a very cluttered work-space from so quickly trying to get so much work finished and not taking the time to clean up between each project. Scraps of mat board, reference photos, dead leaves from my neglected plants, dirty floor from my Christmas open house, art supply catalogs, my unpacked art from the Christmas events, clutter which tends to cause me to feel anxious. I really like things organized.
I realized that I had been so focused on trying to get work done, that I hadn't taken my usual time in the morning to calm my spirit and quietly communicate with God - the type of meditation that grounds my soul and gives me peace and direction. It truly makes such a difference in how my day goes when I take the time to do that before I begin my work. I felt like God was whispering in my ear as I was stressed one day, "Hey, how about sitting with me for a few minutes?" My first thought was that I didn't have time. How silly of me, I know that when I do take time to meditate on scripture and be quiet with God, my time goes so much more smoothly that it seems expanded. So, I got out my journal, my cup of tea, my Bible, and a book that I'm working through for inspiration, and sat on my rug. My ritual: I pray for people in my life, then I sit quietly and ask God if there's something He wants to tell me today, I listen and many times am amazed to have something come to mind that is so helpful in my life, then I open my reading and ask Him to speak to me through it - what He wants me to get, then I write in my journal what that is. Well, on this particular day, I sensed that I'm still worrying too much about what I think I need to do. Maybe I should just let this next exhibit come and go and not work myself to death trying to finish a new painting in time to submit. I should get my space cleaned and orderly so my mind will rest and I can work even better when I do work on something new. And stop worrying about my work!
So, that week, I cleaned. It felt great to do some physical work and to get my space cleaned up. At the end of the week, I still had my office space to clean but that would take a whole week of sorting on its own. I started a new painting of a good memory that I had been thinking of for a while. Then, I had chemo again and had to take time off. Last week, I got around to organizing my office space and getting my tax stuff in order. I also did a post-Christmas inventory check to see what I should order for an upcoming event and to replace prints that have sold in galleries. Over the weekend, I was notified that my original oil painting, Walk with Me, hanging in the current Tamarack exhibit sold! Okay, God, thanks for showing me, again, that you can take care of my business if I am faithful to just do what is in front of me for today.
I still like the idea of the music painting but it's okay if that waits for another day.
The following books have been instrumental in inspiring me to follow the path of being an artist while walking with God. I would recommend them for everyone as we all have some creativity in us as human beings and it is related to our spiritual well being. But, if you know you are an artist at heart and feel like it's not worthwhile to follow that passion, I would especially recommend them for you.
The Creative Life; A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination - Alice Bass
The Creative Call; An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit - Janice Elsheimer
Cultivate; The Process of Living from Your Heart; Vol. 4 Creativity Unlocked - Cageless Birds
(A series of Cultivate books about cultivating the 18 inch journey between head and heart with the help of the Holy Spirit can be found at cagelessbirds.com)