Over the last 20 years, I have had the pleasure of conspiring with hundreds of artists from various disciplines for exhibits, one-day/night events with dance, music, performance, drag, photo, film, video, food, installations, and of course the typical fundraiser, because we always have to think about where are resources are coming from. As an artist, whose mission is to support other artists and the greater community, needless to say my endeavors and the system in which we operate have worn me down. I used to be vivacious. Unstoppable with any idea that came to mind with the energy to endure said project. And I never let anything come in the way of achieving said idea, as any obstacle that came in my way, was just another challenge for me to overcome, and overcome I did.
For 20 years, I have maneuvered around, looking for opportunity, learning over time where to look and how to find the answer to my situation. (It’s all in your network, people!) I never let a ‘no’ response keep me from doing what I thought was necessary to complete a project, but with that, I do have to share that it is very essential to always stay fluid. You need to know how to adapt your idea/project to the parameters you are given (and/or figure out a way to work within them—if you know what I mean). It is possible to accomplish anything, just sometimes (actually almost always) you need to compromise. Which, is a very important soft skill to learn and master, and at the youngest of years you can do this, the more happier you’ll be. Cause, at the end of the day, it’s all about expectations. The sooner you learn that having none or a minimum will assist you as you go along in life. And let me be clear: I am not saying to not reach for the moon or stars, just know what steps you need to take to get you there, and be sure to follow that path, however long it takes and/or wherever it takes you. The journey should be cherished.
So, this next thought leads me into what they don’t teach you in grade school, high school, college, adult life, corporate work, etc… Self-care. This concept should be at the root of every living person’s foundation. We should learn to master this sooner than getting a regents diploma, not after the fact, if ever if you’re lucky. Self-care is closely tied to self-love, and well just plain love really. Something else that most of us are not taught or have seen what healthy love looks and feels like (just read bell hooks all about love, to get started). If you’re fortunate you’ll get to experience its purest sense. But before I wander too far, let’s go back to what self-care entails.
Self-care is not a one-size fits all. It takes many shapes and looks quite different from one person to the next, as it is tailored to each individual. How does one properly care for themselves under the constraints of living? I know this sounds like a daunting question, but the answer can be as simple as waking up 15 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to meditate and be by yourself, alone, to think, breathe, drink coffee/tea, read, listen to the news, whatever your happy little joy is. In the end it really is all about time and how you choose to spend it and with whom. (And somewhere in there, you need to figure out what things/people bring you joy, but I think that is another topic for another time.)
Every life is complicated, but we have choices. We can choose how we spend our lives that is our greatest gift to ourselves and the rest of the world. And if you can keep in mind this thought that if you’re not happy and you don’t love yourself, how can you expect to be there and show up for other people the way you expect them. It all starts with you. So take that 15 minutes somewhere in the day and do what makes you happy and brings you joy. And then see how to expand on that 15 as time goes on. This is my advice to you. Take care of yourself.
As I have recently returned from nowhere land. Or else that’s what being burnt out feels like. It feels like you are drifting along on a wooden raft at sea as everything and everyone pass by you, but you are not in reaching distance for them to help or for yourself to safely escape. As you are drifting along alone in the middle of nowhere the things in life that once you were passionate about have disappeared like ghosts that haunt you but to no avail you can no longer touch or feel. And the world continues to pass by as you drift along. You feel helpless, sometimes anxious, as your meager attempts fail. But you keep going. You keep doing. You keep breathing. You keep thinking about tomorrow and the next day, as everyone needs a plan, and the more time you put into it the better your chances are for success. Or at least that is what they tell me.
PS—another person’s words (Alice Walker) to leave you with: “Resistance is the secret of joy.”
Sometimes self-care can look like this, because you have lost your passion for life. Costa Rica, Pacific Coast, Fall 2021.