4 things all exhausted artists should do for themselves.Wednesday October 31, 2012
When I was little, I loved watching the “plate spinning” act on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was strangely entertaining. Mr. Sullivan would introduce an interesting looking gentleman. Then without any words spoken, the man’s partner, in full cocktail dress regalia, would hand him broomsticks and a china plates, one pair at a time. Maybe not real china, but dramatically breakable as we would find out.
He would place each stick in a holder on a table, balance a dish on top, and give it a twirl. It would start to spin. By the time he got to the 4th or 5th plate the first plate would be doing some major wobbling. Frantically he would run back, giving wobbly plates another twirl, while in between starting more plates spinning. He look frazzled and I don’t think it was acting. I know I was a nervous wreck waiting to see which plates would survive, and how much shattering would occur. Vintage reality entertainment! Through the whole process, his beautiful assistant kept her composure and glided across the stage, smiling and calmly dispensing more plates. If that was me I would have been screaming out warnings, tripping over my high heels, directing and interfering, totally forgetting my job of looking calm and pretty. Most likely I would have dropped to the ground, crawling indiscreetly off the stage, on hands and knees, exhausted.
So what secrets have I learned from the steadfast assistant that apply to exhausted artists?
1. Mind your own “beeswax”.
A perfect saying from that time period as well.
One thing the plate spinner assistant knew was how to stick to her job, and her job was to look pretty and hand over plates, no matter what kind of crashing drama occurred. Sometimes as artists we get caught up in dramas that are not our own. It’s an easy way to lose focus and exhaust our creative energies, or even procrastinate about getting to work. Time to think like the composed dish dispensing assistant and mind our own “beeswax”.
2. Plan some Playtime.
Don’t forget that as artists we need “PLAY” time to refresh. Yep. Time to go to the “studio playground” with no goals or expectations. Just let you your mind wander and explore and send the internal critic on a long hike.It does take some practice, but it’s important for your own creative balance to explore new possibilities without thinking you are wasting time. Plan it in your calendar and make an official date and time!
3. Try some pampering and I’m not talking diapers.
It’s the 2 P’s. Play and Pamper. I know. You’ve heard it a million times: “Do something nice for yourself”, but it should happen on a regular basis, not when you find yourself too exhausted to move from bed, wondering who will walk the dog, cause you’re pretty sure you will have to crawl on all 4‘s, and the dog will be dragging you. Pampering should be done BEFORE it’s to late. A regular event. Something that is relaxing or rejuvenating or just plain fun. And here is the tricky part; done without feeling guilty. Our plate spinner assistant clearly knew how to take care of herself so she could be on her best game. One of my regular favorites is the mani/pedi escape. I let myself skim through all the gossip and fashion magazines that I would otherwise never taken the time for, and by the time all polish is dry, I feel like I’ve had a mini escape, not to mention well read, lol, and ready to get back to work.
4. Stop comparing.
Do you find yourself comparing your work, website, newsletter unsubscribes, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets etc, to others? There is nothing wrong with healthy competition, but spending too much time checking and rechecking someone else’s work and statistics is exhausting and counter-productive.
Try this: Consciously give up the comparing game for a week and see how it goes. It’s a way to reclaim the time and energy you’ve been using checking on someone else’s buisness and put your time to better self empowering use. (see #1 on minding your own beeswax)
Hope this adds some energy back to your creative endeavors.