Thursday, February 14, 2013

Walking that Fine Line Between Sanity and Guilt


When people find out you’re a writer or an artist, all of a sudden you become very popular. Everyone has a project or a need that only you can fill. Little by little these small favors and obligations eat away at your private time until you have no hours left at all for you.

I’ve wedged myself into that scenario many times. Not that I don’t enjoy serving my community, my church, and my neighbors and friends. But I’m beginning to bewail my own projects that sit on the side lines because I either don’t have enough time to accomplish anything, or I’m too darn tired to start.

I’ve had two projects going for the past several months. One is sitting on my kitchen table and taunts me whenever I walk by. Because of it, we haven’t used our table for eating or playing games in months. The other is in my art room in a half-finished state. I look at it several times a day and imagine what needs to be done next, if only I had the time.

I am web master for my church, and also do their newsletter among other assignments; things always come up: a brochure here, an advertisement there, tickets designed for a theme, a special program, a Committee Chair. Since I enjoy doing these projects, I have only myself to blame and my desire to serve the Lord.

Then there’s the added business of participating at the gallery. Every artist who shows there must work there, at least once a month. Participation in Art League activities is also important for publicity and networking. Never let opportunities to show your work pass you by!

(In Progress Mural for church)
Pay back is sometimes required. I’ve been helping one league work on a memorial for their church which allows us to paint in their facility every Wednesday. Their generosity sometimes requires little favors like the wall mural done last year of Noah’s Ark in the children’s Sunday school. This year, it’s a memorial of a precious child who died.

(One of the artists whose husband died was also added to the mural. She is a church member there)

Balance is the key, but sometimes I walk so close to the edge that I topple off. Add health problems or a crisis and Humpty Dumpty comes falling down. How do you handle the difficult dance between necessary activities where time-tables are set in stone and your personal goals that demand consistency in order to succeed?

If at all possible, a fluid schedule is best. Failing that, you must be as rigid with your private activities as you are with those that cannot be changed. If ever you are to fulfill your dreams, you must give equal time to them.

Some people give up when the demands of children and family overwhelm the minutes and the hours in a day. They put their dreams on a shelf for another time. After all, you only have children once. Learning how to benefit from and use snatches of time is a better way

(In Progress mural -- more refining & detail are necessary)
I used to take a notebook with me while chauffeuring the children to school, music and dance lessons, or extracurricular activities and practices. I was able to write stories and articles by using these “snatches” of time.

It is more difficult for an artist, but not impossible. Small sketch books and watercolor pads with aqua crayons can keep you focused on plein air drawings or portraits of people while you wait. Having supplies in your car and planning ahead can make all the difference.

Learning how to say “no” is another way to protect your precious time. If you really want to say “yes” at least you’ll know it was your decision, not theirs.