The Tea House: In Balance
by Spike Marlowe
Being an artist is hard work. For me, it’s a combination of physical, mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual work. A good day of writing is exciting, and I’m fueled at the end of my work, absolutely filled with energy, but it can also be exhausting. And bad days are
I know other artists who deal with this, as well. We all cope in different ways, and how I used to deal with it is completely different than how I deal now.
How do I deal and balance my life now so that I’m the best artist I can be?
I pay attention to how I’m feeling throughout my entire being. I.e., I listen to myself and pay attention. I definitely haven’t always done this. I’ve often had high expectations for myself and have believed that no matter how I feel or what’s going on, I should be tough enough to power through and do whatever needs to get done. While there is truth in this, powering through without also listening to my needs and taking care of myself isn’t fruitful. When I do listen to myself and fulfill my needs, I have an easier time accessing my creative self and making art.
I try to usually eat a good diet. What makes a good diet? This is personal, based on individual needs. For me, it took a long time to figure out a good diet for me, discovered after a lot of years of eating stuff that made my body sad, even though the food made my taste buds super-happy. Does this mean I don’t treat myself and eat something I love that makes me feel like ass every so often? I totally do treat myself–thus that massive plate of cheese friends my sweetie and I shared the other day–but it’s not a frequent event. The result of eating the way my body likes is that my mind is clearer, I have easier access to my intuition and emotional self, and my body feels better. This all positively impacts my art.
I also move my body every day. I take walks, do yoga, hike, lift weights. Why? Because ultimately, it feels super-good, I feel more in balance, more alive, I have more energy, and my brain works better. Yeah, a total win for my artistic life, as well.
I take time for myself to fill my well. Sometimes this means taking long walks, or sitting by the ocean, or reading a great book I don’t have to read for work or any projects, or it could mean making visual art, or playing my guitar, or even sitting outside under the sun drinking a yummy beverage. Sometimes this means going to a concert or an art gallery or hanging out with a friend. Once again, such activities fuel and fill me so I have more energy to pull from when writing.
I also figured out what activities can quickly help me feel balanced when I feel out of balance, and made a list. When I feel out of balance for whatever reason–maybe I haven’t been sleeping well, or I’ve been pushing myself too hard, maybe I haven’t filled my well enough, or maybe I’m not writing enough–I pull out my list and do the things on the list.
This morning was one of those out-of-balance days–I’ve been pushing myself super-hard, and wrote a super-intense personal essay this week that took a ton of energy, work and emotional and psychological processing. When I woke this morning felt like absolutely ass. Like I had the worst hangover ever. That I didn’t sleep well at all last night didn’t help. So, I pulled out my list and read “Listen to Bob Dylan’s Biograph, eat fruit, drink fresh juice, drink water, light a special candle, write in a journal, walk by the ocean, go for a hike in the hills, get a hug, snuggle with my dog, read a comfort book, attack my to-do list.”
So, I ate a pear, put on Biograph, got a hug, drank water, lit a candle, pet my dog, and started attacking my to-do list. Then, when my partner asked if he could do anything, I asked him to make me some green juice. And then I wrote this post.
And you know what? I’m feeling a lot better. I’m feeling more balanced. And I feel ready to attack some intense writing.
How do you balance the artistic life? What do you do to stay in balance or gain balance so you can be the best artist you can be?
Spike Marlowe has held a number of odd jobs, including working in a wild west show, as a detective, as a Bigfoot researcher, as a writer for an Internet content farm and as a busker. These days she’s a writer, blogger and bizarro editor for Eraserhead Press, with a focus on the New Bizarro Author Series. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is now available at all the usual locations. You can stalk her online at her website, Facebook or on Twitter at @spikemarlowe.