Someone recently suggested to me that I, “Take the summer off.” WHAT? My brain heard a loud engine screeching its brakes with crashing train cars tumbling behind it. Are you SERIOUS?
For over 20 years, I have been walking, talking, drinking, sleeping, reading, making, experimenting, selling, networking, teaching and learning art non-stop. I read once that “being an artist is a lifestyle, not a job.” I fall into that category with all fours. Even while on vacations, I am always observing my world, taking it in or attending something art related. It is a wheel without brakes. It doesn’t sound real healthy, does it?
Despite the train noise in my head, my brain obviously ‘heard’ the message because I have not been able to let go of it. Take the summer off has been sticking to me like engine grease. It’s a broad brush of a statement and not easily processed, at least not for me.
What went through your mind when you heard the suggestion to take the summer off? I would love to know. I am sure the range of reactions and thoughts is wide.
The first thing I did was to start negotiating and I asked myself, “How about a week?” It’s okay if you laugh.
The idea of taking more than a week off …well, I just couldn’t wrap my arms around it. Then I started asking myself and others, “What would it look like?” and “How would I define taking the summer off?” because there are a lot of gray areas in the answers.
Does taking time off mean:
- Not painting?
- Not photographing?
- Not reading about painting?
- Not checking email?
- Not attending the online Instagram Class I forgot that I signed up for?
- Not sketching?
- Not reflecting upon the past 10 months of significant events and deadlines?
- Not writing this blog?
- Not revising and keeping my website up to date?
- Not posting on any social media platforms?
- Not journaling about this experience?
- Not writing and sending out my monthly newsletter?
….and for how long?
Does it also mean that I don’t do any other kind of work? I am referring to the maintenance of our remote mountain cabin (see photo below), of which I am the main carpenter, wall painter, plumber, etc. Currently, I am taking my annual solo month long stay at the cabin, which is typically mid-June to mid-July. (My most recent blog reviews how I pack my temporary studio.) The “To-Do”list has about 16 items on it. For example, paint the interior windows, stain the picnic table, spray paint the whicker porch chairs, fix the shower leak, etc. In other words, these are fairly substantial and I always interweave them into my stay.
Does it mean that I….
- Learn to meditate and do it regularly?
- Take longer hikes in the woods with my wonderful dog?
- Consume novels?
- Journal about life?
- Forget about income and other financial matters?
- Try not to see all of the color and abundance that nature has to offer? (This is a joke.)
- Invite more friends to the cabin?
- Spend more time cooking good healthy food?
- …And what do I do when a really cool painting idea comes flying through my head?
I confess, I don’t think I can do it. The good news is that “Taking the summer off,” has me thinking and re-evaluating; this is a good thing and one that fits nicely with my stay at the cabin. I will try to report back on any insights I glean during the next month. Perhaps I will make more stops while on this train ride and feed the engine less coal. Who knows?
There is also that all important business question, ‘Is it wise to stop the train for an entire summer?”
Honestly, could you “take the summer (or winter) off?” Do you want to? What would it look like?
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