Sunday, September 4, 2011

Growing Pains

Well, I woke up at 4 AM. I do my best thinking in the morning, and this morning's train of thought has me thinking about my work/life/art balance that I've been trying to achieve.

2011 has been amazing so far. I've feel like I've finally found "my people". People who I feel like I've known all my life after just hanging out for a few minutes. People who get me and my art. People who I never would have met had I not taken this leap.

But, all is not perfect here in Shelly-land. You see, in my attempts to balance my life, the art side of the scale has pretty much taken over. There are definitely parts of this adventure that I never really thought about at the start. Teaching at six events all over the country this year all sounded very reasonable at the time. Here's what I didn't think about...preparation for an art retreat (for me) goes something like this:

  • A year in advance (sometimes more than a year), I submit projects. Typically it takes a month to figure out and create samples for three workshops.

  • Then I wait anxiously to find out if I got accepted or not. Generally the waiting time is filled with preparations for projects for another event.

  • If I'm accepted, then I book the hotel for the event because the last thing you want to find out is that you don't have a place to stay.

  • A month or so before the event, I book my airline ticket and my rental car. (That reminds me, it's time to book my ticket to California for Art Is...You.)

  • Approximately three weeks before the event, my brain starts to worry over kits that I need to get shipped. Those of you who know me well know that this involves creating about fifteen lists. Ok, probably more than that.

  • Now that I've opened a studio, somewhere in here is also taken up with First Friday/Second Look Saturday down at the art studio... which means there's studio clean up, work to hang and price, food and drinks to buy and prepare, and then the event to attend.

  • Ok, back to the retreats. About two weeks before the event, I actually have enough lists formed and enough shopping done to make the kits. Then a trip to the post office to ship the kit materials OR if I'm going to attempt to haul everything with me, I start a new worry about whether or not all of the giant piles of stuff will fit in my suitcase and whether or not it will hit the airline weight limits or not. (Ummm... one of the trips my suitcase was 12.5 pounds over. Imagine my glee at getting to try to figure out how to repack all of that into my already crammed carry ons.)

  • About that same time (two weeks out), I start writing handouts for class. This usually finishes up by printing out the handouts about five minutes before I leave for the airport.

  • About one week out, I get out my suitcase thinking that I will pack early.

  • At one week out, I also start dragging back even more supplies from my art studio downtown.

  • This is also the point when I start tripping over everything in my office because there are piles everywhere. And when I start freaking out if my daughter comes into the office, because invariably she would like to have exactly what I need for class. And who wouldn't want all that fun stuff?!?

  • The night before the trip, I pack everything up. The suitcase is 90% art supplies, 10% clothes and toiletries.

  • Then I repack it because the suitcase feels too heavy. (I think my carry-on bag weighed 50 pounds last time with another 50 pounds in my suitcase.)

  • And now we get to go to the airport. I won't bore you with the fun details of lugging 100 pounds of stuff to and through airports. If you have kids or pack like usually I do for a non-art related trip (three weeks of clothes for two days of trip), you've all been there.

  • FINALLY, THE FUN PART! A year after the start, I get to hang out with fun people and teach classes! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Oh no, time to go home already. Didn't I just get here? I'm sad to leave my new art friends, but at least the suitcase is a little lighter this time. Maybe only 90 pounds of stuff to lug back instead of 100.

  • I get home, reunite with my family, and collapse for about a week or until I remember that next year's class proposals are due or that I still haven't done the mountain of laundry that was there before I left for class.
Whew! Just writing all of that almost wore me out. And now multiply all of that times SIX.

With all of that said, I think I'm going to scale back a little bit for 2012. I only have three events booked so far (two Art Is...You events and Art & Soul), and I think I'll try to add just one or two more. PLUS, I'll be attending Artfest as a student this year, so that counts (in my husband's mind) as one more event. That will make five or six for the year.

I love this new life and all of the doors that have been opening for me. I'm sure I'll be sad when I read about/hear about events that I'm not able to attend, but my body, my brain, and my family will thank me. Well, they'll thank me once I get the laundry and dishes done, I'm sure. :)


  1. That wore me out too:O) Glad you are living your dream:O)

  2. Ohmygosh, YIKES!
    Yeah, thats alot of planning, prepping, organization, and travel to squeeze into one year.
    The art retreat world is lucky to have you though - you do great stuff.

  3. wow shel - i was exhausted from reading that post! haha i am so proud of your accomplishments tho! it's awesome so watch you bloom!

  4. You are an incredible person Shelly. I am so proud of you! Balance is a hard thing to achieve at times but a goal we should strive towards daily. Hugs to you and I know you WILL make good decisions for 2012!!