Hitting Pause to Enjoy Life

Me and the most adorable, handsome, lovable human being in the universe!

After months of struggling to focus on my academic writing, I just stopped. I stopped planning. I stopped breaking down each goal. I stopped obsessing over my calendar. I stopped sitting in front of my computer pretending to work. I put St. Nick and art education away ... for now ... forever? Who knows. 

I don't know what the future will bring. No one does. So, I stopped pretending to know what I'll be doing and where I'll be working. I stopped planning for a future that anchors me in an academic past that isn't a present reality. Heck, I'm not sure how much of a reality it will ever be. I'm not willing to sacrifice my whole life to the "quest for knowledge" and the "pursuit of tenure." I'm just not that hungry for it anymore, at least not the trappings of "being an academic" ... so, I stopped defining myself as a professional scholar and academic.

I hit the pause button. I took a breath and turned my attention to slower, more enjoyable tasks. Ed and I have been spending our evenings walking around Salem. Sometimes we stop for coffees to drink while we sit in the Adirondack chairs on the wharf. Sometimes we sit on the steps of the Custom House and watch the world go by. Most times you'll find us standing in front of a house and discussing original windows, dormers, and architectural details. I always forget a notebook or my historical architecture book, but it doesn't matter. It's best to keep my bag light. You never know when our walks will quickly turn into a nature watch as we follow a momma skunk and her babies into the kitchen garden behind the Derby House. We've unplugged from the world and it's been glorious.

I started drawing again. I haven't held a pencil in my hand in years and yes, it's hard. I'm having a really difficult time connecting my eyes to my hand. My new progressive lens and arthritis in my hands aren't helping. However, there's nothing more glorious than sitting outside sketching eggplant flowers while the bumblebees buzz around the cucumber flowers. I don't think of anything else but what's in front of me when I draw; so, in a way, making art is meditation. I'm trying not to get frustrated by how rusty I am. Instead, I am cherishing this time being creative. At one point in time, I would have told you that I am an artist above all else. The PhD and my time spent being an "academic" killed that definition of myself. 

Eggplant flower. First drawing in years.

Seashell from Ireland.

I've being spending a lot of time reading about Ganesh and chakras. I've also rekindled my yoga practice and started to meditate and practice morning mantras. This is all linked to rebooting my spiritual practice, something else I stopped doing while writing my dissertation and mourning my Mom. In retrospect, I definitely could have used this kind of structured spiritual practice while going through that horrible and stressful time. 

Full moon over Derby Wharf and the Friendship, Salem, MA.

This summer has been a really good, introspective, and joyful summer. Sure, we didn't go camping or "do" anything special ... but we most certainly have been enjoying it. I, personally, needed a summer like this one. I needed to stop and press pause so that I could think and breath. Like Ed said, this might be the last summer that I have off as an academic. I could have spent it researching and writing, which was the original plan. Or, I could have spent it taking care of myself and healing old wounds. I chose the later and BOY! was that the best decision I've ever made.

Full moon over Derby Wharf, Salem, MA.

For the first time in over 20 years I took the time to nourish my heart and soul. I took the time to allow myself to feel all of the repressed emotions that have been haunting me since Mom's death. I took the time to just be me and get to know that me. Did you know I'm 49? I became very aware of my age this summer. The skin around my eyes is getting "crepey" and my joints are creaky. My taste in clothing is shifting to more artsy styles without all of the Goth or edgy trappings. Classic lines, sorbet colors or deep autumnal colors, and nautical themes have made their way into my wardrobe. 

I cut my hair again to start the growing process over. 

I'm losing my taste for blunt bangs and black hair. I wonder what I would look like with an updated style in my natural dark brown and grey. For the first time in my life I'm considering if I should change my makeup palette and if I should use a different highlighter. Hell, should I put the highlighter under my eyes or across my check bones? Is my foundation moisturizing enough? Should I switch blush colors? Ladies, this aging process is really a thing!!! Navigating it with grace and humor is the goal.

As we're heading into August, the last month of my summer of self-healing, I am both excited and sad. I'm excited that school will be starting soon and, in turn, a new career path. Sad, because this luxurious, unstructured time will soon be over. Ah well. So the Wheel of the Year turns.

Comments

  1. This is so great! I'm a big believer in taking off as much time as possible. And now that I'm retired, it's one long weekend, LOL!

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    1. It's really weird for me to just decide to "take a break," but with school starting soon, if felt necessary.

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  2. I'm really happy to hear that you are taking time to just be. To just enjoy things. You definitely deserve it. (Hug)

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    1. Thank you, Lainie. It's funny, the minute I stopped and took a breath, I was instantly inspired by three fun projects that I'm now working on! It's crazy how organically things flow when you stop chasing them.

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  3. That's tremendously wonderful. My heart is singing with joy for you and hopes that continued time to focus on what matters most to you at present is able to come your way as 2021 rolls ever onward.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    PS: Your illustrations are head-turningly gorgeous, my very talented friend.

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    1. Aw, thanks! I'm seriously rusty. I need to do some drawing exercises to create that connection again. It's all about lines and space.

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  4. I feel like 2020 was the year that was all break and no break. Totally understand the need to do it now!

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    1. OMG! Seriously. 2020 was an absolutely asshole. I'm so burnt out from all of the online teaching, anxiety and worry, and fear that I just don't want to do anything ... at least not for a while.

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  5. Oh, I loved reading this post so much, although I was sorry to hear that you've been having such a difficult time, it's inspiring to see the changes you are going through. From the outside it seems like a blossoming, an opening up. I look forward to seeing where it takes you.

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    1. Thank you! It's been a challenging, but enlightening, few years. There's a lot of good stuff in the works, that's for sure. Stay tuned!

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