The 9-5 Job + Love of Your Life / Juggling = One Mean Balancing Act

Balancing Act…this elephant has crazy core stability!

The past few weeks have served as a bit of a break from active writing (I define ‘active writing’ as writing every day for a couple of hours about art.). Wanting to take a step back and re-focus is the primary goal at the moment. There’s always something that brings me back to art though. It’s in everything I do. The practice of posting to my blog everyday in 2011 (at the very least, gathering material to post for every day of the year) taught me a lot about producing well written and researched content. However, after a year of that practice, I found myself wanting to write ALL the time and feeling guilty when I find myself unable to produce. THIS was a sure sign that I needed to step back. Aside from wanting to constantly write about the things I want to write about, I have to balance deadlines and exhibition reviews for different editors too.

After some introspective time, I wanted to share a few revelations and strategies. These are not new but I’ve found them to be very helpful. No matter what, there’s always something there to remind me that art and writing are not going anywhere. Reading the last line of Steinbeck’s letter to his son Thom about falling in love is so true (in any case, it can certainly apply to your passion),

“…And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away”.

~ John Steinbeck, November 10, 1958 ~ Letter to his son, Thom

Despite the itching angst ridden feeling that washes over me when I attend art events or read something really amazing and phenomenal online, and end up not writing about these discoveries, I’ve definitely cut myself some slack. There’s just no way to capture everything and do it all justice. Lately, I’ve suffered from information overload as well and grappling with having this thing called ‘me’ time that incorporates relaxing and resting the mind and body. Here’s what I’ve had to tell myself over the past couple of weeks,

  • It’s OK to not write about EVERYTHING I see!
  • Documentation of art happenings are, sometimes, best left to memory…
  • Being in the moment of an art experience which will never happen again is OK ~ Let go…sometimes, the memory paints a much more interesting picture
  • Save all that pent-up writing energy for grad school and read non-art text (i.e., Tobias Wolff, Haruki Murakami, dive into some art magazines, flip through all my art coffee table books, etc.)
  • Watch the films I’ve BEEN wanting to watch and SAY I will watch but don’t because I’m hunched over my laptop
  • See art but take off the critical lenses!! It’s perfectly fine to spit out a gut reaction and not analyze the work
  • Enjoy a nice cup of tea (a good cup of tea…we’re talking loose leaf)
  • Connect with loved ones (yes, if you can believe it, I actually have a reminder on my calendar to do this…I know, I know…crazy, eh)

Overall, the break has been a nice refresher! I’m definitely back and will be posting some photos and posts in the next few days! Also, if you have other ways that you step back from your work, I’d love to hear them. 🙂

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos is a writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research areas and interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, networked culture, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is currently the managing editor for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and Public Art Dialogue. She has lectured and spoken at the De Young museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” has been published to The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture in 2016. She serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center, and teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Digital Art and New Media department.

6 thoughts on “The 9-5 Job + Love of Your Life / Juggling = One Mean Balancing Act”

  1. You’re insights are worthy of playback, as auto-suggestions to hear at the brink of sleep.

    I’m glad that you’ve had a wonderful refresher, and things to cushion you from the ‘slings & arrows’ of insanity.

    Other ways to step back from work? I’m afraid in my case it’s the opposite.

    These ideas may be a bit plebeian for you, but here goes: How about talking more to your cat? How about finger-painting, or throwing stuff together that you can frame and them hang? How about a sauna? (These are some liberating activities I wish I could do more of these days.)

    Last week a mover just told me, “There’s a lot of nice art here in San Francisco.” I was taken aback, and asked him to repeat that. I wished then that he was telling YOU that instead of me.

    1. Ha ha. Yeah, I had to post this before I went to sleep last night. As I mentioned in my comment to Michelle, sleep and relaxation is so important. I’m not 23 years old anymore and I have to be very mindful of my time BUT I also have to engage in activities that help me take a step back.

      Your suggestions, by the way, are not plebeian at all!! I have been playing with my cat more often. I see that she has a lot of energy so I TRY really hard to have her exercise. It actually hurts my feelings when people visit and comment on her girth! The nerve!! Then again, it means I need to make her run around a bit more. I definitely agree with finger painting. That actually sounds like fun. I am working on creative collaborations but they’re pretty cerebral. Fun but cerebral. I have been hitting up the sauna, actually. VERY relaxing!

      Thanks (again) for always joining in on the conversation. I really (truly) appreciate it. 🙂

  2. A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted an article to her Facebook page about making sleep a priority. (sorry, I can’t find it right now). But I this is something I’ve been focusing on – I tend to run myself ragged with work and home and art and openings and deadlines and friends…and then I tend to exhaust myself and get sick. So…I’ve been making sure I go to bed before midnight, and that means sometime sacrificing an activity, art making, deadlines, going to an opening, so be it. It’s just all part of accepting that I can’t do it all, and that I enjoy what I do much more – and I’m much better at it – when I get enough sleep!

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! You brought up something that I, often times, forget is imperative to one’s success – sleep!! I would love to read that article. Lately, I have been sleeping A LOT better, which makes me incredibly happy. I’m so much more productive when I get in a great night’s sleep. As you mentioned, going to sleep at a regular time and sacrificing art making/creative activities is so important. Over the weekend, I was at a dinner with good friends and one of my friend’s suffered a major injury (falling from a ladder) from de-installing an exhibition! So, his partner came up with a great rule: If you are unable to put on and tie your shoes…you’re too tired and probably shouldn’t do something that requires a lot of energy. Sounds crazy BUT very true! Speaking of activities, I still want to visit your studio and take one of your workshops!! Thanks again for stopping by. Again, please feel free to share that FB article on sleep!!

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! Great blog post on sleep. I’m equally fascinated by Haruki Murakami’s sleep schedule. I may opt for that type of schedule since I notice that the writing bug hits me pretty early as well. I also don’t mind sleeping earlier. It’s all about training the body, I guess. Again, thanks for sharing. I will definitly try and develop new strategies around sleep so I could make the most of my waking time engaged at work and with my art writing!!

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