Here it is November 2nd and I am going to tell you why resting is important. For most makers from now until December 25th is the busiest time of the year. I jokingly call it the holidaze. Half joke, half truth.
For years I overdid it so much at the holiday season that I was fried until March. That is not an exaggeration, I journal, I have records of my exhaustion. I did all the holiday markets, all the wholesale, all the online retail, and an hosted a holiday open studio. It was too much!
But since I journal, I also noticed a pattern that when I took time off I actually had more energy and was more productive. It really felt like an eureka moment! Everything our culture had taught me was wrong. Going harder, faster, and stronger didn't mean I was doing better financially or mentally. I was tired and grumpy.
But why? Why did I continue to do this to myself? People pleasing. I couldn't say no. I said yes to everything, seriously. Friends in from out of town, yes I will be there. Holiday recital, yes I will be there. Cookie exchange, yes I will be there. You need an gallery opening planned, yes I will do it. Insert any favor and my answer was yes I will do it, but it was yes on steroids because November and December were already insanely busy.
I should have changed my name from Heidi to Yes. On top of it, I was easily manipulated and I allowed my kindness to be taken advantage of. Luckily for me that has ended, unfortunately some people don't like it. But I am given you permission right now to not be liked. You don't like everyone and not everyone will like you, so as they say: let that shit go.
A friend was at the studio recently and she was talking to me about a residency program and how the artist weren't being compensated enough. She pointed out the ceramics is more labor intensive than a lot of other fields and a lightbulb went off. That's why I need more rest!
To the collector, non-maker, and lay person they don't understand my job at all. People repeatedly ask me if I work everyday, if I work 40 hours a week, or if can take off at a moments notice.
I don't have time to educate everyone about my job, just like they don't have the time to educate me about theirs, but I will say this. I am at the studio 4-5 days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I work 28-40 hours a week, sometimes less and sometimes more. And before I get hate letters saying I don't work enough, slow your roll. Remember most times I am either working alone or with my brother so I can focus. I don't have the interruptions that most people have at their job. I am highly efficient. I can get the same amount of work done in less time, because less distractions.
My job is very physically demanding. I am lifting 50 pound boxes of clay, 50 pound bags of clay, molds that vary from 3-20 pounds, and on top of that I usually walk 1-2 miles a day just in the studio. I'm not a machine, I am human that gets tried.
So here I am tired from mental exertion, tired from physical exertion, and oh right I am supposed to also be creative. Most people romanticize artists and think you wake up with all the inspiration and boundless energy to go out there and create a passion filled masterpiece. I hate to break it to you, but that's not how it works, or at least not for me. I have to be bored. Most of my inspiration comes in the shower because there isn't a TV, book, or phone to distract me. For inspiration to come, I have to carve out nothing time or as I call it stare-at-the-wall time.
For me, if I don't build in those restful periods I become so overstimulated it takes much longer to recover. I am basically 180 pound toddler. You know when children get so overstimulated they can't sleep, well I am here to tell you that can happen to adults as well.
It took me a long time to except this about myself. I wanted to be the extrovert that could schmooze and be the energizer bunny. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of energy, but it's limited and it is drained more easily by some activities (and people) than others.
October was a busy month for me professionally I spoke at the Indiana Clay Conference about self employment, taught a screen printing workshop at Beale Pottery, hosted Kim of Fran and Judy for the annual Arts and Eats Tour, finished a collaboration with Susan McHenry, and launched a collaboration with Sol Proaño. That's all on top of doing my regular 28-40 hours a week, not to mention my personal life.
At the Arts and Eats tour I met a nice woman who asked me what the hardest part of job was and without missing a beat I said selling my pottery. I love selling my pottery and I am good at it, but if I am tired sometimes it's a struggle to muster the energy to make the sale. (By the way, I don't drink a lot of caffeine or eat a lot of sugar, I try to stay pretty even keel. I also learned that the hard way.)
That said, this weekend I am resting. I may not even get out of my pajamas. I went grocery shopping yesterday and don't have to leave the house if I don't want to. I also bought 5 new books that are longing to be read. To some this would seem I am depressed or need help and like those people I thought for a long time that yes there was something wrong with me. There is nothing wrong with me. I need to rest.
This holiday season I hope you can do two things for yourself: say no and rest!