I never thought I’d be here.
For the last twelve years I have single-mindedly “art-ed.” Theatrical storytelling was not just my life’s work, but my work work. That was the dream: Making money as an actor; having art pay the bills. Right? But days clicked by, time passed, and what was once as vital a thing to me as oxygen started to bleed me dry.
I hustled. Job upon job. No time to do laundry, let alone sleep a full 8 hours. Lists and lists of potential projects and intention-filled notebooks. Jotted ideas on post-it notes… never realized. I never said no. I feared it. What if I missed something? What if, in fact, I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time instead of the opposite? Isn’t that the cornerstone of an “artistic life?” Working hard and then getting lucky? Luck doesn’t pay for heat and internet and electricity. As my debt grew and my time disappeared, my soul shriveled.
Which is an overly poetic way of saying that I burned out. Hard. My habitual multitasking and perfectionism (which got me through highschool and college) broke my adult life. I was balancing on the knife’s edge - except it felt like pretty stable ground to me.
Then, my beloved dog - the little four-legged bundle of stubbornness and unyielding love - did what all living things do. He aged. He died. And I plummeted.
My day-to-day life ground to a screeching halt. Grief and anxiety crippled me. My mind, once so adept at juggling art and work and feeding myself and learning lines and art and work and and taking care of friends and batch cooking my meals and art and work and work and work and work flooded with sadness. I could barely focus on one thing at a time. I lost my multi-tasking super power. I didn’t know who I was.
I spent six months watching TV on my parents couch, shaking like a leaf from deep seated anxiety. I started to heal - but it was like healing from a burn. In a moment, I could rip off that emotional skin I was replacing, and it hurt. It hurt almost all the time.
Healing meant baking pies and cross-stitching and reading lots of books while drinking lots of tea. Healing meant letting go of commitments and jobs and ideas of myself that caused undue anxiety. Healing meant watching A LOT of the Olympics and following curling avidly.
Fast forward to now. I never thought I’d be here — not because of depression or suicidal ideation, but because of what comes next: restructuring my life.
Tomorrow marks the third day of a temporary office job. Sitting securely. In fact, standing squarely on the ground. (I like it!) So far from that girl balancing for her life. My teenage bohemian-lifestyle-craving self would be crushed. In her heart of hearts, that struggle was more important than what got made in the struggle. But I know I can’t go back to that juggling act. It is unsustainable. It does not provide any kind of steady foundation. How can I take leaps of imagination and creative experimentation if I can’t push off of stable ground?
So here I am. 28. Learning how to meditate. Building a life that can support my art, rather than art being my support. A retired-for-now actor. An aspiring puppeteer. A woman learning to recognize herself as such. Learning to be kind and gentle with her mind, body, heart, and soul. A dreamer giving herself a chance to reawaken her dreams… and an adventurer diligently exploring different paths to success.
I can already say that it is scary. I know that at times it will be hard. Maybe a lot of times. Maybe more often than not. I hope in sharing, I can ease the growing pains.
So…look here for adventures in my kitchen, the EPIC quest of discovering a healthy and fit life, crafting explosions in my little apartment, a front-row seat to any reflections and lessons learned, loud acknowledgements of when I fuck up. And quiet acknowledgement of when I don’t.
As Nina Simone sang, "It's a new dawn. It's a new day. It's a new life for me. And I'm feeling good."