I did something this week that I haven’t done for a while. I went on an Artist Date. A favorite practice from Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way, the rules are simple.
Take yourself off to a place that inspires you. Parks. Art museums. The quilt store on a day when you don’t have 12 more things that have to be finished by Christmas. Or, in my case, Kudzu. A local hangout for movie set designers and house flippers and folks like me who prefer an unexpected vibe in their spaces.
To be clear, I didn’t quite follow the rules. You’re supposed to go on an Artist Date with your muse. Your inspiration. (Read that, yourself.) I went with a friend who was kind enough not to laugh when I explained that something there was calling to me.
I had no idea what it was that was calling to me, which is not unusual in my world, though perplexing to the kind folks who ask if they can help. It’s happened plenty of times before. I saw lots of really great things. Quirky lamps. Small tables with an extra dose of personality. A ceramic serving bowl with art from a painter I love. Some vintage Christmas decorations. A really great table that I might have to arm wrestle my friend for if either of us actually decided to adopt it. And two stunning, antique doors I have absolutely no use for at the moment. (That could change!)
Amidst all that inspiration, I bought nothing.
Instead, I came home with a rather pointed question dancing in my head. I’ll tell you what the question is in just a moment, but first I need to explain that it wasn’t originally my question. And I can’t remember whose it was, which fits into the category of embarrassing but not actually surprising.
I heard this question just recently, which narrows down the options a bit. SARK is a possibility but the inflection of the question in my head isn’t quite Susan. Sam Bennett and Amy Ahlers are good possibilities, too. For now, I’m just thanking the universe for the question. Are you ready?
What are you tolerating?
An odd thing to bring home from Kudzu. And the perfect thing for me, just now.
Many things are moving around in my world. Kindle books. Paperback books. Food to figure out. Big dogs who need more training. And an unexpected pain in my neck. Literally. Sternocleidomastoid muscles, to be exact. (Or SCM’s for short.)
So I sat down with my question, and a cup of hot water with lemon, and wondered a bit about what I’m tolerating. As you might imagine, several things appeared on the list. You might be noticing a few of your own!
It was clear that I was going to need a big picture plan. I also needed a place to start so, inspired by SARK, I asked my inner 2 million year old wise woman for help. This time, the answer was instantly clear. It’s time to play Furniture Yahtzee again!
Bill is delighted. (Well, not really.)
It happens pretty often around here. Generally when I’m trying to make limited space and lots of functions go better together. This time it’s my studio space.
It’s a big room and the light is pretty good. It’s also filled with all the stuff that goes along with writing and quilting and pondering and being. Also meditating and learning and hanging out with the dogs.
There are a few snags, though.
We need another very large dog bed in there. My chair isn’t facing the right direction. Well, my Feng shui friends think it’s the right direction but my neck surely doesn’t. There are things I need constantly that I can’t reach. We’re seriously low on outlets and cords and chargers. And I’ve been tolerating all of this in a subconscious sort of way. Mostly because I was too busy to let myself notice.
Now, I’m totally aware that these are what some people would refer to as “first world” problems. (Though that may be language that’s becoming less useful.) And I know that the Earth is full of people who would be grateful for problems like these.
Knowing that doesn’t make them go away and my Feng shui friends helped me to understand why. Apparently it takes more energy to tolerate things, to overlook things, to pretend we don’t hate the draperies that were a “gift” from a know-it-all relative, than it does to fix what needs fixing, leaving more energy for fixing things with much bigger hope for the world. (Theoretically with less neck pain!)
Since I have more things I care about, the Furniture Yahtzee game starts tomorrow. I suspect it will go on for quite a while. History suggests that, some time soon, I’ll be back to Kudzu and I might even bring something home. First, I have some things to set free!