How’s Your Stress Level?

Mine is pretty bad. I alternate between feeling optimistic about the truly astonishing early voting numbers among young voters, and the record-breaking early voting numbers in general, to feeling depressed and anxious about the truly astonishing daily new COVID-19 numbers. (BTW, the “readability analysis” of that sentence scolded me for using so many “big words,” which is now another thing I’m depressed about.) This country is a shitshow right now, and anyone who claims to know what will happen next is a liar.

My job is a major source of stress. I’m very grateful to still have a paycheck of course. I’m very happy that I can still work from home, and at this rate I probably will be working from home through the end of January. That’s good, but the job is a source of stress and ZERO pleasure. It’s all deadlines and spreadsheets and problems to solve, and none of that shit “sparks joy.” But I’m better off than a lot of people so I’m not complaining. Actually I am, but I’m trying to get my head into a better place.

I keep a journal. I write in bed, in the morning with my morning coffee and two small, snoring dogs. My morning scribbling has developed a recurring theme: I’m in a terrible rut. I’ve lost my creativity to deadlines and spreadsheets.

I used to be creative. I’ve never been a “real” artist, but I used to make things for fun. I used to write more (and better), experiment in the kitchen, knit, crochet, grow herbs, mess with beads and jewelry making, and generally DO FUN THINGS.

In an attempt to snap out of my rut, I saved my pennies for months and bought myself a nifty camera for my birthday. (I didn’t spend this much, so now I’m really glad I bought it.)

I’ve barely used it. I’ve barely used it though I freaking LOVE this camera. It’s easy and versatile and best of all, it’s like it’s made for my small hands.

I’ve stopped doing fun things. I wake up, drink coffee, scribble in my journal, move to my desk, stare at spreadsheets and GIS systems and calendars and emails all day. Then I take care of the animals, fix something to eat, pour the first of too many glasses of wine, and sit in front of the TV until it’s time for bed. That has been my day, day after day, for far too long.

Add in financial worries, 2020 anxiety in general, obsessively doom-scrolling social media and this is a very unhealthy situation, in an unhealthy situation, in an unhealthy situation. Basically, my life is a shit onion right now – peel back a layer and – look! MORE SHIT!!

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, wondering how I can fix this situation when everything is so very, very abnormal. Then I realized that the solution was already sitting on my bookshelf, and has been for years: The Artist’s Way.

Yes, it’s already sitting on my bookshelf because I bought it years ago. I started the program at one point, but in a half-assed way. I did (and still do) Morning Pages, but fell out of Artist Dates and the other exercises within a couple of weeks.

I was lazy and I didn’t really feel it then, but I need it now. I really need it now.

There’s a podcast called The Artist’s Way Podcast Weekly Check-in – I’m going to use it to stay on track. It actually covers several of Julia Cameron’s books, but I’ve gone back to Episode 1 to start from scratch.

If you feel like you need a creative kick in the ass, or just want to distract yourself from the insanity of the world a bit, feel free to join me.