My friend Joe emailed me last week with a gentle nudge: "What, no blog posts?" He's right - how did it get to be nearly five months since my last post?! A sign, perhaps, that I've been happily productive in a low-key way.
Also a factor has been the sheer time it's taken for me to settle into life here as an expat, find my bearings in a completely unknown arts world, and establish a rhythm for my daily studio practice.
Quiet frankly, I had no idea what it meant to be a full-time "professional" artist, something that this time abroad affords me to explore. Not that I fully know now, but I'm beginning to gain a sense of what this takes.
It's harder than I thought. Yes, the work is demanding. But that's not the hard part. The big challenges are showing up every day - regardless of inspiration or motivation - to just do the work. And facing down the fear of putting myself out there.
It was very naive of me to think that an artist enters the studio constantly fueled by endless inspiration. And clueless of me to disregard the inner Critic who sits waiting for me any time I do something that feels like a creative or professional stretch.
No different, really, than what I faced in my professional consulting work back in the states. And those business skills definitely help now. But the stakes feel much higher now, especially as good things start to happen. Julia Cameron captures this feeling well in her book Finding Water:
When the odds start to shift, when the dominoes are falling in the right direction, we can suddenly feel out of control. Where before we knew how we felt - frustrated - now we feel something worse - vulnerable. And we hate to feel vulnerable. Once more our dreams have been nudged awake. Once more our dreams have the capacity to break our hearts.
Seeds that I've been planting are beginning to sprout. This thrills and terrifies me. There are some opportunities on the horizon that feel pretty awesome. But I'm learning that the sanest thing I can do is just show up every day and make art. Do the next right thing. Protect my time from things that could easily distract me from what keeps me grounded: being in the studio. Connect with people here. And keep putting myself out there.
At the end of this month, it is one year that we've been here. In the past, major transitions have taken about a year for me to assimilate, so I'm right on schedule. Bloom where planted? Why, yes, don't mind if I do.