Morning practice

I started listening this week to a series of lectures given by Eric Maisell on living your best life in the arts.  I listen in the car to make sure that I am a captive audience and my only distractions are the intrusions of my own daily thoughts and the traffic.  It is proving to be both revealing and very thought provoking.

The revealing part is how often my mind wanders to the trivia that I apparently think that I need to attend to even during the half hour that I am on the road, listening to something that I am truly engaged in.  More on that later.

This morning I decided that the intrusive thoughts might have distracted me enough so that I didn’t hear everything Eric had to say and that I should listen again.

There is a point in the lecture where he says that the truth is that most artists never fully show up and do the work we need to do.  Most of us don’t treat ourselves well, we don’t take care of ourselves so that we can be the best in our lives.  We need to prove ourselves to be the exception.

How will I prove myself?  How will I be the exception to the rule?  My first thought is how much work and commitment it will take.  That makes me tired and want to sit in front of the fire with another book on how to do this.

So – this morning on the way to work, as I am listening to the lecture again I am struck by something that I didn’t hear the first time.  As Eric is answering a question from someone about starting a practice setting aside time to work every morning (he calls this morning practice), he says that you have to find what works for you to make it happen – “figure out what the work is that fits in the morning” try to find “what works in that time” but you must do “the actual creating”.  Whoa – so this makes sense to me!  The first part of proving myself to be the exception has to be finding a way to make it work with the resources that I have – who I am, the time that is available to me, the people I surround myself with.

For me, I think this looks like getting up at 5 and using my morning time for planning my projects.  I will put my “moveable studio” – the bag that is always packed with my sketchbook, paints, pencils and so on – beside my chair where I have coffee in the morning.  I will use this morning hour to elaborate on ideas, plan projects and get set up so that when I have longer periods of time to use, I will be ready to work.

To prove myself to be the exception to the rule, I have to find a way to work with myself instead of against myself.  I have to understand what it means to take thoughtful care of myself.  I have to then give myself permission to take care of myself every minute of every day in a thoughtful way.

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