Trying Something New and Scary

A bit of back story first, then on to trying something new and scary. When my kids were little, and I was finally home full time with them, I developed debilitating migraines. By the time my kids were one and three, I was suffering daily with migraines plus all over body pain. I tried all sorts of doctors and medications and diets. Eventually, I landed on a vegetarian, almost vegan diet. It was a last-ditch effort, that turned around my health for the better.

Before I found physical relief, I found mental and emotional relief. I realized I’d been staying up late every day to give myself some peace and quiet, but all I ended up doing was wasting time on the interwebs. This is not a judgment against social media. I have a complex and ever-changing relationship with social media, and I judge no one for their use of it.

I got into meditation and journaling.

I had journaled in the past, but this new journal was both drawing and writing. I was reaching into the recesses of my mind to remember past likes, to figure out what I wanted from my own life. I had my kids, my marriage, a career, if and when I decided to go back, a nice home, a great church. I had it all on paper, and yet I didn’t have my health. I suspected that some creative outlet would help me deal with the pain.

Along the way, I learned that coloring can relieve migraines for some people. My journaling evolved from writing and sketches to drawing every day. I started posting on Instagram and enjoyed putting my artwork into the world.

I started painting when both kids were in preschool. I applied and was selected for an art show at a local gallery. I was over the moon but also scared of my new adventure. I painted regularly when I could squeeze it in, and eventually scheduled a regular time for painting.

Along the way, I did more art shows and got a bigger Instagram following, but at some point, it started feeling empty. I still love creating, but I just couldn’t get to my “why” as easily as when I had started.

I started back to work in April 2018 and enjoyed converting some of my brain power into work efforts again. It was so hard to make the mental switch from a stay at home mom to working brain. I struggled for weeks, first on an adrenaline high, then in a crash-and-burn gut-it-out sort of way. It was hard, but eventually, something clicked and I was happily managing again.

Unfortunately, something else had switched off.

I believed it had been the new job for a while, but looking back, the switch had started switching a couple years ago. I didn’t find the same passion for creating art as I once had.

I heard, again, about morning pages, outlined by Julia Cameron in The Artists Way. I’d read about them years ago but never practiced them consistently. This, I thought, was the answer to my pent-up creativity. I got to writing first thing in the morning. It takes about 20 minutes if I really concentrate. I had already established the practice of getting up super early, way longer than was necessary, to give myself space to breathe in the mornings, so adding these pages was no problem. I just cut back on phone time, which was a win, win. What I learned through writing was that I wanted to write more.

I had written a kid’s book several months ago, just for fun, but now I thought about submitting it to publishers. Then, I put my work out to critique partners. I took the plunge and started finding publishers. I submitted to a few and started the long wait for a yes, or the nothingness that is rejection. While I am waiting, I started writing other things. My memoir or autobiography, a couple of novel outlines, more kid’s books. The memoir is solely for the purpose of mining my past for ideas. The novel ideas will probably never see the light of day, but they are the necessary first step to becoming good at writing.

Am I going to paint more?  Am I going to quit painting in favor of writing?  Am I going to do both?  Can I illustrate my books?  Do I want to illustrate my books?

For now, I don’t want to illustrate my books.  It’s too stressful to think about learning that big of a skill, plus it’s not something I feel inspired or willing to do.

I want to continue painting because of how much joy and stress relief it brings me.

I feel like I should choose one so I can do the one thing really well.  However, I’m pre-successful in both, (thanks NBC’s The Good Place for that golden nugget of humor), so I don’t see myself being able to make that call right now.  Hedging my bets for sure.  I wonder about doing both until one takes off. Maybe neither will take off, and that’s ok too. I keep praying and not knowing clear answers.  I’m definitely confused and wondering what next.

For now, I’m going to focus on my job because it pays the bills. But I know I need a creative outlet, if only for pain relief. I’m going to write in my free time, daily before or after work, because it’s coming easily now.  Plus, randomly paint stuff when I feel inspired.

I consider my biggest win in this whole process is learning about myself. Learning that I need creativity in my life, on a daily basis, to physically feel ok. It’s a fantastic realization that I wouldn’t have had if I weren’t ready to try something new and scary.

Bakio Spain Country Road Watercolor
Bakio Spain Country Road Watercolor


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