My husband often reminds me of the saying, a change is as good as a rest. For the most part, I think that this is true. I've experienced a couple of changes (of scenery, of projects) over the last few years while I was working on my dissertation and they've been restorative in their own way, but none of them have been quite as helpful as having an actual chance to just rest—which is exactly what I did while I was on vacation for the last two weeks.
Being on vacation and resting has been absolutely glorious. Before my vacation started I was feeling exhausted and burned out from years of the everything: school, work, various roles. I knew what I needed was a kind of renewal of everything. A renewal of me, of my relationships, of my sense of purpose. And I feel like I took a lot of important steps towards this renewal.
I did a lot of things over the last two weeks: I caught up on sleep, I listened to whole albums of music, I painted a ton of new paintings, I organized my creative writing projects, wrote for some of those projects, did a bit of planting and yard work, bought new video games, and thought relaxedly about what I want for this post-dissertation part of my life.
I also spent some time thinking about the kind of art and stories I want to create, the way I’m going to organize my learning from here on out, and the kind of work I want to do. I wrote several blogs about each of these things that will likely come out sometime after this one (since I also decided I want to get back into a more regular blogging schedule). But nothing too strenuous. Nothing with a deadline. And honestly, this was one of the best parts of the whole break. It was so refreshing to stop and try to make sense of things by not trying to make sense of things.
One of the things that was most helpful to me was taking a break from social media—which I know means there are some future changes coming about how I engage with social media. You don't have to search very hard to find compelling arguments to be careful and intentional in how you use the internet and social media, and while everyone’s experience of social media is different, those arguments resonate with me. I love sharing ideas and learning about how people are navigating our world, but there's no question that social media can be exhausting, depressing and anxiety-inducing.
I know this and yet there are still a lot of things that I enjoy about the internet and social media. For all that there is bad, there are aspects of each that have inspired and helped me to learn and do the things I like to do better. Still, it was good for me to take a break from both to once again reflect on the energy I want to put out into the world, the way I want to move about Turtle Island, and how to do so in a way that feels fulfilling—in a way that feels like it’s restoring rather than draining me. Of course, I know that we can't be in this kind of restoring space all of the time. Energy is always moving after all, and over the last few years I’ve been trying to get a bit better at moving along with it, even as I do my best to cultivate a happy, peaceful life for myself and my family. Creativity is a big part of generating that peace and happiness and it is towards creativity that I’ve been feeling myself wanting to turn.
Now that my vacation is over, I have what feels like a ton of creative projects to get back to working on. Some are nearly finished, others are only in the conceptual stages, but all of them feel like things I’ve been trying to work at for years but been unable to given my crowded schedule. It will be wonderful to spend more time working on them now. At the same time, I plan to incorporate more rest and solitude into my schedule for the rest of the year. Burnout is not a fun experience, and I recognize that it’s something I can avoid. I’m going to do my best to take good care of myself for the rest of the year so that I can make the most of the time I’m spending with my family and on my various projects. And I’m honestly so excited to make and share these projects. There are novels to finalize, art to make, comics to create, podcasts to start, and so, so much more. I’ve been waiting to fully embrace my creative work for a long time, but even though I feel so excited—I want to do it with as much care as possible. All in all, I’m looking forward to jumping into the next half of 2019. I hope you’re all well and wish you all the best with your creative endeavours!