Monthly Archives: June 2016

Feeding the Fire

We all lose our fire intermittently. No one can be 100% of the time and this can be difficult to face when artistically inclined in a pursuit. We have expectations on us – sometimes self-induced, sometimes induced by others. These expectations can create such a heavy burden that when we flounder, it can seem difficult to pick up and carry on.

So what can we do to navigate these moments when not at our best? Continuing to try to push through the struggle can be more damaging than good especially for the high strung. It is usually the first inclination though making it seem like the best idea. A break can be more beneficial though. Artists are often in their head. This usually results in mind chatter that can be hard to escape. The mind chatter maybe exploring artistic approach, ideas for new endeavours, or fumbling through a problem. This chatter can take a negative turn when we are stuck. The chatter usually gives way to questions about whether we are good enough, whether we are artistically emptied, whether we can ever be as brilliant as we once were. It can be devastating and sometimes gives reason to give up.

So how do you rekindle the artistic fire? Find the strength to keep pushing? Taking time away is often what is necessary. Getting out of the environment in which you normally pursue your work can be best. It takes you away from what is reminding your that you are stuck. The change of scenery can also inspire new ideas. Changing up your routine if you cannot get away from your environment can be helpful. Even just swapping when you do things can expose you to new inspiration because you are no longer seeing and doing as you normally do everyday. Giving yourself some credit that rest is not going to destroy your career is helpful as well. Again, we cannot be 100% all of the time. Sometimes we need to take the time to gather the kindling needed to stoke the fire. Without that, the fire may burn out forever.

Passion Pursuit

In hard times, people who are passionate and sacrifice for their art or craft, often start questioning that path. Work maybe hard to come by while living costs remain or escalate. How do you find the vigour to continue on your path?

I believe those who live and breath their work (artistic or not), can reach tipping points where they question motivation. Is this enough? Does this define me? Who would I be without this? Sometimes these questions are forced when on the precipice of losing it all – whether that career path is failing or being threatened to be taken away due to illness, familial responsibility, or other life obligations.

Why do we work so hard for something that may not have tangible results? This is something difficult for those who are not impassioned by their work to understand. Many people drag themselves to work out of necessity – financial obligations, lifestyle enslavement, fear of not having enough. They go to work because they feel they have to not because they enjoy it. We spend so many hours per week in our work environments that is difficult for me to understand how you can spend that much time “working of the man” when it is not something you like.

Would we not be better off pursuing our passions even when it is tough? Of course, that would breed more happiness as work would be play and something you do rather than have to do. Pursuing passion is terrifying for most as it takes you off the well trodden path that society has paved en route to success. We have been trained from youth that life is meant to be lived along a given map: get an education, get a good paying job, get married, have children. Are we enslaved to this ideology and sacrifice living to stay on this map? Does it make us happy? What would life be like if you pursued what truly made you happy?

Deception Requirement?

In communities where politics are rampant, it can be hard for the straightforward to survive. Those who are straightforward and speak their truth are often condemned for doing so. This is unfortunate because these are the people you can trust. They will tell you to your face what they really think rather than placating you with compliments then stabbing you in the back when you turn.

The straightforward are hard to find these days. Majority lie about how they actually feel in effort to protect feelings of others. How does lying help you protect feelings? Underhandedness and deception have never been things that I have found endear me to another. Thinking that someone is on your side when you find out they are not is unnecessary and more hurtful than the lamination of kind words spoken.

Yes, in adult communities, we are expected to mediate our own feelings – there is little expectation for someone else to do so. However, when politics of double speak or down right deception are used in small communities are used to manipulate and deceive, I would consider that unnecessary.

I am addressing this as a dear friend of mine was recently fooled within the community and hurt badly after pouring their heart and soul out for many years into a volunteer project. Rather than address any concerns with that person directly, this person was ousted when it had been made clear this would not be the case leading up to the event. It is disgraceful with the education level, experience, and intertwining of this group that this was chosen to be done. Can we learn to just say what we mean? Kindness is far more powerful than deception.

License to Play

I have been so fortunate in my life to never have felt that any job I have held has been work. Whether it was wrapping hotdogs like a mad kid at Taylor Field, costumer service for the RCMP training cadets, serving at restaurants in university, being a dentist and business owner, or being a dance performer, choreographer, and teacher, my “work” has always felt like play.

How does this happen when some dread the work they attend to daily? Maybe it’s because I have always approached life as a game. When I was growing up, it allowed me to navigated my home situation. In school, it was how I navigated high academic demands, in my teens it was how I survived severe bullying and abuse. I’ve always liked figuring out the rules of the game and playing to best myself, no matter the beauty or ugliness of the game.

How does that turn “work” into play? First off, I love busy-ness. My two careers happened to be the two loves of my life. At 24, I was a full-time dentist and dancer. Dentistry – well, I played dentist in my parents’ car since I was two. Dentistry was a dream career. Why I loved teeth and everything about the mouth was beyond my parent’s comprehension – there was nothing but blue collar and nurses in my family. However, it was something that I just fell in love with. I remember in high school, going to the U of S for Discover UofS day. I came out of the day having seen the physiotherapy, medicine and dental departments. In the dental department, I was handed a dental drill to work on a life-size plastic tooth which they allowed me to pocket and take home – I actually still have the thing in my jewelry box. I remember shaking that little tooth at my mother saying, “dentistry, I still love dentistry”, and that was that. I didn’t look at any other options after that day in grade 11.

I went from playing dentist as an imaginative child to developing my artistic side. I loved drawing – not colouring, but creating my own art. Since people didn’t really appreciate my untrained hands poking in their mouth past a certain age, it started to be about creating dance and theatrical works in my friends’ basement. We put up sheets as curtains that could be drawn, created scripts with dance interludes (I was a gymnast not a dancer, but the idea intrigued me).

So maybe I was intuitively drawn to these two occupations and had the energy to develop both? I do consider myself absolutely lucky that I have had the opportunity to live out two amazing occupations simultaneously and on their own at certain points. I am also super lucky that when clinical (hands-on) dentistry was no longer an option, I had already developed enough to fully transition back into a full-time dance career with a body that was built for heavy manual labour according to my permanent disability assessing physiotherapist. Lucky me. Truly.