Unexpected gifts

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I once read a meme that said if you want to know what a woman's brain is like, just imagine a web browser with 100 tabs open all the time. I cannot deny that there is some truth to this. For my part, as a woman, as a mother, and as a person who is inescapably driven to create EVERY SINGLE DAY, I can honestly express that I struggle with balance. How can every side of me be satisfied, while also managing to satisfy those around me? How do I squeeze in art, chores, duties, routines, and general family happiness without driving myself crazy? Reading a Gift from the Sea by Lindbergh was like that moment when you click with a new friend. It was first published in 1955 and the basic themes are still valid, especially to women artists.

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"....woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, ... The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.” (p. 23)

Photography has always been a part of my life. There's a photo of me holding/gnawing on my father's Nikon F before I was old enough to sit up, and the rest is the sort of personal history you might expect. Up until two and a half years ago, however, I kept it mostly to myself and then someone suggested I start a Facebook page for my work. What commenced as a laid back experiment of sorts quickly morphed into 18 months of working at a (quite frankly) maniacal pace and becoming my own worst enemy.

What I forgot is that art, like life, is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, it's supposed to enhance your life, not engulf it to the point of sleep-robbing stress and headaches - well, not if you aren't doing it for a living, anyway, and hopefully not then either. I entered everything I came across. I worked all day every day at the computer or in the darkroom. And then, because I am a mother, I also worked all evening and night at my "other" vocation of raising a child.

Where was the balance? Where was the peace? The joy? I won't write that the time was badly spent, and after all it was only about a year, but it was never a sustainable approach. My daughter has often chided me that I never read. "You don't read ANYTHING!" Of course I do - I read websites, magazines and art calls. Okay, I thought, yes, I don't Read. So about two weeks after my decision to put the brakes on things, at least mentally, for the sake of my sanity and well-being, I found myself in a bookstore with said daughter, and wandered in front of this book: A Gift from the Sea (by Anne Morrow Lindbergh). It took me about three seconds to decide to buy it.

"Woman must come of age by herself - she must find her true center alone." (p. 88)

Yes, but we are also here, for each other.