i’m trying to do a better job at updating on my various blogs. (i have 3 – this one, my art blog and my pet biz blog which is really just a website for my business but i do sometimes post little updates about my availability/openings.) so here i am. this will be a long and rambling post that will probably only be interesting to me but hi, thanks for reading, if you are.
i posted on my art instagram yesterday a pic of my monthly calendars for january and february that are taped to my wall in my studio, where i mark each day that i spend time in the studio – at least 20-30 minutes – creating, working on art, even writing. just doing something to keep the creative juices moving. it feels rather ridiculous that i need to do this but it’s one of the little accountability tricks (hello adhd!) i’ve learned over the years that really helps me follow through and stick with something. kinda like making lists and then crossing things off. there’s a sense of accomplishment that rewards, similar to that little dopamine hit you get when your social media post gets a “like.” but instead of looking outward for my pat on the back, i get it from myself every day that i’m able to mark an “x” or circle the date on the calendar. and then at the end of the month i can see that i really have been showing up for myself and doing the work, even if i don’t have any finished work or sold items to show for it. and it counters that limiting belief that tells me repeatedly that i “don’t have time” to make art. because i do; i just need to claim it. prioritize it. do it.
this was one of my new year’s intentions for 2023. well really i started on this one back in the fall when i started taking online art classes to get myself out of a blocked/bored period, during which i tend to spiral downward into the “i suck at being an artist” place and then i don’t make any art at all for months or sometimes years. i’m trying to reprogram my brain, reframe my negative thoughts, and at the same time develop a new habit – that of making art every day (more or less). i’d like to be able to say that i truly have an art practice, which is hard to do when you skip months and years and never really work through all the ideas in your head that you want to create. and, well, something about middle age, being 55, that makes me realize if i don’t do it now, when the hell do i think i’m gonna do it? time’s a tickin’. i’m not getting any younger. (plus i have this fantasy – or is it an intention? – that my retirement plan is to be a successful working artist that can support myself after i’ve gotten to the point that i can’t or don’t want to walk dogs anymore.)
so yeah. not new year’s resolutions, cuz i don’t believe in that. that’s just setting yourself up for failure. but intentions at least name where you want to go and how you want to get there. it’s good to put it out into the universe and to tell yourself. to visualize. and then to be gentle and kind to yourself when you don’t manage to do it every single day or have natural breaks due to life, work or other circumstances. but to keep going. keep showing up.
the other intention i put out there to the universe and claimed for myself was to try to exercise more. i know a lot of you think i get plenty of exercise because i walk dogs for a living. and i do when my business is really busy – i can get up to 15-20K steps a day, which is a lot. but right now my business is really slow and i’m not even getting to 5K a day some days. and also, as good as walking is as an exercise, i’m not really doing it aerobically all day. some dog clients walk fast and i do get my heart rate up for 20 minutes at a time, but most of my dog clients are slow meanderers. i’m still moving but the health benefit is probably negligible.
so while in my process of sorting through my friend nita’s estate/house full of things, i kept eyeing this fold-up exercise bike that she bought a few years ago for physical therapy after one of her stints in rehab. she used it for a little while but then it just sat. and over the months as people have come and gone claiming things from her house, no one took the bike. i didn’t realize at first that it folded up to take up less space and i originally thought i wouldn’t have somewhere to put it in my house and it would be hard to move, to fit in my car. but in january, as things were winding down at her place, i found the owner’s manual and realized how to fold it vertically and voila, i knew where i could store it when not in use in my house. and it would fit easily in my car. it kinda seemed perfect. so i took it.
me and bike riding go way back. i’ve always had a bike. as a kid all through elementary and junior high, i rode my bike to school. it was over a mile each way. and for much of my life here in new orleans i was without a car, so my bike was my main means of travel through my 20s and 30s, getting me to the bank, the grocery, the post office, etc. all those years i worked for nita over on algiers point, i rode down canal street from midcity and took the ferry over on my bike. when hurricane katrina hit, i actually had 2 bikes, but didn’t think to put them upstairs when i evacuated and they drowned downstairs in the entryway to my dad’s apartment that got 4 feet of water. i did get a bike in louisville that i rode some, but my 40s and 50s has had me sharing or owning scooters and cars so bikes have taken a back seat and rarely used. (i do still own two regular bikes that are in the shed gathering dust.)
even when i owned a real bike and used it, i have had recumbent exercise bikes in my home. i had one on iberville pre-katrina and used it to help me lose a bunch of weight during one particular time in my 30s. and then when i moved into my current house, i got another recumbent bike that mostly lived out on the back porch since i didn’t have anywhere to put it inside. i used it off and on until a family of wasps decided it was a great place to build a nest, and the elements really messed with the electronic display on it as well. i eventually dragged it to the curb. so it’s been a while since i have had an exercise bike but it’s what i think of first as a home exercise method for burning calories, moving muscles and getting my blood circulating better.
all of this is prelude to saying that grabbing this bike from nita’s was a good way to work on my intention of moving more. and the first two weeks i had it i used it almost every day. the first few days were really hard and then it got a little easier. i started with 10 minutes, like i had when i was in physical therapy, and worked up to 15 but that’s where i stopped. it’s been a few weeks since i got on it but i woke up this morning and hopped on before i even had my coffee and did 15 while watching an art instruction video on my phone. (it has a little shelf where you can position your phone or ipad to watch things. i also pull it into the living room so sometimes i watch tv.) this morning it wasn’t hard at all and i barely broke a sweat, my heart rate not even reaching 115. which is great, cuz one day i was having a really hard time, hadn’t slept much the night before, and could only do 10 minutes and my heart rate got over 140 and i thought i might have a heart attack!
anyways. i’m thinking of making a little accountability calendar to keep near the bike to reward myself every day that i use it by marking it off. and maybe recording how long i rode it. i know i feel better when i do even 10-15 minutes, and i’d like to work up to 20-30 and then maybe faster or increase the difficulty/tension. all of this is about trying to regulate my blood pressure and cholesterol better, which i know exercise helps. i used to like going for long walks but since i walk for a living sometimes it’s a hard sell to go walk more – my feet always end up hurting/swelling – so the bike riding seems like a better option for me. it’s not a recumbent bike, it’s an upright, but it has a big padded seat and nothing hurts when i ride it so it feels like a pure heart and muscle workout.
what else? what other intentions did i have for this new year? well, a lot of it involves my art and the business of art, which i have not focused on at all for years now. the irs is about to tell me that my art biz is just a hobby cuz i’m not showing a profit on it like i did for many years. and really, i’d love to be making more money from my art right now, especially since the pet biz is slow. but i’m also in this exploration and education phase with my art where i’m trying not to think first about making something to sell but instead to make something to express, to just create, to enjoy and explore new processes. so those things are at odds and so far i haven’t made any motions to sell anything i’ve been making over the past 6 months, mostly cuz nothing feels like a finished product. and that is by design!
so i’m wrestling with that inside my head and meanwhile my bank account is dwindling precariously low and if i don’t pick up some new clients or figure out something to sell soon i’m gonna be living off my credit cards and raiding my hurricane emergency fund. i guess we’ll see what happens. it’s interesting for me to note that i’m not really freaking out about this. i know my pet biz ebbs and flows – it’s just like this sometimes and the new clients always appear eventually, usually after mardi gras. money always seems to fall out of the sky for me at just the right moment – the abundance of the universe is real. but i am certainly at a low point right now. i just have to trust that it will resolve and keep doing what i’m doing, working on myself, my health, my art practice, and putting good vibes out into the universe.
i guess that’s all for now. did you make any new year’s resolutions or intentions? how are they going for you? i like it when i get comments on this blog cuz it lets me know someone is reading it besides me.
oh, and happy mardi gras to all those who celebrate!