Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding Balance

drawing #8 WIP - tap dance series
graphite on paper
©2011 Stacy L. Rowan

This week I went with my family to see the documentary "Being Elmo". It is the story of how Kevin Clash became the puppeteer behind Sesame Street's most beloved monster.

It is an excellent film about a man who followed his passion to become one of the most respected professionals in his field. I highly recommend the movie!

Based on the trailer, I expected the feel-good side of this story. But within this uplifting story there was also a little regret.

Mr. Clash spoke about how the demand for Elmo meant he that he traveled a lot and worked many hours. His passion for his work took him away from home and his daughter. You could see his sadness at missing out on some of the moments in her life.

I really appreciated his honesty on that topic. It was good to see that mastery doesn't come without tough choices. Many times that detail is glossed over in Cinderella-like stories of success.

But the truth is, everyone has to find a balance - the combination of working towards mastery of something they love and living the rest of their life - that works for them. It is often a trial and error process of testing different combinations until you find the balance that feels right.

Mastery is not a gift that some lucky people are just born with. It is the result of action, choices, decision and hard work.

I regularly evaluate the choices I am making to see if they support the balance that is important to me. I check to see if my actions support my priorities of family life, taking care of my health and spending time on my passion (art). If I've gotten off track, then it is time to start making different choices.

My balancing act this week included fitting studio time and some exercise in around our Christmas preparations. I tried a new-to-me approach this past Monday.

Monday was a cool, overcast day and as soon as I crawled out of my warm, cozy bed I was chilly. I have learned from experience that when I sit still at my studio table for a few hours I often get cold. I am too "in the zone" when I am working to notice it happening, but once I stop I realize I am quite chilled! (It doesn't take much to get me cold. My husband claims I only have a 5 degree temperature window in which I am actually comfortable.)

I decided to try and avoid the chill by chopping up my exercise into intervals. I started with about 7 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill. Then I spent an hour drawing. Followed by another 7 to 8 minutes of walking, an hour of drawing, etc.

At the end of my time I had managed about two and a half hours of drawing and two and a half miles of walking! And after my first interval of walking I wasn't cold the rest of the day! This is a balancing tactic that I will definitely use again.

My drawing time was spent working on the above tap piece. I am really happy with how it is coming together.

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