Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ten Tips for Artists/Family Mis-fits to Make it Through the Holidays!

Let's face it. Artists and the otherwise creatively self employed do not have an easy path in this culture. We are constantly asked to work for less than we're worth. Very few of us grew up valued and validated for our creative gifts. Instead, the messages we may have gotten ranged from " That's nice, Dear, now what are you really going to do with your life?" to " Artists are crazy, drunk and broke."

To stay devoted to a creative path as a life time practice and endeavor takes enormous determination and resilience. We often see others with steady pay-checks enjoying "extras" like regular vacations which we may have had to do without.

Fluctuating income is a constant state of life for many artists and may last for more years than we ever imagined when we began chasing our dreams in earnest. 

Personally, I have always found the holidays a particularly triggering time to deal with, in many ways because of this. Basically, for my business, cash flow stops for two plus weeks every year at this time. While those enjoying their paid time off do not feel this change, some of us may feel it accutly. Especially, as it is also accompanied by the endless obligatory pull to spend more and more money on gifts that we may or may not feel inspired to buy. Also, the pull to participate in family rituals that we may not resonate with can be overwhelming.

Artists are often also the family "mis-fit." That can make family get togethers uber-stressful. Many artists strive to break convention as part of their lives on a daily basis. Being in a creative mind-set opens one to different possibilities in every aspect of our beings. Going home and interacting with family of origin, may mean feeling like you have to shove your square-peg self back into a round hole, once again. Just like you did when you were a kid. Ugh.

Personally, I do not emotionally resonate with the holiday rituals. Interestingly, I have detached from them more and more as I have embraced my own sense of spirituality. The connection I feel to light and spirit, has nothing to do with the way Christmas or Hanukkah are presented. As much as I have tried, the ritual, dogma and processions leave me empty. The one thing I love, is spending quiet time with my partner and daughter and cooking us up some warm and comforting meals.

I have gone around and around with these dilemmas for years. And what I have come to learn that it is a great time of year for me to practice as much self care and self compassion as humanly possible.  

Here are some of my own practices in terms of remembering that I deserve as much love as anybody, and I cannot control other people, but I can offer it to myself.

Get back to Basics:


1)Drink lots of water, particularly lemon or lime water. Not only does water alkalize the body, it gives our brain what we need to stay energized and clear-headed. It de-toxes us and nourishes everything from the skin to brain. 

2) Take your supplements. Magnesium/calcium, Vitamin C, B-Vitamins all help the body manage stress. When I am in a bad place and begin to abandon myself, the first thing to go is drinking enough water and taking vitamins. I generally also begin to drink more coffee to compensate which wipes out my adrenals which makes me crave more sugar. An addictive cycle, which, while appealing in the moment as a quick fix, always wipes me out in the long run. A multi-vitamin goes a long way. This year I've also added tumeric and cinnamon capsules as both are supposed to be cancer and heart disease preventatives. 

3) Eat well. You know the drill. Fruits, nuts and vegetables at the top of the list. Protein and whole grains if that works for you. Gluten has been shown to be pretty toxic for most everybody.If you must have some holiday treats, make sure they're gluten free. We have a GREAT gf free bakery here in Santa Fe called Momo and Co...Here's their website. Check them out if you are in New Mexico 

4) Use Essential Oils. Nothing is more soothing to me than the smells of certain oils. I use lavender to soothe tension, eucalyptus to open sinuses, lemon to lift my spirits and oregano to support my immune system. The sense of smell can be so overlooked and yet, it can be so nurturing and sensual to make these wonderful oils part of our lives. When I had an acute panic disorder diagnosed many years ago, a friend brought me oils which contributed to my healing and eased some of the the terror I was experiencing. Now, I always have a few in my purse and by the bed. Certain oils, including cinnamon, clove and basil also raise our immune function and kill germs naturally.

5) Hot baths with epsom salt/baking soda: My doctor told me years ago that this is a great detox and super soother. And, a therapist once told me that if I am emotionally overwhelmed, to get myself into a tub of water pronto. Evidently, it helps the body/emotional body contain and reorganize itself. For me, there is not much more soothing that a detox bath and a candle. 

6) Juicing: When I started to go into menopause a few years ago, my skin started to break-out worse than when I was a teen-ager due to hormonal activity. I tried several products on the market to no avail, so began to research diets that might help my skin. Turns out that juicing veggies and fruits is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It was a huge turning point for me to become willing to buy a juicer and juice daily. My skin began to improve dramatically when it began to get the nutrients it needed and turns out that juicing can help with hormonal balancing as well. Our local Whole Foods makes fresh juices at the counter. And, I bought a cheap juicer at Target last year that is going strong. My favorite juice recipe is: green apples, lime, ginger and celery. 

7) Re-Read Old Favorites: For me, there is nothing like taking a mini-holiday curling up in bed and  re-reading a favorite book. If I am in a tender spot, I like to go-back and re-read classics I love. Everything from memoirs, to cook-books, to childrens' books like Charlotte's Web or A Wrinkle in Time. Especially nice with hot chocolate or tea beside the bed!

8) Writing: There is nothing like getting in onto the page. Journal, do free-writes, write visions of what you would like to create, set intentions for the New Year, fantasize, start a dream journal, write bad poetry, plan a class you would like to teach, start a blog. Write by hand or on the computer. Let your mind and hand wander into some uncharted waters. Remember that you are an artist. You are a creator. During this down time or even during a family reunion, take some time to yourself to express who you are and what you want.

9) Connect: It can be easy to feel dis-infranchised over the holidays. Isolation and depression can really take hold. So, it is most important to connect to someone or something other than ourselves. This someone may be a dear friend, partner, community member or simply a walk in the mountains or on the beach to connect to our own souls.

10) Remember the Bigger Picture:  For me, I make a point to remind myself, that I am blessed and lucky to have a creative life and an authentic path, whatever the ups and downs. It's an enormous privilege and I know that I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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