Ever Feel Stuck?

This is kinda off topic and personal….but

There are some days when I wake up and think, what the hell am I even doing? Is this really what I want? Is this enough for me? Now, I tend to be careful when I start thinking this way, because in the past I’ve made some really radical, snap decisions that led to bad outcomes. On the other hand, I’ve also made drastic changes in the past that worked out for the better. In fact, I believe that if I weren’t so manic sometimes, than I wouldn’t be half the person I’ve grown to be. It’s too bad you can’t see into the future and see which decisions are the right ones. And how the hell do you know WHEN to make a change? Is there ever really a right time or 100% confidence?  I admit that looking back, I have a few regrets, and I don’t want to experience deep regret ever again. So now maybe I’m overly cautious, and this is not good because it could be holding me back. On the other hand, I have to be cautious because my actions not only affect myself but my entire family. Am I just frustrated right now with a temporary situation that could change in the future, or will nothing change without a more drastic action? Maybe it’s only in the stars. Maybe I’m crazy?

three suicides, monoprint, 2009

Anyway, I just did this exercise — you write down, as quickly as you can (no more than 20 minutes) and without really thinking about it, 100 things that you want.  It’s really hard — I almost got stuck around 50, but I pushed through it. Here is the result:

100 Things I Want

1. Change
2. Freedom
3. Spend more time with friends and family
4. Make new friends
5. More time to do my artwork
6. A happy, healthy family
7. To live in the country and have sheep and chickens
8. To live more sustainably
9. To live close to Madison (home)
10. To feel like I belong
11. To live where I feel is home
12. To spend more time in nature
13. To be a nicer person
14. To feel certain in my decisions
15. To curate independently
16. To write things that matter
17. To feel involved in a community that I want to be involved in.
18. To travel and experience different cultures
19. To collect more artwork
20. To mat and frame the artwork I’ve already collected
21. To read all the books on my wish list
22. To blog more
23. To do more art and indie craft shows
24. To be featured in magazines
25. To write articles and essays that are published
26. To write a book
27. To have a kick-ass studio space and the time to create in it
28. To stop feeling so frustrated and stuck
29. For things with Brandon and I to be resolved so we can move on
30. For my kids to grow up in an amazing home
31. To do more with my kids
32. To see more performing arts events
33. To go to more art shows
34. To visit big cities more often
35. To see my grandpa (age 95) more often
36. To have long talks with my dad again
37. To go on more bike rides.
38. To plant and tend to a big garden
39. To rake leaves
40. To have a dishwasher and kitchen cabinets that open/close easily
41. To yarn bomb lots of things
42. To start revolutions
43. To finish projects
44. To let things go
45. To make the right decisions
46. To buy local/organic food
47. To make my own clothes
48. To be an awesome mother and wife
49. To shear my own sheep and then dye, card, spin, and knit the wool
50. To stop biting my nails
51. To get my hair done more often
52. To have more clothes and shoes
53. To visit the library more
54. To exercise more
55. To not yell at Brandon so much
56. To not be so hard on myself
57. Peace
58. Love
59. Harmony
60. Justice
61. To feel a spiritual connection with life again
62. To walk on stones over streams
63. To go boating more
64. To have good restaurants close by
65. To learn how to cook ethnic food
66. To clean my house without wanting to kill myself
67. To swim more
68. My mom’s Eggs Benedict
69. To go camping
70. To visit the in-laws in Florida in the winter
71. For people to not think I’m crazy
72. To make baskets
73. To have enough money to not worry
74. For everything to work out the way I want it to
75. To curate a museum show
76. For my artwork to be in a museum show
77. To be happy most of the time
78. To be a good friend
79. To be a good listener
80. To not be sick
81. To play my violin more
82. To listen to more live music
83. To get an electric violin
84. To teach my kids about music
85. To have more time for fun
86. To never feel stuck
87. To not hit any walls
88. A better sewing machine
89. Better relationships with my friends
90. To be truly unique and non-derivative
91. To push the envelope
92. To make mail art again
93. To know myself and be myself
94. To stop over analyzing everything
95. To care about society
96. To change my location
97. To be there for my family
98. To eat pizza with my sister every week
99. To make more money
100. To go home

So then you let that sit for a while and later come back to it and analyze the results.

I asked myself, are these things going to happen if I keep going along my current path? Are they feasible with change? Are there any surprises in the list (things I didn’t even know I wanted to do)? What is missing and what is going right? Are there any themes that repeat?

The first thing I noticed is that the list began and ended with me wanting to go home (Madison area). I’ve been connected with Madison since I was a very young child. I grew up in a small town about 35 minutes away, and my mother took me into the city every Saturday for violin lessons and orchestra practice (I was in the WI Youth Symphony Orchestra). We also went to performing arts events, museums/galleries, art supply shops to stock up, State St., Farmer’s Market, etc. all the time. As an adult I traveled but came back to the Madison area and lived there for years. It’s always been the place I’ve felt the most connected to, the most at home. Bottom line is that I’m homesick – especially because literally ALL of my friends and family live in that area. I’m also having some issues with living in Algoma and I’m not happy. Not that Algoma isn’t a nice town, I’m just getting the feeling after living here for two years, and having a business open here for over a year, that this isn’t the right location for me personally.

Another theme in my list is friends and family. I want to be closer with them and also make new ones. I’ve had a very hard time connecting to people where I live now, and those people that I did make connections with happened to have all moved away!

I see from my list that I also want more time to make art. Right now I feel very tied down to “making the gallery work” and I don’t have any extra time for making my own work. I also feel like I’m more of a “shop owner” than an artist or curator. I LOVE curating exhibitions, but as I said before, the location may be an issue. I don’t feel appreciated for the work I do. I don’t feel that my audience is very big. I have put a lot of work into the building we occupy and the gallery space. It would hurt to have to close and move, but it might hurt more to stay in a location that is not working for us. A different, more flexible model for making art/exhibiting/curating may be needed.

Anyway, this post is long enough already. I have some big decisions to make and I would love some feedback on this. How do you make big decisions? How do you know when change is the right thing to do? Leave a comment if you have something to contribute. Thanks!

“For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
its always ourselves we find in the sea”

e. e. cummings

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2 thoughts on “Ever Feel Stuck?

  1. It never occured to me that others in this world might feel the same as I do. Though the situations and walks in life are very different, I find myself in very much the same rutt, asking myself “well I got myself this far… now what?” Do I sit and wait for something to happen or do I take action in hopes of remedying the problem? Perhaps someday we both will find our own answer to that question. Preferably sooner than later I hope.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I try to live by the philosophy “life is about the journey, not the destination” but sometimes I still feel like I’m at a dead end, or that the path isn’t quite right. Even if I decide I for sure want a huge change, it won’t be able to happen for quite a while, so my husband made me feel better by noting that during that in-between time we will definitely learn whether we are making the right decision or not. I guess the key is not to jump into anything too hastily but always have options open, and be willing to be flexible with goals. After all, people change, situations change. Sometimes even the smallest steps make a difference.

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