I’ve been in the midst of a household move for more than a month now. I had to get out of my house before my new place was ready because I had some great renters who needed to move in. I was fortunate to have good friends right here in town who let me come stay as “family,” which meant they didn’t feel they had to entertain me while there, and vice versa. It was great to catch up with them, which lasted two weeks, but I was away from my art supplies. Then I got involved in moving and that left precious little time to do any art either.
Now, I’m back on my home base, sort of. It is a new house only a few blocks from the old one. I designed it, so it fits my needs perfectly. And, I’m noticing that it is still very stressful to move. I find the stress impacts my creativity in three specific ways – two of which I expected and one which I did not expect.
Impact #1 – Exhausted
Plain and simple, I’m beat. I have trouble remembering simple things, completing full sentences and getting my own new address right on legal documents. That’s not surprising, because moving is physically and emotionally stressful. It ranks 25/100 points on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale of 43 life events that can contribute to illness. I must admit that when I saw moving scored only 25 out of 100 points, I was surprised, because my recollection was that it is in the top 3 most life stressing events. I guess it will have to be in my top 3!
It doesn’t surprise me that when I’m tired, I don’t feel particularly creative. It’s an effort to find the equipment and then my mind really just wants to drift and watch television or sleep when I’m that tired. Creating takes energy and I just haven’t had it in the past several weeks.
Impact #2 – Consumed With Other Details
Moving involves a lot of parts coming together. Packing boxes, scheduling movers and friends and family to help, getting new utilities turned off in one location and on in another, keeping pets safe, and making sure meals get prepared for family members. Then if you add new construction to the picture there are endless decisions about finishes, interactions with the contractor and crew, choices in landscaping, meetings with the City, paying additional fees (where did I put my checkbook?!) and coordinating the construction loan to close on a day when the power was out because PG&E was moving the pole!
I’m not surprised to realize that when my mind is focused on these very pragmatic and linear things, I am in my left brain. My project manager hat is on and I’m full speed ahead on target with scope, schedule and budget. I am consumed by the details, with all my attention focused, so not much creativity tends to happen from that space. Though I function well from this side of my brain, it is not where I am most creative. My right brain has a hard time showing up to work parties.
Impact #3 – Out of My Environment, And Back In!
During the transition between homes, when I was staying with my friends, I was keenly aware of how important my environment is to my health and well being, and to my creativity. It’s different when I’m on vacation because there are so many perceived benefits to traveling, and that sensory overload that outweighs whether the pillow is exactly right or if I am eating the right food. When out of my element, I am out of touch with what helps me relax and be comfortable and for me, the more comfortable I am, the more I am able to relax which is where creativity seeps in. That’s why I love art vacations – they are the perfect combination of relaxation leading to creativity.
Tony Hiss wrote about this effect, which he calls Deep Travel. “One of the allures of time-off travel is that on vacation we slip more easily into Deep Travel, and notice more than normal, giving the people and places we encounter an intensity and glow.” Staying on a friend’s couch, no matter how comfy, is not what I would consider Deep Travel.
I am surprised how important my environment is to my creativity that now that I am back in my element, now that I am able to cook homemade food, sleep on my favorite pillow, especially because I can put my hands on my paints, brushes, and paper. I am quickly getting used to interacting with my new space, navigating between parts of the house to relax, work and visit with family and pets.
My creativity is slowly returning, helped along by a steadfast dedication to , no matter what else is going on. Bad Art Night gives my right brain time to do the Deep Travel into the creative unknown, and wonderful things emerge. The creative juices are flowing again, just in time for Half Moon Bay’s Open Studios on November 20-21.