People who know me well, and know the side of me that salivates at the thought of a shopping spree at The Container Store, know that one of the biggest slices of the Fun Pie I am now enjoying has to do with the fact that I get to be an organizing fiend. I am pulling out beautiful papers, vintage magazines and stacks of photographs and assorting them into new binders, cello sleeves and big plastic envelopes to share with future workshop participants. At the moment my studio looks like it barfed a mountain of paper, but bit by bit, piece by piece, I am arranging things into new piles and systems to enable me to create more fluidly, brainstorm new ideas and now teach. I love these periods where my only job is to get things in order, and it has always been my pattern to do this kind of work way ahead of time. Most of the packages I am assembling right now won't be used for well over a month, but I am a notorious early bird on many levels. I am early to most appointments, early to lunch dates, early to getting things done. Example: 90% of my Christmas shopping is done, and as I write this I think, is this inspiring or does it just make me look like a complete freak?
In addition to re-organizing the contents of my studio, I also got to put together a fun-filled suitcase on wheels full of shiny new art supplies for teaching:
Contents: big jars of acrylic paint, brushes, colored pencils, regular pencils, watercolor paints, watercolor pencils, scissors, sponge brushes, varnish, glue sticks, pencil sharpeners, books, oil pastels, soft pastels, fat plastic envelopes stuffed with paper, hole punches, rubber stamps, glitter glue and other creative tools.
I am an artist capable of wild, exuberant, right brain frenzies who also happens to have a left brain that doesn't like to miss out on the fun. In certain areas of my life, I actually have to work to let go of certain things and be OK with disorder and messiness. In my creative life, I also strive to maintain a certain level of precision in my work. I sometimes wonder if I am too much of a control freak, but whenever I ponder that question I realize it is not a matter of control that drives me but instead a desire to avoid wasting energy. It takes energy to run behind schedule as a rule, to miss deadlines, to be sloppy and to approach tasks with a half-ass attitude. It takes energy because these things often require we go back to them, have to fix them, must somehow make up for them. I can't remember who said it, but one of my favorite quotes says, "If you don't have time to do it right the first time, do you have time to do it over?" This is a question I ask myself whenever I'm feeling lazy, ambivalent or in some way rebellious.
Having said all of this, these past few months I have embraced a more relaxed approach to my life. While I strive to be the kind of person who does things right the first time, I have also come to appreciate why limits need to be placed on the desire to be Super Woman. Even my best friend has commented numerous times lately, "Who are you? You, who are slacking off, unorganized and not jumping up and down to be The One Who Takes Care Of Everything. What the hell is going on?" We have laughed about this repeatedly, and I admit I have felt a perverse thrill around the idea that those closest to me are experiencing a new, less on the ball Christine. I feel like a little girl getting away with some sort of mischief, and I think it has been a healthy release.
This week, however, I get to be the Organizer. The One Who Has It All Together, me with my brown and pink rolling suitcase, me with a vision to bring creativity into the lives of others in a fresh, new way. I'll be very precise and very orderly this week, so that in the future I can create an environment that is all about letting go, getting messy and having fun. It takes both sides. As in all things in life, it takes that kind of balance.