We all have things we want to accomplish in our lives. Write a novel. Learn to paint. Travel Europe.
But for every accomplishment, we often have one or more obstacles that keep us from getting there. “I don’t have the time.” “I can’t take time off work.” “I don’t have the money.” Many times, these obstacles are false obstacles caused by our fears.
For the longest time, I longed to spend more time in the studio. The longing was intensified whenever I would spend time with a studio potter. I never thought I could spend my days throwing pots, because work was too consuming. If I got six hours a week in the studio I was lucky.
I had a long list of reasons I “couldn’t” spend more time in the studio. Work. House work. Money.
But a few years ago when I had the opportunity to apply for a residency, my outlook changed. I really wanted that residency. I wanted the artistic freedom and control a residency brings so I could have room for my work to grow. However, I worked 60+ hours a week and the residency required a minimum of 25 hours a week in the studio. Yicks. How was that going to work? I could have walked away, but instead, I sat down with paper and pen and sketched out a sample week to see how to make it possible. The only way it could work is if I went part-time at work – no more than 30 hours at a desk.
As if in a fog, a few days later, I found myself having lunch with my boss and asking him if I could move to part-time. Luckily, I was so nervous I had stopped eating, or otherwise I would have choked on my sandwich when he said “ok”. Two months later, I was sitting at a desk 30 hours a week and sitting at a potter’s wheel another 30 hours (albeit at a different studio since the first residency didn’t pan out). I was still “working” 60 hours a week, but was happy, satisfied and feeling more balanced. I had jumped the hurdle of my own obstacles and landed safely on the other side.
This was a huge lesson for me. I was never very good at asking for help or going after what I wanted with singular purpose. I could never imagine asking for the “impossible.” Maybe it was age that made me throw caution to the wind, or the strong maternal pull of the clay? I can’t know. And it doesn’t really matter. I left this experience knowing that I just had to get out of my own way in order to make the rest of my dreams come true. Now when I spend time with a studio potter, I don’t feel a longing. I am living with clay and loving it.
What obstacles have you overcome?