I turned from folding laundry the other day to talk to my buddy, Buckley, and almost squealed at how ADORABLE he looked, with his big beautiful head resting on his favorite old scruffy teddy bear. He was so drowsy that he actually stayed in place while I dashed to grab my camera. I snapped a picture to remember the moment, but decided later that day that I just had to do a watercolor sketch of the scene.
Taking a little time to capture a sweet moment like this in my sketchbook takes effort. For years, I hardly took any time at all to do the things I really enjoyed. I always felt guilty when I wasn't working. Having my business here at home meant that there was always more work to be done. The only time I ever gave myself permission to relax was when I was away from home on vacation, or when I'd take a day and go to visit my mom.
But all that has changed in the past year or so. I've decided to stop playing the martyr and start enjoying myself more. I realized that I had a choice as to how I wanted to live my life. It was no one's fault but my own if I never took a break. I alone was responsible for the weariness and resentment that seemed to permeate my days.
So I've begun to take baby steps toward living a more balanced life. I do more things for myself. I take field trips to art galleries when a new show opens. I took a painting class last spring to try something new. I take an extra 20 minutes at lunchtime to read a book if I feel like it. I take time to make good a meal for my husband, and I let myself enjoy doing it, not treating it as just another chore that I have to squeeze into my already busy day. It's all about attitude. I walk Buckley every day, and actually meander without purpose and take the long way home. Once in awhile, I take a few minutes to sit in the woods and just listen to the sound of the wind in the trees and a chipmunk rustling through the leaves. It's the best way for me to talk to God.
I try to sketch several days a week - not aiming to produce great works of art, but just to capture a glimpse of my life, at a particular moment, on a particular day, in this place I call home. I've started doing all these little things to brighten my days and have more fun, and guess what - the world hasn't come to an end! I still get my work done. I enjoy the time I spend in the workroom more, because I don't resent being there. I'm rested and ready to work. Balance - that's what I'm learning. It's taken me awhile, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. At least I'm filling those sketchbooks, after 20 years of never picking up a brush. It feels good!