I often joke about how many hats I wear: data analyst, artist, aikidoist, essayist and Teacher of the Alexander Technique, to name a few. All these activities keep me busy, too busy, but I’ve always been unwilling to let any of them go. After all, they each challenge and fulfill a different part of me: right brain, left brain and cross-brain; physical, visual, verbal and emotional; working solo, partnered and in groups. Everything seemed equally essential.
Then a family member became quite ill earlier this year and spent most of a month in the hospital, and another month recovering at home, with me as primary caretaker. Suddenly, I had an overwhelming primary focus and it wasn’t any of the things I thought I had to do every week.
It was no longer a matter of picking something to let go of – it was a question of whether there was anything else I needed to keep doing at all. I reduced my hours at work and arranged to work remotely, coming in for only the most important meetings. I put my private practice teaching the Alexander Technique on hold and let the Aikido dojo know I wouldn’t be training for awhile. I worked with my editor to get an extension on deadlines.
Only one thing kept going at the same pace: I still drew every day.
And while all this was going on for me, it was going on doubly so for a friend and fellow artist who was drawing from hospital rooms a thousand miles away – where she had not one but two ill family members. So when the dust settled and the emergency was over, I also celebrated the caregiving spirit in the image at the top of this post: my Portrait Party portrayal of artist Amy Nelp.