slow down / by Hope A


This month's postcard was designed before I accepted a part-time position at an arts summer camp and a position that was originally  3 hours a day but ended up being 6. One week I was redesigning my website, planning for summer projects and the next I was wrangling 5 year olds who are very sweet but may need a mid-afternoon nap. I do.

It is easy to think of this Annie Dillard quote how we spend our days is how we spend our lives  and frame it the developing definition of self-care and go to the pool with our friends every day. That is what I want some days. But I also find that when I have a little unexpected free time, I catch up on work, writing newsletters and blogposts (ie TODAY). 

A friend once talked to me about the idea of "internalized capitalism"--the push to be productive, to always be doing something. But I find that the constant need to think, plan, do, sometimes leaves me so tired I watch dumb tv and hours later I am still home and I haven't seen my friends in days. I try to keep a more even keeled approach--breakfast with a friend, a walk in the park, and then printing at home. Taking a break to rest, explore, do something that isn't on a list, to reenforce the connections around us. Even as I work to create new postcards, new drawings, a new zine, it is also helpful to have some unproductive time laying on the couch with the cat. Balance. For me that means finding ways to slow down. 

How do I do that? One, is that I have been mentally reframing my work, refusing the constant talk of hustle.  The letterpress printers I know love the idea of the hustle but I was never sold on it. Which might be why I have a smaller business, focusing on postcards instead of wholesale greeting cards, and balancing a few part-time jobs.  The balance of time and money and creative endeavors is real and for now I still choose the flexibility and inconsistencies of part time work over a full time job.  

On the smaller scale, once in a while I stay in bed and read even though my instinct is to jump out of bed and start making lists and putting away dishes (after tea and yoga, though). Some days it is good to sit and read as I don't sit still during the day.

I also just switched to a flip phone (thought the slow, code like texts are not helping). I also use a timer especially when I have computer work to do, giving my self a break to stretch every 30 minutes. Around the house that may mean I clean up for an hour, then read or draw.

In a larger context, as confederate monuments are removed from the city of New Orleans, large protests and marches occurred on both sides of the argument. If we are talking about balance and how we spend our days, we don't have the energy or time to constantly hold large marches, which are important for visibility. How do we incorporate these ideals into our daily practices? How do we approach the racism rooted in history that still sprouts today? 

Here in New Orleans, the weather gives us some encouragement with heavy humidity weighing down your best intentions and sporadic storms that never behave as you expect, leaving you drenched or with a suddenly sunny and clear day off from work.  That's my summer!