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2018 ended with me losing the love of my life.
2019 hasn't been any kinder.
In January, I was thoroughly prepared to grieve losing Cole and to do that in the healthiest way possible - creating art. But then the woo-woo universe decided to pile it on to see how well I could do by flipping my professional world upside down. I won't get into the nitty-gritty details, but to give you an idea of the breadth of external circumstances that have occurred, both my OB-GYN and my counselor said that what I'm experiencing is highly unusual and that these circumstances normally don't occur at the same time in a person's life.
My crucible has shown herself.
One prescribed me anxiety medication and the other is giving me free services as long as I need them. You can figure out who offered me what.
In an evening of extreme grief, I submitted my application to join Artist Inc. I figured that this could end up being a creative gift to myself in the future. Artist Inc. is a professional development opportunity offered by Mid-America Arts Alliance that "provides cutting-edge training seminars that address the specific daily business needs and challenges artists of all disciplines face." I was selected and started my first class this past Tuesday evening with 24 other artists. I'm the only theatre artist, which means I'm the confirmed extrovert in a room full of introverts as demonstrated by my no-shame crying when asked to the side how I'm really doing. And I tell the truth: "I'm not doing well, but I'm trying."
And when I say trying, I mean listening to my energy levels every morning and honoring the rhythms of grief. This isn't my first encounter with grief. It is the first time that I recognize the bastard fully and I'm not forcing its suppression. Grief doesn't go away, so I need to learn how to work with it. Processes are slow. Relationships take time to build. Energy needs to be conserved. Mental health needs to be discussed. And...I'm trying.
We were given the book The Artist's Guide by Jackie Battenfield for optional reading and exercises. In the first chapter alone, it is already asking the reader to take accountability of the life they want to lead. I knew that Artist Inc. would train me on becoming a stronger business-minded artist, but I didn't anticipate the amount of internal self-work needed to get there. I'm considering this a blessing in disguise to process the parts of grief that I'm trying to avoid while simultaneously placing me in the best position to thrive.
I would like to take you on this journey with me, chapter by chapter and with the exercises. I want a place to write the pain, joy, and anything else I discover during this professional development of deeply personal work. It would be super neat if you just so happen to fall in love with the craft of theatre (maybe become a patron?). I hope that by sharing perhaps we can engage in a healing dialogue or perhaps it sparks your imagination about what is possible. I preemptively thank you for bearing witness to an artist in constant, intimate learning of her human condition.
Here's to surviving our crucibles.