Thursday, June 07, 2007

the questions on my mind...

I've come outside to be with my wolfie and think. It has been a hot, strange, and windy day--but just now the temperature dropped. Storm weather. Dark, oily clouds fill the sky, mixed with patches of blue and white, cloud-filled light. One thing that I've noticed through my writing is that, once again, I have taken to watching the sky. I started doing this when I lived out in the country and it seems to be something I do often, especially when I need to figure out my place in the world. Something about the sky helps me to better place myself in the grander scheme of things. The sky grounds me.

Today I worked at the bookstore. Since the job shift several months ago, I cut back to one day a week, plus doing all of their artwork. Between working at the garden shop, the bookstore, working on my thesis, and doing design work. I have been extremely busy, but happy. Today, however, sucked. And so did last week. I want to write about what is on my mind, yet I don't know where to start. If I were to try anyway...

The bookstore I work at is a truly magical place. It is a children's bookstore filled with art and animals and unusual surprises at every turn. I have loved every minute of working there...and yet...lately, it has left me feeling very unfulfilled and, at times, downright irritated. The days drag by so slowly that my shifts have been starting to feel the approximate length of eternity. I love my co-workers. I love being surrounded by books. I love the community. I love the animals. I love a lot of aspects about my job...but, lately, gah... It has been so incredibly BORING!!! To be chaotically busy and bored at the same time is a very evil mix--and, with summer now here, the chaos will only grow.

I only work there once a week because it is all I can afford. The pay is HORRIBLE and so, in the end, I feel like I've done little more than volunteer my time. Volunteerism is great in theory but, let's face it, it's still retail.

One thing that I am grateful for is that the bookstore has kept me actively involved in art making. If it wasn't for my job there, it would have been all too easy to let art fall by the wayside. I've never wanted to be the kind of artist who doesn't actually make art (and this is something that happens all too often), but the bookstore kept that from happening. All the times that I felt like I was too busy to paint or draw or create, I would end up with a request for a mural or a poster or a chalkboard drawing or something....something that got me into my studio...something that "forced" me to put my other work aside, put on some music, brew a fresh pot of coffee, roll up my sleeves, pull out the paint, the pastels, the colored pencils, and CREATE. Yes, the bookstore kept me connected to that part of myself.

But now???

I don't know. Working there less has had the unexpected effect of disconnection. I feel out of touch with all of the new books coming in and I don't have time to actually keep up with the reading anyway. Even if I did, these days, I would rather be reading adult books. Picture books are great...but lately I am so hungry for a deeper level of content. Not to mention, I rarely even see the same customers anymore.

This past year, children's literature has been the balm that helped heal the wounds caused by grad school. But, oy...I think I feel another transition coming on. The question is, when will I allow this transition to take place? When I moved to Minneapolis, I made a list of "dream jobs." They weren't jobs that would make me rich or successful, they were jobs that I felt would make me most happy. Oddly enough, those are the two jobs that I got. Yes, I believe in the power of letting the universe know what you want! And, yet, I never intended either of those jobs to be my "forever" jobs. They were the jobs that I wanted to help me "decompress" from a rough patch in life. And so they have.

If I were to be honest with myself, I would admit that what I really want to do is return some of my time and energy to the making of art. Not chalkboard drawings or window murals or silly posters for kids--but real art--my art.

I felt a not-so-subtle shift in myself today. I was talking to another artist about her work when it happened...when I realized that it was time to return to the work I need to do. Really, what I felt was bitter and a little bit angry, jealous and inspired all at the same time. The feeling was short-lived and intense... but these sorts of emotions are a serious sign of something important going on under the surface. I mean, come on. The problem is that it is the bookstore's busy season and we are already seriously understaffed. Granted, the reason they are understaffed is because they don't pay enough. But despite low wages I am still in love with the place and I still feel a sense of commitment to it and to everyone that I work with.

I can't do everything--even though I am trying to. I know it is not possible to do all of the things I want to do. But how do I gracefully move on? Is grace even possible?

My questions are: HOW? And WHEN? And will my choices ever amount to anything in the end, anyway?


Loralee Choate said...

I think that the time and need for the bookstore has run its course, sweetie. The way you feel when you are there (Eternity) speaks volumes.

I think that if you took that time and dedicated it to your painting you would be much more fulfilled. You aren't letting anyone down. It happens. You don't need to do anything elaborate. Make sure you tell them you have loved it, but that it's time to move on and give lots of notice.

Don't beat yourself up over leaving, either. You have given them a lot of loveliness in your time there and it filled a need. Now you have different needs and you need to take care of them.

I heart you!

Leah said...

i'm in agreement with loralee on this one. reading your words reminded me of how i started to feel about my nanny job. it's good to know when something isn't serving you anymore and when to say thank you and walk away. perhaps you can offer to do occasional posters for a bit of extra cash (only if that was really appealing to you), but otherwise, i'd say shift that time into art-making time. love you darlin!!!

z said...

you need something with more food for your heart. maybe a bookstore for grown ups.

Kristine said...

I agree with what everyone has said.
It sounds like that job was great in that moment of your life and now you simply need something else. I'm cheering for you haveing time to do your own artwork. You are amazing!

Melba said...

It is early Friday. I haven't even had coffee yet. There is some transition going on with me too...
I came here to be with you. and feel for you. Where you are where you are going.

Since we can't have the long talk over coffee I would like, I am just here with you exchanging life energy.


Anonymous said...

calling you today at some point.

i have to get to work...i can't leave the comment that i'd like, but just know that i love you and am thinking about you. and i have to saaaaay somethin'. (!)

louie is ahhhhdorable.

can i recommend east of eden by steinbeck, if you haven't read it??


Anonymous said...

I think certain jobs are designed to come in and out of our lives at the times when we can benefit from them.
I also worked at a bookstore for very little money and very little hours. I thrived being in the environment, but when the thriving tapered off, it was time for me to move on.
You can move on without guilt. It sounds like you've been a wonderful and dedicated employee there. Your creative spirit has outgrown that job and you need to honour that.
Peace & hugs to you.

Tammy said...

Sounds to me like you need to let go of the bookstore so you can work on your art. You have given 100% but you are off balance somewhere. Listen to your spirit :)


Amber said...

I agree with others here. It seems to just be time to move on. And that is life! Nothing wrong with it, you are not letting anyone down. I know you feel that way-- I ALWAYS feel that way when I leave a job. But I have learned that it all goes on without me. lol! I think we sometimes think we are more needed than we are-- makes us feel good, right? But then we leave and it is fine. It all works out...Look, it may be just the right time in another persons path to come work at that store, and if you stay, they can not come and learn and teach what they are meant to! And you can not go on and do what YOU are meant to do now.


bella said...

Boho mom said that your creative spirit has outgrown that job - I couldn't have said it better! You're growing out of those dream jobs but so many new adventures are waiting for your artistic sparkle. I think things will gracefully fall into place for you. xoxo