I appreciate the flexibility being a freelancer gives me, but the occasional gaps between jobs and the uncomfortable uncertainty that comes along with that aspect is pretty awful. Awful not only from an income perspective, but also because I identify with my work and the intensity of it. To help me through the uncertainty I like to distract myself with things that act as metaphors for the life of a creative person. Each time I try one of these, I get more and more comfortable with not knowing what’s next. A much stronger place.
1. Plant something
One particularly dry spell between jobs, I decided to do something that was actionable, requiring trust, but not much skill. My “garden” in Brooklyn had spent years unattended once my neighbors Juliette and Jill moved out of the neighborhood. I wanted to make it pretty again. I really like tulips because they look like big waxy cups on long leathery green sticks. I didn’t know much about planting them, but a quick google search and delivery of an Ebay order later, 10 large tulip bulbs arrived. On the east coast, the optimal time to plant them is October — before the ground freezes. I couldn’t tell the bottom from the top in some cases, but I put each bulb in the ground according to the instructions and hoped for the best.
I didn’t think about the bulbs much after that. Winter in Brooklyn can be aggressive and I’m sure I was just trying to hide under warm blankets until it passed.
After the thaw, the first green leathery petals peaked through, then the stalks followed by the bud and finally they opened. And they were RED. wha??? Red? I thought I ordered White. Unexpected, but totally lovely.
In Feng Shui color theory red means energy, good luck, courage, passion — so thank you red tulips for imparting some of that to me.
2. Take a Road Trip
I drive back and forth between Brooklyn and Los Angeles quite a bit. The trust I feel that some time after passing through the Holland Tunnel I will arrive Los Angeles is the type of trust I would like to carry through all of my ventures. When I pull through St. Louis, I never say to myself “well, I’ve been at this a couple days and still no Los Angeles. I should just give up now.” Hell to the no. I keep driving, knowing that it is possible, I will get there and – oh, there’s a Panera!
3. Get On An Actual Roller Coaster
I’ve recently returned to my love of Roller Coasters. It’s over-said that life is a roller coaster — full of ups and downs. But what I like about this metaphor is that the climbs, the fall, the twists and turns are what we came for. No one stands in line for a roller coaster, gets to the ride entry, then– upon seeing the exit sign says “oh, we’re eventually going out that way, so I’ll just do that now.” No one wants to skip the ride! We didn’t wait in line to miss this by jumping to the end. Get on the ride, it’s gonna be fun.
4. Ride a Lazy River
We spend a lot of time paddling toward what we want– sometimes even against the current. Once in a while, let yourself drop the oars and just float down the river. Whether it’s at a water park or the Merced River at Yosemite — let yourself float with only the tide to take you. Gripping a paddle, like clenching a fist, creates tension. Let your fingers uncurl, lay your head back so that your hair dips into the water. Rest.
5. Try a new recipe
I started to cook at home more in recent years because it’s one of the few things we can attempt where instant gratification is possible AND tasty. Nothing about the selection of ingredients on my counter when I’m about to make my favorite carrot cake cookies would suggest “these will taste great”. But I trust that when I put them together, pop them in the oven and ultimately spread the cream cheese/honey filling — they will be fantastic.
I love the site Epicurious.com because along with their original content, they pull recipes from all the great cooking magazines each moth. Their weekly “dinner rush” section (http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/everydaycooking) not only plans your weekday meals, they make it easy to make a grocery list for what you need to make everything. No excuses.
Thanks for reading!