Remembering YOLO When Scheduling Babysitters and Using Paint

YOLO, you know?

Keeping in mind that you only live once can be freeing, or paralyzing. The more present-minded, brave, and adventurous people who walk among us say “carpe diem!” and find ways to make their moments count. My own default approach is cautious. I worry about the worst case scenarios and making the wrong choices, always remembering opportunities are limited (because you only live once). I worry almost constantly I will have wasted a rare chance doing the wrong thing.

Take a mundane example: eating out. I rarely eat out, in effort to better live within my means. Now I have a child, so mindful spending is further elevated. My spouse and I have planned a date night, our first time with a babysitter! Where to go to dinner becomes a loaded decision. What if after all that planning, I pick a restaurant that isn’t as good as another option? What if we don’t enjoy our food, and we feel our money and precious time was poorly spent?

You are probably already thinking this, but that is a pretty shit mindset to have. It’s impossible to accomplish or enjoy anything when you’re busy worrying.

Without changing the situation at all, I can change how I see it: We almost never have a babysitter and we’ve lined one up, fabulous! We’ve budgeted for a sitter and a dinner someone else cooks: how delightful and luxurious! I can’t wait! Whatever I order, I won’t have had to shop for it, or prepare it, and neither of us will be doing the dishes: hallelujah!

A similar mindset shift is needed in how I view my creative time.

I can feel paralyzed by making the first mark on a blank canvas, because I never forget that paint, canvas, and my time are finite resources with a dollar value attached. I worry I’ll be wasteful. Do something bad, or perhaps do something good, but fail to make a sale, and perhaps that is still bad, because it can be seen as wasteful. This way of thinking hinders the entire process and steals joy from an activity I choose over and over and over to define the very essence of myself.

Timothy App, a professor of mine from MICA (and don’t make the mistake of calling him “Tim”…) once asked me, perhaps in an exasperated tone, “can’t you just make a mark, and mean it?” In honestly reflecting on my physical painting process, probably not. I layer. I don’t execute beautiful paintings when I try too hard to stick to a plan. But Timothy’s comment has stuck with me for over a decade, so there must another helpful meaning I can draw. I’m going to try rephrasing it: “can’t you just make a mark, any mark, and get on with it already?”

Launching My Great Experiment

You've probably heard the term "mommy blogger" before.

At nine months postpartum, I started to wonder why they are so prevalent. The transition into parenthood is so jolting, so huge, so irreversible, and so utterly without a blueprint for guaranteed success.

When we become parents, our waking hours increase dramatically. However, the hours we spend engaged in conversation with someone who speaks in words and sentences drastically decreases. This leaves a lot of time for contemplation. As new parents navigate our “new normal” and reflect on our mistakes, obsess over what we wish we'd known, and replay what we would have done differently, it dawns on us. "I bet what I’m learning would be helpful for other new parents!" Could we save them from making the same stupid mistakes? Help them feel how we wish we felt? More confident, better rested, less isolated?

We have so many ideas, stubbornly playing on repeat, yet no one to talk to. Have you ever felt desperate for an outlet, to speak to someone, anyone? Talking to your partner about baby poops doesn’t usually take the edge off.

Countless mothers are claiming clever URLs, sharing their birth stories, giving advice on how to pack a hospital bag, sleep train, attachment parent, and start solids. Some are good, some are garbage, and some are simply a nice place for the blogger to direct their perseverations. Instead of taking up a similar path, I’ll leave those topics for the other mamas.

Those topics fill my days, but aren’t necessarily what interests me. I am interested in what I’ll call “My Great Experiment”: figure out how to maintain a studio practice, make money at it, feel connected to community, and experience daily joy, all while working as the primary caregiver for my first child. My first step in launching this undertaking involves connecting to my community, so this is where I’ll be sharing the progress of My Great Experiment.