Tuesday, March 11, 2008

staying sane

People always ask me how I work full-time earning a living as an artist and remain such a happy, healthy, balanced and sane person. Actually, nobody asks me that. But in my world, staying sane is a part-time job, and by that I mean I probably spend 20 hours a week working on not losing my mind.

During the first part of my art career, I worked part-time for other artists and full-time for myself, which meant I was working almost all of the time. Basically, anything that got in between me and my wheel was a major annoyance and something to be dealt with and put aside as quickly as possible. This included eating meals, bathing, time with my husband, and going on vacation. I was always stressed out because, dammit, life kept getting in my way when all I wanted to do was make some fuckin' pots!

I'm not sure when that changed. I think when I was in persistent physical pain from all my labor that I had to seek out a physical therapist to set it all right. Maybe it was around that time that I realized I wasn't taking very good care of myself, and it showed. It was so typical for me to run home at lunch, stuff a burrito down my gullet in like, 4 minutes, and then run back to the studio. At some point I'd be thinking, "Why does my stomach hurt?" I was also tired of being in a constant state of impatience to be in my studio when I was doing things outside my studio, like driving to the bank, a task I would put off until the whole mess was about to melt down. Here I was, living the dream, and always irritable.

This is how I take care of myself now, and I'm putting it out there for everyone to think about what they are doing to take care of themselves. It's not that interesting or magical, but here it is:
1) I stick to a regular routine of work. I'm a morning person, so I get up and go. I don't work evenings and I usually don't work in the studio for more than 6 hours a day.
2) I spend a minimum of 3 hours a week at my gym getting all sweaty, and I spend another one or two hours using their hot tub and steam room. I also go to my yoga studio at least once or twice a week.
3) I take time off regularly to get out of town and I don't waste time feeling guilty about it.
4) I borrow other people's kids instead of having my own (see picture above).
5) I battle impatience and anxiety with breathing exercises and meditation. And when I catch myself talking to myself in a nasty way, I ask myself if I would talk to my best friend that way.


  1. good advice... already have my own kids... any suggestions?

  2. thank you for that post. Very much apprecited.

  3. Two children for rent. 2.5 and 5.5. Potty trained and sassy. Will work for candy.
    thanks for the post (and link). You're the bees knees.A

  4. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Yeah, your busted though, cause you got clay on your hands in that photo!!!!! What'Ev, such is the life. You gotta work a little extra hard, and take on more risk to the freedom that affords (visiting friends in maine quick trips to ny)...structure is a big help, and knowing when to "fire yourself" and for instance hire a bookkeeper.
    XOXOXO darling

  5. you crack me UP....and it's all so TRUE.

  6. Hi whitney!
    I guess its serendipitous that we found each other.
    I have prescribed your blog as mandatory for my loved ones, and your work is so lovely!

  7. Hey,
    im so glad i checked out your blog today! I have you as one of my favorites on Etsy and have just set up a blog of my own its www.victroldesign.com
    Anyway i have been feeling really horrible lately about my lack of routine and unnecessary guilt. Thanks so much for the post.

  8. Great post with some fantastic advice. I didn't realize it until you said it, but I am completely in the state of just wanting to create all the time and not appreciating things that might come in between that (like vacations). I need to find a better balance.

  9. I love living a balanced life--vicariously right now, but some day I'll get there! Your work is gorgeous. I'm glad you're at a place where you can enjoy both it and life.

  10. sarah9:39 PM

    thank you so much for this great advice. just yesterday i was telling myself what an idiot i was. i would NEVER tell a friend that. thanks! i love your blog. very inspiring. :)