Thursday, December 11, 2008

lessons from the land of panic

It's usually about this time of year that I start to wonder how the fuck I'm supposed to pull off this holiday thing. I will usually have a stack of orders that are half-done, open studios and shows to prepare for, emails and postcards to send out, studio appointments to keep with people, and stores screaming their heads off for more stuff. All of this activity is usually squeezed down into two or three weeks of frantic activity where I sleep little, eat even less, and make up for that by drinking endless cups of coffee all day and try to wind down at night with endless glasses of wine. I'm a wrung-out mess by the 24th and my husband is ready to have me locked up. Ho ho ho.

I get myself into this situation because I have a tendency to be a procrastinator when I have a lot of activity coming up. I put things off. I've noticed this about myself for years, and this tendency becomes especially troublesome when one is trying to run a successful business. I always manage to pull it off: the orders all ship on time, the studio gets cleaned up and made presentable for customers, the postcards go out, and no one gets disappointed. But it all comes at a cost to myself as I scramble.

I realize that I like to be pushed to the wall. No, I don't like it, I need it. The situation doesn't feel real until my heart is pounding with panic and my head is spinning. I love to make a long list of shit that needs to get done and then freak out as I see how much I have to do and how little time I have to do it. No one can jump into action the way I do.

I'm trying to change this, if for no other reason than I'm sick of having to spend extra money on rush shipping of supplies. This year I sat down in early November and made my list with a target date for each item. I was already running behind, I should have made this list in September, but it was better than waiting for the weekend after Thanksgiving as I usually like to do. I didn't make all of my target dates, but I came close. It helped to remind me that panic doesn't make things more real, it just things more difficult to deal with. I know a lot of artist types are procrastinators in the same way I am, and it's easy to get away with because we are artists, dammit, and we do things artistically. Sometimes chaotically. But I'm getting older, and I hope a bit smarter. I don't have energy to waste on freaking, I want to put it into my art. And I'm happy to report I haven't had a single meltdown this whole season. Now that is a Christmas miracle!