The thing about being me is, I have things coming at me all the time. I know other people have lives like this too — not everyone, but certainly anyone in the arts. I was having lunch with two friends who are also writers recently, and we talked about how busy we were, all the different things we were doing. We all taught and wrote, so we had teaching deadlines as well as writing deadlines. We were all doing fascinating things — I think I’m doing fascinating things, and I’m so grateful to be able to do them. But we were all also working very hard.
So one thing I need to do, especially now that I’m back from traveling and focused on work, is find the balance. I need to make sure that I’m not burning myself up or out, that I’m doing the ordinary things I need to do, to keep myself balanced and happy. That means eating and sleeping. (Don’t laugh! There are days when eating well, and getting enough sleep, are a challenge. I sometimes need to remind myself that a cereal bar and some chocolate are not lunch.) And I need to make sure that among all the work, I do actually have fun — have a life, as well as a working life.
I’m including pictures from two things I did recently, two small outings that were fun breaks. The first was meeting a friend for chocolate at Burdick, the famous chocolate shop. Here are the interior of Burdick and what I had to eat — my favorite, the Hazelnut Orange Cake.
Finding the balance is also crucial to what my last blog post is about: managing darkness. Because it’s so easy for one’s mood to be affected by what one eats, or lack of sleep, or lack of exercise. So I’m trying to make sure that I get all the things I need to be healthy. There are so many stories of writers who were not healthy, who drank to excess for example. But productivity takes a certain measure of sanity and health. So I’m working on those things.
(And I recently discovered a way to deal with insomnia, which has been a problem for me since I was a child. It involves doing at least a half hour of pilates and then listening to a meditation CD that a friend gave me. It’s called Meditation for Busy People, and I was too busy to try it for about six months. But it’s incredibly, wonderfully relaxing.)
My second outing was downtown, where I stopped by a cart selling hats in Faneuil Hall. This is the hat I bought for myself, to keep the sun out of my eyes. Sitting at the cart was a lovely Frenchwoman who told me how to make a hat fit if it’s a little too large: put tissue paper inside the inner band. Frenchwomen know these things. (I did not need tissue paper inside the band, because my head is rather large, as you might expect! I’ve stuffed a lot of things into it.)
The first picture is of me wearing my 1950s-style Audrey Hepburn dress, because I was channeling Audrey that day. I think that’s how I ended up with a hat. It was an Audrey sort of hat . . .
Finding the balance is always hard for me. I tend to take on too much and push myself too hard, expect too much of myself. But I think I have to focus on it now, because the truth is that I can’t create good art when I’m too tired, or unhappy with the world or myself. And that’s the goal, finally, isn’t it? To create good art . . .