KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Not Feeling Myself

There’s a silly commercial on television that shows children in Halloween costumes recommending a candy bar to a character, a giant head who claims to be the Horseless Headsman. After taking a bite, the character becomes the famous Headless Horseman. The slogan is “Because you’re not you when you’re hungry”.  Like I said, a silly commercial. Still, it made me think about the times that I don’t quite feel like myself.

I was taking a life drawing class a few years ago at the University of Kentucky. The instructor, Ross Zirkle, was an excellent teacher, involved and excited about his subject and his students. The first day of class, he handed out a paper listing all of the things that happen to artists when they don’t create. The list included such fun things as alcohol and drug abuse, depression, divorce; everything but the seven plagues of Egypt. I admit, I thought he was overstating the idea. After all, the history books are full of artists who struggled with depression, alcoholism, and other ills. What about Jackson Pollack, divorced alcoholic? What about Vincent Van Gogh? Surely cutting off ones ear is not the act of a happy, well adjusted artist.

However, the more I thought about Ross’s essay, the more I began to understand what he was trying to say. If we deny something as integral to our being as the urge to create, then we can’t fulfill our true human potential. We fail to become our best selves. Art doesn’t guarantee happiness, or even simple satisfaction, but without it, as artists, we are guaranteed unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I thought of all the years I had put my career on hold. Those years were filled with family obligations, excuses that I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to my own work. After all, it seemed selfish to put my own need for work above the real needs of my children and husband. I would have said at one time that they were busy, happy years for me.

It wasn’t until late in my life that I began to appreciate that my denial of self had cost not only me, but my family, the very people to whom I had dedicated myself. I had an obligation to be the best person I could be, to use and develop the talent with which I was gifted. To show, not just tell, my children what it takes to develop as a human being. While I was encouraging my children to realize their potential, I was ignoring my own. I was failing to become myself.

Now, when I feel disconnected from myself, out of sorts or depressed, I turn again to my art work. Realizing that I can find myself in my work is liberating. I won’t claim that I never feel guilty, or that I don’t worry at times that I’m neglecting my family, but I now feel that I’m ultimately doing us all a favor. I am myself again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (6) — Categorized under: Creativity,Mary Alexander

6 responses to “Not Feeling Myself”

  1. Leatha says:

    Thank you for these words, Mary. No matter how many years it has been since I realized I need to honor my vocation as a writer, I still find myself not allowing time for the work that provides peace and solace. I needed to read this.

  2. Marilyn Jenkins says:

    Thanks for “calling me out” on my delays. You’re an inspiration! Why is it such a hard thing to allow ourselves the opportunities for using talents freely given?

  3. Mary says:

    Hi, Marilyn. Thanks for adding to the conversation. I’m not sure why it’s hard to give ourselves permission to spend time doing something we have such an abiding need to do. Guilt, false modesty, laziness…I’ve used all these excuses and more. It’s taken me years to come to terms with the fact that by not allowing myself to fully express the talent I have, I have short changed my family as well as myself. The important thing, though, is not what I’ve done in the past, but what I’m doing now and in the future. I’ll probably need to read my own blog post again more than once as a reminder. 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks, Leatha. You have been an inspiration to me over the years. I’m glad I could help you in some small way.

  5. Mary, I was rereading this post again today after the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I just realized my ongoing depression is from lack of creating and writing, not from the Christmas season. Thank you for helping me realize this and I plan to do better in the New Year – not only for me, but for my family.

  6. Mary says:

    I’m so glad my words helped. Christmas can be a difficult time for creative people. I, myself, strive so much to create the perfect holiday for my family that I sometimes forget to stop and appreciate the season with its craziness and happy accidents. Hope you have a wonderful new year filled with creativity and joy!

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