Just Show Up

Storms have been slamming Northern California and are beginning to make their presence known down here.  It is chilly, rainy and windy outside, and I am so very thankful all I have to do today is relax on my couch with a cozy fire.  I am feeling a bit run down and pensive.  I can't say this holiday has been a non-stop frenzy, but I have had entirely too many glasses of wine and champagne, too many sweets and too many other snacks and splurges.  Today my body is demanding I sit completely still, stay off the phone and - this time no fooling around - don't worry about cleaning the house.  I'd say it's a pretty sure bet I won't even make it to midnight tonight. Yesterday evening after an afternoon of wine tasting and dinner out, my fiancee and I had a conversation with our guests about what we were most proud of from 2005 and what our most important goals were for 2006.  My answers for each covered two elements that I always strive to have in balance - personal and professional.  Ever since my divorce, I have shaped my priorities around having those two in alignment as much as possible.  When your soon-to-be husband is as driven and talented as mine, this can be a challenging and somewhat tricky prospect.  He is not a workaholic, but he is extremely focused, determined and passionate about what he does.  The energy and attention he has left over at the end of any given day are usually limited because this is a man that does not believe in going to work with any intention other than kicking ass every single day.  It is this firey spark that attracted me to him in the first place - this part of him that does the very best he can do at whatever task is before him, even if it is something as simple and mundane as washing a wine glass.  The flip side of this is that the bulk of the responsibilities at home fall on my shoulders.  I have no problem with this and in fact get a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of doing the best can do in this arena.  I love this part of my life, and I believe it has tremendous value.

The tricky part is trying to figure out how to build the career I want for myself and go as far as I want to go while also fulfilling the commitments I want to make to taking care of him, our partnership, our family, our friends and our home.  One truth I have to admit I have been avoiding is that I am somewhat fearful of going after "too much success" (whatever that is).  I do not want to become some "power couple" where we have to plan dinner dates weeks in advance and coordinate crazy travel schedules.  Right now his career is in the driver's seat, and I am totally OK with that and very proud of him, but if I start revving up the engines on my own work, will that only make what little down time we now have that much more difficult to carve out?

I have written here and there about the collapse of my first marriage, and while I do not blame that on either of us being too focused on our careers, I do know that I lost sight of what should have been my number one priority:  my marriage.  To me, what the hell good is a stellar career and dream come true if you don't have a tribe to share it with?  Ever since my divorce, I have walked timidly around thoughts of diving deep into my career again, because I so desperately loathe the idea of repeating the same mistake.

This past year was about shifting my creative focus and taking on new artistic challenges, and this was one of the things I am most proud of for 2005.  Ever since the beginning of August I have created well over 100 works of original art and kept up with my online journal like never before.  My work was exhibited in two different shows and I already have another show lined up for March.  A new year is about to begin and I feel energized, ready to focus, and up the ante on everything - my painting, my collage and, most of all, my writing.  This is very exciting and I am not interested in thinking small about anything.  But I do have this nagging little voice that says, "Be careful...monitor this growth...remember what happened before."  I know I will do myself a great disservice if I set limits on myself before I even get going, but I do have this challenge - how to keep my personal life and professional life in a calm and steady balance?  I suppose this is the challenge for all of us, this is the question we must all figure out at some time or another.  How to balance our priorities?  What does “having it all” mean to us?  Does one area of our lives have to thrive at the expense of another?  These are the questions I am pondering on this final day of 2005, these are the riddles I am trying to deconstruct.

And then I follow this path a little further, and I realize something delightful - what wonderful puzzles to have to figure out – to have so many blessings and so much good fortune that I must find a way to keep them all in working order.  I am not in a dim room having to organize empty boxes by the light of a naked light bulb.  I am being called upon to find a place for bouquets of flowers, time for love, tubes of paints and bright, sparkling words by the light of a roaring fire.  I am juggling not despair but abundance.  I am grappling not with loss but with creation.  Perhaps all I need to do is show up, be present and let joy take me by the hand and lead the way.

Perhaps there is nothing to figure out after all except being thankful, every single day.

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much - my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst.  And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.  You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."  -Lester Burnham, "American Beauty"

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide