Chelle Summer

creative life

Choosing What to Share

Michelle Rusk
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I spent a good part of yesterday working on two paintings (when I wasn't folding laundry and that I did because Greg was gratefully painting the trim on the outside of the house so I didn't think it was fair that he did that and fold the laundry). At some point I took a break from painting and I picked up my phone to check social media. But before I hit the button to take it out of sleep mode, I looked at the phone, wondered if I really needed to look at anything, and ended up putting it back on the counter where I had left it previously. Then I returned to my painting.

I am the first to admit that social media has played a huge part of taking my messages forward, particularly in my days working to help the suicide bereaved. I realize that if you lost someone to suicide today, you will have a drastically different experience than me because you can easily connect to people via the internet whereas it took me years to find other bereaved siblings. And now my messages have changed to sharing how I've moved forward through my losses by using my creativity, at least the visually creative aspects of my life (sewing, painting, cooking, etc).

However, I also know there is a line for me of what I choose to share, when I choose to share it, and how much time I spend looking at it.

While it might seem that what I create visually is how I spend the bulk of my time, the reality is that my writing is still what's most important to me. It obviously takes longer for me to share that so in the meantime (as I wrote about balancing goals last week), I share the visually creative items. I also found out in my early Facebook years that if I shared what I was writing, I never finished it.

I stopped talking about my writing because I realized it was something I have to keep to myself until it's completed. Most people in my daily circle of life don't know what I'm working on for the same reason. And yet there are many times I so badly want to share things but I know the time isn't right so I let it go (and probably post a photo of Lilly instead!).

When I went for my last spiritual direction visit with Fr. Gene, at the Norbertine Abbey here, one of things I told him was how I find that I'm not supposed to always share the journey that I'm on, that instead I'm supposed to wait until it's over when I can look back at the road and reflect more on it. It's only then that I can see what it is about my journey that would be most meaningful for others to read about.

And in that same vein, the Wall Street Journal recently published an article about letter writing. One line stood out for me where the woman said that even though we seemingly share more of our lives by constantly posting on social media, we aren't really sharing of ourselves like we did writing letters.

Writing letters was one way that I honed my writing skills early and now I'm finding that as I've pulled back in sharing some aspects of my journey, they are instead finding places in my manuscripts. Once again, it's about balance and deciding what I should share now and what I should save for later, to be shared in another way as part of a bigger project.

A New Year...Where Will We Go?

Michelle Rusk
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Happy 2018, Everyone!

While I believe that we can start fresh at anytime, there is something to be said for the calendar rolling around into January 1. We come off the holidays– when we've most likely been busy– and then we get (I hope you did!) a holiday break. The new year rolls around and suddenly it feels like all the Christmas lights and decorations should be put away until at least Thanksgiving. Personally, I usually want to clean out all of my closets this time of year. I feel as if it's time to let go of the old to invite the new to come in.

This year is starting out a little differently than years past have and I'm embracing the journey of my job going half time to free up a large chunk of my daily time. However, we were in Los Angeles for the new year (and managed to get colds as happens sometimes) so I didn't feel like I could truly start the new year until we came home– and put everything away (although we had taken care of the Christmas decorations before we left).

For me, Los Angeles still remains a very inspirational place. I can't explain it except that it seems that I woke up one day when I was about thirteen and knew it was where I wanted to go. I didn't get there until the summer after I graduated from high school and obviously I never moved there. I joke that I only got as far as Albuquerque. 

Through a series of events, I've been given opportunities that take me back there and as we were driving down the 110 after having dinner with friends in North Hollywood, I was thinking how it still inspires me to be there. That's topped with the many signs of both my parents (through songs on the radio and coins) that don't usually happen here in Albuquerque.

Now that I'm home and everything is put away, the lists made to make the most of this opportunity of time I have been given with job going half time just a month ago, the hardest part for me is being patient with myself. There is much I want to do and I know my timeline. My hope is to spend 2018 with my nose to the grindstone and see what kind of opportunities I can create for myself through all my creative means. I want to take advantage of the time placed in front of me– it is a gift– and see where I land a year from now.

I have lists, goals, and dreams. The key is being patient with myself that there will be enough time to do everything, to know that I will land where I'm supposed to be. And to listen to voices which who are guiding me and leading the way.

A New Journey

Michelle Rusk
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I am convinced that sometimes the universe tells us we've been sitting too long and need to move it along. As I post this to social media, today is my birthday, December 12. It's also the feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe. And yesterday on December 11, my job went half time. 

No need to discuss the job because it's not about that or about the loss of income that I'm trying not to focus. When you find out that your job is going half time and the date it begins is the day before your birthday– which also happens to be the feast day of a saint whose presence has unknowingly been part of your life longer than you're aware– you know the friend who sits behind you in church was right when she said, "Guadalupe has something better for you to do."

We all know I have many things I'm working on, many things I want to do. The hardest part has been finding the time to do them all. Part of the problem my husband Greg will tell you is that I work hard, I'm a Midwesterner who listened to my parents when they said, "What ever you're doing, make sure you do the best you can at it." While I work at home with a lot of flexibility on a military grief study, I often found myself stifled by a 40-hour work week in the sense that I felt I had to always be available if they needed something.

No more. Now half my week has been freed and I believe it's Guadalupe– because things always happen around my birthday and during Advent– telling me that now is the time, to get focused and get busy on that list. I have one major manuscript I'll be tackling next year along with two others. I obviously have swimwear and clothes to make along with the handbags and such. And hopeful sales will come along with the creating.

I'm not totally clear what this road looks like. And because we're in the midst of the holiday season, I also know I'm somewhat limited on what I can do right now. Instead, I'm resting up and gearing up for that different journey to go into full swing right after the new year, after a trip to Los Angeles.

It's not going to be an easy road. When you've spent much of your time working with grieving people- which can be taxing– you also find that while other aspects of your life make you happy, there is a sense you aren't doing enough because you've been working in life and death. That's something I have to work out, to let go of, because my work is important, just in a different way than hearing people's stories. Instead, it's about living an authentic life, the life I've always wanted– of which I haven't quite reached– and sticking to it even when I'm not quite sure how to get there.

Life isn't easy. It's always full of surprises we don't like. But if we embrace what might look like is two steps backward but is really five steps forward, we'll get where we want to go.