I love that song by the Mamas & the Papas. The lyrics can be an earwig like the song “Don’t worry. Be happy. “Monday Monday” is not a song of the hopes and possibilities for a new week. Nope. It’s about anxiety (Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day). Anxiety is still present in my own life even though I don’t have a work week anymore. It’s just not as present by choice.
Those of us who are driven to achieve a goal, whatever that goal is; are too often driven by achievement anxiety. When I retired from teaching eight years ago in my mid 50’s; I thought that anxiety was gone with the job. I was wrong. I found myself seeking out anxiety like an old friend. I started making my life task oriented and goal oriented by getting on the artists’ “Call for Entry” treadmill. As a result, I was increasingly more successful in my community of art quilt exhibitions. The pressure of constant deadlines continued as I entered a large number of exhibitions. Two things ended this cycle.
The first was a pandemic. Everything stopped. Exhibitions were put on hold. Calls became online exhibitions and my pattern of making art to respond to calls took a U-turn. I began to clean out closets and experiment with cutting up old work that would not be traveling in exhibits. This became a new material to use in a series of work that was not going to any exhibitions. Instead, I wrote an article about the process, got into a book, and created YouTube videos. Those videos led me to create online classes. Returning to teaching was time consuming but not challenging. It was familiar territory as a career educator. More projects. More deadlines. More anxiety.
When the world began opening up again, the calls for entry seemed to become more competitive. My enthusiasm ebbed. I started to enter without the spark of authentic inspiration. My run of acceptances had come to a conclusion. I had zero energy for making additional online classes or videos. That was a sign. I began to question going down the road of art quilting when I retired instead of returning to painting. (How I got to an art quilter is another post).
Achievement anxiety was replaced by the blues. I dropped my membership in my local quilt guild and became a member of the art guild. It was then I made a shift in my thinking. My impression of the local art community was an issue. It seemed to me that in the first guild meeting everyone in the room was a landscape painter. Most used oils. A huge number gathered together to fight the heat, the cold, and insects to stand outdoors and paint the red hills here is Southern Utah. (Not my thing!) Instead of trying to fit in with the group, I decided to make friends, and share my own work.
People were curious. The first question was “What is that?” I brought one of the few landscapes I have in my portfolio to share. I felt it was bridge from textiles to painting. At each meeting I gained more acceptance of my work in this traditional community. I began attending every art event, I entered local exhibitions, and gradually attained a network of connections. Currently I exhibit in a couple of local art galleries, teach the occasional in person class, a lecture coming up at a University, and make smaller pieces for gift shops. It’s a mix of activities.
Looking for the important art quilt exhibition to pour all my energy into, has been replaced by being open to opportunities in my local community.
Less pressure. More creative time.