I’ve contemplated many times shutting down my art page over the last 18 months. For those who do not know, in February of 2017 we found out we were expected a much wanted baby after several years of thinking we couldn’t have one due to my disability. On November 7th, 2017 we welcomed Ariadne Rozema-Bogers into our lives.
She has been pure sunshine from the beginning but my postpartum recovery time was rough. I couldn’t stand up for a week because of complete pelvic instability, and a large split in my abs. Emotionally it was a rollercoaster but also amazing because my husband is a true partner in every meaning of the word. She’s 6 months old now and just the happiest, sweetest, easiest baby in the world and I can honestly say has profoundly changed all three of our lives for the better.
Having Addie has made me spend hours thinking about how I can keep making art, and where I want to go with my art. I realised I was frustrated and burnt out trying to hawk my wares to people. I was disheartened at constant comments about how amazing my work is but rarely making sales. The regular comments about the cost. I tried to strike a balance between understanding peoples financial restrictions and my own frustration that my work seemed expensive when it barely covered the cost of materials, leave aside the hours spent working on it. I suppose the salt in the wound for me is making art is my passion and it keeps me sane but it also HURTS physically because of my disability.
I put being an artist on hiatus for six months to bask in the newborn stage with our little ball of sunshine and it was definitely the best decision. Six months is over now and I do have a bit more freedom to work on certain things with my little sidekick playing beside me. Time is still precious though and I have to find this very delicate balance between making for my own happiness and using up all my spoons and struggling with Addie while in pain after making. I have, however, gotten into spinning which is something I can do with her beside me asleep or even on me. It’s “clean” so I can easily stop and pick her up if I need to and I can relax comfortably while I do it. I’ve fallen in love with it.
These realisation have lead to further realisations. Like, I am disabled and need to stop putting such high expectations on myself to be constantly producing. A lot of that goes back to my childhood being raised in a Dutch family where the norm is to be productive and busy at all times. Part of it is feeling worthless from not being able to work and bring in a wage. Part of it is this unnecessary need on my part to fight the stigma of the lazy fatty. I am grateful to be married to someone who reminds me that I am the least lazy person he knows and that my value is not in production but in just being me.
So despite always having wanted to be a working artist, it’s time to face that this is simply an unrealistic goal for my life right now. And that’s ok. In fact it’s making me explore art and making from the perspective of creating as an expression of love, of gratitude and of generosity. Thinking of how much more I would love if I forget about selling my art to make a profit and instead give my art freely, AS an expression of love, gratitude and generosity.
I can hear people in my head going “Pft, must be nice. Some of us need to eat.” Yeah. I get that. But if you read back where I said my dream was always to be a WORKING artist and that I very clearly cannot do that as a disabled person, then you’ll understand I need to find a different way.
There’s another side to this that I have avoided talking about because I am not sure how. ADD runs in my family. I have asked to be evaluated here in Ireland but I was scoffed at and dismissed, being told that it would put more pressure on a system already heaving to the point of breaking. I have to wait til we move back to Canada before I can seek a diagnosis but all of the markers are there. I get an idea and then I get a thousand ideas. Then I get so overwhelmed trying to DO those ideas that I start dropping the ball of every day responsibilities.
Instead of just getting into spinning, it’s spinning and then dyeing and then could I make THIS my business? Then joining the Irish guild and then realising there’s no chapter where I am, maybe I should start one! And before you know it, I am planning a local fibre festival. I am not even kidding – my husband has listened to me go off on these tangents for years. Then add in PTSD and social anxiety and before you know it, I am having a panic attack because my thoughts ran away from me. If you’ve ever had a full blown panic attack you know how exhausting they are, both physically and mentally.
So. At times, I’m a bit of a hot mess lol. But I am still passionate about making and art and creativity. About encouraging people that anyone can be creative and all creativity is valid. For me, right now, for the foreseeable future that’s going to look very different in my life. I’m always going to make but I am going to be making slower. In fact my goal in my life right now is to LIVE slower. In doing so keep my brain slower in order to stave off the feelings of overwhelm, getting so far ahead of myself I have a panic attack. To raise this tiny ray of sunshine while making space for me to keep creating while reminding myself incessantly that that is enough.
One day I might figure out how to support myself financially with the concept of giving art away, but for now I am giving myself permission to accept that my disability income is enough (I bloody well fought hard enough to get it!). One day I might be able for exhibitions again, and community and creating new and wonderful things like chapters of guilds but for right now I am gonna make for myself and my family and friends. I’m going to garden and grow fruit and herbs to nourish my family, and keep me happy with my hands buried in the soil. I’m going to replay Skyrim and try not to feel guilty I am not creating a SAHM business.
I might write about it here still. I’m thinking about whether I even want to do that much. If I do, it will change from being my professional artist page to being a page about my life – art & making, gardening, reading, feminism, family, atheist-paganism, and whatever else I become fascinated by in the moment. Let me know if you’d be interested in following something like that and I’ll think about whether I can commit to it!