Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The sky is overcast. Writing in my living room, and glancing up from time to time to take in the scene below, the streets and sidewalks are wet from the intermittent rain. The air is cool. The summer is spent and fall is eager to take its place. It’s the first day of school. It’s like the end of a cycle, and we have arrived once again at a beginning. Life will become “crowded” again as we take up activities that were left behind at the end of the school year. More cars will be on the roads, more people riding the subway. And neighbourhood restaurants will be doing a brisk business since they’ll be flooded by people back from their summer vacations.
We must resist the temptation to rush, rush, rush to let ourselves be swept up in the hustle and bustle of life.
It’s not just about slowing down as much as it is about seeking balance. As an artist, it has taken me a long, long time to understand the importance of balance. Growing up the term artist was viewed with skepticism and cynicism. Being an artist was considered an “unsafe” career choice. I was supposed to be responsible and follow a career path that would lead to stability. So I went to university, first to study journalism before abandoning it for a degree in French Literature. (During my university years I spent most of my free time writing!)
Two years after I graduated I moved to Ottawa (Ontario), where I lived for ten years. It was during that time that I realized just how important my artistic endeavours were to me. My writings were published. My paintings were included in exhibitions. While I may not have achieved celebrity status the likes of Margaret Atwood or Alex Colville, or the notoriety (of late) of Miley Cyrus, I knew that I had to have time in my like to make art.
While I tried, I was never able to achieve — in both the public and private sectors — the work-life balance needed for me to husband my artistic dreams. The catchphrase at the time, which is still quite popular today, was “work-life balance.” For some companies, “work-life balance” isn’t just a catchphrase. There are tools and policies and mechanisms in place to help employees achieve a balance between their work and personal lives. Other companies simply don’t make the grade when it comes to work-life balance.
My mother’s sudden death in 2010 forced me take stock of my life. What did I really want out of life? What did I need to do to move my dreams forward? I had already left Ottawa by this point and was living in Sherbrooke (Quebec). Step one was for me to take some time to “recharge,” strip away all of the doubts and fears and anxiety cluttering up my mind. It was a great opportunity for me to focus on my artistic projects. I wrote and painted and composed music. I was having a blast following my heart’s true desire.
It was also a time when I had to figure out what I wanted to do for a day job since I knew I would have to return to the workforce. I’ve never bought in to the concept that to be a real artist you have to be a full-time artist. As Julia Cameron reminds us in her book, Walking in this World, The actual truth is we are all full-time artists. Art is a matter of consciousness.” All I knew is that I didn’t want to go back into an office environment because, no matter how hard I tried, working nine to five felt like I was wearing a straightjacket. It took about six months for me to become bored with my position before I would start looking for another job. I would come home exhausted and often put of making art. What was I to do?
In October 2012, and on a whim, I applied to become a flight attendant. I had absolutely no expectations and no idea about what I was getting myself into. But as training progressed, and then after I started flying, it became so clear why this was the job for me. While I’m travelling a lot, there’s still so much flexibility in my schedule that I have time to write and paint. There is, finally, the work-life balance that I’ve sought after for so long that allows me to follow my heart’s desire. I don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m having fun with my writing and painting, and I don’t feel as though I have to be so serious about my art. I’m just doing what I love to do, and that feels great. (Maybe this was providence at work ...?)
When we find the balance that we need, there seems to be a natural ebb and flow to life. Everything comes together, and joy blossoms in our hearts. It gives us the strength and determination, if only for today, to keep on keeping on.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, M! Glad the balance is working for you. I had a great weekend in NB.