As artists we are familiar with the “high” we feel while consumed by a project. Art, theatre, acting, music etc. is our drug of choice. I don’t know about you, but I am addicted. As high as the artistic experience takes us, we all know the low that follows. Sometimes we are lucky enough to go straight into another project, but at one time or another all of us have experienced that lull in between projects. Sometimes we can find the faith to know that something good is coming, even if we don’t see it yet. Other times, I find myself wallowing in the doubt of the future. When that happens, I feel lost and sad.
I spent three months in LA figuring out what my career there would look like. I was focused. I knew what I was doing. I was busy. I learned a lot. I had some incredible experiences. I could see my way into the future. I was on a “high.” Now I am back in Seattle so that my husband and I figure out what’s next. (There are too many aspects and minute details involved to explain that decision making process here.) The truth is that coming to that decision has been overwhelming and in the mean time I feel like I have nothing to stand on. I haven’t auditioned in Seattle for three months so now I have no projects coming up. I don’t know if I should be working to establish myself in Seattle or LA. I don’t have a job. I need a job. I’m been waking up in the morning without direction, asking myself, “What do I do today? What do I do with myself in general? What is my goal? Where is my focus?” I finally admitted to my husband the other day that I had the thought, “I am depressed.” This is something I have never said out loud before.
The next day, as I was trying to pull myself out of this funk, I remember something my friend, Mary Jo Anderson(who is also an actor), told me she did to lift her spirits on a tough day. She called it her “Joy List.” She and our friend, Audrey Matos, wrote down all the things that brought them joy. They made an agreement with each other that whenever they had a rough day they would go to that list and do something on it. For another friend, who was going through a particularly rough time, this practice actually changed her outlook and brought more positive things her way.
So I set about doing something from my list…. and it helped!
Here is (part of) my Joy List:
- drinking a cappuccino/tea from a tea cup
- sewing something new
- baking cookies
- baking a pie
- taking a walk in the fresh air
- hugging my husband
- painting my toenails
- reading a good novel
- watching the sunset
- walking on the beach
- having coffee/a drink with a friend
Usually, at least one of these is possible, no matter where I am. None of these are a big life fix, but something that is helping me get through this low.
As for what’s next, I don’t know. I think part of being in the low is recognizing it and accepting it. It’s all a part of the journey. We can’t have mountains without valleys, right? I have some ideas for the future, but for the moment, I’m here. I’m processing. I’m finding joy in the small things. I am. And that’s okay.