Those of you who know me well, or maybe not so well but in-person or through working with me, (may know that I’ve been slowing way down lately. I’ve been a full-speed-ahead, ADHD hyperfocus kind of person for all of my life – and while I still have the hyperfocus and enthusiasm, I also now have a chronic illness. My twitter posts are either #kidlit or #longcovid related these days, because those are the things front and center in my mind. Yup, Long Covid, probably ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). I got the original SARS-COV-19 back in March of 2020, when there were no vaccines, no tests, and people telling us it wasn’t even here. I’ve been sick since, and with a lot of rest and pacing, about a zillion pills, and a doctor who’s willing to experiment, I’m starting to get better. But it… is…. HARD.
I’ve been self-employed since 2009, and hustling every minute. I barely took maternity leave. Being self-employed means I’ve taught myself to say yes to every opportunity that comes along – and the two times in my life (2008, and 2020) that I planned to take a large chunk of time off of work and work on my writing and illustration, THINGS HAPPENED that prevented my sabbaticals. This time, I’m not going back to the old ways, though. My illness means that mental, emotional, AND physical exertion tire me, usually with a lag of 12 hours beefore the crushing fatigue kicks in. So I can’t do it all. I can’t parent, work 30 hours a week on architecture, and create books and illustrations in the margins – not if I want to stay mobile. I have to RADICALLY REST. REALLY REST. “Be prone and not make appointments” rest. So for the rest (heh) of the summer, all two weeks of it, I’m not taking on any more architecture jobs. I’m limiting myself to two new paid gigs per month, start dates spaced two weeks apart and scheduling accordingly. Because what I want is to draw and write.
Drawing and painting – at least the inking and coloring pages – are restful to me. I feel recharged when I do them, not drained. Writing takes a ton of mental energy, though, so if I’m not protecting the heck out of my time, I can’t do it. And if I don’t write new stories, I won’t be able to make this my real job. Oh, I know picture book publishing isn’t super lucrative – I’ll probably always have someone’s bathroom renovation to design to keep me in watercolors and cutting edge digital brushes – but gosh dang it I want to make art my focus!
My parents helped me take a family vacation where I really unplugged, and I’m hoping to hold on to this feeling – the expansive, follow-your-body-and-get-better feeling. Wish me luck!