Having less taught me more
When I was younger, everything in my closet coordinated so I would not have to think too long or too hard about what to wear. There were far more dire issues I faced daily, so simplifying what I could, was essential. Making sure there were enough outfits so I did not wear the same thing within a week was a bizarre, but routine essential as a teenager and young adult. Accessories were a luxury. I learned to choose my wardrobe carefully.
I set out to create a sanctuary of the essentials in my living spaces, as well. I took pride in what little I possessed whether it was my bedroom while living at home in the 60’s and 70’s or an apartment setting when I moved out. Everything had it’s place and it’s purpose. Bed was always made, shelves (with only treasured objects) dusted, vinyl floor swept, rugs placed symmetrically according to vinyl floor squares, clothes hung in color codes, basic art supplies in their rightful place, artwork (created by me) and a few posters on the walls were straight and hung at eye level.
Obsessive behavior, probably, but the essentials and taking care of those essentials provided a solid foundation in my daily life. Little did I know how prominent of a role that foundation would take as time went on, especially now.
Less is More
Because I grew up in an environment of less, it is easier for me to regard minimalism as a way of life in my adulthood. My comfort level has remained steady with less. Fear of not having enough is not in my current wheelhouse. I stated in a previous blog that if my house burned down, I would be sad, but not devastated. I may even feel a sense of freedom.
Essential-ism: My foundational style
I like simplicity and routine in parts of my life because everything else can be chaotic and unpredictable. Simplicity is my foundation. Essential-ism is my foundational style.
Essential-ism serves me well because there are times when my active mind takes me to places that I may not be able to solve or deal with on a concrete level. Irrational rumination ensues to the point of exhaustion. The tape inside my head keeps rolling over and over, an addiction of sorts. Coming back to the basics becomes a means of survival and a return to the essence of self. I know from experience that saying things out loud or writing them down opens them up to the universe and stops the wheel turning in my head.
Essential — ism: My survival tactic
When I first began this blog in late January, I was unable to finish it at that time and with good reason it seems. What I had to say was not resonating with me. It felt shallow. April 6th, 2020, my words began to flow.
The reaction to what people are feeling regarding this global crisis, the vulnerability, the fear, the anxiety, the frustration about not knowing are emotions that parents of addicted and sick children around the world go through EVERY, SINGLE, DAY. In some ways, we may be better equipped to handle the truth of it all. This does not mean we are going to come out unscathed, but we know denying what is true and just sitting on the sidelines will prove destructive and in many cases, deadly.
One Day at a Time
The essential-ism I grew up with prepared me for what lie ahead in my role as an educator, a department chair, citizen of the world and parent to a daughter with a substance use disorder.
The AA mantra of “One day at time”, meant I could face each day with an openness and resolve to get through knowing that I always had my foundation to fall back on.
And in all honesty, those words have been with me ever since I can remember. My artistic sensibilities have always been open to the infinite possibilities daily life may present, good, bad, and/or indifferent. My imagination and daydreaming ways often carried me to places beyond my daily routine. Which led me to conquer or at least attempt pursuits in my life that seemed naive to those around me. I did them anyway because deep down, attempting was essential to my survival and “one day at a time” proclamation.
See my blog: Coloring Within the Lines
Essential-ism and my journey as an artist
Nothing I have done during my life has been earth shattering mind you, but certainly a shift from the so called normal expectations of someone like me. I was not an extraordinary person. I have described my early years as one of being a wall flower. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing that early wall flower. It is a truth I accept.
What is exceptional about me is that I have taken that wall flower status and pulled myself off the wall into the light of day through my art, my writing, and my advocacy for my daughter’s substance use disorder. I have chosen to blossom in ways I may have foreseen in my imagination, but have mainly manifested through my subconscious journey and internal experiences. I have taken what others may have perceived me to be and blown it out of the water or at least brought it to the surface and created some rippling, but significant waves.
Final Thoughts Today
The global crisis we are all experiencing will make or break many. Behaviors will shift, good and bad. As an artist, I have felt so many of the emotions discussed for much of my life. Some of which were denied early on but have since bubbled to the surface, clammoring to be released from their chains. My creative outlets are what have always saved me and will continue to do so. My desire is for this to be true for much of the world’s population.
One day at a time: As a news and social media junkie, I look forward each day to not only the grim truths of what is happening on a global scale (because denial is destructive/deadly), but also balancing that with what creative strategies people are employing to manage their lives, their emotions, their behaviors, which truly is the silver lining to embrace here.
See my blog: “Uncomfortable in Beauty”
Image: “Natural Evolution”
“Natural Evolution” 22″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas. The reason I chose this piece to accompany this blog is that nature has much to teach us, we simply need to pause and listen, maybe now that we are being forced to, we will.
Originally published at https://michellelindblom.com on April 6, 2020.