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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

Creative Spirit Blog: October 19, 2022 Setting Priorities

The Magic in the Bark Collage

“Just because things hadn’t gone the way I had planned didn’t necessarily mean they had gone wrong”. Ann Patchett

What seems particularly important to you today may take a back seat tomorrow or next year. Priorities reflect in a certain way your life goals, your views and values at a certain time. For many reasons they are important to set, but it is also important to know they can shift. Some goals you set are long term others are short term. And sometimes life deals you a blow and they need to be re-evaluated and reset.

I had my last chemo treatment 4 weeks ago. It left me with the worst case of “chemo brain” I had experienced. All the things I had planned needed to be set aside. My first priority was to get stronger and get my immune system back up and running. Well even that one needed a reset. I was too tired to work out or even walk to the end of the block.

I had a series of 8 paintings I planned to rework but I could not concentrate. I knew I had to rethink my priorities and lower my expectations. I had to start small and rest a lot. So, I started in the studio by reorganizing all my dyed and embellished papers into color categories. I matted a lot of finished small paintings I found in my closet for my browse box. I took frames to be recut. All things that really did not need me to concentrate or be focused. Then along came Ian!

We were fortunate that the only things we lost were a few screens. We had palms that needed trimming, some leaning trees and bushes, and a lot of debris to be picked up. With help the palms got trimmed and some tree limbs were cut off the leaning trees. The bushes were righted and staked. The yard needed a lot of work. As we picked up, pruned, and bagged, I saw the 10 months of weeds I had not pulled. I started pulling weeds and getting bushes off the screen enclosure and suddenly, my gardens became my priority, and it felt good to be back working in nature. Ten days later the weeds were gone but growing again where I began. The lanai has been cleaned and put back together, and the floors in the house got washed.

Was I ready? Mentally yes, but every joint in my body is saying no you were absolutely not. Hopefully as the days pass, I will get stronger.

But as I look around and see that everything has been set right, I want to be back in the studio for doing more than organization. “Chemo brain” is still in residence but it was Raphael who said, “When one is painting one does not think”.

Prioritizing is important because it give your life direction. Setting priorities tames the chaos in your everyday life and keeps things in order. You focus on what is important and don't get bogged down with small, trivial tasks. I have always been pretty good at this. I do those small tasks that need to be done, first thing in the morning so I give myself studio or art time. Studio time might be shorter for a while, but it has at least started along with other art related responsibilities I used to have. I’m back! Maybe not as I was, but a new version of the old me. Abbreviated! I appreciate the little things more and take more time just to be.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis


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