Image: A vintage microphone, with sound waves vibrating in the background. Photo by stux on Pixabay.
It’s been almost two years to the day since I posted my intention to take a break from the blog to consider a new direction—ruminations that ultimately resulted in the transition from a reviewing platform to one of personal creative expression. At the time, I mentioned being inspired by recent participation in creative projects in theatre (Andrew Batten’s last play The Sad Blisters), visual art (ARTiculations’ 2019 Curio Shadow Box Show) and film (Compy Films’ adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s Scarborough, which premiered at TIFF 2021)—and how these reminded me of how much I missed the creative process. For a time, my art was talking about other people’s art; and I decided I needed to make time and space for my own work. However, this was only part of the reason—one that I felt comfortable going public with at the time.
What I didn’t mention back then was, I was also considering my place in the reviewing world. The arts community was becoming increasingly aware of, and proactive in, addressing issues of inequity in diversity and representation—in administration, programming, directing, writing and performance, and reviewing and arts criticism. And I began to think that one of the best contributions a middle-aged white woman (albeit LGBTQ2S+) like myself could make to this movement was to get out of the way and make space for other voices.
So, there was a lot going through my mind back then.
Fast-forward to this past week, and in light of our recent attention to mental health, I also want to mention that I was burnt out at the time. And this was in the Before Times, prior to COVID-19 turning our lives upside down. I’d been struggling as a reluctant freelancer during the day, weathering the stressful reality of feast or famine with work projects and income, and attending and reviewing performances in the evenings and on weekends. Spending time with family and friends is a priority, so this left me very little space for downtime and solitude—something that introverted homebodies like myself both crave and require in order to rest, rejuvenate and return to social life.
I’ve also been navigating anxiety and depression for most of my life; and have been working with a therapist off and on for a good portion of my adult life. And I knew that something needed to change.
In the two years since transitioning the blog—which just happened to coincide with the onset of the pandemic—like all of us, I’ve been pivoting my life: following by-laws, restrictions and public health measures; getting vaccinated; and generally taking good care of myself, my loved ones and our health care system. Living alone has presented its own set of challenges; and I’m grateful for the company of my grey tabby rescue cat Camille; and the support of, and connection with, family, friends, work colleagues and health care providers, even if remotely. And, like many of us, it’s all taken a toll on my mental and physical health.
I’m still working out time and space—and a place—for my creative voice. With a multitude of interests in the performing, literary and visual arts, there are a lot of options. And, while public health measures have placed certain limitations on artistic practice, there are a lot of opportunities for mindfulness, taking stock of priorities and percolating ideas.
And, while it’s often been a frustrating time of impatience and false starts, I’m continually reminding myself: it is a process, after all.