Creative Burnout and Recovery

This post won't be "4 helpful tips to avoid..." or "Learn how I overcame.....!" because I don't play no clickbait.  I just wanted to chat for a bit (ok, rant for a bit) about some creative burnout, what's been on my mind, and I guess my creative headspace recently and currently.

After coming home from Sweden I really got into doing pinup.  It was something I'd always been "into" since my great and eternal love for Fallout, although my atomic age obsession starts in a way nerdier spot, with my love for chemistry, radiation, and ultimately nuclear power--but the point is, I started getting into the subculture and for a long time, found another outlet artistically.  I also really enjoyed it because after losing 60 pounds I felt great in front of a camera, took good photos, had a nice figure--who doesn't want to show off their sexy new bod amirite? Haha.

I've been to so many car shows and contests since.  I relished the opportunities to get out of an EMT uniform and go put on my petticoats.  I even started doing decent winged liners and victory rolls. (Okay, subpar, not totally decent, but they passed inspection) and for someone who considers a ponytail an updo, this is practically magic.  I met a few nice people, got into the cars and car culture in a way I hadn't before, felt 'glam' in a way I hadn't before, and as with all artistic endeavors one pursues out of love, got inspired to up my game.

It's really weird though, usually when I get inspired to up my game, I'm eager to do better.  And in endeavors like painting, it's frustrating because I feel like I plateau and can't do better.  It's really hard to shake up a hobby you've been into since you could read.  So with painting, writing, piano, photography--I try really hard, push myself, get inspired, taper off....rinse and repeat.  It's like a very long race.  However in 2017 everything stalled.  My camera lens broke.  My body changed proportions and I no longer felt good in a circle skirt (I feel more like a circus tent.)  I haven't felt like writing in forever--not sure why, it just hasn't been there.  Nothing groundbreaking happened on the painting front.  Just a bunch of Till Lindemann doodles because I am trash.

But pinup was especially dragging me down and bumming me out.  What used to be fun just wasn't fun anymore.  I used to hungrily follow other models photoshoots and be just amazed and wowed and charmed and inspired.  Those feelings turned to "Meh."  Same with my own photos--in fact I didn't even want photos taken anymore.  (See the circus tent comment.)  Car show days were sour days.  If I have to hear one more person tell me how inspiring Bettie Page was--she had schizophrenia guys, it's not a story of empowerment and girl power, it's a story of a debilitating illness marked by years of suffering with no relief!!!!--I just felt like I was stalling in a place I didn't enjoy and wasn't connecting with the scene.

I tried for months to ignore this and smile my way through it like I suppose a good pinup does.  All the while the rest of my creativity plodded along.  I painted here and there.  I made Allyn some shoes for Father's Day, and doodled a bit.  I've written here on the blog, albeit not routinely.  I've spent time in nature: usually the best way in the world to recharge my batteries.  But this time it seems like I'm dragging my feet.  The energy loss as I moved into the third trimester really caught up with me.


And all around me, almost suffocatingly, is the pinup world that I loved and felt gave me nothing at all.  Like I say, I tend to get inspired by that suffocation, that's what artists do.  You just have to get it out of your system, but this time it had the opposite effect.  It wasn't just the attitude of some of the people involved, either.  Actually, my very last car show was a fantastic experience.  I went to Helper, Utah and won an awesome piece of art and participated in an insanely fun contest with awesome girls--it was a dream--and I was still burned out at the end of it.  Modeling before had been so fun, but that day I barely allowed any photos.

I have no idea how much of this is due to pregnancy, and moving to a new phase in life and taking on a new role.  Probably a lot.  But I just can't ignore all of the issues in the pinup community.  I suddenly decided that I didn't want to, and went on a cleanout.  I wiped and unfollowed and put at the back of my closet (and mind) all of the photoshoots and models and dresses and victory rolls and red lips.  I was so scared that this made me a failure, until I actually did it and breathed THE BIGGEST SIGH of relief.  Sometimes you don't even know how bad the thorn in your side is hurting until it's gone.

There was a time where this would've puzzled me and I would have spent too much time trying to analyze and breakdown where I went wrong in the creative process and trying to problem solve how to bring back the spark and the joy and chasing after that outlet, but happily that time in my life is over.  I don't even care.  If something is not working for me, it's not working for me and I can't force it.  I can't force an uninspiring hobby any more than I can force a dull or poisonous relationship.  So I'm just not going to.

I washed my hands of the burnout and figured I'd just be that boring lady adding things to her Target baby registry in the meantime, waiting for inspiration to come back.  It has, in a big and unexpected way.  Allyn and I first became friends while he helped me figure out my Valkyrie costume last year; it seems with him around there's always some creative thing that we can do together, even with me hugely pregnant and fat and both of us sleep deprived.

Today (Saturday, July 15) there's a Halloween-themed event in Magna, Utah, and Allyn and I have gathered the equipment to dress up and go.  We are both Halloween/costume fanatics (duh) and we both have a background in special effects makeup--he's way more enthusiastic than me--but his enthusiasm and knowledge rubs off on me in the right inspirational way.  It's almost like we feed off each other's creativity and I can't tell you how special it is to have a partner like that.

I think it's a relief to remind myself that pinup isn't my identity.  I'm not one of those girls who lives and breathes 40's and 50's.  Not that there's anything wrong with that--there absolutely is not.  But I'm just an artist, and a costumer, and a cosplayer, and a makeup artist, and a painter, and a writer, and a bunch of stuff.  If something isn't working for me I can move on to the next thing that works.  It's refreshing, and removes that negative suffocation I was feeling.

I don't believe in that "The Universe" stuff, but I will admit it was pretty reaffirming to see that shortly after I said "eff this" to trying to grin and bear it and keep up with a scene that was doing me no joy, I got a few requests to make custom painted shoes (Allyn is a good model) and there was this email:

So, until next time!


Pregnancy Questions (So Far)

Gross, I'm THAT person, who is pregnant and won't shut up about it.

Actually, I don't talk about it very much but since it's so....well, affecting everything in the world...I just haven't been talking at all.  I do have some boring deep thoughts to unleash on the blog (not pregnancy related, by the by) but I figured I would vomit out all the pregnancy questions first in case anyone cares, and so that I'm not rehashing them later.

See, I'll make you take your meds, but I'll give you a popsicle.  Your welcome.

I got this great list from Wild Little Flowers by the way--thanks girl!

How did you find out you were pregnant?  Honestly I had no symptoms (that I correlated with pregnancy) other than being viciously tired.  I more or less had an intuition. And chose to chalk it up to being overdramatic and stressed and finally broke down and got a test.  And then three more tests, haha.

What was your immediate reaction? Excitement.  Then terror.  Then excitement.  Terror.  Repeat 7 months, here we are.

How did you share your good news with others?  I told a select few people at first.  Stefanie and Amanda got first dibs via Facebook, as well as Mike, Abbi, and Amber. The first person I told in person was of course Derik.  Soon after I told Niki.  Then I blurted it to Allyn like two weeks before I intended to because I couldn't help myself.  We told Krystal and Seth soon after that--like a day after he knew!  He really wanted to share, and so did his older sister who blabbed it dramatically in front of his parents and ruined the surprise.  V rude Emily.  I still made a cute announcement because I'm tacky and sentimental.

Write a letter to baby.  He can't read!  Fine.

Dear Zordon, please stop making those weird scrapey sensations against my womb, and also please stop ceasing kicking when your dad is trying to feel kicks.  I hope you're nice and hairy in there what with all this heartburn I'm getting.  Your older brother Flemith is now on anxiety medication in anticipation of your arrival.  See you in a few months! Love, Mom

What have you been doing to prepare for baby's arrival?  Having internal panic attacks.  Readjusting finances and contemplating life.  Looking so forward to it minus the whole hospital/birth/healing thing.  But mostly, panic attacks.

Write out a complete do-before-baby list.  Do you want me to have another panic attack? Pass.

How do your other children (if you have them) feel about baby right now?  Well, Flemith just got put on Prozac so there's that.

What is your relationship with food like at the moment?  Unhealthy and annoying.

How does your body feel? Like an egg. My pelvis feels like three pelvises.  Middle pelvis, and left and right pelvis that creak and groan against each other when I walk.  My muscles are tight and they cramp. My shoulders and neck are just as weak and overstressed as ever.  My face is huge and my cheekbones are gone.  My gums are bleeding.  Anybody who says I'm glowing is a liar, it's just sweat.

How did the ultrasound go?  I have had many ultrasounds so far.  All of them varying in experiences.  A few were miscarriage scares, complete with catheter and my unmitigated hate for that....hearing his heartbeat--oh! I was so excited.  It's the best sound.  I love hearing it.  I also loved seeing him at 11 weeks (post miscarriage-scare) because he was so small and literally was turning somersaults.  I'll never forget that, being the first sight of my little boy.

Boy or girl? How do you feel about it?  Boy and I'm relieved.  I don't even know why.  I'd love a girl too.  I just really always wanted a boy.

What names are you considering? How is the naming process going?  We do not discuss this!  This is a mom and dad topic.  We have three or four options and are planning to just name him at birth if we can't pick.

Write a prayer for baby.  No.

What sort of parent do you hope to be?  The kind who is scary enough to be a parent, but open enough to talk to.  Where if you do something stupid you know your mom is going to find out and you better be the one to tell her, and she will help you no matter what, but you'd still rather go to the dentist and pull your teeth out than tell her the dumb shit you did.  The kind of mom that other kids say "aw your mom is so cool!" and my kid will go "IF YOU JUST LIVED WITH HER, SHE'S INSANE."  The kind of mom who lets their kid paint and draw and make a mess and gives lots of hugs and praise but is also kind of a benevolent dictator tyrant who gives no quarter.  I can't in good conscience shield my child from the road, but I can give him the tools he needs to walk it.  Also I read somewhere that kids learn more by what you are than what you teach, so I just have to be a good Alex, whatever that means.

Write about baby's father.  He's extraordinary.  He's beautiful and kind and hard-working and honest.  He's so gifted, intellectual, creative, he's so special to me.  He is the biggest piece of my soul walking around on earth.

What gifts and advice have you been receiving?  "Everything will work itself out."  Asinine shit like that.  I get really weird about pregnancy advice, in fact I get really weird about pregnancy.  I want it to be a private thing, but it's so hilariously not private.  So I just grind my teeth against the advice and reassurance and think about something nice, like Flemith cuddles.

What are your hopes and plans for delivery?  To not freak out when the doctors touch me.  That's about as far as I've gotten.  There will be Rammstein in the DVD player.  And I'll probably be sneaking food.  But definite Rammstein.  There are wall speakers, you guys.

What are the top five things you want to teach your child?  Self-reliance.  Loyalty.  Courage.  Productivity.  Empathy.

What are your plans for baby's baptism? Who will be his/her godparents? Hell no to all of that.  I will continue the path of being an unwashed heathen for my own womb fruit thanks.  I don't even know what a godparent is, but it'll be Derik and Niki.

What parenting books have you read/do you want to read? Like a million I've checked out of the library.  They're slightly more comforting than the articles, which quickly spiral down into "you have gout, diabetes, cancer and borderline personality disorder" territory.