I am officially on sabbatical AND I somehow forgot to announce here on the blog that, as part of my sabbatical, I was chosen to be a Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Fellow! So I am writing this from Joshua Tree. Hello.
I may have forgotten to announce it here because it was very much announced at work and on the JTHAR Instagram, so you know how that goes.
My residency was scheduled to begin Aug. 21, but a little thing called Hurricane Hilary happened and because of road closures and flooding, I was unable to drive up on Monday. But! Roads were clear Tuesday, so I was able to drive up then. Since Tuesday was spent traveling, unpacking, getting situated, and buying groceries, I am calling that Day 0.
I also made some walkthrough videos that you can see on my Instagram.
(Although now that I think about it, I guess Tuesday was Day 1 since I did do some creating and writing to make those reels. Hmm. I dunno. It doesn’t feel like I started until yesterday, though, because I hadn’t fully retreated, if you will. So! We shall carry on.)
So, yes, yesterday was the first full day of my residency, and I woke up with a headache. This is not unusual, unfortunately, because I have noticed that whenever I have a major change or stressor, I tend to get a headache the night of or the next day–I guess because the adrenaline is leaving my body. There were plenty of stressors leading up to this trip–not just the hurricane–so, again, I wasn’t that surprised.
What did surprise me is that the headache turned into a full-on migraine, complete with the base of my neck throbbing, nausea, some dizziness, and muscle weakness. The thing I’m supposed to do immediately when I notice I’m having a migraine is to take rescue meds. However, I wanted to hold off doing that because they can sometimes incapacitate me for the rest of the day, and I was not interested in that. Instead, I did this meditation for headaches by Celia Roberts.
One of the things she says in the mediation is to “source the pain,” by finding the pain and moving into it and feeling it without trying to avoid it. What happened when I did that is I found that the source of my pain wasn’t my neck (though it was physically hurting me). No, the source of the pain was that I was putting too much pressure on myself to do all the things on my to-do list (yes, I have a list of all of the things I want to accomplish each day). As part of my spiritual practice, sometimes during my meditation I ask, “What would God have me do/be?” And in this case, the answer was RELAX. Relax! Relax, do what I can, and if I don’t finish everything, there’s always tomorrow. There is literally no rush, and the pressure I’m feeling is all internal.
I had therapy last week and during the session, my therapist basically said the same thing. After pointing out my black and white thinking/all or nothing approach (not to brag, but those are two of my core traits), she said that maybe instead of me having to FINISH THINGS or I AM A FAILURE, this could just be a learning experience and process of discovery. (Is creativity about the product or the process? — a question for the ages.)
I should point out, though, that before we event got to that point, I told her I decided to do a reading deprivation (aka media fast) for the first week, if not two, of the residency. When she asked me why I decided to do that, my answer was that I wanted to settle in with no distractions and ground myself. She also asked me what I wanted to get out of the reading deprivation, and I told her that based on the first time I did a reading deprivation, without the distraction of consuming media, there’s nothing for me to do except write and meet God.
Of course, that happened on day four of that deprivation and is happening on day one of this one. So I guess we’re a little early, which makes sense since I have nothing here to clean and/or reorganize. So this residency has already provided a shortcut to God, if you will.
(I should also point out that I did, indeed, feel better after doing the meditation. I still had a slight headache, but the migraine stayed away as long as I kept reminding myself to relax, and I did not need to take my rescue meds or even more Excedrin during the day.)