It can be a challenge to find a spark, light a flame, and keep it going with sustainable energy. I believe this to be true for creatives, but also for individuals working in any profession. A key for me in maintaining energy towards anything is finding a balance. A lifestyle that includes as much work as play—recognizing that both are critical!
Over the weekend, I volunteered with the Burren BEO. We started at 10AM and worked until 4PM to clear an enclosure that was built during the Bronze Age. Here I am with my friend, Katie, posing with a tiny fraction of the pile you can see in the following picture of all the brush we managed to clear with handsaws, clippers, and lots of manpower!
After we finished clearing the brush around the wall, Michael Lynch, one of the archeologists volunteering with us took us on a walking tour of the property. He pointed out other structures and burial sites, which were created and used in various periods throughout history.
I really enjoyed seeing the remnants of a house with curved corners. The roundness of the corners made it easier to put on a thatched roof, otherwise they would not have bothered and the corners would have appeared square. Below is a photograph of the remaining walls of the building. According to Michael people living in houses similar to this one would generally have two doors, kept open to allow for a breeze to filter out smoke from a corner fire. Talk about tough people! Sometimes I struggle with the dampness and chill of Irish weather and I live and work in fully-enclosed buildings.
After the long day of work in the outdoors, I spent the evening cutting out pictures from old art magazines with two of the other graduate students at the BCA—Katie Kramer and Megan Channel. Originally we’d planned on turning them into collages, but I decided to pin them up on a wall in my studio for inspiration.
On Sunday, I got out with the Burren Cycling Club for a nice spin of just under 100 kilometers. It was a brilliant way to get my legs going (and burn them out, lol). I wore a new jacket and helmet that I got for Christmas from my grandparents and cousins. It’s always exciting to test out new gear—especially when it’s responsible for keeping me safe and visible on the road! On the last 5-10km stretch of our way back into Ballyvaughan, I struggled to keep up with the pack, but my dear friend, Karen stayed back and glided into town alongside me. Looking forward to what this cycling season will bring! Hoping for good weather and health so that we can complete plenty of long rides around this beautiful place.
After a much needed nap and large lunch to refuel the 1,000+ calories we burned on our 3 hour cycle, I hopped in my car to visit a few dear friends in Tulla. Tulla is about an hour away from Ballyvaughan, and is another small, traditional Irish town. My American friend, Julia, lives there with her husband, Mike, and their three beautiful children, Jude, Jack, and Eva. I met Julia last year, somewhat out of coincidence. She and her family have provided a sense of home for me in Ireland and this summer I got the pleasure of looking after Jude and Jack while Julia was in the hospital delivering Eva. I hadn’t gotten to see their family in several months due to the busyness of last semester, but it was such a joy to see how everyone has grown and a few things have changed with Eva’s introduction. The boys seem to entertain each other with more ease and everyone seems full of excitement and joy. Julia and Mike provide a loving home for their family and it’s evident in how their children behave and treat each other.
Yesterday, we kicked off our week with an exciting event in Galway. Nell O’Leary and Robbie Lawrence, two of the BCA first-year MFA students, had a show opening at the National University of Ireland in Galway. The graduate students organized a bus to head down and see the opening. After enjoying some appetizers and wine, we hit the town for an evening out in the city. I am so thankful for my cohort. We have a fantastic group of people to share life with here in the Burren.
In the midst of all the wonderful events over the past few days, I finished reading “The Art of Creative Thinking” by Rod Judkins. I highly suggest this book for anyone who needs a little creative inspiration. To give you a small taste, I’ll end this post with a quote from the book: “Great painters, poets, dancers, artists, entrepreneurs and creative people choose a lifestyle and then work out what they have to do to make a living within that way of life. They choose a fulfilling way of life rather than fulfilling society’s expectations.” I encourage you to consider how you are living. Have you chosen a lifestyle that fulfills you, or are you focused (intentionally or not) on fulfilling society’s expectations? Worth a ponder and possible nudge for change.
Anyway, I’m off to TA a drawing and painting course this afternoon. I wish you a joyful and fulfilling week with plenty of energy and spark!