When Up is Down

Yesterday and today I’ve had a pretty badass case of the Back-To-Reality Blues. Coming off a big trip to be home for a day and leave again for a weekend, and then return to the real world after that, I wasn’t prepared for the low lows of (albeit trivial) day to day life. Back in the day, whenever I was having a bad/weird/emotional day, I would just work it out on my blog. But my blog and I have been having an identity crisis of sorts for the past few years and she’s no longer the first I turn to for “help”. (Sorry blog.) 

My recent trip to Italy was a personal experiment in pretending to be normal. I wanted to see if I could take a pure vacation. This is something I almost never do. Don’t get me wrong, I have wild adventures and I’m no workaholic bore, but I rarely, if ever, zone out into the great wide world with no creative agenda. I’m almost always working on a project or researching some angle of inspiration, gathering visual data and collecting physical and emotional reference points for my creative work. Last summer I worked on 2 creative projects in Italy, I’ve painted collections in Arkansas, Chicago, Los Angeles and across the great American South, not to mention painting in hotel rooms and makeshift studios across the midwest during my gypsy artist days, plus inspirational trips to South Africa, Paris, Berlin, and more. But this trip was all about NOT being an artist. I tried. I did pretty well. No sketching, no museums, and I only journaled twice (once on the way there and once on the way home). Okay, so I took pictures, but only with my iPhone.

I agree, what’s the point? you ask. Really, it was just to give it a try. While it worked in the moment, the real struggle has turned out to be the aftermath. Returning to face a painting in progress in the studio has felt much like exercising some muscles that have been cozily inactive. There’s an inertia to being non-productive on your creative work. The sleeping giant is so damn cranky. And MY what a giant. 

Conclusion: I am capable of taking a vacation. I am not “normal.” 

But I won’t let it get me down…

"On some dark nights, when the pain of existence and cosmic meaninglessness tear at our soul, we will find ourselves crying bitter tears. Then we dry our eyes and begin again." - "The Van Gogh Blues" by Eric Maisel

first sleep, then begin again,



lifestyleoftheunemployed: 6 Rules to Travel By And while...


6 Rules to Travel By

And while I’m post-happy, on the heels of a big trip, I feel this is a good one to re-blog and a list I live by. For example: 

1. On my most recent adventure, I was supposed to be in India, then Morocco and both of those got cancelled after I had my shots and visas, but I knew I was going on a trip. It was on my (very full) calendar and I’ve always lived by the motto “Work Hard. Play Hard.” So, I went. 

2. We arrived in Italy and met friends and luckily the place where they were staying had an extra room. (You can’t always be so lucky, but if you believe you are a lucky person, the universe usually makes it true.) Of course, one of those nights we had to vacate the room, so we asked the proprietors to recommend a nearby place, which they did, and even getting there was a great experience which included carrying our (small) luggage over a hillside path along the Tyrrhenian Sea to the next town. (this particular walk gave me the photo on my instagram that got the most “likes” from the trip, which I admit is ridiculously trivial, but nonetheless a sign of our times.) And when it was time to depart our friends, we turned to them for advice. We had planned to head south to the Aeolian Islands, but a friend recommended another smaller island, a shorter distance away. Because we were so flexible, all it took was a quick train ticket and ferry search, and a phone call to the place where our friend stayed, and bam, we were on our way. (It worked out great btw. Beautiful waters, rented a boat one day and a scooter the next. Ate fresh fish, and saw the most amazing sunsets. Short orders on islands, but exactly the thing you want in a vacation.)

3. I’m a HUGE believer in this, (and it happens to be quite the main idea of a book I’m writing, but that’s a post for another day) and its a technique I practice throughout my life. I didn’t grow up rich and traveling and I had to make my own way in terms of discovering the world, but I quickly found that once you achieve those adventure dreams, they can feel empty pretty quickly. The trick to travel is being as Walker Percy said in The Moviegoer “onto something”. If you have a theme, a mission, your trip can serve you. You are the master. Forget all those people waiting in line at the major attraction. If you are truly curious about something, the masses melt away as you wander off in the direction of your “research.” You don’t HAVE to do the thing that is the thing that people do in the place where you are. You CAN skip it entirely. (also it’s just another way to feel like a badass.)

4. There’s certainly time to have money and time to have resourcefulness. The problem with having plenty of money is that it takes you off your “game” so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, you should have a credit card with plenty of space on it for those times you need to “save yourself” while traveling. But don’t buy your way through every situation. The more you practice this trick of frugality vs. luxury, the better you’ll get at identifying when is when. 

5. On last summer’s travel, we got an evil stomach bug that reminded me of my mortality. While this sometimes can’t be avoided, I can’t say enough about being healthy. Keep that system tuned up all the time. Hydrate and take vitamins. I can be a bit of a skeptic and fall down the path of thinking that nothing will help when it comes to germy environments. BUT, on this summer’s travel, I shamelessly busted out the antibacterial gel on trains, airplanes and before and after every bathroom visit and meal. So what if it was pointless? I didn’t get sick this time. I’m just sayin’.

6. The linked list says to find a good neighbor (which is a great idea), but you aren’t limited to neighbors as much as you think. I have a wonderful assistant who helps feed my bunny and collect mail while I’m away, not to mention be on the radar for handling digital emergencies too. We keep all files in the cloud so she can handle almost anything I can handle from anywhere in the world. (except physical artwork and products of course). But wether it’s a neighbor, assistant, sister, or friend, it’s mostly about asking for help. AND being grateful, communicative and generous in return. Be specific about what you need from your friend while you’re away. I like to make a schedule of bunny feeding days so my assistant doesn’t have to remember, but can just refer to the list. (shoutout to HannahPickle) Also, learn to make your life easier: I schedule things like a house-cleaning on either side of my trip, and for groceries to be delivered by my local champ Good Eggs on the day after I get back home. I also unpack and do laundry right away. And I try to schedule time with friends or family who I know I have souvenirs for, etc. It gives you a chance to share stories from your trip, and catch up on what you missed rather than feel left out. Once you embrace that life is always changing, and you can never get “caught up” truly, you build in the “change-time” that is essential to your happiness. And you feel much more at peace in those weird times in planes, trains and cars to and from your destination when you can otherwise feel like a lost flower floating through the universe, checking instagram and Facebook and being anywhere but where you are. 

In closing, check out the link to the list, as my list references the points in that list. I didn’t edit this post in an effort to blaze ahead with enthusiasm into the next thing, which for me, is about to be dinner, in a city that is not my hometown, on the road that is ever-changing. 




lifestyleoftheunemployed: Hit the Road Solo Re-blogged from a...


Hit the Road Solo

Re-blogged from a hotel pool, flying solo, looking up museums, dinner spots and coffeeshops in Dallas. Cheers to my fellow lone wolfs! 






When I’m not working on a collection, I’m painting...

When I’m not working on a collection, I’m painting Tree commissions and art for @anthropologie which means I can’t share as much as I would like to. But these summertime blues should get us through. More travel photos soon! #summerismytruelove I hope you are spending summer following your passions too. Xo, Rebecca




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