The Fork in the Road

Photo by Adrian Palomo

Photo by Adrian Palomo

A few years ago, another dancer and I were driving back home, in the kind of beat-up car you’d expect a starving artist to cruise around in. Almost an exact replica of the one from Wayne’s World, but without the sweet licorice dispenser.

It was one of those odd days right before fall. Fog and mist became strangely smitten with one another, only to be broken up by a sunny afternoon floozy that appeared, then disappeared, until it was easily forgotten beneath a resurgence of damp and dreary fervor.

I remember this day well, because it was damn grueling.

It was a long drive after an even longer day spent shooting a short film. This short film “Missed Connections” was a bit of a retro musical, with me as one of the Busby girls, while my driving dancer buddy was the choreographer. It was shown at the Milwaukee Film Festival, as well as many other festivals around the States. 

(Despite the silly story that follows, being a part of this film was an incredible experience.)

Anywho, on set one of the spirited hair stylists thought, despite my incessant warnings, that some retro finger waves would work on me. They didn’t.

And every time we stopped filming, she came dashing over to blind me with hairspray and stab me with bobby pins.

After ten or so hours of filming, running the dance sequences over and over again – here, there, and everywhere – my failed chic style had been gelled and sprayed so many times that it looked like I was sporting a large slug on my head.

On top of all that, I was in a skimpy leotard that I barely squeezed my ass into and wore borrowed heels which were too small. Every time they changed that camera lens, it was the kiss of death…do it all again, from the top.

For crying out loud! Somebody put me, my feet, my hair, and my uniboob out of our misery!

Photo by Adrian Palomo

Photo by Adrian Palomo

So, you get the picture. I was exhausted in a car with a slimy slug on my head.

It’s funny the things that we think about when we’re so tired, the kind of internal state that matches the thick haze outside. This uninvited calm often makes us reckless, in a good way.

That day in the car we had a conversation that stayed with me.

Both with day jobs, I was a dancer/writer and she was a dancer/visual artist, so we started talking about how we juggled it all.

Interestingly enough, we two go-getters came to an alarming conclusion. You can’t.

If your creativity is split in half, the fork in the road, neither direction will fulfill you. And, how in the hell can this lead to any sort of success?

Each road will be there and you may drive and drive and drive without stopping, but then you’ll run out of gas. And your desperate ass will be hitchhiking, wondering where it all went wrong.

Around this time last year, after a lifetime of dancing, I stopped. It wasn’t even a planned thing, it just happened. I became deeply involved with my Yoga practice and completed my teacher training last summer.

Then, in my usual Britt fashion, I took that too far.

I started a wellness/Yoga blog, accompanying social media channels, and taught like crazy…four days a week. All this time I was trying to squeeze in my day job, keep up with this blog and my third book, and eat, sleep, and live.

Where was my free time? That beautiful time to decompress and enjoy, to reflect and be open to inspiration. There wasn’t much, sometimes there wasn’t any.

The last half of 2013 I debated between a Yoga career and a writing career.

Sure, I wanted both. Did I have the time and energy to give both my full attention in my minimal spare time? No.

Naturally I tried my hardest, but it drained me.

By December I knew I had to choose. And, quite frankly, the choice surprised me.

Technically, a Yoga career would be the easier option. Wellness and health are in demand as they are a service, one where the cost can be validated.

Fiction writers struggle to make ends meet and it takes a long time to get your name out there. Art is subjective, difficult to put a price on, and bloody hell…there’s just so much of it out there!

But in the end, I chose writing.

After a month without posting, I decided to shut down my All the Way Yoga blog and social media, as well as free up my schedule by giving up two of the Yoga classes I was teaching each week.

It was hard, but it wasn’t painfully difficult. So, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

I had become just like that hairstylist on set, determined to make the retro finger waves work on stubborn hair, putting more product, more pins, and more effort into all of it.

Photo by Adrian Palomo

Photo by Adrian Palomo

I went back to that conversation I had in the beat-up car after that long day of filming, with a slug on my head and a leotard hiked up my butt.

When I came face to face with exhaustion once more, I was taken down a notch. There I was again, idling at that damn fork in the road.

It’s not about limitations. It’s also not about going for something and failing.

Creativity is a beautiful gift, one which should be handled with great care. That’s what it’s about.

To all who supported my six month stint in the wellness world, thank you. For all who continue to encourage me to be a writer, thank you.

I’m lucky to have such an awesome community to keep me going. You are all necessary and lovely. Again, thank you.

33 thoughts on “The Fork in the Road

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    It was always assumed multi-tasking was a great way to get things done. More recent studies suggest the opposite. If we focus on too many things at once, we don’t finish anything as quickly or efficiently as we would otherwise.

    I know your post is referring to creativity, not life’s tasks, but in some ways, I think the same applies. That doesn’t mean one can’t be creative in different venues; I just think it means it might be best to throw our greatest effort into one thing at a time. When that’s done, we can move onto the next goal, even if it’s in a different area altogether.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      The same absolutely applies to creativity! To accomplish any creative project, tasks are a part of the process.

      Multi-tasking plagues our society. I have been practicing solo-tasking, at work as well. A big step for me was taking down my auto email message pop-up, which tore me away from whatever I was involved in. My focus at work has been so much better. And to think, that auto feature, was the default set-up. I had to google how to shut it down just so I could win back some clarity.

  2. Letizia says:

    From time to time I have to reassess where my energy is going. My creativity seems to require it to go crazy all over the place for a second and then I have to harness it in my exhaustion and say, “whoa, hold on here!” And I refocus it back for a long while. For some reason this works for me. I could do without the exhaustion part, but I guess crazy and exhaustion just want to go hand in hand.

    I’ll miss “All the Way Yoga” but know that its spirit will be right here on this beautiful blog.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Oh, man. Don’t we all need to reassess that energy! Crazy and exhaustion do seem to go hand in hand. They reel me in when I need it most.

      Thank you so much for your support with All the Way! You nailed it…the spirit shall carry on right here.

  3. Gallivanta says:

    Towards the end of last year Letizia, of Reading Interrupted, mentioned that To Kill a Mockingbird was only written because friends supported Harper Lee financially for the year it took to write the book. It made me wonder if each family or small groups of close friends could support each other for a defined period so that each person had an opportunity to concentrate solely on their creativity. Our creativity is not generally well supported in our commercially driven world; it’s a shame. Best of luck with the road you have chosen 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yes, I remember Letizia’s post well, as I had no idea about the support Harper Lee had. My husband actually supported me for a year while I wrote my second book and got my blog up and running. It was an amazing opportunity for me and I am so grateful I had the time to tune in with my writer self.

      One of my favorite things about the blogging community is how supportive we all are of one another. Instead of a commercial world, it’s a creatively driven world. And, I like living in it.

  4. Stan R. Mitchell says:

    Hey Britt,

    That has to be so hard making such a choice, but your wisdom for making it amazes me.

    So often in life, less is truly more. (Says man who at one point had three blogs — yes, three, and I nearly launched a fourth — plus the writing, plus owning the company…)

    Yours,
    Stan

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It was a toughy, Stan. I’m not gonna lie. And, maybe down the road I’ll have more time to teach Yoga. But now is not that time.

      Wowza! Three blogs…and, kill me now. : )

      Less is definitely more. Deep down, I think us go-getters know this but we’re trying to prove somebody (ourselves, perhaps?) wrong. Oh, well. Live and learn…and repeat the same mistakes a few more times, right?

  5. TheBlackTwig says:

    It would have been hard to choose but then again, it would have been very easy to choose the one you love more. Congratulations! This post would surely inspire creative people out there who were stranded at the fork in the road. Well done, Brit!

  6. Sheila says:

    Good choice because I’m looking forward to reading more of your books! I don’t see how anyone can keep up with two blogs. One is more than enough for me. Creativity has a way of sucking up our energy, which is a good thing but that would be hard if that energy is spread out through different things all the time. It’s true that at some point we have to focus more on the things we really love.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yay!

      I don’t see how anyone can keep up with multiple blogs either, unless one of them is providing income. I ended up splitting my time between the two and definitely felt I neglected this one along the way. Good to be back.

      Yes, creativity does take it out of us. It’s super important to channel the energy to the one love that means the world to you.

  7. Roy McCarthy says:

    Totally agree that choices need to be made periodically in order to preserve quality.That’s not to say that, a little way down the line one can’t reassess, choose again.

  8. 4amWriter says:

    I was holding my breath while scrolling to see what choice you made — selfishly, I’m glad it’s the writing. 🙂 What is nice about both is that the one you don’t choose you can still pursue on your own time and whim. No pressure. Writing will be harder, more demanding, more frustrating, you’ll lose more hair, you may actually get a real uniboob, but! You’ll be writing. And anything is worth that price. 🙂

      • Britt Skrabanek says:

        Thanks for the writerly support message, lovely! It feels good to make the decision after that rambunctious year I had. Already writing and editing are flowing a lot better as I feel like a weight has been lifted. And, yes…my man is always the #1 ruler of my heart. ; )

  9. Andrea Stephenson says:

    After enjoying ‘Satin Gloves’ so much, I think you’ve made a great choice pursuing the writing – sometimes it can be so hard to stop doing something that you also love to give more time to the other thing, but life was obviously telling you this is what you needed to do!

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