One morning in December, 2017 I sat painting in my pajamas for five hours straight.
I hadn’t intended to paint for that long when I started. I figured it would be like it normally is when I paint after a full day of work. I’d have an hour in me, maybe, and I’d push myself to two. But that day I was focused on the canvas for what, at that time, was forever.
Finally, around 1pm with the sun barely hovering over the horizon and the thermometer outside reading 10, I pulled on “real” pants. By real, I mean several layers of long underwear and snow pants. Friends pulled into my driveway to pick me up so we could go hiking.
We hiked up in the snow, chatting even though we were breathing hard and outfitted like astronauts in all of our layers. Eventually we got to a good view point.
By the time we turned around, the pink alpenglow sunset was starting to descend on the mountains. The incredible thing about Alaskan sun is that it takes forever to rise and set. Sunrises and sunsets last for a long time. During that sunset I felt intensely grateful and alive, and connected to the two people I was hiking with. It was about being outside in that kind of an intense and beautiful situation, having a full morning of painting to propel myself forward with, and going outside even in the cold.
I realized something important that day, which was that I wanted to have more days like it.
I’d had the energy for the art because I hadn’t already spent it elsewhere. And it left room for the other things I love. I still think of that day as the mental touchstone that describes where I ultimately want to be: primarily doing art and leaving enough space in the day to get outdoors. I’m working towards it, step by step, and with a lot of support.