Here it is. Late winter. The time of year when the landscape alienates with its constant blankness and, as a self-employed artist, I find myself having to drink copious amounts of tea and engage in regular heart-to-hearts with the bathroom mirror about self-care and commitment and forgiveness.

Okay, not really.

Well, sort-of.

I know I’m not alone. I know this can be typical. I bailed out of my class at the gym on Tuesday night and my workout partner immediately texted me to confess to guzzling chocolate milk and skipping it herself. (As compensation, we met up last night and walked 10,000 steps in one go).

January starts with gusto and then the energy fades and getting through the days starts to feel like walking through thick snow, that slog that makes your shins ache.

For me, this combines with the regular stuff of the writing life: another rejection from a publisher, having to cut the first six chapters (while wondering what else I’m going to find that has to be axed) of my novel, and the lonely, every day act of getting to the desk each morning or else I’ll feel like crap about myself and be buried even more deeply in this shitty mood.

So, what’s the answer?

I’m very lucky: the answer is coming for me, already arranged.

Easter procession in San Miguel, April 1998

Easter procession in San Miguel, April 1998

Next week, I’m heading to Mexico, to teach at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference in a town in the centre of the country called San Miguel d’Allende.

I’ve been there before, nearly (gah!) twenty years ago to write about the Canadian photographer, Reva Brooks. And I know that this is exactly what I need right now: other creative humans plus sunshine plus colour plus books plus dancing plus siestas plus hot springs plus margaritas plus fun. As I said: lucky!

But if I wasn’t going, if that wasn’t all set-up, flights and hotels already booked, my inner creativity coach knows that I would have to get off my butt and push a bit harder at the February shell that closes itself around me.

I would have to challenge myself in an area where I struggle: connecting, getting out of my house and creating some variety in my normally reclusive life.

I’d need to maybe host a potluck with a tropical theme or actually start one of the social projects I’ve talked about with other people (the yoga group or the international book club or the knitting stitch-and-bitch sessions or the dinner club).

So, this is me, challenging myself. I’m at my laptop right now and not my bathroom mirror but the conversation is still being had. And I will keep having it, until I create the shoe-horn that will pry me away from the pinching of my sometimes shrunken home.

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