Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aloneness 101

Hey there all you work-from-homers, how's it going out there? Are you relishing the solitude of your life? Or, like me, do you sometimes feel like you wish there was someone around....someone you could ask an opinion of, like "Should this be blue or red?" or "Was this email I just got a bit passive aggressive or am I being paranoid?"
I'm writing this because I realize that now more than ever there are SO many people who don't leave their homes to go to work--some, like me, might have had a job in the past and were used to seeing people on a regular basis. Others may not know any different but I just wonder: Do you get lonely working from home or do you not?
If you're like me, the answer is yes, you do get lonely occasionally (or more than occasionally). Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and feel so lucky to be able to do it but I do miss that casual back-and-forth synergy that can happen when you work around other creatives.

I can tell you some things that have helped me in case you're feeling this way:

1. Build a community--large or small--of friends who you meet with (in person) on a pretty regular basis. I have a small group of 3 other artists who, like me, used to work at Hallmark so we have that shared experience even though we worked there at different times. Sometimes we'll even plan workdays (I call them WTF days-meaning Working Together is Fun:). Everybody brings whatever they're working on and we each take a room in the house to work independently for awhile but we can come together and ask opinions if we need to. We don't do this nearly enough but it really helps me feel connected to something.
2. When you can't do face-to-face, do email chats. We will send jpegs of whatever projects we're working on to each other to get opinions via email when we can't get together. If the project is really complex, we may need to chat on the phone about it too.
3. Get out once in awhile. For me, when the walls start closing in I get out...literally. Even if the weather is really cold or rainy, I put on the coat and boots and get outside with my dog to remind myself how big this world is and how many other things there are outside my little world. This usually helps me to calm down if I'm upset about anything and also gain a better perspective on things.
4. Be with it. By this I mean, stop fighting the solitude and learn to embrace it. That means that when those voices in your head appear and tell you that what you're working on is awful, instead of trying to quell it you just say "Hmm, there's that voice silly of me" or "Wow, SOMEone's being negative today"-- something that will make light of it and not make you feel worse. We all have those voices when we create-you just have to cajole them into being your pals instead of your enemies. That's the only way they get quiet for me.
5. MOVE. I know that alot of you have kids and can't always work out during the day but any chance you get, and I mean even for 15 minutes-take it. Move in a different way and cadence-whether it's running up and down your stairs in short bursts, doing 20 jumping jacks or going for a quick jog around the block, I am a big proponent of exercise. I think it rearranges the molecules. I work out six days a week and if I ever miss it, I feel different for the day (and not in a good way.)

That's all for now. I hope this little bit of advice has helped if any of you are going through some of the same things that I am. Please let me know how you deal with loneliness if you have different ways than mine--I am always looking to learn! Have a great day.


amymeya said...

what a thoughtful and inspiring blog post, thank you Tammy. I really enjoy your thoughts on our job, you helped inspire me today, have a good day.

tammy smith said...

aw thanks Amy--so glad I could be of help! we need to get together soon too don't we? :)

Jeanee said...

Great post~

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