When I Work…When I sleep.

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I ended the heading of this post with an exclamation mark…why…well, it’s because I’m tired of explaining my day to a number of folk. When I discuss my work/sleep/downtime hours to other colleagues, say, in a quiet time at an art show, I don’t have to explain…it’s just taken as my particular part of the day, which may be different from others.

I got onto this when away sharing a vacation home with some new folk and when I wandered into the kitchen to make coffee for my other half and me at 8am I was greeted with something like ‘You slept in! How was that?’….whaaaaa? First…what business is it of theirs when I get up as I didn’t have anything planned with them…we were on vacation and all doing our own thing.  Second…why did I go to lengths to explain that this was my normal time of rising and I may have been awake for an hour already and I didn’t go to bed like them at 9.30pm and I tend to go to bed at 11.30pm and that’s just me!

It’s been a long time since I had a Monday to Friday 9-5 job (decades!) and being a self-employed fibre artist and working hard I tend to fall into my own circadian rhythm – going to bed when I’m tired and done working or hanging out in front of the TV watching something on PBS with my other half…getting up when my body naturally wakes up, without an alarm.

Don’t get me wrong, I can get up at 4 in the morning if I have to catch a plane, or 6am if I have to be travelling to set up a show or such like. Yes, I can … but that doesn’t mean that hopping into bed at 10pm the night before means I’ll actually go to sleep at 10pm…I’ll go to sleep at my normal time of somewhere between 11 and midnight but get up at the required time to make that flight…and I’ve never missed a train, bus or plane yet.

Another thing that affects my sleep patterns is that now I’m past menopause I have disturbed sleep…which I never had before I was fifty…hormones or the lack thereof play a large part I think…not to mention being awakened from a deep sleep by a night sweat which at least are not as frequent or horrendous as they use to be but still happen after 19 years….that’d make anybody tired in the morning.

Being self employed I work alone so I don’t interact with anyone while I’m working and my studio is at home so I can lose track of time when I’m absorbed in a project…especially if it’s going well. I also work well still at night…I always have. Time was when I was sewing a new outfit or a dress for an occasion I have been known to work into the wee small hours.

In one of my last years at the Toronto One Of A Kind Show I was greeted by a lady walking into my booth with ‘You open late, why don’t you open earlier?’…well, I bit my tongue, counted to 10 and proceeded to enlighten her. I told her that we were there until 9 or 10 at night and that in the two days before opening day (I believe it was opening day that day) we were all building and setting up our booths, working to build, create, display, fix, paint and all the things that go into a booth. Many of us had packed up our studios far away and driven hours to get there …. then set up.

I went on to tell her that, often, the artists who lived in Toronto would go back to their studios when the show closed at night and get more work done…I knew because that’s what I did when I lived in Toronto. I closed my little talk by saying that if she encountered an artist who seemed to be nodding off in their chair it may be because they had been working day and night in the preceding weeks to get ready for the show season…especially if it was Christmas time and they were relying on the next 11 days to make the bulk of their annual income.

….she left quiet and enlightened…and I went back to sleep! (..not really!).

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