Get to Know the Micro-Grantee: Jasz The Poet
A blog written by one of our micro-grantees, Jasz The Poet about her experiences spiritually, mentally and artistically through quarantine.
Quarantine has been a game changer. Coming into this season, there were plenty of things I needed to do or cut but taking action on those tasks was not a priority. However, it feels like God strategically used this time to ground me on what’s most important through a period of personal, professional, and relational development. Since March, I’ve learned more about myself, gained a clearer perspective of my entrepreneurial journey, and have strengthened and shifted relationships. Above all else, I’m further understanding the connection between mind, body, and spirit, and for the first time in a long time, I’m moving in full alignment which has transformed the way I navigate art and productivity.
Prior to quarantine, I struggled with having enough time. Even though I made my own schedule, I still found myself rushing through or skipping over activities that fueled my spirit in order to tend to tasks that drove my business or income. I often felt a tug to sit still, read regularly, or pray longer, yet an inner part of me would always be reluctant to the stillness. Ironically enough, quarantine took away many of my excuses for rushing and gave me the space to move differently. I now find that when I spend time walking outside, engaging in unlimited devotion time, reading a book, or being casually creative, the tasks that previously weighed on me suddenly seem like activities for which I’m even more equipped to handle. My ideas and inspiration flow abundantly and rushing now feels oppositional to the natural current of life.
By spending time pouring into my spirit, I was able to declutter my mind. As an overthinker, this clarity has been monumental because I can now focus on goals without spiraling down a path of insecurities, obstacles, and distractions. For example, prior to quarantine, I started a 40-day accountability group through which I led Sunday calls and distributed weekly guides with journal prompts, guiding verses and self-care suggestions. I knew this was something that brought together a variety of my skillsets from teaching and facilitation to introspection and accountability. However, during quarantine I had numerous revelations about how this fit into the larger framework of my community work in addition to receiving the inspiration to create a complementary 40-Day devotional. My life purpose is more apparent and my various projects and skillsets are finally blending together in sensible ways.
The current challenges for freelancers and contract workers are great. With the unemployment rate higher than it has ever been, with small organizations being gravely impacted by the COVID-19 quarantine, with a society the systemically undervalues the arts, the art community at-large will have to fight tooth and nail for the financial support it deserves. Freelance artists and teaching artists will be uniquely affected at a time when art has proven to sustain emotional health but is still not given the recognition it deserves. Art is not a commodity, it’s a necessity. Access to the arts should not be a privilege when it should be a fundamental right. Where challenges abound so does enlightenment. Personally, I am taking this time radically re-envision art education. I know I am not alone in this endeavor.
The last piece of this fully aligned puzzle is my body. Being more in tune with the energy and flow of life, I’m able to pinpoint stresses and discord within my body. Unfortunately for me, there have been several moments where I learned this the hard way. A month into quarantine, I managed to pinch a nerve in my arm—possibly during a workout but the cause is still unknown- which resulted in me being ordered to complete rest for 10 days while my arm (my primary, right arm to be specific) rested in a sling. As if quarantine and intentional stillness weren’t enough, I was being forced to rest even more. The lesson about resting was driven home when I came back from the doctors with my arm in a sling only to find a book I ordered (Pursuit of Holiness) on my doorstep. God knew I wasn’t going to prioritize that book if left up to my own devices, so He made it so I’d be able to completely dive in with no distractions. My body told me what it needed, and my spirit and mind were able to be fed as a result.
As we slowly emerge from a period of forced hibernation and lesson learning, I am thoroughly convinced that many things cannot go back to how they were before. Once you know something, you can’t unknow it. I am much more aware of the divine purpose for the work I am compelled to do, and the ability to do it well is directly dependent on my submission to the natural order of things. In the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success which I read last year, the author speaks about the realm of infinite possibility that exists when we accept the uncertainty of life while tending only to what we can control. Though all of the lessons haven’t been easily learned, that is my new focus. I am grateful for what this time has taught me, and I’m confident that the routines, projects, and revelations gained or strengthened during this period will definitely be worth the process.
And always our favorite question. Best. (Quarantine) Snack. Ever.
My favorite quarantine snack has been the gummy wild berry life savers!
Part of a continuing series featuring our 2020 Bartol Micro-Grantees.