We had the good fortune of connecting with Kittie Beletic and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kittie, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
The circumstances of my life have included: working for others, having my own businesses, working freelance and having to hustle for assignments, being single, being married, raising two children, helping my elderly parents. I’ve had creative blocks, sabotaged myself unconsciously, and at certain times I’ve had to work within the framework of being either financially flush or cash poor. In every instance, I had to adjust, re-invent my systems, stay positive while I started over one more time. I think one of the most important tools to maintain balance is Flexibility.
For me, balance is about heartbeat. It’s about rhythm and blues, about the jazz of living, about dissonance and harmony. I mean this literally. How a person fits into her life is completely personal which means the process of finding balance isn’t the same for each of us. It’s an evolution we experience uniquely, based on who we are and what we choose from day-to-day. Balancing our work-life with our life-life is fundamental because they keep each other in check. When something is off balance, the tension is too tight in one place and too loose in another. That can last for only so long before something goes awry.
But we’re human and, you know, we do things like over-think, under-plan, we’re hard on ourselves, we compare ourselves to others. Self-judgment kicks in. We can become non-chalant and even lazy. Often we take ourselves waaaaay too seriously.
I’ve made some good choices with regards to balance, and some that were based on inexperience and misinformation that blew up in my face. I’ve certainly been shortsighted. I’ve had to forgive myself for my perfectionist tendencies or for acting impulsively and I’ve learned to go more slowly, to choose with discernment. Balance comes through exploration and discovery of self. I write out a list of what I want in my life and I post it on a board in my kitchen. What I aspire to be and to have in my life keeps me on track. This year I collected pieces of eucalyptus bark and wrote reminders on them. I put them around my house and studio and I love coming up on one of them. They keep me upright.
The things that center me are directly proportionate to where I’m leaning and to what degree. Here are some other things that help me stay centered:
1 – Exercise is the quick fix. It puts my mind straight, clears my head, takes the edge off, makes me happy. It’s also my least favorite activity. Why am I so resistant to something that makes me feel so good after I’ve done it? The resistance is in my mind; I have to silence it, put on my Nikes and even if it’s just for 15 minutes, I go. Dancing is terrific exercise and I can do it anywhere. Trader Joe’s is a great place for a dance party!
2 – Prayer/Meditation/Gratitude starts and ends my day. This is one of my favorite activities and like exercise, the more regularly I do it, the better I feel.
3 – Self Care. I was recently gifted with a new mattress. It’s unbelievable what a difference a rested body makes! My dad used to say “Don’t skimp on your shoes or your mattress. You spend half of the day on your feet and the other half lying down”. By not skimping on the tools needed for self-care I’m ready for whatever work/life brings.
4 – Forgiveness. I’ve found it vital to forgive myself. Forgiveness makes it possible to move forward more quickly, to learn from my mistakes. It also brings empathy into play when I need to extend a forgiving hand to someone else. That’s important in every part of living.
5 – New Surroundings. Everyone has something that literally transports them. Soundtracks lift me up and fill my heart like no other. I LOVE to drive my car on an open road. PEOPLE. So much of my work is solo, so when I get out among the madding crowd I get energized and focused. The contrast of nobody and everybody and then nobody again is stabilizing for me.
Above all, the experience I count on to put me right is sitting/walking/jumping into my beloved Pacific Ocean. I grew up near Lake Michigan – an ocean unto itself – and I love the initial shock of cold water. I love letting the sun warm my body and looking across an endless palette of blues. Most of all, my heart beats to the rhythm of the waves as the ocean breathes in and out, out and in – and I feel part of it. A day at the beach connects me, balances the frenetic pace of the business side of living and reminds me there’s more to life than meeting deadlines.
I actually don’t mind being off balance. I always get something from it and it’s an inevitable part of living so I welcome it when it comes. I try not to let it last too long. Excess in any case wears me out … except maybe in the case of laughter. Laughing with my friends and family, laughing with children, with animal pals – laughing at myself. Laughter puts us smack dab in the middle. And for me, that’s where balance begins…. When I am in tune with myself, I’m also in tune with the world around me; I see things I’ve never seen before; I’m a better artist; I’m a better listener/observer; My work flows. My Life flows! Life is an art party, isn’t it?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My best ideas have always started as gifts. Through the years I’ve learned that no matter what I’m designing, when I create with someone specific in mind – books, artwork, music & lyrics – it brings focus to the project, helps me stay clear. When I let my intention lead the way, it almost creates itself! Those gift ideas often manifest into peripheral products. My brand is about gifting, finding an image or a story or lyrical line or painting that conjures an emotion or memory as a tribute to someone. When I am led to create for someone I know, it rings true, strikes a chord, brings a smile from the inside out.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I like to pick up my friends at the airport and go straight to the beach for a meal. Usually that means Moonshadows in Malibu or Sunset Restaurant at Westward Beach. Sharing a meal oceanside is relaxing after a stuffy flight from who-knows-where! Other restaurants/fun hang-outs I like to share are Le Republique, Joan’s on Third, Blue Collar Pub (create a signature cocktail), The Baked Potato jazz club offers great music and a fun menu/drinks. The Old Place is a favorite event! Melrose is an eclectic shopping crawl. The Hollywood Cemetery, Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre are icons and a fun way to host newcomers. Most of all, I love having people in my home. It’s never more beautiful
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Brian, Vanessa, Ali and Seth. They are my people.
My girlfriends are irreplaceable. They are my “sisters”, a constant source of laughter and love. They know who they are.
My mom and dad and brother from whom I received the gifts of tenderness & compassion, persistence & humor and who provided a home sparkling with creativity.
Jim Purdy – weaving, Comin’ Back To You (jeans painting) Mary Ann Sherman – ZenBoy and Me