Thursday, October 3, 2013

That Little Voice




Whenever I start getting restless, grumpy, and overly picky about things, chances are I haven’t been getting my creative ya-ya’s out.  While I enjoy crafting and photography, nothing gets me back on track like writing.  I know this and yet sometimes I go far too long without doing it.  

The irony, of course, is that as a writing teacher I am surrounded by writing every day and I urge my students to create and explore their ideas. I make sure they have sufficient guidance and material about which to write. I look over draft after draft, deciphering the true intent of the piece and showing the writer how to prune, fertilize, and nurture his or her essay, all the while letting my own creativity go by the wayside as I carry out my duties.  

Don’t get me wrong; I love my job.  It’s the best one in the world, but in order to do it well, I have to remember to pull away on a regular basis and nurture my own talent too.

At this time in my life, it’s relatively easy to nudge myself back on track.  As soon as I recognize my own restlessness with life and dissatisfaction with small things, I impose a moratorium on grading and housework and give myself an hour or two to write and think things out on paper.  Though sometimes the process is painful and painstaking, I feel so much better afterwards and I know I am a better teacher/friend/person because of it.

When I was a young mother, I ached to write and create, but was so busy putting everyone else’s needs first.  I put my own need for creativity on the back burner time and time again.  As wives and mothers, we dedicate ourselves to others at the expense of our own needs and society pats us on our heads and tells us how absolutely full and fulfilling our lives are.  

However, we know that little voice inside of us cries out.  

We know, we know, there is more to us than just the roles we fill for others and yet we let the world drown that voice out time and time again.

Thank goodness my little voice didn’t die from all those years of neglect.  Believe me, it should be dead and gone. (There were times during those years when I was so torn, I wished it were gone, out of my life forever.)  Somehow, though, it survived.  It’s a stubborn little thing and even though it manifests itself in odd ways sometimes, it always welcomes me back graciously when I give it the attention it needs.

I think about my nieces and young friends who are in the midst of child-rearing, the hustle and bustle of jobs, and taking on the bulk of the responsibility of maintaining a household.  I want to tell them being creative, taking time for yourself, heeding that little voice within is neither self-centered nor selfish.  It’s crucial for you, your children, and your mate.  

Once you claim time for yourself and exercise your creativity in whatever way feeds your soul, you will be a better mother, a better wife, and a better person.  You will blossom when you spend on your ideas and creativity.  The small stuff goes away.  The meaningless irritations melt. By creating, and doing what YOU want to do, you take yourself to a higher plane and get some perspective.  You thrive and, thus, others around you do too. 

“Finding” this time does not work and neither will waiting for someone to grant it to you.   It is a rare spouse or child who will give you this time.  You must honor yourself enough to claim it for yourself.   Speak up and claim it. 

Ah, but won’t this cause conflict?  Oh yes, the three classic forms of conflict—person vs. person, person vs. environment, person vs. self—they are all involved here, aren’t they?  That will not change.  Those conflicts will always remain.   

Do the thing you need to do anyway.

Claim the time.  Claim the space.  You are worth it. 

God didn’t give you talent to watch it wither.  Nurture that deep need within you even if it means taking time away from what others deem more important.  You know what you need.  Listen to that voice.

For here is the harsh truth from Aunt Betty:  The years will pass. Your children will grow up and move into their own lives.  Sometimes, even spouses go away when we least expect it.  And there you are.  

There you are. 

You, and your voice.  

My wish for you is that you both be clear, bold, and strong.


27 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's right - God gave all of us talent and we shouldn't let it go to waste.
Glad you are writing for you again, Betty.

Lin said...

Amen, sister. I quilted like a fiend when my kids were young. I sat in the hallway of their ballet class or in the car during baseball practice...waiting and hand-quilting to appease the need to do something for ME. I have incredible quilts to show for those years of waiting....and nurturing me, as well as those around me.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes. This to infinity cubed. Look after yourself and listen to what speaks to you.

Olga said...

This is a wonderful post...so many truths. It deserves a wide audience because it is so easy, especially for young women, to let their needs languish as they tend to the needs of others.

Ami said...

I have a good friend who needs to do more things for herself. Forwarding this to her.
:)

Tabor said...

See how wise you have become? This is an old challenge but no less important as the years pass.

Domestic Bella said...

"My wish for you is that you both be clear, bold, and strong." I'm taking this to heart. Thanks, Betty.

MomQueenBee said...

Yes, exactly what you said, especially the part about your spark not letting you go. Writing was never the most important thing (and it shouldn't have been, with four babies) but when I was ready for it the spark was still waiting for me.

Deanna said...

Yet another confirmation. Thanks for the nudge.

Shelly said...

You are spot on. Thank you for the timely reminder.

Madi and Mom said...

STANDING OVATION BB!!! OH AND SO TRUE...BUT YOU KNOW IT IS HARD TO GET THE YOUNG TO SEE THINGS SOMETIMES...BUT YOU JUST KEEP TELLING THE YOUNG LADIES IN YOUR LIFE TO DO AS YOU SAY NOT AS YOU DID.
HUGS MADI AND CECILIA

jenny_o said...

I would caution that there must be a balance. I have known people who followed their own interests to the exclusion of their responsibilities. That doesn't work either. But, yes, find a way to nuture your creativity within whatever place you find yourself. It is always possible.

The Girl Next Door Grows Up said...

I have 2 kids and there are days just like you mentioned where I need to do something! I have been fortunate to be able to work at home and pretty much set my own schedule which is why everything fell by the wayside until my Hannah started Kindergarten this year.

So now I feel like I get the best of both worlds. 9-3 work and the rest is time with them!

And don't make me cry - they will NOT grow up and leave me!! I just can't think about that :-)

Ms. A said...

I NEED to do this! If not for creativity, or writing, just to have some "me" time, to recoup my sanity. I'm SO hoping it will come soon.

Alison said...

My little voice is usually saying things like "You really should go walk the dog" and "Why don't you eat a salad instead?"

Of course, I don't have children...maybe I'm listening to the wrong voice?

Out on the prairie said...

I have been cleaning all day looking for a drive with over 300 pages. I have hard copy, but hate typing so want to find my drive to add to this. My cleaning lady claims to have never touched it, but did rearrange my messy desk a few weeks ago.YIKES!!!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Your words really speak to me. I seemed to never have time for myself when the kids were little. It's so difficult to balance family needs and personal fulfillment.

The Green Streak said...

OK, Betty. I get the hint. I'll quit being so busy being retired and get busy writing. One of my former students told me that he expected me to be busy and happy writing now that I'm retired. Two of you telling me the same thing. . . That's a sign.

Baby Sister said...

Yeah...I need to be better. Mine has been on the back burner forever. Time to change...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - it is remembering to include us in our list of daily life ..

So pleased you're setting time aside for that creative thought and adjustment - doing what pleases you ..

Good for you - cheers Hilary

Retired English Teacher said...

Good advice, Betty. I need to take it.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Love this post, Betty!

Sush said...

Yes, you are so right! You must take/make the time or the muse may be lost! Inspiring me to make that time again...xoxox

Kittie Howard said...

Lovely post, Betty. Happy to see you're making time for yourself--which is why I dropped by, to see how you're doing. Hope all continues to go well.

Leanne said...

Oh, my friend. I love you. Is that strange, for me to say that? This post hit home with me BIG time, this very moment. I wasn't until I had children that I realized how badly I needed to listen to that voice in myself - and while some days it is a challenge to speak up and claim that time for me, I KNOW how very crucial it is for my very soul. Thank you for putting this out there - so clear and eloquent. Oh, how I adore thee!! Hugs, Betty. I've missed you so!!!

Mary said...

HI BB, not been to your site for some time ... so glad I stopped by today. An inspirational post. I so enjoyed reading it.

Talli Roland said...

Oh, what a wonderful post, Betty. As a new mum, I struggle every day with the balance between taking the time to be creative and being the best mother I can - and not feeling guilty about taking that time to do what I must!