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.