" I've seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write...and you know it's a funny thing about housecleaning...it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she "should" be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only." _ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Recently, an artist friend of mine shared this quote on Instagram. It was one of those quotes that screamed out to me. The kind that your gut intuition tells you that it was written just for you. I brought the quote to The Define School’s forum and we quickly adopted the motto, Art Now! Chores later.
Not too long ago, I was that woman in the quote. And by no means am I saying I am no longer her. I am just more aware of when I am her. Being aware and recognizing unrewarding patterns is half the battle. I've trained myself to rearrange my priorities and put myself and my creativity up at the top of my list whenever possible. It's not always easy, and often it's uncomfortable.
As women, we wear many hats, or as I like to say- masks. We are known to put others first and tend to everyone else. We tend to prioritize chores and responsibilities. We are caregivers. We clean, cook, take care of children, help family and friends, look after beloved family pets, run errands, work, and leave little to no time for what lights us up.
Tend to your spark.
Ignite the fire.
Don't allow your artistic calling to lie dormant and unaroused. Practice listening to your intuitive voice when it comes to creating. Balance is key.
One early evening last week, inspiration hit me at an inconvenient time. The dogs and kids needed to be fed, but so did I, in a different way. The woods were calling. Once everyone was taken care of, I knew the cleanup and aftermath could wait. I quickly darted out the door and began to set up. Everything changed when I was out there. My heart rate, breath, mood- it all steadied and slowed down. I was in my happy place, and all was well in that moment.
For me, the process is more important than the outcome. Whether or not I get the shot is irrelevant. I needed that time and space to create. I can't emphasize enough how absolutely necessary it is to make time for yourself. Your badge of honor should not be for all of the things you fit into a day and checked off of your to-do list. Your button of merit shouldn't be earned from being so busy in your day that you didn't have time to eat; to nourish your own body.
Here are some ways to be kind to yourself and allow for creative space in your daily life. Keep an open mind and open heart to them, and you will be greatly rewarded.
Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier each morning and begin your day in silence. Sip on some lemon water. Meditate. Journal. Get it all out on the pages so you can then start your day with a clear mind. Waking up earlier than required sounds terrible to most people. With some simple adjusting to your bedtime, it becomes much easier over time. For me, I need that time alone in the morning to thrive and be the best I can for others throughout the day. You may even be surprised to find yourself looking forward to that early morning time!
Move your body. Stretch. Breathe. I have a daily yoga practice. Some mornings it only means 10 minutes. Other mornings it's 40 minutes. I won't allow myself to get hung up on time. My body needs this type of movement and breathing. It is key to helping me carry through my day. Some prefer an evening ritual, so if that's you, go for it!
Schedule time for creativity. If you are finding yourself getting caught up in the "I'm too busy and don't have enough time" loop, then this is for you. Block off some time on your calendar for your creativity each day. Make it non-negotiable even if it's something as little as 10 minutes a day. Allow yourself this well-deserved, uninterrupted time. Time is what we make of it. I've been guilty of saying I don't have enough of it, but it comes down to priorities.
Ask for help. Too much on your to-do list leaves little to no time for you. There is no rule that states we have to do it all; a common fallacy that many people take on as a firm belief. You may feel asking for help makes you less of a person or that it sets you up for rejection. I find the opposite to be true. Making a few simple changes and delegating some tasks i.e., surrendering and giving up some control, can supply you with enough freedom to cultivate your creativity.
Set up a small space that's just for you. This space can be a corner of a room, a little altar, desk, windowsill, a bookshelf, anything. Get creative with it. Decorate it with candles, crystals, flowers, books, artwork, pictures, oracle cards, anything that brings you inner peace, makes you smile, and inspires you. Spend some time in that area each day. Can you set up a chair nearby and read or journal for 15 minutes in this space? Make it your own and bring what you will to it. I've completely taken over the sunroom in our house and made it my own. Aside from that, I have smaller spaces throughout the house that I've created for myself also.
Do the things that light you up.
You don't have to check off a to-do list in order to earn quality time for yourself. The house cleaning can wait! Commit to these practices, and you will see and feel such a difference in yourself.
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and ideas. Let's help each other out and support one another!
** Sharon Covert is a teacher and mentor at The Define School. Sharon's courses, Expressive Self Portraiture and The Art of Authenticity are both available through The Define School. For more information email Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit The Define School by clicking this link. You can sign up for Sharon’s newsletter HERE to stay up to date and receive a bonus black and white editing video.