“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am in the final stages of this book, and it's taken a lot of dicipline for me to get work done. But in this case, my work isn't typical "work." It requires a very lucid and creative mind, which under the normal pressures of mothering young children, is usually the first thing to go out the window.
It's made me think a bit:
How can I keep my creativity from sagging while spending most of my day in exhausting responsibilities? Especially motherhood responsibilities?
I am a young mother. I'm 30. I have 3 kids all at home, under school age. That means from 6 am - 8 pm I am 110% with my kids. Feeding, playing, cleaning, teaching, driving, disciplining, scheduling, paying bills, calling, observing, making lists, and then feeding, playing, cleaning, kissing and bedding. For 14 hours a day. And then, at 8pm (lately 7pm since my husband is on kid duty for all the "I can't fall asleep" moments) I am illustrating. Now don't get me wrong. I LOVE motherhood. I absolutely adore being with my kids, and we love being all together. I am so blessed to be a mother, and try and live every day in gratitude for these 3 precious blessings. We have a lot of fun around here. But....let's keep it real. Motherhood is hard work.
This I know: Nothing kills creativity more than 1) exhaustion and 2) scheduled mundane responsibilities
How does a young mother with so many responsibilities all day, shift into "play mode" herself when the exhaustion sets in?
I can't say I have the answer, but I have found one. And since I think (I hope) there are others of you out there like me, I hope this helps.
Living in the present.
What I know about creativity is that it flows freely when we are loosed from the past and not gripped by the future. We must be fully present to have full access to our creativity. This might seem obvious to some, but what tangles it up are the duties of motherhood which so easily catch us up with worries about the future, thoughts of the past and how fast our children are leaving it, and the duties of the present day which often lead to exhaustion and what I call "robot mode:" going through the list of to-do's as quickly as possible but finding by the end we feel like a machine; a feeding, cleaning, cooking, running around machine.
How often, for instance, are you talking on the phone and getting your kids dressed and making breakfast on the stove? Happens a lot around here. Nothing is wrong with multi-tasking, but it can keep us from being present minded.
But how, do you ask, can we stay present minded when there are so many responsibilities pressuring us all around?
1) Be aware. Notice the chubby legs when you are putting them through those pant holes. Listen to the sound of the scrambled eggs popping. Watch the leaves blowing when you are on a walk with the kids. Feel the soft cotton when you are folding clothes. Your senses will be hightened even amidst routine work, and your mind will focus on the 'now.'
2) Slow down: Look at your list of things to do, and knock out half. You will most likely only get a few done anyways, so don't let your mind worry about more than it can handle. Do one at a time and do them well and to completion.
3) Breathe: Taking time to center yourself physically is vital. It doesn't have to be yoga or a full hour of mediation. Even just 10 deep breathes with your body in an open, strethed position can wake up your cells to a full sense of being alive.
4) Have gratitude: Love what you do and embrace what comes every day. When you are doing the dishes be grateful for the food you have. When you picking random clothes everywhere, be grateful for fun loving children, that though messy, are yours. This turns work into joy. This brings your mind to the present and frees you of unnessesary stresses.
5) Notice how children see the world: Children are creative beings by definition. They are constantly living in the 'now.' They can't comprehend the future, and they aren't capable of digesting the past. They are in a constant state of awareness and discovery. Notice how their work is their play, and their play is their work. They can find joy in a simple accomplishment. They can find joy in a simple beauty. Adults can re-learn this skill and in doing so, discover creativity in their daily work.
This is my focus this month. I will be honest, and say that these 5 things are easily forgotten in this crazy world. But I do know, that by letting myself be present minded in my daily work as a mother allows for creativity to shine through what would normal squish it. It's a challenge for sure, and it takes constant reminding. But it works.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this too. It's a journey that I think so many of us are on, and we can learn so much from each other!
“The living moment is everything.” - D.H. Lawrence
Love to you all,