Create or Die

My head has been a crazy mess lately. There is so much in my brain that it’s affecting my ability to focus and prioritize. I was reminded recently that writing stuff down can be a good way to get it out of your head so you can move on.

Yes, I forgot this basic principle of writing.

Clearly, I am in trouble.

So this post is about lots of stuff and it may be a bit jumbled just like my brain is at the moment. By writing perhaps I can sort, categorize, prioritize. (Warning, there may be a smidgen of whining ahead.)

When I’m enrolled in classes, they take over my life and I begin a guilt spiral that makes me feel so helpless and out of control that I want to flip off everything and go live in a cave. The guilt stems from not meeting the lofty expectations I have of myself. The helplessness and loss of control comes from being forced to set aside my personal goals for work and school, i.e. the things I have to do. I want to be loving on my husband and writing and doing yoga and meditating and playing my guitar and sewing and crocheting and playing with my doggies. But, fitting all of that in simply isn’t realistic. I just haven’t figured out how to make sacrifices I can live with. Each of those things are really important to me, and of course I make my husband and pets my priority after work and school but everything else is cast aside.

The goals I set for myself in my head are amazing and full of positive, healthy change; both emotionally and physically. I’ve heard that it takes twenty-one days to establish a routine. Knowing that twenty-one days is a completely reasonable time frame, I begin making elaborate routines on my Outlook calendar, scheduling in every minute between five o’clock am and ten o’clock pm with a productive thing to do. I don’t schedule any T.V time. I do schedule meditation and yoga time. It’s always so pretty and color-coded and seemingly doable. And then, that first “morning of change”, I remember some things.

Five o’clock in the morning is a stupid time of day.

I devote eight hours of my life a day to a corporate entity.

Commuting two hours total a day is also pretty stupid.

I spend a few hours a night doing homework.

I like to spend some time with my husband and dogs, for Pete’s sake.

I have to bathe, eat, and do chores sometimes too.

I really love sleep. Really. Like, a lot.

So now, I’ve hit the low point in my cycle of positive change, the stage where I acknowledge my failure to make it happen. It’s that point when my optimism has totally deserted me and I can’t see any way to make time for all my goals. I can’t honor who I truly am. I can’t be creative for the foreseeable future. And one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last few years is that if I don’t get to be creative, I become sad. Discontented. Frustrated. In a word, bitchy. These days, I don’t often have time to create anything. But with deprivation and sacrifice comes insight, yes?

Yes.

I know some amazing ladies that are always striving for personal improvement and self-discovery. They recently started a running blog called Scoot A Doot, and reading their posts this week has inspired me to find time for the things that are super important to me but always get pushed aside in favor of work, housework and homework. Work, work WORK. I need some play time, too, dammit. I just have to accept that an hour for yoga and meditation isn’t realistic for my schedule right now, and that doing an activity for less than thirty minutes still counts for something.

It amazes me how much I am still learning about myself. You hear all those clichés when you’re a kid about how fast time goes by the older you get and that you’re constantly growing and learning, spiritually and emotionally. They’re true. But I’m not sure if you change or that you just allow yourself to become who you really are. Maybe you give yourself the freedom to let go of fear of judgment. Maybe you lift the cloud of self-misconception that was fed to you from others since childhood. Maybe you discover something inside of you that was unknown and untapped before, and it shows you a whole new aspect of yourself.

I never thought of myself as creative until a few years ago. When my mother taught me to sew in 1986, it was still considered a life skill not a specialized one. I didn’t understand that the amazing things my mom could do with her sewing machine or a needle in hand was art, and it was being created with love and imagination and good intentions right before my eyes. As a child, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of traditional art. I didn’t take many art classes in school, and when I did my work showed no special talent. I know little about art history, and modern art is confusing to me. I convinced myself that it was because I didn’t have an imagination. When people told me to try writing fiction, I laughed, convinced I would be awful.

When I finally gave in and tried writing I realized that I wasn’t that bad, certainly not awful, but more importantly, I loved it. I felt like I was feeding a starved and weak part of myself that was hidden from me all my life.  The more I wrote and fed the writer in me, the better I got at writing. Writing became something that I must do, instead of something I want to do. When I deny myself the time to create, I am depriving who I really am.

This is no longer acceptable to me.  I’m not sure what the solution is yet. Perhaps the compromise will be this, coming here to my blog and committing to an expression of creativity through this medium where no plot outlines or seam rippers are needed. I don’t have a whole Saturday to work on one of the many unfinished projects in my sewing room, but maybe I can crochet more when I sit with my husband on the couch. I don’t have an hour a day to work on my novel, but maybe I can find fifteen minutes a day here, and write a blog post or two a week . It’s something!

6 thoughts on “Create or Die

  1. I think spending regular time on something is more important than how much time you spend on it. Even those little blocks of time can be productive if your mind knows to expect them. (Still, easier said than done!)

  2. Sometimes the solution takes a while, but realizing what you want is key. You’ll get there, my dear. We both will. Also, five o’clock in the morning is the stupidest time EVER.

  3. I agree, I think that we never stop learning or growing as people. There are times in my life that I realize I was doing EVERYTHING… except taking care of myself. Now I put my personal health/happiness first. It sounds selfish, right? But I find that when I’m taking care of myself, everything else is more apt to falling into place. Do I get done everything I’d like to? No. But I’m doing the best I can with what I have.

    When you go forth with pure intentions, it’s hard to feel bad/guilty/upset about anything.

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