How is it that when I have no time, I find time to be creative.
This post has been a long time in the making, so let me take you back.
Gone are the days of writing regularly. Back in the day it was easy to justify blogging because it fit around the rest of my life at the time. My 4 kids, who were aged 10 and under, were my primary focus. Ironically, in what was the busiest and most exhausting time of my life, and blogging asked just enough of me to maintain it. And I did maintain it – even make a little bit of money out of it.
A few years past and the crazy subsided and so did the blogging. It was decision time – either take blogging (and my profile) to the next level or just let is slowly pass by. I chose the latter.
I returned to back to full time work and then left full time work to return to full time study; which turned into part time study because…..KIDS! Life with them was still busy and still exhausting.
As my study came to its natural end, and I had a shiny new piece of paper, I realised that I needed to get myself back into work shape. I took on a part time role with a not-for-profit and began freelance writing once again. Neither was taking up all of my time and to be perfectly honest, neither was bringing in enough cash. So, I took on some other contract work to keep my CV looking current.
I became focussed on using my time to generate more money but still felt hamstrung by parental duties. And then I fell into a rut – I didn’t have the energy to hustle. The youngest of my kids was still in primary school and the school run was very much a staple in my life.
Creativity felt indulgent; even if I could justify learning a new skill as upskilling ‘getting myself into work shape’ it weighed on my mind as wasted time.
Mr M and I had an agreement that he would take on the lion share of outside work while the kids were younger, and that meant working long hours that included weekends. Neither of us are complaining but we both wanted things to change. I was excited to enter the workforce full time once again and I think Mr M was going to be relieved the financial pressure on him would ease.
But….but….. for the first time I struggled to find work. I worried that I had stayed out of the workforce for too long or I had let my skillset become too narrow (or not advanced/specialised enough) or perhaps I was too old. That last one I can’t change.
Even though I knew something needed to change – upskill and become (more) specialised in Adobe, or Mailchimp, or Survey Monkey, or Teamwork – I just couldn’t find the motivation.
I even bought Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way but only made it to week three. All the common creative blockages she mentioned rang true. I know, I know, if only I stuck it out I may have found the answers….this is not lost on me.
But then late last year I did get a job. In fact, I was applying for two jobs at the same time and one of them came through. As I write this, I’ve been in this job for 6 months. It’s great!
And here is where the biggest irony of all sits up in all of its glory. For 12 hours everyday my life is taken up by this job. Here is my schedule:
- 6.30am Alarm goes off – read news headlines
- 6.45am Stretches and light weights (my back is stuffed and I need to fix it)
- 7.00am Have breakfast
- 7.20am Start getting dressed for work
- 7.50am Out the door
- 9.00am Arrive at work
- 5.30pm Leave work
- 6.30pm Arrive home
That leaves 4 hours in the evening for dinner, reading, showering, life admin stuff, saying hi to the rest of the household ad finitum.
But what has also happened is that I’m rejuvenated. Rejuvenated enough to actually start doing all those creative things that I simply couldn’t motivate myself to do when I had oodles of time. What is that?
If I had to analyse myself, I would tell you that deep down I feel less guilty because I am bringing in the cash so it does not feel that the creative stuff impedes on that – feels less like indulgence and more like reward.
It’s also a need to do something outside of my work. Work satisfies one aspect of me, but not all of me.
Before I couldn’t separate myself – worker, homebody, creative – I had trouble compartmentalising these things.
But I absolutely cannot dismiss confidence in all this. With work I feel like I’m achieving something and that give me confidence to achieve another thing. I’m not sure why the freelancing didn’t have the same confidence boost – maybe it was the need hustle for the next thing that took away that feeling.
I am still aware of time and not wanting to waste it – I’ve taken up trying to learn Italian during my lunch hour. I have my book and I do my exercises – steady as she goes. And hopefully by the end of the year I might..maybe, just maybe..be able to say something in Italian.
I put no pressure on myself to achieve any of these things but I realise that I can either sit and watch Netflix trailers for two hours (without actually clicking on anything) or I can spend a little time each day on new skills and one day find that I’m a competent Italian speaker, piano player, podcaster….whatever it may be.
The downside of all this newfound energy to do stuff is I am very aware that burnout is always a risk.
Anyway, I wrote this blog to reacquaint myself with WordPress. So, if you’re reading this it’s because I’ve re-kindled an old skill. Mr M says I need to migrate to Square Space. Next skill on the list…..?