I know when I reach my limits – there is a lot of crying, naps, and wine involved. I reach my limits on a regular basis. About quarterly I need to stop, regroup, reassess, rearrange some part(s) of my life. This is just my nature. I like a mix of orderliness and newness (two things that don’t always jive with one another). When I was a kid I would tear my bedroom apart playing imaginary games. My bedroom served as a pirate ship, a haunted mansion, a prairie schooner wagon, a classroom, an office, a castle, and my future Grown Up Self’s fabulous mansion. My Barbie dolls, baby dolls, and Strawberry Shortcake dolls were my characters, and I spent hours telling myself stories about their adventures. All this play and creativity usually resulted in a horrific mess – clothes and toys strewn about in small mountains, my pink canopy bed draped with extra sheets and blankets. There was also a good deal pilfered household items pushed under my bed or hidden in my closet. Items I deemed necessary for my stories included dishes and towels for playing House, calculators and stacks of paper for playing Office or School, and the J.C. Penny catalog to use as a reference for planning my Future Fabulous Life.
I’d be okay with the mess for a while – until I wasn’t. And then I would clean my room (sometimes because mom told me to, sometimes because I just had too). Once clean, I would revel in the orderliness, the spaciousness, and my creative process would begin in earnest. A new imaginary game would commence and a new mess would ensue. I didn’t know it at the time, but the way I operated as a kid was the way I would operate as an adult. I make messes in order to be creative, nearly burn myself out, clean up, rest up, and start over.
“Owing our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” – Brene Brown
When my last graduate class ended in early July, I knew I had once again reached my limits and it was time for a mental nap. For my summer break I gave myself permission to not do any productive writing at all, beyond my regular freelance work. This broke the cardinal rule of blogging – not posting on a regular basis. But it was the best thing I could do for myself. Instead of forcing myself to be productive (the fastest route for me to be disengaged and spend the afternoon playing Sims Freeplay) I decided I could write whatever I wanted, however I wanted, whenever I wanted. I spent the muggy months of July and the golden light of August shunning my laptop and instead scribbling in an over-sized pink journal that soon gave way to a fictional story outline. Which then gave way to several scenes about a girl growing up on a farm during WWII. Which turned into not just her story, but her families story, and the story of Western Maine during the War effort. I hope to pick up the story in earnest again during National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) in November.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
Now that summer is slowly giving way to Autumn in the Western Foothills, it’s time for another regroup/reassess/rearrangement. The boys are back in school and the girl is off for her second year of college. My next graduate class starts soon. I spend roughly six months a year taking classes, with two three-month breaks in between. Taking only three graduate classes doesn’t sound like much, but add with it a full time job and single parenthood, a lovely old farmhouse and my freelance work, and suddenly hours and minutes are precious commodities not to be idled away. I’ve made peace with the fact that I have big commitments – kids, work, school – and it isn’t unreasonable or lazy for me to write and not finish things right away. Or to work sporadically on “fun” stuff in between all the Serious stuff. I’ve decided it’s all part of my process. I own it and if I want to take nap every now and again, that’s okay.
Do you ever take time to reflect/rearrange/readjust?