Saturday, August 23, 2014

Finding Creative Space

The past few days have been a bit of a blur.  On top of it having been the first week of school, so I've been up early for classes resuming and lots of library cleaning and straightening, but there has been more added to the mix:  The Peanut is doing junior high cheer, and they have had practice pretty much every day for the last two weeks at this point, gearing up for football season.

That's right:  mom's taxi service is back in booming business once again.

What I have been trying to do this week is figure out how to bring the whole crazy scramble back into a more ordered balance, so that there is time around the edges for a little creativity and maybe even some family relaxation time.  But that is a tough thing to do when there aren't a lot of spaces for that in an overloaded schedule.

Because it is the beginning of the school year, things are still a bit of a jumble -- as they are every year until the full schedule gels into a more coherent whole -- so I am trying to be as patient as I can until we settle in to the new routine.

It's funny how difficult it can be to find any sense of balance in the day to day at this point in the year.  Even knowing that this will eventually settle in as the new normal, that level of patience can be hard won as you rush from one thing to the next at the very beginning.

Which makes finding some creative space all the more important, I think, for happiness and sanity over the long haul.

It is when I forget this that things begin to go awry.  Especially if I am putting everyone else's needs so far ahead of my own that I can't even find myself amid all the chaos. 

A friend once told me that you have to look at your life as one of those airplane crash scenarios:  if you aren't putting your oxygen mask on first, then you won't be able to help anyone else for very long before you collapse in a heap.  It's a good reminder that taking care of yourself, making sure you have what you need in the day to day, is absolutely not selfish but really taking care of everyone around you.

When I forget this, and put everyone else's needs well ahead of mine for far too long, the resentment and exhaustion build up and a serious bout of the grumpies can take over.  No one is happy when that occurs, least of all me.  So I have learned through the years that preventative steps are key.  This year, my goal is to build those in from the outset, and that includes making time in the schedule for planned creative space and downtime, regardless of the demands of the rest of the world on my time.

Learning to say "no" to everyone else a little more often, and "yes" to myself instead.  That's something I have never been very good at, but is definitely worth working on this year. 

As I sit here this morning, having gotten up early on a Saturday to get The Peanut to cheer practice and then worked on my "to do" list for the day, I'd say I have a ways to go before I get there.  But I'm working on it...

(Photo via Kate Ter Haar.)

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