This fifth chapter in 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin that I'm reading with other book bloggers (see The Next Chapter) is a really crucial one, with issues that I've been dealing with for the last 15 years of being a mother.
As the author states:" Self-focus is a critical skill for women who want to create . Without it you cannot induldge in your inspirations and devote the time necessary for innovation."
I still find the pull and tug of caretaking vs. creativity very challenging and am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the time when it is just my husband I'm "responsible for". It is so hard to ever feel like I'm doing any of my roles well-enough, good-enough or honestly even minimally. All of it is in tension, all the time, which is stressful in a very different way than being stressed over working outside the home at a 9-5 job like I used to have. That stress was more manageable, it was something I could see as separate from me, it was mostly over and done with when I left work to come home. But this stress is all day, every day, the only true respite is when I go away for a short break without family. All those caretaking demands are there 24/7 like it or not, and the ability, reason, and strength to say NO sometimes, when I need to be creative isn't always available to me.
Having a real fear of appearing selfish is something I can admit to honestly. Because women are most definitely not supposed to be selfish. I cringe inwardly whenever I am confronted with this by my family, when they express the feeling that I'm not there enough for them. Because they are right, I'm not sometimes! The worst thing is knowing that they do not value the time and space and results of my creativity as much as I value theirs. I don't know, that is probably just the way it is between parents and kids but it still bothers me greatly. And it makes it easier to be self-focused!
"Only when one is connected to one's inner core is one connected to others. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through solitude." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Here's to Solitude then. And learning to say No to doing things we don't truly want to do.
This picture says it all to me. You can't see it in the small version, but there is a sticker that says NO in black and white on the pole. It is such a stark reminder, on this solitary pole, against the enormous demanding sky. Plainly stated: NO .