Sunday, February 08, 2009

Committing to Self-Focus

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 .


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

I have *just* the husband, and believe me, it is STILL difficult to create when he is home. (which is why I am pushing for him to start his Phd studies....)
And I swear I am ADD too because there are days I cannot focus.
On the other hand, I have found that if I get up in the morning and decide "Today is a focus day, tomorrow isn't" it helps. The blog helps. I find myself working on it in the evening to clear my path the next morning. it is some sort of ritual for me.
I have never had a problem saying NO---I guess it has often been to the wrong things!
Hang in there---you'll be fine. We're all frightened of just how GOOD we can really be!

Quilt Pixie said...

As a single parent I thrive on alone time... dear son has finally become an adult,and I'm relishing the creative time I've got now. I think part of what kept me sane and taught me to say "no" and find time/space for my needs was realizing I wasn't actually helping my child face the realities of the world by being too available. He needed to learn how to deal with being disappointed, with not getting attention when he wanted necessarily, of waiting... It made a huge difference in our relationship as I was happier and more content, and better able to parent by doing the self care...

Jaye said...

I think what you say has to do with value. Not what the value is but how we feel about the value of what is important to us. Your work has value, but you have to recognize it before anyone else will. You DO have value and therefore what you make has value. Look away from the boys right now; they are teenagers and extremely focused on themselves. Reach out to others - perhaps an art group or critique group???

I also think that Anne is right in suggesting some activities that provide structure: journal writing at a certain time or for a certain amount of time every day, or a some kind of daily art practice where you see progress. The Creative Mom podcast talks about this a lot. She sketches birds every morning before the house wakes up and you can see her progress on Flickr at