What if you didn’t have to wait until your kids leave the house to answer the feverish yearning you feel every single day, or at least when your mind is free enough for a thought not about survival, school lunches or the insurance bill?
Your creative fire is not a luxury.
Your creative fire is necessary for your health and well-being.
Your creative fire needs no apology.
You may look at people who work in what we generally call creative work with envy. Why do they get to do this while I am standing behind a cash register at Wal-Mart?
Truly, we are all at different points in the engagement of our creative muscles.
But we are never more than a breath away from assuring ourselves that our fire burns and though it may look like we’ve forgotten this blaze while sunk in the mire of active parenting, maintaining careers and family life, we have not.
I do not doubt this at all.
I spent the first 14 years of my mothering career madly knitting while soup simmered and wash hung on the line to dry. I wrote avidly, briefly and early on days when I could haul myself out of bed quietly enough so as not to wake one of the hungry small beasts in my lair. I doodled. I gardened. I did things that kept my tiny fire burning that were manageable while mothering.
Did I think, “Oh this is going to stoke my fire?” or “Oh just this last little row and my self-esteem will be boosted for the next run of stomach flu and attendant laundry requirements for such a mess?”
I just moved my hands because I knew that doing those small things felt really good to me. I knew that making things made me a more centered, resilient person. I knew I did not get so entirely frayed by the frustrations of being a mother if I kept a pair of socks on the needles and wrote for fifteen minutes without interruptions.
Now my kids are big. This morning, I overslept, which is rare for me. I was in such a great dream I missed the early cues to rise, light a candle, meditate, read and write before making my daughter’s lunch.
She left the house with only fresh juice in her bag and an apology from me.
I wrestle with this part of my mothering journey. I am still needed and necessary, but it is a darn good thing I have other stuff to do because the bulky caring muscle mass I have built up has to be used for something.
The life of a woman has been wired for care.
With or without children, we nurture.
Women today are waking up to caring for our selves first and noticing the change that occurs in this reordering. Just as those fifteen minutes of solitude sewed up my sanity before I entered the fray, those small moves to answer what you yearn for build resilience and activate your capacity for joy.
And isn’t that what carries us through the difficult, the lonely, the exhausted?
Almost every morning, I go to what I call my deepest place.
When my kids were little, I had no idea this place could be readily accessed. I thought I had to escape home life to locate it. Domestic life, domesticated life does not readily burble with invitations to dwell in deep quiet, so I had to find my ways in. Early morning writing was first. And all that knitting, every single knitted loop led me along a path; as if those slim knots were hand holds to a different state of mind. That state of mind was where I felt less reactive, not alone, and part of a solution to a nameless problem whose only medicine was joy.
Even knitting at the side of a sickbed.
Or in a nursing home.
Or in a meeting.
Or on a dark night waiting for someone to pull in the driveway.
All that making paved a path to what I know now is the deepest place within me where the sacred holy dwells, where what is kindled by that certain kind of quiet instills a tincture of calm to my frazzled nerves, where what is many named and nameless offers comfort and possibility. Saint Teresa of Avila called this place your inner castle where the Beloved awaits. You can call it what you want, but finding your way in to your deepest place will succor your ache. It will fuel your faith.
In winter where I live, and much like where I grew up, the weather drives me inside. When I am daring and warm it drives me to ice skate or snowshoe. Early in the morning, I light my candle and begin my day.
I hold this time as a buffer before I completely enter my family life with full on presence. I hold myself in jammies, sage and candlelit, as a way to keep myself from overoverwhelm.
Overoverwhelm, I type and I mean it.
This is my Hygge time.
Hygge is a Norwegian word for “well-being.”
Helen Dyrbye says,
“It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality and contentment rolled into one.”
Hygge time is what the Norse do to help get them through deep winter.
I consider my morning time alone as my Hygge time.
It is a time for inner collection, as if I could do within me what I do around this house and family: picking up, sorting, rearranging, hauling out trash and outgrown clothes, tucking fresh juice in to backpacks and setting things in to motion.
What I do on the outside, I am doing on the inside.
I create intimacy.
When I allow myself to pull back, light a sage bundle, drink strong herbal tea, and glue what is at once random, a secret message is revealed. What I do in this hour is create an inner dictionary for future reference. I am filling my well.
My deepest place is the shelter I provide for myself.
It is where I allow my listening to be as slow as necessary.
It is where I stop cramming and open my palms to receive.
It is where random meets intentional and becomes message.
Hygge time, being intimate with myself in the company of my family.
All is well. All is deeply well.
This is how I keep my fire burning. In winter. And within family life.
It has become more necessary than ever.
I wonder how you find Hygge time for yourself?
I would love to hear.
Your comments are manna.
PS Here are some posts that might give you a bit of fuel.
This coming season has excitement for Laundry Line Divine.
February 22, 2015 is the Powder Keg Sessions public reading at No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge, MA.
That day also opens an exhibit in the No. Six Depot café gallery of my hand bound journals, which runs through March 2015.
Then on Saturday March 7, 2015, the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and Laundry Line Divine present Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others. We have a new theme going for the event and the blog series. Find the submission details here. And a wave a new readers will join some of the familiar faces on stage at Dewey Memorial Hall in Sheffield, MA. Stay tuned for news!