This is the first post in our Mother’s Day series this week. Today we are delighted to hear from Mary. Mary’s Etsy shop (link below) will amaze you with her incredible artistic and sewing abilities. Thanks Mary!
We all want to reach that unreachable goal: life balance. When that includes good performance reviews at work, finding a career that you love, being a Pinterest mom and having a flawless manicure, well please. While I think that finding the perfect balance between life, self, family and work is impossible, finding ways to express yourself is the emergency exit out of a stressful existence. When you are a new mom, your whole life screams, “stressful existence!”, so some useful tricks to get there can buy you precious moments of peace and fulfillment.
1.) There’s a Difference
The first thing to do is uncover the differences between relaxation and creativity. When we are wiped out, all of our fantasies are about relaxing because we need to be rejuvenated. We can all get lost in media and reality television, because our brain needs some off time, too. I call it “staring at the wall”. Sometimes a good thirty minute comedy just takes the pressure off of my brain. Like everyone else, I need some time to stare at the wall, too, once in a while. But also keep in mind that while creativity doesn’t give you that Brain Off mode that we all need after a hard day, it does leave you feeling fresh.
I know when I am doing something creative, because I am thinking and I come away with a feeling of accomplishment. That quiet hum of your focused mind, and the high of achievement when you complete something just for the sake of the experience, creates energy. Much like exercise can rejuvenate, so can creativity. Too much and you can wear yourself thin, yes, but without it you are missing out on a valuable resource that can make you feel stronger and more alive.
2.) Lose Track of Time
Don’t think about creativity in stereotypical terms. You are bound to say, “Well I don’t have time for coloring”, which I completely believe is true. In fact, creativity is different for everyone. In Finding Your Own North Star, famous life coach Martha Beck urges us to take note of what makes you lose track of time. I remember when it dawned on me that writing my blog was part of what I needed to be happy. I realized this when everything in my life got crazy busy, and I kept carving out time to do it. I would start in on a post to unburden myself of some feelings or share some photos that I had so much fun editing, and hours would get eaten up in what felt like minutes. My mind quiets and hums while I write and edit photos, and it’s relaxing and full of comfort. I forget the world while I think, process and feel. It’s one of the most fulfilling parts of my week. What is it that you try to sneak time for? In a crazy week, what are the things that would make you feel lost and bleak if you had to do without? Something that makes you think, leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment, and eats time for breakfast. That’s your thing. There’s probably more than one.
3.) I’d Rather Be Fishing
What would you write on your bumper sticker? In your ideal fantasy, if you could stop what you were doing right now (and get about a week of good sleep), where would you be instead? What would you be doing there? Who would you be with? It doesn’t have to stop with just one detail. Make a whole list. Now, like we talked about in step one, separate the Brain Off mode things with the Fun Engaged things, and focus on the second list. Now don’t leap to the “I’d Rather Be Zip Lining” bumper sticker quite yet. Just wait on that and think instead about why these items get you excited about life. Is it getting outside? Is it the feeling of adventure? Is it using your body? Is it the food? Break it down to the core elements.
4.) If You Build It
Now take those core elements and pretend you are a set designer. How will you make a world out of those elements if the only canvas available is your life? If your ultimate fantasy is eating your way through Italy, and the core element is the food, get yourself an Italian cookbook and give cooking a try. If you find yourself happily losing track of time while you’re weeding, research and plan out a garden. If your fantasy includes outdoor adventures, research around your area and find indoor rock climbing centers, hiking trails, or good camping sites. If you know that organizing your photos will find you lost in your computer for hours at a time, try your hand at scrapbooking. If you love getting together with your friends for drinks, start organizing themed parties and have fun with the details. If you just want to spend the whole day shopping for clothes (but don’t have the money) look into putting together style boards like the ones you see on Pinterest. Explore, have fun, but above all, try new things.
5.) A Time For Every Purpose
Don’t make it something to stress about, but instead look quietly for these things during your busy day. When you find it, name it, and move it from your Want List to your Need List. There is a time to get work done, a time to stare at the wall, a time to socialize, and a time to play and create. As people, part of thriving is creating. It is culture and civilization and structure. We need it like we need shelter and a fresh water source. The key to finding the creative part of yourself is to think about it as a natural extension of who you are, and not something to add to your to do list. It is always there, finding ways to push through into your life, and the solutions that you come to are going to change as you grow. What you really want is the awareness. You want to be able to point to this part of your life and say, “This is a part of me, this is what I love,” simply so that you can bring more of that into your life. As they say, live what you love.
Mary Thomas writes at Two Happy Lambs, a blog about parenting, home and family life. She is also an artist and opened the Two Happy Lambs shop on Etsy to sell her art prints and sewing projects. She is raising two small kids at home with her husband on the coast of California.