Guest Post: Portrait of a Workspace
Here’s a guest post from one of my favorite writers and friends, Janessa. You can read more of her work at her blog, My Gallery of Portraits, and look for her book review in the upcoming issue of Exponent II, out June 15th.
The kids are home from school. I want to be thrilled about it. I spent the last two months counting the days with them. Envisioning the warm summer afternoons, watching my kids grow. Learning together. Reading together. Playing together. But after just one week, I am trying to hold together the loose and fraying ends of my sanity. What is my problem?
It’s the chaos. Now, if you saw the monthly calendar on the fridge with its minute outline of each day’s schedule you’d know that absolute laws and principles govern this little universe of ours. Chores, reading time, activities, field trips and lessons. I’m trying to balance that with the free time that summer requires – lazy hours to enjoy the sun, the spray of sprinklers, the chase of a butterfly. Hopefully I can pull it off. But what I am finding is that all my little people want all of me all day long. There is no quiet time or empty space to work on my writing.
I really want to enjoy this summer with my kids. And so far, I am loving our time together. But something has to change if I am going to survive – or if I want my kids to still like me by the end of the summer. An article I read recently in the June/July 2010 issue of Quilter’s Home magazine made me realize that the change has to be in my perspective.
Professional quilter Matt Sparrow is the father of eight children, and works from home. In his Quilter’s Home article, he shares his experience.
“Here’s a typical day at the Sparrow home: Kids drawing on the walls with permanent marker; clogging the sink with toilet paper; turning on the tap and walking away; and taking my pins, scissors, marking pens and thread to stash in the treasure chest of things they love to hide from Dad.”
Okay. So that sounds similar to what I experienced today. Mine went more like this: Kids fighting over the toy light sabers and injuring each other in the process; a full bowl of breakfast cereal spilled all over the floor; an ant infestation in the laundry room; and a two year old sticking a plastic bead up his nose and getting it stuck there. And that is just scratching the surface.
So how do you deal with all that? Here is what Sparrow says: ”I had to accept the head-slamming idea that my creativity would wilt and die if it couldn’t feed on chaos.”
Head-slamming is right. I’ve always need an empty room and total quiet to write. But my gut tells me to listen to Sparrow. Especially when he follows that up with this question: “Did you ever consider that the very things you thought were holding you back may actually be guiding the path you were meant to follow?”
That is it. The perspective I need to maintain my sanity, my creativity, and to save my summer. My creative life is not compartmentalized. Who I am doesn’t have to be something separate from who my kids need me to be. It is time for me to learn how to feed on chaos.