The Art of Creating Personal Time
I have always been drawn to the arts but I am a scientist by nature. The art world is unsettling for me because the rules are loose, ever evolving and growing. I fell in love with photography at a young age ad it was a good medium for me. I got to be surrounded by artists and scientists. At 15, I was dual enrolling in the local college's photography department and the technical aspect of the camera and film development came very naturally to me, but I longed to have the artistic eye that so many of my classmates possessed. It never ceased to amaze me how we could be photographing the same subject and they would see something completely different than I did or make something so mundane beautiful. During the course of my photography degree, I had to pick an elective and Drawing 101 was an option. Even looking at it filled me with dread and I realized that I was terrified of doing something when I knew I would never be good at it. I could hide among the photo students but I would be exposed in a drawing class. Disgusted with myself, I signed up. It was one the most terrifying things I have done to this day. It was severely humbling to be in the presence of people who were very talented while I was barely getting by, but they respected my effort and I learned a lot. I learned that I am much more capable than I give myself credit for and though I will never be as great an artist as any of my classmates, the very fact that I desired to learn meant there was an artist in there trying to push her way out. That class has stayed with me, and every now and then I glean some more.
Fast forward a few years later, I find love, get married, have a baby and quit my job. The first year was a breeze! Scarlett slept 12 hours a night and 3 hours in the afternoon. I was swimming in free time! My house was spotless and i could do anything I wanted to do. I had this down. Ha! Juliet was born 19 months later and all that changed. She screamed all the time, never slept more than 2 hours at a stretch. If you are LOST fans, I knew what Desmond was feeling pressing the button every 90 minutes. One month after Juliet was born, Scarlett abruptly stopped napping. 3 hrs to nothing. Overnight. WORST EVER. Suddenly, I was drowning. I had no free time and no matter how diligent I was the work was never done. I loved my children and I loved being home with them but I felt like a failure. I longed to have that sense of accomplishment in motherhood like I did in the workforce or at school, The scientist in me just wanted a formula, if I could just figure out what I was doing wrong than things would get better.
During that time, my wonderful mother came to visit me and I was SO excited to get her feedback because she had raised 7 children and I wanted her to point out my error so I could fix it. After only 3 nights in my home she said, " This is worse than all seven of you combined!" Not what I expected but it was freeing. She assured me that I was wasn't doing anything wrong and that my circumstances were just hard. ( Que tears) There was no formula. I really want you all to hear that! Sometimes circumstances are just hard! Or maybe what is easy for someone else is hard for you and that's ok!
After that, I was able to reconcile the fact that I couldn't get to everything and I was just going to have to set priorities for myself and that those priorities might change daily or even hourly. This was hard for me! I wanted to have a list and check it off and feel successful but instead I had to let the day morph into what my family needed it to be and I had to let go of that need to feel like a success. I realized that my job in life was about making my journey beautiful with the talents and circumstances I had been given. You can't measure it and you can't compare your life to another person's life. It made me uneasy in the same way taking Drawing 101 did. Life is not a science, it's an art. And so my journey as a life artist began.
Shortly after these events, I was invited to a bookclub that was being started by a new acquaintance and my husband encouraged me to do it. I loved to read but rarely had time for it anymore. I was mainly doing it to pursue friendships in this new place. However, it ended up being the catalyst for massive change in my life. The commitment I made to the ladies in this group to read a book made me carve out time to get it done. I didn't feel guilty about doing it even though I enjoyed it immensely because I needed to do it. Somehow, in the process of becoming a mom, I got the idea that I couldn't have free time or do anything for myself. Not that I would have said that in so many words but I felt guilty if I was doing things for myself. I can't tell you where this came from. My husband certainly never expected that of me. Maybe it's the age of social media where we have everyone's highlight reels going all the time or maybe all the mom wars weighed me down because I couldn't add up to it all, but some where along the way I accepted this false notion and was living by it.
As I freely indulged in my book clubs books, the hunger to learn came suddenly and fully back to life and I was reading more and more. I wasn't ignoring my children, I read during naps, while they were playing, or when they went to sleep at night. Memories started coming back to me of my own mother perched in a chair or on her bed reading. Anytime we entered the room, the book would get set down, she made eye contact, and if we needed anything she was available. I never got the sense that I was bothering her or that I was less important than the book she was reading. My own mother set a beautiful example of being a woman with interests and outside-the-home activities but I lost sight of that somehow when I became a mom. As I began to rediscover myself, other interests began to return as well. I started writing again, I started exercising again, the fearless girl in me reemerged and I started tackling weak areas in my life like organization and cooking. I found that I missed that girl. She is the example that I want to be to my kids, not the tired, bored, overworked woman that I was choosing to be.
Even Scripture describes the wife of noble character as a woman of many talents and interests, who even contributes financially. My favorite verse
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
I feel that now. I am clothed with strength and dignity and I am full of faith and excitement for my future. I was born for adventure and discovery, my marriage and family is only a part of that. Someday, my kids will be grown and won't need me like they do now. I want to have been building a life of my own while I teach them to build theirs BY EXAMPLE!
Ladies, if you are feeling burdened, tired, and that excitement for living is dim, be encouraged! You are still the girl with big dreams and endless potential! Exhaustion steals your motivation but choose something small and rekindle it. Read a new book, or go to a craft store ( alone) and start a new project, pick up a paint brush, write a poem, train to run a 5K, take a class, pick up a camera, plant a small garden, anything that speaks to your soul that is specifically for you. If nothing comes to mind, spend some time thinking about what you enjoyed as a child or young adult It's not selfish. It's sustaining. Even as I write this, there are dishes piled in the sink and a load of clothes that need to be folded. Today, the girls needed me more than usual, they wanted me to sit and play and watch a show at one point. I chose to do that today instead of the long list of chores that will need to be redone everyday. We went out with our homegroup tonight so the girls went to bed late with toys still strewn across the floor. Now, it's on my heart to pass these things I am learning onto others and so I write instead of clean. It makes me no better or worse than the mom that goes to bed with a spotless house tonight. If we go to sleep with our souls fed, we are both successful women.
The art of creating personal time begins with you recognizing it's necessary. In the beginning, I struggled with the fear that my pursuits would negatively affect my family and there are times I have taken too much liberty and had to repent and put it in its place but eventually I found balance. You too will find a balance and in that balance you will delight more in your family, find more joy in the mundane, and make your life a truly amazing place!
5/13/2015 04:34:07 am
Aubrey, I love love love this! I can so relate - as a mom of 10 I know that soul renewal is so vital. Miriam Brehm has been writing a lot of similar thoughts too.
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"And Aubrey was her name. A not so very ordinary girl or name."(Or so says David Gates ;) I'm a wife to Phillip, a mother to Scarlett and Juliet. We live in the beautiful city of Thornton, Co. I'm a recovering red bull addict. I love to read. I hate to cook. I seek to be inspired and also to inspire others. I am a Beachbody Coach on a quest to be truly healthy mind, soul, and body and challenge others to do the same.