As I write this I’m blasting India.Arie’s track “Just Do You” in my headphones and bopping my head in the middle of a suburban strip-mall coffeeshop. I know some people are giving me looks, but I can’t help it. The kids are in school ALL DAY now and I have some time to sit here and jam out if I want to. I’m BACK, baby!
It’s on mornings like these that I can feel a creative spark pulsing in my veins. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way, though. For the most part, the last 8 years have been a fog of pregnancy/infants/toddlers/preschoolers, half-written songs, guitars in closets, lost notebooks, blank canvasses. I thought the spark would never come back because I was so muddled by all the daily things that I prioritized over my music.
Then one night I found myself alone with a cup of tea and a notebook. No one needed anything from me or had a question, or wanted a glass of water, or was scared of the dark. For the first time in a VERY long time I had space! So I milked it. I just sat there and scribbled in my notebook for hours. What I wrote that night became the first story in my Musical Tales for Modern Minds storybook series. As soon as I started making space for myself it was like the floodgates opened and a wave of new ideas rushed through.
I realized that, as humans our connection to art is intimately linked with our connection to ourselves. My desire to reconnect with my art stemmed from my desire to reconnect with mySelf.
Here are a few things I try to do regularly that have helped me reawaken this creative energy. These practices are mostly variations on a theme, create mental and emotional space so the creative energy can take root again. Maybe some of these ideas can help you reconnect to your own creative spark!
1. Take a walk
Even 15 minutes of walking can get your creative juices flowing. Bring a notebook along to capture whatever pops into your head. You can take the kids with you, but the goal here is to take a quiet walk, so if you have chatty toddlers, teach them to play the quiet game. Teach them to listen to the sounds around them, and you do the same. Even a few minutes of silence during your walk can create a lot of mental space.
2. Keep a journal
You don’t have to write every single day for journaling to benefit your mental space. The practice of journaling is an easy way to get your monkey mind to shut up. The money mind is the inner critic that talks. all. day. long. It jumps from thought-branch to thought-branch at a frenetic pace, drowning out the whispers of intuition that lead us toward creative expression.
Put the chaos on paper and then move on. Once your thoughts are externalized there is internal space left over for creative ideas. I suggest you journal first thing in the morning but that may or may not be possible based on your family schedule. Read the Psychology Today article about calming the monkey mind. And here is another from Forbes.
3. Take Yourself on an Artist Date
This idea comes from Julia Cameron in The Artists Way. The idea is to schedule a day just for you and your artistic impulses. Last weekend I signed up for a songwriting workshop and drove three hours each way to spend the day with other like-minded people in the music industry. I made great contacts and walked away feeling inspired to keep making music.
It’s hard to pry myself away from my family, but taking this time to myself actually makes me a more present mother when I’m home. If you are a writer, go to a reading at the bookstore. Musician? Go to a concert. Designers can go to an open house. If you love to cook, go to a new restaurant. etc. Find something happening in your area that inspires you within your creative field(s) and show up!
4. Schedule Time to Make Art
Motherhood is no longer a time for “I make art whenever the inspiration hits”. If you can run off and satisfy your inner artist whenever the feeling strikes, you are luckier that most. For the rest of us we have to actually make time. I’ve decided that Mondays from now on are “Music Mondays” in my schedule. After getting the kids on the bus and doing the day-to-day stuff of running a business I go into the studio, close my door, and dedicate at least 2 hours to working on whatever creative project I am working on these days.
I find that, for the next few days, the joy of creating music sits with me. I find myself drawn back to my creative work throughout the week because inspiration hits and I want to hear my music progress.
5. Involve the Kids
This suggestion is not so much about creating space but about giving into the “play” of creativity. Making art becomes so serious as we get older! Let’s not forget that we discovered art because of how much fun we have when we’re fully present with our work. If you love to paint, set yourself and your children up with canvases and paints. Then give everyone the creative freedom to paint whatever they want, including yourself.
Don’t take it too seriously, just paint for the joy of painting. Use it as an opportunity to explore color blending or abstract art. Your children will feel the positive energy and Painting Night just might become your family’s favorite pastime.
6. Recognize Your Power
Remember, being a mother is an expression of the ultimate Creative Energy. Everyday you are faced with unexpected challenges that must be resolved in the moment. Approaching spilled milk, blow-outs in the car, sick-kid pick ups, and tantrums (not to name every other unexpected family-related experience you might have today) requires a ridiculous amount of patience and outside-the-box thinking.
Notice when you use your creative energy throughout the day. Recognize that the solutions you come up with in the moment stem from the same energy that stories and songs come from. Creative Energy can be neither created or destroyed, it just needs a vessel with some space available and an idea for how to mold it.
Our job here on this earth is to express our divine uniqueness and share it with others. This begins with us recognizing our power to create something out of nothing. We can put that power into our clothes, art, food, music, home design, stories, dance, marriage, and how we raise our children.
Try some of these suggestions and connect with me via social! How have you kept up your own creative spark while also raising a family?