Making Room for You in Your Life

You’ve heard it before. You are in a class and the instructor says, “All you need in ten minutes to do X. Do it right when you get up and it will be done.” The instructor means this, because the instructor has a routine and the routine feels about 10 minutes long. In reality, nothing takes 10 minutes, least of all right after you get up. If you lined up all those10 minutes you want to dedicate to exercise, writing, spiritual practice, organizing or pet walking, you’d have to start at 5 a.m. and stay up till midnight. And never go to work.

So how are you ever going to get a daily practice of writing, art, music, dance, meditation, anything—in and stay alive?

I have an alternative suggestion. All of us have the same amount of time in a day—24 hours. They aren’t making any more. So getting up earlier or staying up later is not the issue. You are booked. Your day is full. If you want to a daily practice, you have to choose.

Give yourself permission to make meaning, let the housework slide, or let the kids make dinner so you can get your creative work done.

Choose one thing over another. For most artists, everything else comes first. We got into that habit with the day job. Work came first, then kids, housecleaning, pets and art came dragging along late at night. No wonder it didn’t earn a living. You treated your art as if it were an afterthought, not the creative force in your life. It seems fair to take care of everything else first, but when you put your creative work last, meaning-making takes a back seat to laundry.

Move art making as a daily practice to the top of the list. Fit in a day job, eating, and sleeping. Everything else drops down the list.

You not only don’t have to do all the housework yourself, sometimes it doesn’t get a priority at all. My house is hardly ever company ready. Cat hair swirls in the corners of the staircase. I don’t have dust bunnies, I have dust buffaloes. But I write, meditate and read every day. Because I changed priorities.

I used to do all my chores on time–vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, empty dishwasher, do laundry. . .the list is impressive. At the end of the day, I was too tired to be creative. Then I gave myself permission to let the housekeeping slide. Not forever, but some cleaning doesn’t get done until it needs to. Ask others in the house to pitch in. Don’t do it for them when they don’t. Laundry that isn’t perfectly folded can still be worn. If the sink backsplash has water spots on it, the sink is still clean enough to use.

Use the  newly-found time to focus on your art, or reading or daydreaming, but don’t use it to check up on Facebook, watch TV or read blogs. Try daydreaming instead—it can be an important part of your creative practice.

Or, make yourself a permission slip? Don’t have time? OK, I’ll send you the one above–but only if you give me a compelling reason why you can’t make your own!  (I have three to give away)

Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach. She never has enough time to do everything she would like, but she has learned to choose a mix of things that keep life interesting. Ironing isn’t one of them.


22 thoughts on “Making Room for You in Your Life

  1. Oh dang, but when I the weather permits (not triple digit heat), I LOVE to iron. The scent of pressed cotton handkerchiefs and pillowcases is yummy. (No, I don’t iron sheets, tee shirts or jeans.)
    And I giggle a bit because I MAKE time for television (recorded movies, a couple of nature programs I like, and crab fishermen), but I use the time to knit and do my prescribed foot exercises. So far this year, 70 hats to donate to the Salvation Army come September and a lace cardigan from some hand-dyed yarn from a friend.
    But then, I gave up the guilt-trips a looong time ago: people visit people, not their houses, and my dogs love dust bunnies!

  2. Well written Quinn. Unfortunately, we need to hear it frequently because we forget and find ourselves caught up the chaos once again. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Thank you for this post! Of course, things have been so hectic in my life that I am reading it late, but at least I’m reading it and it is the perfect timing for me. This week, I’ve been agonizing over the dog hair tumbleweeds (with some cat hairs mixed in) that drift across my kitchen floor, even though I just swept last night. And, after a break when I’ve been writing and painting and weaving, I’ve just started back at my day job, which I love and appreciate, but it is not my heart’s desire. I’m determined to continue to make the time to create, but then I see the dog-hair tumbleweeds and think, “I have to clean this house!” Thank you for confirming that it’s okay to put my creative work first–thank you! (Stage direction: She completes her comment, turns off the computer and gets out the paint!)

  4. Wow! I didn’t think I could offer a compelling reason to need you to send me a permission slip (I didn’t figure that even living with a 2 year old and a 3 year old was probably reason enough), but I offer up as proof that I need permission to TAKE MORE TIME: I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now, and never noticed your ever-changing, personalized and humorous tag lines on each of your posts. Shame on me! I need permission to slow down and enjoy things a little more deeply!!

  5. Quinn, you are in my head, yet again!! This post means so much to me. You are giving me permission to give myself permission to let the role of ‘Wonderwoman’ slide, in favour of feeding my soul.

    The comments were as great to read through as the post itself and I really relate to Vicki saying she needs a ‘freedom from guilt’ slip. I’m working on that aspect now, after allowing myself the permission to think about ‘me’ first for a change. Any words of wisdom on the guilt trip some of us feel?

    • Guilt is hard road with no shade. If everything bad is our fault, shouldn’t it also be true that everything good is caused by us? I think both of you get a permission slip–give yourself permission not to feel guilty!

  6. When I read posts about how no one ever has enough time to do all that they want, I always wonder how so many people can fit TV in their evenings. Since I relegated the TV to a dark, damp basement several decades ago, I seldom watch it, and I am grateful for this one big change in our lifestyle. Now I have time for reading, gardening, hiking…and daydreaming!

    There is nothing better than the gift of time!

    • I often think about that, too–when people tell me how busy they are, but they watch four hours of TV a night. Often they say, “I just have it on for noise,” but when I ask what they do while watching, they don’t remember.

  7. i have been enjoying reading your posts leading up to the raw art journaling course. i think i need to make some me space, so me art time can be possible.

    your little signature tags are hilarious!

  8. it helps to be at the age where we are out to pasture, it also help to be childless by choice. that leaves as long as I want most days to create. in the pasture clothes are not really important if you ignore the heard and stay in the daisy patch.

  9. This is SO true – we are taught from an early age that appearances take precedence over internal peace. Let go of the guilt and let the dust bunnies roll!! Back when I had a desk job I gave up tv in order to have creating time – and you know what? I never missed dishing at the water cooler over silly plot lines – instead I quietly returned to my desk and thought about where my painting would take me that night. Now that I am a full-time artist I still don’t watch TV – nor do I stress over the condition of my home or the mountain of laundry. Instead I worry about the things that matter – the well being of my family and friends, and feeding my soul with art so that I am balanced enough to be 110% present for those who need me! Great post, Quinn!!

      • Thanks, Quinn. I’ve been simmering with this thought all day long – and not just because I’ve had to consciously ignore the laundry spilling out of the laundry room into the kitchen. It’s all about valuing the tasks in our lives – not just our to-do list, but how we tackle each breath of each day. 🙂

  10. i love you, quinn!!! i don’t need a permission slip – just a freedom from guilt slip. lol. i especially love that water spots on the backsplash = a clean sink! i’m so glad that you gave yourself permission to put your art at the top of the list… vicki 🙂

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.