Redefining creativity and creative time since become a mother of two young sons has required me to give up many old habits and create a new set of expectations for myself.
There’s a grieving that happens in motherhood that no one warned me about. The shift of identity from the single me to the mother me. The new me who is tracking not one but three lives simultaneously.
The paradox that often feels so frustrating is that my flow of creative inspiration has actually BLOSSOMED, while the time available to IMPLEMENT all these new ideas has been reduced to a mere trickle of moments sprinkled randomly through my days.
I know this is a vast, nuanced topic to unpack, but for today, I’m sharing two key things I’ve been practicing that have been helping me navigate the tension between motherhood and creativity.
+ taming self-expectations +
I learned this term from Finding the Deep River Within by Abby Seixas and it’s one of the things that drew me to studying with her to become a Deep River women’s circle facilitator. When I remind myself to set realistic, do-able expectations I’m able to shift out of the trap of perfectionism that has historically kept me stuck or spinning my wheels.
One magnificent piece of advice I read is that when you set up a goal for yourself around cultivating a new habit, such as “write for 60 minutes everyday,” you should cut it in half. And maybe even cut that in half again until it’s such a small, easy change it feels nearly ridiculous.
Rather than spending a huge amount of energy wishing I had hours and hours of free writing time, I’ve taken on this approach and regularly write for just 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
The short bursts are certainly different than longer writing sessions, but they’re still nourishing and help me move my projects forward.
+ self-compassion +
When I was introduced to self-compassion expert Kristin Neff, it was one of those moments when the clouds parted and the sunshine brilliantly burst through and everything was illuminated.
One of the core understandings in self-compassion is to be nurturing and gentle with ourselves when things are difficult or challenging, rather than just “toughing it out” or “muscling through.”
I’ve generally been the queen of grinning and bearing it, though internally of course I’d be suffering with frustration, resentment, and dare I say it…good old fashioned anger.
Self-compassion is a tool I now turn to over and over again, as a way to acknowledge when things are hard and allowing myself to experience all of my emotions. In turn, this seems to let those feelings move through more quickly and I feel lighter because of it.
And that lightness is what seems to be helping me make emotional and energetic space to feel more creative. To show up with pen and paper to write with self-compassion, rather than a heavy feeling of perfectionism and worry. To follow my curiosity where it leads me.
To remember that being soft and yielding, gentle and compassionate, is how I’m choosing to define a visionary life.
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