the rush to fill the empty spaces

There is a gap opening up in my life soon.

Nature abhors a vacuum, right? My tendency is always to fill spaces up with more things, new things, ways to make money/art, projects, whatever. This time, though, I promised myself I would sit with the space, lean into the quiet, listen in and see what comes up.

When I teach yoga, my students often talk to me about savasana (corpse pose, or the relaxation bit in a yoga class)…how the first few times they experience it, it often makes them feel uncomfortable. Their minds race, they feel awkward and overly intimate with their classmates by lying down in silence, they are hyper-aware of the sound of breathing, they might lie there waiting for it to be over, even…

…but with a bit of practice, after giving it a few goes….they come to like it, and then to look forward to it. Conscious relaxation (i.e. staying awake whilst deeply relaxing) can sometimes feel more restorative than eight hours sleep.

I think it is the same feelings with any empty spaces that appear in our lives – we are not used to stopping, to silence, to deep rest…at first it makes us feel uncomfortable, like we are ‘wasting time’, being unproductive, or we just don’t like the thoughts and feelings which come when there is a bit of room for them to rise up.

I have a feeling something big, absorbing and fulfilling lies ahead for me, but I’m not entirely sure what it is yet. This is why I am going to let the empty spaces be empty spaces….so I can create enough quiet to listen for what’s coming.

I’ve always been a to-do list person. If I have any free time, I write a big to-do list and set myself a goal of getting it done by the end of the morning, or the day or the week. I work methodically through it….tick! tick! tick!

I’ve written on here about how this year has been a bit of a creative low-point and there’s been a bit of burn-out, too.

I’ve discovered a new approach to free time. (No doubt this is not a revelation to many of you, seasoned moochers!)

Free-form pottering.

Instead of enslaving myself to a to-do list, which -while organised and productive- leaves my already frazzled spirit feeling weirdly pressured- I am pottering. Doing a bit of this, a bit of that, drifting from one task to another and back, dropping tasks if they start to annoy me…stopping for cups of tea more often.

Here’s what I am experiencing by pottering:

-my free time feels free

-I am nicer to my kids and am doing more with them, because I letting go of the notion of what I ‘have’ to achieve in a day. A game of Operation or a spontaneous round of biscuit baking with the kids is more important than me calling the IRD or editing a poem or whatever would have been on that to-do list.

-I am still getting a lot of things done. Pottering doesn’t mean doing nothing.

*

So, in my pottering space, in my savasana space, in my go slow/do less/breathe more space – I am sitting here – awaiting further instructions.

sunny side up

Here’s the latest of my ‘mattresses in op-shops’ finds – a sunny 70s floral. The bathroom of my childhood home had wallpaper very similar to this. 70s florals are like an instant time-travel to being a kid again for me.

My flickr group of mattress photos is slowly growing, come and play HERE if you want to…

I invited lots of my my american flickr friends to the group, but one of them reported sadly that american op-shops don’t sell mattresses because of hygiene laws….can anyone stateside confirm that this is the case?

My favourite photo in the pool so far is THIS ONE by talented local photographer Megan Young.

*

It’s Mother’s Day and I just got a card with a ‘delightful’ drawing of a cute bunny with a dagger through it’s head from my 11 year old – aaah boy-humour. He also baked me a banana-cake with chocolate icing. I love that my hard work teaching him to cook all these years is paying off and he can now independently bake cakes! He gave it to me at about 7.30am and said ‘Can we eat it now?’. Um, no.

I might as well have eaten cake for breakfast, mind you, because then I got presented with a stack of pancakes with banana and home-made raspberry jam.

Lucky, lucky life.

Big ups to all the mothers out there.*

(* I crack myself up trying to do white-girl street speak.)

snatched creativity

Mothers who are also creatives (writers/artists/musicians etc) are extremely resourceful in terms of snatching creative time from days that fill up (and sometimes overflow) with children and domestic stuff and work.

I feel like everything I make is done in intense short bursts, taking half an hour here, an hour there, ten minutes over here to quickly write/stitch/grow.

Like most creative mothers, I look back on how I spent my pre-children time and shake my head at the ‘waste’….ha ha. But to do that is silly and ‘mooching’ is an important part of being young.

It’s an interesting issue. On one hand, I get enormously frustrated at the lack of time I get to spend on creative work, I long for the space to deeply engage with the thinking and processing needed for quality creative work. I daydream about what I could create with more time.

On the other hand, my creative ‘muscle’ is in peak condition. I can whack out a poem draft in a stolen ten minutes, I can add another layer to a journal collage while I wait for pasta to boil, I draft writing in my head while taking the kids to the park – scrawling notes on the back of receipt.

Something about the urgency of snatching the time makes me more determined, more tenacious. I value my time more than I ever have before and I try not to waste it. I am good at saying ‘no’ to things I don’t really want to do (a skill which took YEARS of conscious work.)

I feel like I could write lots, lots more about the topic of mothers who are creatives (maybe I will when I get time – lol). I would love to hear from you about how you cope with the twin demands of children and the creative compulsion…? How do you cope? What methods have you employed to stay sane and keep in the flow?

teaching your mother to suck oranges

I was sitting across from Magnus watching him eat his dessert which was, that night, two cut-up oranges.

Magnus was really eating those oranges. He was so present in his enjoyment – he was sucking every drop of juice and had the fixed stare of someone experiencing great sensory pleasure.

I love that about children. They are great teachers in being fully present in the moment.

Watching Magnus eat an orange made me want to eat an orange, so I did. It was delicious. We sucked oranges companionably for a good ten minutes.

Messy fruit offers a particular pleasure, I think. Sensual and fun, all at once. It also demands presence of mind. You can’t suck oranges and read. You can’t chew out a mango and talk on the phone.

Messy fruit as zen practice? Why not.

At least we are free to suck oranges in public…unlike in this quotation about oranges in Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell:

“When oranges came in, a curious proceeding was gone through. Miss Jenkyns did not like to cut the fruit, for, as she observed, the juice all ran out nobody knew where, sucking [only I think she used some more recondite word] was in fact the only way of enjoying oranges; but then there was the unpleasant association with a ceremony frequently gone through by little babies; and so, after dessert, in orange season, Miss Jenkyns and Miss Matty used to rise up, possess themselves each of an orange in silence, and withdraw to the privacy of their own rooms to indulge in sucking oranges.”