How do you give yourself the space necessary to create?
Paul Jarvis
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Do the Dishes


I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Bend Oregon, at the foot of the Cascades. I love the outdoors, especially in the Spring and Summer when I can escape into the mountains and lose myself in their splendor or take a quiet walk along the Deschutes river. Yet, despite the richness of where I live, I find the best way to create space is to simply do the dishes and clean the kitchen.

My home life is chaotic. My wife and I both deal with depression. My eldest daughter (8 years old) has learning disabilities. My 21-month year old son still doesn’t sleep through the night and my poor middle daughter does her best to thrive in the midst of everything.

If I escape for the day into the mountains without my family I come back home to tension, heartbreak, and tears. Whatever freedom I may have experienced in those free brief hours evaporates and is replaced with hours, maybe days of repairing and resetting homelife. When I take the whole family with me on an outdoor adventure it is incredibly rewarding but it doesn't generate the space I, no we, need on a daily basis.

That’s why doing the dishes is so damn important. Every morning, usually before anybody else is awake, I make sure all the dishes are done. I wipe off the counters, sweep up the kitchen floor. I engage physically, using my hands and my body to create one area of peace, of warmth, of sanctuary for all of us.

My reward is a full heart to start every single day. The reward of a full heart is creativity (among many other rewards) that carries into the rest of the day which creates the space I need to do my best work regardless of where that work is actually being done.

If you enjoyed this essay, I share a lot more on business, marriage, and living life to the full on the Marriage Startup and Haywire podcasts. Check’em out!