The Sacred Two Hours
How weekly creative time fueled my personal renaissance
Two years ago, I made a radical step towards re-prioritising my creativity. As a mother of three home-educated kids, with no other day job, I had grown used to my days being filled up with meeting other people’s needs and the turntable of domestic tasks that roll along with family life.
At the time I was reading a book called ‘The Rainbow Way — Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood’ by Lucy Pearce. I had attempted to read it a few years earlier but had been put off by one of the first chapters. This time, I decided to persist beyond my previous judgements and found that the real treasure lay in the second half of the book.
The Rainbow Way is addressed to all mothers for whom creativity, in whatever form it may manifest in their lives, is their raison d’être. I am sure that many of you Writer Moms know exactly what I mean by that. For me — and nod if this resonates with you — my creative practice (which is mostly writing and making pictures) brings colour and meaning to my daily life, without it my soul becomes dry and parched. When I create, I feel alive and connected to my deeper self and purpose.
In her writing, Lucy Pearce, talks about Creative Rainbow Mothers and their shadow side Crazy Woman — the dark, angry, destructive aspect to our personalities — who comes to the fore when we are not honouring our true nature, and demands that we take time and space for ourselves.
I can certainly identify with that archetype as well. I know her power, her wrath and I know she speaks a harsh but valuable truth.
While the first half of the book focuses on what defines a Creative Rainbow Mother, the second part is all about how to arrange your life and priorities in order to breathe new life into your creative practice.
The premise I explore here is very simple: Find a regular slot during the week when you can have a period of uninterrupted creative time.
Even though my partner has always been supportive of my creative pursuits, and despite the fact that I have become increasingly skilled at getting my own needs met as a human being who is also a very full-time parent, I had to build up the courage to ask for that creative time.
My husband and I looked at our weekly rhythm and decided that it made sense for my creative time to be on a Sunday morning. I requested two hours. Two hours in which he would take care of the kids, or make sure they were otherwise engaged. I was not to be called upon for anything short of an emergency.
When I opened that gate, I gave myself permission to engage deeply in this valuable creative work. When I crossed the threshold, I stepped into a fuller, more alive incarnation of me. I was fulfilling an essential need to be who I am and in doing so, I was able to be a more whole person to my partner and my children. I don’t want to be a ghost, a shadow of the woman I was born to be, a martyr to my family’s never-ending ream of needs. For me, my ongoing engagement in and commitment to my creative life is one of my ways of ‘showing up.’ My kids will learn from that.
At first, I feared that I would have trouble filling my Sunday morning with something that felt worthwhile. I needn’t have worried. As part of my transition ritual from busy family demands to this introspective, personal time, I sit quietly in some form of meditation to start the session. Almost always, some kind of inspiration comes, whether that is an idea, words, colours or form, and I let it take me. Each two hour session is like a journey of its own that unfolds in often unexpected ways.
Sometimes I am focused on one task for the whole period. Other times I produce several different pictures or pieces of writing. Others, I hop from one activity to another, following my muse in whichever direction her footsteps lead.
After several years of being very disconnected from my ability and desire to make visual artwork, through my weekly creative time, I have created several series of pictures including a set of lino prints, charcoal and pastel drawings, paintings and collages.
I have also produced numerous pieces of poetry, prose and songs. If I get stuck, I use stream of consciousness writing to free up my inertia and generate new ideas. To break out of my intellectual mind, I have used my non-preferred hand and even my foot to draw.
Two years on, and in spite of changes to our family routine, which mean that I have more time to myself during the week, I continue to claim my two hours on a Sunday morning as it has become a sacred practice for me. It is the time when I have absolute free reign to create, with no expectation of ‘beautiful’ results or a seamlessly edited final draft. It is process time. And it is mine.
If you, like me, know how important your personal creative practice is to your well-being and sense of purpose and fulfillment, I encourage you to carve out this precious time for yourself. If possible, create a physical space where you can keep your materials and work. You don’t always have to be there but it is a base. My space is simply a desk in my bedroom. It’s not a studio, although I would love one some day, but it is unquestionably my realm and no one else uses it.
Once you have considered when and where you can take this time, the next step is to ask your partner / children / other family members to help you to honour this practice. It may take some time to get established but I am sure you will find it valuable, even transfomational.
And for further exploration of this topic and practices to support your creativity amidst motherhood, you may like to read Lucy Pearce’s The Rainbow Way.
I’d love to hear about your creative journeys as mothers. If you have any reflections or questions, leave a reply…