Renewing the Creative Spirit

I grew up in a family that valued work above almost everything. There are few ,if any, photos of my grandmother without a shovel or broom in her hand. (she would knock you down to make sure she had a tool in her hands before she would let a picture be taken of her just standing there not working) If you sat around the house for too long, someone would find something for you to do. Not surprisingly, I found myself in a similar situation in my first marriage.

Needless to say I have a strong work ethic. And that can be good, but it can also get out of hand as it seems to have done at times in my life. Sometimes I worry that it’s genetic.

Then there’s the guilt. If I’m not exhausted at the end of the day I think I haven’t worked hard enough. Or if a friend tells me they got up at five AM worked all day then had to cook dinner and take care of the kids, I think I should be getting up earlier and working later. If I’m by myself my lunch breaks are only as long as it takes me to eat. Some days I’ll eat more food just to take a longer break. And on and on it goes.

So lately, I’ve begun confronting my own personal demented work ethic. I take one to two days off each week and walk the dogs and visit the donkeys guilt free. I’ve considered taking lunch breaks that last longer than the food. And I’m beginning to trust myself. Sometimes the creative spirit needs replenishing. Sometimes I go to work in the studio and nothing turns out right. Sometimes the ideas just don’t come. Usually on such days I’ll do the drudge work that doesn’t take any creativity, tacking quilts or sewing potholders together. But sometimes there’s just no energy at all, not even for the drudge work. And I must say, when this happens, the creative spirit inside of me knows it. It’s useless to try and work and just depletes the tired spirit more. In the past I haven’t always listened to it, because I haven’t always trusted myself and because in my life, I have learned to endure (unfortunately). But now, I’m beginning to listen, and to trust.

So today, knowing and believing what I feel in my heart (and ignoring the chatter from my brain), I’m sitting on the porch looking at my resting studio through the pouring rain and taking the day off. I’ve emailed a customer whose bag was due this week (I hope she’ll understand) and postponed it till Monday when I’ll get up with a renewed creative spirit ready to work again.

10 thoughts on “Renewing the Creative Spirit

  1. Good for you, Maria! I have been on the same path for many years, and must be diligent in not allowing my work ethic to control my life! Good luck tomorrow at the show. wish I could be there!
    Want to talk with you later about potholders with pansies.

  2. Good for you, Maria! Take all the time you need to sit on the porch and listen to the rain! What could be more relaxing?? Have fun this weekend and good luck at Redux!

  3. Thanks for this wonderful blog entry Maria.Your sharing is appreciated. You’re an interesting writer!
    It’ll be a great two days off!, Cindy Chambers

  4. Maria, I so enjoy your posts. This one in particular resonates with me on a personal level.

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

  5. Of course you need to take time off, guilt-free and learn balance. (Sorry, grandma.) I think only machines can work every day, and the work you do is made by a creative human, not a machine.

    Hope the show today goes well.

    Jennifer

  6. Maria, Oh how right you are. Eventually I learned this same concept myself in my own life. And it’s a great one, a healthful one, a productive one. It’s one of the best, most “useful” things I”ve learned in my life. I say continue right on along this same path–follow the spirit that tells you inside yourself when to “do,” when to work, when to rest, etc. You will find you are most productive when you follow that “inside” spirit/voice. MCS

  7. Beautiful post from a beautiful and honest human. What a joy to watch you grow and raise up your voice.

    Soon I’ll turn the blogging over to you. Much love and admiration.

  8. Careful, Maria. Being driven like this, is what has knocked down a lot of people with Fibromyalgia (being type A). And still some people I know can’t let go of not doing fanatical cleaning because people in their family thought they’d better because it’s what their grandmother, or mother used to do. I hope that you can let go of some of this. Taking time off renews the spirit.

  9. My father, who was a doctor, was a workaholic. His patients always came first. Often, he would leave early, come home late for dinner, and be off to visit patients at the hospital until late at night. I think that I inherited this trait. When I was still teaching, I, more often than not, didn’t arrive home until dinnertime. Afterwards, I corrected papers until bedtime. My family was supportive and everyone pitched in. Now that I am retired, I am learning what to do with my time. The dogs get a lot of time with me, and I try to use my brain in creative ways. I admire how you use your time and your ability to sit back and evaluate your creative spirit. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Nice note from “Jon” on the 25th. You ARE a great blogger. Your writing is “spot on.” I love your site and blogs. The best was actually getting to meet you! (a kindred Barbie Doll sicko.)
    Sooo excited for Frieda’s coming out. I totally understand your reservations around this. But ,just trust your man on this one. He is awesome. (So’s mine.)
    Cindy Chambers

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