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.