Before I had kids, I often carved out time on quiet Saturday mornings to enjoy a French press full of coffee, journal, and read. My friends and I spent late nights collaborating on crafty projects. Once, we transformed our front yard into the land of Oz for Halloween, complete with a yellow brick road and papier-mâché flying monkeys. My husband worked on 24 hour film festival teams just for fun. We went to open mic nights to hear our friends play their music, and recorded songs they wrote in our guest bedroom/makeshift recording studio. I didn’t realize it back then, but we spent a lot of our free time supporting a community of artists, writers, and musicians who just happened to also be our friends.
Then all of us became parents.
Creativity gave way to our children’s sleep schedules. Saturday mornings were never quiet again. And something terrible happened: I started to believe that I wasn’t creative anymore. My self care routine consisted of maybe getting enough alone time to take a shower, but I was definitely too tired by the end of the day to read, or really think, much less create. I shelved my writing, and inadvertently I shelved a lot of who I was.
I realized my husband and friends still needed creativity, before I realized I needed it, too.
When I gave my husband alone time to write music or perform at a show, I noticed something inside of him came alive. He was more engaged during family time, happier, and the more he pursued creativity, the more he grew in so many other areas. The same was true for my best friend. It was easy for me to see that watching her kids while she took a class or performed her music did more than just give her a break for a few hours.
Creativity validated her identity outside of being “just” a mom.
One night after I babysat while she performed, she sent me a text that said, “Becky, you realize that by doing this, you are holding space for my art. I know it seems like nothing maybe, but it’s huge to me. If I can return this favor to you, tell me.” As moms, it is easy to meet everyone’s needs before you even think about your own. It hit me after getting her text — I need to hold space for my own creativity.
When I say I think everyone is creative, I really mean it. Yes, even you.
I don’t care if you #PinterestFail so hard, think you have no artistic bones in your body, or, like me, stare at spreadsheets and numbers all day for a living. You can still be creative. Holding space for creativity isn’t about possessing a natural gift, perfection, or mastering a skill to a professional level. Holding space for your creativity is about setting aside time for yourself, investing in who you are, and seeing the world in new ways. If this is new to you, try just spending an hour every week on something that makes you feel creative. I’m going to try to take my own advice.
To make it easier for all of us, here is a list of five things you can do to hold space for your creativity:
1. Find inspiration.
Go to a gallery or museum. Attend a concert. We have a vibrant art and music community in Chattanooga. If you want to meet some amazing artists, the Chattanooga Workspace has open studio night the first Friday of every month. Sometimes just seeing art inspires my own creativity.
2. Take a class.
The library has free online classes for so many different subjects. Last fall I took a creative writing class, and it was the spark I needed to start writing again. You can also check out the classes the Chattery offers. Often they have classes for creative journaling, painting, or even cooking classes.
3. Coloring is not just for kids!
Adult coloring books can help you relax while you get your creative energy flowing — no professional artistic skills required. The Chattanooga library even has a weekly Color Your World meet up where they supply coloring books, colored pencils, pens, and everything you need to get your art on.
4. Get movin’.
Try something new and take a dance class or yoga class. I’ve been dying to try this aerial yoga class at Yoga East and channel my inner zen Tarzan. The Hunter museum also has a fun Artful Yoga community event coming up October 7th. The practice will center on stirring up creativity, inspired by an abstract painting from their gallery. For so many people I know, physical movement is connected to creativity and a positive thought-life.
5. If you can’t find time to read a whole novel, try reading a collection of poetry.
Yes, I’m going full on nerd here, but if you loved reading before having kids, and you struggle to find time for it now, try picking up a collection of poetry! Poems are easier to digest in short sittings, and I think (good poetry) can be just as meaningful as novels. You don’t have to have an English degree to enjoy or understand poetry.