What else supports a daily creative practice?
I will make this short because I know the blackberries are ripe and you gotta go.
Often times, in the midst of family life, you grab the minutes you can to breathe in quiet, you mend a button, you scroll Instagram, you read a poem, you linger around a rabbit hole you know you cannot fall down, not right now, not when someone needs to be picked up from camp or dinner needs to be made.
You spend 15 minutes alone, which is never a bad thing.
But there are other options that you might consider.
Sometimes, occupied with everything that I do, I eye the plums that need to be cooked in to jam. The only way I will commit to take the time for this small project is by setting a date with my friend Mary. We carve out a few hours in our week, buy the sugar and lemons, haul the box of plums up from the basement where they have rested since we got them at the farmer’s market.
Then, she shows up and the plums sit there on the counter and there is no chance to say, “I’m too busy.” Or “I cannot afford the time.” Or “I want to watch this video my sister sent me on Facebook.” When my kids were at home, this sort of commitment wedged up next to them playing in the yard with the children of whoever I had a jam date with. Or it was slipped in to a Saturday morning when they were at the beach with another adult and I could stir up something that would otherwise not be made.
Knitting circles, writing groups, craft meet-ups, making dates with friends for whom carving out creative time is equally difficult–these are some ways that I have found to commit sturdier segments of my daily life for creative practice. And yes, making jam, dilly beans, hats for preemies, these activities get your hands moving, they shift your focus from what you don’t have time to do, to actually doing something. And that is the state of mind which invites your creative juices to flow, story bits will surface in early morning hours, threads of poems will dangle from the trees and you will begin to move towards the things you long to do, but don’t regularly budget time for them.
Right now, I am in the Upper Peninsula. I had a lush week with my sisters Becky and Elsa making pages for books. Now I am on my own. I am doing something I could not have managed or afforded or even dreamt of while my kids were at home. I am with four other women artists, staying in the home of one who lives in a city on Lake Superior.
We are here for a week to listen to each other’s stories, and consider the legacy left by the iron mining industry here, a legacy that continues, but whose stories have not been much told, of the caving grounds and families displaced by undermined neighborhoods. Homes were lifted off foundations and relocated because the ground beneath them was weakened by the industry going on far below.
This self-created residency with 5 women–a poet, a singer, an art therapist, a scientist writer, and myself–holds all sorts of questions and delight. We have no idea what will come out of this. But what has already arisen in the last 24 hours is our mutual commitment to share and honor this time away from our regular life. We are deeply in love with this land and the waters and the people who have lived here before time was counted by timepieces and with the people who came after. We are curious to learn what happens when five women gather in this special place.
We made simple pamphlet stitch books in the last light of yesterday. We folded pages together, threaded each other’s needles and stitched them up fine.
This morning, everyone is walking about with their books like newborn babies, tender in their arms.
We are setting off for a long walk around a beautiful island.
There is something to making an invitation to a sister that welcomes new habits in to your day.
Who might you make a date with in your world, to set some time apart to start
some thing that you dream of doing?
One small move of sisterhood begets another.
Beginning is all.
Love from the big lake,
PS Have you seen the New Illuminations page on this site? Brand new rabbit hole!