Full disclosure: I find teaching to be a very rewarding occupation. I love helping people, particularly young people, grow and develop into the best versions of themselves. That being said. Teaching is my job. It is not my identity. This is one of those boundaries that I fight so hard to maintain. So often when you ask people about themselves they tell you about what they do for a living, while I prefer to talk to people about what I do to live. Semantics once again to be sure, but a very important distinction which needs to made.
I live by my creative life. Signs of creativity are proof that I’m doing well. In fact, an absence of creativity in my life is a pretty good indication that not all is well where I’m concerned. I’ve said in previous posts, that I have been setting strong boundaries between work and home. Yes, this works, to an extent, but frequently in the ongoing battle between critical and crucial, some balls get dropped. I’ve said my guitar lessons are a non-negotiable; but staff meetings have prevented me from going twice since school started. I find the balls that get dropped are the ones that don’t seem as important at the moment, end up proving more and more important as you realize that you’ve done little as an outlet for your emotions. Creativity is like a valve that allows you to release all sorts of feelings before you feel crushed by the weight of them.
I’ve had to take a two pronged approach to how address my creative life. First, I’ve had to redefine what I consider a creative outlet. Since my sewing room is my temporary office space and now has come to represent work, sewing is kind of out of the question. Not to mention that sewing can be rather involved and I’m struggling to find bandwidth as the school year continues to present new challenges, dedicating several hours at time to making a garment is difficult. I’ve found that writing and making videos is helping scratch that creative itch for the time being. Video production gets me outside recording footage or in the kitchen cooking recipes to share with you. Writing allows me a chance to share my life, insight into my experiences, and what I’m doing to cope. I might start carving out some sewing time, if school permits, but it’s probably going to be separates like trousers, skirts, and blouses; things that take less time to complete. This brings me to the second prong of my approach.
By redefining the activities I use as a creative outlet, I am able to carve out small blocks of time to do things that help fulfill my creative needs. I don’t get the luxury of long spans of time for hyper-focusing on a project, but I can scratch the itch. 30 minutes to go plant a few square feet of my garden here or 30 minutes of writing time there has given me a new lease on life and made me feel less overwhelmed. The critical difference is a switching from a mindset of finding time to making time. Finding time is a passive approach, you look around between your tasks for a few stolen minutes. Making time is actively and deliberately blocking out time in your schedule to say “this is mine…no one can have it…I need to create something.”
This model has allowed me to redefine some of MY time as critical. Because I’m making time, I feel less like rebuking myself for procrastination because I want to spend 20 minutes creating a thumbnail for my next video or 15 minutes making lists of blog post ideas into Trello. This permissiveness is allowing me an opportunity to feel like a whole person again. I have been able to reclaim my identity as someone not defined solely by my occupation.