For one year– from Spring 2010 to Spring 2011, I turned my growing family into a laboratory. My purpose– to set each of us on a Creative path of our own. We began in the grand central space we call The Music Room. Our old piano is here and our shelves are stuffed with great books. There are Kapla blocks to build with and a wooden castle with queens and kings to play with. For one week I’m writing about what I’ve learned this year– about Creativity and what it takes to live it. Yesterday I wrote The Creative Life is a Struggle.
The Nike slogan Just Do It works well enough as my family’s current task-accomplishment (including all things creativity-related) plan. I hope this is only temporary because I’m a big fan of the perfectly tuned schedule.
When my first daughter arrived my mother said, She’ll take over your life until you get a good schedule. But once you’ve got a schedule you’ll have time for anything you want. And so it was. At six months my tiny girl woke at 6 a.m. I bundled her up, strapped her into a jogger-stroller and ran several miles before breakfast. We ate at 7:30. Then I sat her facing the bathroom shower on a bouncy chair with toys so I could shower in peace. We took walks, sang songs, giggled and read books. I made her baby food from scratch and tried complicated recipes (i.e., Shitake-mushroom fried polenta topped with tomatoes, slivered almonds and parmigiano-reggiano) for dinner and she watched me. Twice a week my lovely mother-in-law took over, while I took off for grad school. I’m barely scratching the surface here. More than a decade later (I may not be young), I still believe a perfectly tuned schedule is best.
That’s why I’ve tried all sorts of plans and schedules this year to put this creativity thing on rails. But all of them required more energy than they generated. I nixed each plan when it turned more needy than a child. Who wants a needy schedule? I don’t. Real kid voices (expressing human needs) filter into my dreams at day-break Sunday through Saturday. Check out my current (not-so-needy) 5 item schedule:
- I nurse the baby.
- I head for my semi-private wake-up chamber– the cold shower. (Did I use the word “cold’? Freezing is more appropriate this time of year– Freezing showers are perfectly safe. I choose to do this, OK?)
- I dry my body with the available clean towel.
- I pull on my best jeans, dab on the lipstick.
- I run the rest of the day (it’s kind of a blur– except when I follow my two-year-old outside and read at the same time, or when I drive to kid-classes or when I lecture at the University. And all running stops when I write. Which I do almost every day. Some days I even write three pages of long-hand free thought.
Someday I’ll return to a perfectly tuned routine– all Highly Creative people fashion favored schedules. To read some favored routines I’ve come across check out my series: Routines.
But back to now. Let me tell you, with five children under twelve– it’s just impossible to follow a perfectly tuned schedule. For children each little habit expressively worked on (e.i., flushing the toilet after use or signing every piece of artwork) takes thirty days of practice. Perfectly tuned schedules are built of a thousand little habits. You do the math. So instead, we all meet in The Music Room and make short lists (one for each person above five-years-old) and each finds a way to do it. On Sundays, I often have only one item on my list– Write. And I do. Of course I still bathe the baby, drive the kids to hit tennis balls and make lunch. But those things tend to get done list or not. A one-item “To-Do” list makes you happy at the start but turns exhilarating when you’re finished.
Just Do It is the motto of the determined desperate. The person who came up with the motto (don’t tell Nike)– a serial killer about to die for his crimes and ready to get dying over-with, was certainly desperate. I admit I’m not always determined or desperate. But this post is proof Just Do It is working out for now.
…The exact One Year Anniversary of Creating Brains!
To my faithful readers:
Thank you for sticking with me. Just knowing you’re there adds intensity and relevance to every word I write. Thank you!
To those who’ve left comments:
A capital THANK YOU! Your feedback keeps me thinking– what a gift.
To all my Hitters (is that a word yet?)– Creating Brains has been visited over 9,000 times so far! Whoop-y! Hurray!
Thank you all for visiting.