Specifically my guilt, because I don't know if you've ever felt like this. Or maybe you have?
Do you, as a "creative", feel guilty if you're not doing something All.The.Time?
Do you glance over your shoulder to see if the wolf is almost at the door if you have a few days or weeks to put your feet up?
Ever felt like less of a person because you weren't madly writing your next play/song/book?
Let's talk about this quote for a second:
For the record, I agree with Mr. Tozer 100%. But here's the thing. If we're not taking a little time to enjoy our progress before launching into the next thing, what's the point?
Five years ago in January I was subletting an apartment. Then I moved into my brother's place. For three years. I barely got any work in the city, putting all my effort instead into my spring/summer job up north. I had yet to meet my boyfriend. Finding the 500 dollars (!!!) I needed to pay rent for the bedroom I lived in was often a challenge. I had never taught a class. I had almost never performed professionally, except up north.
It was almost exactly two years ago that I found my sweet little basement suite on Craigslist. I have never had to borrow money to pay the (substantially more than $500) rent, and I've never been late. Not once. I started teaching music classes. I've performed professionally all over the place. My new band has recordings I actually enjoy listening to. In order to help pay for the apartment (and to pursue my theatre dreams instead of playing it safe), I was out of town; away from my home and my love for 25% of the calendar year.
So here I sit , at 11:30 am, in my Space Kitty onesie and a toque (my apartment is cold in the winter, it turns out). I had a green smoothie for breakfast- part of a regimen of health and lifestyle changes and challenges I'm spicing up my life with- I did my yoga, I was just about to get into the shower...
And then I thought: I don't have to. I don't work on Thursdays, the onesie was soft and fleecy and warm...
So I sat my fleece-covered ass down and started writing this post.
You know, if you've read this blog before, that I struggle with The Hustle. I love my work, but I also love my downtime. I believe strongly in a work-life balance, except for me? the scales will always be more weighted on the Life side.
I came back from two months away and I started working pretty soon after, but let's be real here: I only work about 20 hours a week right now. I have a sweet deal, because my teaching jobs pay pretty well. So, what's happening during the hours in which I do not work?
Am I calling colleagues and making connections and generally hustling for the next contract?
I am not, but I AM calling venues and looking for places to play gigs and gearing up to play regularly with my band after a forced hiatus because I was away for so long.
Am I writing songs?
I am not, but I've started work on adapting a favourite novel into a 1-woman show.
Am I running/doing HIT/going to yoga class?
I am not, but I'm doing 20 minutes of yoga a day at home (thanks, Yoga With Adriene!), drinking green smoothies, cutting out alcohol and coffee, limiting sweets, cooking at home, walking or biking to work, drinking lots of water.
I'm also learning German. (More on this soon.) I quit using Facebook again (okay, only 2 days so far, but it feels good).
I have a list of goals on my bedroom wall, in colourful post-its. I am actively working on most if not all of them.
I'm also watching more Netflix and YouTube videos than I have in ages. In my onesie.
This is precious time for- much as I loathe the term- Self Care. Precious time to enjoy my home and re-connect with my sweetheart after being away for 8 weeks.
So, do I have a takeaway from this post? Is this just monstrous self-justification for a month of laziness?
But you know, when I stop feeling guilty, I realize that I also feel... happy. Would I want all my months to look like this? Well no, but I also don't want all my months to be frantically busy, either.
I think we- as women, but also as a culture of creative, self-employed people- are conditioned to sacrifice, to be uncomfortable, to hustle, to be overburdened.
[Read this post, by a blogger I adore, if you want to get an idea of what it means to be juggling too many things.]
When we don't feel like this: stressed out, exhausted, juggling multiple projects, we feel guilty for not Doing It All. What bullshit.
I have a holiday booked for this summer. When it rolls around, I want very much to feel that I earned it with a lot of honest, hard work. But when the soft times come, I also want know that I savoured them in the best ways I could, with leisure and self-improvement and domestic pleasures.
And then, just maybe, the wolf at the door will also just lie down on your doorstep and take a little nap.