As of yesterday, all three of my children are in school. A new era is upon our family, with new ideas and a sparkly feeling of freedom.
That said, I'm also feeling a little cautious. One thing I’ve learned in my years of parenting, is that without scheduling time to follow my joy, it just doesn’t happen. Spare time gets sucked up with endless numbers of jobs. Washing, buying sandals, feeding chickens, and work meetings, mean that my making often revolves around what needs to be done.
My crafting time gets taken up with craft jobs, rather than craft joy. There is of course joy in nearly all my craft but I very rarely get to make on a whim and just follow the creative spark. Experimentation occurs but generally only within the context of a given need. A kid needs shorts, I need some tops or a friend has just had a baby and so a quilt needs to be rustled up. Now creating to meet a given need is also fun, but nearly everything I make falls into the category of need-based making. You have to get your jobs done before you can have some fun - right? These days, I'm not so convinced.
What’s crappy about my current needs-based system, is that I have an ongoing deep-seated longing for time to play that is not being addressed. I have all these ideas - they buzz around my head in a frustrated fashion, thrown into the "one-day I'll get to it" category. These are the ideas that aren't based on a "need". These ideas fall into the “wouldn’t it be great if I could just play with that material” or “i wish I could just see what that would look like” or “I wish I could try that”. Just for fun. For the sheer joy of figuring out what was possible and what it might look like.
I'll give you a quick example. Ever since I got the Gee's Bend book I've been a little obsessed. Every time I look at it I see something new. Some kind of stunning alchemy of quiltmaking that is so different to my own. This week I'm moving into my new study space, and as I have less room, I'm having to go through what I own and downsize. This has meant scrap-sorting. And the scrap-sorting has lead to a brain-buzzing question "could I make something like those quilts?"
Could I? If I had a go, and did some practice, and put some scraps together. It is totally different to my normal kind of making. Maybe it wouldn't work at first, but when I started chucking scraps together I would learn about what was needed through practice. As I have written before - planning only takes you so far - sometimes the only way to figure out whether an idea will work is by making. The making gets your fingers involved with the materials, and it is there that magic is often made. Could I create in that way? Could I?
Since I wrote the What we can learn from watching kids craft post the idea of experimentation, and the lack of it in my crafting, has been bothering me. I’ve feel like I’ve fallen into a grownup (?) mindset whereby I’m always trying to achieve things. To get things done. To move things forward. I feel like I don’t have the space to experiment, or the time. In craft, and life, I write lists that say things like “post X, call Y”. I wake up and I start to cross things off. Grownup stuff. Grownup responsibilities. Using time to play – unless it is with my children or with my girlfriends – is something that has disappeared off my list of things to do.
As I’ve thought more about it, I’ve realized that I’m actually jealous of the kids and their seemingly endless time to experiment. And jealousy is an important emotion to watch for. It always has something to teach me, and what it’s trying to teach me is normally very bloody obvious. In this case – I crave time to play with my craft.
I recently read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin – a wonderful book – and one of the things that Gretchen very clearly laid out for me is that we need to (if we are a certain type of person) schedule time for every-single-thing we want to do. That includes the things that you would love to do but don't need to do. The things that will simply bring you joy.
Scheduling them, is often the only way you actually get to do them. Without assigning specific time for play, there are always things that will take a higher priority in the short term.
So today when I was sitting in a cafe, having the first solo coffee of my new found freedom, I decided that I needed to firmly plant a stake in my schedule. And so here is my stake.
I'm scheduling time to play with my craft. Time I can’t use for “needed craft” and I can’t use for “comfort craft”. I can only use it for play - to experiment with ideas and just go with the bliss of the day.
I’m thinking an hour a week. I’d love two, but I don’t know if I can fit that in yet. I plan on being religious about it. No distractions. A lot of experimentation. I'm smiling with anticipation and joy as I type this!
Is time to play something that you lack? Is scheduling something that you think about, or something you've done? Do you make time to play? Have you come up with a way to make play happen? Do you just do it naturally? Any and all thoughts gratefully received!