I sat down for lunch today with a spot of reading, as you do. It's one of my favourite parts of the day. Fifteen minutes when there is nowhere to go, and nothing to do, except eat and read.
Often in the reading something jumps out at me and today it was the quote part of the title "a little space to collect oneself". It comes from an interview with Pico Iyer in the latest issue of the wonderful Dumbo Feather Issue 46. As with every Dumbo Feather article, the interview covers a wide range of subjects, but at the very heart of this article was the need all of us have within us for quiet and breaks. It was a very timely reminder for me....and hopefully for you too.
A common part of many a life change, is an adjustment period. My recent move from a quiet, small single-doored sewing space to a large, shared, multi-doored study/sewing space has been a true testament to that process; I've been a little stressed and a tad crotchety in my adjusting. My adjustment hasn't been what one would call pretty.
The needle that caused the camel to shout chaotically, occurred when I had sat down, at last, at my sewing machine after a long day of chores; ready to embark on the fifteen minutes of sewing I had promised myself. Because I was in his field of vision, my partner's simple request was for me to spend five minutes cleaning a pile out of another part of the room. I flew out of my chair, stormed to the pile and "silently" tidied while fuming about losing my fifteen minutes of time. When he asked what was going on, I shouted something like "I just don't have ANY FREEDOM anymore!!!!!" and stormed from the room to get the kids from school. Understandably he looked a little taken aback and confused.
Tuning into my inner discomfort, and outer chaos, has been instrumental in helping me to understand what is going on. When we were talking about me moving rooms, and I was all like "yeah...shared study...togetherness....that sounds GREAT!" What I hadn't realised was how important my space was to me; how much my small quiet space provided me with "a little space to collect" myself. I wasn't conscious of how many five minute spaces I took throughout the day, after a load of washing or while they were in the bath. Possibly only three or four but they were essential AND I always knew the option was available to me. The option of a little space.
Not just the physical space, but the mental. In order to be a happy mentally-healthy adult who parents three young kids, AND is a nice person to be shacked up with for my partner-in-crime, turns out I need it. The crazy shouty woman who starts yelling about freedom has shown that clearly, if somewhat confusingly.
Different people need different things, and sometimes those things are hard to see. I wasn't consciously aware of how much space I needed to function as a human and as a parent. While frustrating (and mildly explosive), this period of adjustment has helped me clarify how much space I need, and where I get it from. It definitely isn't from long hikes through the mountains; there is a kitchen to be cleaned up and kids to be cuddled to sleep. I get my space through craft. Through a moment knitting or sewing in solitude.
Moments that until recently had a door. The door meant that I almost didn't notice them myself, as I could do engage in a "spot of craft" without feeling like I might face external judgment. It's almost as if the moments didn't exist because they weren't visible to my family. No one could watch me and think "you should be filling in the form I need" or "you should be doing the washing". But thinking about it I'm not even sure the judgement I'm trying to avoid is external. I have the feeling some of it, might be coming from me. My feelings around what I should be doing.
I also wasn't aware of the "unseen" aspect of my room with a door. In the room with the door, I could just be. No requirements, needs or expectations from another person. I can feel myself breathing out even as I type these words. Time to regroup and gather my thoughts. Time without expectation. Freedom.
Here is the tricky thing. Because of the change of space, and because of the judgement, be it internal or external, real or imagined, I'm not getting the space I need to do my little pockets of making. And without those fifteen minute spaces of creative joy, then I'm a little at sea. Without time to regroup. I feel out-of-sorts and trapped; like my quiet and my space is gone.
I love it when this stuff jumps out of a magazine/book and reminds me of exactly what I need to know. I am the only one responsible for my life. I am the only one who can create what I need so I can be the person I want to be.
And so what to do. The space I am in is the space I am going to be in. I can't shift the circumstances but I can create space within the space. I have asked the fella to sit at a desk around a corner so we can chat to one another, have togetherness, but can't see one another all the time. We will see how that goes.... And then I can specify what I am doing in a more truthful and upfront way - "Mama needs some space so can you give me fifteen minutes" or "an hour". I can be conscious about making sure I am intentional about taking time out. And I can practice not feeling guilt about it.
"Space to collect myself" is absolutely necessary for me to be the person I want to be. I'm hoping with practice I can do this more easily with no guilt and no recriminations. I am not a machine, I am a human that needs space to just be; without demands, schedules, to-do lists and chores. I need to show myself (and my family) enough respect and kindness to make sure it happens. Actively, consciously, taking the time to ensure I can be generous and joyful.
Do you need this space? And how do you get it, especially if you don't have your own door?