Monday, October 24, 2011

Space to be Creative

I loved the concept behind Gretchen Ruben’s Happiness Project. That anyone could improve their life with a series of actions. The thought I kept having while reading it, however, is that she says she started in a great and happy place to begin with. She seems able to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Aside from discovering things she doesn’t prefer, she is not so very good at failing.

I find this hard to relate to. I need someone to show me how to get out from the dark days into a productive and enlightened space. I want examples of people who started small and found unlimited sparkle and shine. I want to know how to move forward when the obstacles set in. I have finally realized that the only person who can do this is me. Gretchen actually does invite people to make their own Happiness Project. So I shall. I am deeply inspired by this idea.

I have been obsessed with ‘new rooms’ in the past and have recurring dreams about them appearing out of nowhere in my house. In the interest of spending more time creating joy in my life, I have decided to make a space in my home where I can be creative.

What was once our bedroom, the same room that I went into labour with my first child and woke up with her for the first year of her life, will now become ‘the Creativity room’. As we have no basements, only rat and spider-friendly crawl spaces below our 100 year old log cabin, I have began to use this attic-type, knee-walled room as a major storage depot since our new addition was put on. And when I’m in a hurry, I might just have gone to the top of the stairs with a garbage bag full of stuff and flung it into the general middle of the room. It wouldn’t have mattered. There were piles of such bags and boxes already occupying the floor.

Somewhere under those bags and boxes was a guest room bed. But eventually I would drag the mattress into our family room downstairs and advise my guests to steer clear of the mountain of junk up in that room.

Junk be gone! Or at least methodically arranged out of sight.

I have spent a few days in the last month rifling through things and finding much that could be given away. In amongst the mess is the pair of Robeez leather slippers that my little 3-month old girl used to wear. I found my old 4-track cassette recorder. An area rug still taped up that my mother had passed along when she moved 4 years ago. A bag of stuffed animals from my own childhood.

When we purchased this farm, I had the idea in the back of my head that I could resurrect my interest in songwriting and making music if only I had a quiet space to do it. Some expensive microphones and a Mac computer with appropriate software later and I still haven’t found that groove. I wrote one song very early on in our farm years, a love song for the farm, and recorded it with the sound of crickets in the background. That was the last my microphone saw the light of day.

I have decided to dig out my recording equipment. I shall leave it ‘handy’ and see if the mood strikes to do anything with it. I also have an electronic keyboard that the kids are loving! They are loving this new space. Incidentally, I built new bannisters on these stairs which now allows them to go up unassisted, which was never true before.

Today I brought up an old hutch-type book shelf and loaded it with kids puzzles, games and lego on one side and all of my recording equipment on the other. I set up the easel and whiteboard. I brought up my photos and scrapbooking materials along with old National Geographic magazines and calendars and photo agendas filled with beautiful pictures. All headed for the vision board. The room also now houses a dance pad that lights up when you step on it and a stereo to play tunes on. Although I have a great desire to have a room of my own, sharing it with the kids is even more delicious. What I long for most is to be able to work creatively alongside my children.

Over the years I have also been collecting material for a book that I have wanted to write about women in farming over the years. Magazines, journal articles, theses, scavenged books from ebay, internet links all sit waiting for inspiration to strike.

But you know and I know that inspiration needs to be whacked heavily over the head with a cast iron pan. So this is the kind of thing I’ve been doing. Leaving no stones unturned. All because I am so tired of complaining about low energy, feeling bored, unfulfilled, overworked, buried in demands.

One last swing for the week was my attempt at a ‘run’ yesterday. My husband took what we call the bike train that consists of an adult bike, a child’s seat between the handlebars and seat and a tag along for our oldest to ride attached behind. I put on my running shoes and strapped two dogs around my waist and ‘ran’ alongside. If it were not for the dogs you might better have called my gait a slow trot but the 150 pounds of anxious black furry beasts kept me at pace. The kids were in heaven! I managed 5 km of slightly lifted waddle and a 3km walk back home. I felt so proud after that - it had been nearly 5 whole months since I have managed such a thing. It was like pulling teeth to make it happen but boy it felt good once it was done (and during as well!)

I do believe that exercise for me is like free Prozac. If I don’t do it, I feel blue. Period. But I often don’t do it. Because there is always something more important to do. But what is better than kicking your blues in the hiney and telling them to take a bit fat hike? Nothing. So I tried to run. I won’t give up.

Will you join me in this ass-whooping? Let’s not let the dim grey of November get to us, shall we?

Tell me about the space in your home that you use to inspire you. What do you keep in it? How do you ensure that you use it? Are there things you wish you could be doing right now but can’t find a way to make happen?


  1. Even in our tiny cottage in the woods I have a space to call my own. It was our son's when he was a boy but now it's all mine baby. Whats in there? So much stuff, too much really. Sewing machine, quilting fabrics, wool for spinning,patterns,paints,pencils and various papers, an inspiration board and binders of projects I want to do. The floor is barely visible because of clutter at the moment and busy fall time chores outdoors has kept me from my work table and I can only seem to take a sit there now and again to sort through my goodies. Youv'e got me goin', now if I can only find that opener I know I got a can of whoop-ass somewhere!

  2. I have converted part of my dormer bedroom into my space. Lots of clutter to be sorted out there let me tell you!
    After losing three close relatives in a very short space of time, my partner is suffering the blues something awful. I learned a long time ago that physical activity was the key to keeping the SAD off my back, so I'm whoopin' his ass trying to get his back into a healthy space. We can't let November get us into it's dark grips!!!


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