By Joey Phoenix
Life is full of things which demand our attention. We have to pay bills, file taxes, run errands, wash our clothes, feed ourselves. We also need to work enough so that we can pay rent and buy food, be social enough that we don’t become hermits, and make enough art so that we feel like we’re actually artists. Oh yes, we should also probably shower occasionally.
How do we balance all of this?
First of all take a deep breath. Take the kind of deep breath in that fills you from the top of your head to the balls of your feet. Take the kind of breath that reminds you not only that you know how to breathe but that you are worthy of taking the time to breathe.
You are worthy of taking time for yourself.
Now breathe out. Breathe out all of the expectations that the world tries to place on you. Breathe out ideas of perfection and the right way of doing things. Breathe out all that you feel is keeping you from breathing clearly
Repeat until you feel more steady, more alive.
There are so many things which demand our attention, but we have a choice as to where we direct our attention. We have the choice to answer the phone when it’s ringing incessantly or to check our email each time we get a notification. We can choose to not pay our internet bill on time or avoid going to the doctor if we’re sick.
What we are not free from are the consequences of our choices, but we are free to make those choices, and go about living in a way that makes it possible to do so.
In the last 90 days I’ve moved three times. The first one involved me getting rid of two-thirds of my belongings over the course of a week in early December, moving half of my stuff to one location, and the other half of my stuff to a temporary location. it was a bit chaotic and I still had to do normal human adult things in the process. The second move happened Christmas Eve, and the third was just this past week.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the last three months is that when, in a crisis, some things are more important than others. Sometimes you need to take a step back from creating so that you can see a therapist, find somewhere to live, or get a part-time job so that you can pay rent. These temporary setbacks are not defeat, they are part of the cycle of creativity which I talked a lot about in my last editorial.
But how do you balance creativity and work when not in a crisis situation? How do you create the things you love to create if you have a family or a day job or a chronic mental or physical illness?
You make time for it.
We hold space for our friends, our families, and our day jobs, it’s time that we start holding space for our art. Start treating it like a lover or a dear friend. Compare calendars with your creativity and apologize to it for having been so bad about connecting with it in the past.
Block out time during the week to create and hold that time as sacred. This is your time to activate your creative muse, this is your time to sit and do the kind of work you’ve been wanting to do when all of the other stuff keeps getting in the way.
And what happens if that time comes and you don’t make anything? Be kind to yourself. It is not your responsibility to figure out how to make something from nothing, but if you don’t give yourself the time or the opportunity to practice your art, then you won’t make it. Also, recognize that there will be times when you won’t be able to make anything for a while, and that’s ok too,
Practice patience with yourself.
Your creative journey is your own, and cultivating an ongoing relationship with your creative energy is your responsibility. If you’re tired of waiting for the right time to make art, stop waiting. Even setting aside just half an hour twice a week will bring more inspiration into your life than if you were doing nothing.
Take small steps, make more art, choose to hold space for yourself and your creativity.
You are worthy of your time.
Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org