I’m back. It’s been a lovely two weeks in which I’ve simply let my soul breathe. I’ve spent little time online, and much time in the very present moment with my family. I feel refreshed, excited, and inspired.
I didn’t know how much I needed the time away.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the creative process in our two weeks on the road. Instead of creating, I’ve thought about the simple art of creating – the act of writing, of photographing, of painting and singing. I’ve watched it and seen it and felt the power of the creative arts.
I stood at the top of the Smoky Mountains, and I marveled at the Creator’s brush strokes – the Hand that carved each path, shaped each height.
I’ve watched my children laugh and play. I’ve listened to their delight as they discovered the thrill of shooting a sling shot, exploring a creek bed, walking beneath a waterfall. I’ve gasped in motherly fear when one got too close to the edge, and tried to be cool though images of them plummeting over the side gave me more than a few heart attacks.
We spent a week in Nashville catching up with friends, both new and old. The laughter and shared life gave way to gratefulness. And not once or twice, but more times than I can count, the conversation of creativity came up. It’s not hard to find yourself amidst a group of creatives in a place like Nashville.
The town is teeming with creativity.
For those of us with a bent toward the creative arts, every day has new potential. We wake up with the longing to build, to shape and mold something out of nothing.
It’s very real, this life of the creative. We don’t always know how to describe it, but we feel it deeply. We know that we were made to create. Some days that creative power flows freely, while other days it tends to bottle up. Life responsibilities sometimes hinder the creative process, but still it sits, waiting for us to tap in and unleash.
I used to think I was alone in this creative life. It made me feel strange, this need to sit down and write, to pen stories for no reason at all. I wondered if my passion for the written word was frivolous. It doesn’t make me much money, so what’s the point?
The point, I’m realizing more and more, is that this art of creating is my act of worship. When I write, I am in communion with my God. The rhythm of the keyboard is my praise offering to Him.
And for you, my fellow creatives, it is very much the same.
That thing you do? It’s an act of worship. You were created with a love for your art, and it is legitimate and real. What you do is a valid form of worship, so give it back freely and joyfully. Don’t be ashamed of your art, and don’t fight the urge to create. Your creative brain holds purpose in this world.
You are a mirror of the Creator Himself. So create.
I am giving myself permission to do something that I haven’t allowed myself to do in the six and a half years I’ve been blogging.
I am going to take a break.
Funny story: Last week, Lee and I decided to take a spontaneous family trip to Gatlinberg, Tennessee. We rarely take vacations just the five of us – in fact, I honestly am not sure we’ve ever taken a vacation just the five of us. Most of our trips consist of traveling with people, or traveling to see people.
The problem is, I got my dates wrong. I was certain that I made our hotel reservation for Wednesday to Sunday, with the plan being we would leave Tuesday, drive half way, and arrive Wednesday. So I’ve been frantically trying to get us packed and ready to leave tomorrow for three weeks away, because after Gatlinberg, we’re sending Tia to camp in Crossville, TN, while the rest of us go to Nashville. And from there, we’re all headed to Arkansas for a week.
Are you exhausted, yet?
I realized just this morning that our hotel reservations are actually Thursday to Sunday, which means we’re leaving a day later than planned, which kind of disappoints me, honestly. But I’m also a bit relieved because trying to pack for three weeks in three different locations was giving me palpitations.
My brain is on serious summer overload, which normally wouldn’t be too much of a problem; however, I happen to be 64 27 weeks pregnant, which means sleep is already elusive. Add to that a little stress, and this mama ends up tired and emotional.
In an effort to not throw myself into an early labor, I’m unloading a few things from my plate. I simply don’t have the mental capacity to generate decent blog content right now. As it is, I already have a few deadlines pressing down on me for other sites (the ones that actually pay me to write), and I’m in the final stages of editing my e-book, which I will hopefully get to the designer in the next few days.
So I’m going to take a couple of weeks off in this space. I’m going to breathe a little, enjoy my family, read a few books, unplug, and take in a little fresh, mountain air.
I’ll be updating on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on occasion if you want to keep up with our family and see whether or not it really was a good idea to take a trip to the mountains at 28 weeks pregnant.
Also, Lee and I are attending a celebrity charity dinner in Nashville on Sunday night. Tune in to see what my gigantic belly looks like in a nice dress, and to see if I get to rub elbows with Carrie Underwood, or if I simply stalk her from across the room.
I’ll come back here in a couple of weeks when the dust of family fun time has settled, and I can string together a coherent sentence outside of, “Did you pack your toothbrush? What about underwear?”
In the meantime, I hope all of you are enjoying some fun in the sun this summer break. Sit back with a good book, a tall glass of iced tea (sweetened, of course), and take some time to breathe.
I learned early on in my motherhood journey that I am not good at working with my children around. I am easily distracted, have a difficult time stepping away long enough to concentrate, and feel the general, nagging feeling of guilt contract my heart when I have to shoo them away so I can work while they play quietly in other parts of the house.
So summer is a hard time for me to be effective in my profession of creativity.
There is still inspiration to be found, though. Especially now as my children are older and I get to soak in their ability to create something from nothing. I watch them play, write stories, paint with water colors, and read good books, and I remember what it’s like to be a kid and relish the gloriously long, unscheduled days of summer.
This morning, I sipped my coffee slowly and watched them learn. We drilled multiplication tables, discussed verbs and nouns, and read books. The kids swam while I cleaned up the house, and I relished in the blissful quiet of a lazy morning.
By the time 10:00 rolled around, we all felt refreshed and ready to tackle the day, and I felt inspired.
I’m inspired by my kids imaginations. I’m inspired by the down time. I’m inspired by the forced slow down, the reading and learning, the just being together.
Will it always be this idyllic? No. They will grow bored with the morning routine at some point, and we will have to sludge through the boredom. Some mornings we will be up and out early to enjoy Florida life (hello water parks and beaches and all the things that make Florida awesome!).
We will be traveling for a few weeks, and time will go by too quickly. Before we know it, summer will end and routine will crank life up a notch again. So while we have this time, I want to relish it – even the whiney moments of boredom.
There is inspiration to find in everything, in every moment of the day. I will get less done this summer, and I’m working to adjust my expectations accordingly, but I have this feeling that if I am willing go with the flow, to embrace the slow, and to soak in the quiet, then I could find that this becomes a summer loaded with inspiration.
What about you? How do you find time to create, and to soak in inspiration in the long summer days when the kids are around all day? How do you fill your time…and theirs?
We still have a week of school left, but already I’m gearing the kids up for summer expectations. More and more, Lee and I have felt pressed to teach our kids how to fill their time wisely. This is a difficult task as it requires us to fill our time wisely. That whole “leading by example” mentality that’s supposed to be so effective in parenting, you know?
As we head into the summer months, my goal is to have plenty of fun activities planned, with a fair amount of downtime built in. So, without further ado, I give you…
The Stuart Family Summertime Agenda of Awesome
I doubt this will drastically curb the desperate pleas for help entertaining themselves, but hopefully it will give them a reference to look to instead of tugging on me day in and day out with all their woes of boredom.
This sign hangs proudly on the laundry room door, right outside the kitchen. It is our agenda of all the awesomeness that’s about to go down this summer.
See how exciting I’m making it sound?! Think they’ll buy it?
So sprinkled in between visits to Adventure Island and the beach, my hope is that all of us will enjoy a little more downtime this summer. Time spent reading, relishing the silence, electronic free mornings and maybe…juuuuuuust maaaayyybeeeee, my children who love to hop out of bed before the sun even peeks over the horizon will sleep in just a teeny, tiny bit.
All I’m asking for is 7:00 WHICH SEEMS ENTIRELY REASONABLE TO ME!
I’m not holding my breath…feel free to send coffee and Peppermint Mocha Creamer my way.
So tell me – how do you keep your kids active, engaged, and free from the summertime boredom blues? Do share!