All of it. I want to get my hands mucky and dirty and calloused and spend my time doing aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll of it.
Or at least pulling myself out of a career of death and dying. Not completely of course. I mean, I’m in my forties for goodness-sake! I’d be foolish to leave the stability of a pension and good benefits (not to mention an awesome team of colleagues). this I know to be true, and we (you know who you are ladies) need something else. Something that we can find joy in which allows us to sip from the spiritual fountain of youth, or make a few extra bucks to fund what we would all like to become our annual Central-American-Beach-Rehab. Ok, that’s my dream, but I’m sure you have your own.
Being creative is generally frowned upon in our culture. Go out of the house with wild hair? Wear something unique? Sing your way through the work day? Yah, not so cool, and possibly a good way to have yourself committed.
I think most women at my stage go through this. Whether you live in a hovel or a palace, life becomes routine. There is comfort in routine, but there is also stagnation. We become sexless, and our femininity is starved. Being spiritually and emotionally vibrant goes a long way toward health.
My daily challenge is to let-it-go.
Letting go of all of the time-gobblers that suck the life out of me.
The time we’re not at work too often becomes perfecting the comforting space of domesticity. Food prep, folding laundry, tidying up; It’s become the hole in my spiritual bucket. Yours may be binge-watching, trashy novels or napping.
Let me be clear. Our need to create is not a whimsy, or modern construct. There is evidence of creativity dating as far back as our human history. It is part of our essence.
My need to create is always there though, simmering under the surface, sometimes boiling over and making the kind of mess that anything repressed tends to do. Goodness knows I don’t need any more messes to tidy up.
I will continue my daily struggle to find balance between being a responsible adult and a wild-at-heart free-spirit, why don’t you join me?
Let yourself transform into the creative goddess that you are; let your hair grow, buy the funky jacket, relax into comfortable flip flops, and damn it, spend time in the comfortable, wild space of creativity.
The love of my life who abandoned me told me that me being a ‘giver’ was what most attracted him to me. Ha!
That should have had me running the other way. The only people attracted to givers are takers, and quite frankly, it’s boring.
The reality is though, that I am a giver. A giver of my heart in everything that I do. I tend my friendships, bring my best professional self to work, and hope to leave the world a better place than I found it at the end of every day.
I’ve realized over time that that looks a little differently than I used to think it should.
Example; today it was strongly (passively aggressively) suggested that I should abandon my work and go home to tend to a minor sore throat and common cold. In the past, I would have toughed it out, lived on liver-damaging-over-the-counter-pharmacandy and felt better in a month. Smiling all the while of course.
But not today. Nope.
You see, I’m learning to take some of my own advice. Givers tend to utter such sincere statements as, It’s ok sweetie, don’t be so hard on yourself, and one of my personal favourites, don’t worry about it I’ll take care of it.
Years ago I gave up the need to be a ‘giver’. After a really bad, treacherously drawn-out relationship, I finally learned that I don’t need to be there for people who are only there for me when they need something.
The second two quarters of this year have been a colossal gong-show of loss, heartbreak, being taken advantage of, and frankly my darling buttercups, I’ve had efuckingnough. That’s French for; I’m done.
I do not need to be anyone’s savior, free therapist, or emotional punching bag. I could use a wicked massage, night of hot sweaty sex, and a romantic dinner.But that’s in the works as I type this my sweet little peaches…after all, a lady makes sure that her needs are met in order not to settle for second-best.
So, today, at the suggestion that I was too ill to work, I packed up my beautiful black and red leather bag and headed out the door.
After a quick stop to pick up new shoes, and a hair-colour pick-me-up, I spent the afternoon finally taking the advice of a good art-therapist friend of mine. I used the last of my instant, vanilla-flavoured coffee that’s been in the cupboard since David slew Goliath, and spattered the hell out of some watercolour paper. I scrawled my pastels and turned up my Rachmaninoff extra-freaking loud.
I sipped tea. I wore tights and a baggy sweater, and I opened wide all of the windows to let the fresh autumn air breeze through our little home.
When I was done with that, I spent 90 minutes with Charlie Hunnam on my couch and watched him take his shirt off and stare back at me with his wild blue eyes. Men like that give me faith in my libido and all that it’s done for me over the years. Thank you Charlie.
What I did not do was listen for my phone, respond to energy-sucking messages, or feel that I owed anyone anything. After all, a gal has to take care of herself every once in a while, ’cause there ain’t nobody out there who’s going to do it for her.
What I’ve learned is that when you do it all, all of the time, no one comes to your rescue. It used to upset me, make me feel abandoned, alone, sad and even angry.
The truth is, I don’t need to be saved. No one does.
I just need to let go of the message that our western world sinisterly implies; keep busy, want more stuff, don’t think, just keep going.
Busy is over-rated. Stuff just kills the planet and clutters our space. Rest, introspection and silence seem to go against everything society shoves so beautifully down our throat. Today I wasn’t swallowing though. Today I pulled the blankie of don’t-bother-me up around my ears and turned my face to the wall.
Today I did not give one single damn. I took care of me, my son, and my mental health. I let my broken heart loose and loved it just as it was; whole, hurting, imperfect and yet, still hopeful. Damn I’m one hell of a dame…
I strongly suggest you don’t give a damn too. Every once in a while, it’s just the medicine you need. After all, who are you trying to prove yourself to, really?
During one of our phone conversations a few years ago, my friend, the Awesome Big C was revelling in her new-found status as “fiancée”, while I, true to form, remained single.
She said that her and her hubby-to-be, the Sensational Big S, were listening to some music, and one of the songs, Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, reminded her of me.
It bothered me a little bit, because it’s a melancholy song, and I clearly am more of a Rick James Superfreak kinda gal. Or that’s what I like you all to think. It also bothered me slightly that they were thinking of me, when they should not have been thinking at all.
Both sides now starts with these lyrics;
“Bows and flows of angel hair And ice cream castles in the air And feather canyons everywhere I’ve looked at clouds that way
When I met my friend the Awesome Big C, I was still looking at clouds that way. Now, ladies (and all of you chivalrous gents out there), I know you’ve been a love-struck fool at some time or another. Remember the teen years when your crush could make your stomach flip and twirl and your cheeks rouge up? We all fell in love a few times, had our hearts broken once or twice, and maybe, like me, ran to the altar with ‘THE ONE’,convinced that nary a human could bury such a strong union asunder.
Enter the present day; A house, two cars, three kids, a steady 9-5 and twenty pounds later, perhaps it is these, the next lyrics in Joni’s ballad that feel more familiar;
But now they only block the sun They rain and snow on everyone So many things I would have done But clouds got in my way”
There are very few people I know who don’t relate to the last two lines of the lyrics, “So many things I would have done, But clouds got in my way”. We were all going to be someone, something, successful, courageous, bold and happy. Well, everyone but one of my best pals. All she ever wanted was to be married. And you know what? She’s pretty flipping happy – except for the hectic life of kids, mortgages, jobs and family. Pretty happy indeed.
Some kind of cloud got in our way; athletic talent was poo-pooed by parents, we got rejection letters, we auditioned, but never got the part, our families were poor, we came from war-torn countries, we got old.
I remember my dreams before all those damn clouds got in the way. I was going to be superwoman. I was going to be a writer (or a teacher), marry a wonderfully tall, dark, handsome, well-spoken, sexy man, teach in Africa, and live by the water. I was a reporter for a year before my average-height-red-headed, balding husband and I decided to have kids, and I quit my writing job to take on something with more mother-friendly-hours. I was ecstatic at the time – it was lovely.
Ah, there it goes. Can you see it? Yes, look up, look way up. No, that wasn’t a shooting star, that’s your dream falling out of the sky. But that’s ok. Because we grow up, and our dreams do too. We convince ourselves that we want the big house that we never spend time in. We’re too busy after all, working for our mortgage and car payments, and then oh yah, diapers and car-seats and little wee-shoes give way to braces and high level sports fees for our own little dreamers. I love the-capitalist-love-and-marriage-agenda. It makes me warm in my girly places.
What? You don’t have two cars a house and a cottage? You might want to see a therapist for that – what is wrong with your relationship? Don’t you have any drive? Sheesh! Grow up would ya’? Would you believe that 88% of ‘coupled’ Canadians wished their partner would kiss them more?! We’re too distracted by what we have, what we want to have, and how to get it – more stuff – to kiss our partners for goodness sakes! What’s the poing of having a partner if you’re not smooching all the time? Make love not war my fabulous readers. Giddy-up with the necking.
Joni’s lyrics reminded me of just having read Henny on the Couch by Rebecca Land Soodak. I could both relate to and was repelled by the main character. It’s a book about a woman who comes face to face with her young-adult dream of becoming an artist, and a man from her past whom she desperately needed approval from before she would let herself realize her dream.
Huh? Funny how the books we read come to us at the right time. For the longest time after getting a divorce I thought that I still wanted the marriage, kids, and all of the material trappings that seem to come along with it. It’s a cookie-cutter life that barely breathes, and the most pathetic of participants talk about their ‘passions’ over mediocre wine and big-box gluttony. The average nine-to-fiver doesn’t have time for passion – they have time for hobbies. Enough with the over-used passion bullshit. After being chewed up and spit out by the universe ( I don’t learn lessons easily as I’m as stubborn as a cat), I realized that wasn’t what I wanted at all. Ever. It was what I was supposed to want. Insert man for second-income and obligatory, marital sex. Screw passion.
Recently, like Kara Caine Lawson, I was reacquainted with a lover that had faded out of my rear-view window years ago. He was tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, and I hung off his every word. Meeting him again after more than a few years, I was no longer attracted to him. Granted he is still tall, dark and handsome, he is no longer mysterious. I think I mistook inauthenticity as mystery, and although he’s intelligent as hell (and I do find that uber-sexy), it’s his confidence that gives him an edge. Years later and more experience under my belt, I’m as confident as he is, and see quite clearly through his facade, even after a few glasses of bubbly. Facades just aren’t sexy boys. We want real, and raw and that, my darling ones, is very sexy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a strong, warm man next to me – or whatever position we happen to be in-snuggled up in bed. I love the intimacy and companionship of a lover and friend. Just the other day I met a handshake grip that would make any woman quiver, and when those fingers dial my number, my answer will be yes! Yes! YES! Who knows, maybe he will be the next Mr. BothSidesNow.
And at the same time as having fun dating and holding out hope for my best-friend-whom-I-like-to-get-naked-with, as a working woman and a mother, I cherish the time that I have to create, and nurture my creativity.
My days at the Art Gallery are not just time spent gawking at pictures and sculptures. It inspires my own writing and art. My hours at the keyboard aren’t merely whimsy, it’s compulsive. I have to do it or I feel bound and gagged, and not in a sexy fish-net-necktie-around-my-wrists-kind-of-way. My friendships are all ingredients to that creative stew I call life.
When I travel, my souvenirs are art. I’ve always said that art is an expression of the human spirit that no amount of oppression can kill. In fact, I find that oppression simply adds fire to the belly when it comes to creativity. When the human spirit is distilled down to its purest form the paintings are beautiful, the words are finely edged,the dance is more delicate, and the music more haunting. Speaking of music, back to Joni…
Of all of the verses, this one does remind me of me the most,
“Oh but now old friends are acting strange They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed Well something’s lost but something’s gained In living every day”
Yes, indeed. Something has changed. I don’t want what I’m supposed to want, on someone else’s terms, compromised to the point of suffocation. The last relationship I was in almost completely suffocated my spirit. I was so busy trying to make someone else happy, I had little energy to breathe any life into what sustains my own self; what makes me smile, and what I believe has made me so darn irresistible to the men-folk lately. I tend to think that Ella’s, The Lady is a Tramp is more my style – except the bit about California of course. Who doesn’t love San Francisco?
So, yes, as the song goes, I have looked at clouds from both sides now. I can see the wonder of both sides, the give and take, the sacrifice and triumph, the agony and the ecstasy. It all asks for its own pound of flesh. I’m enjoying my quiet time to write, paint and reflect AND I’m also enjoying the tantalizing temptation of all of those wonderful men out there who are concerned with the way they show up in the world every day – and I’m not talking about whether to wear the brown or black, or whether their t-shirt is tight enough. Oh my God indeed, what happened to me, to you, to us?
I do believe that women struggle much more than men trying to fulfill duties in relationship while balancing their own needs. Ok, bitch, comment, say I’m sexist, whatever you like. BUT, for the majority, I think that expectations for women far exceed those of men today. We are still old maids if we don’t get married. We are still the ones who are whispered about if our houses are not immaculately clean. We are the ones responsible for school lunches, study time, and healthy children. We have the same career demands and expectations that men had in the 1950’s, and get paid less too.
If you’re reading this, male or female, and you’ve lost your mojo, asking, “What happened to you?”, I’d suggest kicking back in the tub with a glass of wine and your iPod. Listen to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, and crack open “Henny on the Couch”. You may not have to give up your lover/partner/spouse to get it balanced out, you might just have to get to know yourself a little bit better again so that they can too. Throw in a little ‘Superfreak’ at the end, just to get it, whatever ‘it’ is for you, revved up again.
Take some time to figure out what happened to you.