I don’t know about you, but my creative spaces – both in my house and in my brain – are a total disaster these days. Time for some serious spring cleaning!
Starting today, and continuing every Monday and Thursday for a few weeks, join me over on Patreon for a simple yet grand adventure to get these physical and figurative creative spaces into shape so they can help us have the be our best creative selves.
Check out Day One!
In this first episode of Compulsory in two years (two years!), we return to our roots with an honest conversation with quilter Cheryl Arkison about the power of habit in creative life, and about embracing the mess of, well, pretty much everything.
Show Notes and Links
Learn more about Cheryl Arkison and her work at cherylarkison.com and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.
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We’re hosting Rosh Hashanah dinner at our place this year, to celebrate the Jewish New Year. I’m so excited about it. It’s such a fun time to have family over to a house filled with food and cheer. And though Greg is the cook in our family, I’m excited to do some cooking myself, too, this time around. I’ve already made dessert, and I’ll be making a noodle kugel and challah.
It had been a few months since I’d last made any challah, so last weekend I put a loaf in the oven to get back into the swing of it before I make the special round challahs for Rosh Hashanah (at this one time of year, you make them round to symbolize the circle of time and life).
Facebook reminded me last week that it was a year ago that I made challah for the first time. It awoke in me a desire to make it more and more so I could figure out my own favourite recipe (and learn how to make it pretty). Eventually, I not only mastered the six-stranded braid, but I settled on my own favourite recipe, tweaked and nudged from many I experimented with.
Looking back at those original loafs, it’s very cool to see the result of the time and effort I put in. It’s a slow process to make a loaf of bread like this – it takes pretty much all day, though much of the time is spent waiting. I loved doing it over and over again, until I got my bread to be just right – sweet and dense and perfect with some salt on it.
Here’s the recipe I use, if you want to try your hand at it, too!
Abby Glassenberg‘s weekly newsletter is one of my favourites. She always makes me think, and she always points me to posts and articles that are informative and helpful.
In yesterday’s newsletter, Abby wrote a response to a question people ask her all the time, “Do you ever sleep?” Abby’s so prolific, and she’s so even-keeled about her work, that it seems like her situation-normal is something the rest of us might assume takes superhuman powers.
Here’s part of what Abby wrote in response:
I choose to work instead of choosing many other things. I don’t watch T.V. (I’ve never seen an episode of 30 Rock or House of Cards – in fact I just had to Google “most popular T.V. shows of 2015” to find out the names of those shows so I could write this) and I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t volunteer at my kids’ school – I’ve never been to a PTA meeting despite having kids in school now for 9 years. I don’t coach the soccer team or organize the Girl Scout troop.
So it might seem like I get so much done, but really I just get so much OF THIS done (and almost none of THAT).
She is focused, people.
It’s a level of focus I don’t have, but not in a bad way. Now that my kid is a couple months into proper school, I realize I allocate my time and energy differently than I’d anticipated I would. I’d thought that fewer work hours during the day would mean I’d be that much more focused on working whenever else I can – early mornings, evenings, etc. But that’s not how it’s turning out (and I’m not getting any less work done).
I have managed to become far more efficient at work. It took a couple of months, but I’ve established a good routine, and I’m back to getting work done at an acceptable clip.
I do watch television and read novels and stay on top of local and international news. This fall I started volunteering with a knitting group at a residence for people with mental illness, and I’ve recently been coordinating a donation drive for Carry the Future. I’m the website coordinator for the PAC (that’s what we call the PTA here) at my kid’s school.
The busier I am, the more I get done and the more satisfied I feel. The more I fill my tanks with input unrelated to my work (within reason), the more inspired I get to do good work. I need a tremendous amount of diversity in what I do in order to stay interested in each thing; the variety prevents me from burning out.
It’s neat to think about this. I so admire Abby’s laser focus, and her talking about it led me to think about my own need for lots of variety, and how having lots of balls in the air enables me to get good work done.
How do you navigate making choices about all the possible things you could do with the limited amount of time you have in a day?