Nothing but time, baby. Nothing but time.
I used to work a fulltime job and do freelance writing on the side. I was edgy and exhausted much of the time. I didn't have enough time for myself and was forced to follow other people's schedules that just didn't jibe with my own biorhythms.
When I left fulltime employment a year ago, I took some time to recover. I was overextended and pretty close to some sort of breakdown. Since then, I've had periods of time with a lot of work, and other periods with very few deadlines to meet. I've found that work breeds work. Researching one project always leads me to another. Securing one client somehow brings me another, even when they're not even remotely connected. And creativity breeds creativity. One idea wakes me up and generates another and another, on topics as varied as citizen journalism to art journals. When it rains, it really does pour. And so often, it truly is famine or feast. These sayings have become clichés because there is some truth in them.
During the slow times, I get lazy. But lately I've had a load of new ideas and the desire to fill my days with more useful, focused, and exciting activities. Then I immediately feel overwhelmed and wonder how I will possibly fit it all in. Fit it all in to what? I already said that I have an excess of time. So where does it all go?
Why am I not reading more books? Sending out more magazine queries? Fleshing out my book outline? Taking more walks? Seeing friends more often? Cooking more dinners? Baking more cupcakes? Playing with watercolours? Remembering to moisturize my newly-pedicured feet? Visiting more farmers' markets? Praying more often? Why am I not doing all of the things I swore I'd do if only I had the time?
I've talked with some artists who are also mothers, and they assert that the time-consuming job of child rearing can actually help them with their art. Being forced to work in shorter, more focused spurts seems to spur them toward greater creativity and productivity. Much of the analysis paralysis, the procrastination, and the fear are set aside for those glorious moments when they have the opportunity to create. They say the look back at their pre-motherhood days and wonder what they did with all that free time.
I think about this and wonder, what's my excuse for not doing all of the things my heart desires? What am I doing with my time?
I don't want to wait for a baby or some other responsibility to make me look wistfully at my previous life and ache for the long, long days filled with me-time. I have the me-time now. And I'm determined to start making it my time.
This means making lists and checking them twice. As much as I like to be a free spirit, I need some structure and accountability to keep me on task. The beauty of my life right now is that I get to choose which tasks I take on. What a glorious gift! I always secretly wished for this type of life, but never really thought I'd have it. I realize that it may not last forever. But while it's here, it's mine. And I'm going to use it well. In the process, maybe I'll acquire some skills that will help me to live fully even when external demands take up more of my time.
Tell me, how are you making your life and time your own, despite (or because of) the constraints around you?