Is being selfish always a bad thing?
On the guilt of stealing time. Plus a dotty drawing prompt.
The Creative Prescription is a newsletter that explores how creativity can improve our well-being and help us live a more mindful life; one that counteracts the ping, dings and distractions of modern-day living.
Last week I wrote to you about my feeling of unrequited feelings about that elusive notion we call time.
This week, I’m pondering the feelings of how I feel when I take time. Stealing it away from other pursuits for my own gain. Some would call this selfish…? I’ve certainly felt an enormous amount of guilt at taking time for myself over the past years. So much so that for many years, especially when my boys were young, I felt paralysed to create.
I admire the mother/artists out there who take time in their studios and recognise this time to be an important part of their identity and daily routine. Although many have to crowbar it in around nap times and school runs.
I fear it’s no coincidence that many of art history’s most famous female artists didn’t have children. And I don’t see that changing nearly as quickly as it should.
I’ve been trying to work out the issues I have of feeling guilt around art-making, for months now. Here are my recent ponderings from my journal:
Journal Excerpt: Sunday 2nd July 2023
Finding time for journal writing and my art, among work commitments, family, health, exercise and living with various ailments leaves me feeling exhausted most of the time.
If we take time for the gym, a walk, to sleep, to prepare and eat a meal, for household chores, we’ll see these as essentials for health and life. Yet taking time out for hobbies, for an art practice, for the things that make us feel good outside of work or the essentials, feels like an indulgence.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they don’t have time for a hobby because of work or client commitments, families, and a never-ending jobs-to-be-done list.
It’s taken me a while to accept I need my time; for this journal, for drawing, for the studio…all for the sake of my mental health. Literally, my mood changes if I don’t take time for this practice and the black dog paws at my mental door, ready to pounce on my contentment.
Maybe it’s an issue of control. The feeling of being able to choose what I do with my time because as a mother for over 20 years now this doesn’t come easily. Taking time for myself, my dreams and goals feels secondary to everything else. Selfish even. I should put everyone else first.
It was only when I met M (my now husband), who recognised how different I am when I’ve had time to be me and create, that I’ve accepted this need as part of myself. I finally felt I had some permission to be creative me. Something I couldn’t do for myself without his support. I still feel the guilt though, I’m just better at ignoring it!
OK, if I have to be selfish, so be it. Is being selfish always a bad thing? I think my mental health thanks me for it, even if I rightly or wrongly feel people around me don’t. This, of course, could just be a story I tell myself, in order to self-sabotage.
As I zoom through my late 40s, the energy and patience I used to have decreases while the pain in my body increases; I have a very strong sense of the finality of life. Especially after the recent loss of a friend at the same age as me.
I feel being selfish is not only OK, but it’s also a necessity. I also think my hubby should buy the damn motorbike! People should book the holiday of their dreams! Or learn French, Spanish or how to bake! Whatever it is.
We should all be a little selfish and stop saying what we want one day and instead make the steps towards getting it, now.
Not to be morbid, but if I only had a short time to live, I would draw my heart out, sing at the top of my voice, and dance unashamedly and all in the company of my beautiful family. Oh yes and go to Thailand!
Go be selfish. Go live. And stay creative
💫 Inspiration to Draw On
🎙️ Podcast: Headspace Studios - Change Takes Time
This quick 5-minute podcast casts a light on how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into daily life. Rather than finding peace only on a cushion, mindfulness practice can literally be done anywhere and at any time of day.
I would argue to truly learn and practice mindfulness, you HAVE to practice in daily life to feel the full benefits. And find a way that works for you: be it through walking, drawing, journalling, sailing, sky-diving, surfing or simply staring into space. Find your own way…
🎨 Get Creative
🎵 Music to Move Your Pencil To
Ahhh don’t you just love it when you’re quietly working away and a song pops up on a playlist that literally grabs and squeezes your heart?
As I looked the song up for more info, I caught these comments on a YouTube thread, which say it all 😍:
✍️ Creative Exercise/Prompt
This week, I ran the first of a series of 15 minute Creativity Burst workshops for the virtual co-working platform FLOWN, which I facilitate for.
This week was inspired by the simple dot. Therefore my prompt for you this week is to draw a self-portrait or an object sitting in front of you right now, using only dots.
This is a technique favoured by many artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hurst, and George Seurat. Heck, Lego even made a product line from the concept of using dots!
Remember this isn’t an exercise in perfectionism.
Pop on some music, set a timer for 5 to 8 mins and get dotty.
Here’s my version - as you can see a less-than-perfect rendition of an apple!
In case you need a reminder, creative exercises like this help to:
Relieve stress by having a bit of fun and time out
Boost focus and concentration for increased productivity for the rest of the day
Ignite your creativity and unlock innovative thinking
Build self-confidence and silence the inner critic
Recharge and energize you for the day ahead
🧑🎨 Drink & Draw Summer Meet-Up Event
Don’t forget: Thursday 27th July from 7:30 pm, Free Summer Drink & Draw Meet-up with Flock Brighton Illustrator Group at The West Hill Tavern
Grab your pens, pencils and sketchbook for an informal free creative ‘Drink & Draw’ meet-up at The West Hill Tavern (only 2 minutes from Brighton Station). Non-members welcome. This is my first event as the new meet-up host so it would be lovely to see some of you there!
💬 And Finally…A Quote to Live By
“We tend to think of the artist’s work as the output. The real work of the artist is a way of being in the world.”
~ Rick Rubin, Music Producer
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