“Work is love made visible. And if you can’t work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of the people who work with joy” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Many people separate their lives into parts like work and play. Every morning my partner goes to work. I stay at home and I do what I consider to be work. I make sure the kids are dressed, fed, entertained, their curiosity satisfied and of course there are plenty of household chores and errands that pop up as I go through my days and weeks. I am relieved that many of the women I come across are quick to tell me that I do unpaid work. They recognise that I am working.
Men on the other hand, even those who consider themselves “sensitive” and “new-age” don’t see what I do with my children and in the home as work. They think I have all the time in the world to do as I please, which is to write. I only have a limited window of opportunity to get my writing out and this is why I’m up at 5AM and typing away before the household wakes up and expects my full presence for the smooth run of the day.
But you enjoy being home with the kids, so how can it be work? People ask me. I wonder when work became synonymous with self-inflicted pain. It is a problem that many people, according to a statistic I saw, 64% are disengaged, or don’t feel alive and certainly don’t enjoy doing their jobs. Firstly, I wonder how happy they can be when most of their day is spent doing something that doesn’t interest them and if they are unhappy then those waves of unhappiness, like ripples in the pond, are impacting their family, friends and community. In a way, discontent is an invisible toxicity impacting all of us.
Play is Work
Creativity is playful and every time you’re singing, dancing, making something with your hands, or writing, you’re getting some joy out of this work. Many writers would disagree but that’s because we oftentimes give in to our ego and start to take ourselves way too seriously. I am working on a book and if I don’t add silly and playful bits in it that are uniquely me, or feel that my readers won’t get my weird sense of humour and start to censor myself, of course it will be punishment rather than meaningful work that I poured myself into.
Never forget that humour and play is an important part of our lives, without which we are not whole. Whatever you do in life, even if you’ve got a job analysing very serious business, take the time to have some fun with it. Go out for lunch with the coworkers whose company you enjoy, find something, one thing that captures your curiosity, every job has that one thing. When I used to work for the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, I knew this one girl whose only job was to process visa applications, and let me tell you that’s a whole lot of paperwork, as the U.S. Consulate would get hundreds of visa applicants every day. She’d work slavishly and the applications would only keep piling up at her desk, to break up the monotony, she would keep a notebook of all the interesting names she’d come across.
There were some laugh-out loud unfortunate names.
I think what made her so much fun was that she had a hobby. She was a very good dancer and had never given up on her joy of dancing. At the time, I thought she was silly pursuing something so frivolous. Oh, how little I knew.
I am writing this piece in part to remind myself to keep having fun. You see, I may talk a big game, but when it comes to walking away from my household chores and the to-do list of work that my partner will notice, I find it all very hard to get back into my writing. My writing, especially the book, is invisible work. No one will see it for months and all the edits I will do on it will go unnoticed because it’s for my eyes only at this stage. Even when I’m done and am satisfied with it as a book, there are no guarantees that anyone will publish it.
This brings me to my next point.
What About Money?
It helps to start a new relationship with money as soon as possible so that we can feel the freedom it gives us. Too many of us feel limited and pressured by financial obligations. Even people without children to look after can feel anxious about their finances. The anxiety around money, the fear that there won’t be enough of it, all that does is put us into a slave mentality to put up with jobs we don’t enjoy and perhaps prevents us from signing up for classes we’ve always wanted to take.
My conditioning was that I don’t make any money from writing, so why waste time doing something that pays me nothing? I have to be a productive member of the society and so that means I must only do things that I’m credited and paid for. That reasoning is silly, because let me tell you, no one is born a professional writer, whose every word is paid for.
If I don’t write, how do I improve my craft? If I’m expecting for someone to pay me before I write a word, then I am ensuring that my writing will never be worth anything. These days, I think of it as doing a dissertation. Everyone has to go through training to become a master of their craft, as do us, those aspiring to be creative professionals. Doing work on a regular basis ensures that we are seen as professionals and professionals are the ones who get paid.
The other thing to realise in valuing your creative work is that it is healing you.
“Always remember the reason you initially started working was that there was something within yourself that you felt if you could manifest it in some way you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society”. ~ David Bowie
So create for your own enjoyment, health and sanity. Create to feel connected to yourself and your community. Be patient with it, like Mother Nature’s work, it will take time, but when it finally emerges out onto the world, it will be spectacular like May flowers that blossom after April showers.
The beautiful flower drawing comes from a wonderful local artist, Amy L. Clarke. Be sure to check out her work for inspiration to keep taking care of you, which is really the most important work we all have to do.
Over to you…
What are somethings you used to enjoy as a child that you no longer do? Were you a singer, dancer, painter or a writer? Can you see where you can free up time from the busy-ness of life to feel the joy you once enjoyed as a child?
Drop me an e-mail, Eda@WritePublishGrow.com and let me know.