Spoons, carpets, creativity and critics

There are only so many hours in a day, and as person who struggles with energy issues, there are only so many of those hours I can spend working. We all have our limits. How we deploy our time is not just a daily consideration, it is the means by which we craft our lives. What is life but the sum of each small part that makes up a day?

What time do we give to really engaging with other people? How much time do we have for our spiritual lives, for the natural world, for proper rest and sufficient exercise? What time are we lovingly pouring into food prep, study, ritual, prayer, writing, dreaming, creating? What duties do we have to family and workplace?

As I do not have an infinite supply of spoons (which have become a term for talking about energy levels amongst people who struggle with energy) I cannot do all the things. Some days I can’t do much at all, because I hurt too much. I make my life choices based on how I can get most benefit out of my time and energy, for myself, the causes I support and the people who have a use for what I do. Art is time consuming. If Tom’s work requires ten or twelve hours a day at the board – and sometimes it does – then those few remaining hours have to cover down time, inspiration, exercise and social life if he is to stay at all sane.

This leads me to the carpets. It may shock you to hear that in my flat, the floors and carpets are not always perfectly clean. Quite often there’s a muddle in the living room created by whatever I’m working on – a rag rug takes up a lot of room when in progress. Currently I’m turning strips from Wool Against Weapons into blankets. They occupy a lot of the floor because there is no other space for them to be in. I think there is more gain to the world from this than from daily cleaning. I also don’t write as much or as well without the mental spaces craft creates for me.

Some visitors handle this better than others. If we are expecting people, we will make sure the place is functional, I may even clean something important, or Tom will (the bathroom, usually). I’ll be more likely to make a cake than render the floor perfect, because I think the cake has a greater value. My other half is more likely to run out for biscuits, and cake, than to hoover. This is how we roll.

People who understand how we live and why, turn up into the cheerful chaos and enjoy being in the flow of creativity. That’s always lovely. One of us may be working. There may be wool all over the place, but the recognition that there is love, and good things being made, changes this into a comfortable sharing. People who ‘get it’ seem able to enjoy the space we have, chaotic though it is. Not in spite of how we are, but because of it.

I find it tough dealing with people who are critical. People for whom a recently cleaned floor with no bits of plant that followed us in from the last walk, is more important than how much book got written today. Putting the carpet before the creativity raises barriers. People who judge the dust on the shelves, not the songs we’ve been singing, from my point of view, miss out on the best we have to offer for the sake of the things we aren’t so good at. A life lived is messy, and frequently sheds things on the carpet.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Spoons, carpets, creativity and critics

  • Karen

    🙂 🙂 sounds lovely x

  • Turtle

    I suspect you’d feel right at home in my house. 🙂

  • julieapritchard

    Oh, hear hear to that! I have an obsessively tidy mother who all but crushed any creative endeavour when I lived at home. Now she is retired and on her own, she continues to clean most of the time. It seems a real shame to me that she hasn’t found a more creative outlet for her energy! However, this upbringing taught me a lesson, I now live with comfortable clutter and creativity and piles of books to read, while the floor remains unswept!

  • Christopher Blackwell

    At sixty-nine, with both energy and disabilities, cleaning is done when I feel the need to do it. My cat loves tearing part my foam mattress, so often parts of it are on the floor. I might vacuum once a week, or every two weeks, but that s it. Occasionally ail sort though my various piles to see what can be gotten rid of and I will throw some out. But this is not a every day thing, nor even an every weeks thing.

  • curlydogs11

    I love this post! Your priorities are so right. I try to live with what fills my soul and heart. When I attend to those chores that I don’t love doing I do them with gusto, making everything bright and shiny once again and I feel satisfied and happy, but I’m also satisfied and happy with my “messiness” because finally, at the age of 72, I am totally immersed and enjoying my life! My husband, 3 dogs (I also dog sit, often!) and 2 cats enjoy it too as that nasty roar of the vacuum cleaner and different smells don’t happen too often! Thank you!

  • Blodeuwedd

    I totally agree with all you say here! Cleaning is not always the best use of time, but this is something I really struggle with! Running 2 businesses (well ok, I only partially run one of them, but I am the one who knows how a computer works which can be quite crucial at times!) and doing a PhD eat up a huge amount of time. Couple this with the fact that my partner and I, for a variety of reasons all of which are good, still each have our own home and we move around between the two (we call ourselves the travelling circus) and the time available for cleaning becomes ridiculously tiny. The problem is that I just have one of those minds that hates mess. I like being surrounded by prettiness, chaos makes it hard for me to concentrate and I always feel like I ‘should’ have a cleaner house. I also have 3 geriatric cats with varying degrees of bladder control/marbles which doesn’t help. I often find myself spending time that would be far better spent doing something else (including reading or crafty things) cleaning and then feeling resentful because I didn’t have time to do something else. I really wish I could kick my headspace out of this one!!

  • Terry

    As one who understands the “LIMITED AMOUNTS OF SPOONS” issue.. I can emphasize. I live with an autoimmune liver and thyroid disease so energy is a sparse resource for me. And now at 57 years old my life is transitioning from living within a Christian lifestyle to feeling I’m being led down a completely different path now. …this transitioning has been happening now for about five years.Thus all the researching ancestry, reading books, blogs, searching and seeking. It’s all very exciting yet can be exhausting. All this and yet I still feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface of where I’m going on this journey.
    Life lived even when it’s messy still offers its hidden and unforseen treasures.

  • angharadlois

    I keep dropping my spoons in all the wrong places 😦
    Much of the past year has been spent learning to remedy that, and to make good use of them. There are times when housework is nourishing for the soul, and as someone who is still wrestling with feeling “at home” I like to do enough to honour the hearth-spirits – but that measure of “enough” is very variable and not really very taxing at all. The real problem is learning not to beat myself up about all the housework I am *not* doing. Having a lovely partner helps; he sees more value in time spent making music or writing, learning how to draw/paint/knit or even just catching up on sleep, and he reminds me whenever I am in danger of forgetting 🙂

    • Nimue Brown

      Yes to all of that. Nest building for the joy of it can be a very lovely thing, polishing the kettle for fear of what other people might think if you don’t…. less so. Hurrah for good support in all this.

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