When I was younger, my mother often filled our Sunday’s with chores in preparation for the week: Rooms needed to be cleaned, hair needed to be braided, and laundry needed to be dug through. Eucalyptus spilled over thirty dollar glass vases on painted gold side tables. She played music, she cooked early. We ate early. On Monday, she returned to work– writing and decorating in the evening.
As my role as a new mother blossomed with a four-month old on my widened hip and as I was deciding whether I should hang tattered images of Peter and I in infancy or newly snapped engagement photos on foraged sticks for our wedding reception, I wondered how my own mother managed to find inspiration. I imagined that creativity beyond what she had to do remained translucent. And then, as my journey doubled in size, I imagined that maybe it wasn’t so difficult. That creativity wasn’t far-flung in the distance. It was clear. It was tangible. I imagined that in the mercy of motherhood, she clinged to what was innately hers. It no longer remained shadows dancing in the fog, but actual sheets of songs she could hold and sing. Curtains she would eventually hang. It became words she would type away on her computer with a manuscript pilling over the dining table at ungodly hours.
I never longed to work and create just because more than when I had Oak two years ago. The need surged from my fingertips, through a deep-pit in my belly and out of my mouth. It ran from the balls of my feet, oozing out like sweet corner-store bubblegum with every click.
As much as I believe that this motherhood thing is in fact the largest and most important role I will ever get to play, and as I break to pieces and squeal with elation as Oak learns new words and phrases, my creative base needs to remain. And it is not just me, the same is true for many of my friends. It is the secret we all share.
This fall, I have watched my children bloom. We hold hands in the morning on our slow walk to school; an imaginary shoe-string threading between us, aligning our spirits and our bodies as we walk our Brooklyn streets. We cross, we walk some more. We look for cars. We kiss. We hug. We say I love you so much about a dozen times. When we are done, I retire only to create. Most mornings, I find inspiration in that walk alone. That slow neighborhood jaunt. Their love and my love for them. And when the sun grows warmer and the afternoon later, I need a recharge on inspiration.
Here are a few ways I find it. Just in case you are in need.
1. Find a cafe, and sit. Be still. Allow the music and the hustle run your imagination.
2. Go to a park and people watch.
3. Take off your shoes and feel the earth between your toes. Run your fingers through grass. Let the sun kiss your nose. Let the wind chill your spine.
4. Read a stranger’s words.
5. Sit quietly in the library.
6. Color or draw.
7. Talk to a family member or friend on a similar path.
8. Take a nap.