I love this picture. That’s Baby Mae photobombing. I took this picture while I was trying to write a blog post about taking time for yourself. That’s just what I was trying to do. Take some time to write. Express. Create. For me. And little Mae Mae wasn’t having it. So she joined in on my “me time”. Any other Mamas been there? “Me time” is a kind of a joke, right? Because. They. Are. Always. There. Always there as soon as you open that new book. Or start getting out the ingredients for that recipe you’ve been wanting to try. They appear when you start the shower or try to sneak a bite of secret chocolate from your stash. How do they do it? I mean, it’s amazing really. Because they never fail. The only real way for me to get “me time” is to be at a separate location from my children. So I’ve got that much figured out: me time must not be on the same premises as my kids or it will. not. happen. But even then? You know what I usually do? Things for my kids. Shop for them. Make them a surprise treat. Or maybe just look at pictures of them. Or call Jordan or my mom or sister and talk about them. I can’t stop. They take over all my brain power. If I let them.
It takes serious self awareness and self control to quit my kids. That sounds bad. But I have to do it just sometimes. I have to quit “momming” long enough to be a wife, and daughter, and friend, and woman. Long enough to be myself. So I don’t get lost. So I remember who I am and who I want to be and who I want my kids to see.
And you know what I’ve figured out? They like seeing “not mommy”. They like seeing me and Jordan get dressed up and go to dinner, and hold hands and kiss. They like seeing our identity as husband and wife in addition to Mama and Daddy. They like hearing about my work with Mini Motions and the kids I teach to dance. They are fascinated when I have coffee with a friend. Mommy has friends?!? Is that allowed? So very intriguing.
And all those things are so key. Letting our kids see us as people in all our different roles. So they know us better. And so they know that there’s a big world out there where it’s not about them. It’s healthy. And intriguing . And good. For them and for us.
But date nights? Work? Friendships? It’s so good for our kids to see us in those roles. We just want them to see US in the roles. Not just the roles. But those roles are so defining that they can become confining. Because if we feed our roles without feeding ourselves, then we lose ourselves. And rather than being life giving, our roles begin to take. And take. Until we are just tired. And our kids are tired. And tired of us. And we are all just done.
Like a rut. I’ve been there. Checking boxes. Date night. Check. Girls night. Check. Work complete. Check. Dinner on the table, house cleaned, craft planned, story time attended, laundry done, church attended, baby gift purchased...check check check. But wait. This is not fun any more. All these things I really do want to do and be? Now I just have to do them. I’m tired. I have nothing to talk about. I am out of ideas. And I am cranky. And my kids are the same. Rut. For all of us.
But that’s life, right? We pair back the best we can, but really it’s always a hustle. I mean, it is at my house. I have 3 children under 4. A three year old who is destined to be a CEO. A 2 year old who is destined to be a lawyer. And a newborn who, you know...newborn. Our house IS. A. ZOO. The coming. The going. The tantrums. The squealing. The diapers. The accidents. The messes. The boo boos. The wild fun. The mega fits. It’s life. Beautiful and crazy.
And with the hustle eventually comes the rut. But how to break the rut? Or avoid it all together. How to feel lovey dovey on my date nights instead of talking summer camps and bills? How to talk matters of the heart with my girlfriends instead of sleep schedules and husbands? How to lighten the load of the errands and chores and to do’s...enjoy them even? It’s a little more specific than self care. A little more intentional than alone time.
What we have to do. What we must do. Is create.
Oh no. Lost some people there. But don’t go. Stay with me. You need to know this. It’s for your relationships. Your work. Your family. It’s for your life.
We must create. In fact, we are Created to create. Made in the image of a Creative and Imaginative God. Our souls crave creation. It’s how we connect with ourselves. Our world. Our God. When we create, we transcend. We grow. We learn. We become.
And guess what? We are all creative. Creativity is not reserved for artists and makers. It’s not that we are or are not creative. It’s a gift we all are given. We just have to learn how to tap into our own unique brand of creativity. Maybe you throw the most kick*** birthday parties. Creative. Maybe you’re the office problem solver. Creative. Maybe you’re a baby whisperer. Creative. It’s all creativity. And we all have it. But how do we use it, really? Why should we hone our creative skills?
Creativity is a connection point. A way to find ourselves. A way to find God. And a way to break the rut.
So think of how you can be creative YOUR way - in a spread sheet, in party planning, in writing or problem solving or art. Have you ever been so in to something that you lose track of time? Just in the zone. Like you’re just so absorbed and everything clicks and you have this feeling like you’ve tapped into something so “you” and at the same time so “bigger than you”? Inspired. Transcendent. CREATIVE.
That feeling? It’s called flow.
Wikipedia defines flow as:
In positive psychology, flow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you experienced it?
Well, I’m not a psychologist or any kind of expert. But I can speak from my own experience. For me, experiencing flow is life giving. It’s the only way I can figure myself out. It’s a prayer. A confession. It’s forgiveness. And clarity. It’s me. It’s God.
Personally? I believe that flow is a direct line to God. Like a personalized route to deep prayer. Where we listen. And we hear.
So confession. When I say my night time prayers like I was taught as a child. I fall asleep a lot of times. I feel like I’m missing God. I don’t know what to say. My mind wanders to my to dos. I feel like we are strangers. Like He doesn’t get me. But when I experience flow? I can draw nearer. The world melts away. And the eternal comes into focus. I see my heart and I reveal it to God. The world is quiet and I can listen. And hear.
It’s really not the activity that is so important. You don’t have to write or paint or do yoga to find flow. You could find it in the kitchen or in party planning or in a spreadsheet. The activity is just the road. The state of being, the connection, is the destination. And once you arrive, you are open to hear and to receive and learn and grow.
When I write, I can find flow. Not always. But I know I can find it in my writing. And even experiencing that flow for a short time can open my heart and feed my spirit for days. It’s not necessarily while I’m writing that I find myself and experience God. Maybe during. But also afterwards. Flow brings clarity. Ideas. Peace. Connection. Openness. After I’ve experienced flow I’m ready to let down my guard. To be vulnerable. To break the rut. To love my life. These are my residual effects of creative flow.
So if you’re in a rut. Or if you’ve been there. Quit your kids for a minute. And all your roles. Try to find flow through creativity. You ARE creative. If you are human, you are creative. Experiment. Push yourself. Try something you loved as a child. Get in the zone. CREATE. I promise you it’s like a magic key. It will open you up to yourself. To God. It will better your relationships. Lighten you. Allow you to be bigger than your roles. It will show the people around you, including your kids, YOU. It’s just such a beautiful thing. To be really seen. And we all deserve that.