I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic & it was bananas inspiring for this stressed out,sstretched thin mommy of 4. Even life-changing-magic level inspiring (for you fellow KonMari people). In fact, I think that this book in conjunction with Marie Kondo’s would be a great duo : first you sort your space, then you dive inside yourself and see what’s there.
Let me explain. Most moms I know are not actively pursuing a passion, or have an identifiable passion which features regularly and rewardingly into their day to day lives with a family to raise. That’s such a shame because I think creating human beings in the first place really unlocks a big part of a woman’s heart and psyche and introspective abilities, which is a great place to begin in terms of searching for a bit more from life than “kids fed/check/laundry done/check/floor vacuumed/check/marriage happy/check(-ish ;always a work in progress)/basic self care /check/touch base with social-circle/check/now hurry and get to bed so you can somehow get through it all again tomorrow”….
because no matter how much you adore your family, if your home and hearth is all that your do, it lacks the ability to give you a bit of your own identity as an autonomous woman, with special talents outside your domestic roles.
Now, if you have a 9-5 job that already allows you to express yourself creatively, and you get into the zone or ‘flow state’ in that role then yahtzee, you don’t need to read this book, you already have IT ALL. (Assuming everything at home is fine)
But…if your job is not so much an outlet for you to do something that feels creative and transcendent, or you are a SAHM, then read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.
In this book, Gilbert explains that it’s fine if you don’t even know what the hell your passion is. She describes what you can do to pull at little threads of slight curiosity, in order to stumble upon something you can develop into a project that excites you.
She helps you to not see adding this facet of your existence into your life as a chore or overwhelming for those of us who don’t feel like we have a lot of time to devote to a hobby (or anything that’s not strictly for our families), and to think of it as having an affair with your ‘thing’–exciting and fun and light hearted. Rejuvenating and invigorating, even.
I’ve even been managing to sprinkle my creative pursuits while spending time with my kids, and I think it is awesome for them to see their mom joyfully pursuing the arts, throughout their childhoods, in order to inspire them to do the same in their lives! Not all can be done while minding small children and sometimes you have to cut it short, but if you start blending it into your home life with your family, you might end up creating an awesome habit that benefits everyone. When your littles are older and you actually get more alone time to concentrate, it will feel so luxurious! But in this book she explains that even if it’s 15 minutes here or there, just do it. Immediately. And decide that it’s a fun little dash of excitement to dip in and out of when you can steal a moment to do so, not a drag, or ‘one more thing on your list of things to do ‘ that leaves you feeling more overwhelmed.
Maybe most importantly, Gilbert addresses the fear and insecurity that holds us back. In the beginning when she was listing what your creativity-killing fears might sound like in your mind, I started crying because so many of them were verbatim things that I’ve said to myself that’s stopped me from doing things I want to do. I think for frazzled mommies who can feel physically, mentally and emotionally drained by creating people, can really easily find reasons not to pursue things just for themselves. Like :
I have no time (what mama feels like she has expanses of free time to leisurely pursue the arts?? She explains that creative geniuses have never had swaths of peaceful time to create yet made their masterpieces around the edges of an overwhelming day to day grind, anyhow.)
I’m too fat right now (why does this matter?! I don’t know –but when carrying pregnancy weight and feeling alienated by my own body I can somehow feel like my self loathing needs to be sorted out before I can think about putting myself/my abilities’out there’ in any way).
I’m too old (many of us mommies have devoted the years when we were young women to our children and put aside our own creative pursuits during that time, unfortunately. Now we are no longer ingenue age, our twenties long behind us, and we feel that it’s probably too late to get started with something new so why bother….worse, we fear looking foolish if we do begin, at our age. That people might pity us for not realizing that we are ‘too old’ & ‘we missed our window’ of when we should have started. We fear that by the time we are any good, we will be really old and by then, we will really be out of place in the given field and really ought to focus on knitting and grandkids like a nice old lady does).
I may never be any good. This book will have you thinking “so what? I will do it anyway, because what is the alternative?! To just be a consumer and sit on the couch and watch TV and wait for something to happen to me?”
I love the part where she recalls an older woman who began pursuing a brand new interest at age 70 and became an expert by her 80s, who told her that it’s a shame women in their twenties and thirties spend that time thinking that everyone’s judging them, then you spend your forties and fifties just not caring what people think about you, and finally in your sixties and seventies you realize no one was ever paying any attention to you in the first place. And she explains why that’s a good thing and you should let it set you free from your stupid fears! Gilbert gives a wake up call that everyone is so wrapped up in their own ‘holy struggle’ to pay much attention to you and your efforts anyways. So do it for you, and do it now.
A very shrewd observation was made when she noticed that somehow women seem to let the fear that they are unqualified for a task hold them back much more than men do, as in men think to themselves, “I’m about 44% qualified for the task. When do I start? I’ve got this.” and women think to themselves, “I’m 99.8% qualified for the task so I think I better not.”
And it’s a shame that many women let themselves be held back and paralyzed by that last little smidgen of skill before jumping in, whereas many men jump in confidently (with far less) and end up growing into the role and succeeding. We need to be a bit more oblivious, a bit more like men, and just jump in and figure it the eff out along the way. Amiright?
I think this book might have been even more life changing than the tidying book. That’s saying a lot!