In a spread from one of my recent visual journals, I wrote: "GOTTA FIND TIME FOR THE CREATIVE LIFE...No more excuses! Of course I'm busy, but I don't have to sign up for every unfilled shift and I don't have to spend all my downtime surfing the damn internet and shopping aimlessly. I can be working in this mixed-media journal or writing, which has always been in my heart to do."
I did this spread just before Christmas, during a particularly brutal cluster of hospitalist shifts at Nordstrom. Since then, I managed to slug my way through a lighter January schedule--without crying at Macy's!--and am now in the middle of a three-week break before I dive back into work again. This break doesn't quite rise to the level of a mini-retirement, but it has freed up enough time for me to carve out a plan for achieving enough space and time for the creative life
The first space is the extra room at the front of my house, meant to be an office or a den but largely used--since we moved in--a forlorn storage area, a dumping ground for empty boxes and stuff on its way to the recycling center. Over the past two weeks, 96% of the crap has been moved out, sorted, recycled, disposed of, moved to storage, and generally expelled from the house--and replaced with a vintage Chinese writing desk, bookshelves and organizers from IKEA, and soon-to-be-installed cork tiles to create an ideal wall behind the desk.
The second space is half of the two-car garage, which has been, up until now, home to approximately 300 boxes of utterly useless crap Noo and I have moved around with us for years, and the 300,000 spiders who took up residence in this neglected space. Now the garage is half gym, half mixed-media studio, and although there are still a half-dozen boxes to sort through, and perhaps 600 remaining spiders to evacuate, the upshot is that I have been able to move all the paints, acrylic media, files of ephemera, markers, pencils and glue sticks which have been ferreted away inside the house into their own dedicated space. Now my house feels 100% larger, and I know where to go to do what I need to do. No more will have to clear away ink pads and acrylic palettes so that poor old Noo has space to slice up strawberries on the kitchen counter.
Carving out time for the creative life is more difficult. Other than curtailing my online time, I have also restricted myself to no more than seventeen hospitalist shifts per month, which is a respectable full-time commitment but not as insane as the 21-shift extravaganza I completed in December. All my downtime that month was spent in a vegetative state, which didn't do much for my well-being, and nothing for my creative output. The next challenge is going to be imposing some kind of writing schedule which will fit into my week-long absences in Extra-Rural, and adapt to the upside-down nocturnalist routine at Macys. Still, this is the closest I've ever had to having space and time enough to do what I really want to do.