Stolen Time

By freshlyplanted - 6:00 AM

"Traditionally, women have always made their art out of stolen materials and stolen time."
-Elizabeth Gilbert

I read this great article the other day, which discusses how mothers throughout the ages have always made their art in the midst of "stolen time." As Tara Mohr writes, "You see, I thought it was a problem that I was writing in bits of stolen time. I thought that I had to somehow get back to that pre-motherhood existence when not only did I have hours of uninterrupted time to write, but more importantly, I had an alert mind (imagine that!) oriented mostly around writing and the preparation for it - observing the world and listening to the aha moments and emotional currents of my inner life. And (forgive me) I thought my problem was somehow a new one."

You see, I have to confess, before our oldest arrived, I didn't realize how distracting motherhood would really be. Which is exactly why I scheduled a painting show (while I was pregnant) to take place just days before Isia turned four months old. Because all newborns do is sleep- right? She was colicky, and I was wrong- but somehow it still got finished and hung up anyways. How did it get done? By painting when I should have been sleeping, or cooking, or fill-in-the-blank. By having friends come over to hold the baby for an hour here and there. By creating in the midst of stolen time- and throwing in some older works too. Not that I would recommend having a solo painting exhibit with an infant, but I also wouldn't warn completely against it either. Part of my desire in motherhood is to walk through these refining fires of diapers, nighttime feedings, tantrums and cuddles, and still recognize myself on the other side. And for me, this means making time to create. That might mean typing this one-handed while my children run around the room and the baby nurses (ahem), or getting up early/ staying up late- but it needs to happen. 

What does this have to do with my sketchbook? It has become my baseline lately of whether or not I'm creating. This blog usually has that purpose, and I look forward to that being the case again, but in the meantime I have my portable one-minute-here-and-there sketchbook. Committing myself to at least, in the very least, creating time to scribble something there when I can.

Those first scribbles just sat on the pages, waiting to become something more. But now I'm finding, weeks into this practice, that the scribbles are coming easier. Melding more easily into the pictures I see in my head. Which is good, because there is a lot floating around my head these days. They don't (usually) get done all at once...

...some even take days to complete. But in the end, they're there. Little reminders of what's occurring in our journey: a bedtime tale we love right now, a mantra to grow into, an aspiration- or sometimes just something I like.

Little pieces cut out of stolen time and sewn together, that will someday (I hope) make up a whole sketchbook's worth. Reminding me of the present, giving me strength & inspiration for the days ahead. 

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