A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she wanted to talk to me about my creative life - specifically, how I balance having a full-time job, commuting, being married, and finding time to lead a creative life.
I almost laughed out loud at the notion that I've figured out how to balance ANYTHING. But then she said, "I see all these projects and things on your blog, and I just keep trying to figure out how you do it. I could never find the time." There was something in the way she talked that made it sound like I was some sort of creative superhero, working a full time job, keeping the home fires burning, knitting up an afghan, and writing essays while making dinner.
Since the blogging comparison game is something I feel really passionate about and since I feel a commitment to presenting a somewhat truthful (if not complete over-sharing) picture of my life, I thought I'd come clean (or not so clean) about all the things I'm NOT doing when I'm doing all the creative things I love to do.
1. I'm not cleaning my house.
Nope. Most of the time, I'm not even tidying my house. A while ago, my wife and I decided to invest in the services of a house cleaner once every two weeks. We're both naturally messy. In fact, in the two weeks between cleaning appointments, our house can go from pristine to looking like we've been robbed. Who am I kidding? We can do that in 3 days. The night before she comes, we spend hours running around like crazy people tidying enough that someone could actually clean.
2. I'm not doing dishes.
There is a perpetual stack of dirty dishes in our sink. We don't have an automatic dishwasher, and try as I may, I just cannot bring myself to keep up with that task. I might do it for a few days, but inevitably I go back to my old ways and the sink piles up. We try to keep it from getting to the point where there's no longer a surface to put a dirty dish on, but I won't lie and say it doesn't happen sometimes.
3. I'm not doing laundry.
As if I haven't shown you already what a horrible slob I am, I don't even do my own laundry. I have a tiny good reason for this one because our laundry is in the basement, which has a dirt floor and is covered in cobwebs and infested with horrible, dreadfully enormous cave crickets (seriously, don't click on that link). Also, when we first started to send the laundry out, I had hurt my knee and couldn't climb the stares easily and Navah was working a lot. But then it was just so easy. We could just leave it at the door and they'd pick it up and bring it back clean and folded. So we didn't stop...
4. I'm not putting away my clean laundry.
It's just getting embarrassing now, isn't it? But it's true. I leave the laundry in the bag for days. I just cannot be troubled to take five minutes and put the clothes in the drawer.
5. I'm not going out with friends.
It's not like nights out with friends never happen, but I can be an introverted hermit type. When I get home from work, my favorite thing is to curl up on the couch with some good television and my knitting or make a time-consuming meal in the kitchen while I listen to my favorite Pandora station. I don't make friend dates very often. I have to remind myself that it's a good thing to do.
6. I'm not paying my bills.
This one we have really got to work on, but we're bad about paying bills on time. I'm not getting sent to collections or anything, but there's no excuse for the lateness except that I don't have an organized system and they just slip my mind. I forget it's a thing I have to do. As does my wife - it would be nice if ONE of us could be responsible!.
7. I'm not responding to emails.
I think about responding to emails. I write responses to emails in my head. Sometimes I even believe that I have responded to an email that I most definitely have not responded to.
8. I'm not exercising.
Almost never happens. I've been working on this since I've been rehabbing my knee, but it's still not a regular part of my schedule. When I think of how I'm going to spend an afternoon, exercising is never the first thing on my list.
9. I'm not doing that other project.
No matter how many projects I have going on, I'm always wishing I were doing more. And I always feel like I'm neglecting one thing in favor of another. Too much knitting means not enough writing. Too much writing means not enough photography. Too much blog writing means not enough fiction writing. And vice versa. On everything.
I wish I were a person who had it more together. I do it too - I look at other bloggers, and I think how do they do it? I don't know. Maybe they are really superheros.
But my guess is that they're making choices. And what I'm seeing - and what you're seeing - is the result of those. I make the choice to knit more and clean less, to write while the dishes pile up. And sometimes I get fed up, and I make the choice to get everything in order and step away from the creative for a while.
But I always find my way back. As does the sink full of dishes.