Devotion to myself?



Thoughts I am thinking this morning: it struck me as - at early o'clock - I cheerily headed out with the dogs, then made their breakfasts and found time to give each of them a morning cuddle, that I do this 365 days a year. Without a second thought. Come what may from all other angles of life, whatever the demands of pre-work and school days, I get out of bed and I do this. I don't think about it (much), I just do it and enjoy it. Every day it is its own reward. I remember feeling this way on Katherinenhof where my aunt and I worked in the 80s, looking after a large number of Egyptian Arabian horses (her skill set, not mine; I just got lucky). Those early starts were hard core in the depth of a north German winter, but every time the horses looked up blinky-eyed, straw sticking out of their manes, as I switched on the barn lights, I was happy. It still works that way now but with dogs. And a bit less straw.

So what is it that inspires that commitment and dedication which, if applied to a creative endeavour, would make me super-productive?

There's my deep love for the animals concerned. 
There's the constant feedback of affection from them. 
These are nurturing acts and that's a big thing for me.

I'm wondering - given my frustration with myself around giving time to creative work and sticking with it - is there any way I can reproduce that for something without a pulse?

Reading that back it's pretty damn obvious - it's the maternal/nurturing instinct. Scientifically, I get a big old kick of oxytocin or whatever it is. In real terms, I love the dogs to pieces and love makes me feel good. Seeing them thrive physically and emotionally makes me happy to my core.

How do we transfer that? Can we love an activity the same way? Does it simply mean loving ourselves the same way?

I can see from these thoughts that I am capable of commitment and dedication and infinite follow through. I am not somehow 'broken' in that respect. Again with the positive feedback.

Of course this love and devotion also shows up in the way we parent and the way we nourish an intimate relationship, but it's clearer with the animals because so much of it is routine and repetition. 

I have no answers yet, I'm just Stream O'Consciousness-ing about it. I'd love to know what you think. These days I'm really only blogging so I get to chat with you in the comments.

x

16 comments:

  1. I can't comment on the creative work part because that is still something I struggle with. But I have showed myself love and devotion, something I've never done for myself I now realize, by showing up week after week to spin. And it has been a year of me doing this! If you'd told me I'd be this person last year, I'd have punched you because I have never and at 49 I'd have thought I was the old dog that couldn't learn a new trick.
    My commitment to myself has proven to me that I can do whatever I set myself to, even if I'm talking myself out of it, and that is powerful.

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    1. Yes I love seeing that devotion you give to yourself, and you've reminded me that I have somehow slipped out of my running habit for the last three weeks now. And I know that the payback that comes from this kind of commitment - as you have found - can overflow into all sorts of things. Thanks for the nudge. x

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  2. Firstly, what is creative work? I see you being creative in lots of ways - photos, blogging, creating a family, your t-shirt designs, your time in the woods.... Maybe 'creative work' feels bigger & harder than it needs to be.

    Secondly, what does 'productivity' mean and where does it come from for you? I am learning to see that meditation could be considered 'productive' though actually what I mean is that it is of value. Given the limitations of my health, if I can think in terms of what things in my life are of value, then I no longer need to be concerned with being unable to be 'productive' in the way that this society views it.

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    1. Great questions Alison, as I'd expect : ) I needed some time to think about them.

      I agree with your definitions here for sure and have learned to place them first. Living a creative life in line with what is truly of value to me is how I try to spend my days, knowing I'm happier, more fulfilled and more loving as a result. That's hugely important to me. But there is another layer for me.

      The circumstances of our life - perhaps in part due to the values outlined above ! - mean that we are always trying to find ways to earn more, because we need to in order to live even the simple life that we prefer. And rightly or wrongly, I don't want to spend 50-60 hours a week working purely for financial gain. It needs to mean something to me. Ideally - and why not aim for ideal in some parts of life : )? - I would like to earn some money from home, creatively (having realised, as I've written, that I'm not well-suited to, or necessarily even capable of, a more service-based online business. See: coaching, teaching etc.).

      You're right that I do creative stuff but I am aware that I'm great at new ideas and starting projects. But seeing it through and staying with it to a point where it actually works as an additional income? Yeah. No. Not so good at that.

      So this is why I'm thinking about how and when I AM able to commit and stay with it, despite it being not new and not shiny. What kind of pay off works for me. That kind of thing. How do I shine the strength of purpose I feel around home, love, nature, spirituality etc onto something more tangible?
      x


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    2. So I'm thinking that the question is not about being productive but about how can I earn money from doing something that feeds my soul? It occurred to me, as I have had/have these questions too, that it might be something about need, i.e. we're good at doing things when we feel needed, but when no one is relying on us, then we drift because we don't have that immediate feedback/reward.

      Also, I know that for me, one of the things I debate with myself is is this really just a dream that wants to stay a dream? Because if not, then I need to accept that with the fun stuff, and the soulful stuff, comes the mundane and the nitty gritty like marketing and networking and bookkeeping. When I did freelance training a big chunk of time was spent on these kindof things but it was easier because I already had a track record and contacts, from being in house. Anything else that I've tried/thought about doing has to be started from scratch. It's much like the advice to writers, if you want to be a writer, write, sit down every day and just do it. Do it when you hate it, do it when you don't think you can. But do it. This is what I was doing (well not every day as energy wouldn't allow) when writing my novel, except it's ground to a halt since my energy took a bigger nosedive, and all my insecurities are getting louder now that I am not taking those small regular steps. I know much of what has stopped me in the past from doing creative work that earns money, is fear & my desire to be perfect. The main way I have found to counter that is acknowledge the fear, accept it, and still do the work. Which is what I'll be doing with the novel, as soon as I can. In the meantime I've started on some smaller creative writing projects by sketching out ideas, which are more manageable and hopefully will keep the fear demons chilled out.

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    3. So funny..when I was replying to Mel I typed something about perhaps needing to be needed but took it out because it has, for me, such negative connotations. Around the need for validation and approval. Both things I think I have a healthy relationship with these days.But there is an element of that in that the feedback is virtually instant and also, the focus is on the Other who is perhaps in my eyes more worthy of effort than I am. But wow...'a dream that wants to stay a dream'...that stopped me in my tracks! I was a freelance writer for some years and ended up hating it. Hmmm.
      I so admire your way of finding some way to just keep going, at whatever level you can manage.The answer, I know, is simply to stop thinking about it and DO it : ) Thanks Alison, you've opened up some doors here. I hope other people are reading these comments too. x

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  3. Within my whole adult life, the only creative thing I've done, and earned money from, that I enjoyed (read: good for my soul, kept me sane, mustered a reasonably fit bod) was gardening. I've done little of this since moving country and it shows - both in my physical health and otherwise. I'm fatter, lethargic, pale and creaky of joints. Upshot seems to be that I *need* to garden for my physical and mental health and, frankly, I *need* some money. And just like that, having pondered your question, in one paragraph, I've sorted my problem. Apologies, I've clearly not answered your question but you've answered mine. Not for the first time.

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  4. i wonder, were we separated at birth? maybe not in this go-around, but definitely at some point in the space-time continuum.... [my sister from another mister?} <--- *gigglesnort*

    i've been pondering these very questions or reasonable facsimiles thereof this past while. what is it that has me showing up, every time, no matter what? for me, it comes down to care-taking -- garden, animals, children/family...hells, i'll pry my exhausted self off the warm and comfy sofa, already in my pajamas, to put on a winter coat and boots and go out in minus 20C howling winds because i remembered i needed to refill the bird-feeder......and yet......can i sit my arse down and work on a short story or a painting?

    hmmmm....

    so......i'll honour commitments i've already made [even if it was just to some anonymous birds] No Matter What....so maybe i need to commit to myself?

    no idea.

    but i loved what you wrote in reply to Alison's comment -- because that's where i am. yes, i have a job but i'd prefer to be working on my own terms, from home....and yes, it needs to be something that feeds my soul. "Share from your overflow" <-- read that somewhere -- then it's not a chore, then it stays real and genuine....

    still no answer....stream o'conscious-ing right with you....

    we'll get it sorted. true story.

    xoxo

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    1. We will. And the birdfeeder thing...been there done that. Many times over. Ha.

      Also wondering, if - should they ever read this blog which they wouldn't because they're busy doing things - people who don't have this issue would say,'Oh fer fuck's sake, stop yer mithering and just DO something. You'll find it works wonders.'

      But still..I am not one of those people. So I still need to get all the pieces in a row and then fix it. #engineerfathersdaughter

      I am so good on commitment to other people/beings. Cannot do it to myself. Gah.

      Just habits? Deep in the stream....

      x

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  5. What my lost comment said was ... except when you had Hanan's barn. In which case you were too busy looking for your docket to feel the wonder :D Bless that old mare didn't she have us on the run?

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    1. She was totally The Boss of Us. But actually my strongest memory of those moments is of Afifa, with her post-show mohawk : )

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    2. I always went to see Texas first. I still miss him.

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  6. Oh, this squirrel has been running circles in my brain for eons! I am a disciplined, route-oriented person by nature and still ... still the important bits seem to fly out the window as I careen down this highway of my life.

    I know for me, one sticking point (in the making a career out of something I love doing) is what a friend and I call "the bangle bracelet syndrome." See, this friend used to make lovely papier mache bracelets that we sold by the buckets in a craft gallery where I once worked. She loved making them until they became such big sellers, it became a chore ... because she was caught between the desire to try new designs, feed her creative curiosity and the gallery's requests for the proven designs that sold well. I do think there is a way out of this, but still it is my sticking point: I find something I enjoy doing but cannot imagine churning out multiples on demand. Then it becomes work. (So thinking out loud, I realize I need to change this story-line, that finding a new perspective is most probably the path of freedom and success for me.) I read this and realize I cherish the freedom to create what I want/when I want and that is my sticking point.

    I am also remembering something Peter Gabriel said about song writing: that anyone could do it, that if you had a gun held to your head and told to write, you could write a song. Not sure I want to live that way, but something about the urgency or understanding there is no other option ... I do try to remember that I am a better person, a more loving and patient one when I've had my fill of creative time and that motivates me a bit. A.Bit. Right now, I employ the deathbed scenario to motivate me: when I am lying there, will I regret I didn't make time for my passions? Oddly, some things do pale when held up to that light: I am thinking the wall of paintings will matter little if I haven't had time to love and be intimately engaged with the people I care about. AH ... but those moments inspire me to create, as if loving/living that way generates some kind of creative-endorphins that demand release in a hand-ons hands upon the canvas/camera/wool way. Hmmm ...

    Chasing my tail here ... but wondering if I haven't been thinking it was the egg that comes first when really it IS the chicken? Am I making any sense? xo

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    1. Yes you are! Soooo much goodness here, Lis. So much to think on! And who doesn't love a Peter Gabriel reference? Freedom is always key for the wild nature. The 'shackles on/shackles off' thing is huge for me and I kick out at any kind of containment. Which probably means - along with my hermit-y ways - that I'm not best cut-out for business. Ha! x

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Thank you, I love it when we talk.