Steal Like a Thief: Making Time for Your Muse

Photo by Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

A good thief leaves no trace and leaves with a bounty.

I say, steal time away like a thief.

I just read a great article by my writing and personal inspiration, Anne Lamott. She wrote this article in Sunset magazine.  I was lucky enough to meet her recently.  She came to Raleigh, which is 45 minutes away.  I got the call from my writer friend, Debi Elramey (you can read her wonderful blog here, “Pure and Simple”) at 4:30 in the afternoon. She told me Anne was coming.  I asked her if she was going and she could not get away.  But she said, with her curious giggle and enchanting smile I could hear through the phone, “You should go and represent our town.”

Our tiny town in Eastern North Carolina.

I said, “I’ll represent proudly.”

Debi is a recluse and takes pride in this.  As she should.  She teaches piano during the day; she writes through the wee hours of the night.  Sometimes, there simply is no time to chatter.

Photo by Megan Oteri ~ Copyright 2011

I write this post as I look at the clock.  Aware that my son will wake soon.  Oh, that is him right now.  I ignore the sounds of morning milk wants and continue writing, thinking to myself, perhaps I could give him a gulp of breast milk and be on my way back to the keyboard, back to the muse. Back to my post, that I ride like a proud cowgirl, on top of my gallant horse.  But mom duty calls and I will honor it.  But I plan to improve my thief skills.  I will steal away more moments.  I will make a plan.  I will practice.  Because as Anne says in her article, life is too precious to multitask.  I want to wander, daydream, create, be filled with muse.  And I will have to steal away moments to do this.  Not always, as many moments are there for the taking if we are truly present.

But it helps to know how to pocket an hour in your sleeve without a soul knowing.  These early morning hours are delicious to me.  They taste like caviar.  Like picnics.

I was lucky enough to meet Anne at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.  It was a delightful evening.  I got the call from Debi at 4:30 PM.  By 4:45 I was off the phone and had called my husband at work and made plans for him to watch our son.  I was in the car by 5:30 and off to Raleigh singing songs of wonder and excitement.  Alone, but in company of thousands, on the highway, in the city, at the bookstore, I was present.  I was able to get the last copy of her new book, which she was promoting, Imperfect Birds.  Now, that was a sign.

I had my camera in hand.  I saw her.  There she was, greeting her fans like Jesus.  Holding hands, hugging.  The crowd was kind, and aware of something.  They had made the time to come see her.  Many stealing away from their husbands, children, jobs, energy, housework.  But they were there.  I was lucky enough to get a photo with her.

I snuck into a cove of crowded people.  I am a fire sign, so when I have my eye on something, you better watch out.  I’m an Aries to boot. And I lack a filter of sorts, thanks to my New Yorker mom and South Side of Chicago dad.  And time living in Wyoming. And the years in-between.

I inched my way closer, squeezing through  a narrow path.  You know, suck in your gut, squeeze in your buttocks, and scoot your way through a wormhole tiny.  Yep, that is what I did.

“Excuse me.”

“I’m so sorry,” dressed in a hopeful smile.  Inside thinking, “Yikes, I’m lucky someone doesn’t purposefully trip me, I am so annoying.”

The target was seen.  I was so close.  I stopped to gather more strength.  I was this close, I was going in.

Anne was greeting her fans still. Smiles were contagious.  Everyone was high off Anne. High off her energy.  High off the fact she is an icon for recovering addicts and alcoholics, one herself.

Her dreads dangled in her purply pink hair bandana, tied in a triangle around her fluffy head, soft with the brittle looking combs of dreads.  She is simply beautiful.

Her wrinkles were within eye looking distance.  I took a deep breath and spoke shortly with a pretentious looking woman.  Well, it was more of how she reacted to me that thinks that.

I forgot what I asked her.  But she responded with, “I’ve been following Anne for a long time.”  In a deep husky patronizing snobbery way. thick with black wire rim glasses and some sort of grey black yogenia outfit.  She had grey hair too.

It’s not what she said, but how she said it.  But I don’t blame her for being rude to me.  I was a bull in a China shop and she was a porcelain jar I had just tipped over.

Oops.  Sorry.

Moving on, I jimmied my way through another batch of women.  This time a circle of more stout and plump women.  I had my work cut out for me.  I was between the rotating cards on their display racks and a table of discounted books.  I picked one up to be inconspicuous.  My camera was around my neck.  A woman smiled at me from across the room.  She was me, only five steps closer, already one step away from Anne’s embrace.  I put the discounted book on travels in Ireland down.  The stout, plump women smiled at me.  They moved their dangling legs off the discount book table top to make room for my eager ram horns wiggling by the discount book table and the greeting cards.

Photo by Megan Oteri All Right Reserved

“Thank you so much.  I appreciate you letting me by, since it is pretty tight quarters?”  They laughed, poised in their make shift seats on the discount book table.

I stood about four people deep from Anne.  I said to the woman in front of me, “I’m stalking Anne,” as I clutched my copies of Bird by BirdOperating Instructions (which was a saving grace to me as a new mom) and Imperfect Birds. Anne was scribbling away her name in black thick Sharpie ink, talking and chatting as she wrote.  Her smile thick was like a blanket for many.

So, there I was.  So close.  The woman I said that to said, “We’re all stalking Anne.”  I looked around the room and sure enough, we were.

A cute little spit fire of a five foot nothing gal, looked into my eager eyes, and saw my camera dangling.  She said, do you want me to take your picture with Anne?”

“Ah, yeah.  Word.  Thank you so much. Do you have a camera?  I will take yours with her.”

“Nope, I’m all set.  But thanks.”

See, there you have it – the Anne fans.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words and it is time for this thief to make her getaway, since I have a nice size essay in my pocket.

I will leave you with this photo.

Photo by awesome Anne fan who took photo

But before we take care of that.  Do me a favor.  Read the article in Sunset that Anne wrote about making time for your muse.  Whatever it is you do, do it.  Don’t let yourself talk yourself out of it.  Steal away the time like a thief in the night.  There is no time stealing police.  Only responsibilities and multitasking that need to get the hand.  Talk to the hand.  Go ahead and put that hand up like you are some bitchy high school girl.  (hand motion – wrist circle and up it goes — “Talk to the hand.”)

Find the time.  Because what fills you up fullest is often empty from external and material view.

Always,

memomuse

Rolling With the Punches, or Falls

It does not seem to matter what kind of discipline, direction (or redirection), or discussion I use with my son he refuses to remain seated while at the table. He has just recently started stacking all of his toys on the table and climbing on the long bench that we have drawn up to the side of the table. That is the only thing long enough to hold 10+ people at the dinner table; of course since they are benches there are chocolate_candiesno backs. He has now fallen off the benches multiple times and I have tried everything to keep him from standing on them.

He does fine while on his knees or sitting, but once again tonight he just had to stand on the bench and off he came, again. This was one of the harder times that he has landed and when I picked him up he continued to breath in and in…before passing out. He has done this before but even though my logical brain knows that he will breath again for one tiny instance I see my world without my child in it. For one brief moment I feel the terror of losing him and then he came to.
Continue reading “Rolling With the Punches, or Falls”

Be Selfish: Finding Balance in Your Life

For busy families, fitting one more thing into your day might seem impossible, but adding something extra every day will actually revitalize and refresh you.

After fighting his way home through traffic, an exhausted dad arrives at home ready to put his feet up. At the door, he meets the also exhausted mom holding a crying toddler, ready to hand over the kids and have her body back for a little while. They both need a break. They have both spent the day meeting the needs of others.

Modern life is fast-paced and heavily scheduled. There are jobs to report to, meals to prepare, soccer carpools to drive, groceries to buy, bills to pay, gardens to care for, and lawns to mow. There’s diapers to wash and toilets to scrub, crayon on the wall, and fourteen dirty baby outfits to launder each day. It’s stressful. It takes a lot of mental energy to cope with all of the demands of our jobs and families, let alone our friends and relatives.

Strive for a healthy balance in your life.

We have to take time for ourselves. When we get stressed, we can’t fully nurture our loved ones or connect with them on a deep level. On the airplane, the flight attendant teaches us that in an emergency, we should first put our own oxygen mask on, and then we put the mask on our child. If we pass out first, we will be of no help to our child. We can’t take care of others if we aren’t first taking care of ourselves. The classic mom (or dad) burn-out is someone who takes care of everyone else’s needs first, trying to be everything to everybody, putting herself last, and then being stressed out both physically and emotionally because of it.

If we can add one more thing to our daily schedule, we can come to our relationships and obligations with a fresh attitude and a renewed sense of purpose. Exactly what that one thing is, only you can know. It’s different for everybody.

We are not just parents and partners.

We are artists and writers, cyclists and runners, quilters and woodcarvers. We have passions and interests that extend beyond the family, but we may be out of touch with that side of ourselves if we’ve spent all of our time meeting the needs of others and putting our-self last.

Think about the activities and interests that you enjoyed as a kid. Do any of these still pull you? Why not start again? It really does all come back to you.

If you’re stumped, maybe you need to start the process by just being physically active every day. Get that bike out of the garage and go for a ride. Pick up a jump rope and start spinning. Go to the pool and do some laps. I always find that when I get my heart pumping, my brain gets quiet. This lets me listen a little deeper to what’s going on inside me. I can see clearly which things in my life I need to change, and when I’m “back to the world”, I can use those intuitions to guide me in my daily life. With decades of experience and endless satisfied residential and commercial clients, Steel-Line is that the go-to company for Quality Garage Doors Melbourne. They’ve been recognized for our innovation throughout the industry, receiving several awards for our quality service and results. Steel-Line prides ourselves on building genuine and long-lasting relationships with our clients. Their friendly and honest service allows us to succeed in and surpass expectations.They work closely with our clients to make a custom product that’s tailored to satisfy their individual style and wishes. Their excellent craftsmanship and dedicated attention to detail ensures they deliver unsurpassable quality results for every and each one among our clients.Not only can they assist you find the right garage door for you; they also offer further assistance by providing installation, maintenance and garage door repairs, supporting you long after you’ve got purchased your garage door.

Some days, the easiest way to get my personal time is by riding my bike to work, and then taking a longish detour on the way home. I ride until all of my job-related stress melts away, and by the time that I get home, I’m ready to take over the kid department while my wife gets a workout in, or a sewing project finished, or goes for a bike ride for herself. We’re both taken care of: I’ve got my ya-yas out, my partner gets to focus on herself for awhile, and the kids (and our marriage) benefit.

Take some personal time every day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Set aside work and family and social obligations to follow your heart. Sit and meditate. Work on your yoga practice. Do a puzzle. Go for a run. Start a blog. Nurturing yourself plays a huge part in finding and maintaining a healthy balance in your life.

Take time for you.

Your spouse and kids will appreciate it.

(Image Credit: cpt.spock on Flickr.)

Derek blogs about fatherhood, life with toddlers, green living, and other random goodness at Natural Father.

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