Declarations and Manifestos

19 Nov

If you would like to listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8085913

As some of you know, I did a creativity bootcamp in October which has now become a creativity salon. In bootcamp, we were challenged to create every day of the month. In the salon, we are more focused on a longer term outlook on our creativity. One of the things we have been encouraged to do is to create a manifesto or declaration for ourselves, and I have enjoyed reading every single one of them. Some are bold and incredibly ambitious. Some are more pensive as the creative is searching for the path that feels best. Some are there to soak up what they can to help them understand their own creativity better. Each one is a treasure, a small piece of the creative soul shared with those who understand. I, however, really struggled with mine. I have wanted creativity to be my career since I can remember. I worked in advertising and media production because it was a way to build creativity into my career. The creative life calls to me and fortunately for me I have a husband who supports me in that and believes in me more than I believe in myself at times. I know I could immerse myself in creativity and forget everything else, but I also know I’ve worked too hard to get where I am to do that because as I age, I seek a life that is untethered rather than un-managed. I know I need some structure to my day or nothing will happen at all. That doesn’t mean that if I have a rush of creativity, I can’t indulge it. It means that by creating structure and doing the things that bring peace to my home, I am free to indulge those creative rushes when they happen. As I said in part of my declaration, I made a promise over 20 years ago to be the best wife and mother as I could be. Two of my children attend college, so my daily parenting for them is done. I have one more child at home with two and a half years left before he graduates from high school and heads off for his college adventure. Until that happens, my family comes first.

The peace I felt when I wrote that was extraordinary because for many years I felt like I had to apologize for being home with my children. I am college educated. I have been writing for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I found true peace with my life. You see, eight years ago, my youngest child was diagnosed with ADHD. Because of a medical condition, his doctors all agree that medication for his ADHD is a bad idea. I understand that medication is a miracle for some, but in my heart, I knew it wasn’t the best answer for my child. Instead, we have spent years working with behavior modification, dietary changes and other lifestyle choices to create the best environment for him. In the process, I began reading about the condition and several things clicked. It wasn’t long before I realized that apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and the more I learned, the better things got for both of us. I began to understand that I did well in school because I loved it, and he struggled with it because he didn’t. I also understood that even though I loved school, long term projects were a mystery to me because I didn’t know how to break up the work. I didn’t know how to make little bits of progress so most projects were completed in a flurry of adrenaline the night before they were due, and I failed several of them. Somehow I made it through not only high school but also college, and I think the only reason I did make it was because I majored in subjects that I loved. Otherwise I would have been doomed because doing things I didn’t like was like torture for me. It was the reason my room was a mess. It was the reason I could cook a meal fit for a king and leave the dishes sit for two days after. It was the reason I could work for 14 hours on a video shoot but couldn’t seem to clear my desk. It was the reason I had the idea for dozens of creative projects but few of them ever got finished. Until my son’s diagnosis, I truly thought there might be something wrong with me. After my son’s diagnosis, I was sure of it until I began to read articles that explained ADHD in a different way. I began to realize that often the greatest discoveries came from people who exhibited the same thought patterns my son and I had. The difference was that they found a way to elevate their creative gifts and deal with their organizational challenges. Now how in the world was I going to do that?

October 14, 2002 changed my life. That was the day that I signed up on the FlyLady website. I’ve discussed about this before so I won’t go into great detail about all of it. I will tell you, though, that if you want to improve the condition of your home, she has a great way of going about it. I would caution you also that it can get overwhelming, so I want to share the greatest lesson I learned; the magic of fifteen minutes and baby steps. It has been said we over estimate what we can do in an hour or a day, but we under estimate what we can do in 30 days, 6 months or a year. We tend to have short sightedness when we approach tasks, and if you have ADHD, that is especially true, but here’s something I think is amazing. I have been journaling for decades. I pitched some of my earliest writing because at one point in my life I couldn’t face the angry teenager I was, but I still have about 25 years of journals. Lately I’ve been reading some of the first ones, and it was been incredibly enlightening. I’ve always wanted to create a wonderful home for my family. I’ve always wanted to be a writer who helps people live their best life. I’ve always wanted to be a spiritually connected person. Those are the constants. When I began this journey, I was searching and almost pleading with the Divine to show me the way. It felt like there was a secret I didn’t know. It felt like so many had it together when I felt like a hot mess. I wanted and longed for better. FlyLady gave me that hope for my home. Little by little, my home came together, and I wish I could tell you I cleaned like Cinderella or Snow White, whistling and singing and being filled with joy. I didn’t. In the beginning, I was resentful and angry, but I kept moving and on August 1, 2004, nearly two years after signing up to learn how to clean my home, I finished my to do list for the first time. It was a joy to read about that day again, not because of the progress made in my home but because of the other things I wrote in my journal. I wrote about feeling like I was on the right path for the first time in my life and feeling joy about my life and its direction. My finances were improving. My health was improving, and I was in awe of how I had arrived at that moment; through a messy home and needing to clean it up for a child with extraordinary needs.

The journey has not been a straight line. I have had curves, hills and valleys with the occasional mountain and chasm to cross. A decade later, my home is not perfect, and that’s perfectly fine. At times life feels overwhelming, especially when I forget the magic of 15 minutes, but somehow I eventually remember and I address that overwhelm 15 minutes at a time and with baby steps. It’s how I got and keep my home in shape. It’s how I improved and continue to improve my finances, and it’s how I will continue to write books, blog posts and who knows what else in the future. When I wrote that in my declaration, at first I wondered if other people would understand. I wondered if I was turning away from the creative life I have always longed for, but two things became very clear. First, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. If I was at peace with the plan and knew it would create a better life for me and for my family that was what mattered. Second, not only was I using a system that has created enormous success for me in the past, I might even help someone find their way to success as well. It’s an unusual way to approach life, but it works for me, and it brought me to the next challenge in the creative salon.

Someone asked if we had anything that we used for inspiration while we created and I do. I haven’t looked at them as much lately as I have in the past but it reminded me to do just that, and those things still make me smile and inspire me greatly. I have a picture of myself at 2 years old. I’m smiling the impish smile of a two year old with a secret, and it’s my favorite picture ever taken of me. That picture reminds me that I have an inner child who lived life fully before life got in the way. She is the best and worst of me and I want only the best for her. It reminds me to be gentle with myself and with others because we all have an inner child who needs love and nurturing and an occasional miracle, and that’s one of my other inspirations. An online friend sent me an amazing card when I was writing my first book that said Miracles Can Happen. That card helped me to crank out my first book, and I will be using it to help with every creative endeavor from here on, as will the other card that sits on my desk. This one was sent by a friend for my 50th birthday. Unlike some, I celebrated my entry into my fifties, and this card is something I aspire to be. The card reads:
Born to be wild,
Born to be outrageous,
Born to live your life out loud,
Born to be courageous…

Born to make some mischief,
Born to rock ‘n roll,
Born to spread your wings and fly,
Born to bare your soul…

Born to be a dreamer,
Born to dare and do,
Born to make the world a better place
Because you’re you.

Although I wrote my declaration for the creativity salon, this is the manifesto of my life and who I aspire to be whether I do that through my writing, my radio show or taking care of my family. It isn’t a traditional path, and I’m ok with it. It’s also why I thank you for being you every week because I think we all have unique and amazing gifts to share with the world, and I hope you have your own declaration, manifesto or incredible life plan as well. If not, start thinking about it and let me know what you come up with. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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