Monday, May 30, 2011

Creative Outlets

My quest to find balance between my day job, writing, and family life has led me to say “no” quite often this year. “No, I can’t take off work to go on that field trip.” “No, I can’t do all the chores by myself.” “No, I don’t have time to cook tonight.” I've even set aside some much beloved activities in order to pursue my writing, like keeping my scrapbooks up-to-date.

But I’ve found there are some things I don’t want to give up yet. One of these is basket making.

No, I don’t mean literally. I mean decoratively. For years I’ve been in charge of assembling the raffle baskets for our local RWA chapter’s annual Readers’ Luncheon. I also assemble some for authors who provide baskets as door prizes.

I admit, I’m addicted to the creative process of finding the perfect goodies and putting them together into something eye-catching and appealing to our romance readers. This is the “Mental Health” basket I put together for Problem Child this year:


She’s a big “hot tea” fan, so I included a sturdy teacup and tea, salt candle, bath stuff, gel eye mask, and a book with 1001 ways to relax. For Instigator, I searched far and wide for “peach” themed items, because her newest book was set on a peach farm. And while I love the end result, I’ve asked her that we never do this particular one again. I never realized how hard it was to find peach stuff anymore!


I found peach tea, peach antibacterial hand soap, a peach sachet, a peach candle (that I had to search 5 stores to find) and peach preserves with cornbread crackers (this is the south, after all). Playground Monitor found me some sparkling peach juice at World Market in Birmingham.

I’ve also assembled the “official” Published Author basket for our chapter, which features books from all our published authors (23 books in all). This year’s theme is “summer fun” so it contained lantern candle holders, a beach towel, after sun gel, sunglasses, and freezable drink mixes, among other things.


So much fun, but I’ll admit that it bites into my spare time (not that I have spare time anyway). And sometimes I feel guilty for enjoying this creative outlet when I feel like I should be channeling that energy into my writing.

So tell me, what do you say “no” to in the name of balance? What is one thing you simply can’t give up?



Cheryl said...

Crocheting doilies. I can't seem to stop doing it! I don't put them around the house so I have a basket in my closet full of them. There is something about using a small needle and making intricate stitches that soothes me. I refuse to give them up even though no one really wants them.

Thanks for doing all those baskets for HOD! From what I can see in the photos you have done your usual fantastic job!

Maven Linda said...

Angel, I don't see why you should give up what you enjoy. Life's for living. Sometimes work will take more time. Sometimes the kids will. Sometimes hubby will! Just go with the flow, do what has to be done, and enjoy the rest.

I will never give up reading. As long as my eyes hold out, I will read.

And . . . cornbread crackers? I want some.

Angel said...

Your doilies are beautiful, Cheryl!!! And seeing as how I find it fascinating that you crochet them, I don't want you to give it up either. :) Isn't it funny how something like that can soothe us or calm us down, just by occupying our mind with the repetitive motion?


Angel said...

Ah, Maven Linda, thanks for the words of wisdom. Just go with the flow -- you do know who you are talking to, right? The least flowing person on the planet? :)

Actually, I'm trying. It's taking time, but I'm trying. Usually when people talk about simplifying, they talk about giving up extra activities (volunteer duties, for example) to make time for the stuff that means a lot to you (like writing). But this is one volunteer activity that I really enjoy (even if I complain sometimes) and look forward to.

Reading! Amen!

And the crackers are from Target. I don't know how they taste (I was tempted but refrained from opening the box), but they sure look good.


Diana Layne said...

My life to some would be amazingly boring, but it makes me happy so I don't worry about it. If it makes you happy don't worry about it, all will fall into place. BTW, I stand in awe of your ability to create baskets. Beautiful.

Playground Monitor said...

Lately, I've said no to almost everything except Heart of Dixie and a support group I work with. And I'm afraid I haven't been as much help to HOD as I could be. I'm still juggling lots of emotions and trying to figure out who the "single me" is.

But like Maven Linda, I will never give up reading. It hurt so bad the past two years when I couldn't focus long enough to read more than about 10 pages. It would take me months to read one book. At least now I can focus for longer but I'm not back to my old book-in-a-day-or-two mode. And writing? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anne Lange said...

I cannot give up reading. It's my passion, my escape from reality...frankly, it keeps me sane.

I have a demanding day job plus 3 kids and husband who also has a demanding day job. I have to say no to field trips, fun days (and fun nights sometimes). I don't always cook supper or clean the house during the week. But we survive!

I also starting focusing more on my writing (my new career on top of everything else) and I love it! But, I admit, I sometimes put it aside to read!!

To me it doesn't matter if there are dust bunnies, or the kids are having soup and sandwhiches or a bowl of cereal for supper - they're happy, healthy, good kids. Besides, they're also old enough to help out.

As long as I can find time to read...Mom stays happy!

Vivi Andrews said...

Those baskets are lovely!

My current time-sucking hobby is graphic design. It's so relaxing, but the hours just slip away and at the end of the day I feel steeped in guilt that I didn't write instead. I hate feeling guilty for doing something just for myself - always a sign that I'm too busy and need to take a step back to enjoy life.

Angel said...

Hang in there, PM! You are recovering one step at a time, at your own pace, and that's the most important job on your list at the moment!

And you give an amazing amount of yourself despite everything you've been through. You'll find your new rhythm, a better rhythm!


Angel said...

Anne, you want to sit a spell and give me some lessons? :) My problem is knowing what to let go of. I'm working on the "family help" issue, which is going well, but not quite up to the speed I would like.

I'm trying to forge a new kind of life, one I never saw growing up. My mother didn't work, none of the ladies from church worked (that I knew of), and none of them ever had anything they loved more than being a housewife. No interests outside the home that I can remember at all.

Now I'm a working mother with a dream... it can be hard knowing which are the best choices. So keep up the advice, girls. I'm all ears.


Angel said...

Well, Vivi, you lost me there. I know absolutely nothing about graphic design, but I'd imagine it is kind of like scrapbooking -- but on the computer. I can see how the hours would slip away.

I hear ya on the guilt, but it never occurred to me that it was telling me that I needed more "me" time. Must listen to that!

Thanks for commenting, ladies!


Bev Pettersen said...

Beautiful baskets! And I always can say no to cleaning-that's an easy one for me.

Lea Ann Schafer said...

Who can't say no to cleaning! ;)

And I agree with Anne -- reading keeps me sane. I've been known to back up right against a deadline in order to finish a "much-needed" new book before getting down to my work. I stay up late to read too, and often use it as a scapegoat when I'm worried or afraid of the phase of the writing process I happen to be in at the moment. It's better than Calgon anyday!