The zen of creativity

The house was quiet with sleep as I glanced at my clock. The numbers read 2:00 in bright white against the stark darkness of the room. I listened to the faint purring of my cat snuggled up against my left hip as I lay in bed wide awake.

Try as I might, I could not clear my mind of the scene from earlier that day that played on repeat in my head.

Earlier that day I had one of those parenting moments.

The one that leaves you feeling raw and wretched, where you feel like you are the worst person in the world. The one that embarrasses you to think about, and yet you can’t stop seeing it over and over again in your mind.

The image of that morning continued to play through my head over the next two days, and with that so did my anxiety about other aspects of my life.

A fellow mom who didn’t respond to a text and another who didn’t reply to an e-mail both had me questioning my likability as a person. I worried for about the 284th time why I hadn’t made very many close mom friends since having my older daughter.

Soon the doubts about my business and my ability to succeed too began to infiltrate my mind.

I felt myself spiraling into a wave of negative thoughts and feelings.

Tree behind water

Image by Seyed Mostafa Zamani

It left me feeling lonely, sad, and incapable of many of my roles in life that make me who I am: mom, friend, entrepreneur.

On Saturday, two days after that morning that had set off that spiral, I woke up feeling anxious from my emotions and the lack of sleep that often accompanies me in these moments.

As my husband played with our daughter in her room, her laughter filling our condo until it reached me in office, I packed up my equipment for a day at the metalsmithing studio.

I was looking forward to a rare day to myself.

a day to immerse myself in my work and surround myself with creative energy.

I needed it. I needed a break from parenting and taking care of another person, from constant cleaning and picking up an endless trail of toys that extend throughout our condo. A break from cooking meals, from planning and thinking about what’s coming next and the mental exhaustion that comes with making one countless decisions after another.

As I walked toward the metalsmithing studio, chatter and the soft crunch of metal being sawed filled my ears. I was welcomed with warm hellos and smiles from my fellow studio mates. I settled into my space and unpacked my gear, and got to work.

woman hammering handmade sterling silver jewelry on a steel mandrel
Image by Lorna Stell Photo

Within a matter of minutes, a calm settled over me as I fell into my groove. Forming, sawing, filing, cutting, soldering, sanding, hammering, designing.

As the heat from the torch melted the solder on each ring, so did my anxiety.

handmade jewelry setup with flame firing a ring
Image by Lorna Stell Photography

In that space where I was fully immersed in my creativity, it was as if I had pushed a reset button. 

All the worries, the sadness, the loneliness, the images that would not leave my head, flowed right out of me.

I gained a sense of clarity:

I am capable of succeeding (and will)

I am likable (and I have plenty of people who love me and enjoy my company)

am a good mom (and my daughter knows how much I love her)

It is incredible the mental and emotional clarity that can result from time immersed in creative endeavors.

This is in response to this week’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt: “If I only had…” hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee and Diedre of Deirdre’s Daily Dose. It’s a bit of stretch, but I went with “If I only had…time for my creative outlets, I would be more zen.”