I do hope you enjoyed your festive break and that the New Year is off to a great start for you already. Unusually, I had some time to myself in that space between Christmas and New Year, but being without the boys, I caught myself slipping into the pattern of filling the gaps and keeping busy. So, I reminded myself that it’s OK just to sit back and stare out of the window occasionally… in fact it is necessary. To enjoy doing nothing can be a real challenge, but it is a skill worth cultivating.
Taking time out for yourself is a vital part of conscious living.
It is back to the old routine for many of us today… back to the busy busy, the full diary, the many commitments and before too long, we’ll be several weeks in and wondering where the first month of the year went already.
STOP! It’s time to make space.
In reflecting on 2014, one of the things that came up for me was the importance of the spaces in between. I worked on many different projects in the year just gone, but allowing myself the luxury of afternoon naps when the boys were at school and a long and luxurious bath in the morning (yes, after the school run!!!) and, most importantly, doing so without feeling guilty, contributed to the feeling of space that was the key to my contentment last year.
Negative space is a key element of artistic composition.
It is the area of an image not occupied by shapes or forms.
I am someone who, in both art and life, has habitually filled all spaces. My home has, for many years, been what could only be described as cluttered and my art, in the past, has often covered every corner of the canvas or the paper. I am not someone who sits still easily. Yet, in 2014 something changed and I consciously embraced space in a way I had never done previously. I allowed myself the time to sit and read and just be and my biggest breakthroughs came in moments of quiet reflection that would previously have been filled with work or activity. Yes, it took some effort not to fill those spaces and instead appreciate them for what they are and how they benefit me.
You cannot serve from an empty vessel. Making time for myself and investing in support where I need it has a huge impact on the way I am able to care for those I love and who rely on me.
Enlisting the services of a decluttering professional helped me make an enormous breakthrough in my living space and something at home subtly shifted. The shift I noticed was that creating space calmed me considerably. I had not only physical space but mental space and a clarity that had been missing. Being at home took on a new meaning as I found myself being more comfortable in my environment and more connected with it than I had ever been. The restless desire to always be out and about or the need to be constantly tidying grew weaker as I found myself in a space with space. My little house felt bigger.
I do not have big goals or any major plan for the coming year. From the spaces we allow, great things spring forth and opportunities are created. I have set intentions that will encourage my growth through simple, playful steps… I am taking action, reaching out and trusting in abundance. I am making space for things to evolve naturally.
Here are my tips for celebrating the spaces in between…
1. Examine your diary or calendar for the week ahead. Where are the natural spaces? Instead of filling them with extra chores, how can you use that time to nourish yourself or your creativity? What will feed your soul or make your heart sing? Mark that space in your calendar: Time for me. Use it as an appointment with your self and be sure you stick to it. If you think you need permission, here it is: It is OK to do something for yourself… you deserve it. Take your time and enjoy this. You will feel happier and those you love will benefit.
2. Practice the art of looking. You can do it any time, anywhere. The simple act of examining an object intently for just two minutes is a wonderful practice that can feel like meditation. Do it every day. It will also help your drawing.
3. Seek out places that have a feeling of open space. My favourite route home from the school run is not the quickest, but the one that takes me the back way, through the park and down the hill where big skies and wide space open up in front of me. I slow down and breathe deeply. It helps clear my mind and my lungs and sets me up for the day.
4. At home, look at where clutter congregates. Take time to clear one of those spaces and place a vase of flowers or a potted plant in that area. It may be your dining table. Doing so will not only make your home look brighter, but will discourage you from putting back more piles.
5. Make reflection a part of your process of creation. It can be easy to go all out when working on a project, get it done and go straight into another. After a period of intense creative activity, be sure to take a break, step back and make the space to evaluate what you have achieved and celebrate your successes.