The Creative Life Balancing Act

Bubbalicious 'helping' me
Bubbalicious ‘helping’ me

This is my library research assistant, the adorable Bubbalicious.

It’s often said that writing is a child-friendly career. True. But I’m not sure children are a writer-friendly addition 🙂

This is an interesting year for me as I work to find a new way of writing. A new timetable. A new head space. A totally new process. Listening to my body in a whole new way.

It’s taken me a long time to accept that I might need some help. But my Hubbalicious has been consistently working towards finding ways to support my career (and meet my next book deadline) while we maintain our wish to be hands-on, full-time parents. One thing we’ve realised is that I do need sustained, uninterrupted writing time. And that might mean I have to leave the house for a weekend every couple of months to get that. As well, I need at least three or four hours straight in a day to really get into my work.

So today is a new day. After much resistance (maternal angst, guilt, working-mother research assistant2_anxiety), I have embraced the addition of my lovely friend, Katrina, who lives locally and who has known Little Man his whole life. (And is also the greatest aunty to our dogs and cats when we’re away.) Everyone in this family loves Katrina. And today she’ll be joining us three days a week, for four hours a day, at home to help look after our Little Man and allow me some space to work. And I’m okay with that. Finally.

Really. Right now, I’m in my office while the sound of Katrina’s voice and squeaking toys from the other end of the house lets me know my bubba man is okay. Not just okay; he’s having fun. And that’s okay because I just need to remind myself to breathe and know there’ll be more times a plenty when I get to have my little research assistant back again.

A Pot of Tea as Meditation Time

Tea for time out
Tea for time out

You know the drill: every day we’re told we should be exercising, eating five vegetables, meditating, taking vitamins, taking ‘time out’, ticking off our To Do list, strengthening social bonds, making time for our husbands, making time for our children (‘Don’t miss a single moment of these precious years!’), decluttering, detoxing, doing our pelvic floor exercises, investing sensibly, planning for holidays, working hard at our jobs, and getting at least eight hours of good quality sleep. Probably, most of us are lucky to achieve a couple of these things a day.

I used to be a meditator, back when I was single and childless and sharing a house with other people. I could lock myself away with a guided meditation CD, candles, incense and whole hours of time to devote to me. I enjoyed meditation, but I was also always a fan of moving meditation, those activities that can give you the same sense of peace, insights and altered time as more formal meditation. Riding my horse was always a huge moving meditation for me. Nothing like sitting on top of a half-tonne animal, clopping quietly down a street, listening to the birds and the rhythm of the squeak of a saddle in the sunshine to bring you firmly into the moment. Walking, yoga, gardening and swimming have also been sources of moving meditation.

And now, with an eight-month-old baby, renovating a house, writing a new book and all that jazz mothers do, I’ve become a fan of momentary meditation. Delightfully, I’ve realised more than ever that I can relish momentary meditation with a pot of tea.

Unlike throwing a teabag in a mug and covering with water, making a pot of tea takes just that tiny bit more time and thoughtfulness. You need a few extra bits, like a pot and a strainer. It takes a few moments more. You need to count out the scoops of tea for the pot (counting, also a form of mindfulness… or OCD depending on your personality). And then you need to pour it carefully into your (hopefully) lovely china cup.

It does take more time and a tiny bit more effort than the teabag option. But it’s a wonderful moment just to be present and breathe and relax. A teeny weeny meditation before returning to the chaos.

Take Your Baby (or Dog) to Work Day

I love being self-employed. My boss can be a really hard taskmaster. And we don’t always get on. But one thing I love about her is that she let’s me take my baby and dogs (and cats and horses and sometimes my husband) to work.

That’s ‘Write On’ I reckon 🙂

baby at work2

Nappies and Vomit Do Not Romance Writing Make

Let’s face it, there isn’t much that’s either romantic or sexy about motherhood. If it’s not the pervasive stains (and odour) of regurgitated formula, or the endless repetition of This Old Man playing knick-knack-paddywhack (what on earth is that anyway?), or the continual sense of chaos in the house, or that you ran out of facial scrub a month ago and keep forgetting to get more, it’s the fact that through sheer exhaustion and the fact that you have five minutes before your baby needs you again that you can’t even manage to wash your hair.

How then does a girl live the writer’s dream and conjure up images of romance and sexiness when the only fantasy she harbours is for four hours (let’s not be greedy) of uninterrupted, deep sleep?

I plan to take my bedraggled self to the Queensland Writers Centre this Sunday for a Masterclass in romance writing with prolific romance author, Anna Campbell. I’m hoping Anna’s expertise can help me contact my inner romantic woman, who is currently helping my characters, Leila and Lucas, strengthen their compelling storyline.

The littlest man romance

Anna, your timing couldn’t be more perfect. But please know that if I yawn the whole way through your masterclass it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the littlest man in my life with whom I’m having a romance of an entirely different kind.