A gift from my time at EncaustiCamp this past July was making some beautiful connections and friendships. Most everyone brought their true selves to camp, being vulnerable both in their art and the sharing of their lives. Yes, even the instructors were real, approachable people that I can now call friends.
One of my new friends, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, taught a class that married encaustic with book making. Being a lover of books, I deeply enjoyed this class. Beyond the book making aspect, I learned a great deal about art appreciation, creative approach, and some really groovy techniques.
Even before I met Bridgette, I was drawn to her art. She has a gift of story-telling. I am particularly drawn to her current work in progress, a journal entitled “Mother Love.” The story speaks of the struggle between a mother’s passion to love one’s children fully and a passion to create and express what is within her soul. Within the constraints of time, how does a mother do both without neglect? Where is the balance?
While Bridgette and I have different life stories, I have wrestled with this desire to balance the nourishing of my family and the nourishing of me. As partner to a home-run business and a homeschool mom, allowing myself to retreat to refill my cup has become essential in maintaining a nurturing environment in the home. Let me give you a picture of a typical day in the Jolley home.
(This next section must be read very fast while holding your breath.)
- I aim to rise and begin my day with Bible reading and journaling. This practice allows me to align myself and clear my head before I put on the teacher hat. It doesn’t always happen though.
- Teacher hat on, the teenagers are to be ready for school by 9am. Much of their school work is self led. My greatest teaching task is that of directing and adding input to build on their skills.
- During this time, my husband will be preparing for a job, at a job, or unpacking the equipment from the last job. Our dining room/school room is also the place where the video equipment is loaded and unloaded. The kids often go with him on jobs, so must juggle their own time and homework.
- My job is to collect administrative information from him that will allow him to focus on the creative and technical aspects of the business. People may stop by throughout the day to pick up or drop off equipment which means I really should be dressed by noon.
- I’m also in charge of the school cafeteria, but am very thankful that both the kids are excellent cooks. If need be, I can assign them to prepare meals. The struggle is making it to the grocery store to replenish.
- Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m also juggler of calendar events and part time chauffeur.
(Okay, breathe again.)
While we have made the best lifestyle choice for our family (never wanting to imply it would be best for everyone), this disables me from being a full time artist. I can see the end of this time as my kids approach graduation, and the beginning of something new. I am so excited for my children to have opportunity to take ownership of their own dreams. I am thrilled that my studio time will exponentially explode. Yet, knowing it will come so quickly makes each moment in their presence that much more precious.
Setting healthy boundaries so I can have time in the studio is easy. That’s mere time management. But when my husband or teenagers desire just to be with me, to chat, to share their thoughts and experiences, the boundaries get muddy. At that moment I have to decide what is essential, my studio time or the time with the other person. Most times I delay my plans. Listening to my daughter pour out her thoughts, having a teenage son that desires my presence, and a husband who wants to talk of deep things, these are life itself. These are the moments that fill me with joy and feed the creativity in my brain. I receive nourishment from them and love the belonging that we share.
But have I mentioned that I’m an introvert. I need alone-time to recharge. My family is grateful when I honestly say, “I can’t listen right now. My capacity is low. I need some time to myself.” Sometimes I do need to send the multitudes away so that I go up to my mountain and worship, paint, praise, and pray, refilling to be emptied out again.