Productivity In The Midst Of Chaos

So, if you have been watching the vlogging I’ve been doing lately, then you will see some of the normal chaos of my life.

Now, vlogging, talking on the phone, having a conversation, thinking…all of that can be rather difficult when I am in the midst of things and the chaos swarms around and onto to me. I get distracted, discombobulated, off my game…it’s like, hey look, squirrel…and I’m gone. Trying to regain my footing again after the interruptions, it’s never really easy for me. I segue away from my main point all too easily.

It turns out that some of the habits I picked up in high school have paid off later in life. I learned how to write in the middle of class, at lunchtime, on the bus, wherever I was, whatever I was doing, whoever was around me, doing whatever they were doing. I learned to stop when the bell rang, regardless of where I was in a story or a poem or whatever. I would pick back up as soon as I was able, which did not always mean when the next bell rang. Sometimes I would remember exactly where I was and what I intended…sometimes…new things had to be embraced, because there was nothing else coming.

When I started knitting, I would carry my knitting everywhere. In fact, I carried my knitting all the time everywhere up until the youngest arrived. I would knit at stop lights. I would knit while stopped. I knitted while waiting. I always took easy mindless knitting projects, but I learned how to pick up and put down what I was working on without hesitation.

Here I am now, trying to paint, trying to write, trying to create, trying to put work out, put courses out…in the midst of all this chaos that is our family and our life. Hey, a sixty-five pound ninja kitty (it’s the saluki/shepherd mix) who has no idea where her feet end up as she dances through the house whose idea of getting your attention is not just head-butting you, but grabbing whatever she can reach, be it flesh or clothes, and yanking on you until you pay attention to her is sort of hard to ignore…

So–how do I manage to do anything?

In small increments. In very small increments.

I can wander the house with a little notebook and pen and jot down ideas and thoughts and little notes throughout the day, although I usually have to have two little notebooks, as the boy will swipe mine, and my pen. I want to make sure we encourage his creativity and his desire to write, so I don’t get upset…unless he starts scribbling over my stuff. Usually it’s not such a big deal. Usually I can still read my stuff and re-transcribe it elsewhere.
But…there are art journal spreads, paintings, blog posts, courses, patterns, and on and on.

Now, I do try to work at night while the toddler sleeps. Although some days he naps late and then is up until the wee hours, which means those days I don’t work. Luckily (or not, depending upon how you look at it), he’s not much of a napper, so these late evening naps are not constant, nor consistent. But when they happen…my work day is shot. He is good enough so that when it is everyone else’s bedtime, he can be pacified in bed, but sitting beside him and working is not an option. I have to be present to him, with the lights outs, until he goes to sleep.

During the day, I do what I can. For example, an art journal spread. I may take my journal and scribble in it. It may be one minute–it may be ten. Then, sometimes, that is as far as I get in a day. It may be days before I return to that spread. Then — there is an underlayer of paint. Maybe it is one color. Maybe it is two or three different shades of one color. I do like to use a pink and a red and a white to start off spreads, especially if my journal writing was a brain dump, which is usually a rant of some sort. Red covers that emotion well for me, usually. Sometimes I will use greens, because I want to grow something out of what I wrote. The underpainting usually has very little to do with the final piece.

As the spread sits there, journal open, I will smush left-over paint on the spread. I will use washi tape. I will throw down bits of paper and collage. Then I will smear more paint.

It’s just one of those things. If the urge hits and I have the time and space to stand there for twenty minutes or so…because I usually work on backgrounds standing up, because it is usually a sort of drive-by experience, I will take it and run with it. If I have one minute, I do what I can and I don’t get fussy about how things turn out.

This year, without classes guiding the work I am doing, I am no longer as concerned about getting things ‘just so’ or ‘perfect’ … I have found this space that is just happy to be moving paint around and creating something on a regular-ish basis.

I like to have the written part of a spread, an underpainting layer, a collage layer, a layer of paint over that. Then I actually start working on the actual background that has a better chance of staying once the piece is done. I stamp things. I stencil things. I use bubble wrap–my new best friend now that I have a nice unpopped piece hidden from my children–and yes, all three of them are addicted to popping the bubble wrap. Not that I blame them…but, sheesh, I don’t need that large a piece for my work…and I share, every time I get my hands on some.

Now, when it comes to my writing, writing blog posts, emails, coursework, I usually do this at night. I can sit beside a sleeping toddler and type away–and he sleeps through it. No, the boy does not sleep through the night. It’s just one of the things we go through here. One day, he will be able to sleep alone, in the dark. I pray for that day, really I do.

Until then, I do what I do.

I can sit beside him, with a low light on, and knit. While he sleeps is the only way, the only way, I can do the decreases on a hat I haven’t really done anything else since he arrived that requires consistent decreasing…nor have I done anything all that complicated. I am just now slowly working my way back into knitting hats…that used to be a thing I did every year…everyone gets a new winter hat every year…and since the youngest has arrived, not to much. But…I do what I can.

Sometimes I can work in the same room as the boy and the dogs, sitting on the couch, computer on my lap…sometimes I give up trying to balance the computer and I write everything out by hand in a notebook…and then as time allows, I transcribe on to the computer whenever the time allows.

So…does that make sense? I take the moment that I have it as I get it. That is really all it is. If it takes two months to write up a course, instead of the two weeks, then so be it. Right now, that is the path I have chosen. Sometimes it drives me up a wall; other times the little boy in question walks up to me, gives me a hug and a kiss and flashing that winning ornery grin…and everything is perfect…

Now you understand why sometimes I just do not make my own deadlines…among other things.

Until next time…