In my day to day paid employment life, I'm a clinical supervisor and a therapist. Although there are many things about this work that I enjoy, perhaps the greatest among them is when I'm able to help someone uncover their passion and start along a path that feels rich and fulfilling.
Now, I've no delusions about the reality of needing a real income or that everyone will make zillions doing work they love and I get what a privileged, romantic view that is. There are real bills out there, right?
So, here's what I know. Most of the people reading this wake up everyday and make choices about how they want to live. I've lately been working on scaling back the day job so I can be home more - gardening, tending the flock (literally - how awesome is that?), baking, cooking, writing, getting fibre dyed and ready for sale, doing all of the things that well and truly feed my soul. I also love my private practice and have always just fit it around this and that but enough of that, I'm going for it.
Now, my employer didn't let me have my full pay on far few hours. In fact, to do this I had to do some different work that comes with a sizeable pay cut (but some other perks like flexible hours). We also hacked and slashed at the supervision part which means I (finally) am no longer responsible for the admin parts (like hiring and firing) and just help people with cases. So, I've increased my bills (paying private practice rent now) and decreased the pay I could rely on and it's not hard to type that and think "yikes!"
If you had asked me a year ago whether I thought this would be doable or not, I would have said no way but I would have resented myself and my answer. Sure, I would have swallowed it but it would be there, it has been there for a long time.
Now I'm at the point where it's do or die time. Really. I felt like a little peace (<intentional) of my soul got chipped off everyday but I had no options. But really, I do have options. Like pretty much everyone I know, I buy stuff I don't need; I buy coffees, I grab the occasional lunch out, J and I take separate vehicles to our jobs when, with a teeny bit of effort, we could car pool, and so on. When I made this decision (way back in August), I started taking steps. I've gotten back into the habit of baking bread, we're wasting way less (it becomes too easy to waste when it goes to the chickens), I'm making more of an effort with the garden/greenhouse, no lunches out (and I do mean no), no coffees, car pooling even when it's inconvenient and so on. And it's making a difference. A big difference. I truly did not expect this kind of difference. I think we've cut our grocery budget in half over the last couple of months (which is definitely significant). Now I really thought I had nowhere else to go - we live really frugally but there were these little things. Buying a coffee even once a month is $5. That's a lot of groceries, when you think about it.
So, what's the point of all of this? Well, I believe that in each and everyone of us, there is a creative spark. I also believe, from many, many, many hours sitting with people from all walks of life, who are feeling like they're floundering or unhappy or dissatisfied or falling apart, or depressed or angry or drowning themselves in anything they think/hope/wish will take those feelings away that most of us aren't nurturing that spark ad it's making us sick.
It's that spark that gives us hope, that gives us faith that things can be better. More importantly though, that spark helps us see ourselves, helps us to have a sense of agency and accomplishment, even if we just make things for ourselves.
Now to be extra clear, I'm not talking about art making. Full disclosure: I went to a painting class today. I suck at painting. I'm not just saying that. I'm pretty sure that an average Gr 3 student could do better than me but I thought I'd give it a whirl. So no, I'm not talking about spark=art, for me, that spark comes in textiles sometimes (but not as much when I'm just making a pair of socks as dyeing yarn, to be honest) but just as often it exists in the baking of bread, the nurturing of plants, the catching of goat babies:
The reality is that for many of us, we have to fit our creative spark around our lives - family and work. Sometimes we're lucky enough to have that spark also generate an income, sometimes it even stays sparky and feeds us. Even if that doesn't happen, we have to nurture and protect that spark because it's what feeds our mental health.
So, go and do something. Go and write a poem that you don't care if you publish, you just want to express yourself, go and paint on some bark, go and build something, bake something, grow something, knit something, do something that helps you feel and alive and connected. Figure out what your spark is (or sparks are, there's no obligation to have just one) and make it grow. Not because you're going to make a tonne of money off it but because it's part of staying healthy, vital, and alive.