As we near the end of week 5 (or is it week 105?) of this alternative life we’re leading, the topic of nurturing has been coming up more & more often. So the webinar I recently participated in was the perfect time to discuss & share views on how we nurture when we don’t have children.
My starting point is that we should (or maybe must..) start by nurturing ourselves. As the saying goes ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ so it’s only once you nurture, love & accept yourself that you can give to others.
You can watch our conversation below & I wanted to take this opportunity expand on a couple of ideas I talked about & which are really supporting me at the moment. These are ‘small pleasures’ & creativity & they’re both a really great way in to nurturing. The following are edited extracts from my book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness.
There are small things that support you in many ways, including self-care & nourishment. On the wall behind my desk I have a list of what I call small pleasures: things I can do that bring me joy & demonstrate self-care. Most of them are free, such as pausing to look up at the sky, meditating, reading for 30 minutes, looking at photos, singing along to a favourite song, listening to music or a podcast, or taking a walk. Others cost a small amount, such as one square of chocolate, coffee in my favourite mug, a yoga class, or buying a bunch of flowers.
I’ve had the list on my wall for several years & even though it’s just behind my screen it slipped out of my consciousness. Then, a few weeks ago when I was feeling really low I started making a conscious effort to do at least 2 of these every day. This practice has really helped me to feel nurtured & at the same time I’m reminded that I am important.
I suggest you do something like this; you’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel.
Being creative is nurturing
Being creative is another way to nurture & also to bring more joy into your life, & it can be a challenge to embrace.
I used to have a narrow definition of creativity, & because I can’t draw or paint, I believed I wasn’t creative. A few years ago, I shared this conclusion with a friend & she was aghast. ‘But you have a business, you write, you’re a great cook, you take fabulous photographs. Okay, maybe you can’t draw, but that doesn’t mean you’re not creative.’ I reluctantly agreed with her, & so began the scavenger hunt to find my creativity, & this has brought more joy into my life than I ever thought possible.
But where to start?
What did you used to love to do as a child?
For me, one of these was hand sewing. I decided to finish a couple of tapestries Mum had started, & something strange & wonderful happened; once I started being creative, I couldn’t stop. Tapestries seem like a winter project, so in the summer I started making felt lavender bags, & now I’ve moved on to embroidering flowers which I make into cards. I absolutely love the whole process & especially giving them to friends. In a world where many tasks we do are never ending, sewing gives me a sense of achievement & pleasure that I’m often missing. There may be inconsistencies in my sewing & that’s okay. I get a lot of joy from what I create, & in the end, that’s all that matters.
If you’re still not sure, curiosity is another way in.
What are you curious about?
I’ve done many creative things by following this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, she advises following your curiosity. So ask yourself, ‘what am I curious about’? Or maybe ‘what am I interested in’?
It could be anything, large or small, & it only has to capture your attention for a moment. She says that this is a clue, & advises turning your head a quarter of an inch & following it. Follow it a bit. If it really grabs your attention that’s great, & if it doesn’t, let it go, ask the question again & follow something else.
My curiosity led me to learn more about Yin Yoga & to understand my body; it’s encouraged me to take on ‘challenging’ embroidery projects, to make body moisturiser & body scrub, to recycle candles & (hopefully once we get back out into the world) to learn how to make soap. I also tried colouring in & decided it wasn’t for me.
I’m not sure how long I will continue with any of these & that’s ok. My curiosity has taken me to many interesting places, expanded my comfort zone & stretched my creative limits. And more importantly, taking time out for my creative hobbies shows that I matter & care.
I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert when she says, ‘I am going to spend as much time as I can creating delightful things out of my existence, because that’s what brings me awake & that’s what brings me alive.’
How do you nurture?
I’d love to hear your thoughts (by comments below or email) on the video &/or the concepts I’ve written about above.
Do you have a list of small pleasures & how do you feel after you’ve made doing them a habit?
How can you use creativity to nurture?
Also what comes up when you ask yourself:
What did I used to love to do as a child?
What am I curious about?
What am I interested in?
If you have the time at the moment, there are lots of free courses & workshops available online.
P.S. talking about photos,with the exception of my headshots all those I use here (including those with quotes) have been taken by me or sometimes by my husband.