Guest blog: Suzie Jay Goldsmith on creative self-care

Suzie Jay Goldsmith is parenting after loss. She’s a photographer, writer and mum to her three year old daughter, Jasmine. After struggling to cope with the demands of motherhood following her second TFMR (termination for medical reasons), Suzie turned to creative self-care to help her process her grief.

Suzie recently published her book “The Rallying Cry- Healing the Hardest Part of Life Through Creativity” which comes highly recommended by The Mum Poem Press.

One day not so long ago I felt utterly beaten. I stood at the sink and felt the weight of it all on my shoulders. The space to process my thoughts and feelings squeezed to an area no larger than a postage stamp.

My little girl tugged at my hair, my ears, my face. As my aching arms sank into the bubbles below I wondered if life would always feel this hard.

I wonder if you’ve ever felt this way?

We don’t address the endless list of daily tasks and chores because it’s fun, we do it because we love our children and want the very best for them. But what if we could do the best for them, while at the same time, the best for ourselves too?

This is where creative self-care comes in, healthy habits of self-expression, something small every day.

If you see that value in making but aren’t sure where or how to start, here are some things that help me:

  1. Go back through your life experiences, right past the point where you were perhaps told that your art or writing sucked. What did you enjoy? Pick at the thread of curiosity and let it lead you. Become a willing student. Read books, listen to podcasts to get going again. Inspiration counts for a lot. 
  2. Start small. Just as we wouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon straight away, the same can be said for our creative efforts. Tiny efforts over time help us build up that muscle. A line here, a haiku there, it all counts. 
  3. Keep notepads dotted around the house so that when inspiration strikes you can grab that tiger by its tail. If you wait for the “perfect moment” you’ll be waiting forever. 
  4. Find your voice. Delve into the thoughts and memories that move you. Use them and your voice will amplify over time.
  5. Let go of expectation/outcome/expression. Getting started is simply about flexing that muscle. Creativity begets creativity. Forget about the magic for now. Just do something small every day and watch to see what happens. 

It’s of course tempting to ask how can I possibly fit this in on top of everything else? But what I’m learning is that making time for creativity can feel energising rather than overwhelming. And it’s possible to fit it in where at first it might seem impossible. 

Imagine a jar of stones. Big, bulky stones all the way up to the top. At first glance the jar appears full, no room for anything else. But find a few smaller stones and it’s possible to fill the gaps as they rattle and scoot their way to the bottom. Now the jar is full. Or is it? Take a bag of sand and begin pouring the sand into that jar. Watch as it trickles and snakes its way through the cracks, filling every nook and cranny. Finally the jar is full, the jar is whole. We could view our days in much the same way. We could look at those big, weighty stones that take up so much space and think that there’s no room for anything else. But if we’re smart about it, there’s actually plenty of time to be had and we don’t even really need to take anything out of the jar to make it fit.

It’s not so much about filling each day to bursting point, but finding opportunities to do the things that we always say we’d love to do if only we had the time. If we make time for these things, a little each day, we don’t necessarily feel more tired for having tended to them.

I know that when I make time for the things that light me up, I feel energised, rather than tired. 

Viewing our days this way isn’t about being as productive as possible, packing in as much as we can. It’s not about filling to the point where each day feels full, but filling to the point where we feel whole.

Everyone’s jar will look different. It’s about finding time for the things that nourish our spirit, seeing opportunities where before it might have seemed as though there were none.

I believe that creative self-care, in its essence, is about the need to create and nurture ourselves, so that we have the capacity to nurture and love others. In doing something creative and expressive every day, I’m better able to love those around me. And my family and I are fully deserving of the lighter, more contented version of me. For this reason alone, creativity is so very worth making time for.

If creativity is seen as a luxury, we’ll inevitably never have time for it. When I make creating a priority, everything in my life flows a little easier. I’m learning that creativity is not a luxury, it’s essential for my well-being. 

“Mothers are the members of society who need to be given the most permission to be able to do the things that ignite their own souls because there’s some deep, deep sense in the world that once you are a mother, your life belongs exclusively, entirely and only to your children.” – Elizabeth Gilbert 

Suzie’s book “The Rallying Cry” is now available on Amazon:

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