Tag Archives: creativity

The Multitasking Poop Post (Contains Expletives)…

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I just had the poop sucked back into me. I’ve been having trouble with my bowels and have also been sick for a few days. I was looking forward to a satisfying poop. And I’m sitting there on the potty and my two-and-a-half-year-old is climbing into the tub and my five year old girl is in the room getting naked on top of my feet and my seven year old has a book open in the doorway trying to get me to commit to the type of tree that is growing in his pot (breaking news: it’s a weed, not the peach pit or the plum pit or the apple seed you planted in the backyard. “But MOM, I’m pretty sure it’s a peach tree.” “It’s not a peach tree. I’ve seen lots of peach trees. We used to have four peach trees. They have long thin leaves that can be slightly fuzzy.” “This one HAS fuzzy leaves, Mom!”) And I had to tell my daughter to please go take her collection of clothes off of my feet and into the room where they go and her brother beaned her for fun on her way through the door and she yells at him and the oldest is shoving the book in my face and the water is roaring into the bathtub next to me and my long slow comfortable poop climbed back inside my rectum and said, “Well, then, I think we’ll just stay in here.” Yes. Yes, Poop. I would, too. I would go hide in that quiet dark place, too, if I could.

I’m writing this post about multitasking. I began about two hours ago and have had to stop for innumerable reasons: unloading the dishwasher so I can load the dishwasher, washing the banana off the kid-scissors. finding the banana from this morning in the colored pencils, cleaning poop out of the bathtub, assuring my eldest that I have cleaned the baby’s poop out of the bathtub, singing Aladdin Jr. songs to the baby for twenty minutes in hopes he squeezes the rest of the poop into the potty, wading through two giant north american classification tomes trying to prove this damn weed, picking up all the baby wipes that were thrown at sister, crying for a minute with sister (she had her reasons I had mine). I mean…

I hate the way my brain is on Facebook. I tell my kids that you are good at what you practice and I practice the Facebook bounce, boy, do I. Political essay, kitten video, necessary social justice article, pictures of Kate and William and the babies, the latest Jimmy Fallon video, don’t vote for so-and-so article, photo of a sunset, vaccinate your kids, totally meaningless sentimental meme, blah, blah, blah… an hour later, AN HOUR LATER!?!?

They used to say multitasking was a good thing. Those were supposed to be the capable talented people. But now we’re learning that human beings aren’t supposed to multitask. Human beings are supposed to concentrate on one damn thing at a time, like pooping. We’re supposed to sit on the toilet and poop in one giant unified movement of bowels and brain. I have never been a multitasker, most creative people aren’t. Multitasking is very very bad for creative people. You need to sit with a thought or an idea. You need to let ideas tumble on top of each other organically. It get’s crazy busy up there.

Only now I’m a mom so now when my brain begins a blog post, for example, and I’m thinking about what I want to write I have to stop because some weed grew exactly where my son remembers planting a pit or a seed last fall and it is now in a pot on my kitchen window sill.

Motherhood makes you a multitasker by necessity. And now that I have three and they are each older with unique trains of thought on different rails (and this includes the little guy now, too. He’s verbose dammit.) my train keep jumping tracks a zillion times and, well, my life is a giant Facebook bounce all fucking day long and that’s why a stupid hour can go by without me realizing I’ve only been scrolling Facebook because this is what I practice!

So, I’ve been having trouble with my bowels, like I’ve said. Last week I actually went to the doctor. And then within two minutes of telling her my symptoms she pops out with, “Well, we’ll do the medical tests just to make sure we can rule things out, but did you know they call the intestines the second brain?” No. Who? Who is calling the intestines the second brain? I’ve watched every single season of ER, House, and Grey’s Anatomy and no one has ever referred to the intestines as the second brain. At any rate, she then says, “You’re stressed.”

“I’m stressed?”

“What do you do to relax?”

“Well, I’m a creative type, so it really depends. If I have hours or a day, even, I—“

(I just had to go take a break to change a poopy diaper because I put the baby in a diaper at bedtime. He was so coy.)

As I was saying, “I’m a creative type so if I have hours or days I might try to write or paint but if I have less than that it can actually be more frustrating than ever starting in the first place.”

“So, what do you do if you have less than an hour?”

I kinda laugh, “Uh, well, the same thing as anybody, I guess, have a drink, eat some cookie dough and watch a show.”

That’s when she made me take the depression test. It was this basic ten question test that any mother would fail, I mean, am I tired? Do I overeat or not eat? (YES.) Do I ever feel guilty? (Uh…)

And she brought in a very nice therapist for me to talk to and THEN they heard more about my life and THEN they agreed that it was indeed stress. I felt horrible. How can I claim stress? I’m really happy with my job, my kids’ school. I get to do this awesome school play. My husband is actually very helpful. Everyone’s in good health. I don’t overcommit; I have no problem saying “no”. My kids have zero activities outside of school. What a luxury for this white American mom with a full fridge to have nervous bowels because of stress?!

But maybe, they said, stress doesn’t have to be big or hard or negative things, just lots of things. Well, I have lots of things. Yes, they said, you have lots of things.

And my wise boss lady, when I told her about it later said, “You’re thinking about the stressors you don’t have because you live in this culture, but don’t forget that this culture does come with a lot of stressors of its own. A person in Kenya has a sky full of stars and not a lot of options. You have a few stars and are inundated by a surplus of options every where you go.”

(And now, would you believe that the moment the kids go to bed I need to poop again. It was a nice comfortable poop. I lit a candle, for ambience!, and now I am typing by candlelight.)

A multitude of options has always been stressful to me. (Remind me to tell you the story of how I broke down weeping all over my stoic Japanese advisor during freshman registration. “There’s[heave]too many[heave]classes[heave]that I want[heave]to take.” It’s a good one.)

I love my job. I love my kids. I love a lot of things. I have a lot of interests. And the feeling like I need to be creating goes with me everywhere. I KNOW I am grateful. I guess I am stressed. And according to ten questions I am also “moderately depressed”. I also have a higher blood pressure than I usually have. And I am also the thinnest I’ve ever been which is slightly alarming considering all that cookie dough.

Anyway, reader, here I am, trying to figure it out. Trying to un-Facebook-bounce my very bouncy life. (Which is a little like being the one person of five who stops jumping on a trampoline, don’t you think?)

Train of Thought…

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I can’t be who everybody wants me to be. I’m skilled not brilliant. I’m passionate not a force. I have energy for now. I am creative but slowly. I’m disorganized. I can’t multitask. I’m not big BIG picture. I’m not fine detailed. I’m Barbara. I draw pretty pictures not daring ones. I love showing people the love of Christ. I want to live every moment. I hate not having enough energy. I hate letting moments slip by. I hate thinking about the hours of television that could’ve been a novel. I hate leaving art projects undone. Why can’t all the projects be finished instantly? I’m disgusted by the idea of leaving something undone when I die. But I find it improbable and most likely inauthentic to who I am to ever finish everything at the same time. I want to meet Jesus now. And I’m frenzied for living another day. I love my bed. I love to climb in. I hate to get out of it. I love being in my mind. I love being creative, letting my mind work. I love it when my thoughts keep me up till four solving problems, unable to rest when beautiful visions are being built. Yet I scroll down my phone clicking back and forth between email, facebook, twitter, and wordpress, just to make my mind be still so I can sleep. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what God wants me to offer. I find out in the second. This is it. This is what you have to give. I’m tired. I’m crying. I wish others could see life as I do sometimes. It’s a gift this, the view, the creation, never bored in my mind. What would I do without characters talking, images parading. Just images, just stories, nothing grand, nothing that will affect the tides of politics or social justice. They’re not even true. They’re fiction as true as I can make them. I love stories. Some crazy story this, me, here, now.

Since I’ve Been Gone…

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Well, for starters, I’ve been dutifully sending off my little picture book manuscripts. I took the next step and began another blog called barbaralyonwrites.com and joined a little social media outlet called twitter, you may have heard of it. (@blyonwrites) The twittering rules are rather vague and I don’t quite know how to do it yet. These will be more exclusively used for writing and for the purposes of building that elusive support known as “the platform”.

Don’t feel neglected, dear little solongsuburbia blog, I haven’t been writing much over there either.

The elementary school play finished. It was glorious. I was officially tapped to take over directing next year and the kids applauded me heartily which was very sweet. I miss them and when I drop off my son at school I always run into a few of the cast members who sidle up to me with large smiles on their faces. And the question on everyone’s lips is, “What play are we going to do next year?”

The week after that was Easter and I was in charge of telling the story to the kids. I tell the story and draw it with pictures. It’s something I love to do and I managed to mostly maintain their attention, a feat which is not unextraordinary considering it was about noon on Easter and all of them were hopped up on chocolate bunny ears.

And the week after that I was supposed to drive down to Clovis and visit a dear friend and enjoy her baby shower. But scary complications on Wednesday led to an emergency cesarean and a baby in the NICU. So, instead of a shower there was a rather shell-shocked Momma, a glowing Papa, and a real beautiful little three-pound baby who is doing quite well. I painted the nursery. It’s Dumbo themed.

And the next day after that was…

My first day of work!

So, you remember that dream job I didn’t get? Well, I kinda still got it. I don’t have the experience, but they needed someone, so they delegated some of the responsibility away and made me a position. And it’s perfect!

I’m a children’s ministry associate of sorts for our church! It has been a very exciting week. For one thing, there’s an office and I go in to it. Secondly, the desk is a larger space than any I have in my little apartment and it’s all mine! (Actually, I found out today that I stole it from someone else, but they all assured me it was totally ok. He’s just an intern.)

I was rather overwhelmed on Monday, but Thursday was awesome. I discovered a festival of sorts in support of families of kids with disabilities and I booked us a table! It felt so good to do something. It feels so good to do something!

And today I was pricing kids Bibles all day. And they’re not that expensive! Bibles for all the children! Talk about the perfect job for Barbara.

Also, this job has been the proverbial static comb to my stream of running creativity and given me a little slant. I’ve been writing kids’ prayers and lessons. I have this new burning desire to write a kids’ Bible … one with dark people … and Asians. I feel like a jerk after looking at Swedish Adams and Eves all week.

And I might start yet another blog with coloring pages, activities, and other parent resources. I’ll let you know. TOO MANY IDEAS!!!

So, that’s a Panic Attack…

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Oh my goodness, people.

I was in charge of blocking a scene today. One whole scene and musical number, one hour of rehearsal, all mine.

I was bold. I was confident. I went over it. I went over it again. The director called. I told her I had it.

And I totally and utterly bombed, failed, miserably, absolutely miserably.

I’m not sure what happened. For one thing, the stage was much smaller than the one in my mind. Everyone was terribly squished. And then after I blocked their song I realized – they’re just standing there.

It was the most uninteresting thing I’ve ever seen.

And my chest starts to tighten and they’re looking at me as they say their lines and their parents are all lined up against the back wall watching me.

And a voice in my head says, “Barbara, I think you’re supposed to be telling them something right now.”

But I can’t open my mouth.

And then the voice says, “Oh my gosh, you have no idea what you’re doing.”

And then the voice begins calculating, “You have volunteered to be the assistant director and you know they have no director next year. You have as good as doomed yourself to this sensation for the next ten years until baby graduates from fifth grade …”

The voice was very unhelpful. My mouth had gone dry and I wanted to cry. I’m pretty sure what I had was a panic attack.

The director was there. She stepped in. She was having trouble reading my expression. She kept saying, “I don’t mean to step on your toes here.”

I shook my head. It was all I could do. Holy hell!? Was that a panic attack.

The director was very kind. She appreciated my “framework” and filled in the details. She fixed it. And she gave me a pep talk.

It is now 7:30 and I am curled up in bed in my pajamas. I will be watching a French movie and falling asleep soon after. Nothing else is getting accomplished today, nothing.

And tomorrow I’m preparing the crap out of my script for Wednesday.

And here comes the unhelpful voice, “But you thought you were prepared today.”

Girding my Loins for Rejection…

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Well, I just sent off a query e-mail with picture book manuscript attached.

There you go, little bird. I have chopped you, trimmed you, cut off your wings and reattached them in different places.

I have sat on you, exposed you to critique, and shamed you publicly in front of my writing group.

Honestly, we’ve kept such company these past few months that I’m not sure I can look at you for a while.

So, go fly little picture book bird and find an agent.

If you don’t come back, well, I’ll patch you up again and try someone else.

… so much hope for 872 tiny little words to carry.