My curiosity, appetite for learning, and joy of questioning have brought a new level of challenge to work-life balance this week. Hitting a peak in the middle of school half term. My bundles of joy, fairly and enthusiastically demanding more hours of fun, stimulus, attention and care. This evening, I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed, having more than a handful of creative projects, commitments and ideas swirling around in my head.
I put my hands up and say I am fortunate to have family-based support who gift time in the week to bridge the gaps in my school-gate friendly and flexible, yet full-on broad portfolio of work and study commitments. Yet today, my information overload, over-stimulation, and over-thinking is tangible. In my head, there is whirring noise, akin to the PC over-heating, calling out to be defragged!
I typically create space for myself and expanding family, by throwing intense, block periods of energy at tasks, smashing them through, and rewarding them with free from anxiety deadline down-time. For years I’ve actively fought the science that regular breaks from mental tasks improves creativity and reduces stress and exhaustion, instead seeing breaks as inefficient and disrupting my rhythm.
Girl, give neuro-plasticity a chance!
Tonight I’ve gone foggy, heavy with the weight of indecision and a tad frustrated, my wellies deep in treacle. I know I can work through it, as I have done on many occasion, but tonight I’m acknowledging that my brain has stopped registering sight, sound or feeling; the stimulus too constant and high over a prolonged period of time. A flash of insight registers, delightfully introduced to me recently by Prof. Andy Penaluna, “avoid premature articulation“. Which, in this personal context means I will fast discount and discard my greatest ideas, if I keep going in this space. That, by not giving myself time out to rest, I’m actively stalling my brain’s capacity to reorganize itself, to build new roads, re-grow dendritic strands, form new connections. As Prof. Andy Penaluna pointed out to me, while I may think I am having my best ideas, not affording my brain good rest time means I’m instead robbing myself of even greater moments of creativity and innovation. The brain needs phases of stimulation and rest to may full use of creative potential.
“All profound things and emotion of things are proceeded and attended by silence.” Herman Melville, 1852
Holidays and weekends have been built into the system for centuries. Yet today, in an over-stimulated environment of continuous data flow and days without boundaries, we are even highly geared to heat seek learning and opportunity even in our downtime.
So I realise now, this minute, I have an opportunity here. To embrace the few days left before the kids return to school. To put my more in-depth blog post aside for a few days, and all the to-dos that really belong on next week’s list, tune in to my deepening existential philosophy, and switch the heck off for the rest of the week. Just be, with my beautiful, curious, three chicks. Maybe I’ll get space to embrace some silence too. Maybe I’ll return with more creative potential. Or maybe, just maybe, I can give myself permission, to just ‘be’ in the presence of noisy, wondrous, creative, unstructured, messy beings, and taste the joy of motherhood. No more, no less!
Be back soon.
Melville, H. (1852) Author and Poet, The Ambiguities 1852
Penaluna, A., Coates, J. and Penaluna, K. (2010) “Creativity-based assessment and neural understandings: A discussion and case study analysis”, Education & Training, 52(8), pp. 660-678.