Lately, I’ve been thinking about the many ways my parents acted as positive role models for me and my siblings. When my dad built our home on 700 acres of land, he included a lounge room for himself and a room for my mother. This was in addition to their bedroom.
I’m one of eight children, and although we didn’t all live at home together at the same time, there were generally about five of us at home at any given point. We shared bedrooms.
My dad’s lounge was huge, and could have easily been converted into three children’s bedrooms. I still remember the orange carpet! That aside, the views out across the fields and eucalyptus-covered mountains were nourishing. The room had a glass sliding door which opened out onto the courtyard: a wonderful oasis of freesias, bananas and pawpaws (papaya). In this room, my dad wrote letters, dreamed big dreams, and played his accordion. This was his sanctuary. When he wasn’t away overseas working, he made use of this room every day.
Eventually we got a piano which was kept in this room and I was allowed in there to play, but that was all!
My father’s room, his writing bureau, his accordion, and his artefacts from excursions to Papua and New Guinea (for work), were all off-limits to us children.
My mother did the vast majority of her creative work in full sight of the family, whether it was sewing beautiful dresses, building wooden castles, growing a paradisiacal garden or creating wonderful meals. Her room was a sacred space in which she studied astrology and Eastern religions. This space was strictly taboo. Yes, of course I looked inside! Curiosity is my middle name, after all.
Most people can’t afford the luxury of having a private room for themselves as well as a bedroom. We can, however, carve out little niches around the home which are strictly for us: little altars, or a space to do our creative play.
Maybe your space is in the garden or in a garden shed. Perhaps there is space under the stairs that you can claim for your own? (I used to have our space under the stairs for storing our Suma ( bulk wholefoods) order. I’m so proud of my husband for owning that space and making it into a professional recording studio. It’s not often that he puts himself first.
What I learnt from my parents is that, no matter what, you have to honour your passions and the creative fountain of life which streams from within you regardless of your responsibilities and the number of children under your feet.
I may share my writing space with my husband and teenage daughter, but I also know that if I get up early enough (easier to do in Winter) I can have a few precious hours to myself in which to let the fire of creativity burn. In those stolen tranches of time, I exist in a room of my own. I am free to play, to create, to dream, to explore.
Where do you do your creative work? Do you have a designated space? I’d love to hear!