A visitor read my essay on being a hero. But, she asked, between babies and butterflies, cleaning and cooking, finding time for her partner and every else in life, how the heck do you find time to paint??

For Crystal: I feel your pain, and I remember those days. It ain’t easy, and I never said it was.

You are absolutely right. Those days when our children are young are so fleeting. It seemed endless at the time, but when I look back, I am amazed those tiny children are now young adults. As someone said, “The days are long, the years are swift.”

I chose to help them find butterflies, too! In fact, I did, over and over again. Time spent with your children is never wasted time. Even today, I hardly ever miss a chance to hang with my daughter, or spend some time with my son. When my husband says, “Do you wanna go for a walk?”, I rarely say no.

I get pretty lax about my work time in the studio, too. A friend in need, a bouncy dog on a beautiful sunshine-filled day, the giant dust bunnies under the table (oh, heck, I’ll be honest, all over the house) and there sits my latest project, taking a back seat to “something more important”.

But not for long.

It’s not about how much time you can spend in your studio. It’s about spending SOME time there. If all you can carve out is an hour every other week, then that time should be sacred.

It’s not about waiting til you have MORE time. That never comes. We all have our stuff. If it’s not our kids, then it’s a full-time job, or a more-than-full-time job, one that sucks up our evening and weekend hours, too. Or its other family issues–aging parents, a loved one with cancer. A flooded basement, a surprise visit from the in-laws, a party to prepare for. To quote Gilda Radner it’s always something. It’s recognizing the teensiest bit of time you can give yourself is precious.

It’s not about giving your all to one or the other. It’s about giving something to both. A wise woman once told me, “A woman CAN have it all. Just not always at the same time.”

And there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution. Even when you find something that works, it can change in an instant.

I was very fortunate. I had a husband who fully supported my desire and worked with me to make it happen. A partner who recognizes your right to have space, and time for yourself, is a true lifelong partner. (You’d do the same for him/her, right?)

The first thing I needed was a place, a space, no matter how small, for my own. For MY projects, for MY supplies. Where I could shut the door when I left it, and know everything would be ready to go whenever I returned. No matter when that was.

We talked about how we could make that happen. The solutions changed with each child’s milestones, with our income, with our growing awareness that both of us needed this.

I used attic space behind a bedroom for a studio, working an hour or two the two or three mornings a week my daughter was in preschool. That handful of hours felt like a bit of heaven.

When my son was born, eventually he needed that room. I rented a small studio outside our home. (It was a very cheap studio!)

As they grew older and spent more time in school, or with their friends, or on their own activities, that was my chance to work more regularly.

Finally, we moved to a larger house, and the old attached barn became my studio.

Having a circle of supportive friends, who truly see you as an artist, and who remind you of that when you can’t remember, can be a life-saver. They hold your vision for you until you can carve out a little time for yourself. You’d do that for them….right?

My point was, if you would make that effort for your child, for your partner, for your friend…why wouldn’t you do it for yourself? Just a little.

And even when things get too crazy, don’t just don’t drop your dream and walk away from it forever. The hole in your heart, and your spirit, will remind you of your loss every single day.

That is not a good message to send to your kids.

Try to find a way to keep even a little of that dream visible in your life.

And never give up trying to find your own way to make that happen.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

8 thoughts on “WE CAN ALWAYS USE ANOTHER HERO Part Deux”

  1. I so agree! I am blessed with a family that sees my desire to create as essential to who I am. I have kids who enjoy creating with me. I have a space in my new house that will one day be the perfect studio, but for now it is functional and that is all that matters. I do take the time to be in it, but it is usually the 9p to midnight time. That leaves little time for sleep, something I am not happy about, but I have found that the creating is so important to me, I am willing to sacrifice (and if I didn’t do it, then I wake myself up in the middle of the night restless with anticipation). I do need to have daylight hours to create. That is my #1 goal right now. And it is coming. I can feel it. Thank you for sharing your soul and your experiences. You are a beacon to me. Shine on. Enjoy the day!


    1. Boy! Can I ever identify with this post! I’ve spent all of about sixteen hours in the last year working on my art. Aging parents have completely enveloped my life; as we call it ‘mom land’, where it’s all mom, all the time. I know it won’t last forever, so we are enjoying what time we have left with her and I try not to be resentful of the time lost in the studio.
      You are so right about choosing friends/peers that believe in your art, even when you’ve about given up. A couple of my friends continue to ask what new ideas I’ve come up with, even though they have not come to fruition. It’s good to have such friends.



      1. I love your phrase “mom land” and it’s a great metaphor. You are on an extended visit, but you will come back. It IS precious time, and a gift to your mom.

        You’ve reminded me of something, I’ll blog that quickly today. Thanks for the idea! :^)


  2. I’m a full-time professional artist in Honolulu now, but for most of my life I was biding my time and honing my focus in Wisconsin.
    I used to get up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning just to fit in 30-60 min of painting or sculpting before going to work. I’m a “morning person” and knew if I waited until the end of the day I wouldn’t have any energy left.
    You will be a better person — a better mom, or dad, or co-worker, if you take the time you need to fuel your dreams. Then, when the time is right, the universe will give you a nudge, and you’ll be ready to fly; your wings will already have formed when you weren’t looking.


  3. I just stumbled upon your blog and found your essay quite interesting.

    I have been an artist for over 40 years. When my kids were small, I stayed home during the day to paint and worked at night as a waitress since we needed my income. During those years I was very prolific. I created thousands of paintings. Some sold, some didn’t. But I was always painting every day. I always thought when I got older I would have so much more time!

    Now that I am older and my kids are grown I find I have less time to create. Between full time work as a graphic designer (we still need the money), a grandson who needs me as much as I need him, aging parents, a husband who needs attention etc.

    I went down to 4 days a week and try to get into my studio on that day off. But it is much harder than I thought it would be. There is always something competing with my attention on that day. Doctors appointments, babysitting, parents, etc.

    My advice to young mothers is do it now while you think you don’t have time! Later may not be what you think….


    1. Amen to that, Roberta! The cruel joke in “waiting til we have more time” is just that–a cruel joke. Life is what happens when you’re postponing all your plans!


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