‘Holidays’ in 2020


It used to be that we declared we were ‘on holiday’ upon setting that out of office. And then, often, we might have jumped on a plane to make sure we took ourselves seriously: WE ARE NO LONGER WORKING!!!

In 2020, that out of office has been much more challenging to delineate. Home has become not only home, but also workplace, holiday, spa, gym, school, leisure, and also, restaurant/cafe! The lines have been blurred. So, it is up to us to define when/if a holiday has commenced.

A week before Christmas, precipitated due to family circumstances (my husband needed to go away for a few days) I made the decision to ‘sign off work’ and give myself a ‘holiday’. I use air marks deliberately, because life with two small dictato- I mean children – is nothing akin to holidays of yesteryear!

However, not working has turned out to be an uncomfortable exercise. By the end of my five year old’s Christmas Term, echoing July’s end of Summer Term, I had really found my creative rhythm again, developing many practices that had become woven into the fabric of my day. By halting them suddenly, to ‘give myself a break’, I lost momentum. Without those practices, I started to question who I am. The thread of my identity seems to unravel terrifyingly fast (I’m certain there’s some complex lesson of ego and self Steven Pressfield could educate me on if he were here).

I don’t know who I am unless I’m working.

Whilst in these times I realise this is an extremely privileged problem to have (actually, perhaps any time!), it is challenging to sit down and paint with young children around. I need a good 2-4 hours to really get into it. The boys – gorgeous little distractions though they are – constantly fiddle, and this is not conducive to painty flow.

However, I’ve discovered (unsurprisingly) that stepping away from all forms of creativity entirely is not an option and also not the same as not working. And so, I’ve made tiny pockets of time for poetry, simple sketches, longer form writing (eg. this) and also knitting (!), possible only in those rare moments where the boys are, for example, watching a film and concentrating for brief stints.

But I’m now at the end of two weeks of this creative ‘snacking’, and it’s becoming clear that the time has come for a more satisfying meal: I now need to return to work (painting) again. Resistance is bubbling!

Tomorrow: I will paint.

See you on the other side of the page, folks, I’ll report in!

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