One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know that I used my voice so that they could have a future.
Autumn Peltier, Chief Water Commissioner Anishinabek Nation
A History of Creating Time (for men)
It’s powerful to think about being someone’s ancestor, right? We are resourcing them by the actions we take today. We are also descendants and have our ancestors to thank for the resources available to us, while also continuing to push for better for the descendants that will follow us.
Resourcing ourselves is vital to creating a positive impact on the world around us. In previous posts I’ve offered you resources for claiming and creating space. Today I’m urging you to claim time to create your work in the world. It can sound overwhelming but like everything else we’re breaking this down into small, right-size, steps.
It would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Historically, women have not been allowed time of their own. They were expected to tend to a vast majority, if not all of the household labor in order to create more time and space for the men in their lives to work, play, create, and make history. It’s impossible not to wonder what life changing works of art could have been created by women, had women not been so consumed with creating time and space for men.
We know there would be no Sigmund Freud without his wife Martha Bernays who doted on Sigmund’s every need and listened to his bullshit all day. There would be no Henry David Thoreau without his mom Cynthia Dunbar who cooked him meals, infamously did his laundry, and supported him while he “roughed it” out on Walden Pond. There would be no great orchestral works from Gustav Mahler if not for his equally talented wife Alma whom he forbade to compose and required her to keep the house silent so he could focus.
Women Who Took Back Time
Meanwhile the women in history we do have wonderful works of art from created those out of slivers of time where children napped, and scraps of time leftover. Someone I call on often is Toni Morrison who wrote her first novel The Bluest Eye as well as Beloved over years of waking before dawn to write as a single mother. I find inspiration in Maya Angelou who found an interesting way to take back time. Ms Angelou would create time and space by checking herself into a plain, cheap, barren hotel room in order to give herself a space to think, read, and write.
In more recent history we have Patti Scialfa who spoke of the struggles to write songs for her solo album because her children interrupted her at a pace they never would have with their dad, Bruce Springsteen. It may have taken these women far longer than it should have to create these works, but they persisted.
What if these women had given into the difficulties and demands of motherhood, marriage, and the necessity of making a living to support their family? What if they had convinced themselves it just wasn’t worth it? Whether you have the next great novel, album, or world-changing business idea within you does not matter. What is within you is just as valuable and needed in this world as what sat aching in the hearts of these women.
Time is an invaluable and absolute necessity for you to own in order to actualize your aspirations. You need to take back time! We’ve already missed out on so many amazing works from women unable to claim time for themselves and do their work in the world. We will not miss out on your light too! And you’ve got to carve out the time to do. As another inspiring woman artist said:
There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.
Mary Oliver in The Artist’s Task
Modern Challenges to Take Back Time
We have different challenges in claiming our time these days than our ancestors of the past. Even today with far more women in the paid labor force, we are doing at least twice as much of the household chores as men. Women get less leisure time and all of this causes a chronic sense of time pressure which takes its toll on our health and wellbeing. A 2007 study found that on average a mother’s uninterrupted leisure time lasted no more than 10 minutes.
Even within the workforce women’s time is being chopped up and interrupted. Women are far more likely to have their work interrupted for special favor requests and to provide service work to other employees. They are also expected to offer their teaching, training, and mentoring with little to no compensation. Meanwhile the men in the office are afforded long stretches of uninterrupted time to work, create, publish, submit projects, advance their careers, and earn more money.
It is past time to take back our time.
Studies have also shown that women feel undeserving of leisure time. They think that they should be allowed this time once they’ve earned it through task completion. But that never, ever, ever, ever ends. It will never ever end. This has stopped women from creating for centuries and we are done letting daily chores kill lifetime dreams!
A Resource to Help You Take Back Time
I’m offering my Ideal Week Planner for you to take back time for what matters most to you. I’ll admit I was very resistant to the idea of scheduling my days down to the hour. It went against my identity of a free-flowing, artist type. But the reality is I wasn’t an artist at all because I never
found made time for my art. You have to decide where your time will go or the rest of the world will decide that for you.
Claiming time is a process, so start now! Decide what an ideal week looks like for you, keeping in mind our “ideals” are not the same as our everyday experiences. Sketch out what you want this week to look like, then try it out. Live your week as close to planned as possible, editing along the way. You’ll start to discover rhythms and patterns, and you can always rearrange things. That’s all ok. But it only happens if you start this very moment. So what are you waiting for? Your time is now!
We are here to support you as you take back time, own your power, and rise up! You can find loads of other helpful videos, downloads, and best of all an alliance of women to support you in all of it, inside our Women Rising Community .