Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Refused to be a Domestic Goddess for Years Without Knowing It

I refused to be a Domestic Goddess unknowingly for years. I wanted - to be an actress, a mime, a painter, a writer - all of them!!!

fast forward. I met my husband-to-be. When we married, I dreamt of having it all - love, children, my artistic career. I rode on the rocky, but interesting coat-tails of my husband, a man trained as a composer. Did I forget to say a "struggling one"? There were many more forward again...

I never wanted to be a "Domestic Goddess" (really perfect at the housework), because I always had to work to earn money to pay the bills and found out real quick that I had two jobs, one outside of the home and the other - cooking, dishes, cleaning. My ex accepted some responsibility, but mostly believed it was "my job". So much for the woman's movement and equal rights. I was the main breadwinner as he stayed at home and took care of the kids. It became a major problem. I wanted to be with them. I wanted him to make money. My dream was not coming true, but I accepted to wait until he was successful. Many people around us called him a "genius". So the payback was the thought that I was married to a "genius".

I now know that I refused to hone my skills in housekeeping - this was my rebellion against the life I was living. In my head and heart I would not give up on my dream - I would not become obsessive/compulsive about the cleaning and have no time to draw or write or act.

Professionally - I didn't get my art out. I became a teacher and taught creative writing and did my own, drew posters, put on was not out of my system. I channeled into my work with my high school students.

Of course, we all have to survive financially. I was right to be practical. I had no benefactor. Yet, I know I never let go of my dreams. I know that the root of all my depressions were about not being able to let go of being an actress. Money was a stumbling block. I now know I need to pay a Domesic Goddess (cleaning lady). Gone is the guilt that I need to learn to clean better and keep the house better. I want, however, to connect to the power of the "Goddess Within".

I looked within the Jewish Tradition from which I come - meditation - to look for the feminine principle which I know exists in Shabbot (The Jewish Sabbath). On shabbot the feminine is welcomed. There is a song about the Sabbath - his Lecha Dodi a hymn by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz

Kabbalat Shabbat is a time of peace and reflection.

I recommend you view the websites of those who posted here:


Chris said...

Hi Nancy,

By all means, get in a cleaning person to do those chores that Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, is consigned to.

I clean my apartment every three months, last time was on July 4, and this time around I'll clean in late October to get ready for the holiday season.

I've not been commenting; however, I do read your blog. You can't go by the lack of comments as to whether someone's reading your blog, as most people don't comment.

I'll call you when I'm done with this comment to let you know how you could place a StatCounter on your blog to determine how many people read it each day, week, month and year.

You write so eleoquently and in such a gorgeous way about the artist's life, beauty and the triumph of elation over sorrow. I believe that when you retire from the school system, you should find work, in whatever capacity you choose, as an actor.


Wanderer62 said...

Nancy, yes hire a cleaning woman. You deserve it (just as you deserve that necklace you bought). I'm proud of you for going to work and taking care of your family despite your desires to be an actress. And now, with someone helping you out, you will be able to do more of that creative work you so cherish!


janis mars wunderlich said...

I am one of the artists whose lives are explored in the documentary film,

Who Does She Think She Is? As the film shows, I really believe in using creative means to release emotional stress.

I am a stay at home mother with an amazing family where we love and support each other. But standing hand in hand with that fulfilling family is constant busy-ness, overwhelming amounts of housework, daily fights, dramas and teenage attitude, messes that keep reinventing themselves over and over. The chaos is a visceral byproduct of a big household- seven strong characters living under one roof. I could easily consume all of my time with the details of this busywork, and indeed I really think having a moderately clean and comfortable environment helps to keep us sane.

But for me, there is something particularly valuable in finding time each day to work in a creative material.

Regardless of our individual challenges and circumstances, perhaps we can give ourselves permission to set aside even a few minutes to invest in our creative selves.

In my case, I use the events and emotions in my mind and heart to influence the sculptures I make in clay. I take what is inside and give it a healthy release in the form of a “unique” work of art. Whether it is worry over my teenager’s self image or my son’s refusal to eat healthy food… whatever is causing me stress… I try to give it form, like a 3 dimensional journal entry. Pushing, poking, and pulling the clay gives me an undeniable bridge to access the disturbances of my soul. And though they don’t always march off that bridge out of me, the whole creative process relieves the pressure, helps me to think clearly, and gives a voice or physical form to the troublings of my soul. My friends call that “self-medicating,” the fact that I grind, pinch and sculpt my angst away. And let’s be honest, our inner feelings can make for some fascinating and deeply moving art, whatever the medium.

Surprisingly, it can be accomplished with a relatively small amount of time (obviously, literally, “the more, the merrier”). My sculptures are really complex, and it often takes me a month to finish one, but the idea is that I’ve taken my few minutes each day and applied them towards something creative. My family can tell if I haven’t gotten my “time in the studio” because, as they like to tease, I get “dark and edgy.”

Here’s the bottom line. I refuse to have my identity tied up in domestic details. I am not defined by the crispness of my husband’s shirt or the tidyness of my living room. I am something else. So I simplify as much as possible, ask everyone in the family to do their part, give up any and all “screen time” and anything optional (don’t even ask if I’ve ever seen the episode where so and so… because I never see any episodes except my own personal daily dramas lived out in real time!)

I know we all have different life situations, varying amounts of support from our families (or none at all), varying amounts of energy… each of us is unique but I think we can all just try to “live on purpose” like my friend Angela talks about in the film.

Janis Mars Wunderlich