Leisure

One of the reasons this blog exists is a result of my desire for more leisure time. Perhaps it is just me, but I struggle to manage life in any kind of productive way if I am so busy that a week passes where I have not had any free time. It seems more and more that leisure is becoming somewhat of a luxury. In a society where work is the focus, and working so we can buy stuff is the norm, leisure has taken a back seat.

Leisure by definition is simply free or discretionary time.  Time without commitments, time to do as we please. Blissful time to relax, unwind, explore the things that interest us. Recreation is often what we do in our free time. These activities literally re-create us so we can feel renewed and regenerated in order to face the rest of our life.  Without leisure, and the opportunities for re-creation that it brings, life becomes a frantic blur, a pointless waste, an emptiness, a longing…..

It seems that we are often defined by our work. She is a doctor, he is an engineer. He is a builder, she is a secretary. She is a tax officer, he is a labourer. Really?  For some people their vocation is their passion.  It is who they are and the line between work and life is blurred.  For others, work is a job, a chore, something that takes them away from the rest of their life.  I am a teacher and work with many colleagues who are so passionate about learning and education that the line between their work and leisure time disappears. But what about the factory worker who hates their job? They come home and they cook beautiful meals, research recipes, create masterpieces for the dinner table.  Are they a factory worker, or are they a cook?  And then there is the cleaner who after work spends her time participating in environmental protection groups. She volunteers with local charities to raise awareness of local ecological issues. Is she a cleaner, or an activist?

Why can’t leisure be the thing that defines us?  Is it okay that so many people accept a life with limited or no leisure time? Does having a passion for uninterrupted, self-indulgent time make us lazy, or selfish?  I believe that without time for reflection, contemplation and engagement in things that make us feel alive, we are not really living at all.

Relax

Creativity

Making time for creativity is one of the key benefits of having a life less busy. Humans are creative by nature and for many of us, when we are living life without the opportunity to express ourselves in creative ways, we begin to feel as if we are not really living at all. Research has shown that there are a wide range of benefits to being creative such as reduced stress levels, increased brain functioning, improved mood, prevention of Alzheimer’s and positive self-image. There are also health studies that show participation in, and exposure to, creative activities has significant benefits for healing, especially in regard to depression and anxiety.

Veronica_Veronese_DAM

The image above is the painting Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It is believed to represent “the artistic soul in the act of creation.” Creativity doesn’t always have to be artistic though. Being creative is simply about doing things we enjoy and creating things based on our ideas and interests. Creativity is often best when it is not linked to expected outcomes, such as you may find in the workplace. Some examples of creative expression are things like drawing, cooking, writing, craft, playing a musical instrument, singing, interior decorating, gardening, calligraphy, bonsai, photography, painting, collage, origami, daydreaming, playing with Lego, drama, journalling….the list is endless.

Because I am such a visual person, I have created some virtual moodboards on Pinterest. For me this is a great way to get inspired by creating a sense of what it is I’m aiming for. I’ve set up boards such as ‘Slow Living’, ‘Home Sanctuary’ and ‘Creative Inspiration’ and collected images to get my creative juices flowing. Feel free to check them out or begin something similar yourself.

I also love photography and have found  Instagram to be a great way to quickly curate images that I take on my phone, either at home or while out and about. Blogging is another way of bringing many creative pursuits together.

“What is creative living?
Any life that is driven more
strongly by curiosity
than by fear.”

~ ~ ~
Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic