It has been a whirlwind of activity in my life the past couple of weeks. For a while, I felt a bit like a whirling dervish that had been drinking a little too much wine – I just kept losing my balance as I spun around and around.

But thanks to a long weekend with my family and Dave, I finally feel a bit more like myself. I should even catch up with my grading today.

In the midst of all this craziness and the lack of writing that is produced, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of my favorite topics of ponderance (is “ponderance” a word? If not, it should be.) – what artists need to create their work. I think about this idea in terms of time quite often, but it also applies to physical spaces. This has become more and more evident as Kathy and I settle into our new, and for me, smaller space here in Baltimore City. My room looks like a bed in a storage unit – boxes are piled high all around it, and there’s this pile of curtains that I just keep moving from stack to stack. I am finding that this kind of physical clutter makes for mental clutter, too.

As I was reading The Time Traveler’s Wife the other day, I came across this passage:

I am having a hard time, in my tiny back bedroom studio, in the beginning of my married life. The space that I can call mine, that isn’t full of Henry, is so small that my ideas have become small. I am like a caterpillar in a cocoon of paper; all around me are sketches for sculptures, small drawings that seem like moths fluttering against the windows, beating their wings to escape from this tiny space. I make maquettes, tiny sculptures that are rehearsals for huge sculptures. Every day the ideas come more reluctantly, as though they know I will starve them and stunt their growth. As night I dream about color, about submerging my arms into vats of paper fiber. I dream about miniature gardens I can’t set foot in because I am a giantess.

Often, I feel like every minute I have to breath is caught up in action. I don’t have time – I think – to sit and breath and think and daydream. Then, when I add boxes of stuff to that, well, I feel like I am suffocating.

But I am learning to carve out space in time and place for me. These few minutes in the morning, where I sit and blog while my steel cut oatmeal cooks, these are my minutes of pure oxygen. I treasure them and hope they produce more.

And I carve more time in the future for myself. I am not working on Fridays in the Spring, and I am not working evenings. These changes will make finances tighter, but I know that the expansion of my lungs will make frugality seem a blessing.

Smithsonian Photograph of Chandra