Filling the Pitcher

A long time ago — or at least it seems like a long time ago — when my boys were babies, I belonged to a group called Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS for short. It was a sort of support group for mothers of babies and small children, most of whom were stay-at-home moms, although that wasn’t required. We would get together every other Thursday at the church that sponsored our group, have coffee and a snack, listen to a speaker, and do a craft while our little ones were in the nursery screaming their little heads off  while some poor, patient, caring person took care of them (or at least my children would scream). I don’t remember most of the topics covered by the various speakers we had, mostly because my soul purpose for being there was to be able to sit and drink and entire cup of coffee before it went cold. But one of the talks I remember clearly  was a woman who set a full pitcher of water out on the table along with four water glasses. The pitcher represented a mom and the glasses represented her family. Each time the mom answered to one of her family members’ needs, a little bit of water was poured out of the pitcher into one of the glasses. Baby up all night with a fever? Pour some out of the pitcher. Two-year-old woke up in a puddle of barf and got into bed with you? Pour some more out of the pitcher. Sat for two hours on the bathroom floor reading “Three Little Monkeys” to your toddler while trying to potty-train? Pour some more out of the pitcher. The kids had a baby powder fight in the living room and smeared Desitin all over the walls? Keep pouring. You finally got them both to sleep and drag yourself to bed, and there’s your husband waiting for you with that little grin on his face? Yep, pour out that last drop you were saving for yourself. And what do you know? Empty pitcher.

So, of course, the point of the whole talk was that you’ve got to take time out for yourself in order to “fill the pitcher” in order to be able to fulfill your families needs.

Yeah, right.

Probably one of the biggest reasons I remember that talk (other than the obvious fact that it struck a chord) was that I won the door prize that day (there was a door prize every meeting related to the topic). It was the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Some of you have probably heard of it — it was a pretty popular book back then (1997ish?). I think Oprah featured it or something. It has a year’s worth of daily entries you’re meant to read each day to reflect on life’s simple joys and blessings. When I got it, I managed to read the first few entries and that was about it. The problem was that I got it in the middle of the year and it starts with January 1st, and even though I suppose you could start any time of the year, I’d skip a few days, forget where I was and it just felt like one more thing I had to do. In other words, at the time, it wasn’t doing much good in helping me to “fill the pitcher”. So, I put it away, figuring that “someday” I’d start it at the beginning of the year as intended. But of course, I eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward to this beginning of this year when my older son asked me if I had a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird” because he had to read it for his English class. Well, of course I had it. Somewhere, anyway. I dug through some books under my bed, and along with the book my son needed, I found the “Simple Abundance” book and thought about that talk from all those years ago. I knew I was supposed to fill my pitcher, I really meant to fill my pitcher, it was on my list of things to do, really it was. Honest. But truth be told, I never did. And now my pitcher was not only dry, I didn’t even know where the pitcher was. I must have left somewhere on my way to a parent-teacher conference, or maybe it was at some business network meeting, or perhaps I lost it at the dentist office when Jake was getting a tooth pulled. At any rate, it was long gone and I was feeling bone dry. And here it was, only January 4th, so I only had to read four entries to get caught up. So I took it as a sign from the Universe that I really did have to focus a little bit on myself and my spirit, even though it felt just a little bit (okay A LOT) selfish. And you know what? It’s really good. Exactly what I needed right about now.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I haven’t been writing a whole lot, because as I said, the pitcher was dry. So I’ve needed this last couple of months to sort of step back and regroup and take a long, cleansing breath. I’ve got another full set of revisions to do on my novel and another story waiting impatiently off stage. I’m feeling ready now, so my tentative goal is to tackle two chapters of revisions a week. There are fifteen chapters, so if I have my math right (and I’m horrible at math) that should put me somewheres around April with a completed novel, ready for beta-readers and querying and all that goodness. And stay tuned for this new story because it’s a little different, a little OUT THERE and a little scandalish. To be honest, I’m not quite sure if it’s going to shape into a novel or not, but we’ll see.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Davina
    Feb 15, 2010 @ 08:45:33

    You hear the phrase ‘refilling the creative well’ fairly regularly around and about online, but I like the added explanation in the pitchers metaphor. I hope the refilling continues to be successful and that revisions stay on track!

  2. coffeegirl88
    Feb 15, 2010 @ 14:47:17

    This is why I generally take the weekends off from writing and do my crafting. It helps refil the well for me. Okay I say generally because I’ll craft even when I’m not writing . . . like recently. 😉

    Glad to see you’re getting back on track and look forward to reading the next version of your manuscript.

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