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Monday, November 23, 2009

Got Boundaries?

Rahti Gorfien

I talk a lot about boundaries in my work as a coach. Great big boundaries; the image of huge schooner sails comes to mind…great big boundaries soaring high, twice as high as you think you need them, sheltering your work, your passions and your sanity. They include but are not limited to time (twice as much as you think you’ll need), solitude (not to be confused with isolation), space (literally. Physical sacred space, recognized as your own) and respect (of self, and by others).

Great Big Boundaries, (I hereby dub them GBBs) are particularly necessary for artists and freelance professional moms. How can you be successful without time, space and resources? We all know these things are necessities yet repeatedly, I encounter women who think they can produce their visions out of thin air, having acquiesced almost completely to the perceived needs of their loved ones. I say ‘perceived’, because very often clients don’t recognize at first, the capacity of their partners and children to cook, clean, self-moderate and generally reciprocate the kind of support the feminine aspect of a family generates all the time!

Boundary work is not for sissies. Not only must we clearly identify where the lines are lacking; we must draw them in the sand. While we often feel as mothers that we have no control over these matters, this is mostly a defense. If we can’t make time to paint, write, run or whatever, then our self-imposed burdens of excellence and perfectionism are lifted. So, first we need to overcome our own resistance to change, and then the fun really begins. We must find a way to finesse cooperation within our families. If your sense of well-being is all bollixed up with their emotional responses to you, then you’re in for a real challenge. Letting people pout, get mad, or wash the dishes badly (yes, delegating has its perils) may really rock your boat, but believe me, tolerating that brand of discomfort is ultimately rewarding. You write the vomit draft, you attack the canvas, you lose the weight, you experience agency over your destiny once again. And people move past their first reactions. Boundaries are a blessing to everyone. They signal to our loved ones where we begin and end, and in doing so, better acquaint them with their own perimeters and capacities.

This blog topic was suggested to me by my current Freelance/Artist Parents group. I have had the privilege of working with many such teams, and am constantly inspired by their ability individually (and as a group) to prevail in the face of what (at first) seem like impossible odds. I extend my unwavering respect to each of you.

Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in creative mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally as mothers and professionally as artists. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Join her Yahoo Group for additional tips and essays.