What Happened?

It’s Saturday morning. My husband is off on an errand, all the cats are playing outside, and so, for a few blissful moments I have the house to myself.  The televisions are off. The radios are off. The only sound I hear is the pleasant, soothing sound of the “waterfall fountain” our cats love. It’s here near my desk, and it is very relaxing.

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of making art again. I’m planning to do a few free online classes in the near future, and, of course, Sketchbook Revival 2023 will be coming up later in March. I’m interested. I’m also considering a “creative expression” experience — one that’s focused on art journaling, but which can be approached from other starting points, as well. I know that art journaling is not for me. I’ve tried it, explored it, loved it, hated it, and learned from it. I’m not going to go that way again. I am interested, though, in working with the ideas and prompts from the program.

Mostly, in recent weeks, I’ve been looking around my “studio” and wondering exactly what happened. A year ago was I coming here every day. I was drawing, painting, playing with pastels. I was learning and growing as an artist. I was connecting with ideas of “authenticity” — which led to an “honorable mention” ribbon from a regional art show. In looking back now, I’d say I was at a good point with my art. I was not only seeing improvement, but feeling it.  I was recognizing myself as an artist.

So, then, what happened? Why was it that only a few months later I walked away from art… and have yet to return? Now, of course, there is no single reason, and to think otherwise would be a mistake. It would also be unfair to my husband, for, you see, most of “what happened” to me and my art goes back to one simple fact. My husband retired.

I don’t want to “blame” him. That’s not the point here. I’m happy that he’s retired. Especially on cold, snowy mornings or foggy mornings or rainy days. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about him driving in to work and driving home again in the afternoons. The problem, I suppose, isn’t so much his retirement as it is my inability to adjust to it.

My entire life has been disrupted. I can’t keep up with him and the housework. My laundry schedule is a thing of the past. Our mealtimes are erratic, depending more on his hunger level than on my carefully-planned menus and cooking schedule.

And the noise! My husband and I are polar opposites here. I cherish peace and quiet. He needs a constant soundtrack. The television news goes on the moment he wakes up; it remains on all day. At night, the television is tuned to a “music” station — quieter, but not the true quiet I need. And that’s only the upstairs television. Yes, there’s another television downstairs — and downstairs is where my studio is. So while the television upstairs is on, my husband comes downstairs to sit by the fireplace and/or to work on his own projects, and on comes the television here. Along with the radio.

There’s another radio in our bedroom. He likes to turn it on, too. Plus there’s one in each of his garage workshops, and they are on, too. My husband, you see, likes turning things on but he never turns them off. I will sometimes resort to putting a television on “mute” — just so I can have a few moments of peace — but it annoys him if I turn anything off.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve discussed this all with him, and while he “understands” at some level, that understanding doesn’t translate into practical action. It’s simply not in his nature to turn things off, and having constant noise around him doesn’t faze him in the least.

It destroys me. I can’t think, can’t concentrate, can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life. I’ve compensated by turning away from most creative activities. I shut myself away in the bedroom, play mindless computer games, and I express what creativity I can summon through activities with my husband. I love sharing creative projects with him. We’ve done candle-making, worked on sewing projects, and, as I posted previously, we celebrated Chinese New Year with origami and lucky Chinese coins.

While I’m thrilled that my husband is sharing these projects with me, I also have to say that they’re challenging. Again, we’re polar opposites. I want to follow directions. He wants to do things his own way. Somehow we’re able to compromise enough to complete our projects, but as often as not I’m left without any real feeling of creative satisfaction.

So, all in all, what happened to my art was that I tried to work through the changes in our home. I tried to find ways to adapt to having a 24-hour-a-day-husband-at-home. And, quite simply, it overwhelmed me. I’ve spent the last 6 months once again trying to adapt, trying to find new ways to explore my creative interests while putting up with noise, constant conversation, and differing opinions. It was working for a while, but little by little, I’m feeling overwhelmed again.

Art should be fun. Being creative should always be rewarding and satisfying. Right now, it’s not. It’s frustrating, depressing, and exhausting.

I will talk to my husband again. I want to come back to art with more “art therapy” projects to deal with all the frustrations and find ways to work through the problems. And, again, I’m not blaming my husband. He is who he is, and I love him dearly. I’m not asking him to change who he is.

I’m just asking for a little more space, a little more peace and quiet, a little more time to be who I am. And I’m willing to do my part, to make slight adjustments to my routines, to be flexible when necessary. I’m overwhelmed all over again. I’m searching for answers, and looking for understanding. And right now, while my husband is off on his errands and the cats are outside, I’m going to lie down, close my eyes, and enjoy our quiet house.



  1. Ah. This makes perfect sense. Changes in schedule and sensory overload can be so disrupting! After I retired, it took me two years to adjust to the different schedule! (I just passed the two year anniversary.) It sounds like you have a great sense of what you need. I wonder if creating certain boundaries or zones can help both you and him have what you need. For example, down where your studio is is the quiet zone where you get to control the noise, and any noises from upstairs need to be soft enough not to penetrate the quiet zone. And maybe a specific time, such as the hours between breakfast and lunch is your time, to do whatever you want, even sitting quietly with eyes closed, and you’re not to be disturbed. Maybe expressing this in terms of neurological differences can help remind your husband that we don’t all process sensory stimulation the same way and some of us need solitude in order to process, create, and refresh. Letting him know that you’ll be better able to show up for him when you are able to get the quiet and alone time you need might help, too. All in all, it makes perfect sense! Schedule changes and environmental changes have a huge impact on our capacity to create! Now that you’ve identified this, your on a good track for the next adjustments so that your able to have the time and space you need!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Good reply, I was thinking the same thing. Why should you have to wear headphones when he is the one roaming around the house turning on this and turning on that. I think he just needs to respect your studio space, fireplace be damned. At least while you are in there being creative. Maybe you need a sign you can hang up on the TV that says not now please.?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Aargh! I am on my phone not the computer. I just typed a lengthy reply only to realize I was not logged in to WordPress here. The comment disappeared and I’m too exhausted at the moment to re-do it. Long and short of it…we had a good discussion today and are working toward solutions. Thanks for caring!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha! OK! I saw the first response–glad to know you’re working on it, and I hope I conveyed that I can really understand how challenging it can be to have schedules and soundscapes change on you! Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like one or both of y’all need some headphones. You could get noise-cancelling ones, or he could get cordless ones hooked up to his radio or TV so he can get his “background noise” without bothering you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have considered that idea. I like being at home, being in my jammies all day, and having our kitties close by. So, the awsy-from-home studio wouldn’t last very long. I’d be finding all kinds of excuses not to go there.


  3. Have you tried using a white noise machine? I have used it in my work office which shares a wall with a restaurant kitchen. It made a huge difference in my ability to concentrate and not be distracted. The volume can be adjusted and there are choices of white noise sound. I like the slow ocean waves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I do put on nature sounds. I love the sounds of the ocean or the sound of rain. When I need quiet, though, I need the blissful sound of silence. Even “white noise” is too much during those times.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep! And now mine doesn’t go anywhere… LOL. Is it any wonder I’m not creating as much art as I used to? We’ve discussed the situation — again — and I think he’s becoming much more aware of my needs and of how disruptive he can be. The situation is definitely improving.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, gosh, I sympathise but I have a rather noisy wife! Have you considered either you or him wearing headphones – for you to block out sound, for him to listen to whatever he wants without it getting in your head? If we were to listen via wifi or bluetooth or whatever, he could listen to whatever he wants wherever he wants. Just some thoughts from a well-meaning friend. I wish you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s tried the headphones… but sitting down and having a heart-to-heart talk has proved to be the most helpful thing for now. He’s being much more respectful of my need for time and space — and quiet. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are not alone in such marital contradictions, especially in retirement. But if you have a gift for art, I don’t think its helpful to sacrifice your talents. Lovely candles I saw by the way.


  6. Backing up to your comment of “art journaling is not for me”, do you mean the Journaling part of it? (me either, Im not a write my feelings out typer of person), so presuming that is what you mean, im here to tell you that not all of us interpret Art Journaling the same… in my classes, a Journal is a book and an Art Journal is just filled with Art, it’s a place of experimentation. A place no one else needs to see, to criticize your work… you give yourself permission to play. I give ideas and techniques each month (once a month) and we do a 2-page spread from it. And in Some of my classes, it’s all about MAKING the book… the cover, the pages, and different methods of attaching them… to become perhaps a travel journal, or aprayer journal, or a gift for someone dear to us… So perhaps don’t write off Art Journals just yet? I have a few videos on YouTube (Ruth Inman Art) that might change your mind. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Art Journaling isn’t for me because I’m a writer, not an artist. I can journal day and night ’til the cows come home. I express myself in words — not pictures. To me, any attempt at “art journaling” involves trying to find something to put on a page, which to me, is totally meaningless. It’s all arbitrary. I’ve seen pages with specific themes — but there’s nothing significant about it. I’m not trying to be disagreeable here LOL, but this is how my mind responds to the whole idea of “art journaling”. Do a page about today’s weather? Well, yeah, OK, but… why? Who really cares? Do a page filled with positive affirmations? Yeah, I can do that, but what’s the point? And on… and on… and on. My brain just doesn’t “think” in images, and since I’m not much of an artist, even if I try to convey something in images I’m always trying to find the easiest way to do it, so again, it loses any real meaning. My sketchbooks are places for me to play and experiment. I don’t need to find “meaning” or “purpose” there. Art journaling always sounds fun, but after trying it — many times — I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m not an “art journalist”. I do enjoy making little art books though — and just playing with them. I did one for Earth Day a couple years ago and just filled with with sketches from my nature walk. I guess that’s a form of “art journaling” — but to me it was just a nature sketchbook.


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