Creative Hotspots

by flowers on August 26, 2011 · 10 comments

Did you catch my post up at Steady Mom about important life/work/family boundaries?


Everyone has a hotspot.

(And no I’m not talking about my new iphone that is an actual wifi hotspot and allows me to take my laptop to my creative hotspot. Different hotspot.)

The hotspot I’m referring to is that certain mix of place, life circumstance and state-of-mind that opens space for your best ideas, brilliant revelations and unbounded clarity.

It’s your hotspot.

Now, my hotspot is a funny thing.

Warning: Lame Motherhood Confession

My creative hotspot is at the laundromat. (Shockingly, boring and lame, right? I know, but read on–I swear the creative sparks just fly.)

It all started almost four years ago when we were moved to Ithaca. We were in process of buying our first home and although there were many things that were perfect about the sweet downtown duplex, there was no washer and dryer.

“It’s the deal breaker” I told Stone. I agreed to the purchase the house ONLY if we immediately installed the hook-ups and a washer/dryer.

The agreement was made and soon after we moved in I made an appointment with the plumber and he came knocking on our door. He was not in our tiny home for more than fifteen minutes before he declared that the place would never see a washer/dryer. The pipes are old, too small and there’s no space to put a utility sink (which is how other people cope with the similar issue deal). He said we would need to do major renovations in order to see a washer and dryer.

I sulked. I complained. I couldn’t begin to imagine permanently using the laundromat with a newborn and a cloth diaper stash. (This is why we ended up going diaper-free for Koala, but that’s a story for another post). I was not a happy wife.

And thus began my first of many schleps to the laundromat.

At first the whole family would come along in attempt to try and make it fun, but I soon realized I preferred to go it alone.

In fact, I found having a bona fide reason for leaving the house SANS children for a few hours of relative solitude was a welcome relief. The fluorescent lights and toxic smell of powdered Tide could not dampen the exquisite delicacy of alone time.

I started packing a bag–some snacks, a kombucha, knitting needles, my notebook–and I found myself looking forward to my trips to the laundromat. As far as I was concerned, it was as close as an afternoon at the spa as I was going to get.

A small disclaimer: I’ve never minded doing laundry. I love sorting and folding my family’s clothes–it’s rhythmic and meditative. I feel nostalgic and reflect on how big (or little) they are; how a shirt Sol once wore is now adorns his younger brother; how hard Stone works for the family. (So hard he gets his own washing machine because we don’t need all that dirt in our clothes!)

It’s a healthy time of reflection. My hands are busy, my heart opens, my mind has some solitude and…..




I get the best ideas ever!

I find solutions to my problems and I (almost) always come home with more clarity than when I left. It’s been almost four years and still, there isn’t a trip to the laundromat that does not garner at least one, creative rock-your-socks off idea. I come home refreshed and exhilarated.

I know this is odd–to find an afternoon at the laundromat endearing, but when I add it all up it makes sense: my hands are busy, my heart is open and I have mental space. It’s a winning combination. It’s my creative hotspot.

Someday I’ll have a washer and dryer, but who knows, if anyone’s looking for me you might want to check the neighborhood laundromat. Or actually, feel perfectly free to just leave me alone ;-)

What about you? Where do you find yourself teeming with creativity? What’s your magic combination of space, movement and mental clarity?


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly August 26, 2011 at 8:19 am

LOVE IT!! I say never get a washer and dryer! There is something so blissful about HAVING to take Mama time!


Kate August 26, 2011 at 9:01 am

Oh, Hill, I loved reading this! My hot-spot recently (before newborn) were my solitary runs in the woods. I kept it up until 38 weeks pregnant and ALWAYS found clarity. There’s something about being in Nature that makes it easier to hear my higher self. When there’s no time for runs I often hear the good stuff in the shower. ;)


flowers August 26, 2011 at 10:00 am

The shower! That’s a good one! I’ve been thinking about you mama and that sweet new baby. xoxoxo


mb August 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

hahaha. i love it. i’m gonna go with the garden, but the bathtub would be a close second. :) i did see your post at steady mom- yet another rocking post. you know, i couldn’t remember if i had commented on it, but just clicked over to check, and i don’t see the comments section there at all- could it have been turned off? i see no way of accessing it. i would definitely like to see what other folks had to say on that one…


Alison @ Bluebirdmama August 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I love this post.

When I was 1, my parents took on custody of my cousins for a year. It was the 1970′s. Dad worked and didn’t help a lot at home. Mom had her hands full with a 7 year old, two 5 year olds, a 2 year old and 1 year old. My sister asked her once how she ever got time to herself. My mom’s answer?

“I got 2 hours every week to go do 7 loads of laundry at the laundry mat!”

I have always laughed at that answer…but I’ll think differently of it now. Thanks Hilary.

I’m glad you’ve got such a great hotspot and that you’ve found something golden even in not having a washer/dryer at home.


flowers August 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Love it!


renee @ FIMBY August 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

When I’m cooking or hiking.


flowers August 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I’m too busy swearing at my mini-kitchen sink to let the creative powers flow when cooking ;-)


Zanna August 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I remember some gleeful posts from you at the laundromat! Glad to hear you are still enjoying it.

Mine is walking the dog. We’ve only had the dog since March, but I used to get inspiration while walking outside before that, too. But the dog is a reason to get out and walking every single day, and it’s wonderful! I think I need a pocket voice recorder so i can note the ideas.


flowers August 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Z, I swear that when I was writing this (I was at the laundromat ;-) I was thinking about you because I know, you know, my laundromat moments. So glad you said hi.

This post has been in my head for the past three years, every single time I’m there.

And I love hearing that you got a dog. I can totally see that being a creative hotspot. It took me awhile to realize I had to pack accordingly. There were definitely frustrating good idea moments that had no pen or paper.


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