“Thinking about what my Unicorn space would be, also helped me think about what my values and identity are. And what I realized is that all three of those things are moving targets. It’s really not something that’s fixed,” said Eve Rodsky, NY Times Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur and Advocate.
Did you face an identity crisis post kids? Most of us do. Often, we realize that we still define ourselves by things we no longer have time for. And even though we know how good it feels to reconnect to our interests, it requires time and mental energy. There’s little of that to spare in the pandemic. But when stress is high and confidence is low, the need to restore emotional balance becomes critical for our wellbeing. And there are many paths to develop resilience. Including, feeling grounded. So, how can we reclaim some of that lost sense of self?
Welcome to Your Unicorn Space
Eve outlines why creative expression matters to our wellbeing in her new book, Find Your Unicorn Space, How to Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World. Unicorn Space isn’t where you hobby, dally or even care for yourself. It’s where you boldly create and share your gifts. When learning and growth intersect with fulfillment and joy. It’s up at the very top of the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs and is perhaps the most elusive form of honoring yourself. Because whatever that thing was that you loved to do or learn about, making time for it post-kids becomes as complex as planning the G8 summit. So, we push the ideas back. Or abandon them. But what if you begin to think about your Unicorn Space, like a nutrient?
Where You Decide to Be Interesting
Because without it, some important part of you, isn’t being nourished. Yes, parenting is magical and brings deep purpose. Yet, it quickly fills every space. In Eve’s first book, Fair Play, an operating guide for equal partnership in the home, she introduced the concept. Because if you’re partnered, when you share childcare and the household, then you can both enjoy opportunities to refuel. And, as she states in the book, “your permission to be interesting.” Unicorn Space is a thoughtful, deep dive into why restoring creative expression is vital to your wellbeing. Especially if you’re busy. And most importantly, she shares how.
Positive Emotions Combat Burnout
We’re at crisis levels of stress and burnout. Many people feel trapped in unsustainable patterns of living. But creative expression has proven to be restorative. In the book Eve shared, “I’m talking about an activity that you lose yourself in. That you crave to go back to when you’re away from it, that gives you pleasure outside of your work, family and other obligations. It’s something you do just for yourself.” She shared several studies about the mental and physical health benefits. One study from New Zealand indicated, “Engaging in creative expression contributes to an upward spiral of positive emotion, psychological well-being and feelings of flourishing in life.” Okay, we’re in. But where to start?
So, Begin with Your Mindset
Eve encourages us to ask, “What stories am I telling myself about my abilities?” The book showcases a wide range of people finding, embracing, and then honing, their creativity. In everything from making celebration cakes, to online improv and medical research. Most of the Unicorns she profiled found optimism or healed through self-expression. But many parents, overwhelmed by the relentless list of responsibilities, aren’t there yet.
Eve explained, “I could see in my research there were two types of people. People who said to me, ‘I don’t even know what a curiosity is anymore.’ Recently I was with a friend who said, ‘the only thing I’m curious about is scrolling Venmo to see my friends’ transactions.’ So, there’s a big set of people on that side. However, there was a bigger set, that I was surprised by.”
Find a Venue to Share Your Creativity
Eve distinguishes Unicorn Space from other activities, like self-care or hobbies, by its cycle. When she met people who were already operating in their Unicorn Space, many struggled with completion, the last phase. She said, “I started to understand this framework of curiosity, followed by connection and completion because it was becoming a pattern.” When people she interviewed reached the stage of sharing their creative output, she noticed they often felt pressure for their creative expression to become profitable. But Unicorn Space doesn’t have to be tied to your work or income.
It Doesn’t Have to Generate Revenue
Eve explained, “Someone reached out to me, saying ‘I wrote a movie script that never sold, is that completion?’ And I said of course it’s completion. You were curious about a topic, wrote about it, shared it in your writing group, so you have the connection piece. And it’s complete, you did it!”
In some cases, the Unicorn Space moves from passion project to a new career. But many feel compelled to justify their time, with commercial outcomes. “As my colleague Anne Helen Petersen says, ‘the P in play has been replaced with the P in professional. Even for kids.’ So, yes, people struggle with what a completion is. Because in a capitalist, patriarchy they think, if you’re not excellent why would you even try?” Eve said. But there are many reasons why your Unicorn Space is beneficial. In the book she beautifully outlines the power of “creation in a time of destruction.”
So, Set Your Goal… and Make it Big
Eve outlines a process to articulate and think about your goals. And that for ‘big audacious goals’ to feel accessible, they still need to be broken down, into smaller concrete actions. She explained in the book, “The accomplishment of every subgoal on the way to the big goal is yet another opportunity for an emotional boost. Such lifts in joy and pride are important not only because they reinforce feelings of happiness. But because they motivate us to continue striving.” Amen!
Make Yourself Unavailable
In the book she shared that access to leisure, like discretionary time, is still gendered. Dads usually don’t feel guilty about pausing to relax. But Moms are still socialized to be available. Always. So, Eve’s first rule is to break this mindset. She said in the book, “Value your time and then intentionally reprioritize some for you. Strike down the toxic time messages that compromise your choices. And begin to think about creating intentional boundaries to protect your time, space, and flow. Ask yourself, how do I value my own time? How can I begin to create time and space boundaries? What would an uninterrupted day or just one free hour look like?”
Communicate Your Needs… Carefully
You may be able to outsource or eliminate certain things on your to-do list. But to create meaningful blocks of time for Unicorn Space, you will likely need to spouse source, if you’re partnered. And that negotiation can be tricky. It’s easy to say the wrong thing in frustration. Eve outlines how to communicate collaboration, versus competition, with your partner. And set up the discussion for success.
Eve shared her iterative path to make time to write in hilarious detail. And describes, how she ultimately enlisted cooperation from her husband and kids. She also includes play-by-play scripts that you can use to have better outcomes, when gaining commitment or resetting expectations with a spouse.
Continue to Add Something New
Eve’s journey keeps leading her to new endeavors. Professionally and in her own Unicorn Space. She said, “Understanding that I could be in these cycles of Unicorn Space, which I define as the active pursuits that make us come alive, doesn’t mean that writing about gender justice is no longer the Unicorn space. It just means that there are more layers to it.” Yes!
In the book, she begins taking dance classes online and rediscovering her moves. Find Your Unicorn Space is a celebration of creative expression. And reminder, that we have the freedom to evolve and grow, in any area of our lives. It’s also filled with prompts, mantras, exercises and scripts, to help you bring whatever your creative dreams are, to life. So, go on put some space on the calendar for your Unicorn Space!
Many thanks to the talented Eve Rodsky!
Check out her amazing new book Find Your Unicorn Space. And if you haven’t read it yet, her game changing way to operationalize your home, Fair Play and its companion card game. Follow Eve’s great adventure on Instagram, Facebook and her website.
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About Eve Rodsky:
Eve Rodsky transformed a “blueberries breakdown” into a catalyst for social change when she applied her Harvard trained background in organizational management to ask the simple yet profound question: What would happen if we treated our homes as our most important organizations? Her New York Times bestselling book and Reese’s Book Club Pick, Fair Play, a gamified life-management system that helps partners rebalance their domestic workload and reimagine their relationship, has elevated the cultural conversation about the value of unpaid labor and care. In her highly anticipated follow-up, Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World, Rodsky explores the cross-section between the science of creativity, productivity, and resilience. Described as the ‘antidote to physical, mental and emotional burnout,’ Rodsky aims to inspire a new narrative around the equality of time and the individual right to personal time choice that influences sustainable and lasting change on a policy level.
Rodsky’s work is backed by Hello Sunshine—Reese Witherspoon’s media company whose mission is to change the narrative for women through storytelling. Rodsky was born and raised by a single mom in New York City and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband Seth and their three children.Tags: Book Review, Creative expression, learning, self-development, Self-Fulfillment, time for creativity