Dig deep when your creative well runs dry

Untitled Mixed Media Collage – LMeyer

In the end, there is no ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself.

Twyla Tharp

Not sure if it has been the heat, or trying to adapt to the transition of re-opening, or simply a stubborn creative block but I have spent most of the past three weeks feeling unbearably stuck. I had been asked to finish some edits on a piece of writing to prepare for a submission and have been stymied every time I sat down to finish the work. Really the only pressure I was experiencing was from within my own head, a deadline that I had arbitrarily imposed so I was only accountable to myself to finish this task.

And the harder I tried to tackle it, the worse things got and of course, this then begins to influence and permeate other aspects of ones life.

I have worked for the past couple of years at creating a tool kit to use just when such a thing rears its nasty head. Going for walks almost always helps but its been abnormally hot so that hasn’t actually helped. Gardening, a favourite activity, right now feels like a survival battle with the elements and the normal meditative aspect of playing in the dirt and caring for plants feels worrisome and ominous instead. Photography, another go to in my bag of tools, just doesn’t cut it right now. I can’t seem to focus nor am I especially inspired.

Journalling which normally stabilizes has felt like a chore and the words that might best describe what I am experiencing remain stuck somewhere in my head but definitely are not cascading out onto the page where I most want them to be. My strongest inclination was to simply quit. To just walk away.

So finally at somewhat of a loss, I sat down with some papers and an old magazine and created some collages. And low and behold, the activity of creating “nothing” broke the log jam and I was able to at least begin to finish the piece that I need to send off to someone for feedback.

So after all of this, it seemed important to figure out what really had been going on. Was it fear? or simply too hot to create? or too many other life obligations and pressures that I hadn’t been acknowledging? I decided to go back to the page and write my way through it. Once my collages were in some semblance of completion, there seemed to be a release of some tension that was blocking my ability to move through what I needed to work on.

So I have concluded that it was likely all of the above and probably some other explanations that are elusive at this time. But what my journal pages did reveal was that persistence, especially in a state of agitated frustration, helped me to create something that resembled a mixed media collage. And once I was able to create anything, there was a shift – sort of like a well deep inside that somehow miraculously begins to fill up again.

And although I don’t exactly know how the process works, I am thankful for it and feel an overwhelming need to trust the process!

Stay healthy and safe!

100 blog post milestone!!

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen

Brene Brown

Having had a very loose plan when I created this blog almost two years ago, I have come to realize that this process has been less about what I initially envisioned and more about trying on the role of writer in my life. Transitions have been a part of everyone’s life since the pandemic began and although I can identify that I am still in the process of moving from one part of my life to another, I still haven’t landed on the other side of where I began.

Maybe I never will.

Struggling with the learning curve of how to blog, post short pieces and some epic design fails, these experiences all provided a challenge that until recently I didn’t fully appreciate. It is wonderful to stretch our learning and skill sets but typically the hurdles of motivation and fear of failure can limit beginnings to any dreams we might have. For some reason it seemed I needed to push through all of that. It would have been much easier to simply cave and give up.

Some people blog to collect followers and likes, or to backstop a business venture, or to process what happens in our lives and have others read and bear witness to what we are experiencing. I wanted to process retirement, the transitions that occur in life, and instead I found myself gravitating to writing weekly as a goal to develop “being a writer” and enhance my connection to creative process.

And to somehow hold myself accountable for doing just that. Once I had landed on a goal for a weekly post, I then decided to set an arbitrary milestone number of 100 posts. That distant goal setting exercise never really seemed achievable when I set it but here I am. Who knew?!

As my journey to understand life transitions continues it seems equally important to continue to reflect on the process of creativity and the writers path. It has been wonderful to share my journey with others and keep my motivation to write real. Many thanks!!

Stay healthy and safe!

Looking around you

Photo by L Meyer

One looks, looks long, and the world comes in

Joseph Campbell

Sometimes it seems we are passing through life without seeing what is around us. Having lived in a bubble for the past year or so, I have been acutely aware of things that I have missed seeing and that I have only been able to dream of. As our world becomes safer to journey out into, I have given thought about the things I thought I would welcome back into my life. And, those things that I now realize that I can live without.

Seeing family, friends are high on my priority list. Going shopping for material things I once thought I needed but really did not has fallen off that list. I am acutely aware now that it is easy to fill up a life with empty things. Travelling to see places that I have had on my wish list has narrowed but with new focus I can see possibilities where I never did before in my own country.

But I am becoming aware that the simplest pleasures in my life are when I can breath more deeply, enjoy moments with others, and take time to look around me and see what is really there. I don’t miss the days of rushing from place to place, or from appointment to appointment.

Now I find that when I am going out for walks, taking my camera with me, I take time to notice things in my immediate surroundings that I haven’t truly seen before. Strangely this is something I didn’t realize was missing from my life until our whole world was forced to stop. Being able to slow down and see what is around me, grounds my creativity and helps with forward movement.

Taking new perspectives on familiar things is energizing. Spending moments to take in all that surrounds us seems to help focus our artist’s lens. Creativity is driven by seeing more. We all have this ability, perhaps now is the time in life to pay more attention to this and nurture it. Maybe this will be one of those silver linings that sticks as we slowly find the path to our new normal.

Stay healthy and safe!

Itching for change

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Nature is never static. It is always changing. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Nothing endures. Everything is either in the process of either coming into being or expiring

Kilroy J. Oldster

Faced with the tedium of being isolated and restricted from our normal activities for the past 15 months, many of us have used this time to reflect on our lives and ask ourselves some key questions. Am I really doing what I want to be doing. How I spend my time – is it in a way that’s fulfilling or has purpose. Perhaps the increased need to search for meaning has been pushed by an awareness of the fragility of life forced upon us by the pandemic.

Often when we are stuck in one place especially by circumstances beyond our control, we gravitate to daydreams of change in many aspects of our lives. Humans crave novelty, we seek dopamine hits from new experiences, foods, relationships, places, etc. We seem to have a craving for action even when it may not be in our best interests to make massive or even minor life changes. Researchers are beginning to track the number of changes in jobs, places people live, and relationships that are escalating at an unprecedented rate due to the pandemic.

Feeling stuck often prompts us to make rash decisions when it might be better to simply stay the course and ride out the emotional wave that accompanies this unusual time. Changing situations doesn’t miraculously improve our lives and if we don’t spend time planning and reflecting then rushing towards something not well thought out, things may get worse not better. Common advice is usually to stop to consider whether you are running towards something or running away from it.

As large numbers of people move from their homes, change jobs, leave relationships, during these tumultuous times, these ripples will likely be felt throughout the globe. This pandemic as the ultimate disruptor has upended many lives through job loss, loss of loved ones, and as major life plans became disturbed.

But creating these changes when they have not been forced upon you without careful thought or consideration can have similar results.

Although I have been struggling to scratch the itch for change, it seems prudent to spend a bit more time in reflection and find some safe alternatives to bring what might be missing into my life. It is indeed a powerful force that requires mindful attention. It is helpful to recognize the space where these feelings may emerge from. And the old adage to look before you leap still has a place in our lives.

Stay healthy and safe!