Creativity

Journal prompt: Balance your creative energy

I’m feeling quite drained at the moment. Work is very busy and when I do have free time I’m trying to fit in my journaling – both written and art journaling.

I’ve been listening to an audio book in my car on the way to work which is fascinating: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book gives quite specific details of the daily working/creative rituals of artists, writers, musicians, philosophers and other creatives from all different time periods.

One thing that has stood out to me is how often each of these daily rituals include some form of investment in creative energy.

lovely-list

What I mean is this: when we spend a lot of time working, or creating, or socialising, we are effectively spending our creative energy. These are activities whereby we produce and our energy flows outwards.

If we do too much of these activities, particularly if we are introverted, we can end up feeling a bit drained.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on being productive and expending energy, but we need to make sure that we are taking the time to renew that creative energy too.

I think it’s really important to balance this with doing restful and rejuvenating things whereby we ‘refill’ our creative energy tanks. These are things where we receive something, rather than produce something. I guess it’s like receiving inspiration, in a way. It’s like a sort of investment in our creative bank account, so that we then have enough to ‘spend’ later.

For me, things where I consider myself to be spending my creative energies are:

  • Working
  • Writing
  • Socialising with groups of people
  • Blogging
  • Art journaling (certain kinds)
  • Doing housework
  • Doing things for others (most of my day job is about this)

So I need to remember to balance this with activities that refill my creative tanks and renew my creative energy:

  • Reading
  • Listening to inspiring/relaxing music
  • Listening to audio books
  • Listening to guided meditations
  • Journaling (although I technically ‘produce’ something when journaling, the act of deliberately thinking, writing and reflecting fills me up more than it drains me)
  • Napping/sleeping
  • Sitting with a cup of tea/coffee in the morning sun, being still and taking my time
  • Long walks
  • Spending time with people who get me and inspire me – usually having long and interesting talks
  • Cuddles with my partner or puppy
  • Yoga
  • Watching an interesting documentary or inspiring movie

I’m not suggesting that one list is better or more important than the other. To me, it’s about balance. We need to spend our creative energies, but of course we also need to invest in them.

>>> Prompts:

Take a fresh page in your journal. Create two headings:

  • How I spend my creative energy
  • How I renew my creative energy

List all the things you can think of under each heading. Your lists may look similar to mine or they may be very different. It all comes down to what works for you.

If you’re not sure which heading to put something under, consider this: does the activity leave you feeling more tired/drained or rejuvenated/refreshed afterwards?

Now, think about whether or not your life has a good balance between the two lists. If not, consider how you can bring in more of the other to create more balance for your creative energy.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

The risk to blossom

 

Anais Nin famously said:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

I love this quote, so much. It is only recently that I have come to realise that it is too painful for me to remain tight in a bud – I am now taking the risk to blossom.

I think this quote means that we stay in our comfort zones, we deny our true feelings and we try to protect ourselves.

Since starting a regular journaling routine, I have come to realise that I can blossom – it isn’t as scary or dangerous as it seems. I have all the courage I need inside.

Here are a few of the ways I used to ‘remain tight in a bud’:

  • Drinking
  • Watching a lot of television
  • Spending hours online
  • Napping
  • Overeating
  • Spending time with people I didn’t really care for, just so I wouldn’t have to be alone
  • Overworking, becoming exhausted
  • Denying that I had any control over my life
  • Shopping aimlessly
  • Dieting relentlessly
  • Perfectionism and procrastination

But now that I’ve created an ongoing dialogue with my true, authentic self through my daily journaling routine, I am finding the courage to ‘blossom’ in these ways:

  • Starting (and continuing) a creative practice
  • Experimenting with different art supplies and techniques, such as acrylic paint, watercolour, mixed media, crayons, pencils, pens, etc
  • Building a tiny house
  • Starting my own creative business
  • Acknowledging my deepest desires and daring to believe I can make them a reality
  • Sharing my work, my thoughts and ideas with others
  • Accepting myself as a flawed but deeply lovable human being
  • Quitting dieting

These are just a few of the ways I have sought to change my life over the past 6 months. Looking back now it seems like I’ve made quite a few big changes – most of them are internal. Most of them are shifts in my sense of courage, of determination. the external changes have naturally flowed on from there.

I can’t say it enough: it is the simple act of journaling each day that has allowed me to get to this point. It is the ongoing conversation with my true self, with my inner wisdom and courage. It is being awake in my life, rather than numbing my feelings through the things in the first list above.

So I challenge you: in what ways do you attempt to remain tight in a bud, and how can you find the courage to blossom?

Self Empowerment

On sickness and blogging

I am sick at the moment. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. Just general crapness.

I have attempted to write an amazing blog post three times now. It’s not happening. Time to face the fact: today’s post is going to be pretty average.

But I guess by honouring where I am right now and being authentic, there may be something worth saying.

That’s one of the really hard things about doing this every day. And I guess this would apply to doing anything every day. Some days it just won’t work, for whatever reason. Maybe you run out of time. Maybe you have to take care of your kids or your partner or someone else, and there’s no room left for you at the end of it. Maybe you’re unwell *cough*.

I think it’s good to commit to doing something regularly.

I’ve seen dramatic changes in my life from journaling and blogging regularly. And it’s been really good to be pushed to do it every day. Mostly. Most of the time, I just need a wee nudge to get on with it and then I’m glad I did. Having the commitment encourages me to challenge myself.

And, occasionally, I don’t want to do it. And that’s also ok. Taking a break from doing something can also be rewarding and can help you to move towards your goal faster, without burning out.

So while I am still posting today because that’s the commitment I’ve made and I want to show up, I’m also going easy on myself. This isn’t brilliant writing. But I think it’s good to show that.

It’s good to let the world see me on my crap days too.

To see that I’m trying, that I’m willing to push forward – to see me as I am, now.

Because otherwise, how can we truly be vulnerable? How can we truly progress, if we can’t admit when we aren’t feeling good, when we need a little help, when things aren’t going to plan? How can we grow without accepting where we are?

What Inspires Me

Weekly inspiration

Each week I share a series of the blogs/posts that have most inspired me. Feel free to share anything that has inspired you in the comments below!

 

Artist Nichole Rae has finally released her art journaling book. Yay! I am so excited about this and can’t wait for my copy to arrive.

Leonie tells us why burnout is normal and how to manage it. I love this woman’s approach to life and business. An inspiration!

After discussing how I define success, I was very interested to read Barry’s definition of success.

I recently missed a day of blogging in my 100 days, and I can SO totally relate to this post about starting and stopping and starting again!

I can’t get enough of my Neat and Tangled stamps that I bought from Butterfly Reflections Ink! I use them to add images and colour to my journal pages. Vanessa at Butterfly Reflections Ink is so lovely, totally recommend her store!

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Perfectionism: be gentle with yourself

Well, it finally happened: I missed a day of blogging in my 100 days.

Not even for a good reason – mostly just poor organisation. I was tempted to beat myself up about this ‘failure’, but then I reminded myself of one of my intentions for the 100 Days Project: overcome perfectionism.

If anything, this is a good learning opportunity. I missed a day in my (so far) perfect 36 day blogging streak. In the past, I would have probably given up at this point because I’ve ‘messed it up’ (thank you years of dieting for this kind of thinking).

Actually, let’s be honest: in the past I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to blog every day. I actually think if I didn’t have followers I probably would have given up weeks ago. But I’ve managed to keep going.

And instead of using this missed day as an opportunity to berate myself for once again failing to do something right, I’m going to take the chance to congratulate myself for doing something well, and for getting straight back into it. I’m not going to let my perfectionism trip me up again.

I read an interesting quote about perfectionism:

At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success – Michael Law

Did I miss a day in my 100 days? Yes. Does that mean I’ve failed the project? Only if I stop here.

Life is not black and white, failure or success. It is not doing it right or not doing it at all.

Life is making mistakes, getting messy, quitting, then starting again, then taking a step back, then making headway, then hitting a wall, then trying again. It is never linear, it is never straightforward, it is never without error.

Celebrate what is going well, and be gentle when you make mistakes.

Speak to yourself as you would to your best friend, or a small child: you wouldn’t tell them they are a loser who you always knew would fail. You wouldn’t tell them to just give up now because they will never succeed. No: you would speak to them gently, you would remind them of what they’ve done well, you would encourage them to keep going.

Try to be aware of how you speak to yourself when you make mistakes or ‘fail’. How can you be more gentle with yourself?

Creativity

25 Days into the 100 Day Project: A reflection

Today is the 25th day of the 100 Days Project. I’m a quarter of the way through the project, and I want to reflect on how it’s going.

It’s hard.

I know I’m probably not supposed to say that, but in the interest of being authentic and vulnerable, I should be honest.

I’m actually really enjoying the challenge of coming up with new topics and things to post. I’m enjoying the daily journaling and creativity, the daily commitment. I’m enjoying getting comments and support from readers and other bloggers – that has been such a huge pleasure.

This is the first time I have blogged this consistently.

It keeps me focused on what matters in my life: creativity and sharing my creativity with others.

But some days I am tired. I work as a teacher which requires a great deal of energy. It is especially difficult at the moment because I have moved to a new school which is further away – so I have to get up extra early if I want to journal before work. That is fine, but then it means that I have little energy in the evenings to blog, or do any other creative work, such as my art journal, or poetry.

Oh, and my best friend and I are planning our own online business, which takes a lot of time and energy too! But it’s the good kind.

heart close upSo what does this mean for my blogging? Nothing much. I’ve thought about stopping the 100 Days Project but in truth I don’t want to. I enjoy the challenge. I like being committed to something. I like having to share my thoughts and my creative practice regularly. I think if you want to achieve something creative, particularly writing or art, doing it every day is important.

Can I keep going for another 75 days? I don’t see why not. When I read about amazing inspiring people like Lisa Sonora’s 1008 paintings project I am just blown away. It makes me laugh about my 25 days of blogging.

Lisa says throughout the course of the project she dealt with questions such as:

‘How do we stay on track with a big goal?
How do we start again when we’ve gotten sidelined?
What supports constructive action and creating? And what undermines?’

These are things I should explore in my own journal. If I’m feeling like I want to give up, why is that?

why I want to blog

Susannah Conway has said that every week she worries she has run out of good blogging material. Anne Lamott says that she often worries she has run out of ideas. So I guess the mild panic I feel each day about what to blog about is only normal.

I like the fact that it keeps me on my toes. The discomfort and challenge of blogging every day is good for me as a writer and artist. It keeps me pushing forward towards a goal, even when it feels a little uncomfortable.

So, on that note, here’s to 75 more days of getting outside my comfort zone!

Creativity, Self Empowerment

On authenticity, vulnerability and courage

These words are thrown around a lot. Especially the word ‘authentic’. It’s become a self-help buzzword, of sorts. What does authenticity really mean? I believe it is closely tied with vulnerability and courage.

Why? Because in order to be truly authentic – that is, to be truly yourself – you need to have the courage to be vulnerable, exposed. Being who you really are in a world that constantly tells you to be someone else requires courage. Especially if who you are is a little different.

The word vulnerability is a little scary, isn’t it? Sounds a bit dangerous, a bit risky. But really, there is a paradoxical truth here.

Vulnerability actually empowers us.

The more that we can truly own who we are, claim our identity and just be us – the less that others can influence us or hurt us. No one can take away who you really are. And if you know and love your true self, it really doesn’t matter what others think or say about you.

I’ve been finding that the more I come to accept and embrace – even celebrate – the quirks that make up who I am, the more I am forced to be vulnerable. I have to share myself, my true self, with others. It’s very difficult to tell ourselves that we are good enough while actively hiding parts of ourselves from others.

But a strange thing is happening: The more I share who I really am with the world, the more I am developing courage.

Brene Brown likens courage to swimming – you get good at swimming by practicing swimming. Similarly, you get good at courage by practicing courage. This makes sense.

So often we don’t share our true selves (our feelings, opinions, dreams, hopes, disappointments, fears) with others, because we don’t feel brave enough. We hide who we are; we are afraid to be vulnerable. We lack courage. It is only through the practice of being vulnerable that we can develop courage.

This can all seem a bit abstract. Let me put it in concrete terms. For me, vulnerability and courage look a bit like this:

  • Making peace with the way I look, including being overweight, and accepting that some people will have a problem with that (but that’s not my problem)
  • Accepting that others may judge me for some of my unconventional beliefs/choices (such as wanting to live in a tiny house, refusing to watch the news because it makes me very sad, not caring about things like fancy weddings or expensive clothes/makeup, choosing to be at home alone rather than out partying, refusing to eat low-fat dairy – because really, what is that?)
  • Being open about how I feel if I’m having a bad day
  • Asking questions when I am unsure, even if I think I’ll look stupid
  • Not caring what others think of me (still working on this one!)
  • Sharing personal things about myself on a blog!

But I’ve come to realise that in order for me to be authentic – to feel like I am accepting and loving who I am and just ‘being myself’ – I need to be willing to be vulnerable. I must have the courage to share who I am with others, regardless of what they will think of me.

Journaling has helped me immensely with learning to love myself and developing courage. The more often I engage in a journaling dialogue with myself, with my dreams and desires, my fears and opinions, the more I come to accept and even celebrate who I am.

Some questions to ponder in your journal:

  • What does authenticity mean to you? And courage? Vulnerability?
  • How authentic do you feel you are? Would you say that most people know the ‘real you’?
  • Are there parts of yourself that you deliberately keep hidden from others? What are they? Why do you hide them?
  • Are there parts of yourself you would like to share with others more readily?
  • How could you be more authentic? What parts of yourself could you start to share?
Creativity

A (very small) blogging milestone and what’s to come

This is the first time I have ever blogged every day for over a week. And this is my first time completing a blog series.

I’m pretty pleased with myself, to be honest!

I’ve still got 91 days of journaling and blogging to go before the 100 Days Project is up. I started this project by diving straight into a series of posts – that way I knew I wouldn’t run out of material. It took a bit of pressure off because I didn’t need to come up with something new every day – I always knew where the series was going.This was safe, but a little limiting.

Now that I’ve finished the series, it’s wide open. I can blog about whatever I want. Anything. Except…

I’m getting a little bit of stage fright here. Over the past week I’ve managed to gain a few followers (hello and welcome!) and now I have a wee audience. It’s both scary and exciting.

I want to push myself to explore different ways of journaling and blogging. When I sit down to write a blog post, I try to make sure I have a point to make, some sort of insight to offer. And while that can certainly be good, I don’t think each post needs to reveal some deep mystery about life.

My goal is to offer both insight and inspiration, in equal doses.

creating-makes-me-happy

So I want to explore different blogging styles by including lists, poetry, more photography as well as journaling prompts and techniques. Things that can inspire people to take action and be creative, as well as posts that encourage reflection.

I’m doing (another) Susannah Conway course at the moment (because, trust me, she’s that awesome). She says, about blogging:

You don’t always have to be wise.

I like that. I can’t offer all the answers, but I can share what I do and what inspires me in the hopes that it will help or inspire someone else.

So while the journaling series was interesting and helpful as a way for me to ease into my blogging marathon, it’s time for me to take away the safety net and explore being more spontaneous and sharing more of myself on my blog.

What you can expect over the next 91 days:

  • Some short and some long posts
  • Poetry
  • Journaling techniques, tips and prompts
  • Some of my art journaling experiences
  • Maybe another series!
  • Reflections on creativity and journaling
  • More photos
  • Things that inspire me, including other blogs, quotes, lyrics etc
  • … And anything else that takes my fancy!

I look forward to getting to know you better as I move into the next leg of my blogging journey!

Creativity, Self Empowerment

One hundred days of scaring away fear

I’m starting something new. I have signed up to do something called the 100 Days Project. Basically all I have to do is choose one action then do it for the next 100 days. Sounds easy enough, right?

Um, no.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have trouble starting new ventures. My good old friends fear and procrastination are right here with me, making me question my every move. I’m trying my best to tune them out, and I guess that’s what the next 100 days will be about.

My plan is to journal every day in some form, although I’m using the word ‘journaling’ pretty loosely: I will write in my journal, create in my art journal, do work in my visioning journal(s), create found poetry or practise my handwritten typography. I guess I count these things as journaling in some sense because I do them all in some sort of journal. Some days I might use a prompt, other days I will just go where my creativity takes me.

Then, I will share what I have done here: what I learn, an image, a quote, an insight, or just something to (hopefully) inspire you for the day. Some days I may have a lot to say, others very little. But the main thing is to show up every day.*

There are a few things I’m hoping to achieve, or make some progress towards, over the next 100 days:

  • Get comfortable with blogging (yes, it still terrifies me each time I press ‘publish’)
  • Vary the way I blog – some longer posts, some shorter posts, some mostly photographs, some lists, etc
  • Get into the habit of blogging regularly
  • Overcome perfectionism and procrastination around blogging
  • Build a following of readers
  • Challenge myself to be vulnerable, to stick with something, to take risks and push myself
  • Challenge myself to find inspiration each day

I guess the idea of blogging each day is quite simple to some, and it probably seems like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. But for me, it is a big deal. I’m not a blogger. Not yet anyway.

I’m excited and terrified. But I guess that’s the point. Seth Godin said,

In the long run, the enemy of fear is creativity. I’m sure of it.

Here’s hoping I can scare fear away using creativity. I guess that is my true goal for the next 100 days.

*The irony is that as soon as I’ve posted this I have to pack for a trip I’m taking this weekend where there is no internet… But, I will still type up posts and share them when I am home on Sunday – I promise!