As found here. Happy Friday.
Commit to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning.
What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.
Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.
Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!
If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.
If there’s a quick-fix antidote to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or off center, it is surely the practice of gratitude.
Feeling grateful requires a return to presence, awareness, and an expansive heart. Filling up on gratitude is incompatible with feelings of irritation. When we connect with what we appreciate in our daily lives, we are both humbled and empowered. As Arianna Huffington observed: “When we recognize the sacred in the mundane, we allow gratitude to enter our lives. Gratitude has always been for me one of the most powerful and least practiced emotions. Living in a state of gratitude is living in a state of grace.”
We know in our hearts that this is true, and yet it’s so easy to drift away from the simple magic of practicing gratitude. One way to incorporate gratitude into daily life is the wonderful practice of keeping a gratitude journal: taking a few moments each evening to make note of the day’s beauty. This can be as simple as a numbered list of half-a dozen words, or a full-on journal entry.
If you have a smartphone, you might want to browse in the app store for one of the many excellent gratitude apps. “Gratitude Journal” for the iPhone is one of my favorites; you can even choose a photo to highlight each day.
Another option it to take some time each morning to focus on what you’re grateful for. You might even consider incorporating gratitude into intention journaling. A mindful expression of gratitude is a wonderful companion to planning the logistic elements of what needs to be accomplished in the coming day. You may find that this practice is as energizing as that extra cup of coffee, but without the jitters. Try it and see what you think!
What works for you?
This piece was reprinted from the last issue of the Creative Times, our monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe!
I know most people feel toward yard work the way I feel about dentists. I’d rather let my teeth rot in my mouth than go and deal with the dentist head on, mouth open. But I love yard work, especially now, for a few reasons.
Last Saturday, I did a lot of yard work. I cut back the crazy roses and repaired the trellis for this year’s crop, and reset it so they won’t grow up into the siding. I cut back the holly that has no business being taller than me or overwhelming the rest of the front landscaping. It was a great day to be wearing a thick old Irish fisherman’s wool sweater and a good pair of gardening gloves, as I dealt with all those thorny things. I dug the tarp out of the dirt pile that never really made it behind the back fence into the gardens and has started growing into a grassy knoll at the side of the garage. I loaded thorny things galore onto the tarp. I dragged it to the fence and headed out back for more branches and brambles.
I removed all the branches from the old pine mulch pile I started the first autumn in the house. From under those branches, etc, is now a beautiful bed of piney compost, and later I consulted with the garden center lady about what would grow in a shady piney corner, and think I came up with a new corner of interest plan. But first I moved those branches as well as fodder from the surrounding trees into the wheelbarrow, wheeled it over to the fence and lifted it all over and threw it on the tarp. I then dragged the tarp to the driveway, and put the Christmas tree and wreath that the garbage company wouldn’t take away for three weeks, and added that to the tarp. Then I recruited my dear Honey’s aid to remove the seat in my van and get the tarpful of yard waste into the back of the van and took it all to the dump. In the end we had to tie the tree to the top, but hey, we got a lot done. Er, I got a lot done in the yard. He helped at the end. There was no wind and it was about forty degrees — a lovely day to work up a sweat outside and have cool fresh air to breathe.
While I was out there, somehow my mind cleared and I didn’t even have to think about the novel or the kids or my Honey or not having an income. I just enjoyed being out there and communing with my piece of suburban Mother Nature. I like to think I made her a little prettier and she appreciated it. I definitely got the scragglies out of her hair.
The next morning in the shower, it occurred to me that one year ago I went to church with a walker. I was seven months pregnant and had no business with my complications getting out of bed to do anything. I had the wheelchair in the back of my van, but I refused to use it. I dragged my son K along and he helped me in and out, carried my purse and bottle of water, held doors, etc. It was also the first time I attended that church, but I was in serious need of some spiritual gathering and to get out of my stir-crazy bed.
So last Sunday, I ended up crying in front of the whole congregation that I’m just starting to get to know, about how far I’ve come from not walking to yard work since my first appearance there last February. I proclaimed in front of all with shaky voice and tear-filled eyes, “I know most people view yard work as a curse, but to me it is a blessed thing — especially since I was able to clear my yard by myself yesterday.” I think I was trying to say, don’t take things for granted, because you have a home, you can bend over and pick up sticks in your yard. It’s the simple things in life we must always appreciate. But I blubbered.
Then Monday, mind uncluttered, I sat down to write as soon as Baby C was asleep. Everything flowed beautifully. I was able to get my main character out of his clammed up state and began to resolve his issues and get him some confidence. Or the start of it, anyway. Then Baby C woke, but I nursed her back down a little and was able to plot out the wrap up of the book in one-liners for the coming scenes. I wrote a solid five pages of the manuscript then plotted the rest out!
Chipper from my productivity, I washed the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, handed the baby to grandma when she came home so that I could clean the kitchen. Then I promptly readied the stroller and leash and took baby and dog and me for a good refreshing walk. I saw cormorants and geese in the lake at my little bench, where I chugged my bottle of water and gave Baby C her juice. When she and Lucy started showing their signs of restlessness (such as dropping cup off side of stroller into goose poo), I hopped up and took off for home. I haven’t hopped up since well before I was pregnant! She was 10 months old as of Sunday, and I can now hop up, in spirit, in yard work, and in my writing. That’s why I love yard work. It feels good to accomplish something physically. It frees your mind and spring is on its way, so I get to garden again. And as long as I can garden, the writing and a whole lot else seem to come much easier.