A Little Creativity Tip

Just a thought:

Just something to keep in mind when you are struggling with your own creativity, whether it is some kind of painting, writing, music, or any of the other myriad of ways people create in this world.

Some ideas for when it is hard to create:

Go into your creative space and reorganize.

Read a book that directly pertains to your creative life.

Spend some quiet time alone to recharge.

It is difficult to be creative all the time, but stepping away for too long can make you lose momentum. Finding little ways to keep your creative thoughts flowing will help during the dry times.

Carnivore Versus Vegetarian Challenges

I must say that if I don’t get my blog post written on the weekend, it doesn’t happen and my post will be late. Perhaps this lack of being able to keep a schedule is part of taking care of myself.

Taking care of ourselves is probably one of the most important things we can do. It is also easy to overlook this need for self-care. A few weeks ago I spoke about the five areas of our lives that need attention in this post. This week I am looking at the physical part of self-care.

One of the areas of self-care that I have been working on is eating better.

Not just me, but my carnivore husband who has some issues with high cholesterol.

Cooking food and eating is often a challenge in our house but is very important when looking at self-care. The challenge comes when I am a vegetarian with exceptions and he is a carnivore.

Being a vegetarian with exceptions means that while I prefer to eat a plant-based diet, my current living area and some personal preferences means that I will, at times eat fish. While not being a pure vegetarian, I believe this is the healthiest for me.

I’ve also discovered that my choices lead to some interesting situations.

Since my husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol, we’ve been making some changes. Some of those include salads with each meal, less red meat and more all veg meals, which I am okay with.

However, recently I attempted to make a meal that wasn’t completely veg based that we both could eat. Since I also eat fish, and therefore seafood, when hubby asked for shrimp “made the way they do when they add it to the steak option”, I thought we could both eat this.

I was wrong.

Since I live in an area where getting fresh shrimp is a challenge, I ended up purchasing some frozen raw pink shrimp.

Confession time: I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to purchasing shrimp.

I brought the shrimp home and read the instructions for thawing, which included running under cold water until thawed and then placing in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes.

Up until this point I was fine. I placed the frozen shrimp in a colander and began to run the water over them.

As they began to thaw, since I purchased the shrimp that still had their shells on them, their little legs began to move under the water.

I know, somewhere in my brain, that this is part of the circle of life but I struggle with my place in that circle. When I saw the legs moving, even knowing they were dead, I just couldn’t do it.

I had to wait until my hubby came home so he could help with the cleaning and cooking of the shrimp. He reported that they tasted good with the simple preparation of olive oil and garlic.

Shrimp has to be better than the steak he would prefer, right?

When I told one of my friends about this, her response was, “just by the already cleaned ones, silly.”

As I said, self-care can be a challenge. I’m not giving up on it. I’m just not eating the shrimp.

How are you taking care of yourself these days?

What Are You Reading?

Hibernation – I’m quite certain the bears have it right. Except for the massive weight gain in the fall, sleeping through the coldest and darkest part of the year is a fabulous idea.

The next best thing to hibernation, because let’s face it, we all need to eat and interact with other human beings, is finding ways to escape the dead of winter.

 

If you are lucky enough to go somewhere warm, that is wonderful. If you can’t, reading is my favorite way to escape.

You have an abundance of choices in which to find an outlet: epic fantasy, romance, and mysteries are just a few categories. I’ve discovered young adult novels will keep me on the edge of my seat and the writing is excellent.

How wonderfully easy is it to get lost in these fictional worlds!

January is the perfect month for another type of reading: Intentional Reading.

January is the month for change as everyone sets goals, resolutions, and intentions for the rest of the year. Learning something new can be added to that list.

January has fewer distractions, hopefully, so you can immerse yourself in whatever it is you would like to learn. I’ve been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks for the past several days and will continue until I’ve read it through.

Though not new to me, I’ve learned (once again the hard way) that reading non-fiction books, almost regardless of the topic, gets my creative juices flowing. While I have been reading Larry’s book, I’ve been working out some of the details of my new novel which has some interesting twists.

Reading is one of the tenets of Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA, and as such, her book is on my reading list.

Others I’ve been reading include Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, and Brene Brown. Each of these authors seems to fuel the fire of imagination and creativity on which I have come to depend.

Reading intentionally means reading with a plan. While not quite as fun as reading to escape, reading non-fiction keeps your brain limber for the rest of your life’s work. For me, that is my creative life, and I must feed that life. Intentional reading is part of the process.

Whatever you read, however you escape, this time of year is perfect for it.

Next time you pick out something to read, try to learn something along the way. You won’t regret it.

The Dark Side of the Creative Life

Life has its ups and downs. Things can be going along swimmingly and then bam; everything turns upside down. You can’t seem to make heads or tails of everything and it feels as if you are wading through quicksand. Doing your creative work, whatever that may be, becomes nearly impossible.

You have reached the dark side of the creative life.

 

We all have those moments where the blank page appears to mock any effort to fill it.

The thought of reaching for a pen or paint brush fills us with dread and, if you can force yourself to pick up your instrument, everything feels flat and dull.

I believe this is especially difficult during the darkness of the winter months when everything is cold and gray.

While I don’t believe that giving up whatever creative work during these dark days is the best thing being able to recognize what may have an effect on your work can help carry you through. The following list are things that everyone experiences on occasion:

Grief – We all know that when we lose someone, we experience grief. What is less known or understood is that grief has it’s own timing. There is that initial rush of acute grief immediately following the loss. The feelings are strong and raw; we are powerless against them. What I’ve come to discover is that waves of grief can come at any time, often appearing during significant times associated with that loss. I’ve also come to realize that even when we understand this wave and recognize that the crest happens during that significant time, we are caught in the emotions associated with the loss.

As longtime readers of my blog know, I lost my brother one year ago. I carefully observed my handling of my feelings of grief (as per my work as a therapist) and knew that anniversaries of any kind would cause a wave of grief. What I didn’t know is how much that wave would affect my life. The wave has crested (the anniversary has passed) and I must now attempt to crawl my way out of the darkness. What surprised me the most is how much and how long this anniversary of his death affected my creative life.

Illness – Everyone comes down with an illness at some point. Regardless of the type of illness, our energy is sapped, the energy that once fed our creative life. What little energy we can muster goes into basic needs like breathing rather than coughing.

Illness has struck me more in this year than in the past five, some more serious than others. Finding the energy to write in the midst of even a simple cold has often been more than I could muster. I find myself wondering if I will ever be able to write freely again.

Holiday Craziness – How many people can add one more thing during the middle of the holidays? Between parties, gift buying, wrapping and giving, and cooking, who has time to be creative? And, once the holidays are over how do you get back to your regular life

I talked about my plan to deal with the holidays a couple of months ago in this post; mostly that plan included working on my minimum goals for creativity. Still, finding the time to sit down and complete my minimum of 500 words was incredibly difficult, often due to grief and illness not just the craziness of the holiday.

Confession time – there were days I didn’t write at all. I thought about it but didn’t sit down and put words on paper.

Tips to ease this darkness that sometimes threatens to take over your soul:

1. Organize something – I cleaned and organized the junk drawer in my kitchen. I put all the batteries into another drawer that was also a junk drawer (who needs two?), I put the games into the area with the other games and the tools in my husbands one drawer he’s allowed for tools in the house. None of these drawers were in the kitchen. I then put all of my pot holders into that drawer so everyone would know where to find them as they hadn’t had a home in my tiny kitchen. I felt cleansed by this simple act, and the creative juices began to flow.

2. Find or return to a different type of creative endeavor – I like to knit. Mostly I knit dishcloth’s because they take small amounts of concentration which leaves more thought for my creative work. Not to mention, I have a cool and unique dishcloth when my other ones wear out.

3. Read something – I’m not sure it matters what you read. Fiction gets my creative juices flowing, and non-fiction makes me think differently both of which can send me to my writing.

4. Go into nature – Yes, I know it’s cold and snowy and dark but stepping outside and taking some deep breaths will breath new life into you and your creative work.

5. Laugh – Watch a comedy, hang out with friends who make you laugh or play with your cat. Find some levity in you life and your creativity will return.

I’m sure there are many other things to help come out of the dark side of creativity, but these are some of the ones that help me. I hope any one of these will help if you find yourself in a funk.