Friday, 4 January 2013

Take Ten!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve attended to my blog and for that, many apologies. Between health issues and demands of work (even thought it’s freelance, it’s still work) I’ve not had much energy for more than the required. So that is today’s blog: being ok with doing what you can and enjoying taking a break.
Many creative people envision doing two to three times more than is humanly possible when they consider their projects. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much other than wear us out. And, when hit with an illness, we often don’t have many reserves to draw on.
When it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain my pace and get well, it was time to revamp the calendar and ditch the extra things that drained my energy reserves. This ridding out is a good practice even when we aren’t ill. Making sure that we learn to say ‘no’ to things that are attractive but stretch us too far is an important skill to acquire. Not every shiny thing that comes along really does need our attention. Be able to discern what is a ‘shiny thing’ and what is a legitimate pursuit take some practice. It’s not always easy to see, but you must learn to realistically see what will enhance your long-term goals and what will be a temporary distraction from those goals (however enjoyable). You have to weigh up the value of taking that distraction or sticking to your plans. It takes thought and careful consideration.
Another thing I’ve been reminded of during these last few months is to learn to relax and also to let go. By the beginning of the new year I had originally envisioned many paintings finished, new chapters written in my book, weekly blogs maintained while also attending classes and creating various gifts for Christmas for my family and friends. In the midst of all this, there were some things that came up that afforded me some income and I had to attend to those. But when it was apparent that many of these envisioned plans were not going to happen, setting my mind into a state of acceptance had to be achieved and one way to do that was that my priorities had to be redefined.
Priorities can be a tricky thing; do we maintain the same priorities at all times, at all costs, or do we allow them to be more malleable and fluid? The rigidity of priorities can be a good thing in some circumstances, but in others it can be too costly. I had to decide which was more important, fulfilling my list of goals or taking a break from them in order to be able to function at maximum ability. It was possible to have continued and met all the self and externally imposed deadlines, but the quality would have suffered greatly and I would be in the same situation of being ill and struggling to get things done. With that realisation came the acceptance to just do what I could and not worry about what wasn’t getting done. It really would keep.
So, the priorities were shifted, the deadlines rearranged and a new schedule was instituted ... one that allowed for a real break even though I didn’t go anywhere for holidays. Sometimes we need to let our minds rest as well as our bodies. Sometimes we do need to stop and smell the roses without trying to consider how we could paint them, incorporate them into a design or imagine how to write about the experience. Sometimes we must just be. An important element in creativity is refilling the well but not always do we refill the well by putting more stuff in. Although I do believe strongly in ‘priming the pump’ I also see that sometimes we have to allow ourselves to refill naturally and without external influence.
Letting things be is often difficult to do for creative people. We want to improve, embellish, reframe and enhance; that is a core element of our creativity. It is part of why we keep putting one more stroke on that painting, do one more edit of a poem or one attempt at getting the right note in a piece of music. But learning to stop and allow things to just be and enjoy them as they are for even a short time is an exercise that can be extremely beneficial to us creatively.  It allows us to absorb what it is that we find pleasing, satisfying and even inspiring. It allows us to more deeply feel and that allows us a chance to draw on this experience next time we are ready to create. One avenue of experiencing the joy of the ‘now’ is through meditation, which can be extremely beneficial on all levels of our lives: creatively as well as health-wise (mentally and physically). There are many different forms of meditation available and through experimentation you can find the form that is right for you.
So, it’s not a waste of time to take a break, to rest and to recuperate; in many ways, it is imperative to creativity. What we create in robust energy is usually much more full and satisfying for all than what we create in exhaustion.  
This next year will be a busy one for me creatively and I will also be returning to America for a couple of months to be with family. For the reasons all stated above, the blog will occur only once a month as part of my maintaining a workable balance. This break has been helpful to me in many ways including realising how much I missed exploring and sharing ideas about how to enhance the creative experience.
 So ‘take ten’ from time to time and fully enjoy it. Also, a happy New Year to all and may it be a most creative and happy one!