19 September 2014

How to Get Out of a Creative Funk

Inspiration is everywhere if only we open our minds.

Spoiler: I'm not referring to Pinterest.

Every so often I get in a funk.  Stuck.  Frustrated because I can't access anything creative within myself.  My reserve feels empty and dry.  I get mad because don't see things in the way I would if life was "perfect" (all my ducks in a row, so to speak).  I get anxious and quietly take out my irritation on the world around me.  In these times I just want to go into hibernation.  It can be downright painful to have something to express but no means to express it. 

Because I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes through these creative lows, I decided to give you my list.  My How to Get Out of a Creative Funk list.  Before you even read the list I'll tell you that the common denominator in all of this is that you have to allow yourself to accept inspiration.  Your mind has to have room to receive it.  You have to be open to inspiration or it could bite you on the nose and you would never know it.

Download all the crap.  My friend, Stacy, and I kept sharing with each other that at times we felt overwhelmed by [insert your stuff here] almost to the point of paralysis.  We would become stagnant for a time because of that feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  It seemed ridiculous that we were both experiencing this yet neither could move past it.  A couple of years ago I did this challenge and recently I thought it would be a good idea to go through the steps again.  But something amazing happened: the minute I was done with the "downloading" section the ideas were flowing faster than I could write them down.  Downloading is sort of like a reverse brainstorming.  Instead of thinking of ideas you are getting rid of everything weighing on you so the ideas will come to you.  The basic start up is to get a piece of paper, notebook, whatever and start writing down anything and everything that comes to mind.  It could be stuff on your to do list, things that are worrying you, impending obligations, stresses, happy things, exciting or anxiety-laced things, etc.  ANYTHING on your mind goes on that paper in front of you.  Don't stop writing until it is all on the paper.  Dig deep for that stuff you don't want to access or think about (yeah, even that crap).  Boom.  You're welcome.


shot with film in Florida

Do Something.  Anything.  You have to put one foot in front of the other.  Force. yourself. to. do. one. thing.  It could be the smallest thing like opening a blank page to start a blog post, putting on your running shoes and go walk to start out, picking up your camera and pointing it at something, cleaning only one spot instead of thinking you have to tackle the entire house.  Doing nothing only leaves you where you are.  Paralyzed and overwhelmed.  If you change nothing, nothing will change.

Music (or whatever floats your boat).  Oh, sweet music.  Music is escapism for me.  Use it to help you get out of your own head.  Stop being so serious.  Dance.  Sing.  Chill the heck out and relax = Chillax.  

Meditate.  If only for 5 minutes, just close your eyes and visualize what you want to work on or create or do.  Imagine the best possible scenario.  If the bad stuff creeps in you have to morph it into something good.  You may not know it but your mind has the power to do that.  Your mind is pretty amazing.  You're mind is the boss.  Keep practicing.

Speaking of your mind being the boss,
Perspective + Gratitude.   This is a game changer my friends.  Worried about what you don't have?  Count the things you do.  //  Let someone under your skin and they ruffled your feathers?  Think about someone on the opposite end of your spectrum who has no one.  //  Money problems or ruled by your "stuff"?  Simplifying your life might be what the doctor ordered and may liberate you.  I'm going to tell you straight up, 99% of our problems are FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS (my kids will tell you that is one of my favorite things to say).  We have food, clothes, houses, hospitals, cars, family.  Our neighbors and family aren't dying in beds next to us of a disease for which there is no treatment.  We are allowed to go to school, church, and concerts.  We aren't persecuted for showing our faces or legs.  Perspective + Gratitude all day long.  Stepping down from my soapbox now.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  This book literally changed my way of thinking, ergo, my life.  I initially checked this book out from the library but I loved it so much I asked for it for my birthday.  It is super short and to the point.  Only 165 pages.  I reread it every so often, especially when I feel stuck.  It is all about calling procrastination, hesitation, and excuses what they really are: the damn devil (AKA resistance) and how to break through and move past it.  Most of the time we are our own problem; our own worst enemy; in our own way.  Steven Pressfield tells you with blunt honesty how to fix that.  Like a boss.

Change of Scenery.  My favorite.  If you are inside get outside.  If possible, get to the beach or mountains.  Get into nature, be quiet, and listen.  If you live in a small town then escape to the big city.  Watch a sunrise.  Take a bath.  Be alone somewhere you love.  I know it is not possible for everyone, but if you can ever take a solo trip (even overnight), DO IT!  Last year I had to drive about 6 hours north (to a farming town called Lodi, CA) to attend a family funeral.  My kids were in school so my family stayed behind.  I met my parents at the funeral but they were in their trailer touring the US and there was no room for me.  I stayed in a cute little KOA Kabin.  It felt like a luxury vacation even though it was only one night and my head became so clear.  I've never done so much writing in my life!  When I returned from that time away I told Joe that I need to do that once a year (twice would be ideal).  I don't have family that lives near me so the solo trips could be hard to come by but I think it is a necessity.

shot with film in Satellite Beach, Florida

Get Off the Internet.  I know we live online.  I understand we are addicted to our devices (they should be called "'vices" for short) but for the love of all things chocolate, GET OFFLINE.  Stop comparing, snooping, stalking, and pinning.  Nothing makes you feel like a bigger loser than being in a bad place and seeing everyone else doing something awesome or seeing your self-proclaimed nemesis succeeding.  I'll give you another hint: stop following people who you feel competitive with.  It is so stupid that we watch those people.  I'll admit that 100% of the time I concoct the competition in my own little head but whenever someone is too negative or I feel the pang of jealousy or annoyance at someone's IG or blog post, I unfollow them.  "It's not you, it's me"...but for real!  It's okay not to follow everyone you've ever met.  Plus, I don't need my IG or Bloglovin feed to be 600 deep.  You feel me?  Ain't no one got time for that.

Hopefully something above clicks for you.  If you have something that works and you don't mind sharing in the comments below, I would appreciate it.  I'm always looking for new tools to cope with creative blocks.

Now, go have a rad weekend!!

. peace .




11 May 2014

Whom They Deserve


I was the very best mother I have ever been when I was pregnant.  I took amazing care of my body for my babies.  I was a good protector, nourisher, nurturer.  Knowing that I alone was responsible for those little lives gave me immense honor and pride to be a mother.

It wasn't until the moment each of my daughters was born that my confidence took a hit.  I was so afraid.  Would I be able to protect them FOR REAL ever again, or was that an illusion?  Could I be the woman I wanted them to become and be proud to be?  How could I even begin to comfort and care for their fragile hearts and minds in the image God would want?

Have you ever had your little girl confide in you that she likes a boy but that boy likes her good friend instead and wonder how you are supposed to even try to comfort her little heart with mere words? Sometimes amazing hugs and I-love-you-more-than-anything-in-the-worlds are all that will do in those times of undeniable crisis.  That, and let her know that boy is obviously insane.



I always figured that as a woman motherhood would be second nature when I became a mom.  I still struggle daily with my tone of voice when I praise or criticize them, how do I teach them important life lessons, am I being too lax or harsh on them, am I being the compassionate mother that they deserve.  What I didn't expect was that motherhood would reveal some surprising and often ugly truths about myself.

1) I am very selfish.  
As my daughters slowly gained more independence with each month and year, I expected them to do more for themselves.  This wasn't solely because I wanted them to learn but because I realized it would free up more time for me (and sleep).  I would actually get irritated if they asked for assistance with simple tasks.  These days I try to access my compassion on a much more regular basis than before and take comfort in their requests for help because I know there will be a day when they won't ask me.

2) I am judgmental.
Boy did I snap judgements at those moms that didn't try to breastfeeding their babies beyond the first month.  Then God served me a big slice of humble pie/shut the hell up when my second daughter decided to wean herself from breastfeeding a few months before my desired end date.  There were many tears and days of feeling like an idiot then.

3) I am ugly with no sleep.
And I don't just mean how I look.  I have no idea how I still have a husband and friends or family that speak to me after those months with little to no sleep.  Gah!  What a jerk I was.  Someone should have body checked me every time I started to act bitchy.  This alone tells me how blessed I am to have such amazing people in my life.  My husband is the best support system when it comes to giving me a mommy break when I obviously need one.

4) I love the blame game.
I like to blame the fact that I've not finished my degree or gone after the job I want on being a mother.  I'm working hard on finding the balance that will give me happiness in work and home life and ensure that I'm doing things that fill me up in both areas.  Lets face it: unhappy mom, unhappy kids.  They feel and feed off that crappy stress that I project.  No bueno.

5) I'm never too old to learn a lesson or change for the better.  I'm still learning and trying to become whom they deserve almost 9 years after becoming a mother.

I put this image as the background display on my phone as a gentle reminder to myself:



What I never expected in a million years is the unconditional love that my girls show me.  No matter how many times I screw up they say, “It's ok, Mama.  You're the best mom in the world and I love you.”  Even when the I-hate-yous rise up or the occasional You're-the meanest-mom-in-the-world rears its ugly head, I reach into the reserves of all the love they've given me when I didn't deserve it and it is all ok.

This was really one of my favorite Mother's Days ever.  I was conscientious about the tone I set for the day with my actions and words.  My kids responded like champs.  Very little bickering, petty arguing, and whining.  A lot of smiles,  happiness, and positive energy.  It was so awesome not having to scold or raise our voices at all.  It was a relaxing family day...the perfect kind of day where we enjoyed each other.


Admittedly, I don't love motherhood every waking moment.  Some days it just sucks.  But I am working very hard on embracing the sucky days and knowing those days make the good days even sweeter.

So, here's to learning as we go, trying hard to be better, admitting we sometimes suck, and forgiving ourselves one mess up at a time.

 Happy Mother's Day if you are one.


. peace .


p.s. thank you to my husband, Joe, who actually makes me a better mom.

01 May 2014

So, This is Forty.

My two best friends started giving me the count down yesterday with texts.  
“T-minus 8 hours.”  
“Only 3 more hours and you'll be in the 40’s club!”
“Don't forget to stretch.  When you’re forty you need to stretch.”

I really did think I'd freak out for a minute when I hit forty, mostly because I didn't freak out at thirty.  Well, today I turned forty and no freak out.  Oddly, just the opposite happened.  

I felt the light hit my face when I woke and immediately became vibrant (even with a terrible night of sleep).  Nothing negative could penetrate my skin.  The glass was half full all day and no one could prove otherwise.  I felt more inspired at the gym and pushed harder.  Embracing my motherhood role with renewed love was the biggest surprise to me.  

I truly thought I'd feel normal, like it was any other day (like most birthdays when you're an adult).  The surprise was the best kind; so very unexpected and thoroughly necessary.

I always thought it was hokey bullshit when people say, “Forties are the time when you really feel confident in your own skin.”  My thought: I'll feel in my skin at forty how I did at 39.  Duh!

But...
Something has happened over the past six weeks, intentionally of course.  I've been crazy healthy with food choices and workouts aren't an option, I just do them.  Even though the change was intentional I didn't realize how much I was really setting myself up for emotional success on this day.  

Instead of being a typical and self-loathing woman that our society has bred, I am in a great headspace today.  I'm heading in the direction of where I want to be instead of wishing I was there.  Doing the work is forcing me to embrace  the journey.  The gratitude I feel is beyond ridiculous.

It's a good place.  

Now, when the hot flashes and stupid hormone spikes start I'm sure we'll have a slightly different conversation!

This is forty.  My forty.
Laugh lines from good times with great friends and family.
Sun spots from being a stupid teenager (who thought baby oil was a good sunning product).
Green eyes given to me by my ancestors and passed on to my children.
Wrinkles on my neck from looking over my shoulders and trying to grow eyes in the back of my head the INSTANT I gave birth to children.
A nose ring to say, “Damn the man” at an important time in my life and to maintain my independence.


So, this is forty and I'm ok with it!


. Peace .



14 April 2014

14/52

These are the views looking left and right from the Griffith Observatory lawn.  I love the pre-rain clouds, the sunlight, the hills, and the Hollywood Sign.  

This was a great day.  Before we visited the Griffith Observatory this day, we hiked to the base of the Hollywood Sign.  It was a first for me, which is crazy since I grew up in Southern California.  It started out the clearest sky ever and slowly as the afternoon rolled on the clouds rolled in about two hours before sunset.  

Gorgeous.




. peace .


11 April 2014

13/52

I didn't post over spring break or while we had company from out of town so I am playing catch up once again.  That's the nice thing about posting on my own blog...my rules.

Griffith Observatory is a pretty stellar place (you'll have to pardon my pun).  ;)  If you live in Southern California it is a must see and if you live out of the area but ever plan to visit, do yourself a huge favor and put it on your list.  It's 1) right outside Los Feliz, which is a pretty sweet little neighborhood with lots of great restaurants,  2) intermingled with Griffith Park, which has family friendly stuff to do like lots of playgrounds, a carousel, horseback riding, a golf course, a train to ride, and the L.A. Zoo, and 3) you can see the Hollywood Sign from the Observatory.  Huge plus, especially if you get lucky with some dramatic clouds in the sky.

Here is a shot of my girls at the Astronomers Monument.


Just look at that sky!


. peace .