November 13 2017

How to Get Back into your Creative Life After a Break

Life Happens

We all have things that happen to us that slow our creativity down, or that put a halt to our creativity. I fell behind in my journaling, planning, and overall creative “things,” back in July when my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 aggressive cancer (chemo wouldn’t help and surgery wasn’t an option–so it was just a matter of quality of life during the time he had left), and Mr. Rockstar was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I tried to stay creative. I tried to journal. To Plan. To finish out #onebookjuly2017 and #campnanowrimo. But my emotions, thoughts…my mental state was all over the place. Insert Anxiety, Depression, and ADHD, along with the roller coaster of emotions that come with finding out your Dad has inoperable and non-treatable stage 4 cancer, and your husband has a disease that isn’t curable either–I was a wreck!

Still, I tried to maintain some sort of routine, some sort of balance. I tried to be creative. And someday’s I managed to journal, plan, write, art… Other days–I barely seemed to function. The worse my Dad got the worse my emotional state became. My emotions were all over the place. I started grieving well before my Dad died on October 5th. But his death, and my Mom’s subsequent hospitalization (she was admitted into the very same ICU ward as my Dad–within an hour or so of his death she was up there a few rooms down from where he was (he was still in the room, they were kind enough to allow my Mom to say goodbye, for all of us to say goodbye). The doctor’s and nurses all knew who I was–first time they’d had that happen, and they were absolutely wonderful to us.

Fast forward a week, my Mom was in the hospital 8 nights and 9 days. So I was at the hospital for approximately 10 days, because I’d been there the night before when my Dad was helicoptered from their local hospital to the one in Charleston to ICU. By the time my Mom was released I’d already taken care of my Dad’s cremation, and a lot of paperwork for things like insurance, etc. I was on the ball in regards to taking care of my Mom. I was not, however, doing very well in the taking time to grieve for my Dad, taking care of myself (not really), much less housework, planning, journaling, filming videos for Patreon or YouTube, etc. I did manage to do a few loads of laundry somewhere in there so I had some clean clothes to wear when I went back to the hospital (my husband convinced me to go home with him to take a shower and get some sleep–I hadn’t slept but about 3 hours in about 3 days). (I’m sure I was in definite need of a shower by then.)

 

Falling Behind  

Grief is not like many make it out to be. It comes in waves. It’s very much like riding a rollercoaster ride, maybe like that one at Sea World that splashes you with water when you least likely expect it, so not only are you on the ride, but you have added elements of surprise. I took a short break, but I knew for my own mental health I needed to focus on positive things, on things that brought me joy, and let the grief happen organically. So I got back to work… I filmed videos. I even wrote a blog post. I tried to journal but I was having issues… I felt blocked. I wasn’t sure of what it was exactly, but the journal felt wrong, what I was doing felt off, what I wanted to do felt off–I was off kilter so everything was off.

I watched a few YouTube videos, specifically one by Documented Journey, and then a Patreon video by Courtney Diaz (LittleRavenInk), and I managed to create a few pages. I knew I needed to make a change. I wasn’t sure of what change to make, or if the change would even by much more than perhaps a new journal, but I knew I needed to change things up. I’d changed. What had happened was traumatic, and it had changed me, so everything felt off–I felt off. My routine was off. My psyche was off. My anxiety was high. I was fighting depression. My focus was all off so my ADHD was in rare form. I wanted so badly to jump back into my “creative life,” to create art, to write, to journal, to do something… anything–but I couldn’t.

And then something special, quite a bit of synchronicity, happened.

 

Picking Up the Pieces

Picking up the pieces after something like the death of a loved one, the hospitalization of a loved one, especially both happening at the same time, would be difficult for almost anyone, but for me it felt like my whole world had been turned upside down. Trying to explain how close a call it was with my mom, or how hard it was to try to remain positive for my Mom, about my Mom, while my Dad had just died a few door down in ICU, or how hard it was to watch my Mom suffer in pain, delirium, and not know exactly what was wrong… There are no words. No words at all, but I found solace in the words my Dad had spoken to me… “she’s going to need you… you’re stronger than you know… I believe in you….” Those words kept me strong, gave me courage. After my Mom went home there were/are still obstacles to overcome: physical therapy, outpatient surgery, etc, but my Mom is one hell of a strong person. I knew I had to get back to life, to my own life, to living life. I couldn’t wallow–my Dad would not want me to do that, nor did my Mom.

I came home to find happy mail, more than once…

I was overwhelmed by all the love and support… I couldn’t help myself from crying happy tears over all the thoughtfulness, the compassion and generosity that was given to me.

I am finding my way…Some days are harder than others. Some days the waves of grief knock me down and take my breath, other days I let the ebb and flow of the grief wash through me–it’s not easy, But I’m working through things one day at a time.  Synchronicity is something I haven’t talked about a whole lot until lately… but it was hitting me from every direction–like the Universe was speaking directly to me and I needed to listen. I’m listening… I don’t have any sage advice. What has worked for me may or may not work for you. But the best way to get back into doing something is to start doing it. To make time to do it, even if it’s just in small doses to start with. Or to change things up so that you can get your feet wet again before diving straight in. For me it took forcing myself to jump back in, but then I was blocked again. Then I changed things up to fit with how I’d changed. The “synchronicity” helped me do that. Creativity is a great way to help with the grieving process. It doesn’t lessen your grief. Nor does it take the pain away, but it does give you an outlet to pour your feelings, doubts, and thoughts into. It gives you a positive way to work through your grief. It’s also helped me find a little balance, which is helping me find my way back to a routine. I really need to get back on a routine, but I know that I have to make changes because things have changed, I’ve changed. For the better, I think.

If you’ve used creativity, whether it’s art, writing, music, or some other creative outlet to work through your grief I’d appreciate it you’d comment below and tell me about it. 😀

July 3 2017

July is time for challenges and change

Prior to my laptop having gone kaput when a Windows 10 update struck, I wrote in spurts. I could write while watching TV with Mr. Rockstar (as long as the show didn’t have a lot of music), or on an artist date at a coffee shop or at the park, or while in bed, but last year before NaNoWriMo my laptop went kaput and needed to be fixed. Mr. Rockstar’s friend Computer Guy has fixed it (about a month ago now) but I have yet to get it back, and that makes writing hard because if I want to write I have to either write at the desk with my laptop or I have to write by hand, (last night I tried using the old ibook G4 and forget it… it’s got a problem as well).

All I could think of last night was the problem… No laptop yet… this is the third NaNo event I’ve been without my laptop. And my new desktop… the one I just got well one of the USB ports on the top won’t recognize when you plugin a USB and the port for the headphones won’t recognize when you plugin the headphones… SiGh! SO I’m just frustrated. Aggravated. I was ready to say the hell with writing, to hell with it all, I was so grumpy over the lack of mobility, the “I have to sit at this desk, which I am always at, for the most part, or turned around beside the desk because I’m working at the craft table, I believe I reverted back to the terrible three’s and felt the tantrum coming on–I know it’s stress that caused that, I know it is, instead of having an actual tantrum though, I vented. I needed to vent. I had to vent. Part of my creative process is sometimes separating the writing from the art, not always but sometimes. But the book I want to write is about more than just art, or journals, or creativity, it’s about being creative with your journals, about finding time to create, about finding your creative mojo again, about living creatively, about words and art, journals, creativity, and so much more. SO regardless of whether I have my laptop or not, I’ll be writing.

“See Yourself Succeeding:  The way you see yourself has a lasting impact on your life. When you consider yourself worthy of achieving your goals…you’ll become who you want to be. You’ll see yourself as confident and capable, and you’ll follow a different path–because you now see yourself walking toward success. We don’t always realize the full impact of our thoughts–how far they reach or how they truly affect us and our goals. See yourself in this brand-new light. Think you can–and you will. Do all you can to become everything you want to be.” ~Barbara J. Hall

As I challenge myself to think outside the box, to get out of my comfort zone, not only with my writing, but my journals, art, DIY projects–well, life in general, I realize that what I’ve been slowly but surely doing is creating a life filled with creative interests that help me maintain some sort of balance in regard to anxiety and depression, and that help me utilize and cope with my ADHD.

But it’s more than just that. My life is a good one. With so much going on in July I’ve got to get things together. Working on a few things this month like #onebookjuly2017, #worldwatercolormonth,  and more. I’ll share more with you soon. But for now… here are a few videos where I talk about what is happening this month. And tomorrow I hope to start talking about my book for #campnanowrimo.

Journal Stuff:

 

Writing Stuff:

Other Stuff:

 

April 9 2017

Why did I need to update my art and journal supply tote?

Overall #backtobasicsapril items

On Friday I posted a “What’s in my bags?” video because for the month of April I’m getting #backtobasics. To be honest, when I was first thinking about all of this back in March all I knew for sure was that I wasn’t really using my journals or planner(s). And if I’m not journalling then there is something seriously wrong. One of the things that has really worked for me in the past is #onebookjuly. I remember the first time I heard Rhomany of Rhomany’s Realm talk about #onebookjuly–getting back to the basics of planning. If the system you’re using for planning isn’t working it doesn’t matter what notebook you use… And since then I’ve been working on my actual planning system.

Continue reading

March 20 2017

If we were having coffee

I’d tell you about how I’m going to work on getting back to the basics in April, #backtobasicsapril. A few years ago, I participated, along with a lot of other journalers and planners,  in #onebookjuly with Rhomany’s Realm, Carie Harling, and MissVickybee. Since then I’ve participated every year since. This year I can’t wait for July, and there are so many other things in my life that I need to get back to the basics with I knew I needed to do something. Here is the link to the playlist for #onebookjuly.

I mentioned my dilemma in a previous coffee chat, as well as a different video on my YT channel. Many others said they were feeling the same way. Many asked if we could do #onebookjuly early. I don’t see why we couldn’t, but I need to do more than get back to the basics with my journaling and planning, I need to purge, clean, and organize my supplies, my house, my life…especially with Camp NaNoWriMo starting April 1st.

In the spirit of Rhomany, Carie, and Vicky’s #onebookjuly theme, which is getting back to the basics of planning, we thought we’d call our mission for April #backtobasicsapril. Some of us will be getting back to the basics with their budgets, or with their meal planning, their craft/journal/planner supplies, their homes, their planners, journals, or some of those or maybe all of those, as well as a few other things most likely. I am going to start the purging, cleaning, and organizing of my desk this week because I will (hopefully) be getting my new computer built this coming weekend, but everything else starts on April 1st. 😀 Continue reading

January 8 2017

Revisiting “The Artist’s Way” for 2017

This year I’m revisiting (and recommitting) myself to following the self guided course by Julia Cameron called “The Artist’s Way.” I hope you’ll join me on this creative and self-improving course for the next 13 weeks. I’ll be posting my opinions, feelings, thoughts, and experiences with you every Sunday via this blog/website, along with videos on YT. *My previous journey with The Artist’s Way YT Playlist: .)

“The Artist’s Way is a course that guides you through the process of rediscovering your creative self. It dispels the ‘I’m not talented enough’ conditioning that holds many people back and helps you to unleash your own inner artist.” (Cameron)

If you’re like me then you’ve often wondered why you’re bothering to

  • draw
  • write
  • paint
  • create

That you’re not good enough, not talented enough… you’re not sure of why you’re even bothering… I hear those things in my head when I’m creatively blocked, and that block is actually fear. Fear rearing its ugly head. But I’ve found  that using the tools of The Artist’s Way has helped me not only to become more creative, and helped me start living a creative life, but also helped me become more sure of myself.

This first week of January I read the Introduction  and the Basic Principles, as well as the section about the Basic Tools, which include morning pages, artist dates, filling the well/stocking the pond.

The Basic Principles:

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy; pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in dwelling creative force infusing all of life–including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to your creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is God’s (or the Universe’s) gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God (the Universe). [*If you are uncomfortable using the word “God” then use whatever you feel comfortable with.]
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God (the Universe): good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to pen ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come form a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

Morning Pages: “Three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.” It might read “Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. DId I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah…” or it might say, “I am not a morning person… it’s cold outside… damn! Is it raining again?”  (The actual beginning of one of my pages from last year.) There is “no wrong way to do morning pages.” They are not mean to be read by anyone else. Cameron also calls them a “brain drain,” which I found to be true for the first month or more.

*The “morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.”

The other main tool is called an Artist Date, which works in conjunction with the Morning Pages. Cameron calls the combination of the two tools: ” a receiver and transmitter: it is a two step, two-directional process: out and then in. Doing your morning pages, you are sending–notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfactions, hopes. DOing your artist date, you are receiving–opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.

An Artist Date is a section of time that you reserve for yourself on a weekly basis. One -Two hours each week, that you commit to “nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” It’s a play date for your inner artist (your inner child). She says that “spending time in solitude with your artist child is essential to self-nurturing,” and it can be anything from a walk in park, time at the beach, a coffee shop, a museum, a movie, a visit to an aquarium, an art gallery…

Another tool, Filling the Well/Stocking the Pond: “In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond…if we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked…we must learn to be self-nourishing…we must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them–to restock the trout pond–filling the well.”

Next Sunday I’ll talk about Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety.

Here’s my video for the Introduction:

 

**** This post contains some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you subscribe or purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!

Thank you!

Burgess

October 21 2016

Self-Care: Taking a Break Does a Mind/Body Good

With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, not to mention the prepping for NaNo, along with my other projects: The Dark Tower Reading Project, the Decorated Page, and Destination Me…When I first started this blog post the title was Self-Care for NaNoWriMo, but once I started writing the first sentence of the post I realized it was about more than that. Self-Care is about more than getting enough sleep, eating healthy, getting exercise, and taking time for yourself. It’s also about knowing when to take a break, taking a break when your mind or body needs you to. It’s also about making sure you take time to nourish your creativity, to refill your well. (Thank you Julia Cameron.)

Taking a break for your mind might mean taking a break from the writing to go for a walk and clear your head. And hey, the fact that walking also does your body good–well, double points. 😀 And if your body is screaming at you that you’re thirsty, well then get up out of the chair and go get some water. 😀 That five minute walk from the chair to the kitchen  and back is good for both your mind and body. People talk about the cues that your body send you, and oftentimes in the past I have ignored those cues. Instead of taking a break to eat lunch I just kept writing–hell, I might not have even realized that hours had gone by until my stomach growled, or I got a headache from not eating… The truth is, once I get in that zone I forget about everything else. That’s part of the reason why I keep a large cup with a lid and straw full of water or juice on my desk, why it seems like I drink so much coffee–most of the time the coffee gets cold before I am able to finish it. But the first two cups of coffee, or my ADHD medication as I tend to think of it, those go down quick, and they’re so delicious and necessary, but so are the ounces of water that my body needs.

I have a busy schedule, and I do have a lot going on and I get a lot done (some days), but I don’t manage my time very well. That’s something I need to continue to work on, especially with NaNoWriMo coming. Managing my time includes making sure I take some time for myself. Time for walks, to get out of the house, to pamper myself a little so I can give myself a pedicure, or try that new face mask that’s been in my bathroom drawer for months, or just veg-out on SyFy movies while in my pajamas for a few hours on Sunday morning. Staying busy, especially with creative projects like writing, reading, art, etc helps lessen the depression and anxiety.

So what to do about self-care for NaNoWriMo? Like many other writers during the month of November, my aim will be to write at least 1667 words per day. From reading about other authors, some famous like Sai Stephen King, many aim to write at least 2000 words per day, while others aim to write a chapter a day, which for some genres is about the same thing.  If I aim for 2K a day then I’ll have 60,000 words by the end of November. And if I participate in words sprints at least once a week, say a few of the 20 minute word sprints I could add to that day’s word count, maybe even write enough during the word sprints to add another 1000 words for that day’s total. That would be an extra 4000 words for the month. Now we’re talking 64K for the end of November. But I have a bad day or a day when I really need a break and I only write 1000 words instead of the 2K. I’m still ahead and I’m not stressing over it. I’ll get the words written, and the best way to make sure I can do that is by taking proper care of myself.

Eat healthier snacks and meals. Drink more water. Take walks every day. Do my stretches and meditation in the mornings. Write on!!! 😀