THANKS — To You!

It’s no secret we’re in the midst of the crazy time of year. There’s so much to do for others, and take part in that it’s easy to get lost in the wave of holidazzle. It’s also a great time to say Thank YOU!

Giving thanks to yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself at any time of year. If you’re creative person or like creative things, you know that too much celebratory chaos can be destructive. Practice T-H-A-N-K-S to you and enjoy this holiday season and arrive in the New Year with a great attitude.

ID-100271736_Thumbs Up Means Thanks A Lot And Approved_ by Stuart Miles

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Timing- Pay close attention to your schedule this season. What’s your timing? It’s your personal time. Do you want to have dinner with a friend or be shopping at that hour of the day? Maybe you don’t want to shop at all? Give thanks for the way you choose to live and decide what works for your best timing so you can both enjoy, and give joy in all of your activities.

Health– Notice and be very honest with the state of your health right now. At this time are you capable of what there is to do? What exactly do you need right now to maintain the health you have, and improve it if you need to? Would a bit less decorating, partying or driving here and there be a good choice for your health? How would a healthy home cooked meal that nourishes you feel instead of a round of entertainment? A bit of quiet time or a nap might serve you better than many other activities. Honor your health and give thanks for how healthy you are this season.

Anxiety- There’s no denying it. This can be a season of high anxiety.  There’s extra noise, moving bits, activities, blinking lights and decorations spilling all over the place. Yikes! Those new wonderful energy saving lights give people like me serious migraines because they have a micro strobing effect. Even if you enjoy the decorative things of the season they’re in abundance adding extra input to your being. Sounds, smells, textures, colors, people, and an wealth of special foods during this season can create too much stress. If your nutritional balance goes awry you’re not going to feel well and might instead be feeding anxiety. Marketing uses an element of pumping up our anxiety making it irresistible to not grab an extra present just in case. Commercials send messages checking if you’re ready for that crazy hour when everything is supposed to be perfect. Remember that those moments last a few seconds of your life. Treat yourself gently this season. How will you choose to live with less stress?

No- One simple little word. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase, “Just say no!” Think of all the ways that you’ll need to say no during the holidays or anytime you need to moderate your schedule. Say the words sweetly and honestly, because you care about who and how you are.  “No thank you, I don’t care for any more food. No, I’ve had enough to drink.  No, I don’t feel like going out to dinner that night. No, I need to get rest instead. No, I’m not cooking dinner for 50 people. No, I don’t care to go through all of the work to decorate. No, I’m not taking on that extra project. No I’m not doing that extra activity.” Celebrate yourself by gently and firmly saying “No” this season.

Kindness– If there’s one word that says what this season is supposed to be about it would be— kindness. This is a great time to practice your kindness skills. People are taxed, tired, stressed, anxious, and bombarded with messages that they and everything they touch needs to be flawless and full of magical moments. There’s a pervasive sense that everything needs to be all shiny, twinkling, and full of hope and promise. However, without being conscious about your actions, it’s a setup for disappointments. Giving your kindness will go much further than anything else you can do. It may not be easy when another shopper hits you with her grocery cart and yells at you for being in her way, or the parking spot is rudely snatched, or someone is just angry. The loveliness you pull into your own heart will be well worth it when someone cuts you off in traffic, grabs the last item on the shelf. Flash your smile, send them kindness, and fill your own well with humanity.

Satisfaction– Know what you need to fill up, and when you’re full. Go for the things that serve you best. It’s okay to have enough of your nieces and nephews running around and screaming, relative’s rants or listening to stories about grotesque organ failures. It’s quite right to eat a few bites of all the rich foods. Decide what you need to feel satisfied and cut out the excess this season. The holidays will go smoother, your stress will be reduced and you’ll be a much happier person when January 1 rolls around. You won’t feel as if you’ve been bulldozed. Instead you’ll feel fulfilled, rested, and your checkbook could have extra money, because you were consciously choosing how you wanted your holidays to be.

I’m very thankful for you and that you’re reading my blog. Happy New Year!

 

Coping Creatively

It’s been a hard winter for most in North America. Where I live we love the season. Not this one! It’s been just more work and bitter cold temperatures. Cabin fever is not a joke this year. It’s a real health concern for the creative soul.

Ice Crystals Frame My View

Ice Crystals Frame My View

I usually enjoy a winter walk and plenty of snowy activities like cross country skiing and snowshoeing. I drive about and watch bolder types ice fish and skate in the many lakes and rinks around. Not this winter! We’ve had three times the usual subzero temperature days. I don’t see many ice houses or fishing neighborhoods set up on frozen lakes. My smartphone weather report gives me a daily picture of what frigid looks like. Enough already!

Green Meets Frigid

Green Meets Frigid

What can a creative do to weather a wobbled polar vortex? Since going out is miserable, I’ve been literally  looking out for inspiration. My trusty camera and I have been snapping photos of the ice formations on my windows. They’re exquisitely detailed and change throughout the day as the water vapor trapped between the glass panes melts and refreezes.  It’s been a continual show that has me mesmerized by it’s intricacy and the myriad of ways light is reflected!

Intimate Ice

 

Frozen Dance

Frozen Dance

I’d love hear how the rest of the continent has survived winter? Add a post and tell me what eased your cabin fever.

Summer Blitzing

I don’t know about you, but as an artist I can get excited about pretty much anything. I love to let ideas tumble through my mind, and sometimes to distraction from my real creative work. As summer heats up in the north country, all I want to do is sit and dream. This is the summer blitzing phenomenon, that makes me feel light and fluttery, bouncing from one thought to another. In this mindset, I can’t do much physical or outdoor work, which is what we northerners save up and take advantage of doing in summertime. Frankly, it’s too hot to be outside anyway, so I need to work inside looking out. Gazing through windows is definitely dream time, however learning to do so with purpose can be mind bending. I have to remember to plan time for and call this activity passive work, and set limits on how much of it I can afford to do given my other commitments, but it’s always worthwhile.

One way to make idea spinning meaningful is to record what you see, sense, discover or ask about the experience. Your observations might come in handy to solve your current or future creative challenge. I also like recording mine, because it sets limits due to the media used, and makes the time a part of my real artistic work. I think as summer as the soft months during the year, a time to ease up my workload. So when I find the need to day dream, I try to honor it. When you make this a real part of your summer, you can look forward to blitzing your way through your creativity with insight and wonder, and maybe an unanticipated nap!

Reframing Can Help You Succeed

I had lunch with a friend the other day. “OMG/Boy I’m frustrated!” they said. “So what’s going on?” I ask. “I have a new project manager who doesn’t know what’s she’s doing.” “Tell me more,” I continue. Well she’s only been here a few months. She’s young, and more stereotypical descriptors flow into our discussion. At this point, I know my friend is facing a challenge and in the throes of learning. Frustration is the obvious symptom, and stereotyping is a sign they may feel cornered and defensive. And most of us want to elevate our symptoms fast, so we focus on what seems obvious to us.
There’s another way to make it feel better and actually enhance the experience. If we looked at our challenge as just that- a new encounter, we might be able to accept the differences and change that which is frustrating us. Saying some altered things to engage the situation, might sound something like this: “I have a new manager in charge of my project starting tomorrow. I really don’t know much about her, and I’d like to know what experiences she’s had that can make our project better. I’d also like to learn about her ideas and see how we can combine our thinking to make our project a great experience for the team.”
Here are some of the key differences when we look at a challenge as less of a threat and more of a learning exchange. In the example statements above we never give up our own important placement in the project. By reframing our thoughts and words, we continue to see ourselves as part of the team and take ownership of our role. We also embrace the new person as someone to learn about, rather than quickly assess and negatively judge. Reframing allows us to use our creative insights to discern what we need to know. We can stay focused on the project, not our feelings. Last, we anticipate a great experience as the successful outcome we expect.
All of these adjustments will bring up frustration and most likely won’t come easy for us, because learning something new is a change, and change is scary and hard. However, when we read our frustration simply as a symptom of a new learning that is taking place, we can simply reframe our thinking to more easily make the personal adjustments necessary to reach a positive outcome.
I’d love to hear how you’ve reframed your challenges to turn them into success!

Need Some Really Good Advice?

Ever get some advice that knocks you into a much needed reality change? I’m pretty sure you know the kind I mean. It comes in simple words, a sentence fragment, maybe just a sentiment. It packs a real punch because it comes at just the best time for you to feel it’s meaning, and recognize this is the purposed idea you most need now.

I got such a gift the other day, and it’s been a game changer for me. For over a year now, I’ve been under the weather with health issues. I’ve had a couple of surgeries to fix “things” that have been getting worse over time. I’m feeling guilty sharing this because I’m so blessed that none of it has been a serious health crisis. Except that now, the chronic nature of my healing has become a crisis. I’m not someone who likes to be lacking in energy or told to take it easy over and over and yes now, over again.

It’s hard to plan to creative projects when you doubt you can execute them. I feel like I’m just going to make more messes every time I try to start something, and this eats up my creative energy. I’ve always had the ability to come up with more ideas than I will ever be able to create, and sitting around resting to heal lets these dogged thoughts go crazy.  It uses up my energy to manage them, too.  

It really doesn’t matter what your energy buster might be. You could have limited energy, time, money or supplies from any number of situations. And your mental state could suffer just like mine has. So when magic words are spoken to you that help you put things back into a gentler perspective, they can be the balm that really works.

A really kind and wise mentor, Eric Maisel told me to “pester myself less.” And his words have stuck for me so much I’m making myself a necklace with this phrase to remind me to do just that! 

Chronic Need For Motivation?

Lately I’ve found myself needing an unending supply of motivation. Not the kind that gets you up and on with the day precisely, but the type that gets you through a project from beginning to end – and feeling overjoyed at all your accomplishments. Often us creative types can be at a loss for the satisfaction about what we’re capable of creating. Perfectionism is commonly blamed, but I’m discovering the real culprit is lost motivating energy. For me it feels like my car is stuck in between gears and I stall out.

What kind of creative mechanics could fix this? I’ve been stumbling around for long while trying to find it. And I think I finally have some words that fit, so I can begin to articulate my issues to myself and others; and hopefully get some useful feedback that will reinvent my motivation.

Here’s my plight: I’ve been endlessly clearing and organizing my home and studio. It’s more or less been going on for over a year and a half. Any sane person might ask,” What kind of mess do you live and work in?” Well not that much actually. It’s the emotional part that’s a mountain; and all the stuff that complicates those feelings. Today a wise advisor reminded me not to go into feeling grief and loss, but work at just staying in clearing the workspace and organizing it enough to work in. Well. duh! Simple switch up of words! That little change in how I’m thinking about this project opens up a whole new look at my progress, (which has been phenomenal) and what I need to do next (which is pretty simple).

As an empty nester, I now have all this space in my house which has accumulated the stuff of thirty years from an actively creative family and several businesses’. I let myself believe I was starting anew like moving out rather than moving on. I still live and work here and need my tools and supplies to create. What’s really changed is that I can finally spread out all over my home if I want to. Emotionally I never felt that was an option before. That feels freeing and more than a bit scary mostly because I’ve always had a cramped space to work in. That means there’s never been enough storage so things always looked a bit unkempt. My fear is that my living space will end up that way though it doesn’t have too. That’ll be my choice. My workspace just has to function well enough for my work flow, and the stored items can be moved all over my place as I please.

With these switched up words I feel like I can begin to keep up the energy I need to get back into the swing of what I really want to do and have the motivation to stay consistent with my efforts. The practice of not overwhelming myself, will need to be a chronic effort because, I’ll need to remind myself often that managing my workspace is about the flow of my work. It is not about the pack it up and check it off task mastering that can leave me feeling spent, joyless and unendingly emotionally worked to death. Well, right now, this all sounds to me good anyway – going to move a few boxes into a new location. Keep you posted on the rest of my progress.