A few pictures I have coloured from the wonderful adult colouring in book: ‘Johanna’s Christmas’ by Johanna Basford. I hope it brightens up your day a little. x
Here’s a picture I completed colouring yesterday, from the lovely adult colouring book ‘World of Flowers’ by Johanna Basford. I was nervous to attempt the page but took inspiration from a little piece of pottery that I painted last year. I think it turned out ok? What do you think? x
There is a beautiful line in Max Ehrmann’s prose poem, ‘Desiderata’ (things to be desired), that encourages us to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans.
The concept is so simple, and yet equally profound. We desire certain things in life, and we give our lives to pursuing, obtaining and experiencing them. And yet, once obtained we are so quick to move on to the next thing, just as butterfly or a honey bee might flit from flower to flower.
How many of us take the time to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans? We rarely seem to be satisfied, but perhaps we don’t give ourselves time to truly appreciate and be grateful for our lives as we hurry on to experience something bigger or better.
Perhaps you are reading this and inwardly agreeing to the sentiment behind this statement: “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”. It is a nice thought, an encouraging quote, but what will you and I actually do with it? And how can this Winter Survival Guide prompt us to use the time we have this season to do just that?
1. Review your year:
We could just sit in quietness and enjoy pondering our achievements, but can we appreciate and enjoy them in a more focused and practical way before moving on to the next thing or things in the year to come?
A good and simple starting point could be to set aside some time, to take a pen and a piece of paper and sketch out the important things you have done, experienced and learned in each of the months of 2019 (leaving room for the time you still have left of this calendar year).
It doesn’t matter from an outside perspective whether the things you have captured seem ‘significant’ or not, the thing that matters is that they are important to you, in your life’s journey, no matter how small or inconsequential you might think they would seem to someone else. That’s not what matters, what matters is the life you have lived this year and the lessons you have learned.
What could be some points to ponder as you consider each month in turn? Perhaps we could start with something like this:
- What was the main thing I learned in that month?
- Why was this important?
- What do I consider I achieved (no matter how big or small, it could be as seemingly simple as sticking to a routine, surviving a challenge or showing kindness to someone)?
- How have I grown from these experiences and what will I take forwards?
2. Enjoy your achievements:
As you reflect upon the specific achievements and experiences of each month of the year gone by, take time to ponder them, to be grateful for the lessons you have learned, how you have changed and grown as a person and to enjoy the fact that you are living life right now and learning new things now. Take it in, and celebrate it in a way that is personal to you, even if it is quietly, and even if it is ‘giving yourself a pat on the back’ for having got through a tough time – achievements aren’t all about gold stars and certificates.
Consider writing down and naming the ‘treasures’ that you have gleaned from this year’s experience of life before you move on to the next thing. A life well lived involves appreciating the life that we are living.
3. As well as your plans:
It is a time for looking forward as well as for reflecting and enjoying the moment. Maybe you can spend some time by yourself discovering what has really been meaningful and significant to you this year, understand what is valuable and begin to plan ahead as you reach towards your future achievements and make plans for how you will accomplish them.
Try to put your energy into pursuits that you both love and are good at (or have some even basic skill that you can build upon), and that leave a positive impact upon the world.
Have you ever thought about the difference between procrastination and creative thinking in your life? Procrastination is when you know you need to do something but keep coming up with excuses to put it off. I’m sure we’ve all been there! Some of us may even spend most of our time there, which surely can’t be too good in the practical day to day things of life.
However, if you are a creative person, then maybe at some point in your life you’ve been labelled or have labelled yourself as ‘lazy’. But is this actually the case?
Think of a project you’ve been working on for a long time, something that requires thought, focus, commitment, insight. Maybe you’re a painter, a sculptor, a musician / composer, working on a photography project, or like me, a writer. Has there been something that you have had as an on-going creative venture, that is very important to you, but that somehow you keep ‘stop-starting’ and yet with no intention of giving up?
Maybe you are overly critical of yourself about this. In a world that is fast-paced, filled with deadlines, and timelines, it can be difficult to see the positives in letting things rest for a while. Obviously, if you are working to external deadlines such as writing for a publisher / book deal, preparing for an exhibition with a set date, or working on a commissioned piece of art, then you may in fact be procrastinating if you are putting off what you know needs to be done.
But what if you are solely creating something with no other demands imposed other than it is something you feel you need to do and to express? I have been working on a novel for ten years, and it involves a lot of personal reflection, as well as progressing on my journey of processing and healing past experiences and present realities. I used to think, when I was younger, that I would have written my book by such and such an age. Is it failure that I haven’t? Or is it woven within the fabric of this ‘life’s work’ itself? Isn’t it the case that something coming from the deepest parts of me to find expression and life as I continue to learn and make sense of things needs and in fact deserves time?
When I am not working on my novel, which can be for months on end (I could look at this as because I am busy with other commitments, need longer focused periods of time, etc.) the creative process is still happening. It hasn’t stopped just because there is a pause in the writing, just as your creative process maybe continuing even when for a time you have put down your pen, pencil, paintbrush, composition notebook, camera, sculpting tools, musical instrument, or whatever it may be for you. During the ‘fallow’ periods of ‘not writing’ my novel, I still continue to write in other ways that require less focus and emotional and psychological investment which can actually be a relief from the difficulty and intensity of expressing in art personal pain and growth. My mind continues to process and ‘sift’ through experiences, gaining insight as I continue on my life path, and perhaps subconsciously working out ‘solutions’ to yet to be answered questions in my novel itself. I learn new things from my experiences, from people around me, from reading, and gain insight, inspiration and new ideas even when I am not working specifically on my creative project. And when I come back to it, I realise that I hadn’t actually ‘left’ it. Just as in music, those moments of silence, of pause, of reflection can be profound and imbued with power and meaning and emotion, so too can the times of rest in our creative journey.
Can you relate? Maybe if you are in a similar position and if it is the case that you are giving yourself a hard time over not investing time in something so important to you creatively, you could instead consider all of the many ways that the rest and silence is not in fact laziness or procrastination but a form of growth, insight, of learning, and exploring other people’s creativity, or reflecting upon and sifting through your own inner journey so that when you do once more give yourself to your creative work, things are more focused, have a greater depth, authenticity and sharpness to them.
It’s just a thought that I’ve come to realise gives me greater freedom from self-imposed expectations on my creative journey. What about you? Would love to hear your thoughts and insights into your own creative processes.
This post will be a little lighter, brighter and more colourful than my previous post today (which was a little bit ‘heavy’).
Recently I tried some pottery painting with my lovely mum. I have to wait a few more days to collect the finished pieces as they have gone into a kiln and will come out all glazed, bright, shiny and new!
Here is a sneak peek – the colours will be much more vivid once the pieces are finally ready.
Even when slowing down within the creative process, it can be that we find that we feel rushed within certain areas of ourselves inwardly. Part of the process of creativity is deep connection, and therefore we need to be aware that there can sometimes be a disconnect even when we slow down to write.
I have been experiencing the calm of engaging creatively with my writing. And yet, I sense an inward restlessness, and so I am going to pause and take a break away from writing my book to exercise my sense of connection.
It is quite simple, and is helpful for managing anxiety as well. Slow down, turn off distractions, and concentrate on your five senses, one at a time.
Observe, notice, experience, feel, the following, if you are able:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Don’t rush through it. Don’t think of what you want to or ‘should be’ creating. If you like, play some gentle instrumental music quietly in the background to help you compose your breathing and concentration. Focus on your experience and enjoying being present in it. We can’t create the similitude of an experience well, if we haven’t first learned to live it….in and for itself.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I am taking a few days out of my work schedule to continue writing my novel. I’m ‘on retreat’ in my own home, and although the days I set aside for this are Monday to Wednesday, this Sunday evening I have been settling down to re-read the most recent portion of my book and to reengage with it.
This is my first novel, and it comes from the deepest part of me. I am also writing a light-hearted piece of fiction, but that is really just an imaginative journey with fictional characters, whereas the novel that has been birthed in me through painful experiences, hurt, perseverance, faith and hope is what is most important to me out of anything I am writing.
Coming from this place, my notes to you (Hello world! 🙂 It’s nice to not have to be a complete recluse on retreat and still have some semblance of contact and connection with the outside world) are that writing is more than creating sentences from finely chosen words to create meaning and story. It is SO much more. For me it is an expression of my soul, a cathartic journey, a making sense of traumatic experience through allegory and story, a process of growth through gaining insights into the human condition, mind, psychology and heart, and an expression of praise and worship to my Creator, and a hopeful offering that something of my soul’s journey will touch and help someone else someday.
There is depth to such writing, when we write from our hearts, that goes beyond prose on a page or a screen. I have felt so reengaged with what I have written, and also quite emotionally touched by it too. This is perhaps why we ‘creative types’ need time, space and solitude to assimilate and allow what is within us to take shape and find an expression to share with the world. Part of writing is sharing an intimate glimpse of your soul, and even though nobody is reading my novel except myself, there is still power in this process.
It is hard to grasp the wonder and necessity of creativity in our lives, especially in a fast paced world that does not allow us the time for lessons to simmer within us and for us to more fully process, be changed by, overcome and experience growth through our life’s experiences. And yet there is power in authentic creativity. I know you have something unique to share with the world, even if it takes time, many that have gone before us spent their lives crafting something that would only be completed, acknowledged or understood after their time on earth. Yet, isn’t our human experience so much more than fast paced ‘clicks’, ‘views’ and ‘likes’? Take time to develop your craft, and to share that unique part of yourself with the world in a way that allows you the opportunity to authentically experience the lesson for yourself, and then in some small part share a glimmer of that deep humanity with the world.
I’m trying to get back into adult colouring in again, as I have only really been able to do a little bit here and there, so here is a picture I started and finished this morning – which is the first one I have completed in a while. This is from the lovely colouring book, ‘Nature’s Beauty’, with the original black and white picture shown in the insert below. I hope it brightens up your day a little 🙂 x
How creative are you? My guess is that if you are a blogger, you’re probably fairly high in the creative stakes. And yet, creativity ebbs and flows, and can take on various different dimensions and expressions throughout life, and can be approached very uniquely from individual to individual.
Creative thinking is not necessarily confined to artistic pursuits, such as writing, drawing, design, travel, sculpture, dance, photography, cookery, painting, literature, crafts, and so on and on with the endless possibilities of engaging with life in this world on this amazingly fascinating planet. Creative thinking can also find its expression in business, research, science, teaching, entrepreneurial pursuits and more analytical fields.
If you’re like me then you’re both highly creative and analytical in certain areas of your life. In other areas or fields of learning you may have to apply more grit and determination to learning something that doesn’t necessarily ‘spark the fire’ in you quite as easily.
So in the ebb and flow of creativity, of being human, sometimes inspiration can seem to run dry. You know you have an idea in you somewhere, and yet you can’t quite articulate it even to yourself. You stare at that blank piece of paper or computer screen, wondering what to write, draw or plan. You hold the fabric in your hands and can’t quite engage your ideas and your heart as passionately as you once did and end up tossing it aside for when you’re feeling more ‘in the zone’.
So what do you do? Realise that even when you aren’t necessarily producing grand designs, ideas, plans or making anything, there is still a process going on within you and perhaps it is somewhat of a ‘sifting’ of ideas, emotions and experiences that will find their expression in due course.
Ease yourself from the self imposed pressure of having to ‘show’ something or produce something. Inspiration is a lot to do with authenticity. Authentically living in, feeling, experiencing that particular moment, that ‘something’ real in life, that your soul connects to and desires to express and find expression in.
Engage with yourself again, your five senses. Take time to be present, grounded, and still. Become aware of the beauty, depth, simplicity and profundity of the things you can touch, taste, hear, see, and smell right now. Drawing inspiration from others is a beautiful thing, and yet connecting with your own experience of life in the moment is perhaps more powerful.
Don’t confine creativity and inspiration to the realm of producing great works. First *experience* it. Your expression may be in a rhythm, a phrase, some notes jotted on a crumpled piece of paper, the enjoyment of the rustle of leaves in your hand or underfoot, the appreciation of the slow movement of clouds across the sky, a word, a thought, a scribble, an unwritten, unshared song that you give life to in the moment, the click of a camera, a combination of colours, the unravelling of a piece of string.
The first mark on that piece of paper. That first word typed on your computer screen.
Perhaps you can start there. Alive. And maybe what your soul gives expression to can one day be shared.
Take your time. Live it first. Life is the inspiration you’ve been waiting for…