Friday, April 30, 2010

Shutting Down

I'm not feeling very inspired or creative today.

I'm writing anyway because I think that's what this blog is all about. Creating habits, working through blocks, learning not to let things stop you.  Today, it's hard.  So, I had started a post about motivation and how it seems to work, but I'm saving that for another day.

Today, it's easier to talk about what's in front of me.  I feel shut down from anything creative.
In The Artist's Way, she talks a lot about gremlins.  It's basically the voice inside of you that keeps you down.  It talks badly about you - to you.  My gremlin voice is the biggest jerk ever!  (says the 12 year old inside of me)

What triggers a gremlin and sends it soaring to the front of your brain?  For me, it's sadness and/or fear.  Fear of failure, fear of doing it wrong, fear of life changes I can't handle - my gremlin apparently doesn't find me very capable.  It's a persistent voice that somehow manages to push through a thousand other thoughts and doesn't let anything get in it's way.  If only my confidence had that kind of focus.

As I work on my writing, I hear, "Who do you think you are to write?  You've never written anything substantial.  Writers are much smarter than you.  You don't have the stamina or follow through.  You don't have the discipline!"  That stupid gremlin goes on and on and on.  Honestly, what a nag!

The good news is that a) it's less prevalent than it used to be, and b) I am learning tools to combat the gory beast.  Things that help for me are:

1. Writing stream of consciousness in hopes of unplugging the dam.
2.  Exercising and then coming back to it.
3.  A good cup of coffee.  (Caffeine, a drug, I know. But hey, at least it's not Irish Whiskey.)
4. And, of course, blogging about it.

My gremlin, at the moment, is saying, "No one cares what you do to get un-stuck or ward me away?  Nobody will read this!"

I wrote anyway.  Now I'm posting.  Have that Mr. Gremlin!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Creating creative community

So, though I like to think of myself as a truly unique individual, I, shockingly, am not the first to consider a way to revive my creative juices.  Not to mention, this is also not the first time I've taken a step to do it.  Have you ever heard of The Artist's Way?  It's a book by Julia Cameron.  It's been around for a good long time.  It works.

It's something that everyone, even those not aiming for a creative career, can benefit from.  It's a 12 week program that you can do on your own.  So, you can just buy the book and start the exercises.  Sounds simple, huh?  Well, one of the hardest things for me about it is that you do it alone.  It takes a lot of discipline and structure and, well,... things that aren't exactly my strong suit.

My mother, she would rock at this.  She makes lists.  She then completes them before doing anything else.  She's never tempted to just leave the list and go to a movie or sit down and vow to do it tomorrow.  She is someone I admire, hold myself up to and, of course, drives me crazy... by the way, I drive her crazy too.  Just don't tell her I know!

This book is something she would complete with gold stars and on-time.  I couldn't get myself past week three on my own.

The good news is that several years ago, I stumbled upon a woman who takes the book and facilitates a group.  We met for 12 weeks, once a week and kept ourselves on track.  Nobody beat anybody up for not finishing a task, but we did motivate one another to keep going.  I loved all the people.  The coolest thing about them is that there was a documentary filmmaker, a couple of actresses, a lawyer, and several other occupations that you probably wouldn't think would line up to spend their Saturdays digging inside themselves in the name of creativity.  It was the first time I finished it.  I didn't want it to end.

If you're in the Chicago area and this strikes you as something you might like to do, I highly recommend looking at Michel's website:

Let me repeat, you don't have to want to live as an actress, writer, director, or desire to display your feelings through interpretive dance movement in order to do something like this.  It's just fun and opens you up to other parts of you.

So, why am I babbling on about this?  Well, it was back then that I had the first thought about letting writing be an important creative outlet for me.  I have been ruminating the idea of writing a book in my brain for sometime, but my inner gremlins have really gotten the best of me.  

I'll take another time to talk about those, but suffice to say, my inner critic is pretty harsh and not much of an optimist.  The thing is, as I mentioned before, I feel better when I write.  Be it to you, the black hole of the blogging world or in my journal, or some short story... whatever.  I like it.  I do like to work with people though, and I'm hoping that over time this blog will collect others who are striving to do something that fills their soul each day as well.  If you are, tell me about it.  If you're blogging, let me know, I'll follow.  Connection and a community is a good thing.  

What are you working on?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


My intent in starting this blog was to inspire creative recovery within myself, and writing every week seemed like good way to go.  Even better, if when anyone starts to read my blog, it creates a reason to keep writing.  I might even encourage others to start doing something towards creating a piece of their life that they had stopped pursuing.  It's always better to diet with someone, so I'm figuring the same theory applies.  So, as I got ready to do this next blog post, here's what I'd hoped my process would look like:

1.  Have a thought - or two or three strung together.
2.  Go to my computer or journal, jot it down and expand on said thoughts.
3.  Post blog with something inspiring.

Here's how it really happens:

1.  Have a thought -- yeah, it's kinda awesome.  Better head to the computer...
2.  Hear a thunderous sound that might be my almost 2 year old knocking every item in his room over simultaneously.
3.  Run to the room passing said almost 2 year old going the other way with a clear, "Wasn't me!" look on his face.
4.  Finding his cow head humidifier, formerly filled with water, now decapitated from it's base and leaking, no, pouring out it's contents all over the wood floor.
5.  Grab towels, get on hands & knees to soak up cow head water that is now nicely mixed with tumbleweeds of dog hair from under the crib -- clearly, I have been neglecting this area for months.
6.  Curse myself for my poor housekeeping skills & vow to clean dog hair more diligently going forward much the same way I used to vow never to drink again after a hangover -- and with the same level of commitment and follow-through, I'm sure.  This thought is interrupted by my son yelling, "Mom!  Nuuuuuuu!" while putting his fingers to his head acting as if he has horns.  (Nuuu! is the sound he makes for cows --- we're still working on the finer points of animal sounds.)
7.  With fragments of original thought still in my head, lake cleaned up, a pillow's worth of wet dog hair in the garbage, and a few minutes left to jot something down, I head towards the computer.
8.  Realizing that I can't leave the almost 2 year old upstairs, I go to grab him and find out he's nowhere in sight until I hear a "Hi!".  I turn towards the sound and see a little face staring at me from deep inside our very big dog crate.
9.  Go spelunking into the dog hair filled (it's supposed to be there -- it's a dog crate) cave to retrieve him.  It takes several less than graceful attempts because though he only knows 4 words, he has gained some seriously mad skills of evasion.
10.  Get downstairs to the computer.  Put child in front of The Wiggles

 - I know! not-so-perfect parenting, but it buys me 15 glorious minutes -- and finally, I sit down to write.

11.  Stare blankly at the blinking cursor on a blank blog page thinking, "What the hell was I going to write about?"

So, now that fabulous post that was going to be a brilliant piece of writing turns into a story about an almost 2 year old, a cow head humidifier and my seriously defunct cleaning skills.  This, my friends is why my creative recovery might take a little longer that I'd hoped.

...But you've got to start somewhere, right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Diving in...

As I sit watching my two dogs, my husband, and my 20-month old little boy play in the yard, I feel grateful.  I love them all with an intensity that I'm not sure I can accurately describe.  Before I had Tommy, I heard a quote that went something like this, "When you have a child, you're heart lives out side your body forever after."  Well, it went something like that... I'm paraphrasing because if I knew how true that statement would be, I would have printed it out word for word and framed it.  I feel that sentiment everyday. 

Here's the thing, as I sit and watch my crew, I also have feelings that are, well... less Hallmark.

The things that also run through my head are, "Who am I?" and "How did I get here?"  See, it's not that "here" is bad, it's just feels a little off to the left (or right) of where I want to be.  Since I was a small child, I've been an artist.  Not a visual one - just look in my childhood box of drawings and clay sculptures - I was clearly never a budding Van Gogh or Michaelangelo.  Of course, my mom, god love her, would have told you differently.  I was always writing, acting, dancing and, much to my best friend's dismay, directing.  So, when I look at all the roles I play on a day to day basis, they include:  Mom, wife, dog mom, business owner, daughter, sister, aunt, but very rarely artist.  

Now, I'm absolutely clear that I'm not alone in this feeling.  In fact, people around the world, have been feeling this need for a slight life chiropractic adjustment.  I mean, few of us are actually doing what we've always wanted to, but why?  My dad would probably say, "Because, that's life."  He's partly right, but don't tell him!  What I know is that my sanity is better when I'm creating.  My husband agrees and he has a vested interest in my sanity.  I know that in order to fulfill this need, I have to just--- do.  

This is why I'm here jumping into the blogging abyss.  Everything I have done thus far has landed me in this place has had it's purpose and created happiness for me. But now, I'm ready to spend a little of each week doing things that merge where I am now and who I always wanted to be.  I want to add artist back into my list of roles.  

I figure, why not tell you all about it as it happens and create a little accountability along the way.  Want to join me?  What part of your dreams have you left in the dark for responsibility and grown-up-itis?