Creative Pain & Other Discomforts

Confession: I’ve been sitting on an article for a while because I’m afraid to write it. What’s especially embarrassing is that it was my idea- and something I’m excited to talk about. What’s stopping me? MYSELF! My own dang mind.

The worst creative pain is seeing someone do what you’re afraid to do.
— Hallie Rose Taylor

I’m seeing all of these incredible women do these amazing things, and I’m awed into inaction.

Oof.

Carson Tate’s article for 99u about intellectual discomfort called out to me almost as loud as Hallie’s knock-out line. As soon as I combined the tools from Tate’s article with the emotion Hallie’s, I was ready to go. Google docs are popping up like bluebonnets and I’m pushing myself to work through the nerves and discomfort. As I worked, a pattern started to emerge though, and it wasn’t pretty.

I would write a few lines and then check my phone, or discover I was simply too thirsty to finish that sentence. I would make a dozen little adjustments to my desk, fidget a little more and then, then I could write. Fidget. Adjust. Repeat.

No wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere! I leaned into distractions and gave them way more weight than they deserved. So now I’m working on writing when I want to fidget, or check my phone one more time. Engaging in my work as it deserves to be engaged.

I’m also employing my “five more minutes” rule. When I get the urge to get up from my desk or distract myself, I give myself permission… if I just work for 5 more minutes. What I’m finding is that I don’t actually need to get up, it was just the resistance trying to throw me off my game. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.)


I encourage you to read Tate’s article and visit Hallie’s site. Both women have a unique perspective to work— and how they work— with everyday life applications. More importantly though, I encourage you to sit down with your project— whatever it is— for just 5 (more) minutes. Trust me, you don’t want to know that you were the one standing in your own way.

Oh. And if you're wondering, I submitted the article. I'll let y'all know if it's accepted!

Since (I've) Been Gone...

I took some time, as you may have noticed from the cricket sounds coming from this space. But I'm here again. During that quiet time, I realized a few things. I'm the first to admit that nothing in here is ground breaking, but it was nice to have the realizations float around my mind. 

  • Thinking about something (dwelling if you will) is usually harder than actually doing it.
  • Inspiration is cheap (but welcome).
  • Waiting for the perfect conditions means you'll always be waiting.
  • Funks happen, sometimes you learn from them, and sometimes you don't. It's fine either way.
  • 9 times out of 10 moving your body in some way each day is a really good idea. 
  • There is a fine line between looking inward for comfort and pushing people away. ...And the special people in your life won't let themselves be pushed too far away. 
  • An evening spent dancing to Beyoncé is an evening well spent.  (I ain't sorry.)
  • Do the work. It may not be perfect right away but it'll at least be something to build on.  
  • (Perfect is in the eye of the beholder.) 

A Daydream with Action Steps

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
— Authority Figure

Oh how that question used to make me sweat! My answer would include some bumbling and then a generic response catered to the person asking the question. Not inspiring, not 100% true and definitely not me. And when I was asked about myself in 10 years?! Forget it. I probably would have fainted. But now, now those are my favorite types of questions. 

For one thing, I figured out that I have way more control of my life than I thought I did in my early 20's. I moved across the country just to experience something different (a.k.a. winter) and then moved back to Texas for the wonderful and trying journey that was grad school- two experiences I'm fortunate to have had! 

It was during my second year in D.C. that I was asked what my vision for my life was, 10 years down the road. The woman asking me wasn't looking for any particular answer; she was essentially asking me where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing in 10 years so we could work backwards from there. It was my very first experience with goal coaching. I was so intrigued by this idea that I could truly shape my future by breaking the big picture into small, achievable steps to take. 

Some people tell me that they get stuck with the idea of imagining their life in 10 years. I remind them that your vision can change and it will probably change as your grow. It doesn't mean it was a bad vision- or a good one- just that your vision has changed. As you start taking on your goals, you find out, "hey maybe this isn't for me." Just like that, your vision shifts. My 10 year vision today is very different than when I first started the practice, but then- so am I.

When you're creating your vision, don't take it too seriously, think of it like the best daydream you've ever had- a daydream that you can make a reality! Use all of your senses: What do you hear (or don't you hear) where you are in 10 years? Who is with you? What can you touch? What food and drink will you enjoy? Are you smiling? I sure am! If you'd like some help creating this vision- or maybe want to break it down in to steps, reach out! It can be daunting, so it's important to remember 1) what's important to you (what your values are); 2) No one has to see it (only share if you want to) and 3) your vision is a daydream with action steps.

So! If you want to (see #2 above), share your 10 year vision below. I'll post mine too.

 

Send Yourself Fan Mail This Year

Two days ago I co-hosted a goal setting workshop with Pei, who runs The Paper + Craft Pantry. Both Pei and the P+C Pantry are true delights and it was a wonderful way to kick-off 2016! One of my favorite parts of the workshop, aside from the donuts and coffee, was when Pei handed out cards and instructed us to write to our future selves about the goals we've already accomplished 6 months in to 2016, and whatever else our hearts desired. Pei is going to mail them to us in a few months and we'll get to see what 2016-newbie me had to say! It was a fun exercise in visualizing what I want, and I'm using that feeling to stay motivated this week... and this month. 

I'm sure I say this every year around this time, but 2016 feels different... charged. So I'm taking that energy and running with it. The mundane tasks like go to the eye doctor and flossing have their roles to play in shaping me into the woman I wrote to on Sunday. Also on Sunday (it was a big day!), I met with another pal to talk about potentially working together. While that project is temporarily shelved, that meeting was a step in the right direction. Our meeting definitely influenced what I wrote to my future-self and what I think is possible this year.

I hear a lot of talk of "oh I wish I could tell my younger self this or that..." but what would you tell your older self? Your goal-getting self? Write to the you that you want to be in 6+ months and congratulate yourself on what you've done! Ask questions about specific parts of your goals and give yourself well earned praise. Ask a trusted friend or family member to [set an alarm and] mail it to you on an agreed upon date. Who knows- when it shows up in your mail box, it may give you extra motivation to take action on some of your goals. That letter could also keep you inspired throughout the year or serve as a much-needed piece of fan mail.

So go on and let your future self know how proud you are to be you!

xoxo

Just Practice Your Freakin' Violin*

*I originally titled this "On Habits and Happiness," but let's call a spade a spade and just move on.

Habits are the unsung heroes of goals, if you ask me. Want a killer smile? Better develop the habit of consistent flossing. Want to publish a book? Create a habitual routine of writing, drawing, or photographing every day so you can have content for that book. What should I do if I want to play Hedwig's Theme on the violin by Christmas? Yep- practice my freakin' violin. Consistently. 

Unfortunately, this post won't tell you how to create good habits (or how to drop the bad ones.) I'm more interested in your habits- the good, the bad, and the funny. And then I'd like to know if you've developed any habits that have brought you happiness.  

I'm asking because I'm working my way through Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. She wrote The Happiness Project, a book that came into my life one Christmas when I really needed some happiness. So I figured, why not pick up her book on habits while I'm working on creating some strong ones of my own? She does a pretty good job of explaining some of the behavioral science behind habits (forming and maintaining,) and I was intrigued by how good habits correlate with happiness.

If you need me, I'll be working my way through another round of Twinkle Twinkle. As Drake said: started from the bottom, now we're here.