I enjoy writing, and words usually come fairly easily for me. (At least, they seem to in comparison to the struggles I’ve heard other people describe for their writing process.) But the last few weeks have felt really dry and flat for me as I sit down each evening to write my blog post.
I know I’ve been stressed and busy with wrapping up the semester, preparing for the holidays, getting as many items up on Etsy as possible for holiday shoppers, finishing the yard work preparations for winter, and attending holiday functions. I know that some of my struggle to find new ideas each night is simply exhaustion. But that’s not all of it.
Shopping for Christmas presents has become ever more challenging as I have gotten older and an increasing number of people on my gift list already have everything that they really want and need. This tends to make the season more stressful than delightful as I struggle to find gifts that are more than just clutter.
This past week, I found several posts that take a look at ways to simplify and declutter Christmas, and there were a number of great ideas within these posts for gifts that will not add to clutter, as well as suggestions for reducing the clutter of Christmas decorations and for what to do with gifts that we receive that just add to our own clutter.
As an introvert, I tend to be more aware of my faults than most. This causes me to spend a lot of time and effort working on trying to find ways to improve myself in attempts to minimize these faults. In fact, efforts at self-improvement are a full-time endeavor for me.
This almost always involves adding things to the list of what I “should” be doing: be kinder, listen more (which means talk less), eat better, exercise more, clean out my closets, be more social, sleep more, read more, have a more positive attitude, keep up with my gratitude journal, meditate more, pray more, step outside my comfort zone more often, and on and on and on. It’s no wonder I get so tired! The list is never-ending.
Adding things to my plate to make myself a better person was the only way I knew how to work on improving myself. Until now. I recently discovered a whole new way to go about this.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann
I have found myself reflecting more and more about how much excess weight I carry through life. It’s not body fat that’s troubling me (although I do have some of that I could afford to lose too); it’s the weight of too much “stuff” that has increasingly come to feel like a burden. It’s not just a physical burden of things that I have to make space for and take care of, it’s also a mental and emotional weight from the clutter and the responsibility for it all.
I’ve noticed something very interesting in my daily postings of gratitude on Facebook this month. Gratitude is popular!
I generally get a minimum of response to things I post on my personal Facebook timeline and on my Facebook business page. In fact, I’ve slowly posted less and less often on both places because it seems like few people are seeing or reading the things I post there. So I’ve been really surprised at the response that this gratitude practice is getting.
I’ve spent most of my life thinking that I was not a creative person. I thought of creativity as some magical talent that only certain people had. I don’t think that any more.
I am increasingly convinced that all creativity stems from the ability to see life with fresh eyes. And every single one of us can learn to do that, including me. It doesn’t even matter what one’s preferred creative outlet is. It still all comes back to learning to see life with fresh eyes.
I must need to hear a clear message about setting and keeping boundaries around my writing practice because posts on this topic appeared everywhere I looked this week! Three of these showed up in the RSS reader on the same day; the fourth showed up the next day. They don’t all specifically mention boundaries, but each of them are directly or indirectly about the impact of setting appropriate boundaries around our writing practice on our productivity.
Oddly enough, setting boundaries around my writing practice is one area that I find to be easier than most other boundary-setting endeavors, but boundary-setting is one area that I still need to improve in all around, so some of these apply for me in more than just writing situations. I’m getting so much better with this, but I am encouraged to keep up the work after reading these.
I read Steven Pressfield’s latest book, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work, for the first time this past weekend. I say that it’s the first time because, much like his earlier book The War of Art, this is one that I can already tell that I’ll be coming back to time and time again.
In The War of Art, Pressfield introduces the concept of Resistance as the thing that all creatives fight against when we try to focus on our work. The primary way to overcome Resistance is to turn pro (as opposed to being an amateur). While he talks a little bit about what it means to turn pro in The War of Art, there is much that is left unsaid about how to make this step from being an amateur into the ranks of being a pro.
This marks the end of the my second week of consistent gratitude journaling since I’ve gotten re-started with that practice. It’s been helpful to be doing this again in several ways, and it is very interesting to observe the process, the things that make it on my list, and the effect that it is having on me.
I’m already noticing that this is becoming a habit. It’s easier to remember to do each day, and I’m finding myself mentally making note of things during the day as they happen as things I want to be sure to add to my list that night. In that sense, it’s making me more aware of things I am grateful for throughout the day rather than just at night when I make my list each day.
My job has moved from 20 hours a week to full-time, starting this week. While I have worked full-time for most of my adult life and most other people I know do the same, I’ve never worked full-time while also trying to work on my own business, take care of a house and yard with this high of a maintenance requirement, and tried to maintain a rigorous level of self-care. It’s proving to be a challenge to keep it all going.
This adjustment is even more challenging for me at the moment because there is so much ambiguity about the job itself. I’m in a new environment in a brand new area with my boss mostly gone, and I’m trying hard to be productive and useful without any clue of what’s happening. This means that there’s very little to do, which gives me way to much time to be bored and to over-think. That’s never a good thing. Being bored exhausts me much faster than being busy does!