Tools for Fueling your Creative Fire

Creativity can be much like the tide with its ebbs and flows. This can be acceptable at times, yet frustrating at others. It can also be a challenge to know where to go at times with this flow. Here are some tools I’ve gathered along the way that you may find helpful in your own creative journey. Take what resonates and leave the rest.

Creative Life Coaches can be very helpful!

I highly recommend Sam at Coaching Creatively. We’ve been working together for 2 years now! In this time, she has helped me to develop my strengths as well as my perceived weaknesses. This has helped me to grow both as a person and as a writer; as a mother, too.

Sam is amazingly supportive. She teaches you how to unlock and access yourself and your own creativity. She also understands the process, as she herself is a poet. Sam walks-the-walk and for me that’s imperative; she gets it and she gets me (which is a rare thing for me to say).

The process Sam uses is unique. It is called co-creative coaching, which means she’s there and “in it” with you. Please check her out. She has a free 1/2 hour “trial” session to offer you. What is there to lose? (well, your fear for one… that beast can be greatly unhelpful with creativity).

Meditation. I know, if you’ve followed me for any length of time, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it!

When we meditate we can hone in and focus our energy. Meditation, contrary to popular belief, is NOT about silencing, stopping or killing the mind. The mind was made to think, much like the heart to beat or the lungs to breathe. Thinking is a sign of life. HOWEVER, just as we don’t pay attention to every breath nor heartbeat doesn’t mean we have to pay attention to every single thought we think….

Through regular meditation, and increased bouts during times of distress, I have seen both my intuition and creativity increase. A tool I absolutely love is the Insight Timer App. There are many free features including countless talks and meditations on a wide variety of topics. Furthermore, if you join, membership has the advantage of granting you access to all of the courses. Definitely worthwhile to check out whether you meditate or not.

READ! When I’m stuck with my writing, I pick up a book and read. Some recent reads that I HIGHLY recommend:

  • Anais Nin In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays. While Nin was born in the early 1900’s, I was surprised HOW much I resonated with her essays in this book (no, they’re not ALL about men). Years ago, I stopped writing erotica because I felt that it was not in alignment with my spiritual growth. After reading some of her essays, I now see that this was a grave mistake on my part. Nin has helped me to see that erotica allows us to explore beyond our present reality. I’m still in resistance here, chipping away at that old salt block piece-by-lovely-piece.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I missed the train on Eat, Pray, Love (maybe I’ll catch it one day), however, this book has been an absolute gem. Gilbert has SO many counterpoints to ALL of the areas where I have found myself getting trapped, and ones I didn’t even see as traps. Just about every page or two has a new idea or view, most of which I agree, some of which I do not. HOWEVER, in reading this book (and I’m 80% through it) I am approaching my writing and my life completely differently.
  • Debbie Ford The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. This book is about looking into our shadow aspects, which are not all “bad” aspects; as hearing the word shadow may imply. My analogy here is that seeds sprout in darkness, which is also where our creativity is borne. I have overcome SO many self-limiting beliefs with this book, and since I’m still using the tools I’ve learned, I’m still counting more unsupportive beliefs undone.

Your Creative Genius. So I just started reading Big Magic last week! However, I “fell in love” with Elizabeth Gilbert by seeing her TED talk several years ago called “Your elusive creative genius.” In this talk she discusses the early Western concept of the creative genius being outside of ourselves. This concept can really help to unload a great deal of pressure and greatly free our creativity.

Follow your curiosity. In this podcast, The Curiosity-Driven Life, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses here how not everyone has a set and specific purpose in life. This really spoke to me, as I am more like a hummingbird, flitting from flower-to-flower following my varying curiosities. This is compared to how Gilbert describes herself as a “jackhammer.” Though I will say, based on her body of work, that she has both qualities. While she knew she wanted to be a writer, her body of work is quite diverse.

CREATE! Sometimes, we just need to create for ourselves, and actually, I write more often to understand myself than anything. It is then that I sometimes feel called to share my discoveries.

I’ll also add that sometimes switching the creative medium can also help get the flow moving. Allow yourself to be imperfect and make mistakes as a painter if you are a writer, or vice versa. It’s not about the outcome as much as it is the process. PERFECTION and the need for it are self-sabotaging. I find the fastest way to kill my creativity is in “looking for something deep and meaningful” to say. Furthermore, I find I lose my audience when I dig too deeply with my memes on IG.

Be in Nature or drive. Some of my best ideas ‘come to me’ when I’m driving or hiking. I feel like I read somewhere that driving and being in nature activate the creative aspects of our brains.

Be willing to make mistakes. Again, this is the perfection thing rearing its ugly head. Instead, I often find “happy mistakes” often lead to greater creative genius. So much of creativity is really about allowing.

Understand your Enneagram. This can help you to understand your basic motivations, potential potholes and even ways to rise above it all to your highest potential (this is such an amazing system to understand). Most creatives (not all) are “hopeless romantic” Enneagram Fours. I will say that I resisted this initially. However, this podcast “May the Fours be with you” showed me that this is my grouping.

Move your body. Walk, stretch, bike, hike, dance, or just move differently. We get stuck in the same movement patterns, this leads to stagnation; which is anti-flow.

Change something. Drive to work differently. Get up at a different time. Maybe get up earlier to create while the energy is still fresh. Make a new creative space, or just rearrange the one you have.

I know there is a lot of material here. It can take some time to move through it all, again, take what resonates.

May we each find and use the tools that support us on our creative journeys. 

Namaste

 

Shifting Out of Survival Mode: Week 1

While the kettle heats the water for my morning coffee, I light candles and holy wood and I focus on the soles of my feet and where they kiss the floor. The sound of the electric kettle “firing up” is comforting for me; it is familiar and a mainstay in my morning routine. Today, instead of bustling around to get the coffee press set, I pass the smoke from the burning ember of the holy wood in swirling paths around my body, giving extra nurturing and attention to areas of tension, discomfort or distress. This is just one part of the shift I’m making to get myself out of what feels like a life-long pattern of existing in survival mode.

Even with the daily meditation practice, journaling and blogging, life coaching and counseling over the years, I have still been stuck in fight-or-flight mode. Good quality sleep is elusive more nights than not. My muscles may relax for a day or two after a good massage, then they spring back into pre-massage mode – even with stretching, magnesium supplements and frequent Epsom Salt soaks. Behind my calm exterior there has lived a girl who feels constantly on guard, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

The key that unlocked my understanding? Answering 4 pages of questions about my body’s responses to different circumstances; a questionnaire assigned to me by my naturopath (a wholistic physician). After tallying up the scores for each system, she graphed a grid that showed more than 80% of my systems were in need of “high priority” attention. “This looks like PTSD; everything is hyper-sensitive,” she said calmly. Somehow, this was not a shock and instead was a bit of relief.

We developed a plan of more intensive self-care for the next 2 weeks. At first, I was resistant to the intensity – resistance has been my way as it’s hard to accept change when you already feel overwhelmed by most days.

An important change is taking a more detached or “observation” approach to my emotions. Instead of “diving into them,” which is something I have blogged about ad nauseum, it is important that I stay above my emotions and observe them which is also differentiated from staying above my emotions and ignoring them.

When I notice an emotion that is uncomfortable, I am to observe it to understand what the emotion itself may be. Then I am to give that part of myself that is hurting what it needs. If part of me is feeling lonely, then I am to give that part of myself the attention, love and nurturing it needs. Really, I would encourage you to try it, it is SO much faster and effective than what I have explained in the past.

It turns out that by diving into the emotion, I find comfort in the pain – and then I am reinforcing the pattern. It has been easier for me to feel pain than joy; for to feel joy, I have believed, means it can just as easily be taken away. Turns out I’ve been stuck in survival and victim mode! Yes, it’s way past time to shift this… 

While she did not diagnose me with PTSD, it’s clear that I’ve been stuck in survival mode. There was some freedom in hearing this. Looking back now I see that happiness, joy and feeling-at-ease have been fleeting and generally have been delivered by external circumstances.

Here are some of the survival mode patterns that I’ve noticed:

  • Frequent insomnia or restless sleep unless “everything is perfect”
  • Most externally driven changes are a challenge to accept. My first response: resistance
  • Difficulty connecting with others intimately
  • A near constant struggle to be present – even when things are going well
  • Feeling that I’m treading water and just one big wave from drowning
  • Being more “at ease” when things are uncomfortable than when things are going well. Again, just waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Dampening of any strong emotional response due to the fear of becoming overwhelmed
  • Consistent and significant muscle tension
  • Spending a lot of energy on appearing and radiating a sense of calm!

Usually I would have waited until the end of the 2 weeks to give a retrospective account of what has happened. This, however, seemed too important to wait so long. It is also fitting that today is the Equinox, a good time to choose to shift and make changes.

May we each discover what it is that the hurting parts of us need – and then apply that salve internally, instead of seeking external fixes to our internal issues. May we each shift from a mode of surviving to one of thriving. 

Namaste

Happy Equinox!

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