Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever just feel out of sorts because you have wandered away from the sources of your art? It happens to me more often than I care to admit because being a working artist is as much about marketing and administration as it is about creating. I understand that and I welcome the entire package, I wouldn't choose to live another life, but... sometimes it makes me really crabby.
When this happens my first reaction is usually to run as hard and as fast as I can away from the things that will help. I want to watch mindless television, buy something, go to sleep. I want to feel numb rather than doing the things I need most, because doing them will often make me feel more. When I finally stop running long enough to notice what I'm doing (and I run just about every time, it's amazing I manage to create anything) I feel sheepish. Kind of ashamed and relieved that, in all likelihood, no one noticed me running. Everyone else is too busy with their own avoidance runs to see mine most of the time.
Once I've caught my breath I make a cup of tea and try to reconnect with myself enough to know what will help me through this moment of grumpiness, what will help me reconnect with my artistic source for just this moment. Once I manage one moment I can often manage another and feel much better until the next time I disconnect. And I will disconnect again.
Here are a few things that help me reconnect to myself and my artistic passion. I'd love to know what helps you.
- Really, I make myself a cup of tea. But this time, I try to pay attention. I try to notice the water steeping, the color changing. I watch the swirls of milk. I let the flavor unfold on my tongue. I use this as a chance to have a meditative moment and be present. Sometimes I'll do something physical so I can feel the push and pull of my muscles, reminding me of my own strength.
- I go back to the old stories. I pull a real book off my shelf and read about Baba Yaga or Nasrudin or Jack. I remind myself of some of the universal truths about being human and connect with the stories I love.
- I get listened to. I find someone who cares about me and I tell them a story so I can remember that I am good at this. Sometimes I might invite several people over and put on a mini-concert. I remind myself of how whole I feel when I create and when I perform.
- I write a love letter. It might be to a person. It might be to a story. It might be to a tree. I sit down and remind myself specifically of why I love something or someone and detail it. This helps me connect with sensory imagery and emotional truth. I usually burn the letter afterwards though sometimes I will share it. And every once in awhile I try to write one to myself. This is much harder.
- I take in art I love. I go to a museum and look at a specific piece of art, one I've looked at before. I listen to Brahms or Chopin or Miles Davis. I read aloud a poem by someone whose words I love. I feel it in my mouth and bones.
- I get away from the screen. I try to write something by hand or hold a real book. I turn off my cell phone.
- I spend time around others. I might go to a cafe or someplace where other people are working so I feel more push to work on something, too. Peer pressure helps.
- Bonus! I spend time in nature. I walk with trees or by the river. I remind myself that I am very small but as essential as that blade of grass or this ant. I am part of a whole.
What do you do when you need to reconnect? How do you stop yourself from running?
(c)2016 Laura S. Packer