You know what stinks? Me. At blogging with consistency. And more specifically, committing to my art.
You know what stinks even more? I LOVE writing. I REALLY love it. And I do a lot of it but most of it is work related (which I love as well) but it's not necessarily my own personal outlet.
I'm now 41 and have been since February. When I was 40 I audaciously began a "40 things I've learned at 40" series of posts and guess how far I got? THREE. THREE things, y'all. Wasn't that super enlightening? Here's something for your list...you know what I've learned at 41? I shouldn't so publicly display my lack of follow through by starting lists that are SO LONG, lists aren't my thing (they actually are and I wrote the 40 things in a list but wanted time to elaborate on each point which I INTENDED TO DO but didn't) and the squeaky wheel gets the grease when you're a mom and a wife, part time church staff, wife of a man with two full time jobs (pastor and a small business owner). Oh and our kids play sports and instruments so the calendar looks like a rainbow exploded on it.
I had a bit of a shocking discovery last year: I'm a type 2 and 7 (tie) on the The Enneagram (another discussion for another day, friends) and the 2 in me means that I tend toward saying YES to too many things (I mean, let's be honest, most of us do that but the reasons someone like me does it is actually quite dysfunctional but I won't get into that right now). It also means that I'm all about EXPLORING OPTIONS (type 2) and not so much about DOING. On top of it all I can become easily disorganized and overwhelmed finding little fueling in the maintenance and the squeaky wheel's the ONLY THING that'll get the grease if you're overextended and your creativity will bottle up inside you if you're not fighting for it.
Last year I started reading Steve Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART: Winning The Inner Creative Battle. I say I started it, because in classic me-fashion, I read a bit, carried it around in my bag which was stolen while in Atlanta last summer and then it took me months to order another copy, yada yada. But I'm back at it and after discussing it much of last year with my husband who had read it and was immensely impacted by it, I am quite convinced that creatively I haven't been myself for quite some time and I won't ever be again and if I'm not intentional about creativity. I can't wait for being in the mood, feeling inspired, having time, having the white space...that WILL NOT HAPPEN FOR MANY YEARS AT THE RATE WE ARE GOING. I have to schedule the space to create even if nothing great comes from it...and with all that has taken place in this past year, I feel as though I've barely had time to wash my hair (which I don't do everyday anyway), never mind, write. Steve says this:
"FEAR DOESN'T GO AWAY. THE WARRIOR AND THE ARTIST LIVE BY THE SAME CODE OF NECESSITY, WHICH DICTATES THAT THE BATTLE MUST BE FOUGHT ANEW EVERY DAY."
― Steven Pressfield
And so, since school began this year I am Bird By Birding it, as Anne Lamott likes to call it. Making myself sit down on a schedule (for me it's three mornings a week...and I often stand since I got into the standing desk thing last Fall) and I write. Even if it's total crap, I write. Even if my beloved cool-of-the-morning runs get moved to the getting-really-sweaty afternoons. Even if I have to push off answering emails for work that I'll then have to catch up on later that night or over the weekend. Even if I am not as present for volunteering at my kids' school as often or having as many meetings as I once did. Even if it means me saying NO to working more hours. Even if it means we're having tacos AGAIN because I'm only grocery shopping once a week. Even if there is what appears to be a rug consisting solely of my dog's hair moving across the floor in the room...even if, even if. Imma write.
And what has come out of it? Well, I had hoped for blog posts but it ended up being songs. Sitting at the piano rather than the computer screen has sucked me in. And in the past two months, about five and half songs that I like and three or four that completely suck happened. What will I do with them? Not completely sure as they're all over the map in content/style but some of them will part of a project that my friend Austin and I are working on for Christmas at Watershed as a fundraiser for an up and coming endeavor for our community. And...I'm excited about that which is such a better emotion than frustration which is the funk into which I slip when everyday looks like a rainbow threw up on my google cal.
So, to continue my list of 40 things I've learned at 40, that I really didn't grasp until 41, #4 would be don't make lists you'll never finish in your fortieth year, who do you think you are? and then
#5 || YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR CREATIVITY DAILY OR YOUR SOUL WILL SHRIVEL UP
The piano will not come tap me on the shoulder and invite me to make time for it. Your computer will not open your blog editor for you and beckon you to pour out your soul (although, maybe siri can do that now, I don't update any of the things, just ask my husband). The post-40 me is moving from "I always wanted to.... fix up an old Airstream, train a dog, try embroidery (fun fact: I stink at it), intentionally invest in the families of single mom led homes, learn to really use essential oils for things other than just making my house not smell like boys/farts, write a ______" to SCHEDULING TIME TO ACTUALLY DO IT. Or at least try to do it. Now that I've written this post the warrior in me might just be fueled enough to battle that furry rug I see out of the corner of my eye. If anyone needs any size 5 slim boys pants I know where a massive stash of them might be...
Tools that might help you in your scheduled creativity journey other than the books mentioned above:
+EVERNOTE || it's an app that captures all of your ideas and helps you keep them organized.
+A JOURNAL || I can't create with a computer or gadget in the room. I like colorful pens and a beautiful leather, well made journal. I'll unabashedly recommend one from this fine company because you can use it for the rest of your life and then will it to your great grandchildren.
+SUMMON THE SENSES || Even if your creative magic happens in a closet, make it smell fantastic. Light a candle (maybe not in a closet- the white patchouli in a glass jar candles the Marshalls near us is currently selling are amazing), incense (World Market has my favorites), or diffuse oils (I am in love with OnGuard blend..it smells like Fall in a bottle and makes you feel all things autumnal and spicy. Inhale the goodness.) String up some cafe lights, buy a cool old lamp. For the love of all things please do not try to create anything under fluorescent lighting unless you're creating brain surgery techniques then knock yourself out. Get a noise machine if you're in a loud space, for sure.
+DRINK SOMETHING WONDERFUL || After I get my two cups of coffee in me for the day my next favorite comfort beverage of choice currently is Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Tumeric Tea. It's like a hug of calm and spiciness and it's caffeine free and supposedly good for you.
+DEFINE THE SPACE IF YOU CAN || For many many moons we just didn't have the space for me to have a designated "nice" area for my piano/writing stuff. In our last house my keyboard was sadly in a closet in the basement (yikes) near the furnace/hot water heater and other loud ugly things with, you guessed it, fluorescent lighting overhead. So, I laid down a cheap vintage rug on the floor and hung one of these tapestries from the ceiling so I didn't have to see the machinery surrounding me. They go on sale at UA all the time and I've used mine for all kinds of things through the years...a tablecloth, a writing toga (not really but that should be a thing), a shower curtain. The possibilities are endless really. Glennon wrote from her "cloffice" (closet/office) for years and I love every word that woman has ever penned!
+PIN IT || Whether you're an old school bulletin board (which I am and shall never refer to as a vision board because that just isn't my thing) or a digital pinner (my husband is 100% digital and creative so that combo does exist I guess), make a visual list of what you want to learn/make/create. I have a cute tiny bulletin board over my desk but maybe you'd rather a Pinterest board. I urge you to keep it specific. Pin the actual instrument you want to play and not just "get better at music". Pin the title of the book you want to write (I hoard book title names and buy the domains to accompany them and then have I written a book yet? Nope. It's saved with the rest of the 40 things posts I never made. But when I do, that domain is locked and loaded). Then when you look at said real or digital board and schedule your "time to get creatively busy" you can actually remember what you're trying to do. I still want to play a tiny guitar like Ed Sheeran but I am not working on that pin this year. Maybe if I stop sucking it up so badly at the two pillows I'm trying to embroider I'll get strumming. HOW AMAZING IS AN ENTIRE WALL OF CORKBOARD, PEOPLE?!
+PACK IT || A lot of people live on the road or in constant motion. As great as it is to have a tapestry filled, oil diffused, well lit space sometimes you're staying at your uncle's house for Thanksgiving and want to still carve out time to MAKE. WRITE. TRY. CREATE. Don't be so practical that you don't pack your stuff. I make my kids pack their guitars on EVERY STINKING TRIP and I'm always happy to see that at some point on the long ride or at the campsite or during the visit that the guitar ends up getting played and time gets well spent. I bought a tiny keyboard controller years ago when I was traveling a lot for a job I was doing for a non-profit and I felt like I wasn't able to practice, write or arrange because hotels tend not to have pianos in their amenities. M-Audio makes some great ones and I packed a 49 key keyboard into my backpack and it fit well in the overhead compartment! Don't let utility get in the way of carving out time to make while traveling. My embroidery projects travelled all over the place this past year and spent quite a few nights in the old Airstream where they mostly got more tangled and sand covered but I made a little progress on them and it was worth the extra room they took up in my bag. I always tell my boys when we're leaving for the weekend or a week or just a few nights, "Pack something to read, play with and DO/MAKE." I'm taking my own advice on that one. One piece of advice, don't get your bag of creativity stolen out of your car while parked in valet in Atlanta like I did. it's a first worldy problem but it stinks nonetheless.