Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January: Burn Out and the Creative Process

Oh, January, you are such a difficult month.

At first, I feel exhilarated by a new start.  I am inspired by the clarity of my vision for my new year. I am overcome with motivation- I will accomplish all of my goals/intentions now!  Yay! Let’s go!

Somewhere in all of that fervor, I became derailed.  My energy is not there; I am still recovering from the Thanksgiving/Christmas whirlwind. There is something about that intense energy of producing a holiday and making sure there are *happy* memories that is exhausting. January seems like the right time to cozy up on the couch and recover.

Except life keeps marching on. There is homework that needs to be done. Swim practice to attend.  Deadlines to meet. 

I started to feel really sad and numb, and then scared because I wasn’t sure how to pull out of this.  I mean, just four months ago I felt awesome – kids both in school, working from home, blogging, writing.  Just remembering that feeling helped to put these sad, slumpy feelings into perspective.

I was experiencing burnout.

I think as much as I love working from home, I do feel that there is this pressure to always be hustling.  If I’m not grading papers, managing a client, or creating content for myself, then I am doing laundry, grocery shopping, and running the kids around.  The busier I am, the more worthy I feel.  And this is no way to live (and probably deserves its own blog post).

So I took a week off from blogging to recharge the creative batteries.

I took the kids to see Annie, I went to see Selma, and then went to the movies for a third time that week to see American Sniper.  I didn’t just stop there.  I binge-watched Olive Kitteridge on HBO.  I just soaked in each story, enjoying the complicated characters and their intricate stories.  It was nice just to be still and listen.

Being so goal orientated, I often brush aside the cues my body gives me that I’m overextending myself.  I wanted to spark my creativity without the pressure of results.  I decided to finish the collages that Elizabeth Gilbert talked about onFacebook.

 This quote sums up the project:

This isn't exactly a vision board (although I do think vision boards are a useful exercise.) It's a lot more random than that. It's not about calling in things or goals or dreams. It's more about how I want to FEEL, than about what I want to ACHIEVE. Mostly, it's just about colors and images that appeal to me for reasons that I do not overthink. I just start cutting and then I start gluing, and I trust the process.
When it's over, I have my visual/emotional wish for the New Year.

It was fun to clip the images that I liked without overanalyzing anything, just working from instinct. Then I arranged my images, and it was very clear that I had two separate things going on here: bold images about self-discovery and soft, clean, cozy images with lots of green and white.

I think this is a pretty accurate depiction: going on a journey of self-discovery, nurturing my dreams, and finding inner peace - pretty much what I hope to find in 2015.

Or maybe I just really want a garden, a cozy Pottery Barn bed, and a cruiser bike.

Either way, I think I am ready to move past this bump in the road.

How are you feeling this month?  Does January have you down?  What do you do to get yourself feeling happy again?

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