finding the joy connections…

So it’s been a while.

No real excuses other than life happening. And life right now – even with some wonderful times – is a challenge in various ways.  The need for self-care is high, and self-care can look like many different things, and can vary at different times.

One way I’m tapping into self-care is consciously finding what I call the joy connections.

Joy connections are those things, even tiny or seemingly unremarkable things, that connect me with joy.

One very small example that relates to this blog is making the decision to change my tagline and switch my header font color back to blue – because it’s my absolute favorite color, and looking at it brings me joy.

Another joy connection for me is painting. I’ve been deliberately making the space and the choice to spend time at the easel. Because painting on large canvases grounds me, calms me, and brings me joy.

Joy connection for me definitely involves those I love.

Including our sweet kitty…

And I’ve been remembering and reconnecting with things I love, things I used to do, but have put away or pushed aside – or somehow thought I couldn’t have in my life anymore.

Like our old 35mm film camera.

I always loved using this camera so much. Whether changing lenses, or focusing, or simply just holding it in my hands and the feel of it, this camera always made me feel connected to my creativity and to my joy.

But for years, this camera has been put away. Just because it’s not digital.

And then a couple of weeks ago while I was telling a friend in a text about how I never used this camera anymore, it hit me: There’s absolutely no reason for me to stop using something I love, something that’s brought me so much joy.

No reason at all. Sure, it’s less convenient than digital. But the point is the joy it gives me.

So I got the camera out of its case, put in new batteries and film, got reacquainted with its various lenses and settings… and now it’s part of my life again.

It’s a little thing to give myself permission to get out a put-away object I love, and start using it again.

It’s a little thing to take just a few minutes to stand at the canvas and paint a few strokes.

It’s a little thing to give our kitty a cuddle or reach out to hold my husband’s hand.

But sometimes it’s those little things that can connect us with deep joy.

Being aware of what brings joy – and then consciously, deliberately, intentionally bringing those things into a day or a week – it can make such a difference.

And this is one way self-care looks. By choosing to find (and make) those joy connections.

if you have restless creativity…

 

 

 

Sometimes I just want to create.

I might have an inner itch to write some fiction. Or it might be a nudge to pick up a paintbrush. Or to pull out some crystals and beads and craft something, anything
But I feel stalled.
Not stalled in the sense of feeling inertia.
It feels more like I’m restless.

My creativity feels restless.

The creativity is there (sometimes so close it’s just right-there) but I can’t seem to settle down, I can’t decide which project to work on, I can’t focus.

And then it’s as though I pace restlessly.

This pacing isn’t literally pacing a room, but it’s mental pacing.

My thoughts jump around as I wonder what creative project to do, or I distract myself online or on Netflix, or I tackle the laundry.

Does this ever happen to you?

This creative restless can actually be part of the creative process.

There are times, of course, when the restless feeling itself can become a way to distract yourself from creating. And there are times when the restless feeling is the signal that it’s time to stop mentally (or otherwise) pacing and get to work.
Being aware of exactly what the restlessness means – and when it might signal a shift needs to take place – is important… and the awareness comes the more you look at and understand your own process.

So how do you know the difference? And what can you do when you’re experiencing restless creativity?

 

Here are a few things to try…

Do an internal check-in with yourself. Is the restlessness really procrastination in disguise? Or is it part of your creative process that, in the big picture, moves you closer to creating what’s wanting to be birthed? Is there something that honestly needs to get taken care of (scheduling an appointment, dealing with a problematic situation, etc.) before you get to work on a creative project?

Get grounded. Take some time to ground yourself and ground your energy. Close your eyes and just breathe quietly for a few minutes. Go outside and touch the earth. Hold one or two grounding crystals (black tourmaline, smokey quartz, red jasper, garnet, and snowflake obsidian are a few). Ground and center your energy so that you feel less restless in general. And then see where your creative energy leads you.

Ask your body. If you’re trying to decide between one or more creative projects to work on, pick one of them and see how your body feels. Do you feel constricted inside, does your body feel pulled-in too much, does your heart sink a bit because you really wish you were working on “that other project over there”? If so, that can be a clue to devote your time and energy to one of the other creative ideas calling for your attention at this time. (But it’s also possible that the feeling could be a form of resistance instead of true guidance – so, again, awareness and honesty with yourself is key.)

Just start. Give yourself a mental push or physical shake, pick up your pen or paintbrush (or put fingers to the keyboard or sit down with crafting/creating supplies) and simply start doing something. You can tell yourself that you’ll this for for just 5 minutes – sometimes putting a (short) time limit on the activity can help your mind overcome the restlessness long enough to start… and then if you continue past that time, it’s icing on the cake! Sometimes starting can be the most difficult step when it comes to creating.


These are just a few things to try – the important thing is to find what works for you.


calming the anxiety…

For a variety of reasons – some I can identify and probably some beneath my conscious awareness – my anxiety has been amped up this summer.

Some of my usual tools haven’t been helping as much as they typically do. And sometimes I forget to use some of the tools I’ve learned and gathered over the years. (I don’t know why, but there can be times in the midst of ‘stuff’ that I can forget that I know what I know.)

Around a month or so ago, I realized the thing this summer that’s been absolutely calming my anxiety, every time, no matter what, is painting.

Playing with paint on the canvas.

 

Or in the big spiral-bound pad.

Moving the paint on the canvas or the paper as I stand at the table-top easel in my kitchen.

I’m still using the other tools in my “toolkit” of anxiety-reduction techniques that help me.

I’m being more conscious about returning to some of the tools that I’d been forgetting (or had let slide).

I’m focusing a lot on my self-care.

But the sure-fire way to still my inner trembling, to completely quiet my anxious thoughts and underlying feelings of anxiety – for me, this summer – it’s turned out to be painting. More than anything else.

When I realized this was happening, I was sort of surprised. But I welcome the times of total freedom from the anxious feelings.

I’ve known for quite a while that letting myself paint was soul-care for me. Painting whatever colors seem to be calling to me at the time, moving my hand or my brush in whatever way feels good at the time, not worrying about how it looks, not wondering whether I’ll show it to anyone, not being concerned what anyone will think if I do show what I’ve painted.

Just being with the paint and the painting. In the moment. In the flow. In the now.

Losing myself and my anxiety in the calming of painting.

Whatever does this for you – whatever stills the anxiety, whatever calms you, whatever connects you to the flow that helps you find your inner quiet when you need it – I hope you make time for that.  ♥