Hey guys, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s summertime! Today in Portland it is a perfect summer day: blue sky, not too hot, a nice breeze. I’ve been taking regular breaks outside to read and knit, shooing yellow jackets away (we have a nest on the driveway).
But last week it was hot, beastly hot. And on hot weather and perfect summer days both I like to relax. I like to indulge myself with the afore-mentioned knitting, my new hobby of rug hooking, a little reading. On hot summer days I want to eat popsicles and fruit and drink chilled white wine and have dinners under the stars that last until bedtime.
None of which is conducive to writing.
Which makes me beat myself up something fierce.
Like: why are you wasting your time knitting? Why are you drinking that glass of wine? You’ve not gotten your word count yet? Why are you reading? Why are you taking time to do the crossword puzzle? Why are you relaxing? Why aren’t you writing.
If you are anything like me, I bet you do the same thing. And to you (and to me) I had two words to say: stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Just stop it.
Because: it is summertime and we’re supposed to be distracted. We are supposed to be enjoying long, lazy afternoons lazing about. And also: believe it or not, relaxation and, dare I say it, self-care, actually help you get all your important things (like writing) done. Truly. A relaxed mind is a productive mind.
Truly, it is. Over and over again I notice that on the days I allow myself some ease, a few breaks out back or time with the grandchildren, I get more done. And this is because I’m not frantically trying to stuff every little thing into my day. Try it. You’ll see.
Your assignment this week, if you choose to accept it, is two-fold. First, quit beating yourself up about how lazy you are. And second, give yourself the gift of some summer time off.
Then leave a comment and tell me how you are going to let yourself off the hook this week!
And the winner is: Julie Schwartz! Congratulations, Julie, I've sent your contact info to Karen and she'll be in touch with you soon. (By the way I used this random name selector to choose.)
Please join me in welcoming my special guest post contributor, Karen Caterson, today. Readers of this blog know that Karen and I have been cyber-buddies for a long time. She did a wonderful interview with Emma Jean and she and I have taught a class together. Read to end of this post to learn more about a very special give-away Karen has arranged for readers of this blog!
All my life I've shaped fabrics and fibers into clothes for stuffed animals, dolls, people, performers (wait! performers are people) – messed with color in textiles, glass, language (that's what writing is, right? playing with the colors of language) – imagined other worlds (and others' worlds – that's what you do as a listener, a reader, or a therapist, right?).
But despite all those years of creative play I only recently noticed the BIG connection between my creative output and my self-care practices.
(This may have something to do with the fact that, until recently, I've shunned consistency in many areas of my life. I still have a sign in my office that pays homage to this; it reads: I may be inconsistent, but not all the time.)
Here's the BIG connection I noticed: Self-care (substitute self-nurturing if you like) fuels my creativity! Big time!! There's an exponential relationship – have YOU seen this too?
When I realized that this connection existed I began to add to my self-care practices (I call these X-treme self-care practices). I now have quite a number of them, from some that you hear of quite often – using a gratitude journal, yoga and meditating, watching Groucho Marx movies – to some that are less commonplace: facial acupressure, tuning the chakras through sound, infrared foot massage, and whistling at the top of my whistler.
And I keep adding more! Sometimes it seems like there's not enough day for all my self-nurturing.
While it might seem counterintuitive to taketime away from creating in order to boost your creativity, it works!
Self-care practices connect us with our bodies and the physical world – get us out of our heads (where many creatives spend a lot of time) – and re-energize us. Which results in more creativity.
When my creative work is supported by self-care my work is more focused, I'm less stressed, more inspired, and more energized.
And conversely, when I put off self-nourishing until after creating (or forget it altogether) I become scattered and less productive (my daughter insists that I add cranky to the list, but we know that's not true, right?).
The more we practice self-care the more we see our creativity flourish!
Fitting in enough self-nurturing – consistently – isn't always easy, though. In the creative rush to write or make art it's easy to forget self-care (heck, sometimes we creatives get so involved with our work that we forget to eat!).
For me the struggle is with scheduling. (I have a wee problem with rules and structure – see note about inconsistency above – so much so that I even thwart my own rules! Sigh!).
But I work with that struggle, and keep looking for ways to incorporate self-care into my life, because I've seen the difference it makes.
I'll draw a name from those who comment on Wednesday, June 5th, one week from today!
And here, in her own words, is Karen's bio:
Hi, I'm Karen Caterson, aka Square-Peg Karen – I write a lot about celebrating your uniqueness, accepting yourSELF and X-treme self-care practices. Visit me at Square-Peg People (http://squarepegpeople.com) and let's get acquainted.
Photo by Lauren Caterson, Karen's talented daughter.