31 Days · creative habit · Good to Know · Memory

31 Days: Creative Habit – Day 27: The Pendulum

I’ve been talking a lot about memory this week. Sure, I’ve been forgetting things here and there, but honestly, this month, I feel like my memory has improved overall. (Well, except that one day when I completely forgot to blog.) Or maybe it’s just my perception of how things are going.

See, I’ve got this theory.

Life has been really busy and full and crazy the last few months. And for most of that time, I felt crazy, too. My head just felt too full, confused, foggy.

Last month, I remember talking with Husband after the kids were in bed, lamenting how everything just felt out of control. He told me to list the things that felt crazy, and even as I spoke them, I realized they probably wouldn’t feel super overwhelming to others, or even to me usually, but they did. I felt like I needed a mental break, and I wasn’t getting it. He could name 2-3 things each day that should feel like a break to me, but they didn’t.


Then I read this post by Jennifer Fulwiler that made me think she was in my own head. In the article, she talks about having things in your day that SHOULD make you feel relaxed but don’t, and about seasons in your life where everything feels so crazy. Yes! Amen!


You should read the whole article, but what she realized is that there are a few specific things in her life that contribute to internal order, to helping her feel energized, like she’s had a break, and that things don’t seem so crazy. (The author’s list includes writing, jogging with music, and reading a well-written book. Mine includes journaling and creating something.)


This article made so much sense to me and resonated with something else I’ve been pondering. We spend a lot of our time “consuming” – reading articles (magazines, newspapers, blogs), checking Facebook, listening to the radio (news stories, music with lyrics), scrolling Pinterest, watching TV, processing email. But then there is “producing” – for me, writing or sewing or making jewelry, for others, it might be painting or choreographing or designing or cooking. (I imagine there’s even a “neutral” – meditating, listening to instrumental music, reading. You aren’t really creating something new that didn’t exist before, but with listening and reading, you are interacting with the piece, creating in your mind visually what is happening.) A phrase from my teaching days comes to mind: “Meaning Making”.

I see it like a pendulum. If we spend too much time in “consuming”, we get out of equilibrium. We need to spend some time in “neutral” and “producing” activities to get that equilibrium back.

I’ll be honest, things haven’t gotten less crazy this month. I mean, I’m trying to create something and blog about it every day in addition to many other things on my plate. But for the first time in several months, it doesn’t all FEEL crazy. Sure, I’m still forgetting things (almost daily), but I don’t feel desperate for a break like I did before. Since I’ve been spending a little time every day producing, I feel much more balanced – a little bonus from working on my creative habit.

So, what about you? What are the activities that really make you feel refreshed? That fuel you instead of draining you? Are they all “producing” or “neutral” activities, or do “consuming” activities help you relax, too? I’m curious about what this looks like to different people.

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This post is part of a 31 day series. Find all the posts in this series here.

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9 thoughts on “31 Days: Creative Habit – Day 27: The Pendulum

  1. OMG this is me. I am a mental neat freak who can’t stand a messy house, or a messy brain. I think having good conversations make me feel refreshed, as well as doing (creating, writing, drinking (lol)…etc.). I need to clean my mind, since I cleaned my house today already.

    1. Yes, good conversations! I think that falls under “producing”, yeah? You’re the psych major – does this make sense in terms of brain function? Am I on to something big? ;)

  2. I love consuming your blog! Does cleaning house count as producing? Also for me… writing and a good jog while listening to bad country music.

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I don’t know about cleaning house – I haven’t worked out all the details of my theory yet. :) But if it works for you, that’s something. Does your playlist include Neal McCoy? I remember listening to him on repeat in the car – maybe coming back from the cabin? – and your brother teaching me the correct words.

  3. I also have a need to create something or to make something better than it was before- I guess that is why I love to rearrange my furniture! Ha! I can totally relate to all of this, especially the part where you tell your husband hoping for sympathy and as you are speaking the words out loud, you realize how it doesn’t really seem that complicated…but it is!! Ahhhh!! I also love your blog Nicole- I have enjoyed the journey from “arms distance” to inside your heart. Only a few more days to go!! xoxo

  4. I absolutely agree with your theory….I need that time…when I write, read, play the piano, create art, take or edit photos, cook, garden, dream…. to really feel like me. when I take the time to be me then all the other stuff seems much more manageable or maybe it ‘s just that I seem to be able to be more realistic with my perspective. :)

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