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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31 Days · creative habit · good life · Good to Know

31 Days: Creative Habit – Day 20: Clearing the Decks


So, I feel like I’m phoning it in a bit today. It’s been a fun, busy day – church, Halloween costume hunting, lunch with our old neighbors (“old” meaning neighbors at our old house, not their age, of course), trips to the park.


When the kids were napping, I sat down to catch up on email. Super creative, right? I’ve been so behind on email and other to-do list tasks I need to accomplish, I feel guilty for every minute I spend NOT doing these things – like sewing or making jewelry or writing or even reading. (I won’t tell you how much I owe on an overdue library book that I’m only halfway through. I actually spent a few minutes yesterday calculating how many more days I have to finish the book before my fines are more than it would cost to just buy the book for Kindle.)

So I gave myself a deadline of today to clear out my inbox and complete all these other tasks on my to-do list.

As I began this “Creative Habit” journey, I knew one of my biggest foes would be Email (and its kindred spirits, Facebook and Feedly and Pinterest). It’s clear that I’ve made lots of growth in this area because, instead of checking all of these things immediately when the kids nap, I check it quickly before I go to bed in hopes of not missing something really important. (And then, three days later, I have 87 unread messages, and I have no idea what has now become really important because it has a deadline.)


So, while it feels wonderful to make something every single day, being mom to two little people makes it very challenging. I just can’t do everything every day. I believe that taking the time to “clear the decks” – as long as it’s not used as an excuse for not creating – can be a great way to make room for more creativity.

At least that’s what I’m hoping, because tomorrow during nap time, I’ll have no excuse.

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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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31 Days · creative habit · Good to Know

31 Days: Creative Habit – Day 18: Solitude

I can’t believe I skipped two days of 31 Days! Last year, even when I was on vacation, I still posted projects. But this week, sickness got the best of me. During my daily “creative” time (my kids’ nap time), I napped instead. It was desperately needed, and I’m feeling much better.

When I first started looking into “creative habit“, I found an article, “The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People” at Zen Habits. I had forgotten about it until I opened up Twyla Tharp this afternoon and read through her first few exercises. Exercise 2 is “Build Up Your Tolerance for Solitude”.


Now, I’m an ENFP. I enjoy being with other people. But I’ve come to realize, as I get older, that I also enjoy quiet time by myself, at least a little. (Some weeks are crazier than others, and I crave quiet so much that I begin to wonder if I’m really an Introvert. Maybe I should retest?)

The most interesting idea Twyla said about it, at least to me, is this:

“[Solitude] is the exact opposite of meditation.”

You’re not trying to quiet your mind, to get rid of your thoughts, but to pull thoughts out.


So this afternoon, while trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with a piece in my “sewing projects” box, I pulled out my journal and sat with my thoughts. Within 4 minutes, I had come up with three possibilities, two of which had never occurred to me, and probably wouldn’t have if I’d just started cutting and sewing. But giving myself some time to just be quiet and think – ALONE – brought out all sorts of different ideas.

Maybe this will be my new ritual – to start my creative time with some quiet, not doing anything or creating in any way, but just being alone with ideas.

Check back tomorrow to see what I do with my ideas from today!

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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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