Friday, April 3, 2020

Three Practices to Keep Creatively Healthy Right Now

I'm back to writing this week.  You may not be, yet.  I've heard from a steady stream of students and coaching clients and many are still stalled out, unable to resume a book project.  Life in its new normal demands ridiculous amounts of time.  A recent foray to shop for produce took five hours out of my day, given the protective gear, the controlled shopping experience, the time to clean everything when I got home.

It's understandable, too, that fear for self, family, friends, the world can prevent any creativity.  Who has time or energy for it?  And is it really that important, in the face of all that's happening?

Well, yes.  I've noticed a little hole inside where thoughts about my book used to live. I realized this week how much I'm missing the ongoing conversation with my creative self, how much I resent being so hijacked.  

But creativity doesn't just re-appear on demand, especially if it's been scared into hiding.  I've learned it requires a gentle wooing to come back.

So I've been trying a three very simple daily rituals.  They work.  Proved by a three-hour re-entry into my book one day--I holed up with my laptop and forgot about Covid-19, my own fears, and what else I should be doing, and succumbed to the joy of writing again.  It fed me in a way that can only be good for the immune system, too.

So in case you're also missing your writing, here are the small rituals I used.  They don't really seem like much.  But try them--one or all--and see if they coax the muse out of hiding. 

1.  Create something of beauty every day.  In the Greater Good Magazine, an article posed six daily questions to ask yourself in quarantine.  One was "What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?"  Writing is something of beauty, as are all the arts, because they invite transformation.  Consider how you are a vehicle of transformation in the world through your words on the page.  Even if the subject you're writing about isn't considered beautiful, it may cause movement and change, which often is.  

Some days I don't have much to write, but I allow myself journaling time to describe something of beauty I am seeing either in my neighborhood or in my home or nature around it.  

This week, one of our neighbors began putting up banners.  "The view is always best after the hardest climb," read one.  Yesterday's was, "We're in this together." Another group of neighbors are placing stuffed animals in trees or on the lamp post in front of their house.  I've seen a giraffe, a large grey cat, and a llama with a tie-dyed bandana so far.  Not writing but beautiful--it made me and others laugh.

2.  Another ritual that feeds me creatively is reading poetry.  Even the bathroom shelves in our house hold several volumes (what better place to read?).  I've begun reading a poem every day, as a way to tempt my creativity out of hiding.  I often find that after I savor a short poem, I am more tuned to the beauty of words and how they affect the heart.  Check out Poem of the Day by the Poetry Foundation or subscribe to a poetry site to get one in your inbox each morning.  

3.  This third ritual has been with me for years as a practice each evening:  write five things I am grateful for from the day.  I set this up in the opening blank pages of every journal I start, writing a series of dates and numbering 1 through 5 under each.  I sit and fill those in each evening before sleep.  The lift I get, the re-orientation of perspective, pays off cumulatively.  Life looks less bleak.

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