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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Crushing Creativity

Although it’s been a bit since my last blog post, I have been up here in Northwest NJ having some Oprah “Ah-ha” moments. I’ve decided to unfurl myself from the fetal position, put on my big girl panties, stop using my creativity as a scapegoat and start being a grown-up.

I’ve realized that I have done more in the last several years to crush my creativity than I have to allow it to flourish. Admittedly, there has been a heck of a lot of fear, distraction, and sheer laziness that has kept me from completing and submitting any written works. Ultimately, though, I finally realize I’ve been crushing creativity at every turn with my habits and my mindset.   

I have been winging it. Successful people don’t wing it. I’ve fooled myself into thinking that this is what creativity likes, spontaneity.

It is a lie.

Deep down I’ve always known this.

Now I am going to own it.

First, I have decided that I will no longer put pressure on my creativity to support me financially. Now that my youngest is in school full time and my oldest is half way to college already, it is time for me to “get a job.” I could shut down. I could lambaste myself and my creativity for failing, for not “becoming a writer,” for not bucking up and paying the bills. Instead, I am telling creativity: “I got this.” I will support you. I will find some way to give you what you need while still helping my family financially.

Second, I have decided that I will no longer use creativity as an excuse. My poor sweet fragile creativity, I have thrown you under the bus more times than either of us can count! I have allowed things to fall by the wayside. I have allowed laundry to pile up. Dust bunnies to multiply. Stacks of papers and books to accumulate on every surface of the house. And creativity has shouldered the blame. That alone is crushing. Never mind, the fact that creativity cannot possibly live in an environment of disorganization and chaos. Instead, I am telling creativity: “I will create a place for you to live.” I will get rid of the clutter and get organized.

Third, I have decided that I will stop wasting my energy, my talents, and my creativity on time-sucking activities. I will schedule my time so that I can proactively pursue my passions instead of reacting to others. Because at the end of every day that I have let myself get sucked in by every distraction imaginable, I only become bitter and resentful. Instead, I am telling creativity: “I will create time for you.” I will start each day pursuing my own goals. I will be intentional with my time. So there is always time for creativity instead of it being an oft-forgotten afterthought.

I am (finally) organizing my life for the sake of my creativity (not in spite of it!).

Because I want to do more than wish on stars, I want to achieve my dreams.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Things Are Just Too Easy Not To Do

We are coming to the end of the second month of 2016. Did you make any resolutions/goals? How are they going?

If you are like most, probably not well.

Why? Why do we make goals for ourselves but never achieve them? Why have I been airing excuses and declaring goals on this very blog for over THREE YEARS?

Of course, we can examine some underlying psychological reasons or maybe we are lazy or maybe truly too busy -- there's a plethora of excuses (years worth).

Maybe it's just that our goals are too easy NOT to do.

It is just too easy to remain content in the status quo, in our comfort zone. Even if the steps to achieve our goals are just as easy TO do. Wait. What? Easy to do AND easy not to do?!



For example, here are some of my own personal goals -- the steps of which are easy to do AND easy not to do:

Get up everyday and exercise.
I know that it is best for me to exercise first thing in the morning before I get distracted by all the daily stuff. And, it really is "easy" to do this even if I am not a morning person. Just set an alarm and drag myself out of bed. If the house was on fire, I could get up. If a kid was vomiting, I could get up. If a baby needed to be nursed, I could get up. But it is soooo easy to hit snooze and tell myself that I will exercise later. I am a stay-at-home mom of school aged kids, after all, I have all the time in the world (ha!). Easy to do/easy not to do.

Eat right.
I know how to eat right. I've always known how to do it. It really isn't that hard for me. But sometimes I find myself mindfully putting junk food in my mouth. Or even taking a third helping of a healthy dinner after I am full. Or, conversely, sometimes just not eating until I am so hungry I don't care what I eat. Easy to do/easy not to do.

Be more organized.
I am just a hot mess when it comes to organization even with all the best intentions. Here are some easy organization steps that I NEVER do (or if I do, it doesn't last long):
*Deal with paperwork immediately -- take the action and chuck the paper, put it in your calendar, register, rsvp, write the check, do the work, file it, etc... So easy to do! Instead, I do the other easy thing: pile the papers and procrastinate. Easy to do/easy not to do.
*Put things in their place -- take your coat off, hang it up. Shoes off, put them away. Use a dish, stick it in the dishwasher. Brush your hair, put the brush away. And so on. Instead I leave things for later. I let things pile up until I am running around spending hours putting it all away. Easy to do/easy not to do.
*Schedule your activities -- I know that if I say from 6-7 I will exercise; then eat breakfast, then feed the kids, then make lunches, then clean the kitchen. Block 9-10 for responding to emails, social networking. Block 10-11 for direct marketing work. From 11-1 for writing. From 1-2 for lunch. From 2-4 for household chores. My day would go smoother if I followed a schedule, I know. But I struggle with that daily, I push things around, I reprioritize, I procrastinate, I get distracted. I get inspired by something (like this blog post) and I forgo all the other items on the list including eating and drinking water (hmm, I'm thirsty). Does it really matter when I do things, after all? Couldn't I write from 6-11; exercise from 11-12 eat breakfast and lunch together from 12-1... Etc... But you can imagine how that goes (see hot mess comment above). Easy to do/easy not to do.

Write more (revise, finish, and submit more).
Writing is really not difficult for me. I don't experience writer's block. If anything I suffer from writer's plethora (too many ideas, can't finish anything). When I sit my butt in a chair, the words come. Is my writing always beautiful? No. Far from it. But I have trouble sitting my butt in the chair (see above about scheduling issues). When I finally do sit down, I rarely do anything with the work. That's where the revise and FINISH come in. Again, I am pretty good at editing. I actually like to edit. Hone words and sentences. It's fun. But I have trouble letting go. Declaring something finished. For instance, when this blog post is published today, I will reread and edit it throughout the day. Crazy, I know. How hard is it to write, edit, finish, and move on? Easy to do/but so easy not to do. Submitting. Ah! That thorn in my side. Submitting short stories is soooo easy these days. Most literary magazines use a website called Submittable in which you type a little cover letter than upload your word doc and done. You can check periodically on the status of all your submissions in a nice list. I have one in there for 2016. And one from 2013. I can't even tell you how many times I have gone in there and just simply not clicked the submit button. Easy to do/easy not to do.

Be more prayerful, mindful, grateful. 
This is a big one because this is so important to me. What's crazy is that it is at the bottom of this list and all to often gets moved to the bottom of the list daily. Because as easy as it is to say a quick prayer. To say a quick word of thanks to yourself, to God, to your loved ones. We get too busy and distracted to do it. How easy it is to mindlessly spend your day doing bullshit tasks that take you away from the very core of who you are? We are all obsessed with being busy, but is it even necessary? Maybe we need to be still -- be prayerful, be mindful, be grateful. Easy to do/easy not to do.

Where is the easy button going to take you in 2016? Is it going to take you towards your goals or away from them? Love to hear from you: comment below, share on Facebook, shoot me a message -- whatever is easiest for you! ;)

Got this whole mind-blowing idea of easy to do/easy not to do by watching some coaching videos by the beautiful Susan Sly. Check out this video to learn more about Susan or head over to Susansly.com.

If you are new to my blog, check out my very first entry written in October of 2012.