Whether or not you’d call yourself a creative-type there is a frustration to feeling stuck in a rut. I’m always looking for inspiration to dig deeper into creative pursuits. But sometimes I just feel dry.
What do you do when you’re dry? Dry spiritually and creatively? It’s easier to escape into a new iPhone game than to engage in refreshing activities —or even genuine rest. Rest is a conversation for another day, but let’s talk about refreshing activities.
Idea #1: Play!
Sometimes I just need to play! What is playful to you? I love to frolic in the water. (Too bad I’m writing this in February, oh well). What else is playful? Wrestling on the bed with the kids. What just tickles you? What is play? Pretending… Being dramatic… I confess that sometimes I find myself singing everything I’m thinking in a fake opera voice. Other times, it’s building with blocks or Lego. Dressing up? Definitely. It sometimes helps to observe what my kids play, to give me ideas.
Speaking of kids’ play, people continually tell me that these years with little tots are going to disappear before I realize, and that it’s worth STOPPING to play with these darlings. So my soul needs play for rejuvenation. And my kids are longing for me to participate in their creative world. This is clearly a win-win situation!
When it feels like there is too much to do, and there’s no time to play with them, will I engage them in the work and make it play? Remember Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (by Betty MacDonald)? She could turn anything into a game. Listen to how she engages the imagination:
“‘When I wash dishes, Mary Lou, I pretend that I am a beautiful princess with long, golden, curly hair (Mary Lou’s hair was jet black and braided into two stiff little pigtails), and apple-blossom skin and forget-me-not blue eyes. I have been captured by a wicked witch and my only chance to get free is to wash every single dish and have the whole kitchen sparkly clean before the clock strikes. For, when the clock strikes, the witch will come down and inspect, to see if there is a crumb anywhere. If there there are pots and pans that have been put away wet, if the silverware has been thrown int he drawer, or if the sink has not been scrubbed out, the witch will have me in her power for another year.’ Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle looked at the clock and jumped up.” (p 17)
Makes me want to play!
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends “Artist Dates”, where you go by yourself to just have fun. It can feel weird choosing to be alone for an outing (especially if you’re an extrovert). It can also be weird releasing yourself to enjoy something at your own pace, letting it fill your mind and captivate your senses.
Cameron calls it “filling the well”, when you find your particular delightful source of new imagery, new sounds, new textures, new experiences. In our creative work, we desperately need to have our creative stores well stocked! Even when I can’t get away alone, taking the kids on inspiring expeditions helps too.
Idea #2: Embrace a challenge.
Other times, I just need an assignment. Do this. Here are the parameters. Go.
Then suddenly my right brain takes over and plunges into the challenge.
When my sister got married, she commissioned me to paint for her wedding. It was a project I thoroughly enjoyed, that I never would have done without being told what she needed.
A great resource for fun “assignments” is Phil Hansen’s book, How to Tattoo a Banana. Seriously, it’s so much fun! And he created the book to be destroyed by the time you’re done. If you’ve seen his TED talk, “Embrace the Shake” (which is fabulous and definitely worth 10 minutes to watch), you know that Hansen is all about creating things and destroying (or eating…) them. So his assignments often involve food, like making binary art from crackers, or making a giant cookie of the Mona Lisa. Since Hansen includes a dough-by-number template, how could I resist making my own, edible Mona Lisa? She was delicious, and mysteriously inspiring.
Idea #3: Get outside.
As I wrote in “How to be a Stay-at-Home Mom without Losing Your Mind”, it is paramount for me to get outside every day. Nature is my favorite invigorating option. Even in the middle of winter, I bundle up and walk, taking deep breaths and marveling at the beauty around me. Even if I can’t escape the city to an actual natural area, simply watching the sky usually can do the trick. Fresh air + looking up = refreshment.
What are your favorite (non-screen) ways to recharge?