I hope you are well. This week I recommend a beautiful poetry blog, Vita Brevis. It is curated by Brian Geiger. There you will find some lovely pieces by emerging poets, usually accompanied by artwork as well.
In these days when reading time becomes precious to me, I appreciate poetry more and more. I love the magic of an idea or a scene expressed in the medium of poetry. It is a pleasure and a gift.
I was reflecting on the past year and a piece of art which I acquired (~about a year ago, I think). I still need to frame it. It was in one of my favorite coffee shops in Bemidji and it caught my attention. I told my husband I needed to have it. The price was only 2-figures and I bought it as an early Christmas present for myself.
It reminded me of the creativity explosion that I had set loose in my life, once I decided that I could write every day for a short time, even if I had a full time job. Though I only gave myself 30-45 minutes a day to write (more on weekends), I found myself looking forward to it daily. I give Chris Guillebeau a lot of credit for this, since I learned about how easy it is to start a blog from his Side Hustle School podcast.
This art piece also evoked for me a feeling of that “spark” we get when a new idea comes tumbling out of our fingers onto a page. There’s juice to that feeling. It lights us up and allows for greater energy to attend to every other thing in our lives.
Today I celebrate my first project contract after leaving my corporate job – yay! Even though it is a small project, I trust it will lead to more work. I had such enjoyment working on it today. I felt profoundly grateful for the opportunity. I never really imagined I would be putting my science writing and research skills to good use (that voice in the back of my head said: do people really make money that way outside of big companies?)
So happy right now for all the little choices and decisions that led me to this place. What are you grateful for this weekend?
I mean it, schedule fun into each week, each day, maybe even in every hour if that is possible.
It is not optional. Fun feeds your creativity.
I used to take breaks to play and rest only when I had “earned” them through doing enough work. Probably that daughter-of-an-immigrant work ethic that many of us inherited. Work all day and then you can earn your fun.
But what it we turned that on its head?
Play at intervals, rest at intervals. Work deeply, but do so in a focused and paced way.
Those of us with focus issues might prefer the “sprint/break” approach: work in 45 minute blocks with no interruptions (including email, social media or other distractions) and then get up and move, dance or walk for 15 minutes.
Others who like to work for longer stretches might work for 90 minutes take a 30 minute break. Most research says that the maximum focus for most humans sitting at one time without moving is about 70-80 minutes. Honor that. In the era of social media, it is likely substantially less, according to Cal Newport.
Knowledge work often requires sitting at a desk for long stretches, or enduring endless teleconferences that sometimes make you want to stab your eye out with a pencil (not speaking personally, of course).
What if you took a playful attitude toward work? You can inject a little creativity and some cartoons or funny videos into your (dreadful) required Powerpoint presentations. (I feel your pain. I have been there.)
One of my favorite wise teachers, Brene Brown says that “Creativity not expressed is not benign. It metastasizes.” Heed that wisdom. Plan some fun and some whimsy into your day. Your work will be re-energized and you will deliver at a higher level.
This Saturday’s blog share goes to GIRLS AND THEIR CATS. GATC is a photo series created by Brooklyn-based photographer BriAnne Wills as a way to showcase cat-owning women in a positive context.
I love her beautiful photography and stories of professional women and their cats. If you are a cat-lover and/or just enjoy a unique take on people who love animals and care about their fur children, check it out.
On Wednesday morning it was rainy and gloomy for a fourth straight day in the Twin Cities. It can be get cold here, but usually we do not have days and days of rain on end. Winter may be icy, but there is usually sunshine intermittently. “Clear and cold” is often the forecast in January, February and March, when it is not snowing.
Even snow is more preferable to me than days and days of rain. Okay, yes. A couple of cloudy days doesn’t usually spoil my mood but 3-4+? Oy. I treated myself to some extra light box this morning. Though I had not slept very well and suffered some insomnia, I was truly NOT going to miss my Zumba class with Ruth at Tula Yoga and Wellness!
I have begun attending Zumba twice a week since I returned from vacation in September (there’s a Monday night class) and I find that I am learning faster in practicing more often. I make no claims at being “good” at dancing. But we dance to upbeat Latin, Reggaeton and Pop music that is super fun and energizing.
I told Ruth this morning that her class is like rhythmic sunshine to brighten up our day! Indeed, after the class, I felt happy and energized. Every class, as I am learning how to dance, beginning to feel the rhythms and getting the footwork down, I am building some “muscle memory” on the routines.
My determination to learn to dance this year is going very nicely since I started out with the foundations class back in June.
Dance is teaching me many new things:
It reminds me how much I love good music, and moving my body is a natural extension of that.
It does not matter if I do it perfectly. I am a beginner, and I am in it to have fun, get exercise and feel more comfortable in my body. Yoga was a big part to starting that process, but dance is a great extension to that.
Putting all the things together at once is not always possible for me, and that’s okay. Sometimes I have to master the footwork before I can add the arms. Sometimes I miss a “shimmy” or my hips are slower to catch on to a particular move, and I need to ask for a demo of a more challenging step. No matter, it’s all part of learning.
Dance is about expressing joy physically. When I was too self-conscious to let myself dance, I missed out on that. But now I am just making up for lost time. At 44, I feel really good about that!
It is Saturday and this regular feature has returned!
This week’s Saturday share is Emotional Notions, a blog that is described as Whimsical, Philosophical Poems and Inspiration. I love the beautiful graphics and the poetry. I think you might as well. Check it out!
This morning I was contemplating joyfully and with some curiosity the blank canvas that is the next chapter of my work life. It feels like a fresh start, that opportunity to re-invent my daily rituals, hone my purpose, and choose the colors for the palette.
Though I am not a visual artist, and only dabble with colors and fun materials now and then, I can appreciate that excitement of a blank canvas. As a writer, it is a little like the blank page, that space of infinite possibility before the words start spilling out. I face it with excitement, and a little unknowing. Where will this go? What am I trying to say?
Since I generally write to understand any new concept, or even myself, there is always an air of mystery about it. As a blogger, I have learned to embrace the empty page as a sacred space where I am invited to create. It is our greatest privilege as humans, our creative energy, and I think it is where we meet our divinity.
I find that I want to experiment a bit, not to rush into splashing color onto the page, but to spend some time preparing the colors, feeling what wants to emerge. I greatly appreciated my solitude yesterday and the ability to respect the rhythm of my body, working and resting in a ratio that felt right. My coach and I decided on some “homework” for the next week, and I was able to accomplish the items on my list.
If I were an artist, I would run my hands along the blank canvas, noting its texture and honoring this gift. I shall have to resist a trip to the art store to do this, but maybe it is time to get out my colors and sketch pad.
Do you have a ritual for honoring the “blank canvas” times in your life?