Right now, at 8:51 am ET, it means sitting at my messy desk in my pajamas, drinking a glass of water on an empty stomach (a newly minted summer resolution) and typing this post. I am typing while also simultaneously trying to sort out what to type about. I have not posted as frequently as I have in the past, and have been desperately trying to avoid one of those posts that begins with "I have not posted as frequently as I have in the past...." And here we are. Oftentimes the destination we twist ourselves in knots trying to avoid is precisely where we find ourselves, at least temporarily.
Instead of posting, I've been reflection a lot about why I haven't written in this space consistently in what feels like a million years. When I began this blog in 2013 (10 years back!), I was deep in the weeds of carving out my identity as a creative soul. I struggled with calling myself an artist, a writer, an actor; I was working full-time day job after day job that not only took the majority of my waking hours, but with them, my sense of deserving to identify myself as a creative. During that time, and for several years after, this space was dedicated to working out these struggles for myself, aloud on the page, and at the same time, doing my best to offer anyone reading tools and strategies for owning your creativity. I wanted to give myself a big, public permission slip to call myself an artist. I wanted to give all of you a permission slip, too.
As the years went by, I have become comfortable calling myself a creative, and more than that, spending less time trying to prove it, and more time being creative. As time moved forward, if I found myself with a spare hour of the day, I felt less like writing about being making things and more like, well, actually making things. I also found myself working towards paying off debt, taking care of mental health issues that had been pushed to the back burner long enough (OCD, I'm looking at you, kid), and coming out of the pandemic, getting back to traveling, one of the greatest joys of my life. Continuing to climb the hill of shouting about creativity in this blog space took a backseat.
When I did have an idea for something to write about in this space, I often told myself I would do it later, aka never for my fellow procrastinators. I convinced myself that certain ideas were too small, too big, not fleshed out enough, or that they had been done before. I was seeking the Goldilocks blog post, which almost never leads to the perfectionism we say we desire, but rather pain. After all, we all know what happened to Goldilocks when she supposedly tucks into the "just right" bowl of porridge, followed by the "just right" bed for an afternoon nap. Anxiety and OCD send enough mental bears roaming through my brain; I don't need to encourage anything else to chase me.
The catch-22 becomes that when I don't want to be chased by a sense of perfectionism and as a result, I simply stop dedicating myself to writing regularly in this space at all, I am consenting to miss out on the whole, imperfect ride of it all. I'm not saying that Goldilocks shouldn't have eaten any porridge at all, but perhaps she could have contented herself with the cold bowl and the slightly too soft bed and enjoyed herself. Perhaps there is a middle path for any pursuit we find ourselves pulled towards. I think it's why I am here this morning, parsing through my thoughts aloud, confused and bewildered and feeling energized all at the same time.
In her book Big Magic, the writer Elizabeth Gilbert says:
"When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. This is likely because you’re so consumed by your own dramas, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren’t receptive to inspiration.
You might miss the signal because you’re watching TV, or shopping, or brooding over how angry you are at somebody, or pondering your failures and mistakes, or just generally really busy. The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realizes that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else."
I don't want ideas to find my brain and heart locked doors. I can't say that all ideas are for me to write about, but I do know that for too long, I either:
1.) Bolt my door against any idea visitors, hide in the closet in the fetal position, and hope they will stop knocking and leave me to Netflix / ruminating / melancholy at not having an idea to work with even though many are currently knocking at the door, waiting to be romanced.
2.) Hang a sign that said "EVERY idea welcome!" and subsequently find my home overrun with more ideas than I could ever engage with, which leaves me feeling over stimulated and jangled, all while infinite ideas walk all over the clean floors with muddy shoes and eat all of my gluten-free snacks.
When I sat down in this chair a half an hour ago, I opened this "edit blog" page and before I could plunk out the title of this post, I searched the pros and cons of Substack, email lists, how to take Stripe payments, wondering if I should clean my desk before starting. And on and on and on. I was nearly getting ready to do more research on how to best proceed with blogging when I paused and closed out the search pages. I get hooked so easily. I am guessing you might get hooked easily, too. Let's help each other not to demand more of ourselves than is necessary when sharing something with the world. I do want to reflect on where and how to share my writing moving forward - this is totally fair. AND. I don't need to do that before typing out these tangled thoughts to you this morning. There is a middle path where both can co-exist. One need not prevent the other.
Two of my favorite parts of my inner experience has always been the zest I feel for a creative quest when it alights on my shoulder AND the habit of not having a long time of requirements before letting myself waltz with the impulse when it arises, whether it be sewing a blouse, sketching a coastline at the beach, or experimenting with an autoimmune friendly chocolate chip cookie recipe (I recommend this one). When I am hooked by perfectionism or conditionalism - and am knee deep in the research phase of "how to be creative most efficiently / joyfully / do it BEST" - I am fenced in by all the things that I think I NEED before exercising my innate creativity and human expression. The truth is, that there is actually very little we NEED to invest in our own expression, and an infinite list of things we are convinced we MUST do before saying yes to a few moments of joy.
Note: If you are embarking on a creative journey that involves the physical or psychological safety of yourself and others around you, there is absolutely a need to research, plan, and craft spaces that acknowledge and honor these needs. Do the research. Sleep on decisions. Listen and course correct. Yes to all of these.
Also, note: If you are curious about writing a poem or making your own curtains, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO CLEAN YOUR ENTIRE APARTMENT OR DO THE FOURTH LOAD OF LAUNDRY OR ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING SUPPLIES BEFORE SCRIBBLING SOME STANZAS OR SEWING SOME STITCHES. Don't get hooked in this way. Just do the thing.
I suppose in a way, I'm sitting down at my laptop here now to break the ice, to offer myself another public permission slip to return to this blog.
To prepare to host the ideas that send a shiver through my heart (as opposed to an open house), bringing out the best china for them each time, not just the "special" occasions.
To not apologize for the detour I have taken in the breaks.
To mix metaphors in my posts and not worry if readers aren't following them all the way.
To figure out what I am writing about as I go. Might be poetry, grounding tools, books I'm reading, books I'm writing...it's a free for all, folks!
To not promise any certain kind of post moving forward, or even a frequency.
To simply show up, as I am this morning, and for more mornings after today.
I am looking forward to showing up here again soon and sharing ideas that are swimming around in my head and heart, as well as a few creative things that are on the horizon that are making me feel excited. For now, I am giving myself permission to feel the pride and peace that is bubbling up from a not-quite dormant place within me, from having simply sat down and written.
Wishing you the clarity to do the thing you want to do, without conditions or cleaning sprees. As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments if you have any wisps of wisdom to share about how you unhook and make the things that knock at your door.