Today’s Friday Five is reflective of how I, and I think many, may be feeling right now.
Sometimes, life kicks your butt. I’ve said many times on this blog what my friend Jane used to say: “Sometimes, life intervenes.” And, when it does, it’s hard to be creative or think about anything other than the next thing you have to do. Which is hard when your business is rooted in being creative – or when you just want to be creative, but your mojo is gone.
That’s how I’ve felt lately, for a whole host of reasons.
My daughter, who has Crohn’s Disease, has been battling some skin-related issues over the past year and they have been misdiagnosed until recently. Which means she’s been itching (and, thus, scratching) for the better part of a year. After several very long doctor appointments last week, I think we now have the correct meds. She is doing awesomely now and I’m so grateful that we got her to the right doctors and medicine. But my heart ached for her while she was trying medicine after medicine with no relief, as she scratched her skin to infection several times, all while smiling and soccer-ing and being amazing.
Our beautiful house continues to kick my butt. We had a skylight leak in our bathroom and, in the course of figuring that out, found that the exhaust vents in our bathroom and water closet were “vents to nowhere”! They were installed, but didn’t vent to the outside. So the steam from our showers was just circulating in the attic and creating – wait for it – mold.
Anyway, it’s fixed now, but it was a chunk of change to fix it that we weren’t anticipating.
And – and I don’t want this to turn into a political debate* – I am in a state of anxiety and concern about what’s going on in our country. I do not agree with the policies of the current administration, for a whole host of reasons (reason #1: see note above about awesome daughter with Crohn’s Disease), and I am discouraged by the lack of civility generally about how to discuss the problems our country is facing and how we can move forward together.
On that note, you may know that there has been a debate going on among bloggers about whether to stay “on message” with DIY and crafts, or whether to acknowledge that there are serious things going on in this country and that it seems almost silly to be talking about DIY or crafts at such a time.
What I have resolved, after much thought, is that creating is exactly what we need right now. Regardless of how one is feeling, creativity is good for the soul. It produces something beautiful and from the heart, and that’s something we could all use, regardless of opinion or view, right now. I just know that, when life is hard, it’s hard to find the inspiration or energy to have that creativity.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share five tips for how to be creative when life is kicking your butt (whatever the source of the kicking):
(1) Turn off the computer.
Funny, coming from a blogger, right? But I find that, when I’m preoccupied with the news or Facebook or anything online, the best thing to do is shut down the computer and do something else. It’s ok to turn it off for a while. That frees up your mind and your time to find something creative to do.
(2) Go outside.
My favorite thing to do when my brain isn’t focusing on being creative is to take a walk. Not only is it good for me physically, but it allows me to clear my head. I’ll take the dogs for a walk, so they get a benefit, too! Plus, they make me laugh! I can appreciate nature, take deep breaths, and only focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
(3) Find inspiration from another source.
When I’m not feeling creative, I often will go to a thrift store, salvage store, or HomeGoods to find inspiration. At thrift stores and salvage yards, I might find something I can transform into something else, and that sparks my creativity. At a store like HomeGoods, I often find things that I like but think I could make myself. Then I think about how to get that done.
I also tend to devour home and design magazines and books. My favorite magazines are This Old House, HGTV Magazine, Country Living, and House Beautiful. As for books, I love Design Sponge by Grace Bonney (a blog, but she published a book) and other books on decorating and repurposing.
Even if a magazine or book has rooms that are too expensive for my budget or not my style, I often find that I still get ideas that I can make work for my budget and style.
(4) Create “outer order.”
My friend Gail (you should go read her amazing blog, My Repurposed Life) has a sign that says, “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” I love that. Because I know that, when my house is a mess, it stresses me out. I always feel better when everything is put away, organized and neat.
So, I find my creative mojo by first cleaning up my work space. Or some room in my home that needs some love and dusting. Organizing the space where I create creates a calm that allows creative juices to start flowing.
(5) Just start.
Sometimes what stymies me is the enormity of whatever project I think I want to create. For example, I need to repaint our laundry room because we had the built-in ironing board (hello, 1950s!) removed. When I think about the time and effort to do that project (clearing the room, moving the machines, etc.), and I think about the time I have, I figure I don’t have enough time to get it done and I don’t do it.
Or, I’ll think about how many projects I want to do, and that stops me in my tracks. It’s too much, so I just shut down and do none of them!
Instead, I need to just start something. Even if I don’t finish it in one sitting, the key is to just start. Once I get started, I know I’ll keep going. And creativity begets creativity.
I hope this post helps if you are having trouble finding creativity in your life. It helped me to write it. I hope that, if life is kicking your butt, you find some peace in creating something beautiful. And anything you create is beautiful, because it comes from you.
*I welcome the opportunity to discuss policies with anyone who wants to discuss them peacefully and respectfully. I just didn’t want this post to be the opener of that can of worms. This isn’t a political post; it’s a post about how to be creative. If you do want to talk, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.