It’s true. In the last 20 years or so I’ve seen Sister Hazel play more than 100 times. If you know me well, you’ve seen me post about these guys on FB:
Twas the night before Christmas
The topic was stress
Two bloggers were writing
Their posts still a mess…
Hey Karin. Merry Christmas! Can I stop by and bring you some breakfast?
Thanks, but I’m on a deadline. #toobusy #nostresseating
“I wrote sixty-three songs this year. They’re all about Joe, and I’m going to play every single one of them tonight.”
She then launches into several terrible, but passionate songs about the man who broke her heart. I bet at least half of you have this moment now stuck in your head (but if you don’t want an earworm burrowing into your skull for the rest of the night, don’t click the link. You’ve been warned.)
Lots of creative-types will tell you their creativity is at it’s best when they experience sadness. The more melancholy they are, the more they create and the higher the quality of their output. There are lots of really talented writers, painters, musicians out there known not only for the heights of their creativity but for their depths of despair as well. Think Hemingway, Picasso and Plath, just to name a few. A few small studies seem to show that unhappy people create more artistically interesting projects.
Then there are those creatives who work best when they are happy and fulfilled. Some studies show that when people have to creatively figure out the solution to a complex problem, the people who feel happier find a solution faster and get more satisfaction out of solving the problem in the first place.
So which is it? Are people more creative when they are happy or sad? Is it pleasure or pain that helps us reach our creative potential? My guess is that it’s both.
Generally speaking, I’m much more productive, creatively and otherwise, when I am happy. And, I also know, I’ve been amazed at some of the ideas I’ve generated when I have been devastated.
I think, maybe, what it’s really all about is that when life jars us out of complacency in either direction, we stop and pay attention. We see and experience things differently at the height of our joy and the depths of our despair. The view is different from when we hang out somewhere in the middle. It’s like driving a different way home. You’re much more likely to notice your surroundings than when you drive the same route you have for the past five years.
If you’re a person who usually creates when life has pounded on you, try seeing what happens the next time you’re beside yourself with joy. If you create in moments of intense joy, remind yourself in those inevitable moments of pain there is something to draw from there too.
I think Neil Gaiman says it well in his young adult novel, The Graveyard Book :
“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
This is day 20 in the 30-day National Blog Posting Month Challenge. Thanks for stopping by.
Today marks a perfect storm of creative inspiration for me. I’ve got a road trip, live music by my favorite band and lots of laughter with great friends. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way talks a lot about filling the well. You can’t draw from your creativity over and over again without also having a consistent way to refill the well. So, I get to do that today, a lot. It’s fantastic.
Filling the well doesn’t have to be time-consuming, expensive or exotic. Sometimes, just a simple walk or time in my garden works wonders for me. As does getting lost in a bookstore, wandering through a yarn store or playing my guitar. Lots of options to fit my mood or how much time or energy I have to devote to it. I always encourage my clients to keep a list of what fills them up. It’s important to have it handy otherwise we end up trying to fill our well with things like Candy Crush or Facebook or the Lifetime Christmas movie marathon. Not that any of those things are bad in and of themselves (I’m currently stuck on level 197 though…), but they are not going to refill your well. They may provide a distraction or a bit of respite from a long day but they won’t sustain you through the last hundred pages of your novel, a new business venture or your first major gallery show.
Figure out what fills your well and then do it – a lot. Funny, I wrote a blog recently about being happy – same advice. So, being one who is trying to learn to take her own recommendations, I’m going to go fill my well. I hope you get to do the same today.
Today marks Day 15 in the National Blog Posting Month Challenge. My goal is to post every day during the month of November. Check back frequently and see how I am doing.
Tonight I attended my church’s annual auction. Money raised this evening will go to all sorts of projects and services throughout the year. Thousands and thousands of dollars are raised – it’s pretty impressive.
The thing I love most is the wide variety of events that people come up with to donate. This year alone we had a Flea Market scavenger Hunt, A Princess Bride Costume Party, A 1970’s DVD concert viewing party, Italian, Spanish and Chili Feasts, and my personal favorite, Latkepalooza. I offered a Vision Board Workshop and an annual fossil hunting trip for the auction this year.
It’s a great event filled with laughter and silliness all for a great cause.
For the last few years, I have had the honor of acting as one of the auctioneers for the event. It’s an evening I look forward to every year, mostly because things like this inevitably end up happening:
How can I not love being part of this? Have a good night friends!
This is post #9 for the National Blog Posting Month Daily Challenge.
I talk a lot about finding things that renew your spirit, fill your well of creativity or just plain make you happy. Last night was that sort of night for me. I went into Baltimore and did one of the things that makes me happiest in life. I saw live music.
This is the first time I’ve seen Matt Nathanson live although I’ve listened to his music for quite a few years. It was a great show with a lot of energy, humor and some fantastic music. I’m a big fan of musicians who love what they’re doing and clearly, Matt LOVES what he’s doing. It’s hard not to feel inspired when you see someone grinning from ear to ear when an audience is singing along with a song he wrote.
During the set, he introduced one song as “This is a song about sex,” to which someone very close to the stage yelled back, “All your songs are about sex.” The audience laughed, he sort of agreed with the person and went on with the show.
Now it’s a little bit of a stretch to say that, but truly 98% of his songs are about relationships of some sort. He has made an enviable career out of talking about the same subject over and over again. He just finds new ways to describe relationships or he focuses on one small aspect and deconstructs it.
So it got me thinking about the old excuse that I hear on occasion by people who profess to want to pursue a creative endeavor: Everything’s been written about, there’s nothing new to say. That statement is only maybe, 50% true. Yes, it does seem that in our need to express ourselves creatively, most if not all topics have been explored in some way. But to say that there’s nothing new to say, well, that’s just not true. No one can express how you see the world – whether that’s through the lens of camera, the brushstrokes through acrylic paints or putting words down on paper and added music to accompany them.
So, if what’s been holding you back is the idea that you don’t have anything new to say, let it go and get out there and express yourself. The world needs your perspective. It’s selfish to keep it to yourself.
(This is day two of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month – check back every day to see how I’m doing on this challenge.)
Today is a milestone for me. You are officially reading my 101st post on this blog. I was thinking about making a cake to share with all of you to celebrate but frosting tends to not ship well and without the buttercream frosting on top, well, what’s the point?
Instead, I’m sharing a primer on absolutely the most foolproof way of achieving radical happiness. I’m talking about the kind of joy that is government-shutdown resistent; the type that leaves you grinning from ear to ear and makes people think that you’ve gone slightly mad. It’s the kind of happiness that make people wonder, “What does she have that I don’t and where can I get it?”
Are you ready?
Here it is:
Find whatever makes you happiest and do lots of it.
OK, so there are two types of people out there right now. Those who actually already live the above statement. They are the ones pumping their fists in the air and saying “Yes!” (perhaps a little more loudly than they meant to if they are in a public location).
And then there are those of you who don’t live like this. Perhaps you rolled your eyes at that statement. Maybe you felt a little sad reading it or even disappointed that I didn’t write something more profound that would unlock the secret so you could finally feel the happiness you’ve always wanted to.
But it really is that simple.
Find whatever makes you happiest and do lots of it.
If you aren’t feeling radically happy then one of two things are true:
You don’t do what makes you happiest:
What if you don’t know what makes you happiest in this world? I know that there are people who honestly believe they don’t know. In my experience, rarely do I meet anyone who can’t answer that question. And if they think they don’t know, it’s usually a case that they’ve either forgotten or locked away what makes them happiest in order to protect themselves. If this describes you, it’s time to do some soul-searching, or maybe even a little work with a therapist to rediscover those things again. Think about what you used to spend hours doing as a child. That’s a great place to start. Or what you did in college when you had all kinds of free time.
Seriously, I’m deliriously happy when I make time for things on my list. And anyone around me can instantly recognize how happy I am. And it’s not just because I’m smiling widely like a fool (although that certainly happens). I have another very specific “tell.” Without even realizing it, I shift my weight onto the balls of my feet and I bounce, literally. When I’m doing something that makes me authentically, radically happy, I become pure kinetic energy. How do you feel when you’re engaged in something so thrilling?
You don’t do enough of it.
Yes, I know there are mortgages and soccer practices and commitments and jobs and hundreds of other things vying for your time and energy. I also know that if you maximize the amount of time spent doing what makes you happiest, it affects everything else you do in radical ways. Which is not to say you should quit your job today and spend every waking moment on the street corner playing your bassoon. It does mean however, that you purposefully carve out time in your day to do whatever it is that sends your spirit flying. This week, maybe you can only afford fifteen minutes a day. But I promise you, keep spending that fifteen minutes and suddenly you find ways to make it thirty minutes, then an hour. And you’ll find that glow you get from pursuing your bliss carries over into the rest of your life so that even washing the dishes feels like a celebration of your amazing life.
So right there, the easiest way I know to be radically happy. Now get out there and make it happen.
And if I haven’t said it recently, thanks for reading and commenting and giving me a reason to have written 101 posts. I’m profoundly grateful.
(Special thanks to Patrick of D3football.com for the inspiration to write this.)
Isn’t it time for you to experience radical happiness? In October I’m offering coaching services for 50% off through the end of the year. In addition, the first session is always free. What have you got to lose except to let go of old ways of thinking and the opportunity to step into a wonderful, wild new life? Give me a shout out to learn more by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org