Happy New Year: Starting Over Is An Illusion

2lotym15_009Happy New Year . . . two weeks late. And right on time.

My thoughts this new year are all about what isn’t. A new year isn’t.

It’s a figment of our collective imagination. A construct. We created calendars and new years to organize our time and activities, to help us identify and sort.

And sometimes, the idea of starting fresh is enticing and exciting. It’s like the pull of a blank page, inviting words.

Other times, starting over can be an enormous burden. This is the case when facing repeated mistakes. Or making New Year’s resolutions we can’t seem to keep. Or re-starting a novel or book or creative work that didn’t meet our expectations.

I used to be unable to keep a journal. I would tear out the pages in frustration, endlessly starting over. I had to scratch out the past, have a blank, clean start, find square one. (My video “Journaling as a Creative and Spiritual Practice” tells more.)

If you’ve made New Year’s resolutions and feel them crumbling already, know this: there is no such thing as a new start. And it is not needed.

Your life is one seamless, beautiful moment, from birth to last breath. Think about it: did you experience a blank screen between December 31, 2015 at 11:59 and midnight on January 1, 2016?

It’s simply your critical mind (“Dr. Codger,” I call it), that relies on tools, calendars, and timelines, in order to assist you. But you are not being assisted if that critical mind is hounding you, over and over, about what you haven’t done within a certain time frame.

Get this: you are right on time. Everything is happening just as it is supposed to. You can keep every page in your journal, even the ones with mistakes. You can accept, too, the imperfectly painted canvas and the broken resolution.

And so we learn from our mistakes, and tell stories about them. Next Saturday, January 23, I’ll be joined by three beautiful storytellers as well as the stunning art of Erin Leichty. “Fumbling Forward, Personal Stories of Awkward Grace,” happens 5 pm at Waterstone Gallery, with myself, Carisa Miller, Sage Cohen, Gypsy Martin, and Susan Domagalski Fleming.

Come and be reminded that you are exactly where you belong, here and now.

With Gypsy Martin, another storyteller for “Fumbling Forward.”

Photo credit: top photo by Johann Leiter.

Getting Support for Taking A Creative Break

Edee Lemonier, Writer, Community Leader, and Web Wiz

 

I like what coach and poet Mark McGuinness has to say about Creative Burnout, especially “control freakery.” I relate to the creative rock star who gets to do what she loves and is surrounded by adoring fans – in my case, a community who loves to encourage me as much as I love to encourage them.

And I also relate to the need to sometimes walk away from it all.

But this isn’t easy to do.

As a business owner, I was nervous about the plan I’d made in June, to take September off and walk the Camino de Santiago.  In the eight years I’ve been a writing coach, I’ve learned that business stops when you stop responding to people. My break would mean taking a month off, disconnecting my phone, and allowing my students to sit idle and un-encouraged for thirty days.

But I also began to realize I was modeling relentless activity, and a life leashed to a computer. Unlike Stephen King, who purportedly never takes a vacation from writing, I must take a creative break.

So I left. Crossed my fingers and threw my cares to the wind.

The wind blew on my community while I was gone, rustling up this writer, that encourager, that artist. Groups met without me.  Creativity thrived.

This wouldn’t have been possible without Edee, who hosted Wildfire Wednesday at Cascade Park Library in September. Edee makes my job easy because she is teachable, committed, open-minded yet confident in her talent. She is a people person and yet a solitary artist. Her work astounds the reader. Not only did she take over the library night, but she let me know I wasn’t forgotten while I walked.

It wouldn’t have possible without Patty. Patty rustled up the evening Wildfire Writing Master class, finding a temporary location, sending announcements. This imaginative writer and caring, even-tempered, listener has one of the most amazing combinations of talent that I’ve ever met in one human being.

And then there was Jenna, my fellow coach and dear friend. She kept the enthusiasm going for the artists group I facilitate and roused the troops at Rouse. She listened to my pre-trip jitters and post-trip overwhelm. She wired me support on the airwaves – I felt it all.

Being a creative rock star loses its glitz when you start thinking you have to do everything, all by yourself.  Being surrounded by willing, giving human beings is what it’s all about.

Thanks to these three, and to all of you, the music plays on.

 

Rules for community engagement: Don’t be a lone rock star. Let shine the leadership gifts of those around you.

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