Simple truths for a new year: 2017 edition

simple truthsThis has become another annual tradition of mine: going through my journals and lists from last year to find simple nuggets of wisdom. These are the aha’s that shaped my year and that I hope to bring forward into a new year. So many of these seem like common sense, but they’re good reminders of the basics. Hopefully they spark some learning for you as well. (You can see lists from past years here and here.)

Creativity:

  • Do household chores after creative work. I don’t know how many times I caught myself doing laundry or dishes on my art days, and then wondering why I didn’t get anything done! Now I’ve made a firm rule that I won’t do any chores until I’ve finished my art for the day.
  • Sometimes you have to start writing before you know what you’re writing about. (True for most creative pursuits!)
  • Setting aside a minimum amount of time to spend on art in a day helps me stay focused. Last year it was four hours, since that’s the max that I can focus on any one project in a day.
  • Judgement is what separates us from our creativity. Learning to observe that judgement can help to move past it. I learned this while I was teaching my Creative Adventuring class: I asked the students to observe their surroundings without judgement and we got into a great discussion about mindfulness and creativity!
  • If you stop creating, the ideas get jammed up and have nowhere to go so they stop flowing. Keep the taps open. My mom shared this with me and it’s totally true.
  • Don’t expect satisfaction from creative work. Sometimes it will feel good and sometimes it won’t – the point is to just keep doing it no matter what. (Martha Graham said, “No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”)
  • The creative process is not linear. No matter how hard you work at it there will always be bad work now and then.
  • Making stuff eases my anxiety. Getting lost in a project can be a huge help.
  • Every mark is a learning experience.
  • Distractions and mind wandering are part of my process – I don’t need to be so hard on myself.
  • I need to schedule time to clean up after projects to keep my space functional.
  • Don’t over-practice. I had more fun at my last dance recital than I have in years because I was more focused on enjoying the dance than making it perfect. I practised just enough to learn the steps and then let it be.
  • I refuse to be grumpy because of art. Stress is inevitable but grumpiness has no place in my art practice.

Business:

  • We’re all in the same boat, even the people who seem much farther ahead. We all just want to make something amazing and not fail.
  • I need to celebrate my wins, no matter how small they seem.
  • I need to be surrounded by people who are farther ahead than me.

Self-care:

  • I can use awe and appreciation of beauty as an antidote to fear.
  • When I have something scary coming up it helps to be really gentle with myself and only do things that soothe and comfort me.
  • The only way out of bad feelings is to think about good things – and to keep doing it even if it doesn’t seem to be working. This is harder than it sounds. How often do you get stuck in a funk and find yourself stubbornly refusing to find a way out of it?
  • Remember to take values before doing something hard/scary. This is something I learned in theatre classes and it means choosing 1-3 words that describe how you want to feel or behave when you’re doing something. Sort of like One Little Word or Core Desired Feelings, but on a smaller scale. I’ve started doing this as a daily practice.
  • Saying “you’re okay” out loud to myself feels silly but really helps.
  • Remember to breathe and check in with my intuition when decisions are stressing me out.
  • Focusing on others and remembering everything I have to offer is a good way to deal with the stress of social events.
  • Certain thoughts leave a sticky trail of anxiety behind them but if I don’t focus on them they dry up and go away.
  • Change the story! From “I don’t have a good network” to “Here’s a list of all the influential people that I know.” From “I’m not confident” to “Here are all the brave things I’ve done.” From “I’m not good at collaborating” to “Here are all the times that I’ve collaborated successfully.”
  • Stop fighting. Everything is easier when I just do what I need to do and stop whining or dragging my feet.
  • My new morning routine is great. I write down 3 top priorities for the day, 3 values (see above), and 1 thing I’m grateful for. It helps me start the day intentionally and gives me something to come back to when things go sideways.
  • I am not invisible. This was a HUGE lesson for me to learn – I’ve been dragging around this limiting belief ever since I can remember.
  • I need to build periods of rest and alone time into vacations. No matter how much fun I’m having adventuring and exploring, I still need my quiet time and will burn out without it. Even just one hour by myself is often enough.

Relationships:

  • Everyone is doing the best they can, just like I am. I can’t expect any more than that.
  • At the same time, giving someone the benefit of the doubt only goes so far. Sometimes people are just plain wrong.
  • Stop assuming that other people know best. I need to gently and lovingly stand up for what I think.

Misc:

  • Life is too short to eat at bad restaurants.
  • If you don’t know, ask.
  • Simple bowls of veggies, protein and grains make really delicious, easy and healthy meals.

What simple truths did you learn this past year? How will you use them to shape 2017? Leave a comment below!

P.S. I’m working on building a new website so I’m gonna ease up on the blogging for the next couple of months. I’ll be skipping every other week to work on website content so I will see you back here in two weeks!

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3 comments

    • smedford1108 says: January 25, 2017

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