Did you miss getting your dose of fresh air today because you missed going for a walk or bicycle ride? Does the paintbrush sit dormant on the canvas that shows no scenery, the ink of your pen still holds the unwritten words, the glue remains disconnected from the craft pieces that would make the gift to cheer up a friend, the camera lens remains shut off from the flowers that opened and are now closed for the night?
The people we have helped throughout the day feel good about what you have achieved together, and rightly so. I used to feel the muscles in my shoulders and neck tightening up as I lay awake at night trying to think up a plan for how I can fit two days of work into one the next day. I would feel sorry for myself as I sobbed along with the tune by the band Moving Pictures “What about me, it isn’t fair?”
I found it very interesting that Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, says we need to listen to these strong emotions of feeling overwhelmed by the demands on our time by other people. It’s not in our best interests, or that of the other person, to be thinking these negative thoughts toward them. These situations call for a better life balance.
Well-meaning people can sap your creative time and energy. At the end of the day, you look back and realize that you haven’t achieved what you planned to, or worse needed to. Frustration and stress set in, which doesn’t help when it comes to having a good night’s sleep. Bewildered at how you could have spent so many hours doing what? Don’t get me wrong, I love to help family, friends and work colleagues, but if you are like me, I have to consciously check myself to keep all things in moderation and balance.
In 2019, when I finally got serious about pursuing my creative goal, I recognized that the best gift I could give to the people in my life was for me to SHUT UP and START. Stop talking about it and start working my way through the list of tasks. For years I had been saying “I’m going to publish my poetry.” “I’m gunna” as we say in Australian slang. “Gunna, gunna, gunna.” I was sick and tired of my own voice. I would see people’s eyes roll in disbelief thinking “Ya, right Beverley, I’d like to see that.” I knew that they were not convinced. No one was taking me seriously, not even myself. “ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH. It was time to SHUT UP and JUST DO IT.
What the author says in week two, is to set an example to them of your creative self. Don’t let their fears and doubts divert you from your creative goal. Focus on doing your creative thing. I no longer engage in conversations about defending my creative goals. I stopped fighting for my right to talk about my goals. No one seemed interested. I stopped campaigning in conversations, urging people that they too should be doing their creative thing. And I stopped trying to help other people to do their creative thing at the expense of not engaging in my own.
I didn’t know about The Artist’s Way Facebook Page until this year, so it was a lonely journey for me. But my Christian faith carried me through. I have always said to my daughters that, as long as we are healthy and have full use of our faculties, we have a responsibility to develop and use the talents and gifts that God has given us to benefit others.
One of the first tasks I did was to re-read the classic book Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend, When to say yes, How to say No to take control of your life. It is not selfish, but healthy to set boundaries around our time and live a balanced life that includes our creativity. I also wrote about my experience in setting boundaries for myself in my article Get Out of the Way of Your Creative Flow.
But how do you set boundaries around a Crazymaker? “What is a Crazymaker?” You ask. The author of The Artist’s Way it describes them as people who:
- Expect special treatment
- Discount you
- Spend your time and money
- Blame you for everything that goes wrong
- Create drama in their life and then expect you to fix it for them
- Hate keeping to a schedule, except for their own
- Hate order and fill your life with disorder
- Fill your head with their thoughts so there is no room for your own
- Deny that they are Crazymaker and the list goes on…
I remember years ago, as I wrote in my journal, my hand tensed as the pen scratched out the angry words ‘He drives me crazy’ as I burst into song and wailed along with The Fine Young Cannibals of 1989 “She drives me crazy.” In my article Get Out of the Way of Your Creative Flow, I humbly confess that the true reason behind my procrastination, toward starting my creative goal of writing and publishing my poetry, was fear.
“Ahhhh, He drove me crazy.” I was once married to a Crazymaker. I am now very careful to not get involved with this type of person. But if you are married to one, or working for one, or have a close family member or friend that is one, how do you pursue your creative goals with them in your life? That question I can’t answer, I believe it takes a team around you of supportive people including a professional who can work with you to set personal boundaries.
I went to talk to a psychologist with a plan of action in hand. I also built relationships with supportive people. At first, I had to be brutally honest with them and humbly explain my situation, which was embarrassing, but necessary. I also re-read the book Men Who Hate Women Who Love Them by Susan Forward. I also read Working With Monsters by Dr John Clarke How to identify and protect yourself from the workplace psychopath. It is not only women who have to live or work with a Crazymaker. I know men who are in the same predicament. All I can say is GET PROFESSIONAL HELP so you can stop enabling the crazymaker and stop dancing to a Crazymaker’s tune.
On a more encouraging note, I hope that you can discover the joy of practising your creativity. It’s the process, the journey, not the finished product, that becomes your focus. Julia says “It is far harder and more painful to be a blocked creative person than it is to get in and do the work. It is my job to do the work, not judge the work. The essential element in nurturing our creativity lies in nurturing ourselves.”
Even if you have a tough emotional journey ahead of you to fulfil your creative goal, just as I did and many others, I hope that will be able to look back over your unique journey in the same way we look back over any physical journey that we take. Some are flat and easy, some have hills to climb of which some are easy, some are challenging. We know the ones that we need an experienced guide to lead us all the way to the top of the mountain. The journey is worth doing.
Julia shares a story in her book about her mother sharing that her mother stood knee-deep in the flow of life paying close attention to everyday life. “Dad’s cough is getting worse, we have lost the house, there is no money and no work, but the tiger lilies are blooming, the lizard has found that spot of sun, the roses are holding despite the heat.” Julia comments “I am breathing in and out. Realizing this, I began to notice that each moment was not without its beauty. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight, the capacity for delight is the reward for paying attention… In the present moment is where work and play merge.” Even the slightest attention you pay to your impoverished creative goal will nurture it and help it to thrive. Remember, you are not alone. Take care of yourself.
Don’t just survive life or just strive in life, THRIVEBeverley Joy
Beverley Joy © 2022 of Simply Create 2 Share