I hope you are well, my friends. Here, life has been filled with work--lots of work--some sunshine, some almost unbearably sad days, some hectic ones, a few nights by the fireplace, more work, some serious pie baking for holidays and birthdays, and little time for writing my own stuff or taking photos--even silly iPhone photos. December looks to be a bit wild, too, but I have promised myself that I will steal time every day for my own creative work. I always tell my students and clients that no matter how crazy life gets, there is always, always, always time to write, always time to create. And it's true. I spend most of my days helping others with their creative processes, and while I LOVE every minute of it, I sometimes break my own rules and forget about my own process. The fact is, there are always deadlines to be met. There is always more work to be done. We simply have to turn away from the noisy demands of life on a regular basis, seek quiet and solitude, and focus on creating. I don't mean creating for yet another deadline or another editor; I mean creating for the pure joy of it.
The photo above is one I took in early November, right after Mr. Magpie and I returned from a trip to Sweden, where he had a literature conference. I took hundreds of photos there, and I promise to show you a few inspiring ones, but in the meantime there's this shot, which, for me, was all about stealing an hour or so of quiet one day to set up my beat-up chalkboard, this lovely copper vase that belonged to my memere, and some fading flowers from my garden. The little hanging votive lantern is something I discovered in a sweet shop in Uppsala, Sweden. I didn't process the shot until about three weeks later. I'm not kidding when I say that I've just really struggled to find moments in the day for quiet joy. And when I do take a few moments, it's not long before I feel a rising panic inside my chest, a sense that things are undone. I'll start to work on a poem or a photo shoot, and then I'll remember all the leaves that haven't been raked yet, the window that needs fixing, the lecture I haven't written, the new course I haven't even started to plan, oh, and, of course, the laundry I haven't finished--ever. And then there are all the personal commitments to people that I feel I'm just not honoring. It can be crushing, this feeling. I know that you likely know it well.
However, there is a worse feeling. The one that happens when I don't write the poem or set up a beautiful shot in some softly lit corner of the house. Todd told me the other day that he met a fellow scholar at a recent conference. She asked him what his wife does for work. When he told her that I'm a writer and freelance photographer, a writing teacher, an editor, and an obsessed amateur gardener, her reply was, "Oh, she's a maker!" Todd later told me what she said, and I felt, well, a little sad, because I haven't felt much like a maker this fall. I've written a ton, but all of it has been for other people's deadlines. I've actually felt lost, a million miles away from my own creative center.
I help other people overcome this same problem pretty much every week, so it's a bit odd to be feeling it myself. Thus, I'm taking my own advice: when you feel lost and far, far away from yourself--I mean your real self, the maker, the crafter, the dreamer, the alchemist--write (or paint or sculpt or dance) your way back. Imagine a path in the forest. Your process is right there in front of you. You left a trail of bread crumbs as you wandered far from home. You'd forgotten that you always leave those bread crumbs, but you do. You always do. Just follow them back. Every single day. Forget the laundry mountain in the distance. Forget the dark and frightening forest full of undone tasks. Forget your fear of what might be around the next bend in the path. Just do what you do. You'll find your way home.
Lovely to read you once more Gigi.. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you for teh wisdom... I am going to apply it right now... xv
And it's lovely to see you here, Vicki. I know you're very familiar with this challenge, as you're such a creative soul. xoDelete
You describe the "problem" (and solution) so beautifully ... always my problem is "honouring" (apt description) other people's needs before my own. Timely post as we enter the holiday season!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Beth! I am trying to find the balance between giving myself what I need while giving others what they need, too. I usually forget about my own needs, and I've felt a sense of urgency about writing this post as we head into the madness of the holidays. I'm reminding myself to breathe. Pause. Breathe.Delete
So good to see you, my friend. xo
Life sounds busy for you but I'm so thankful that you took time to share this lovely image. I look forward to more of your Sweden trip, too ... that must have been truly awesome!ReplyDelete
Take good care, dear Gigi.
Thanks so much, Susan! Sweden was amazing. I hope I get to return sometime soon. xoDelete
Lovely advice. Life can take the wind out of our sails sometimes. But December is usually time to unwind. Perhaps that's why it's my favourite month.ReplyDelete
I love that December is your favorite month, Loree! I have a complicated relationship with December, but I do love all the lights, and going out to cut down our Christmas tree is one of my favorite traditions. I'm trying to learn to savor each moment of the season. xoDelete
First, your photo is spectacular. A chalkboard is lovely and hadn't thought of that one. Second, I love that you were described as "a maker". I have not heard it described like that, but I do believe I fit in that category. It is so frustrating and becomes depressing when life gets in the way of being the maker. I loved our visual words of following the crumbs back. Yes, we must do that. I am thinking on so much of this at this time of year and needing to focus to find a word that will work for me next year. Thanks for this lovely, lovely post.ReplyDelete
I hadn't heard it described quite this way before either, Marilyn, and it really struck a chord with me. Thanks so much for stopping by my friend. I know how sporadic my posts have been this year, and it means a lot to me when old friends like you stop by. Wishing you lots of luck with finding your word for 2016. I think it will be a very creative year for both of us! xoDelete
thanks for this…it was exactly what i needed to read today!!!ReplyDelete
I'm so glad, Beth!! xoDelete
Love, love, love this, dear Gigi!ReplyDelete
Thank you, dear one. Love you! xoDelete
Oh, I needed that. I feel I've been running in circles lately.ReplyDelete
Oh no, not the circles! I've so been there. Hope things calm down for you a bit. xoDelete
Welcome home Gigi! Your wise words have come to me at just the right time. I've been feeling a bit detached from my creative self lately. Like you it seems I've been sidetracked by a laundry list of to-do's that arrived the day before Thanksgiving and seems to be growing every day and has drowned out my inspirational voice. I need to start looking for those bread crumbs!ReplyDelete
It's so good to see you, Carol. I'm sorry to hear that life demands have gotten in the way of inspiration lately. Here's to a joyous and creative December for us both, my friend!Delete
Such a lovely photo and wise words. It can be so hard to ignore the to-do list. I feel guilty either way - ignoring my creative side or not completing the household stuff. The thing is I'm retired with an abundance of time, a small cabin in the mountains that's not hard to keep up with, and the children have left the nest. Since we settled in here over a year ago, I haven't picked up with my fiction writing - there always seems to be something else I want or need to do. Big block there. And yet I fritter away so much time. . . And I'd like to learn more about photography, but just end up snapping pics with my iphone and posting on Instagram. So I have to confront whether I really want to be a writer or not. Sigh.ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, Carolyn, I feel guilty either way, too. I think we have to let go of the guilt and just do what we love. Yes, there are always things that need doing, but I have ti remind myself that it's not the end of the world if I don't finish every single thing on my list!Delete
As far as the writing goes, I write every day, whether I feel like it or not. Most of the time, once I get going, I write myself into that magical place where I'm glad I made myself do it. It's kind of like working out. ;) I just have so many deadlines these days that I really miss working on my own projects. If you are missing writing but having a hard time starting again, I will suggest one small thing: don't be at all hard on yourself about it. Just start keeping a daily writing notebook. Begin by writing for 10 minutes a day. If you feel like going for longer, do, but only commit to 10 minutes every day at first. Before long, you will be back in full swing. I think the brain starts to crave it again, but the key is to not feel like there's this huge demand being placed on you. I hope that's helpful! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment. x Gigi
Beautifully stated, Gigi. December is a month for reflection. Love coming to visit, friend.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Diana! December is, indeed, a time for reflection.Delete
Even though I only write and photograph for myself, I still feel that pressure sometimes. I can't image your life. Breathe dear girl, breathe :)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sarah! I will breathe. xoDelete
That was an absolutely wonderful post Gigi. I just loved it. I loved it because I feel a little lost at the moment. In a complicated way hard to explain. But I will take your advise and keep showing up to do my own creative work. I know I will someday soon find clarity.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for visiting, Karen, and for your words. I have been surprised by the response here and elsewhere to this post. I think a lot of us are feeling this pressure, and I am comforted by the fact that I'm not alone in this, even as I don't want any of us to be feeling this way. I hope you find your clarity soon. Actually, I know you will. Your work is so beautiful and real. I can't wait to see what beauty emerges from this period for you.Delete
And I forgot to say that I am completely in love with your image too!ReplyDelete
Aw, you're so sweet. Thank you!Delete
This post couldn't be a more timely read for me. It's just what I need right now. Thank you.
I'm so glad it was a timely read for you, Keri. I hope you are well, my friend!Delete
This is my first time visit -- I found your link over at View from Harmony Hill. I'm so glad I stopped in; it was your blog name that caught my 'fancy'. I love magpies -- they have a special place in my heart, and sometimes I feel like one of them when I look around at what little bits I collect and gather that sparkle for me.ReplyDelete
I appreciate your post -- it resonates in my own heart as I have totally dropped away from any writing that includes any deadlines. That doesn't mean I won't do that again down the road, but right now I'd like to focus on writing things that are being written on my own heart in the moment when they are most alive.
I'm looking forward to reading more from your 'pen'. Here's wishing you a beautiful day...Brenda
Thank you so much for visiting, Brenda! I really appreciate your comment, because I think sometimes it's good to take a break from deadlines to reconnect with the reasons we write in the first place. Wishing you all the joys of this beautiful time of year.Delete
PS. I forgot ... your photo is exquisite. BReplyDelete
Thank you! xDelete
It is so good to read your words. They always hold true in some way and give that motivational push. I believe that when a person sees a finished picture a lot of times they do not realize the process that occurs to get that done. Thank you. Ann
You are so right, Ann. The process is everything to me, which is why I so love looking at the work of other artists and imagining what it took to get them to the place where they were when they sent their creation out into the world. Thanks so much for visiting, my friend! xoDelete
Thank you, Gigi, your timing could not have been more perfect. I so needed this.ReplyDelete
I am so glad, Susan. Your beautiful work always inspires me.Delete