Summer is approaching, and I am looking forward to that time of year when life seems to naturally slow down and I get to catch up on books I haven’t read, dip my toes in the water and breathe a bit more deeply.
Much of the year, even long out of my corporate career, I find myself perpetually busy and still toting around a massive ‘to-do’ list on my phone. It can be hard to relax and just do “nothing” in my day to day world but not so once summertime is here!
I’m a writer so you might not be surprised that I excel both in productivity and procrastination!
Even though I love my work, I find it difficult to unplug literally and figuratively and really connect with my inner artiste. Sometimes I procrastinate while I'm working out my motivation for a bit of dialogue. At times like that procrastination saves me from my tendency to rush a scene that truly needs more time to bake.
Then there are times where procrastination does not serve me. Those are the moments when I sit down to work on my next book and instead find myself deciding to vacuum, do the dishes, or even organize my files - three activities I am NEVER eager to do. I begin to become fascinated by dust bunnies I can see on the top shelf of the bookcase in my office. Good God! How can a person write when there are dust bunnies about!!!??
As you can see I can find endlessly creative ways to avoid my creative work. And therein lies my paradox.
Yet, I’ve learned something over the years. I’ve learned that true creativity needs the void - the still space within that allows for something new and innovative to come forward. Being comfortable with that still space is something I work on every day.
When you hear the word ‘creativity’ what comes to mind? Do you think of a famous writer or actor or perhaps an image of Van Gogh floods your inner vision, missing ear and all?
I’ll bet very few of you think of simply looking in the mirror.
But, that’s exactly the right place to begin!
I came into this world as a creative being; a unique, original and non-repeatable expression of life. Yet I spent most of that life working to earn a living and putting aside the stories that called to me. Their voices dimmed but I found as I entered my fifties that they had not gone away. They were just waiting for me to make space in my life to remember who I am – a writer.
No matter what your history or your age, it is always possible to embrace a new definition of self, one that includes your true creative nature.
Creativity is to the spirit what a spark is to a flame. I believe it is essential to helping me step into different expressions of self at work and at home as I age. Now, approaching my seventies (approaching from as great a distance as I can muster!), I am more truly living the life of a creative person than ever before.
Creativity is the best anti-aging formula I know! There is joy in the process of creation. Children take new forms – ones of books, songs, paintings and much more. They come forth into the world with a new energy, one born from the space inside that you notice when all the distractions of the outside world aren't commanding your attention.
Here’s what I do to reconnect with my inner artiste.
1. I take a mirror and look deeply into my own eyes and say, ‘I am an infinitely creative person.’ Those of you who are smirking are invited to just try it. See how it feels. It has moved me out of despair when problems arose in life that I couldn’t figure out how to solve.
2. I make time to connect with my tribe. Being a writer can be isolating so I have found that being part of a community of writers keeps me moving forward with my goals. This summer, as in past ones, I’m doing that by attending The International Women’s Writing Guild’s (IWWG) annual weeklong summer conference at Muhlenberg University in Allentown, PA. I’ll be teaching, learning and enjoying listening to other women read their work at the event’s signature Open Mic nights. I always come home recharged, inspired and ready to write.
3. I keep an idea journal – well, several. I seem to be flooded with creative impulses throughout the day, so I have a special book (or two or three) in which I jot down those little gems. Now since I need to write down everything if I’m going to remember it anyway, this practice is perfect for me!
I fully expect you’ll find me still writing well into my eighties or however long I am given to be here on this beautiful earth.
For now, I have some dust bunnies to tame.
Cathleen O’Connor Ph.D. is a metaphysical teacher, best-selling author, speaker and writing coach who loves to help others get their words out into the world. She has been quoted in the Huffington Post as a dream interpretation expert and featured as an expert work-life balance source in various publications. Her latest book is The Collection: Flash Fiction for Flash Memory (Anchala Studios, 2017), an anthology of original flash fiction. She is currently at work on her first romance novel. You can connect with Cathleen at cathleenoconnor.com and grab your free e-book to learn The Secret to Saying ‘No.’
Since 1976, The International Women’s Writing Guild has provided a safe space for women to connect, write and share their stories. The Guild’s annual weeklong summer conference is one of the longest-running conferences in the United States that is focused on women writers. This year’s conference is an ideal introduction to experiencing the organization’s impact firsthand. To learn more and to register online, go to http://www.iwwg.org/summer-conference.
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