Friday, March 22, 2013

No matter what, keep your creativity alive!

I've received emails from all over the world about this blog (which shows me that people are actually finding and reading it, which is cool), so I try to put material up here that can be of value to people who happen to to come across it.  I would like to relay a short story to you...

I'm not complaining or looking for sympathy, but I had a hellish year in 2012.  I'm glad to see it gone!  Work was a total physical and mental overload, I had some health challenges, things were constantly going wrong with the house that had to be fixed, big money was pouring out the door on unexpected expenses, I started several large home projects (none of which I could finish because of lack of time), etc.

I'm sure you've all been there...and maybe I can pass along this experience to somehow give people who occasionally have to deal with sustained crappy circumstances like this a way to pull yourself out of it.

Honestly, if it wasn't for my wife and kids and the enjoyment I get out of our family life, I think I would have jumped off the roof of my house last year because I was going nuts!  :)

And something else happened along the way in 2012 that was worse.  I just felt generally "off" much of the year, and I'm not normally like that at all.  Looking back on it, I lost a bit of myself along the way in all this chaos and I didn't even realize it until things calmed down a bit and I was able to take a breather to think.

Today it dawned on me why I felt "off".  During all of the chaos around me, I gave up everything in my life that had anything to do with creativity.  I gave up reading, writing, photography, music....everything.  The creative spark was totally gone.  Since I'm a creative person in general, this was a big loss that I didn't even realize was occurring until it was already long done.

So how to snap out of it?

First, realize that even though constant ongoing problems might be inconvenient, expensive, and time consuming, it's not the end of the world.  Shit happens.  And then more shit happens. And then more.  And your job is killing you.  And the house has problems.  But hopefully it eventually comes to an end and things settle down.  Eventually there's a window of opportunity during all of the bad news and that's the time to find a way to deal with it and pull yourself up from the mess.  Look for that window of opportunity to clear your head.

My Carvin LB70 bass, out of its case for playing again!
Second, don't give up on yourself.  Last year, during this one month in particular, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown if one more thing went wrong.  And guess what.  The "one more thing" did happen that same week...and it inconvenienced the family and cost $2,500 to repair right in the middle of the Christmas holiday season.  Did I have that nervous breakdown?  No.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  It was the slap in the face that I needed to pull myself up and solve some of these things that had mounted up on me.

Third and most importantly, don't lose yourself.  I lost myself last year by giving up my creative hobbies and activities.  Find something that you enjoy and make the time to do it.  It doesn't matter what it is, just make time for yourself.  Notice that I didn't say "find the time" because you won't find it during trying circumstances.  You have to "make" the time by sacrificing something else (maybe those hours of TV watching?!).

My new Mitchell MD100SCE, ready for learning!
Now I'm back on track!  I made a commitment to myself this year not to let this happen again and to ensure I've got time carved out for myself.  To start with, I'm doing something I've wanted to do for years:  I bought an acoustic guitar and I'm teaching myself to play!  I made the time to do it by cutting out a few TV shows each day which now clears the way for me to practice and enjoy the sounds of my new hobby.

I'm also practicing bass again, getting back into my photography, reading, planning to use my Mac computer and GarageBand to record some rudimentary songs, etc.  And of course, enjoying the family time!  All of this has done wonders for my outlook....and I vowed not to lose myself again by giving up the things that I like and my creative outlets when times get tough.

I don't profess to be an expert on this stuff, but I hope this article helps someone/anyone who happens to stumble across it on the web.  Pull yourself up and get out there to enjoy life!

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