The Power of Downshifting

1956_MGA_Rick_Feibusch_2012When I was a teenager I learned how to drive a stick shift on my father’s vintage 1950’s MGB convertible. He’d bought it from a neighbor for $1.00. Pulling a cord tucked into the inside of the car door, opened the door. I took the solid hard top off to cruise in style to high school and the plastic windows slid side-to-side. To slow the car down, without applying the brakes, I learned how to downshift. Using the clutch and gear shift I changed the manual transition to a lower gear to slow the car down.

This past spring, I metaphorically downshifted,  I slowed my activities down and simplified.  I had an abundance of good things but too little time. I needed to take several volunteer and professional responsibilities off my plate in order to open space for other priorities. You can read more about it in the essay I wrote for the Fairfield Writer’s Blog, A Writer’s Choice: My Seven Steps to Saying Goodbye to Something I Love. Wanting to have more time to be with my high school senior in the college looking and applying process, I felt sad letting all my volunteer work go, but I knew the benefits of a calmer Mom. The hardest activity for me to stop was one that I’d been leading for seven years. It was an on-going Writing Critique Group,

However, the previous winter, my boss asked me to lead a different kind of writing group on the Saturdays that I was already working. Agreeing to it I planned on leading both, totally different writing groups, in two different libraries. Now, as I prepare for the new group starting in September, I’m  reminded that the Universe works in mysterious ways. Last spring I downshifted to ease off and allow space, in doing so I let go of something I deeply enjoyed. Yet, I gained being more available to our son. More time means I can access my humor more often. Now that I’m developing my curriculum for the new Creative Writing Workshop that I’ll be leading on the third Saturday of every month starting September 19, 2015 at Pequot Library, I’m back in my inventive flow again.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Trust that when you let something go, you might be surprised at what the Universe puts in its place.

You’ve Finished Your Novel, What Now?

AjahnChahYour project, artwork, memoir, essay, is done. The beginning, middle, and end of your creative process complete. What’s next?

How often have you jumped into the next project immediately? Or started developing your writing platform for publicity before your computer has even cooled down? I admit, I’m guilty.

What helps me focus on the transition time is something I’ve learned as a long-time practitioner of the art of meditation. I’ve learned to exhale, stop, and be present in the moment. Completing a project, especially one that has taken me a long time to finish, has its own sense of fulfillment and timing. Many inventive projects are fraught with unsettling feelings accompanied by ups and downs of exhilaration, despair, and ecstasy.

This morning I’m reminded of the following quote by a Thai meditation teacher.

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
– Ajahn Chah

Creativity and wellness message for today: Embrace who, what, and where you are, right now.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Earlier this morning I was racing against a deadline to finish an essay, and I was overwhelmed by my task.  The theme of the publication was “Love,” the big picture Love, the spiritual, oneness, vastness Love. Maybe if it had been the romantic kind I would have found it easier. I could have related humorous anecdotes or memories of heart-felt woes. But the topic of “Love,” the big kind and how it can help a person find their purpose in life, that was daunting.

I previously wrote what I thought was going to be my submitted essay, but my writing critique group told me in no uncertain terms that it was not up to snuff. Hence my racing against the clock this morning. I finally solved my creative dilemma, on what the heck to write, by simplifying. I stated how big the topic was in the essay’s first sentence. Then I went on to say that I was going to pare it down to three thoughts. Once I simplified, my fingers flew across the computer keyboard.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Simplify.