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.

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Feeling Depleted? Reach for a Quote

quotation-marksOn this crisp Autumn morning, I yearn to take it easy. However, I’m up before dawn, not to milk the cows, but to make breakfast and lunch boxes for my family, and support them getting out the door for work and school. Then I’m upstairs to write something before my writing critique group meets in an hour. After that I’m off to work. No wonder I seem to be running on empty these days. The local coffee shop would recommend I run in and grab a cuppa Joe. Instead I reach for something deeper.

While in college I started keeping quotes. The first one I ever kept was by the choreographer Martha Graham. She advised to use your gift, because it is yours to give. There is only one unique you. My collection of quotes has grown over the years. Whenever I read something that pulls at my heart or makes me gasp, I jot it down and store it in a folder. Mine are currently in two places, tangible and at-the-ready. One is in my cobalt blue three-ring binder that holds ideas for this blog. The other is in a threadbare moss-green file folder in a drawer of my white Formica desk.

Allowing for serendipity plays a part in this enrichment practice. Today, the blue binder won out. This was on top:

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

Creativity and wellness message for today: When your energy is low, reach for something bigger than yourself.

Soothing the Raw Edges of a Creative Life

I’m getting ready to lead my writing critique group and should be preparing my writing to share, but instead, I’m writing to you in my first post of 2012. As artists, writers, creative, and divergent thinkers, we can attest to being vulnerable, scared, and paralysed. Life alone can do this to us then we add, of our own volition, the stress of putting our tangible expressions out there, into the world to be viewed and judged.

Yesterday I was reminded, yet again, about the benefits of meditation. Disclaimer–I’ve been meditating for years–but it sure does help when someone else tells me how good it is! I’ve included an essay by Orna Ross here, it is so well written and inspiring too. Jane Friedman posted it on her blog and I learned of it through Facebook, ahhhhh the joys of sharing through social media.

My favorite line is:
“Meditation soothes those edges and creates a place of safety from where we can take risks.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Claim your essential self.

P.S. Should I forego my shower and meditate instead?

The Power of Art

I’ve loved Pablo Picasso’s art since I was in high school, and a reproduction of his painting of two hands clutching a bouquet of colorful flowers graced my wall. In college I studied him in art classes and hung a poster of his painting Guernica in my dorm room. His spunk, individuality, and creativity continue to inspire me. Recently, Irene, a former member of my Writing Critique Group shared this Picasso quote: Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Let art wash your soul.

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.

This I Believe

It’s a snowy day here in New England. I have a few minutes before I head out to work so I’ll share some cross-pollination news with you. Have you heard of the international project, “This I Believe?” It started in the 1950’s and since then has engaged people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. I’ve listened to it on NPR for years, and I’ve often heard my quiet voice say I’d like to do that. Last summer I got my wish in a very creative way.

An invitation came from the Unitarian Church in Westport, for speakers to contribute to a lay-led service filled with closely held convictions and jazz. How could I resist? I spent several weeks and many drafts creating my essay. My writing critique group inspired me to strip away the layers until I got to the heart of my message, and members of the church committee guided me to clarity. The results were that I gave back to my community; met new, bright and articulate people; modelled for my critique group that writing can take a long time; and after a few minor changes, I submitted my essay to “This I Believe.”

Five months later I heard back from the international project — my essay “I Believe in Dreams” was selected for the permanent collection.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just do it. Show up for your life and the rest will follow.