Flip Your Funk: Finding Your Creative Shift

The other night I was in the shower trying to force ideas for this exact blog post.

“Come on Danielle, think… Okay, just think. There’s got to be something in there…You need an idea, just one before the shower gets cold.” Queue rambling thoughts of grading papers and old blog topics and, wait… where was I going with this? “Okay, this is ridiculous. Hurry up. Ugh, the water is freezing now…”

After reflecting on my icy cold shower, turns out, there was an idea in there after all: to write about my creative block.

The truth is, I’ve been in a creative funk. My ideas haven’t been popcorning. My energy hasn’t been bouncing. My projects haven’t been forward moving. Can you relate? Perhaps you’ve picked up the pen, guitar or spatula but your creative process wasn’t as smooth, soulful or artistic as it usually is. 

I’m sure this whole pandemic thing has something to do with it, but I’ve been down this road dozens of times, trying to find my spark, trying to get back to me again. It’s lonely. It’s aggravating. It’s demotivating. And then I remember: the lightbulb turns on and the warm fuzzies fill me as I recall the lessons I’ve learned on my not-so-creative journeys. I then feel centered and a bit creative again, like I am now as I write to you.

Finding that spark can take time and effort. Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me and others make a creative shift:

  • Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. If our brains and hearts want to go quiet for a bit, we need to let them. We may need the rest for our next big thing.
  • Very rarely is forcing anything a good idea. Seriously. Can you think of a time you forced something, and it was for the better? Forcing should be a red flag to do the opposite of what we’re doing. Instead we need to allow what is. Our intuition may be trying to slow us down so that we see something different, so we can change our perspective and fuel our creative purpose at another time.
  • Sometimes all we need is an energetic change. Stuck in your home office? Try working a couple hours at your town library. Instead of writing on the porch, go to the coffee shop. Rather than reading and reflecting on a book alone, sign up for a book club. I’ve signed up for a few extra writing groups; joining other aspiring writers with similar goals always gives me a boost of word-adrenaline.
  • Distance does make the heart grow founder. We can put down our work and get inspiration from other sources. Are you crafting a speech? Play UNO with the family every day this week. Do you want to find the drive to finish that needlepoint? Go for a hike. A change of action and scenery can do wonders.
  • Reconnect with yourself. If there’s something weighing us down, we need to work that out. Revisit things and activities you love: for some, this looks like a 45-minute hot yoga session; for others, this may be volunteering at the local wildlife conservation.
  • Remember: our creativity always comes back. It’s never lost for good.

And now I’m off to take a shower where I plan to belt out some tunes (as opposed to think about what to write next!). I know the right idea will come in perfect timing.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this newsletter to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,
Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to help you boost your creative confidence, “Creativity flows through me. My imagination and abilities are unlimited.”

PPS – Here’s a fun one to get your creative juices flowing. Get out your journal and write a short story using the following words: New York, tiger, flawless, apple, gum, love. Were you able to do it? See, I told you our creativity is never lost for good.

I’m Busy But Not Too Busy

Lately, I’ve been busy. Like, busy-busy thanks to parenting, writing, coaching, teaching, grading, walking, reading, researching, cooking, cleaning and a bunch of other ***‘ing things ;). I wish funning was a word because that would be on the list too. As you can see, I’ve been busy will all good things, but nonetheless busy…
 
Have you noticed (or you may be annoyed!) that I’m using the word ‘busy’ a lot? That’s what happens when I get busy… I lock myself in a box and make excuses for why I can’t do something. I shutdown and say ‘no’ to adding what always seems to be another checkbox on my to-do list. When I am (I won’t use the ‘b’ word here), when I feel like there’s too much on my plate, I also start telling myself I don’t have time to do something for someone else… Don’t call so-and-so back, you have too much to do. Danielle, you just gotta say no to things and people so you can get your to-list done.
 
Sometimes that voice is the sound of reason, but more often it’s a frantic, fear-based voice that tries to make me someone I’m not: someone who doesn’t have the time and heart for others.  
 
A few weeks ago, a teacher award nomination form was emailed to me from my niece’s elementary school (my niece lives with me). When I received the email, I lit up and thought, Oh goodness. Mrs. Smith and Mr. Hickson have been so great to Amy this year. I have to nominate them. They’re everything a teacher should be: engaging, compassionate, patient and informative. But my heart began to beat fast as my thoughts switched to, “No Danielle. You don’t have the time to write a nomination. Stick to the things you need to take care of.”
 
I deleted the email, felt crappy about myself and continued to sluggishly take care of my work.
 
A week later a reminder email was sent and this time, I listened to my heart and I clicked the nomination form. And guess what? It took me 6 minutes to fill out. 6 minutes! I shook my head and laughed; all they wanted was my niece’s name, the teachers’ names and 250 words or less. Once I hit ‘submit’ I felt proud, so proud that the energetic high I got from that simple good deed boosted my work productivity for the next few hours. I got tons of things done! The effect was like four cups of coffee, no jitters attached.
 

Two weeks later, I was at my office on campus spring cleaning (I’m a business professor). As I dusted my bookshelf, I came across ‘thank you’ cards my students wrote to themselves over a year ago before the pandemic hit. On the first day of class, I asked students to write the notes, thanking themselves for the preparation and courage it took them to be in college (I teach at a community college and many of my students are first generation, so being in college is an extra big deal). I planned to give them their cards the last day of class, but thanks to all that was 2020, that didn’t happen.
 
When I first saw the cards, I thought, “Awwww. How special. They’d love to see these.” My mind quickly shifted to, “Danielle, you’re busy. You don’t have the time to reach out to students if it’s not related to homework.”
 
This time, I listened to my heart right away. I sent emails and messages to the students asking them for permission to open their cards and send them a picture of it. This process end-to-end took a half hour. 
 
One student wrote herself a beautiful thank you note that said something like this: “Thank you for making a sacrifice and joining the military. Because you did, your school is now paid for. You’re now in a better spot and reunited with your family. I am proud of you.”
 
When I sent her a picture of the card, she told me she cried and that she was so thankful. I clutched the phone, as if to give it a hug. I felt so good about sending those cards out that I had a smile and lightness to me the rest of the week and because of that, I got even more things done.
 
The next time I tell myself I’m ‘too busy’ to do something, I’m going to continue to listen to my heart and remind myself that doing something nice for someone else (or myself) is an investment that keeps on giving.

Join me in spreading my messages of breaking judgement habits and strengthening intuition even further: forward this blog to a few family members and friendsThe greater the shares, the greater the impact – They can subscribe here.  

Sincerely,

Danielle

PS – Here’s an affirmation to remind you that you’re in control of your day, “I have all the time I need. I have everything to make today productive and abundant for myself and others.”

PPS – Do you want more feel-good time in your day? Here’s an activity to put awareness around how you’re using your time. For at least a few days, write down everything you do: talk to your mom on the phone, go for a walk with your dog, attend a meeting with clients, drive to work, go grocery shopping, practice the drums etc. Once you have a few days’ worth of activities, go through and rank them from a scale on 1-10 on how much joy they give you (10 being the highest amount of joy). If you rank anything lower than a 7, ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, and see if you can put together a plan around removing or minimizing that activity from your life or restructuring it so it gives you more joy.