Creative Commons Photo from Morgan Sessions
At least in the world of blogging, I have remained rather silent the past several months, only emerging out from under my writing rock yesterday, just before the New Year. While comfortably hibernating, I have been surprisingly busy otherwise, mainly focusing on trying to get my stubborn creativity rolling again. It happens — you have a huge burst of motivation, make all these super tangible and well-thought out goals, and suddenly your brain is physically incapable of producing anything new. Blank pages, deleted blog posts and cancelled yoga plans abound. But it doesn’t need to all be for nothing. These periods of rest are vital to having anything to write/act/sing/create goals about in the first place. Without material and space in your mind to organize it, you’re just shuffling through a busy frustrated brain of jumbled and misguided creativity.
So as you embark on your New Year’s Resolutions, here are some tools and recommendations I used throughout my silent days of creative solace. Please feel free to add your own in the comments of this post, I would love recommendations throughout January!
For the Creative Soul:
The Compass Podcast by Leah Walsh
I’ve written about this lovely podcast in the past, but it has seriously helped me through the fall, while taking a rather challenging acting class. Leah is a friend of Ben and I and a very talented NYC actress. In the Compass, she interviews artists from across the theatre world, and explores how they avoid “going to the dark side” and what the “dark side” itself means to them. The podcast uniquely reveals the vulnerabilities that artists face in an unpredictable and emotionally exhausting field, while reminding you that you are not alone when you have to take that lousy side job or feel as if you are somehow professionally behind your peers. If you need a creative boost, check this out.
The Artist’s Way and Blog by Julia Cameron
I realize this book has been around forever, but in case you have never read it or haven’t picked it up in a while, I cannot recommend Julia Cameron enough. She mixes discipline with creative kindness to spark you writing/creating again. Even if you are not a writer, but feel stuck otherwise, her philosophy will provide you with a practice to slowly climb back into the the light of day. If anything, check out her intro’s for Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
For the Spirit and Mind:
Notes from the Universe
When I roll out of bed, I reach for my phone, no matter how many times I have tried to train myself otherwise. Old habit. But adding Notes from the Universe was guaranteed was to add some positivity to my inbox at 6:15am. It’s always there, ready to be perky and motivational. It’s literally just a daily personalized message that sets you rolling. One of my favorites, as an example:
“Never compromise a dream, Ginny.
Do what you must. The fears, beasts, and mountains before you are part of the plan; stepping-stones to a promised land; to a time and place that is so much closer than even you suspect.Don’t let your eyes deceive, Ginny, for even as you read these words, your ship swiftly approaches.
Clearly, they are a delight for difficult mornings.
If you’ve met me, then you’ve probably been told to read one of Pema Chodron’s books. I try to pawn them off on everyone because she is magical. She is an American Tibetan Buddhist monk and speaker with the personality of your favorite friend that always knows how to break you out of your head. I also preface giving out her books with, “I know the titles sound like cheesy self-help books, but don’t be deterred by that, they’ve changed the way I see the world.” Even if you are not interested in Buddhist practice, the philosophical viewpoints of Buddhism are practical for everyone’s life and challenges. She rocks. In my opinion, start with When Things Fall Apart.
The very popular new book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has officially roped me in. Her tone of writing is not completely up my alley, but her practice and the discipline of maintaining it, changed the way I felt about my home in about a week. I was incredibly skeptical. And no, she is not paying me to write this. I spend so much less time fussing over my house now. So not only does my home not look like a tornado went through it every day, but it has given me the gift of more time.
For the Body
This is a tricky suggestion section for me to write, since I deeply believe in finding your own relationship with food and exercise that works best for you. I am not into most trends and plans, but simply into feeling out what your body needs to be safely and properly nourished. This is a continued journey for me, and a huge part of my resolution- not for weight loss but more to feel more present and healthy. I feel it’s my responsibility to find out how healthy I can feel, without ever sacrificing a positive body image or peace of mind.
So here are a few things that have helped me recently, or I am trying this month:
The Whole Life Challenge
Our fabulous friends, the Weisman’s, are not only our new neighbors but also motivating me to join them in The Whole Life Challenge this winter. In a nutshell, you join a team, sign up for their app, and choose a plan for 8 weeks. They range from giving up gluten to giving up practically everything processed. We are taking the middle ground from mid-Janury through mid-March, giving up added sugars, glutens, most dairy, and a range of other things. This works for me since I have been on the hunt for the ingredient that has been making me feel spacey for quite some time. So this may narrow down the culprit. The challenge also gives you points for daily exercise, water intake, and reflection. It’s all light-spirited and has no pressures about buying their shakes or looking good for anyone else. It seems to me to be focused on a lifestyle shift. But I’ll let you know how it goes.
My love of cooking was sparked by three things: cooking shows, staring at pictures of delicious food, and eating something I created. Tastespotting had a lot to do with it. I have never been great at following directions to a t, mainly because I like to take creative liberties (which is why I’m a terribly baker). But to get me started, I go here for inspiration. Cooking at home not only saves you money, but also supports healthier and whole-food based meals. You also get to show off on Instragram.
Jessica Smith TV
If you’re like me, and fitting a gym membership into your budget is just not doable half the time, go make friends with Jessica Smith TV. I found her one day when I was looking for a barre workout online, since the in-person ones in my area are upwards of $30 a class. Gaaaah. She now has a very wide range of videos, a super positive attitude, and most importantly, an adorable dog named Peanut that sits at her feet.
For the Wallet
If anyone in the future ever asks me about how I finally roped in my student loans and credit card debt, I will tell them I have Learnvest to thank (and Christina Kosyla for telling me about them). Geared toward women taking control of their personal finances, Learnvest pretty much taught me how to budget. Their articles are also practical, easy to read, and make you feel like you don’t have to fall into the trap of reading those, “Millennials can’t handle their money” articles. Because that’s BS.
The Financial Diet
If you need a good daily read, check out The Financial Diet. They are even more down to earth than Learnvest and get straight to the point. If you have ever felt alone or guilty about any lousy financial choice, this website covers it in a very honest way. I greatly appreciate that people from our generation are being proactive about rising out of the stereotypes as entitled or irresponsibly spenders.
As I got rolling with this list, I realized I have way more I would love to share, but am out of time (and space!). So I think I will try to keep this list thing going, especially if you find it helpful. As I said above, please leave your recommendations below and I will happily look into them and spread them around. I am particularly on the hunt for a website to replace my Facebook binging.
Happy New Year everyone and enjoy the day!