Category Archives: Beat the Block

3 Easy Tools to Ride Your Thankfulness to a Creative Boost

‘Tis the season for turkey and thanksgiving, and thankfulness is one of the easiest things you can do to support your creative practice.

Think about it: it’s hard to make art when you’re in a funk. To create anything, we have to feel that what we make matters, that the world we live in matters, and that the life we live matters. Optimism is absolutely necessary to the creative practice, and regularly being thankful is an easy way to stay positive, even when life is difficult.

Gratitude and creativity go hand-in-hand.

With that in mind, here are three easy tools ensure you are grateful more than one day a year:

  • A gratitude journal: Whether you choose to keep a private blog or a notebook, writing down what you are thankful for regularly is one of the most common ways of maintaining a grateful attitude. Making journal entries daily or weekly will remind you of everything that has gone well–each small win or act of kindness you’ve experienced–and maintain a record of it.
  • If you have trouble keeping up with journals, this might be the ideal tool for you. This little app will email or text you up to four times a day, asking you to reply quickly with something you’re grateful for in that moment. Far beyond that one aunt that insists on doing a “This year, I’m thankful for” round-robin before you can eat, a grateful160 account can help you build a regular, all-day, everyday habit of feeling thankful. Once a week, it sends you a list of your most recent replies, giving you a nice reminder of all the week’s gifts.
  • An evening gratitude practice: When you are laying in bed at night, just before you go to sleep, come up with five things that you are thankful for from your day. Say them out loud. Make sure you include WHY you’re grateful for them. Not only is this a good way to end each day on a positive note, but it also teaches you about what you most enjoy. If you have a partner, you can do this exercise with them as a way to debrief from your busy life.

Remember that gratitude is a habit. Like any other habit, it can take time to for it to become a part of your routine and your mindset. Ultimately, though, being thankful lifts you above the negativity and pessimism that can pull us away from our will to create. Make use of it!

Happy Thanksgiving! How have you used gratitude in your creative process?

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Eleven Symptoms of an Overwhelmed Artist and Two Home Remedies

by Stephanie Lindquist

Ever feel completely overwhelmed? Your eyes, your brain and your body feel fried. It’s hard to function. In fact, you’re a little afraid that you may malfunction. In case you are unsure if you are experiencing or have experienced any of the symptoms of an overwhelmed artist, check the list below.

  1. You don’t understand or for that matter hear the words coming out of anyone’s mouth.
  2. You have no clue how everything could possibly be accomplished in time.
  3. All you want to do is restart some bad habits you’ve been kicking.
  4. You feel completely lost.
  5. You want to cry for help!
  6. You’re tired and exhausted although you’ve been sleeping alright.
  7. You are NOT sleeping alright.
  8. You really really really need a vacation or maybe just an artist date.
  9. You crave silence and not just the kind where you don’t hear noise, but where you can’t even hear the thoughts running through your head at a million miles per hour.
  10. Part of you feels like giving up. (This is partially a good thing.)
  11. You feel alone.

Remedy #1

Last night I decided to randomly open the Rumi book I have for the first time. The page I flipped to was a pleasant surprise, an opportunity to release all my creative anxieties and duties and instead submit to silence “tasting the core of [my] being” rather than all the rattling noise and stress of being an overwhelmed artist.

The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems. Translations by Coleman Barks.

The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems. Translations by Coleman Barks.

Here’s the first poem of the chapter The Reedbed of Silence: Opening to Absence. Hopefully it brings you a moment of peace like it did for me.

Time to ignore sensible advice,
to untie the knots our culture
ties us with. Cut to the quick!
Put cotton in both sentimental
ears. Go back into the reedbed.
Let cane sugar rise again in you.
No rules or daily duties. Those
do not bring the peace of silence.

Remedy #2

If poetry doesn’t do it for you, this is an awesome talk by Martha Beck in which she offers some practical tips on how to tap into some wordlessness of your own. Plus it is a sweet reminder that you already possess everything you need to get through whatever overwhelms you. She calls them the four technologies of magic, and she’ll show you how to activate each one starting today.

Am I missing any symptoms or home remedies? Share your symptoms and remedies here with the rest of MD?

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