When I decided to begin blogging I wanted to create a place where I could write about quilt making and creativity in a way that shared pieces of my life and the stories behind my quilts. The idea was to establish a place where the content was both valuable and authentic. I am passionate about authenticity! Sharing my creative life in a way that is relatable and transparent is important to me. Sometimes a pretty picture alone gives us a false sense of reality, and by blogging I felt I had a way to balance the scales and share my honest thoughts alongside my creations. I had a plan, and then in the midst of this past season I began to doubt that plan! I became overwhelmed and I struggled to feel connected to my creativity.
This past Winter was hard for me – in fact, I would go as far as to say that it has been one of the more difficult seasons of my life! Because life has been quite stressful I had to think long and hard about whether it was appropriate to share some of what I have recently experienced here. I have been torn between the authenticity I crave and the desire to focus only on the positive.
This blog is my personal creative journal and I realised that sharing this part of my story was important, if for no other reason than to remind myself that hope is healing, change is inevitable and there is always something new to learn. Honouring my heart and my instincts is part of who I strive to be, and my heart says that sometimes by sharing the negative you can more fully appreciate the positive.
More than ever I know this to be true –
Creativity is a combination of energy, habit and heart.
At the essence of my stress was fatigue. I had no energy!!
I wasn’t just tired, I was completely exhausted and rather unexpectedly found myself in the care of a specialist physician, trying to find the mysterious cause and a solution.
Did you know that your brain accounts for approximately 20% of your energy consumption when you are at rest? We all know how amazing the human brain is but have you ever stopped to think about how much energy is consumed in order to think creatively? The bottom line is that when you are running low on energy your brain doesn’t have the capacity to perform complex tasks – your energy levels do make a difference to your creative output!
Originally I was forcing myself to work through my energy lulls, which usually resulted in more mistakes than I would generally make, and me asleep on the sofa by mid afternoon. After being forced to take a break from all creative endeavours to care for our family dog Daisy when she became ill, I realised how big a disservice I was doing myself by trying to push through my periods of low energy in order to keep my creative habit intact. Habits are vital to creativity but that is only the case relative to your energy levels on any given day. You need to have enough energy for all the things in your life that are important, so sometimes you have to pace yourself and prioritise what you are willing to give your energy to.
I had to make new decisions about how I spent my time and solve my energy concerns. I had to create empty space in my life in order to make room for the possibility of creativity in the future. I needed to recharge my batteries so that creating was rewarding and fulfilling, not draining. I had to let go of all the emotional baggage that was weighing me down and begin the task of healing emotionally and physically if I wanted my energy levels to be restored.
Athletes know the importance of managing their energy levels consciously in order to be at their physical best. They apply specific strategies and routines in order to maintain their health and wellbeing. Their off-season is just as important as their actual performance time. They know the power of rest and recovery in order to refuel their energy reserves.
As creative makers it is just as important for us to be aware of our creative wellbeing and have a plan for rest and recovery after we engage in projects that require intense bursts of energy. Whether being creative is your job or a large part of your personal life it is important to protect yourself from possible burnout.
This season has taught me that you don’t need to be a university professor to understand the benefits of a routine sabbatical. In order to focus on the things that mattered to me and to restore my health I ‘unplugged’ from the world for the month of September. I admit that this wasn’t a planned action, but in hindsight I can see how much I needed to disconnect from the distraction of social media, the comparison trap and ‘inspiration overload’, and have the opportunity to think deeply and rekindle my own creative passion.
All these things together have led me to understand the value in a routine mini sabbatical – perhaps a week off every seventh week to really focus on restoring those dwindling energy levels!
While I am still working on ways I can improve my health I now more fully appreciate the role energy plays in my personal creativity. Up until these recent events it is not something I had ever really considered, BUT IT IS SO IMPORTANT! This whole experience has changed the way I structure my creative time and the type of projects I am choosing to work on – and yes, it has renewed my enthusiasm for creating in unexpected ways. Awareness is so important!
Whether you are currently tired, run-down, or have a clinically diagnosed case of fatigue I hope you take a moment to think about how energy plays a role in your creativity and take the time you need to recharge.
As for me I now have a new version of my plan – one that is more suited to fluctuating energy levels, and one that allows me to feel connected to my work again.
It’s a good plan ;).
I would love to hear your thoughts!