The Creative flow.

My creativity needs some attention, as does my garden!

My creativity needs some attention, as does my garden!

Somehow, it’s just not happening! the creative flow seems to have dried up. As I drive or wash up or garden the writing happens in my head. It flows, the ideas keep coming and EACH time I feel sure I’ll remember it. But when I sit at the computer or take my writing pen and paper, it’s gone.

I take some responsibility for this. I believe that writing in the morning as soon as I get up (and make a cup of coffee!) is as necessary as breathing. But have I been practicing this lately? No. Do I have a reason for this? No. I’m reminded of the statement of St Paul (and you must remember I had a most religious upbringing) that the good that we would, we do not. Too true. I was pleased to discover that a paradox in mindfulness simply says this another way ” We often practice things that are unhelpful and  avoid practicing things that helpful.” We humans are strange beings.

So the days go by. I start writing. It’s something I care about, but it doesn’t hang together. I leave it unfinished and walk away, dissatisfied. I eat something, have another cup of tea. I’d go for a walk or weed the garden, but it’s too hot.

Maybe it's good enough?

Maybe it’s good enough?

I have a little bubble of enthusiasm, go to the computer, start writing. Frustration, it sounds awkward, doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Is this a moment when I persevere, doggedly? Push through this dullness? In this humour, of course I don’t!

Barbara Kingsolver, one of my writing heroes, describes putting her daughter on the school bus, going to her desk and staying there for the next six hours. When does she do the shopping? keep appointments? see her friends? I’ve spent most of my life in full-time work. When did I fit in all those other demands? Where does my day go? How does time fritter away so easily?

Anne Lamott, another writing hero, describes how, even when she was hung over from both alcohol and drugs, still struggled to her writing, every afternoon. Her book “Bird by Bird” says that’s exactly how you do it- bird by bird, or, bit by bit.

I confess. I have been neglecting my practice. I have let any discipline slide. Any excuse has been acceptable, or, no excuse at all. I’m finding it hard to live with myself. This Kathryn I don’t like all that much. I guess it’s what they say about riding a horse- so, you fell off? get right back on again. So, I’ve had a moment of slackness? Get over it, keep going.

Peanuts can always cheer me up.

Peanuts can always cheer me up.

I remember back last year when I was going to write a blog. I worried over a name. Asked everyone’s opinion. Couldn’t settle on a theme. What colour? What picture? How would it be best to introduce myself? What was my voice? The tone? Then one day I sat down and wrote something. And clicked on “publish.” What a moment. It wasn’t perfect, not any of it. In fact it wasn’t even good enough, depending on your point of view. But there had to be an end to the dithering.

And one day I’ll rewrite my “about”. I’ll change the header; I have plans to customize; I aim to go back and edit early posts. I remember my mantra

NEVER GIVE UP.

Perhaps I need another pink bridge in my life.

Perhaps I need another pink bridge in my life.

I’m not giving up. I’m not going away. I wrote this morning and I’ll write tomorrow morning. If I miss one day or even more, I’ll start again, but I won’t give up.

I remember another paradox: “Self blame will slow the process of self development, not speed it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ordinary Day

Well, maybe not so ordinary. I’ve just spent almost three weeks relieving in a local school library, and when I work all my routines go out the window. All I do is go to work, come home and get ready for the next day. So now I’ve finished that block I’m focused on writing, publishing some posts, exercising, practicing mindfulness… AND tidying, cleaning, vacuuming, gardening… catching up on long overdue paperwork….

You get the idea. I had breakfast sitting in the sun on the front verandah, making lists, with all my different colured textas and pens. Arrows, asterisks, underlinings, highlightings….What would be the best use of my time? How can I make sure I get the most important things done? What are the priorities?

Eventually I decide that I’ll feel best if my home is clean and tidy; chaos is unsettling and clean floors are a pleasure. Somehow, deciding this gives me permission to just get on and stop worrying about wasting time.

the calm of clouds in a blue sky.

the calm of clouds in a blue sky.

It’s a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, still, blue; small clouds decorate the sky. This town is set in a ring of hills, but not buried in a valley. It has the best skyscapes and since I’ve been here I keep driving out of town to take sky photos.

There’s washing on the line. I’ve finally planted the struggling peppermint geranium cutting –  it may still survive. It’s been sitting in water on the window sill for?? weeks? months? and I’ve kept promising myself that I’ll plant it today, but then, there’s always those priorities… But now, it’s planted!

the pleasure of washing, drying in the sun.

the pleasure of washing, drying in the sun.

I’ve sprayed the aphids on the roses with soapy water. And I’ve sat in the sun drinking cups of tea, chatting with my neighbours. I confess, I’ve also spent some time gazing at the sky, watching birds, checking out the way the gum looks against the blue of the sky… in other words, daydreaming and simply being glad I’m alive.

The vacuuming isn’t done, nor is the house tidy but I feel relaxed and happy. Of course the question still remains: how do I manage to do what needs to be done and also those things that are the most important?  I read other writers who juggle the demands of caring for a child while earning a living as full-time writers. I am in awe of their discipline. I’ve recently read a TED blog about a woman who was bed-ridden with chronic pain and chose to work as a TED translator during that time. There are plenty of role models of people who achieve in spite of the odds.

A pretty end to a pretty day.

A pretty end to a pretty day.

But today, I will revel in my freedom.

Making changes and resolutions.

I don’t like New Year resolutions. I don’t like the attitude that now it’s New Year so we make resolutions and I hate it when people ask me what my New Year resolutions are. It feels imposed and artificial.  I don’t like that.

But I don’t want my life to drift along. I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that “I was always going to…but now it’s too late!” I do need to remind myself of the things that matter and are my highest priorities. That way I can keep control of my life. At least, that’s the aim.

Easy enough to say, but not always easy in practice. I get busy and routines fly out the window. I discover that it’s a week or a month or even longer and I haven’t spent any time in mindfulness practice, or  exercise or  writing. Too easy then for me to fall into gloom and beat myself up – never helps.

In some TV show one character said of another that when she died they’d put on her headstone ” She died with potential.” Now that scares me.  I do not want to die with potential. I want to use it all up. Was it the singer Placido Domingo who said he would rather wear out than rust?

Helene Lerner, in an interview on CNN, about Resolutions,( posted on January 21, 2014,) reminds us to take time for self-reflection; to go inside ourselves and ask ourselves what it is we really want, what excites us and turns us on? She reminds us of how easy it is to get off focus. And that’s where the time for self-reflection needs to come in.

Helene says that if we decide that this is the year to do something we’ve always been going to do, then  DON’T GIVE UP. She emphasizes that there’LL always be obstacles. The challenge? is to keep going. I’m embarrassed by how many things have been on my list for years.

In the post  “When self-improvement gets boring, try these 6 motivational strategies,” (in the Huffington Post: healthy living, posted 01/26/2014, written by Brant Secunda and Mark Allen,) the writers talk about “soul resolutions”. They explain what they mean by this is those goals that ” concern the deeper aspects of personal growth.”

I like this much more than New Year Resolutions. For me, these are those essential, on-going goals that keep me oriented. They are my life blood.  I won’t even know what they are unless I spend time in self-reflection.

BUT…that doesn’t mean I do it. I’m so easily distracted from that self-reflection time. I might get up late and have appointments.. so my time goes. Or I decide to set time aside at night.. then I read for too long or a friend phones and I’m tired.  I can make excuses or justify missing my time much too easily- I can always do it tomorrow, I think to myself, one day won’t hurt. But the next day I mightn’t  even think about my soul resolutions.

As long as I never give up.

Winston Churchill said “Success is not final. Failure is not final. It is the courage to go on that counts.”

That gives me heart to pick myself up yet again, take time out and keep going.

I’d really like to hear any tips or strategies you have for keeping on. How do you overcome obstacles?