In Defense of Silence
I flip another page in my notebook because for some reason it feels like it will help. Page after page is filled with similar words over and over and over again. I feel I am simply repeating myself trying to find the system and tugging at a way for it all to connect. Day after day filling a notebook full of what feels like endless pages covered in words brushed together giving identity to moments and stories of the content I love creating. Between the lettering are endless to-do lists that feel as if they only grow longer not shorter many days. For over 4 months one thing has sat on each of those to-do lists: Plan the next steps for The Fresh Exchange.
Since moving back to Michigan I have been mulling through how our blog and business will make the shift into a new place and a new life. Entering 30 and becoming a mom left me with a strong desire to define so much of my life. Many of those things fell into place, but the last on the plate was The Fresh Exchange. On the outside, it may appear different than what I am about to share, but I hope it gives you comfort in some way that even those that appear to have their ducks in a row are always on the journey of feeling their way to where they hope to eventually be. In other words, we are always a work in progress and I am continually one myself.
Months and months passed here where I felt a connection to what I wanted to do but it always felt like this foggy unattainable or unclear idea. I know the mind is a powerful thing and harnessing it is important, but I truly have never made much of a point to make things clear enough in my head to make sense of it all up there. I have always thrived on the wildness of how my creativity works and accepting that inspiration comes whenever it decides to. Now that I have a child my days do not consistent of endless opportunities to find inspiration or creative purpose. I have blocks of time to work, shake out an idea, and focus on what needs to be done so I can then be present with him. This balance has been hard for me as a free-spirited creative. I needed structure and I needed to clear out the clutter in my mind in order to tackle these big creative all encompassing things on my to do list.
Last week I hit a breaking point with the whole “Next Steps for TFE” item on my list. It became a demon that needed to be dealt with. How do I know this? I found myself creatively stalled knowing I couldn’t move forward as I was, but knowing I also couldn’t continue on the path I was on without solving the plan and goals that lied ahead. I literally felt both out of control and completely incapable of moving in any direction. Never had I felt this with the blog and I know it was because I needed to make some big decisions that I had over and over been putting off.
I wasn’t sure how to go about this, but then the answer came. Last Sunday night, I somehow got on a stream on Facebook that left me very angry and it consumed me and instead of writing something out about my feelings I said I was peacing out and taking an indefinite break from Facebook. I went to sleep as if there was a weight off my shoulder and in that moment the decluttering began. I slowly eliminated things out of my life by unsubscribing from emails and clearing out my inbox. I purposefully started narowing down to only what needed to be seen and what was only cluttering my mind. I wanted to clear out the clutter that was covering up and suppressing the creativity I knew I was capable of but couldn’t seem to grab on to. It was scary to cross off things that have become rhythms to my life, but when I realized that giving these things up meant I would be gaining something far more valuable: My creativity. I knew it was time….possibly well past time.
I am a sensitive and emotional creative type. Things affect me. I don’t do well with unrest and fear. I have to preserve my mental self enough to pursue what I feel called to and meant to do. My passion has a tendency of being 0-100 and right now I am at a place where I must channel that passions toward specific things in order to do what I know I need to do.
Once clearing the mental clutter from my life, I focused on spending time doing things that brought clarity and my creativity to the forefront. With any very creatively focused time there is a process. There was a full 72 hours this week where I road the full rollercoaster of the creative process. I got angry, I meditated, I took a few long walks, I took long drives, I sat in front of blank pages in my notebook, I drafted some terribly weird and emotional blog posts, I cried a few times, I said I was quitting the whole thing because I felt so incapable, I felt empty drastically empty, and then there it was. The creative process never ceases to amaze me. I have known for some time what I needed to do but I didn’t know how to do it. Yesterday I awoke with the how and all those days spent quiet, removed from it all, accepting that numbers and performance in my work will drop while I patiently allow the process to take its course, being angry and frustrated, and fighting the hustle so I could be silent long enough to hear what I needed…well it finally paid off.
So why do I share this with you? Because I want you to know that I struggle just like you in the creative process. I don’t have all the answers and though things seem purposeful and many times are but there are many times they are just dumb luck as I try to find my way. I have days where I fall apart and cannot get it together. There are many days I fall short or rather I feel I fall short, but what I have learned may be even more important than just that.
In these last few days removed from the social clutter of the world and holed up at home walking on the beach with my guys and dogs reminded me of the importance of having focus and minimalism as creatives. As a sensitive person, I easily allow many things in I shouldn’t and they cloud my own feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. Our minds are precious and tender things especially when we are called to be creatives in this world. When we allow these other thoughts and perspective in too often and too far we no longer can hear ourselves in it all. This results in creative stalemates that though can produce beautiful things, can also debilitate the greatest creatives. In these days of so much social media and digital clutter that is accessible, we must be wise as to what we is allowed to infiltrate the precious space of our minds. We must be aware of what is clouding our vision and what is helping it flourish. Just as we try to eat well so we can be healthy we must take the same approach to what we ingest digitally as well. It is okay to say no and to limit your intake. You don’t need everything. Stay in touch but not consumed, there is a big difference. Finding this line made all the difference this week. I found my footing again in the silence of my life. I stood in my driveaway and listened to the snow after I got the mail. It was the most blissful sound and it reminded me of what I am supposed to do and what I am not supposed to do. Hearing that voice only can happen when we silence the world around us long enough to hear our hearts.
If you have things clouding your vision, winning your mind and heart that shouldn’t be, and removing you from keeping your eyes on what you love and bring you joy, it is time to reevaluate and simplify. Take it from me. Decide what you want to and should consume instead of the world choosing it for you. When we are able to be our best and most creative selves great things not only happen in our work, but also in our communities and families.
Today, my notebook is being filled with ideas and systems that make sense and connect. I no longer am reaching into the fog hoping to grab my creative self. It might have taken a whole week to really start seeing the results, but it has been worth it to find my thoughts and focus again. Oh and no I don’t miss Facebook. I haven’t thought about it all week. I feel so thankful for wonderful tech and plugins that allows me to run things for the blog without ever having to show my face there. It is amazing the amount of time you find in your day as well.
More to come my friends. I am very excited about this next phase of this space as I hope you are as well. It is going to be beautiful, inspiring, grounded, and much more of the things you love.