In Defense of Silence

The importance of taking time to slow down in your creative process. It is natural and healthy to do this. Read more on the Fresh Exchange by clicking through.

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.

The importance of taking time to slow down in your creative process. It is natural and healthy to do this. Read more on the Fresh Exchange by clicking through.

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.

The importance of taking time to slow down in your creative process. It is natural and healthy to do this. Read more on the Fresh Exchange by clicking through.

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.

Leave a comment

  1. I agree and disagree. It’s good to de-clutter, but when it comes to social media we must be careful not to put ourselves in an echo chamber where we hear only messages that reinforce ideas we already have. Even hearing hateful messages is important if it helps us cut to the reason why people hate, otherwise how can we engage with them to change? At the same time, it’s hard, so hard, to hear these terrible things. I don’t sleep at night because of fear for the future–everything had been looking so good and now it’s so dark. But that is probably better than sleeping peacefully in ignorance.

    1. Totally understand that sentiment and I don’t disagree. This particularly was referring to creativity and needing to quiet a lot of the noise…not just from the world but even just scrolling Pinterest for that fact in order to focus on what needs to happen next. I totally understand and believe it is very important to open our eyes, ears, and mouths to all that is around. It is hard some days, but I do think it is okay to take breaks, ask what is we can truly handle and what is pulling us away from doing what we are intended to do in this world in the hopes it makes us our best selves to better connect and engage with our community in the process. Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  2. This is the perfect reminder to stop and be still. It’s what is missing in my goals for the year: silence, stillness, and time that is not consumed. Thank you for this post. I Hope you dont mind, i shared it this morning.

  3. I see myself so much in This. I too am a highly sensitIve person and i go through the same Struggles you DESCRIBED here. It’s good to know i’m not alone. Thanks for sharing!

  4. MAn Megan, this came at such a perfect time for me. thank you for sharing so honestly. so glad to hear that you found your voice again and that time spent in silence has been good. for me personally, i have been off of facebook for more than 3 years now and it has been so good for me. it was more damaging for me and like you, i am sensitive so i would really take in all that was there and it did not serve me well.

    i am really thinking about your question about being aware of what is clouding my vision. i haven’t felt inspired to write, blog in the past weeks. due to my personal things that are going on, i felt led (from my heart) to take my blog to more of a wellness route than food, but having a hard time “seeing’ the vision or if it’s something that people will like. i feel the call to use my pain for inspiration and healing, but feeling too vulnerable to do it. i think i have let other perspectives and voices get a hold of me, and like you said, i have lost my voice. i am also in silence, trying to hear my voice from within-again.
    maybe we need to get stuck to get unstuck.

    i will need to re-read this post again, and again. thank you so much, Megan!

    1. Oh I am so glad Faith! This has been a rough week, but I am so glad to arrive here with so much more focus and time on my hands. I am about to write a post about it at some point, but I will suggest the Passion planner to you. Google it. I just got mine in the mail today and I spent an hour devouring it and setting it up. I think you would really love it!!!

  5. I can completely relate to this post! The last two weeks have left me feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and uninspired. I felt guilty about missing the mark on my normal posting schedule for my blog–even though I know it is quality over quantity that counts. And scrolling through social media has felt more forced than usual. Like you, I have taken a break from Facebook and have been amazed at how much more time is in my day. I think sometimes taking a step back and reevaluating the situation is necessary. I plan to take a digital detox soon and get back into meditating. I hope that makes me feel recharged! Happy Friday!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

    1. I started using Headspace again and it has been wonderful. I am only 3 days in to the 10 minute sessions but it is helping me so much to pass thoughts through and not let them linger around.

  6. YES TO THIS!!!
    “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.”

    Exactly what I needed to hear! thank you! xo

  7. Thanks for sharing that. This is also gives me insight since I find myself overwhelmed with all the “things” to do and feel like the list doesn’t ever finish. For the past months, I’ve been commuting a long ways ever day for a great job I received but the long commute really takes away so much time from my day. (There’s a few things that keep me from moving for right now) Trying to balance my life outside work has been a big task in itself, but I’ve recently been trying to foucs on a minimalist mindset and reading posts like this really helps.

  8. Amen to quitting Facebook. I’ve not used Facebook in over five years, aside for blog/business stuff, and I don’t miss it one bit. I wrote an article about my same emotional “break-up with Facebook” process (linked below). I feel that social media purging will be a lot more common in the coming years.

    It’s important to focus on yourself instead of indulging in others’ lives.

  9. You did it again, Lady! You perfectly hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of people are feeling the overwhelming noise of FB right now. I for one just went through this this past week, feeling like i have to respond to everything and getting myself so upset and hating the way that felt. I talked to a friend about it and realized i dont have to get caught up in that. I can be for the things I believe it without have FB arguments. And so for me I go forward doing the things I can in a positive way. Paying it forward whenever I get a chance. When I took FB off my phone that was a huge weight lifted. Actually lately when I’ve been gettin so upset on FB I think of you in your home in the very rural parts of Northern Michigan and I think I just want to move to the woods and live a quiet life, but now I see its more about turning it off for yourself no matter if I’m in LA or in the woods. So now I’m focusing more on being present with my son and enjoying all the little things and getting back to doing the creative things I love. Thank you!

  10. Being a creAtive my whole life, i totally understand this. People say, you are so lucky to set your own hours, work when you want! Seriously? We creatices, eat and sleep work. Our minds never shut off, we wake in the middle of the night and say, thats what i was tRying to achIeve. We go on vacation , but worry we will get behind. There were so many times i wished i had a 9-5 job, that when i left my mind shut off. I am almost to retirement, but still cant let it go. I am so happy you gave yourself A break and learned to focus on what you want and need. Its hard to do. Especially With so many distractions World wide.

  11. Megan, thank you so much for writing this. I think this is something I have been grappling with ever since I’ve had Isla.

    Taking such a break from creating, and changing the process and the way it happens has definitely left me reeling, asking myself where my creativity comes from, and what it is that I want to create. and combining that with the over-consumption of content: posts I want to write, designs I want to create, photos I want to capture has left me feeling confused about what my own style even is, what I am called to be creating. My husband, Dave and I have been chatting about this very topic over the past few weeks, and have started taking small steps to get back in a good place with our creativity, and I am now excited to see someone else doing the same thing, and coming out of it all with such clarity.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Laura

  12. The creative process… it can be beautiful, & it can also be So very frustrating. I doubt what i’m doing, if it’s the right thing, if I should write better, design better graphics… I’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole of thinking I’m not good enough, not doing enough… it freezes my creativity. So, thank you for opening up & sharing this.

  13. I did something very similar yesterday evening – started listing out the things in my life that I committed to as well as a list of things I want more of. Creativity and focusing on my writing is definitely one of them. This post, like so many others you write, struck home with me. I was just thinking last night of taking a break from facebook for the whole month of February. After reading this post I think I’m going to make it longer than that. I did this last year for all of social media in April and it was so freeing. I will still post and engage on Instagram for my blog, but de-cluttering all of the other stuff (Facebook, dead time on the computer, watching tv just for the sake of watching TV) I am saying good bye to and Hello to more creativity, both free-flowing and creative. Thank you so much for sharing this! Also, I started meditating more and Simple Habit is an app that I am really loving lately!

  14. Your writing is so beautiful! I truly enjoyed reading this post and I really resonated with it. A few months ago i was feeling so lost, confused, directionless, sort of stuck in my life, I took a much needed solo retreat for a week and spent a lot of it in silence, away from technology, friends, media, and any other outside influences. It was amazing and just what I needed to reconnect with myself and figure things out. I love what you said about needing to be aware of what’s clouding our vision and what’s helping it flourish. We all could use a little more self-awareness in our lives. It’s something I’ve learned that plays a huge role in our happiness.

    xx,
    Ali (punchdrunksoul.com)