I finally hit the close button on my fabric shop this week. I'm not sure how permanent or temporary this decision is but I know one thing: I need a break. The only way to have a break, a good proper one, when you have an online business or presence is to switch off for a little while. Otherwise, it's always there, lurking in the back of my mind. I've also recently been cutting myself some slack when it comes to time online - whether it be Instagram, emails or blogging. I do have a persistent shoulder and arm injury that some days, requires me making the choice between sewing or online work, but not both, so this has helped me step back and find a bit more balance. After all, nobody wants to spend so much of their life online that they don't get to live in the *real* world, do they?
I've decided as much as I love my community on Instagram, taking the photos, sharing my thoughts and blogging, I also have a need to create something that is tangible, touchable and physical. When I sew, crochet and draw, I have something tactile and 'real' that I can look on as an achievement. I believe creativity takes all forms - digital and physical. I would prefer to make sure the 'yin and yang' of the two are in harmony, that's all. I've found being more 'mindful' of what I am doing when I am using social media in particular has had a positive effect. Being aware of the time I spend on there and what I am doing.
Connecting with others, posting and responding to comments is good and well, as long as I don't fall down the proverbial rabbit hole and resurface half an hour later, when I could have been working on something in the sewing room. It's also helped me not fall into the comparison trap as much and given me more mental space and clarity. The odd thing is, I identified that I fall into the habit of becoming creatively overloaded. Which sounds silly until I explain that there are so many inspiring, amazing people and things online; that two things happen in my head, going on to create a bit of anxiety if I don't catch my thoughts. The first being the "I want to do it all" syndrome - too much of a good thing, which paralyzes me into feeling like I need to do everything at once, have too many ideas and no time to get it all done. It sounds dumb, I know and it is, that's why I have recognized it as a 'thing' for me and limited myself to shorter amounts of time spent exploring and feasting my eyes on all the creative goodness out there.
The second is feeling as if "my work isn't as good as ......" - comparison is the thief of joy and that I will hold to. I know tonnes of people suffer that one and it's quite an easy little thing to let slip in the door if you don't catch him first. As I've said before, it's impossible to reach our creative potential if we don't explore and bravely push forth our own ideas and designs. Dare to be different, dare to stand out, and STOP comparing. Imagine if your favourite 'maker / blogger / inspiring-person-to-you' had never had the courage to be themselves. You would never had had the pleasure of making things off their patterns or feeling inspired by their style. They wouldn't be out there, doing something different and you wouldn't know about it or even be creating now in the same way, if they hadn't been brave enough to do their thing. A rather disconcerting thought. So when you think about it, we owe it to the rest of the world to be brave, be true to ourselves and just create for the sheer sake of it. The chances are if you like it, there'll be someone else out there who does too!
Here are three tips for living a more creatively fulfilling life!
1. Create Better Online Habits
Take a break, be more aware of the time you spend in front of that mesmerizing screen. When you do, you will have more mental clarity, and be more receptive to the inspiration every day life will bring to you. That's when the magic of being *you* will happen. Nobody will ever think quite like you. Take advantage of that and be your own inspiration! You'll feel so satisfied if you really create from the heart. Social Media is very image heavy so you are always seeing the highlights of everybody's lives - it's a valuable tool for creating connections, community and sharing your work with others. Just be aware that you can have too much of a good thing. What you continually absorb also has a direct effect on your heart and state of mental well being - it just does. If anything or anyone makes you feel icky, inadequate or just not totally *amazing* - unfollow! It doesn't matter how lovely they are, perhaps following them isn't having a great effect on you, for whatever reason. Better off popping over for a visit occasionally, then following and on a daily basis feeling that feeling. This needs to be talked about and recognized more. It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with you or them. But anything that is posing anxiety in your life or if you do struggle with comparison, I'd look into it. You can still interact, visit and be present but you don't have to absorb somebody else's life every single day of yours. It's actually not a natural occurrence (to see so much of other people's lives every day of the week) so it's okay if it doesn't suit you. Once you spend more time in 'real' life, creating and being, you'll actually have MORE to share in your 'online' life too. Create a balance. We shouldn't have to go on 3 week long social media detox's - that's like an extreme diet. What we should strive for is creating a better daily habit, so it's a part of your life but not all of your life.... n'est ce pas?
Haha! I have a feeling a lot of us creative types are the same...at school, we preferred to spend more time in art class and loved making things for the school fete, than trying to compete in the cross country or sports day. But you don't have to be a fitness addict. Going for a walk, getting out of the house, away from the computer and phone can really clear the cobwebs. Gentle exercise, a stroll in the park or down the road can help you come up with new ideas, sort through problems you might have with a particular project and often, provides your own inspiration. From my personal experience, if you want to be in the sewing / making game for the long haul, you do need to take care of your body. If we don't offset some of the sit-down time and funny positions with a bit of exercise, you will probably end up quite sore after awhile or like me, have a repetitive strain injury. Doing any one task repetitively for a prolonged period can result in muscle problems, injury and strain. You want to avoid this in the first place because getting better is a long, slow and often painful road. So get out every day - for the inspiration nature can bring, for the refreshed feeling of sunshine on your face, for the clarity of mind and spirit, and for your body, that was built to not only be wonderfully creative but to move and dance too!
3. Pretend you are five!
Remember when you were little and created just for the sheer fun of it? Whether you drew pictures, coloured in, built sand castles, made your dollies clothes and funny statutes from Play-dough? Then you'd dance around in sheer delight, dragging anyone you could to look and marvel at what you had done - "Look What I Made!" you would cry with a smile, beaming with the pride that only someone truly satisfied with their work can. We need to regain that confidence as grown-ups. The ability to make, enjoy and share without scrutinizing our work too heavily. When you are little, you make stuff and yes it's not, by a worldy standard 'perfect'. By the rules of creativity and art, it actually IS. And because you are small, and hopefully had at least on encouraging adult in your life, you didn't obsess over 'how you could do it better next time' or worry that your's isn't as good as something else you have seen. You just continued to create and through practice, you naturally got better. Well as grown-ups, we are the same. We will, naturally, get better at anything we continue to regularly practice. That's just how the cookie crumbles! So accept the flaws and accept that nothing will ever be *perfect* - not as long as you are alive and continue to hone and improve your skills. Each week, month, year, you will grow in your work. So be proud - show off your work - say I MADE THAT! Go on. You will be surprised at what you can achieve when you remove any inhibitions and let loose....for one thing, I can guarantee, any future "creative block" will be far and few between!