The last few years, I’ve had some challenges in my journey.
Putting time and energy into projects that fizzle out, or not getting the results I had hoped for.
There were several times where I felt like I had gone down the wrong path completely.
When I arrived at those roadblocks, I didn’t handle them the best way I could.
Instead of learning from my work and trial and error, I would throw in the towel instead.
I’d cocoon myself. I’d fill my time with distractions. Seeing what other people were doing on Facebook. Or prioritizing lower level tasks that had nothing to do with moving forward on important and meaningful projects in my life.
A few days later, I was looking at my wife and son who had arrived in Slovenia to see the student’s performance. It felt like a dream come true to see them talking with students during our final get together picnic.
A few days after that, I was standing in the St. Peter’s Basilica and looking at the glorious presentation of the stained glass window depicting The Holy Spirit.
When our family went to Kilmainham Gaol (“gaol” means”jail” in Gaelic) in Dublin, Ireland this spring we learned about the Easter Monday Rebellion in 1919 which eventually lead to Ireland’s independence.
We also learned about techniques that were implemented in the jail to “help” prisoners.
Complete isolation in the form of solitary confinement was common practice.
Jailers believed that if prisoners were left alone with their thoughts in isolation, it would lead to rehabilitation.
Over time, they learned quite the opposite.
They discovered that isolation leads to the complete mental and physical health breakdown in prisoners.
To correct this, the administrators created windows in the jail to allow prisoners to see daylight and interact with other prisoners.
It might not lead to a turn around with prisoner’s behavior, but it did improve their health.
Here’s a takeaway, I want to share with you that I learned from Kilmainham Jail. We have to learn not to isolate. even when we’re in pain. There is a tendency to retreat and to lick our wounds.
We have to fellowship with God and others because isolation doesn’t heal
The healing comes when we admit and share our hurt.
One of the ways that we can let God in is by turning to our friends. We can share our pain, and our friends can help us as we go through some rough patches.
It’s how it’s supposed to work. We were not created to be alone. We were created to be in relationship with one another.
I find this so helpful when I’m going through the rough patches. Reaching out and talking, sharing, trying to get through it… It’s what it’s supposed to be.
If you’re hurting today, reach out to someone who knows you dearly. They will help you through this, and God will help you as well.
Like, the time that well over half of my headshot submissions to agents got sent back to me because they wouldn’t accept them through the mail.
Like the time I had a lemonade stand as a kid and only one neighbor showed up because we didn’t get foot traffic on our street.
Like the time I bought $10 worth of magical raffle tickets at our church fair absolutely convinced that I was going to win the much coveted Atari game system… I didn’t.
And just about every time I didn’t get instant results for my semi-efforts, I’d get huffy. I’d want to throw in the towel.
There are no shortcuts.
I know this with eating and exercise. I know this with my spiritual and mental health.
I have to show up every day.
When it comes to life’s calling, life’s purpose, and career I have a tendency to sabotage myself.
I do know what it is. Steven Pressfield calls it The Resistance. I call him by another name.
This force wants me to fall off the horse and never get back up. Because to get back up means that I am serving the Higher Purpose. I am serving the purpose that He gave me.
So… I’ll go back to the basics. I’ll review what it takes so that I show up every day to work on this. I’ll read and learn and follow the guidance of those who have come before me and who are trying to point me on the path.
I know that if I log the time, do the work, I’ll find myself on the path He has laid before me so that I’m not just doing my work. I’ll do the work He means for me to do.
Sometimes I get stuck. I might be in a bad mood or can’t seem to get a break. Anything that can get in my way of my schedule, does.
The last thing I feel like being is creative.
Creativity, however, can’t be left alone. It has to be worked at and nurtured.
How do you do that when you just feel…. blah?
I want to share a couple of techniques that have helped me when I need a creative boost.
Sit down and do small little chunks of work.
Small little bites at a time. I found tremendous help in using a 6-minute timer to get things done. It’s such a useful tool for me to sit down focus and make headway on creative projects. Before I know it, I can look back and see that I’m making progress. Then I start to feel hopeful.
Do something creative that uses a different skillset
If you are stuck on a project and can’t seem to get inspiration, walk away for a little bit and pick up another creative tool. This could mean you pick up a musical instrument or a paintbrush. We can use the creative part of our brain sometimes by giving it a break with other fun, creative things to do. I do this with drawing or playing music. A friend of ours gave us a piano and I’ve been filling some of my spare time plunking out tunes and rediscovering my love of music. It’s a breath of fresh air for the spirit.
Change your view, get out of the house (or even travel!)
Being in the same space day after day can sometimes wear you down. We all need a little reset. Sometimes it’s as simple as climbing in the car driving to the other side of town and hanging out in a park. It could involve traveling. In her article “8 Reasons Why Traveling is Good for Your Health”, Karen Reed observes that creative people will travel to a new place so they can be exposed to new ideas or cultures. It can serve as a trigger for creativity. My trip to Joshua Tree triggered the idea for an article. My recent family trip to Ireland and Scotland inspired me for several future goals.
There are immediate things you can do to get unstuck if you’re in a creative dry spell. The most important thing you can do is take action.
You’ll get there…
If you want more inspiration about how travel can not only benefit your creativity but your health as well, read Karen Reed’s full article here…