Cranky when Writing: when Creativity runs dry

I’m cranky about writing today. It’s true.

It only took 84 days for me to run out of words but I feel all dried up of creativity. Which is, of course, tinged with irony since it is the first day of my creative sabbath. Perhaps I’m frozen by possibility again? It still happens from time to time.

I had a little anxiety moment on my run this morning. Those triggers can go off unexpectedly. I can’t live with my guard up all the time, but boy when those things hit you with your guard down, they can drop you before you know it. I’ve been shoo-ing that demon out all day now.

Also I’d rather be reading. Some days all I want to do is curl up with a book and lose myself. Maybe I just think losing myself is preferable to living with myself on an angsty sort of day.  At least the van has working AC again.

Here’s the thing, we all get to have an off day, whatever the reason. The days we hide in the bedroom with cups of tea and grump for no-good-reason. It happens. I used to fight harder against it, but struggling only binds me more tightly. If I just let myself be prickly awhile, eventually I come out the other side.  I do feel kind of sorry for Hunky, though, while it’s going on. He’s sort of collateral damage.

Maybe that’s the lesson for me today. We get grumpy and prickly and blah sometimes, and that’s how it is. Instead of beating ourselves up over it, “shoulding ourselves to death” my friend would say, we can just lean in. Everything is temporary. This too shall pass.

So what you can know about my first day of creativity is that I am literally counting words as I type to meet my minimum requirement. I letting go of perfection and saying this is good enough. And tomorrow is another day. For better or worse, I’ve done what I could do.

Making space for emotional and spiritual health

In May, I stayed pretty busy. It was a good sort of busy. I felt like I was growing and contributing and celebrating important events. Not at all the wheel-spinning busyness that is exhausting with nothing to show for it. This month, and likely this entire summer, is intentionally much slower. It’s a time for more internal work rather than external work. Time to take the lid off my emotional and spiritual health and stir it up a bit, see what floats to the surface.

Healing from trauma is interesting. For awhile you have to look trauma in the eye. Then you have to step back a bit and let it all settle again. If you move too quickly, you end up with a worse wound than you had to begin with, but if you wait too long, or leave the work unfinished, it festers. Last month was a good time to step away and let the dust settle a bit. Now I can more clearly see the things which still require attention.

This week, I did some work with understanding spiritual trauma, and some research on anxiety, both causes and techniques to deal with it. Unfortunately, these things snag all my triggers. Here a trigger, there a trigger, everywhere a trauma trigger. I’ve meditated so much I dream about meditation, not even kidding. I’m not as worried about depression anymore, but stepping away from that lethargy means engaging with things that are difficult.

I journal, and share with some of the people I trust, but none of these things change the fact that I am currently in an unresolved stress cycle. This means I that I can’t escape from the thing which triggers my fight or flight reaction. It’s a frustrating situation. In many ways I my emotional and spiritual health is improving. However, until I can break free of this cycle, I face the probability of regular set backs .

I see the problem, but I’m currently unable to solve the problem.
And so the question remains, where to I go from here?
My guess is figuring this out, will be my work for this summer.

Loving the world as it is, no matter the news cycle

I never used to care about the news. Granted, this is a pretty short sighted way of living in the world. But I vaguely remember a time when I assumed most things would continue working as they are always have. This was before I became aware of a larger world view (I know this is privilege at its finest, but the best we can do is admit our weaknesses and mistakes and move forward). Suffice it to say, I lived blissfully unaware of so many things for a long time.

Perhaps, for some of us, this is the trade we make when we are in the trenches of parenting. When our family needs demand our attention for most of our waking hours – and many of our sleeping ones – there simply isn’t time or room or strength to face the world as it is. So we build mental constructs of how it should be so we can feel comfortable, and we live as though those things were true. Maybe that’s privilege speaking as well, I cannot say for certain. It has been my experience, anyway.

Last year arrived like a landslide, children becoming adults, and going off to school. Politics became…what they are now. And I? I found myself facing a whole reality which I hadn’t realized was keeping pace with my tidy little family life. my fairly uncomplicated existence.

Enter despair, uncertainty and, with a flare of trumpets, my codependency. When I can’t count on anything else she will fix, change or justify by any means necessary to make the world a peaceful place again. Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life trying to tidy things up so they look pretty in a box – with a bow. I practically have a PhD in dysfunction.

Fortunately, I’m learning to be more whole-hearted now, which means codependency has to take a back seat. She’s not so great at fixing broken world systems anyhow. It’s easy to cover up a few bad personal choices, but genocide and hate crimes are harder to explain away.

So here I am, looking at this great, big, beautiful world and all the people in it. I can’t fix it, these systems, the climate, the violence and hatred and war. I can’t explain away the despots and warlords, the nationalistic rhetoric of a handful of power hungry madmen – and a few mad women- who would shape this fragile globe according to their nightmare vision.

As much as I want to, I can’t check out either. I can’t pretend this isn’t happening. My eyes are open now. I can’t close them again and remain true to my soul. So the question I ask myself every day is this: how do I love the world without fixing it?

The Kingdom of God will come – not everywhere at once, not suddenly, but gradually, like a seed growing in a field, like yeast spreading in a lump of bread dough, like light spreading across the sky at dawn. – Brian McLaren

We can’t fix the world. But we can make it better. Each of us in small and not-so-small ways. This week do your part for love, truth and beauty. – Diane Butler Bass

Both of these quotes entered my life this morning in different ways and right on time. Maybe I can’t stay away from the news. And I’ll probably have to keep meditating on account of my rage. I’ll definitely keep contacting my representatives on the daily. But I am not powerless to enact change. Perhaps not on a global scale, but on an even more intimate level.

I can create change in the world face-to-face. I can give birth to mercy, kindness, compassion and inclusion here, on the very ground where I stand. The Divine in me can bleed out of my fingertips and off of my tongue into a world desperate for something beautiful.

Even if no one sees it, especially if no one sees it.

I can rewrite the curse of original sin with a reminder of deeper, more permanent truth: original blessing. Starting here. Starting now. Today.

Hello, goodbye: A self-care guide for my next year

If you haven’t guessed by this week’s writing, it’s a churned-up emotional time here at Palace MoJoy.  MoJoy, in fact, is in short supply. While I purposed internally at the start of this little project to avoid making this a platform for political diatribe – don’t worry, I still won’t – I also can’t change how the political atmosphere affects me emotionally. It’s a self-care nightmare for many of us.  Today my anxiety is sky high and learned helplessness is running frantic laps around my brain muttering, “We’re doomed. DOOMED!” under her breath.

My therapist moved out of town, dang it.

Still, I can’t continue like this emotionally. I can’t be always angry, and the way to stop this cycle is to pull the plug. In the month before the election, I had to step away from social media in order to stop feeling anger towards everyone and everything, all the time. I couldn’t manage my anger so I cut off its supply. It worked, until the nightmare of election night.

However, next week is my birthday week and my 21st cancerversary (you better bet I’ll toast that milestone, and not with Bud Light in the Rose Garden), I don’t want to spend the whole week outraged and offended. I can’t expend all my energy on processes over which I have only miniscule control and which drag on in agonizing slowness.

So, I’m unplugging. It’s all too much, too big, too heavy, too awful. And I’m not a very kind person in the middle of it.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in self-care. I’m teaching it, preaching it, and learning more about it. But I’m not very good at practicing what I already know.  Lately, social media is more about escapism than connection, and it’s an escape which usually leaves me more distraught than whatever it was I was seeking to distract myself from. It’s a draining cycle with only one solution.

Stop it.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how I’ve changed since my last birthday. I’ve drawn some hard lines, rebooted some relationships and just booted others. I lost a pants size and gained reading glasses. So much healing and self-awareness has happened in my soul. I don’t want to go start my 45th year angry and defeated. I need more Truth and less rhetoric. If I can’t change the political climate of the nation, I can at least work to cultivate peace in my soul.

So be it.

PS I still have seventy days of writing ahead of me, so this little corner of the internet will still have new content daily.

Self-care and minimalism: How to create space for a lazy day

I think about self-care a lot lately. I’m certain it’s partially because of this 100 day project, which is entirely about  self-care. I’m also getting ready to teach for several weeks on Inventory (step four for those of you familiar with a 12-step program), and inventory is all up in the self-care business. My awareness tells me I’m dancing perilously close to depression – though perhaps not as close as I was month ago, thanks to…self-care.  So you can see why it’s frequently on my mind.

This morning on my run, I distracted myself from the hills by considering how minimalism is a form of self-care. First, it’s a way to feel empowered instead of powerless. Second, when minimalism creates margin for priorities, there is more time to do the things which inspire us rather than the things which drain us.

I spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening reading.  I also napped. Normally, these activities make me feel guilty for not being productive. After all there are always things which need doing, right? Except, for me yesterday, there was nothing urgent to be done. My house was mostly clean. I spent a bit of time every day working on my projects. There were things I could choose to do, but to what end? To appear busy? Exactly who am I trying to impress?

So rather than make busy work for myself, I relaxed. I took care of myself.

As I look back over this, I realize it is easy to respond with, “It must be nice to have it all together like this.” It is, except when I don’t. Honestly, last week I worked hard getting things done. I used my bullet journal like a boss. I wrote stuff down and systemically worked through the list, asked for help when necessary, and practiced my no.  I’ve picked up these tools over the years of practicing minimalism. When I use them, I am more likely to “have it all together,” or at least I know where it all is. When I don’t use them, I forget, or procrastinate or create busy work because I have no real direction, driven by an overwhelming anxiety that I am desperately behind on something.

Because I am self-aware, I know that I can function under pressure, but I prefer not to. I do better handling one thing at a time with plenty of forewarning. Practicing minimalism and using my tools usually provides the margin I need to thrive. Obviously, no system is fool proof – crises and the unexpected will always be part of the world we live in. But when I have a well-rested Sunday afternoon to draw on for extra strength, even a curve ball isn’t so frightening.

Practicing minimalism has created space for self-awareness which in turn creates space and opportunity for better self=care. Healthy behaviors lay a foundation for a lifetime of learning and putting into practice, of receiving and in turn pouring out from a soul of abundance. Last month, if asked, I would have said I felt worn out, used up and tired.  This month, when I’m worn out, it’s the kind that comes after a well-lived day. If I’m used up, it isn’t without space for refilling on the calendar.  I’m listening to myself even as I spill words out into the world.

Sometimes I even have room for an entirely self-indulgent Sunday afternoon.

Liturgy for an Anxious Heart

I’m mentally composing a blog about how liturgy has been an anchor for my faith. But today I am emotional soup for a thousand different reasons. My heart is anxious, and I’m emotionally dry. So instead of writing about liturgy, I’m writing actual prayers instead.  So, I give you, liturgy for an anxious heart.

Lord of peace and mercy,
We ask for peace which passes understanding,
For paths beside still waters,
For the restoration of the soul which only you provide.
We ask for eyes to see your goodness and mercy following us
All the days of our lives.

Abba, give us peace to be still,
Wisdom to disregard the propaganda and the rumors of war,
Grace and joy overflowing to share
Through the halls of our workplaces and the rooms of our homes.

Sustainer of creation, you are the one who brings hope
Who turns our stony heart to living flesh.
May we not turn from the refugee, the suffering, the poor, the undesirable.
Replace our eyes with your vision for justice
that we may see in your beloved children
The image of the divine
In the unlovely,
The discarded and unwanted
In the enemy who threatens us with harm.

If we walk the valley of the shadow of death
in the name of your love
Help us not be afraid
But walk gently onward ever closer to your heart.

Lord may we not look to a future in your heavenly kingdom,
But live in it, today, where we are.
Let us bring heaven to earth.
May we be conduits of heavenly justice and restoration,
Giving birth to divine love every place our feet fall,
May hope spring up from the ground beneath us, the rocks cry out,
The trees clap their hands in recognition of the Living God within us.

May our focus on the eternal not be for our reward after death,
But in our present circumstances.
As kingdom breathers and kingdom bringers
Let goodness and mercy dwell with us and in us
May they pour from our wounds as your blood poured out also.
Let justice roll like a river over every person we encounter.
May we be called ridiculous, scandalous, rebellious
As we seek to open the kingdom to all who those who have lost sight of mercy.
May we tear the curtains of this world, opening wide the most holy spaces.

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Amen