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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (and Your Mojo is Taking a Vacation)

As I have mentioned a few times recently, I am in a bit of a creative slump.  Every time I try to make something – whether it be a card or a collage, something out of clay, or just a doodle – it turns out rubbish.  It is very depressing and frustrating and makes me want to hide under the covers, eating cookies and crying into my phone (which, of course, is opened to Instagram so I can look at lots of other artists’ AMAZING work and depress myself even more).  That’s just how I roll.

So, in lieu of actually creating anything, I am working on creating a space in which I can work, be inspired and, hopefully, get my mojo back.

My craft room is a disaster zone.  There is no other way to describe it.  There is stuff everywhere and my actual working space has been reduced to an area of desk approximately the size of a drink coaster.  It’s terrible.

I need to de-clutter, big time.  I need to get rid of stuff that I am never going to use and organise the stuff I will use.  I need to make life easier for myself and prepare some things ready for starting new projects.  Most importantly, I just need to tidy the heck up!

With that in mind, here are a few things we can all do to make a space that is conducive to creativity and inspiration (or, at least, one that won’t make us depressed), and some suggestions for making the most of your creative slump time.

  1. If you’re a card-maker, organise all your card blanks and envelopes.  Match up sets and put “odds” aside.  If you’re really being good, get rid of them (give away or recycle bin).  If you’re a hoarder, bundle them together in sizes.
  2. If you have off-cuts of card, try making card blanks to fit your odd envelopes, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
  3. Go through the old books you’ve been collecting/hoarding to cut up, and cut out text from them. Maybe a phrase or word will inspire you to create. I keep a jar filled with sentences and words I like, so they’re always on hand. This is a good task to do sitting by the telly, with a cup of tea.
  4. Get stuck into your stash of scrapbooking/cardmaking papers.  CULL THEM.  Do you really need the lime green and bright pink, polka-dotted paper?  Maybe you do.  Most likely you don’t, and that’s why it’s still sitting there.
  5. Organise your adhesives.  Do you have ancient, dried up bottles of glue/Modge-Podge/Gel Medium?  Or is that just me? Get rid of them.  Also, go through your adhesive tapes – put them in one spot so they’re easily accessed and not sticking to things they shouldn’t.
  6. If you’re like me and tear out ideas and images from magazines and then leave them lying about the place, collect them all up and take some time to organise them into files or scrapbooks.  I have a file each for recipes, home decor, and fashion, as well as one for card ideas, one for quotes and articles, and another for general craft inspiration.  Make them look pretty and inviting – they really do help when you are in a slump and needs some ideas.
  7. Now get rid of all your piles of magazines – take out what you need (see # 6.) and chuck the rest in the recycle bin.  Some magazines are totally awesome and you want to keep the whole thing – that’s ok, but it needs to have a home.  Put it on a shelf or somewhere that you keep other inspirational books.  Don’t leave it lying about.
  8. Rubber stamps.  I swear they multiply.  I don’t remember buying them all and yet I seem to have hundreds.  I recently got rid of a whole box of them – gave them away to friends and donated them to op shops.  I haven’t missed them and don’t know why I kept them for so long.  If you haven’t used them in a while, it’s time for them to go. There’s only so many times you can use that teddy bear stamp or the one with the funny phrase that was hilarious in 1994 but not so much now.  Organise your text / word stamps into one container or drawer.  Try and group “like” items together so you know where everything is.  Christmas stamps in one spot, animal stamps in another, etc.  Makes like easier.
  9. If you have some projects you’ve made that you’re really happy with, make sure they are on display.  I have favourite cards hanging on my wall near my work space.  It helps to remind you that you don’t suck all the time, and gives you inspiration to try again.
  10. Make sure your most-utilised supplies are within easy reach of your work space.  It seems like an obvious thing but it really does help.  Storing them upright, when you can, in jars, cups and vases, gives you more room, and can look very appealing. Remember, though, to store marker pens flat – it helps them to last longer.
  11. While we are on the subject of pens – spend a few minutes going through them and chucking out any that no longer work or are on their last legs.  Make a note of any colours you need so that you can stock up.  Nothing worse than needing that skin-tone marker and you find it’s all dried up and useless.  Sharpen pencils and re-fill leads in mechanical pencils.  The more you prepare now, the less you will have to do when the arty mood strikes you – everything will be ready to go.
  12. Make a playlist.  This really helps – honest!  Compile a couple of playlists on your ipod or computer that help you to relax and create.  Alternatively, find some podcasts to download that are motivational, thought-provoking or inspirational.  Listening to other people talk about their creativity can really boost your own.
  13. Move stuff around.  Maybe you just need a change of scenery.  Would your craft table look better over in that corner, have better light by the window or work best right in the centre of the room?  Sometimes changing things around can really help to get you out of a rut.  It also encourages you to tidy up and sort through stuff, which is never a bad thing.
  14. Have a look through all those art books you’ve got and try copying someone else’s work.  This is just for practicing and learning some new techniques or styles – don’t try and pass someone else’s art as your own.  That’s rude (and also slightly illegal).  This is just to get your brain working and to stir your art heart.  Sometimes your creative centre needs a bit of a kick up the bum, especially if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.  It’s like doing the same exercise at the gym – every now and then you need to change things up a little and challenge your body.  Your brain is the same.
  15. Have a nap.  If all else fails, tuck yourself up in bed or on the couch, shut the world out, and have a little nap.  Maybe you’ll wake up feeling energised and motivated. Maybe you’ll just get some much needed rest and feel better about everything in general.  Sometimes you just need to sleep – that’s all there is to it.  I’m giving you permission to nap!

So, just a few ideas for helping you to get your art heart pumping.  Sometimes you just need to give in and say “Ok, no crafting for me today!”  and do something else.  It’s supremely frustrating though, when all you want to do is create a masterpiece and you can barely draw a stick figure or stitch in a straight line.  Sometimes your mojo is just off and needs a break.  I’m hoping that is the case with me, anyway.

Hope you’re having a creative, happy day (or at least a really awesome nap!) 🙂

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Trying Again

Trying Again

So, it’s that time of year again.  Resolution time.  Last year,  I called it “New Year’s Revolutions“, and the year before that I wrote a long and detailed list of the things I wanted to change and achieve in the coming months.  I’m not very good at keeping to my resolutions.  I do try, but usually fail by about, oh, January 5th.  But the whole point of a New Year is being given another chance.  Another chance to try again.  And try I shall.

But I am also going to not limit myself to just trying at New Year’s.  Every day should be a new chance to try again.  I think part of the reason I fail is that I use the whole “New Year” thing as an excuse for not trying for the next 11 months.  But, I say optimistically, with fingers behind my back, I am done with excuses.  I am going to treat every day like New Year’s, which means I can start fresh every morning.  If I fail, I just have to keep going until I succeed.

This is my plan.  I am not good at plans so failure is almost guaranteed but I have now given myself permission to not give up.  And not quit.  I am very good at quitting but I am going to try and not do that too often this year.  There are things I need to achieve and overcome this year (too personal for even over-sharing me to discuss here) and I will not reach any of my goals if I keep giving up.  There are things about myself I need to change and fix if I am to go forward in life.

There are the usual goals about weight loss. Sigh.  How long have I been making that my New Year’s Resolution?  What, 25-30 years now?  I have yo-yoed back and forth between one weight and another for some many decades, I have no idea what my natural body shape and size is any more.  But I have hated my body at whatever size it is, and I need to stop doing that.  My body survived a life-threatening illness and I need to remember that.  I need to remember and acknowledge that it survived against all odds and kept going, no matter what.  So, if nothing else, I should treat this old rust-bucket of a body with some respect.  Sure, it’s a little flabbier and wobblier than I would like, but it’s still there.  I’m still upright and breathing, walkin’ around with all my limbs and digits and brain cells (although that last point is debatable).  So I need to try to be as healthy as I can.  Which doesn’t necessarily mean being as skinny as I can.  It means feeding my body with the right fuels and exercise.  It’s not about fitting into a tighter skirt or being able to get away with short shorts.  It’s about being healthy and fit and strong.  I haven’t been that for a long time and I really need to get my shit together where that is concerned.  My body deserves that, it really does.

I need to think about my career.  I need to seek that which will bring me fulfilment and authenticity and joy.  I don’t know if it is possible to have that in a 9-5 job, but I am going to try and find out.  I like my current job, but I don’t love it.  It doesn’t full me with excitement or happiness or anything even remotely approaching those things.  It pays my bills and gives me a sense of satisfaction some days and I am very grateful for it.  It provided me with security and emotional support when I needed it most.  But it isn’t my dream job and I have to figure out what is.  Because I really don’t know.  And time is running out.  At some point I am going to have to figure out what I am supposed to be doing, what I want to be when I grow up.  Because I truly don’t know yet. Failing that, I need to be ok with having “just a job” and acknowledge that it allows me to do the things I do enjoy in life, outside of work.  We can’t all be Oprah.  Some of us have to have the little boring jobs that keep the world turning.

I need to be less of a hoarder.  I know I say this on a weekly basis, but seriously, I just need to learn to let go of things.  Things are not people.  I can let go of a bunny ornament someone gave me in the fifth grade.  They will not mind if I give it away now.  The world will not collapse and I am not a bad person if the Christmas card I got in 1983 from a classmate ends up in the recycling bin (seriously, I just found that card today and struggled with getting rid of it). I have to learn to hold on to memories, instead of stuff.  But it is hard.

I need to start learning to say No.  I need to be ok with saying No and not feel guilty about it or try and make up for it by doing more than the original request asked for.  I need to learn not explain my No – the No itself should be enough.

I really, really need to learn to like myself a little more.  Or at all.  I don’t know how to do this, and if you have any suggestions, please send ’em on over.  I don’t know how to like what I see in the mirror.  I don’t know how to not lie awake at night thinking about all the things I did wrong in the day, all the mistakes I made and how many people I let down.  I need to stop thinking of myself as ugly and useless.  But it’s really hard to break the habit of a lifetime.  And how do you change the way you look to yourself – get new eyeballs?  I need an Instagram filter for my own eyes.

I need to learn to deal with my social anxiety.  Deal with it and accept it and learn coping strategies.  Because I am not going to become a social butterfly overnight.  I don’t even know that I want to.  I just want to be free of the terror that comes with invitations to parties and weddings and shindigs.  I want to be able to accept these invitations happily and easily and not dread their impending hour.  I need to be ok with NOT accepting them too.  I need to not beat myself up about not going to things.  I’m not a terrible person, after all, if I decide that a pub crawl is not my thing or if time spent at a Hen’s Night is enough to make me want to gouge my own spleen out.  But I do need to be better at social stuff.  It is hard every day for me, just interacting with human beings in general, and I need to be able to take that off my stress list.  Again, I don’t know how to do this, but I am going to try and figure it out.

I need to grow up financially.  I need to budget better and spend less on frivolous things.  I need to seriously look at buying a house.  Which will mean buying somewhere that is in a suburb less lovely than the one I currently rent in.  I cannot afford to buy here and I need to accept that.  Or get a better-paying job.  Or marry someone really rich (ha!  kidding!).  I don’t actually know if I can afford to buy anywhere, but I need to look in to it and find out for sure.  I need to sort out my future security and top up my superannuation and prepare for the impending zombie apocalypse on my own.  I need to secure my future.  And I need to have my own place so I can get a cat.  This is more important than anything.

I need to laugh and smile more.  I need to fake it ’til I make it.

I need to go to bed earlier and sleep better.

I need to get up earlier and do more in my day.

I need to ask for a pay rise.

I need to delegate better at work.  I have an assistant – she should be assisting me.
And I have to let her.

I have to stop being scared of men.

I need to stop comparing myself to other women.

I need to hug more and allow myself to be hugged.

I need to swim more and not worry about what I look like in bathers.  I love the beach – why am I not there all the time?

I really do need to learn to use chopsticks.

I have to travel.  At least one destination per year from now on.

I need to stop trying to fix people and their problems.  I can’t help everyone and I should sort my own stuff out first, before I concentrate on other people’s issues.

I need to express my disapproval of racist/sexist/bigoted jokes and comments when in social situations.  Saying nothing is not good enough anymore.

I need to stop procrastinating.  In regards to everything.

I’m going to write more.  Writing is what I love to do and, even if it’s just for me, I need to make time to do it.

I need to breathe more.

I need to practice gratitude.

I need to be kinder to myself.

I am going to try and not feel guilty about having restful days.  I’m not good at relaxing or doing nothing – and I think you sometimes have to give yourself permission to do that so you can rest and recuperate and give your body and mind some breathing space.

I need to be more ecologically friendly and responsible.

I need to see more people and be less hermit-like.  Whether I like it or not to begin with.

I need to just be. And be ok with whatever and whoever I am.  Because I am tired of fighting ME.  And I’m nearly 42.  Enough already 🙂

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Sorry for the long post.  As always, it is more for me than anyone else. I hope you have a lovely New Year’s and that the year ahead is happy, successful, fulfilling and authentic.  I hope you have love and laughter, joy and positive experiences.  Learn lots, love lots and let go.

Happy New Year everyone – see you in 2016 x