Friday, January 30, 2009

Secret #4: Surrendering to Creative Cycles

I call them the dark days.

I think of them as stormy weather systems rolling in. They build in the distance. I can feel the pressure change, sense that something's coming. Soon clouds descend and I'm full on in the midst of a mood. I've made a study of this particular weather phenomenon. Here is what I've learned.

Characteristics of "The Mood"
  • appearance of soul-gripping doubt
  • heart-stabbing, knife-turning jealousy
  • tendency to anger combined with desire to be verbally venomous
  • disinterest in anything remotely resembling productivity
  • complete denial of all positive indicators in favour of any and every negative sign
  • patience meter reads 'empty'
  • hypersensitivity to criticism
  • fear, fear, fear, fear
Mood Predictors

Over time, I've discovered that storm patterns do have some key indicators. These dark days often arrive:
  • when I'm not expressing myself creatively
  • when something finishes
  • the Tuesday before my period
  • when I haven't had enough "me" time
  • when I haven't had enough time with my honey
  • after a disappointment
  • when I'm overtired, overextended, mired in detail
  • when there's something I need to say
  • when I'm stuck in unending, repetitive routine
  • when I'm undecided
  • on the bridge
  • and most often - for no discernible reason at all
Mood Survival

I've learned that these storms are part of my own personal landscape, the natural weather patterns of Jamie.

To weather the storms I...
  • Come back to routines that I know work: morning pages and journaling
  • Move my body. Walks and Nia work really well for me.
  • Eat vitamin-rich foods... and chocolate.
  • Admit I'm in a mood.
  • Talk it out.
  • Indulge in a pyjama day.
  • Watch a tear-inspiring movie.
  • Change something.
  • Let myself feel what I feel.
What's the weather system like in your personal landscape?


Jenn said...

I do some of the same storm weathering things to get myself feeling better. In particular, I find that combining chocolate, a pyjama day, and a tear-inspiring movie is particularly effective.

Leah said...

Oh, I'm totally in the midst of a storm at the moment, firey rage that's consuming me. I'm thinking it's a bit of over-tiredness and a need to create. Great post, I totally needed to read it in this moment. xoxo

organicsyes said...

Yep...right there today. Needed this post...thanks.

While in this "dark place" I can "see" all that causes it, or most of what causes it, but need to move through it before coming out the other side.

You are a true gem, Jamie. I am so happy to have found your blog:)

Arty Em said...

In our house, we have something called "the chocolate time of month" and this is a time everyone knows to stay out of my way, and I know to go to a movie, eat good chocolate (see above) and just try not to pick any fights. . . . luckily, it passes. Just the evil monster who inhabits my body once every moon . . . .

Her Speak said...

Your storm sounds amazing! I agree--just the act of admitting your in a mood can do wonders to lift it. (My boyfriend can attest to this. Hehe!) I love reading these peeks into your creative process!

Much Joy, Many Blissings~*

Karley said...

Your post really struck me. Actually, an underlying theme I have been reading all day today from our fellow bloggers is that our creativity really correlates to the ups and downs in our own psyches.

Great description in your post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

Pink Heels said...

While I am not creative in the traditional sense, I do find that I undergo creative cycles. When I am at the peak, I will try new recipes, re-decorate, and add art to my life. When my creativity is at a low, I simply avoid all forms of art. Instead of fighting the natural flow of life, I have learned to celebrate it. However, it hasn't been easy to move from frustrated to acceptance. : )

linda said...

I've been in a dark cloud mood for two weeks and it's bothering me~no creative spark coming in this mood-haven't even read the last two chapters of the book or participated ... I'm ok with it and that's something I have had to slowly learn...acceptance of these times without pushing myself... being gentle with ourselves and our cycles of creative energy is so important so as not to drain more...

Judi said...

I go out and dig up weeds - the Earth and Sun heal me. I can actually think after about ten minutes of pulling weeds.

Interesting to think of it as weather patterns. I like that concept.

Sacred Suzie said...

So beautifully written Jamie! I found your post gripping. It does help to admit you're in a mood. Change something! That is great advice. As is letting your emotions be where they are.

Rowena said...

I've got family in town and haven't had the chance to read this chapter, but I suspect it will be very valuable.

I do what I call, "riding the wave." It goes up, it comes down, every seventh one is the deepest, and whatever happens, you just have to go with it. Don't fight it, you can drown if you fight it, but if you ride it, it will take you in to shore.

esk said...

Not enough me time definitely puts me in a mood! I'll do whatever it takes to get it, even if it means being up in the middle of the night while everyone else is asleep.

D said...

I talk to as many trusted souls that I can and usually that helps me weather the storm and gain energy to push through it.

peppylady said...

There plenty of storms one will go though and I've learn a lot of time I make my own storm bigger then it need to be so anther word I add salt to my own sores.

Coffee is on.

Lissa said...

Linda said she's been in a "dark cloud" mood for 2 weeks. I have been affected as well. I bought sea salt for a soul searching/cleansing soak in the tub & sage for my house & my CARS! The guy at the store said something about the moon in Mercury? IDK but I hope it passes soon. I prefer Funky to Funk. As always your posts move me, Jamie. Thanks:)

Winterwood said...

wonderful wonderful post on realsing what self care works best on you. I must think now what does it for me... I now know that life always look better after a nap and some chocolate!

1,000 Faces of MotherHenna said...

Jamie!!! Letting yourself feel what you feel. That totally is key for me. I find that if I try to stop it or ignore it, then I get totally stuck there. As opposed to riding it out, then the next wave comes naturally. Thank you for sharing your process of noticing with us, too -- what a great model for exploring what is happening to us!!!

Lisa said...

Wow Jamie! You have such a wonderful way of putting things (feelings, moods) into words that make sense of it all. As I was reading your list of things that lead to a mood, I was looking for my biggest contributor. When I saw the bridge, I somehow knew that would be it and you put it so perfectly into words! Thank you for linking to it!

Chick flicks, salty chips and chocolate ususally accompany my moods.

Caroline said...

Your collage is really speaking to me!

CynthiaMarie said...

Well, heaven's to Betsy, you nailed all of mine! Lordie, I think I'll print these out so I remember to cut myself a break and remember I'm not the only one!

Your collage is really cute -- in a good way -- I know cute is a weird word to use, but it makes sense for this time with our monsters --

in any case -- thanks so much for holding this creative book blog and your effervescent spirit!

Honoring your divine heart!

jennlui said...

oh yes chocolate indeed!!! hee hee!!! always a good antidote for those gloomy days...

i love how you've totally broken it down... the predictors, the characteristics... it's so clear!!! and honest, thank you so much for sharing!!!

i love how you compare it to a storm with the clouds rolling in, i've often used the analogy of the tide, engulfing me temporarily... but we always end up surviving and moving on to be our fabulous creative selves once again. so we weather these storms and wait for the tide to lower once again so our ideas can flow and our disposition positive, courageous and radiant!!! i think this is what keeps me going when the days are dark... knowing that the sun will shine again and that the warmth is really really great and FUN!!! hee hee!!!

i LOVE your collage!!! it emanates all the energy i think of when we talk cycles and that creative downtime... awesome work!!!

thank YOU jamie for these wonderful posts so open and candid, as i read other's posts it is so evident how much your online book group changes and transforms so many!!! how very fabulous!!! i am so blessed to be part of all this!!!

thank you!!!

peace and love to you jamie!!!

intothedawn said...

Stormy Jamie weather! I have to admit, I'm trying to image you with your brows knit and teeth bared, what a different mental image of you! Whats awesome is that you can so perfectly nail down the signs of your stormy weather AND you know what to do to navigate the choppy waters. How well you know yourself!

Current personal weather system here is grey skies with a light fog... hope it will burn off by tomorrow so I can be more productive. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, "admit I'm in a mood." Isn't that the hardest part?

I get grouchier and grouchier and will NOT admit that I am grouchy, much less why!

How much pain we could avoid if we were just more mindful, more internally honest from minute to minute! :)

Kavindra said...

This made me bust right out laughing just because it is so true and I recognized my grouchy nasty self in there! I gotta print this out as my own little "how to get outta the mood manual."

chest of drawers said...

"Let myself feel what I feel". So important not to have to be wonderful and amazing all the time. Thanks for talking about the other side.

Serena said...

An amazing post as always, Jamie! I really like how you categorise it all into an easy to read format. I LOVE your mood survival list!

Rebekah said...

I know "The Mood." I've spent quite a lot of the last month in that Mood. I also love your mood survival list! It's great, and the list of Predictors. Thank you for sharing. I've picked up a couple of survival tools for the toolbox. :)