26 January, 2015

Hello Monday: Ennui and Creativity

Happy Monday! 

I hope everyone had a safe and happy weekend. My love and I got dressed up Saturday to attend a ball. The food was delicious; the wine delectable, the band was fun. We had a great time. This ball is also a big fundraiser for a group that I am involved with. We coordinate the silent auction. I love this group – throughout the year we do service projects and fundraisers, and then in May we give it all away to groups in our community (and around the world) who align with our mission. Last year we gave away $24,000. This year I hope we can top that.

I realized that I have let that passion to help others who are doing incredible things to help women, cloud over the other benefits of this club. I’ve been involved for three years, but a lot of the women have been there for 5, 10, 20 years. There are deep friendships, a network of women there when life hits and you need to breathe. I was talking to my sister about it and realized this group is unique because we are apolitical, a religious. We leave a lot of what we use to define ourselves at the door and come together around a shared interest. I (hope) we can all agree that the safety and dignity of women should be a universal human right. No woman should live in fear or have her humanness denied because of her gender. But we as women in America can give a lot to women around the world. We can give our voice, our passion, our pressure, our solidarity for women who live under conditions that are nothing short of de-humanizing.

This club is part of a larger organization that started in 1919 (before women had the right to vote). It was founded by women in leadership roles who wanted to do something to help other women, locally and around the world. We don’t start programs, but support those who do their work well. It’s incredible to a part of something that is having an impact in our community and around the world. But the impact is not just external, but internal. I am coming to value more and more the hearts and friendships of these women. I have seen them rally when life hits, care about each other, be there in life. It’s not a networking group, or a once a month social thing, but a group of women who care. I realize they have been my sanity, encouragement and compass over the last year in a way I am just starting to understand.

Since the fall I have been in a bit of an ennui, a time of acedia. Something Kathleen Norris calls: the spiritual aspect of sloth. The word literally means not-caring, or being unable to care, and ultimately, being unable to care that you can’t care. Acedia is spiritual morphine, but it does more than mask pain. It causes us to lose faith in ourselves and in our relationships with others (blog).

via Day of Tikkun

It has been hard to be creative. It’s been hard to care. Each day is about meeting the demands of that day. Just doing enough, to be honest, so people don’t wonder what’s up. I don’t know how to explain this period or what caused it. But it’s been a thorn in my side for months. Since Christmas it has lifted some. But writing creatively is still a struggle, editing is almost impossible.

So I have searched for ideas on how to break this ennui. How do I shatter this listlessness and get back to what I love? I recently finished The Accidental Creative, which helped. I have several other books on the creative life to read. But at some point you have to stop planning and researching and DO something.

I came across this interview with Tiffany Han – who is easily one of my favorite people. I get her weekly emails and they speak to where I am. She has found her sweet spot, helping people to take action and stop hemming around already!

In the interview, Hann talks about why people abandon projects:
Based on your coaching experience, what are the reasons you see well-meaning people abandon projects? 

Fear and a lack of resonance are the two biggest reasons. Over-commitment is also a huge problem.

 Fear—the things are big, so we tend to focus on the easier tasks with known outcomes first. I’ve been talking about writing a book proposal for years now, but it’s hard. Instead, I focus on the things that feel easy, the ones that I already know how to do.

 Lack of Resonance—sometimes, we have good intentions, but when we get into a project, we just aren’t feeling it anymore. This is usually a case when it’s okay to walk away instead of powering through. It’s like reading a book that you just aren’t into. You can simply put it down and find another book to read. It’s as simple as that, but we tend to put pressure on ourselves to finish.

She talks about the need to look long term and to establish boundaries. Hann has a podcast, where she talks to other creative women in their endeavors. Her latest interview was with Kelly Rae Roberts and they started with boundaries. Boundaries from family and other obligations. Boundaries from social media and the killer distractions we let crawl into our days and rob us of time. Boundaries from the lies that say you can’t do this, just give up, you’ll never be as good as ____.

It is hard sometimes to stare at a blank screen. It’s hard for me to not pick up a project I am so passionate about because I don’t know where to go next. The characters aren’t speaking, the movement isn’t coming. So I give up. I don’t wrestle through it, and I let the apathy of ennui be my excuse.

I do think sometimes we need to let our bodies rest. I think sometimes we need to acknowledge the burnout or the dry spell and let that be okay. But we still have to keep trying. So if everything I wrote for the last three months will one day get deleted, that’s okay. Who knows, maybe something great will come out of the drought.

Do something creative today friends. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just do it.

via Erin & Chase

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