All work and no play makes… well, you know. But still, notice all the big and small anxieties and obstacles that may pop right up in front of you when you think about taking some real time for play time.
Really get your head in the playing game
This means time out that doesn’t just physically pause work mode. Instead, really turn your focus to playing and re-charging. Time psychologically and emotionally free from deadlines and devices, on hiatus from any and all projects.
Free from really still being in it and at it no matter what you’re doing or not doing. You creatively obsessed types know I’ve got your number, right? After all, it takes one to know one.
Though I’ll also note that some of you wise ones are really, really good at this! If so, be sure to celebrate that in yourself. Celebrate the inner and outer life you’ve crafted that’s super-conducive to balance in all things.
Get wise to your wiring
On the other hand, if real relaxation and play time, including real internal permission and cooperation, are a stretch for you, get curious about the “why” of that. What’s keeping the pedal to the metal, with you all work and no play?
The truth is, there can be so much in the mix. I laugh at my tendency to zip around like the energizer bunny in ways I found amusing about my mother for decades. She modeled it. I got the message on several levels.
Now I see it in my grown sons, too. We enjoy work. So we work! Given that truth, I’ll add that the image of a pendulum swinging helps me to craft balance.
Let the pendulum swing
Yep, let that pendulum swing, enjoyably. Time to work, time to play. Time to work… like your favorite playground swing set from childhood, back and forth and back again.
After all, a flow from work to play and back again is a dynamic you can count on, like sun and moon. Day and night. Even laughter and tears. It’s all in the mix. Beautifully.
Note the payoffs
And in the yin and yang of all things, you—and your loved ones—deserve play time! So set it aside. Schedule fun time. Chill time. Even just as a grand experiment. Afterward, as part of it, check in with the most goal-oriented part of you and note the value of that down time.
Zinged-up energy? Fresh ideas popping up out of nowhere?
I have no doubt your grand experiment will go beautifully. Now I’m signing off. Gotta go plan a little road trip.
You may be thinking, what’s one got to do with the other? The truth is, a lot.
Because we’re all born creative. We just express our creativity in different ways. Through the Arts, yes, but also in our own unique approach to whatever we enjoy doing.
That means anything and everything. Livelihood. Cooking. Parenting. Fashion!
Are you a video game designer? An EMT? A teacher? Creativity shows itself in every profession.
When we’re creatively engaged in life, we’re happily engaged. We’re satisfied. 100% in it, whatever it is. In the zone. Busy being ourselves.
And guess what? This is what work in the 21st century will be about, according to thinkers like Daniel Pink in his bestseller, Drive.
Pink makes the case that, as outsourcing and technology continue to replace us in many work arenas, our creative capabilities will become the surest routes to our livelihoods. Rings true to me. How about you?
OK, so where’s the wellness?
Aw we all know, there are all kinds of adages these days about loving what you do and doing what you love. And for good reason. It makes sense to us that living and working in ways that matter to us will affect the course of our lives.
When that’s the case, our energy, our life force, flows, rather than clogging from chronic frustration, bleeding out from too many forced yesses, or just flat-lining from freaking boredom. Yikes.
Creative life, meet the chakras
So to shed more light on creativity and health, we’ll spend some time here on the chakra system. We’ll go deep into the happy dance between creativity and wellness.
And if the chakras are new to you, there’s a nice piece on the main ones here at mindbodygreen.com. But stay with me ’til I’ve made my creative case. :)
It starts here. In my words:
As we express ourselves in the world, our chakras—the fields of energy spinning in several areas around and through our bodies—are helped in their healthy flow.
So let’s start at the top and move down to the ground of our body/minds.
7th Chakra Health
Through contact with our personal creative fire, we tap into collective creative consciousness. Into universal intelligence. Whoa! Right?
And no worries at all if this is foreign to you. We don’t have to be 100% into this level of awareness to reap its benefits, as long as we aren’t actively, adamantly closed in our thinking.
So just stay open, deliciously, to the mysteries and benefits of living your creative life fully. Just trust that it’s good for you. And stay with me.
6th Chakra Health
Because when your particular creative urges have an honored place in your imagination, you’re fully “at play” in visioning your life. As you dream in sync with your deepest creative needs and visions, your third eye, the deep wisdom source in all of us, is active, open, and vibrating.
In short, as you dare to dream creatively, your body/mind responds in kind. Inspiration is clean fuel, my dears. Now let’s pull it downward toward grounding our lives.
5th Chakra Health
Toward creativity and health, the next step is for our creative inspirations to take their place in our outer lives, rather than just in the privacy of our imaginations. This takes our acts of will. Our clear intentions and committed follow-through.
This satisfying way of living takes speakingourtruth in life. About who we are. About what we want to contribute.
We don’t have to be the best at it, or famous for it. We just have to riskbeing ourselves. To act on that. To passionately, actively be, in the world, who we really are.
And not just once a year on summer vacation, but as part of the daily round of our days and nights. Beautiful. And good for us!
4th Chakra Health
Further, we can say that healthy creative expression is love in action. Because the heart chakra opens when we act in the world as who we really are.
Living as our real selves is a way of giving to life. Then we’re fed in return by humbly creating livelihoods around our passions. By contributing ourselves to life.
And that’s inspiring. Right?
If it seems daunting, consider that it may mean living simply. And of course our materialistic culture doesn’t exactly encourage that. But so what? Be counter-cultural. Imagine your open-hearted, creative life. Then scale down as needed.
This is healthy for the 4th chakra. Healthy for our hearts, that powerful engine of our bodies with its own deep intelligence. How can we keep our 4th chakra spinning happily by living in ways that contribute lovingly to life?
3rd Chakra Health
Next, as we go deeper, closer to the ground of our lives, the truth is that living our unique contribution to life takes personal power. It takes consistent output. And it takes regular self-renewal, my dears. We can’t fake this combo, or we end up outa gas.
On the other hand, if we’re living and working in satisfying, healthy, balanced ways, we’re coming from core, as they say in yoga class. This makes everything we want possible.
In short, we have to own both our personal power and our responsibility to take extraordinary care of ourselves. That’s a 3rd chakra gig, my dears. Creativity and health, indeed.
2nd Chakra Health
Now, as we live our inner creative fire, allowing it to design our outer lives, we access healthy 2nd chakra energy. It’s a sense of well-being, abundance, and gratitude. Pleasure. Sensuality.
This is gut energy. Cojones and ovarios energy. Intuition, attraction, satisfaction, and self-expression fully at play in our lives.
And yes, living this way definitely affects our love lives. A nagging sense that something is missing in our relationships could be right on the money, with that something being… well… us! Because our creative satisfaction brings fire to any relationship dance we’re doing.
Speaking of money, it’s a 2nd chakra issue, too. “If you build it they will come” and “do what you love and the money will follow” are both 2nd chakra mantras. Time, faith, and committed, balanced, relaxed action are a healthy 2nd chakra combo.
1st Chakra Health
1st chakra health grounds our body/minds in life.
When we design our lives to support our creative self-expression, including how we live, pay our bills, and nourish ourselves, literally and figuratively, we can truly walk our talk in the world. We’re in healthy relationship to life.
The grounded path we deserve to walk wants to be satisfying, rather than a 4-alarm fire. Rather than constant, adrenaline-fueled crisis mode. Try not hurrying. Try trusting your process. Just calmly note and calmly follow the flow of your energy.
Where is your life force headed this season if you trust it? Think and feel your way. And get yourself some expert support if confusion or fear are zapping your energy.
So keep on keepin’ on in your creative life
In the midst of it all, keep those creative juices flowing, my dears, including right on out into the real world. Don’t save it for someday.
Express yo’self in healthy, satisfying ways today, tomorrow, next week. As central to your beautiful life. Because I say you being the real you is your contribution. And since that’s good for you and for all of us, it’s definitely win-win.
I happened onto the hashtag #selflove on Twitter one night, and I was curious about how it was being used So I checked out the definition someone had given it on tagdef.com.
Could have several empowering meanings, but is often used as a politically correct term for solo masturbation.
Basically, I’m not buyin’ it
Interesting, and maybe useful to some. But way off base in my view. Honestly, it confused me a bit. Just not at all what I expected. So I looked up self-love on dictionary.com. Check out this depressing definition:
Yikes. That’s harsh! Especially since we tend to be in constant overdrive these days. But then I realized, I’m just not buyin’ this. In fact, I think it needs a 21st century reboot.
So what’s a self-loving woman to do?
In short, I just took matters into my own hands. :)
I went back to tagdef.com, entered #selflove, and added my own definition:
Self-love: a healthy, positive sense of self that creates resulting habits of self-nurturance and self-care, rather than waiting for someone or something outside us to deem us lovable and to care for us.
“Self-love creates a healthy foundation for empowered choices.”
To be sure, I could have worked on that a bit more before I hit “done.” But so be it. It’s there now. I hope it’ll be helpful to someone, somewhere, sometime.
Because I say self-love is essential in our action-packed lives. In our lives of service to family and community. Our lives jammed with productivity.
Self-love makes a difference
We’re wise to take extraordinary care of ourselves in the midst of whatever we’re up to in the world. Extraordinary self-care creates the ‘fertile soil’ from which everything we want to be can blossom and grow.
So I say go get ’em from a foundation of self-love, my dears. And more, keep coming back to the place of balance that self-love demands.
The fact is, we can’t go entirely off the deep end while we’ve also got to get on to a nutritious meal, a good night’s sleep, and all the other healthy parts of our self-care lists. All things in their own time and place, right?
Are you with me on this? Good. Because I’ve gotta get some rest!
Chronic conflict can sap your strength. It can really mess up your life. Maybe you know just what I mean: the searingly painful kind, when every attempt to communicate ends in anger, sadness, and feelings of failure. Ugh.
The fact is, this kind of recurring bad dream is oh, so human. What to do? Let’s go there.
1. Begin with you.
Yes. You. The bottom line is, this is the only place where you have control. There isn’t a thing you can do about someone else’s actions and reactions. But there is an upside to that downside. You can work very effectively with your part in any challenging situation.
Now, think about these questions with your situation in mind:
What’s your goal for the communication?
What are the potential land mines?
What are the potential opportunities?
2. Create a constructive point of view.
Next, while considering all that, set aside your judgments, all the yada yada yada about the other person. Really. And yes, all your reasons not to will rear up here like ghosts from a grave. It’s human.
Yet this is something we can do to get beyond conflict. We can—because our goals matter—begin to handle chronic issues in new ways. Like working within our own new, non-negotiable commitments to ourselves.
For example, let’s say two ex-spouses can’t communicate without battling, and their kids are caught in the crossfire. Ouch. Right? And oh, so human.
But each parent can in fact step back, think about the situation, and find a point of view that eases conflict. Maybe their struggle is partly about being alike in some ways. Passionate. Uncompromising. Or still feeling things that get in the way of the work of the moment.
Each can in fact do the good work of assuming and imagining that the other is feeling similar feelings and frustrations. Including a need to stop the madness.
They can begin there. Then progress is suddenly, absolutely possible.
3. Stay in the present.
Don’t waste energy rehashing the past. Really. It’s a losing battle, and one that’s over already. Right? Don’t keep re-creating it. It’s exhausting.
Instead, in the privacy of your own sincere heart, try releasing all the meanings you’re giving past failed attempts to communicate. They don’t mean a thing, except whatever power you give them.
Let it all go. You deserve it. Then connect in present time, calmly. Think solutions.
Like the mom and dad above, you can rise to the challenge. It’s self-discipline in action. Step up to that version of you. Then demo that “you” for the folks who matter in your particular situation. They’ll feel—and learn from—your good work.
And remember that at times we humans learn slowly. Repetition is powerful. Play a long game, especially in relationships that are life-long, like co-parenting.
4. Keep coming back to you.
Let’s imagine another scene:
An employee can’t relate to her supervisor, feels mistreated or unappreciated, and knows her feelings may hurt her career. It’s a “catch 22.” Lose-lose. Because the truth is, her supervisor’s positive feedback is the gateway to greater opportunities.
If she counts out dramatic steps like going around the supervisor, which could backfire big-time, she can get about the business of giving up her judgments about what has happened so far. Yep, in light of her goals, doing just that is part of her work at hand.
She can own her part in the way things have gone. She can move forward, into the future she wants, rather than trying to get justice somehow by “being right” about… whatever. In short, she can stop re-playing losing battles and reclaim the energy they’ve been stealing from her.
Instead, maybe she can find some compassion within herself for her supervisor’s pressures and stresses. Or inspire herself with thoughts of the happy day this relationship is in her rear-view mirror because she negotiated it beautifully.
Imagine the renewed energy and the fresh approach that good work can generate. Seriously.
5. Create an intention for the conversation.
Creating an intention helps us bring our best to the table. One intention might be to have a simple, effective exchange. One first, small, calm victory. Another might be to stay centered despite any curve balls.
Create an intention that energizes you. One that becomes your compass in potentially choppy waters as you manage yourself. Remember: work with what you can control. And mean it. Bring your own A-game.
Then success or failure isn’t in anyone’s hands but your own. If you handle yourself as you intended, you’ve succeeded. Worth repeating: If you handle yourself as you intended, you’ve succeeded. And you’ve grown.
6. Prepare with a little role-play.
Why do so many of us hate role-playing? After all, we lived it 24 and 7 as kids, effortlessly. And it’s in fact a secret weapon toward self-mastery in tough situations.
You can share with a helper a bit about the “rough weather” that may come your way. Then let this kind soul help you practice getting beyond those squalls in ways that match your intention.
Make it fun! I promise it will make a difference, maybe the difference, in getting beyond conflict.
7. Agree to stop and re-schedule if needed.
Consider sharing your intention at the start of the conversation. Your new context may help set a new tone.
A couple of ground rules also help:
One is for both parties to agree to stick to I statements. (I feel this. I need/request that.) Avoid you statements. (You always/never… You’re… whatever.)
Another is to agree up front that if either person starts to get distressed, it’s time to close up shop and try again later. Like role-playing, this works, if you calmly follow through before slippage leads to wreckage. Really. Stop.
And I do mean calmly. What’s more, be proud of yourself when you manage this.
Because then even ending a conversation shows commitment to get beyond conflict. And it implies more good work to come.
8. Keep imagining the outcomes you want, not the ones you fear.
Finally, like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, keep upping your game toward the breakthrough you’re looking for. Spend time envisioning exactly what you want. Imagine progress like moments of mutual kindness, new understanding, and positive outcomes.
Then allow what you’ve imagined to guide you: your greeting, and your tone. The words you use. Your facial expressions and body language. The energy behind the words you choose.
Be you, yes. Be your best you. Don’t hold that you back! What better time than in a moment that matters so much? Remember, you—and yours—deserve an amazing life. Don’t let chronic conflict bring you down.
How can we find words for “everyday mystery” these days? And I mean in ways beyond all the old religious constructs. They may no longer ring true for you. They may feel tired, or loaded, or may trigger you in whatever ways. Poetry is one possibility.
You can’t know what I have to share
unless I tell you. I know,
I know it’s fraught, the spiritual,
no way to cross that threshold with anyone
who hasn’t opened—or who has closed
for whatever reason—
that door. No way
to offer that wine.
Or is there? Is a baby’s breath enough,
or a dew-covered tomato shining
through viney profusion
in the backyard next to the fig tree
spilling its jewels?
Because those moments do come,
like sudden lightning that clears the field
and jolts our hearts, too,
that meet their mark.
Words and moments that matter.
What will I see, feel, know,
offer, and be fed by today if I watch
closely, present to the mystery
in everything? The question
thrills me. And
that matters, too.
The “pregnant moment” is a phrase I learned from my former employer, musical collaborator and dear friend Ricardo Accorsi. Deeply creative, multi-lingual, equal parts architect, artist, and musician, he’s gone now. But his way with language—and life—inspires me still.
Because every moment ischock full of new possibilities. In fact, we do get to choose who we’ll be in each one. What energy, ideas, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and intentions will we bring to it?
If you aren’t sure how you feel about that kind of freedom, consider testing it for a few minutes at a time, like a meditation. Or longer, for an hour, or a day. Or as a week-long experiment.
Soon, with real practice under your belt, you may find it liberating. Because the past is in fact behind us, unless we keep dragging it into each brand new, as yet unlived chance to create who we are and what we want.
And as for the future, well, the truth is, there’s this moment, then the next, and the next. Etcetera. How do we want this one and that one to go? Who will we be in each?
In fact, our way to the future is through each singular moment. Day and night, we get constant opportunities to think, feel, and act as the “who” we are consciously choosing to become.
Today, in this moment and the next, rather than acting and reacting in old ways that may not move you toward what you want most, how will you choose to proceed? What motivates and inspires you, bringing you joy and peace?
Try creating your way today, moment by moment. After all, you deserve such happiness. And I say it’s available right here, in the delicious, ever-pregnant present.