Creative Recovery

I just finished a big project, designing the costumes for Mamma Mia at a localish summer stock. Between doing the contract and building a couple of costumes and taking on a bridal alteration in the middle, I felt wiped out when I was finally done on Tuesday. But I had fun with the design, after fighting it, and it was really nice having a small shop to take on the alterations and builds of the show so I could get some really nice design details in without driving myself to be sick in bed because of it.

So the past couple of days, I’ve been focusing on my kids and being kind of mindless at night after they go to bed. I freaked out about the state of the house and spent some time cleaning. I’ve played the piano every day and started singing again. I stretched for 2 days and started exercising again today. We are camping and taking the kids to their first water park tomorrow. And I’m ready to be creative again on all fronts.

Most important of all, I have finally accepted that when I design a show, it is going to consume me. And that’s okay. I have been belittling my creative process for a long time, because shows like Mamma Mia aren’t “serious” art, because the audience it reaches isn’t the one that needs escapism most, because I feel like if creative people in the entertainment industry put their attention toward fixing societal ills instead we might make the biggest leaps we have ever done as a species. It’s been hard to set those feelings aside and have fun. But I can do “serious” creative work and I can do frivolous creative work. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I’ve also accepted that I physically can’t do it all, so some things have to give. Motherhood is the biggest energy-taker on me right now, and my costuming work is second as that is what is paying the bills. But I will continue to work at my art, writing, and music as I can.

Hopefully the next couple of months will see more bountiful droppings to this page. But I won’t feel bad or guilty if I don’t. I’m beyond that finally. I think it’s a good thing.

Creative Recovery Mode

My last creative project at work was an enormous one and fraught with minor annoyances and issues along the way to completion, so much so that I was left feeling shell-shocked and incredibly drained and fragile when it was finally finished last Thursday. My creative well was close to running dry, and my body still is teetering on the edge of sick/not sick from overwork and stress. But I am beginning the recovery process, and it occurs to me that my recovery steps may be helpful to many of you. So here they are:

  1. Meditation. I had gotten away from my regular practice during this project, going down to only twice per week, so I eased back into it. Taking the time to sit in silence with yourself is necessary to be able to heal.
  2. Exercise. Again, it’s been a while, and I eased into it with gentle stretches. This week, I’m hoping to be back on course.
  3. A long soak in the tub, with or without aromatherapy, candles, sea salt, etc. This is key because it loosens and warms the muscles, it lets your inner creative know that you are pampering it, and it means setting aside time for just relaxing and letting go. Water is especially important to me spiritually, so I have the added benefit of that, and I treat certain baths almost as purification rituals. This time around, I did a clay facial mask while soaking and felt the benefits deeply.
  4. Getting away for a few days. We wound up going up to my aunt-in-law’s cottage on Lake Ontario for the weekend. Work followed me a little bit, as I had some issues to deal with (the downside of being in charge of certain things is having to be on call), but I was able to forget about all the housework and paperwork that had piled up and truly take my mind off of work for a good, long while.
  5. Surrounding yourself with other creatives and/or people who are in your soul family. We had our friends out that we usually have out for our New Year’s Eve retreats, and it was wonderful. Rich, vibrant, enriching conversations, whether talking about current projects or spirituality or life or pop culture, that feeds your mind and soul like nothing else can. It is rare to find people that you can carry such conversations with and open your inner self to, so when you find them, treasure them for the gift that they are. The fact that we live several hours apart makes our moments together that much better.
  6. Take time to play. I spent a long time playing with my son, and I also took time to do stuff that was playing for me, which means I was again showing my inner creative that I am treating it right. This can be anything that is frivolous and something that you don’t customarily get to do.
  7. Spend time in nature. While at the cottage, I sat outside even though the air was chilled to do my morning pages. I watched the water. I walked barefoot on the lawn to ground myself. Today, after spending half the day organizing and cleaning at home, I went for a long hike.
  8. Be kind to yourself. This is maybe the most important one. Give yourself the comfort that you need to be well.