Some Call it Grouting; Do I Call it Love?

You Busy? Me too. Always, lately. Too busy. Which is why last Monday stands out. (For two maybe related maybe not reasons.)

I woke to a anomaly: a full empty day before me. When I write "full" I mean: The maximum number of non-sleep hours before me; the sun was not even fully up before I was. Wallowing in that rare luxury of nothing-scheduled/nothing-planned, I showered & dressed. . .

Next thing I knew it was after 10:00pm, my it's-a-school-night-get-ready for bedtime.

 

As I groaned my way into a TV chair to watch a quick wind-down program, it dawned on me that I was literally sitting down for the first time all day.

But here's the weird part: 

I have absolutely no recollection of how I spent all those hours. . .

I sat there trying to recall what I'd done with the day, how I'd spent those long, empty, unscheduled 16 hours I'd begun with, but couldn't. The last clear thought I had was standing before the mirror after showering that morning, overjoyed at the possibility all that unscheduled time presented and pondering what I wanted to do.

Flashes of meals, phone calls, messages, a trip to the post office and drug store, flitted to mind, like flashbacks in an amnesia movie. But none memorable enough, or long enough to consume an hour, let alone 16 of them. Where the heck had the day gone? 

 A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post by author Fred Venturini, titled "The Accidental Novelist," in which he discussed how the key to his success could be summed up in one word: Luck. (Which, in Fred Baby's case,  is the same as saying Ben Franklin's discovery of energy was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Yeah right, everyone knows a key & kite are standard issue rain gear.) Blah-blah-blah, luck-schmuck.

Luck? Maybe. Just as Ben was lucky he was prepared when that mega electrical storm hit, Venturini was prepared. As he told the woman who scoffed at his "luck" answer, Fred had been writing, writing, writing and had several manuscripts to show for his efforts that fateful "lucky" day.

I'm not such  a fan of "good luck" stories. They leave me hopeless. I don't like the thinking getting what I want, what I work so hard for, may hinge on random chance, whimsy, kismet, simple twist of fate.

I am a total fan of "Persistence Paid" stories. My take away: with all Venturini had going on--mega buzzy bee buzy --he could have written so much and had sooo many stories to show for it when his lucky break came struck me. And it's one reason why my lost Monday is so worrisome. In response to that lady--and my--amazement as his prolificness, Fred said:

We find time for the things we must/need to do; we MAKE TIME for the things we love/want to do

 About Monday, one thing I know I did: I mopped my bedroom and all the upstairs bathroom floors, then sealed the grout in said bathrooms.

grout.jpg

This has me really worried. As I piece together the remains of my yesterday, I have to ask, what the heck is my problem?

Do I really love stain-free grout so much that I'd spend my only in the foreseeable future free day, sealing bathroom grout? Do I love stainfree grout more than I love say, writing? Or sleeping? Or Fill-in-the-Blank ????

Or, am I so programmed to do what I must do that I do not Make Time for what I love/want to do?

What about you?

Some Call it Grouting; Do I Call it "LOVE"? Playlist:

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Nuthin’ Doin’

“What are you doing today?” Curtis asked as I drove him to work.

 “What are you doing tomorrow?” He asked again last night.

“What do you have going on this week?” He asked as I dropped him off at the airport.

 

“Nothing.” I replied. “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I have absolutely not one single thing planned.”

 

 

He gave me a surprised look. Curtis never has nothing to do, nothing planned.

Most people don’t. Or rather, DO…all the time.

Even when we aren’t “doing” anything, we are doing something: Listening to music, Texting, Checking email, Facebook, Instagram, Playing Candy/Trivia Crush, Scrabble with Friends, etc. etc. Usually something electronic.

ACG School in Jakarta 

ACG School in Jakarta 

When I visit schools, I’ll chat with the kids about my writering life. Inevitably someone will ask:

“Where do your ideas come from?”

 I often respond by opening it up to the class and asking them:

“Where can we get ideas?”

Eventually the flood of suggestions peters out . . . Because ideas do that.

Life, the everyday business of living, can be tiring. Trying to live creatively can be even more so. The myriad of How-to, Discovery, Recovery books and articles focused on ways to revive our creative spirits, suggest this tiredness, miasma, block, burnout, lack of creativity . . . . is because we are creatively exhausted. (And perhaps otherwise, too.)

Stock Photo: Stressed man with  smoking head   More   www.dreamstime.com

Stock Photo: Stressed man with smoking head More

www.dreamstime.com

Whether from lack of use, or because we’ve used up all we had, our creative tanks have run dry and need refilling.

. . . and not a drop to think.

. . . and not a drop to think.

Many, including Julia Cameron’s oft sited 12-Step Recovery guide, The Artist’s Way, recommend taking oneself on weekly Artist’s Dates as a way of “refilling our creative wells.”

Filling our wells—if we follow this sage advice—is easy. The question then is: How do we empty it? 

How do we tap into those creative wells so those wonderful ideas can flow? 

When working with school kids, at that point where the ideaphoria slows, I’ll ask:

“Does your teacher ever give an assignment and not one single idea pops into your head? Does that ever happen to you?”

A sea of nodding heads is always the answer I get.

At that point I’ll give them my sure fire Well-Draining Idea-Generator:  

Empty your head and do nothing.

Try it.

I dare you.

I double dog dare you.

Make a “Do Nothing” Date . . .  and Don’t!  

Don’t take your phone. Don’t plug in. Don’t bring a friend. Don’t set an agenda.

Before long, the spigot will open Whoosh! and ideas will begin to flow. Could be they already were flowing, but we just couldn't hear to catch them.* Either way, that  plenty o’ nuttin’ starts to sound like something. 

To borrow from Dr. Suess: Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!

Nuthin’ Doin’ Playlist:

*What's the worst that can happen? You'll have spent an idyll hour or two. (Ever ponder the connection between idyll, idle and ideal?) 

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Fill 'er Up! What Poppy Taught Me...

Back in the 70’s during gas rationing, my grandfather and I would idle in the gas station line together on “Even Days" so we could fuel up our cars.

For those of you post-rationing folks, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers could fill up on “Odd Days,” Mon-Wed-Fri, those of us with even-numbered plates could fill up on Tues-Thurs-Sat.

If either of our tanks fuel levels had dropped below half-a-tank, Poppy insisted on it. Spending this time with my grandfather would have been enough, but, as an added bonus, he’d pay to fill up my tank, too. (A much needed and appreciated college student “gift”.) Poppy got a kick out of it, too. As he neared the front of the line, Poppy would get into his car without a backward glance at me. After filling up with the allowed amount of gas: 10 or 12 gals, sometimes only 5, Poppy'd pay, telling the attendant “Put that cute blonde’s gas on my tab, too,” and drive off.

Poppy’s rule about refueling often and never letting your tank get below the half-full mark has stuck with me. Whether true, or an old car talk myth, Pops said all the yuck settled to the bottom of the tank. So, if I allowed my tank to get low, along with fuel, all the sediment and unwanted gunk will be sucked into the engine. 

In that way, writers, artists, anyone who creates, are like cars. Our creative "wells" can run dry, too.  Tales of creatives "refueling" are many and varied, some legendary: Hemingway & Steinbeck went adventuring; Parker and Fitzgerald shook and stirred. Others, try perhaps less entertaining, but more healthful routes such as Julia Cameron's The Artist’s Way. This 12-Step Guide to Creative Recovery, suggests weekly artist dates as a way of topping up our creativity. 

To outsiders, and worse, to ourselves, “Filling the Well” and “Resisting,” as Steven Pressfield in War of Art calls procrastination, avoidance, and other obstacles that keep us from creating, can seem to be one and the same.  Therefore, guilt or that darned clock—tick tick tick-Time’s-a-wasting-Slacker—can stop us from taking time to recharge our creative spirits.

Eventually, just as my 79 MG Midget sputtered and died on the way back from Lake Tahoe the one Sunday night I didn’t heed Poppy’s warning to never let my gas tank fall below half, our joie de create can sputter out.

Heed the difference between “Filling the Well” and “Resisting”.

While I absolutely do not believe our creativity can ever truly dry up. I know energy for, and interest in, doing the hard work it takes to rejuvenate, re hydrate, revitalize a shriveled creativity spirit can dwindle. Why risk it? Much smarter, and definitely more fun, to follow Poppy’s lead and refuel regularly.

Since February is the Heart month, with International Book Giving Day smack dab in the middle on Valentine’s Day, I’m devoting my February posts to “Loving Up” and "Filling Up" our creative wells. 

dog-bookday.jpg

 

Bonus: If you buy a Children's Book to Give, let me know and I'll join you by donating a book in your honor.

Post in Comments or Here!

Meet my new grandson, Dylan!

Meet my new grandson, Dylan!

 

 

Until then, I’ll be playing Mimi. My favorite newish way to refuel.

 

Time For A Top Up!

Big Cuz Ben showing me how!

Big Cuz Ben showing me how!

 

 

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