31 July 2016

#CultivatingCreativity: CULTIVATE REST

Hi All! Welcome to part 4 of our 4-part series on #CultivatingCreativity. This month we joined in the discussion that began on the Handmade U blog about things that can steal creativity from our lives and how to combat them. If you're just joining the conversation, we have discussed cultivating GRATITUDE, GRACE, and HUMILITY. Each of these attributes help us overcome some of the worst creativity killers: comparison, perfectionism, and pride. And so today, I want to talk about one more creativity thief and its antidote: busyness and REST.

We live in a world of constant busyness. Whether we work from home or go to an office, there is a culture around us that prizes the "just one more thing" attitude. In addition to the basic responsibilities of our job, we are convinced that we can take on one more thing--an extra project, an extra carpool, one more design team, one more blog hop. After all, what's one more challenge, more or less? Well, that's just it, it's one MORE. We jam pack our lives with things to do, places to go, and people to see, and then we enjoy a good complaint session with our friends about how busy we are. And just like that, our busyness has become another source of pride (look how important I am that "they" need me to do all these things) and comparison (am I busier than you? do people need me more than you?). Now we've discussed both of those issues in earlier posts, so today I want to look at the toll this busyness takes on our hearts and minds.

The busyness of our lives leaves us exhausted. We expend so much energy going and doing, that we come to the end of the day, the week, the month, the year absolutely bone weary in body and mind. When we are exhausted, we find it impossible to focus on anything. We are living out of our reserves hoping that our autopilot can get us to the next game, the next meeting, the next obligation. And we finally arrive at that point where the reserves are gone, and with them every ounce of creativity that once flowed out of our now dry and brittle souls. This point is alarmingly easy get to, and when we try to push beyond it with just one more thing, our soul shatters and we become fragmented--spending all of our remaining sanity trying to figure out how to pick of the pieces, with creativity being the farthest thing from our mind.

So what do we do? Of all the creativity killers, exhaustion is the one that we have absolute direct control of. It's not insidious, it's obvious. And the only antidote to exhaustion is REST. Notice I didn't say sleep, I said REST. They aren't the same. Sleep is a necessary component of rest. In fact, it is fundamental. The average person need 6-8 hours of sleep at night. I happen to need a little more than that. If you are combatting tiredness or exhaustion, start by making a commitment to sleep. I know it sounds funny, but it is necessary. Commit to going to bed an hour earlier than usual and see if you begin to catch up on your sleep. Lack of sleep can affect every part of our lives, including creativity.

But sleep isn't the only thing we need to cultivate REST. We need a day off. In the Bible and the Hebrew culture it's called a Sabbath. There's been a number of books written on Sabbath, but at the heart, it is setting aside one day in seven to stop. It is a day where no work is done, no errands are run, life slows down and we rest. It is a day for filling up the heart, mind, and soul. It is a day for enjoying friends and family. For some people its is a day for being involved in worship with others (though if you're job is at church, that may not be where your rest is). It is a day for reading for enjoyment, a day for taking in the beauty of creation. It is a day to let your body, mind, and soul to just be at rest. When we allow our hearts and minds to be filled, then our soul is ready to create again.

"But," you say, "I'm not exhausted. I'm just a little tired is all." Or "I just don't have time for that." Here's the thing. Everyone needs a day to rest. No matter where you are on the exhaustion scale. And no one has time to take it without making some very deliberate choices. (You knew this was coming, right?) To rest, we have to choose to say no to things. We have to be willing to quit the unnecessary (which may we we need to also reevaluate what is really necessary). We have to set some boundaries with our time and stick to them. I have a hard time setting boundaries, but I've learned over the years that my whole being suffers when I don't. I cannot exist in an exhausted life and truly live. So, I've placed boundaries on work, on volunteering, even on how much mentoring, crafting, and blogging I do. I cannot operate out of depletion. I've been created to operate, to create, out of abundance. And so have you.

What do you need to deliberately say no to in order to rest? What boundaries do you need to set so that you can have a day off, a day to re-fill and refuel? And then what will you do with that day? What re-fills and refuels you? Creating a sabbath isn't just about saying no to the distractions and busyness of life. It's about saying yes to the things that bring peace and joy into your life. So let me issue a challenge to you for the month of August. Create a sabbath. It doesn't have to be Sunday--it can be any day that you can take off. And one day each week through the month of August, I want you to rest. Turn off the distractions. Be at rest.

Until next time then....

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