Going on a vacation where I limited the amount of work I did for CarrieBrummer.com and ArtistThink was the best thing I could do for myself. The funny thing is I didn’t even see the need for it. I mean, come on, I’m living “the dream:” making art and writing about creativity every day… who needs a break from that?! My heart brims with pride and enthusiasm for the work I get to do, what’s not to love? Yet, there was an inner voice speaking about limitations of time, finances, etc. that could spill over into doubt if I wasn’t careful.
I began noticing a change when family and friends repeatedly told me I looked different, I seemed more relaxed. I am self-reflective and self-aware, but it took multiple people making comments for me to take note of the changes in my body and mind before I realized the change in myself. It makes me wonder: how many people are actually aware of when its time to recharge their bodies and minds?
What I noticed most was my intense desire and enthusiasm to return to my business. The entire time I was home and taking this break, I was filled with anticipation for my return to Muscat, to hunker down and dig into my work. It was affirmation for me my change in lifestyle and profession has been a positive one. I left my role as Assistant Principal really ill, exhausted in part due to my ulcerative colitis, and also in part because of the many challenges the role offered. I am grateful for that opportunity and time, for the different perspective it afforded me, not to mention the people I got to work with and know. But when it comes down to it, the nature of the role was stressful enough I was really ill for the first time in 10 years. Vacation during that job didn’t heal me, it helped me get by. While vacations are necessary to recharge, the right job is equally as important for your creative flow.
Despite this eagerness to return to all things Artist Strong, I did little work on holiday. I did things for fun. My introverted self accepted less “me” time and tried to have every waking moment with family, a family I feel increasing gratitude towards. If I had an idea or had an article due for Artist Strong, I’d sit down and write it out and publish it almost straightaway. I would finish the task and return to my fun time playing card games (pinochle anyone?), seeing wild horses on the shores of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, or walking along the beach.
I first observed my renewed flow on the flight from Seattle to Charlotte. It’s a longish flight, so I figured I’d read Blue Ocean Strategy. I got out my kindle and a notebook and went to town. The multi-hour flight filled my notebook pages brimming with ideas. I’d read a chapter or a subsection and immediately have thoughts about applications for Artist Strong. I’m building a paid-for course for Artist Strong and while I’ve done brainstorming before, it was true flow: the ideas and outlines of the course poured from my finger tips. The woman beside me kept peeking over my shoulder to see what had me so engaged for “so long.” I didn’t even notice the length of the flight. And when the flight was landing, I wrapped up my note-taking and left it alone in my notebook. I arrived in Charlotte and put my pen down for more quality family time, with limited thoughts of Artist Strong. Not only was flow enhanced by all my time before my brainstorming session, I also had a finite time in which to do it.
When I returned to Muscat it was go time. I am a featured contributor for She Owns It, a blog on women entrepreneurship. My first article was due the day I landed in Muscat. If you want a long flight, try something like Charlotte to Muscat. I don’t sleep on planes very well. Six movies later and with some serious jetlag, I hand wrote my first draft of the She Owns It article. I hoped to have it done before my flight because jetlag with an 8 hour time difference involves foggy-brain, klutzy behaviors, and some crankytown time. It didn’t happen. I woke up the day the article was due, got out my notes and went for it. I was concerned it would be junk because of the timing and my mental fog. Despite my state, the content flowed. Please note: husband article reviews are highly recommended. Again, I see two factors that contributed to my flow: (1) Time away from work and (2) a deadline.
Even better, when the article went live, it blew up all over Twitter. The excitement I felt about Artist Strong only grew bigger. I absolutely LOVE knowing I get to help spread the message that creative play makes us happier, healthier people (of all ages). From the momentum of my article to a wonderful response to my Creative Spirit interview with Monique Hohnberg, the flow and energy for Artist Strong truly runneth over. My ideas and energy have been plenty. Readers have either emailed me or commented on the blog about a change in the content. The change is because of a change in me! And yet, if I weren’t going to visit family, would I have managed a proper break from my self-assigned pace? While it is my continued mission of Artist Strong to spread the word on creativity and its importance, my new personal mission is to honor my need for time outs to better fuel my work and family time; it seems to be a fruitful and positive outcome for everyone!
This is exactly the kind of journey and message I hope to convey to you all, that when we take breaks, encourage creative habits and hobbies in our lives, we are happier, more energized and more fulfilled human beings. We can return to our jobs with greater energy and creative flow when we actually take our vacation time. We hold greater patience for the people in our lives. And our hearts are more open.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you noticed a change in your energy and attitude after taking a vacation from your work? What about after your creative practice? I want to know how you recharge to channel your creative flow. Tell me about it in the comments below.