When Your Inspiration Runs Dry

You know that moment when everything is just FLOWING?

The perfect words are coming out of your mouth or onto the page
The perfect stroke out of your brush
The song is just soaring…

It’s EASY….

You feel like an unlimited and unstoppable Creative Force, ideas pouring out. 

Isn’t that glorious?

But, what about when you’re stuck?
What about when, no matter how hard you try, NOTHING is coming?

When the cursor is just blinking at you on your computer, or your throat closes when you need to speak, or the canvas just sits empty in front of you, as if to say,
Ummm…Hello?? Anybody there? We’re waiting for your genius…..

Doubt has come in that you will never have another brilliant idea again, and all you can think is,
How the HECK do I get out of here?
Why was this so easy before and now is so hard?

If there was a muse, she has left the building, and there you are, now alone feeling stuck and hopeless.

Have you ever felt this?

When we are mired down and completely uninspired, how do we turn it around and get back into flow?

 

I have a few things on my plate these days.  Just gave my first ever Move the Crowd Workshop last week (thank you to all who came!), am planning my next big online event, and I’m getting married in two weeks.

I’m deeply grateful for all of this, AND I’m holding a big container.

With so much needing my attention, I could feel my mind squeezing….my inspiration waning.  And I needed it most now.  I actually had one of the most important things of my life to write…

My wedding vows.

I learned very quickly that I don’t write well under pressure or when I’m exhausted. So, I was looking at my calendar and starting to panic.

For those that are new to the community, this marriage is a miracle.  Five years ago I went through a devastating divorce and the worst year of my life, watching all I had built burn to the ground.

I went on the first date of my LIFE at 38, because I had met my ex at 18.  I had a LOT to learn, to heal, and laid myself at so many coaches, mentors, and teacher’s feet to learn HOW to find love again.

I thought I knew what love was….until I met my fiance.

From losing everything five years ago to now living in a house, I’m about to marry a man who not only shares my Zen practice and does yoga with me, he completely supports me and my work.  He’s every vision board I made over the years come true.

This is no small thing, and the first time I got married, at the tender age of 22, the vows were written for me.  I just repeated the words.  They were not my own.

This time, for the FIRST time, I’m writing them. These are my words.

So, it matters…it matters deeply.

For weeks, I’ve felt stuck around what to write, and as each day was passing, I was starting to get more and more anxious.  I’m going to be standing in front of my closest friends and family….I’m going to be FACING the man I’m spending the rest of my life with….

What the HECK am I going to say?

 

Last Saturday, I did a Half Day meditation sit at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn.

Our teacher started the day with these words,
I’ve been reflecting lately that we really don’t know what’s going on.  We come to the cushion with our minds racing, and thought after thought pulling us here and there.  Then we sit, and our mind settles, and everything changes.  And it’s not a KNOWING…it’s an experience.  We actually don’t KNOW what’s going on, but it happens. 

This resonated with me, my racing mind, and my anxiety about writing the vows.

So, I sat.
I placed my attention on my breath.
And I practiced letting go, again and again.
I saw each thought as it arose, and released it.
I felt every emotion as it coursed through my body.

And then, I relaxed, and an image came.

When the day was over, I grabbed a pen and paper and just started writing.

One of my friends came up to me and said,
Oh wow….a lot came up, huh?

I took a moment from my racing pen and said,
This is what happens every time I do a longer period of sitting.  What felt impossible suddenly opens.  Where I had no ideas, I now have clarity.  I always walk out knowing exactly what to do next.

And then I said,
It’s really the creative process.

 

Could we even really explain what happens in that moment of inspiration? Probably not.  The words wouldn’t do ti justice, but you’ve FELT it.  You’ve felt the flow from inside to out.  It’s not logical, it’s not planned….it’s far more magical.

And yet, where it won’t come from, is a place of pressure, clinging or control.

You can’t grasp it.  There’s nothing to hold, actually.

Inspiration is actually an EXPERIENCE.
Creative Flow is an EXPERIENCE.

It’s not something you lock in a cage and demand from.  It’s not something you can “think” or “logic” your way out of. Flow moves and breathes.  It’s alive.

So, what is really vital to the creative process?

SPACE.
RELAXATION.

When you are feeling completely stuck, step back.  Take a break.  Go outside and connect to the sky, or hold your hand over your belly, and do three deep breaths.  When you do this, all the whirling stops, and you can connect back to your unlimited spaciousness inside.

And from the space comes the inspiration.  And with inspiration, comes the flow.

What helps you to create space in your life?
How can you incorporate this into your life?

We have so much pulling us today as Creative Forces: family, emails, health, constant notifications.

I learned VERY quickly in my business, I needed to schedule in Half Day Sits at the temple at least every two months.  And last weekend, it was proven to me again.

The day after the sit, I sat out in my backyard in the August sunshine, and wrote my vows.

I cried when my pen lay down, because there were just what I wanted.  These were the words I wanted to say. The doubt and pressure disappeared….and all that came from my pen was the intention I had all along,
LOVE.

So, trust the experience of space, and incorporate this into your life.  Invite the muse in openly.  She will frolic and play in the vastness.

When you are open and relaxed, your perfect and truest work will emerge.
 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Your Artistic Mother

What is your first memory of your Art?
How old were you when you first found your medium?

Was it,
starting music lessons
dance class
playing with crayons
the school play
playdoh or paint by numbers?

What did your small hands do?

Do they still do this now?
If not, what stopped you?

What messages did you get early on about your Art?

 

I remember being six years old, and my mother stating I would take an instrument.  I could choose which one, but I would learn an instrument.  I chose violin, and also played in my mother’s handbell choirs.

Our home was filled with music, whether it was classical records playing during dinner, or my brother and I practicing early in the morning.

My mother was a musician. Her love for music was passed down to my brother and I. She instilled not only an education, but a respect for learning the craft, every key signature, theory, and incidental.

But music was not the only piece.  My real passion?  Story.  It came out in my dance, and then I I picked up a pencil.

Third grade Creative Writing was my happy place. In leaded cursive flow, I would pour my imagination into stories, relishing the scratch of my pencil onto the lined paper.

I remember writing one story about a teddy bear that came back to me with a huge “A++”.  I didn’t think it was possible to get a grade this high!  My teacher was elated and really encouraged me to keep writing.

I brought the story home to my mother and her tears welled, and then fell.  She said it was the best thing I had ever written…..

And she said to me,
Keep writing.

As I got older, I started getting more serious with singing, dancing and acting, and was really finding my voice and success there.  As a teen, I stopped taking violin, and started honing in that I wanted to have a career as a musical theater performer.

The writer?

She was fed by my high school English teacher who taught me how to write poetry.  A basketball coach, and well over 6’5″, he stood tall in the class room one day, with a white piece of chalk in his hand, drew a circle on the floor and proclaimed,
This is the Poet’s Circle!  Are you IN or OUT?

I remember exclaiming out loud,
I’m IN! I’m IN!

Yet, even in this proclamation, my energy was really going towards my performance, not my writing.  I got an A in English, and did every assignment, but my belief was built around a performance career.

Why?

I believed my father when he told me,
You can’t make a living with your writing.

So, my creativity was channeled into my performance, and my choreography.  My love of story was expressed in my dance, and the writing turned into yearly Christmas poems for my family, and poems as presents for close friends.

And as I grew in my performance, I heard my mother say,
You should write a book.

I was having success in my performance, why was she saying this to me?
Didn’t she see I wasn’t doing that?

So, my writing became less and less……
My journals had months between entries…and then years.

Has this every happened to you? Your Creative outlet starts to run dry because you don’t think it matters or has value?

How have you felt when you stopped giving time to this piece of you that thrived naturally as a child?

 

In 2013, my whole life burned to the ground.  In one year’s time I went through a devastating divorce, lost my home, was in two car accidents, robbed twice, and lost a dear friend to a heart attack.

I questioned who I was at the identity level. And I questioned if I was still an Artist.

But in this time of deep grief, I picked up a pen and began to write daily.  At first it was writing down daily victories.  Then it was starting a gratitude journal, then keeping a dream journal….poetry started to flow out in a way it hadn’t in years.

At a very healing and cathartic yoga retreat where I had a transformative experience with a Mayan Shaman, he looked me straight in the eye and said to me,
You will write a book on healing.

And in that moment, I knew he was right.
And I knew the title.

My mother’s words ringing in my ears, after all those years.
Perhaps she had seen something I wasn’t ready to own.

Not until now.

 

At the beginning of 2014, I began to work with a life coach, and one of the first things she had me do?
Launch a blog.

And that blog was called,
ZenRedNYC.

And this blog, my writing birthed into a business.
It birthed into a platform where I felt fulfilled as an artist, and doing work I love.
It birthed a relationship with you.

And when I created my new business cards, I added something new to my personal description,
Writer.

She was in there all along…..

Still sitting at the desk in third grade English, with stories to share; waiting patiently for me to wake up.

In America this weekend, we are celebrating Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my mother for always seeing this in me.  When I launched my blog, she couldn’t stop smiling.  Her encouragement that confused me as in my 20’s and 30’s was suddenly clear.

And today, I want to thank you mom.
You saw it, always.

And I also want to acknowledge that I got very conflicting messages as a child around the value of writing.  And I imagine we can all relate to this!  Whether it’s been a parent, friend, or teacher in our younger years, it’s so common to hear them recommending we put our intelligence to other “stable” pursuits. This can be super confusing to navigate, especially if we just want to please and be loved by these caregivers.

So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, who encouraged you in the early days?
Who saw your raw talent, your authentic expression?

Who was your Artistic Mother?
Reach out to her or him today and thank them.  Acknowledge them for seeing you fully and encouraging you to develop and take the scary leap to be an Artist.

Many times we have to be told a million times our strengths, before we wake up to our own power.  It took me decades!

Now, ask yourself,
What came SO easily as a child?

And is this still alive today?
How can this be revived and integrated?

 

Come back to the third grade table.
Pick up your pencil.
Let that early Artist thrive again, and LISTEN to those early encouragements.

You were being seen and nourished.
You were being mothered and loved.

Now, let that child play again.