One of the worst things about being overly busy (whether by choice or not) is not having time to check in with yourself, and connect with your needs and desires.
This often also means feeling disconnected from creativity, especially if your chosen medium isn’t part of your job.
This fall I’m going to be much busier with more regularly scheduled music work, which is great in some ways, but difficult in others.
If I don’t play the piano for multiple days in a row, I start to feel crabby, purposeless, a less colorful version of myself, like an old faded photo. Can you relate?
When I look ahead to a more packed schedule, I feel my chest constricting, and unconsciously hold my breath. I know that I don’t have to (and can’t!) deal with all of those activities at once, so I tell myself to take a few deep breaths.
I asked myself why exactly I was feeling this way, and the answer I found:
I was afraid I would lose my connection to myself, and thus, my creative self.
So, I opened a note on my phone and began writing, under the heading “How do I come back to myself?”
As I wrote, I also discovered that, when I’m too busy, what stresses me out the most is the underlying feeling of not being good enough, like I have to prove myself to all of these different people.
When I’m able to let go of that feeling and trust that I am indeed good enough and I can do the job (whatever it may be), I feel so much better.
Then, if I don’t have the energy to provide that inner support for myself (in the form of creativity and otherwise), it could compound the stress, instead of allowing me to replenish myself.
You need to commit to having a strong relationship with yourself in order to have a healthy relationship with your creativity.
But how do you actually DO that?
I strongly believe that, in order to get good answers, we have to ask good questions.
Here are some of the questions I asked myself:
How am I feeling right now? (a simple check-in, without judgment or a need to act on the feeling)
What exactly is making me feel overloaded? (people time, stimuli from scrolling/screen time, too many expectations, etc.)
What do I need to be reminded of during busy times?
What parts of me do I feel like I lose or “put away” when I’m too busy?
How can I infuse each activity with a little bit more of my best self?
Where can I find clarity (even if only briefly) when I’m tired and depleted?
How can I avoid feeling like I can’t relax or do anything pleasurable when there’s an activity coming up that requires me to be “on”?
How can I make it feel 10% easier? (or maybe only start with 1%?)
Asking one or more of these questions is a great self-compassion practice, in multiple ways:
You’re treating yourself like you matter enough to make time for a check-in
The answers bring clarity on how to take care of yourself better
It’s an opportunity to practice talking to yourself kindly, tapping into the wisdom of your best self, who knows you’re doing your best).
I hope that these are helpful prompts for you next time you need to return to yourself.
In the next letter I’ll share more about the specific rituals I’ve been trying as this busier schedule gets underway, so stay tuned for that!
What's your favorite way to return to yourself? I'd love to know!
Stay well, my friends - I'm always rooting for you. My inbox is always open, so please feel free to reach out if I can help in any way.
There are so many reasons why you might not prioritize creativity, even when it’s really important to you. (Zero judgment here!) I share 10 common obstacles to putting your creative practice first, along with tips and prompts to overcome each one, in a way that works within your full, busy life - let’s embrace the small steps forward!
If you’ve ever been frustrated by the pressure to “choose one thing” in your creative work, this episode is for you! I had a lovely chat with D'Ana Joi Spencer, a multi-passionate, educator, community builder, and content creator who believes having many passions is a gift, not a burden. She teaches creatives how to make friends with focus, overcome overwhelm, and step into their Multi-Passionate Mastery, a message that I really resonate with.
We share a passion for relaxation as the way to restore your creative spark, and celebrating all of the beautiful ways that our various experiences come together to make us who we are, make our creative work what it is, and enable us to support others - the important stuff. As a fellow multi-passionate musician and creative person, I felt really validated by this conversation, and I hope that you will, too!