I’ve been thinking a lot lately about inspiration and creativity and how to regain it. I’ve thought about the importance of refueling and recharging so we have something left to give. Not only to ourselves but to others. Especially to others. I’ve also been thinking about how we typically go about it. We surf the internet, pin on Pinterest, buy stuff, zone out on fluff television. But are those things really going to help or add any value to our life? Hmmm. What do you think?
Growing up in the south, I heard lots of advice from friends, family and neighbors over the years. I remember being told often as a child, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”. This is not just a biblical teaching but also happens to be a common belief in Buddhism and many other cultures have shared similar advice. No matter how religion seems to divide people these days, such very basic teachings often unite and are handed down from generation to generation. They hold so much truth and weight. I was thinking about this the other day, the idea of giving, because I haven’t felt that inspired in a few months. I had a really hard pregnancy the first 18-20 weeks which left me bed-ridden and sick all summer. It’s hard to feel anything when your body isn’t responding to food, a good film, a sunny day… I felt nailed to the bed. This really hurt my creativity. The world seemed to be passing me by as I stared at the bedroom ceiling and in a way, it was.
Which gets back to the thought on practicing a giving spirit. I’m currently teaching my online class about blogging, styling and photography, which began on November 1st. We have hundreds of students and a very vibrant, lovely classroom filled with eager students who work hard and want to blog their best. They want to inspire themselves and others just as much as the next blogger. I wondered, when I started teaching at the beginning of the month if I was biting off more than I could chew. I have so much going on in my life, I was feeling rather selfish. Like I just wanted to conserve my energy and withdraw and not bother teaching until next Spring. As emails kept rolling in asking me, “When is your next class, I’ve been waiting for you to announce the dates”, and “Holly you have to teach again, I need my Holly fix!”, my first thought was to take care of ME first and postpone until after the baby arrives. I didn’t want to give. I wanted to save my energy and even go out and find friends and family members who could give me some of their energy and encouragement.
But I didn’t.
I thought about each email that came in and though I felt exhausted, I pushed myself to just do it. You may say, “Of course you did it, you earn a living this way”, but honestly, that’s not entirely the motivation. I teach a few classes a year and can schedule them anytime I want. So whether I did this class in November or April wouldn’t matter financially. It’s the same money. What mattered was my intention.
I intended to stop feeling sorry for myself and to go teach.
That’s where the giving and receiving took place. This Friday ends the class and I feel like a completely different person than I did this time last month. My personality is back, my energy is back and I am ready to take on the world. I want to learn more about Photoshop, Lightroom and photography in general thanks to my students and co-teachers. They all became like medicine to me. They didn’t realize it, but by encouraging them by hosting the class and motivating myself to give, they in turn encouraged me and my cup became full once again. Reading through their comments in the forum, interacting with them through the materials, etc. put aside my feeling of being so self-absorbed and turned my direction to others. Giving. Receiving.
I know that lots of people suffer during periods when no creativity or joy seems to be found. Let me reassure you that there is hope during times when you have hit a creative rut and feel there’s nothing left in your heart to give.
Give what little you have. Give anyway.
Because what you give may seem so small to you but to the next person, it can be so great. And through this interaction alone, things change. Clouds part. Sunshine and light stream back in and before you know it, you are glowing, radiant.
And then you can decorate, work better than ever, whip up a beautiful meal, arrange a stunning bouquet and enjoy your life, your home, your job, your kids all over again. The veil lifts.
So when you feel like giving up, don’t.
Instead of giving up, just give.
Find someone who needs you and give.
How have you dealt with periods when you felt like your creativity was at an all time low? I’d love to know your tips!
(image: holly becker)