Day 19: Reclaiming time

Last Sunday, I started reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It is a 256-hardback book (excluding notes and index), I finished reading today. It’s the first time in YEARS I’ve finished a book that quickly. And it was an amazing feeling. To some people that may not seem like a big deal, but when you factor in the fact that I am a single parent of two, I work full time (remotely) and my kids are schooling remotely, I feel good that I was able to enrich myself by completing this book. I’m also motivated to enrich my life in other ways I’ve historically claimed I didn’t have time for.

It was also a great book. One that philosophically and emotionally supported my social media detox. But most importantly,  I believe the main factor that supported me finishing was that I a currently not on social media. I remember pausing and pondering all the off-line analog activities I could have missed out on with my social media and digital usage. I didn’t stay with this regretful thoughts for too long. I intent to use the inside gained from this experience/experiment to be a whole lot more guarded about my attention and my time.

One of the chapters in Digital Minimalism addresses reclaiming leisure, something that is becoming something of a lost art in our current social reality. This chapter was one of my favorites because early in my decision to come off of social media for a 30 days, I had to get over the initial hump of mild feelings of withdrawal and a sense of feeling lost. I eventually redirected my energy and mind to the question, “What did I do before I became so plugged in?”

With that question in mind, I have been exploring the following activities:

Exploring water color and Gouache 

Blogging here every day

Talking on the phone with friends

Daily walks 

Reading 

My plate is pretty full with my interests. It’s a wonder that I ever had time for social media in the first place. But now that I am taking a step back, I am able to complete things that had gone to the wayside. My focus has also improved-one of the benefits I’ve observed in myself recently.

This 30-day (maybe more) experiment/experience just keeps on revealing its gifts. I’m very excited about starting my next book tomorrow. 

Day 18: Rest

When I was a kid, my family was Seventh-Day adventist and we recognized a sabbath. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve yearned for it at times in my life. Unplugged and intentional. Peaceful and unworried.

That being said, today feels like an appropriate time to simply post a photo I took of a space that brings me a sense of peace. Have a great start to your weekend.

Day 17: Showing up

Even though I personally made the commitment to blog everyday for 30 days, there are days I don’t know what to write. I don’t know if what I write will be any good or if anyone is reading my work and frankly, that’s not the point of this. The point is to keep my word to myself and write.

Everyday.

For 30 days.

Whether or not it’s good is irrelevant. What’s vital is for me to stare at the blank digital page and put something down. With judgment, procrastination or “resistance” (as so succinctly articulated in Steven Pressfield classic book, “ The War of Art.”) sitting beside me–because they are always there. Sometimes there are moments when I have a few moments of judgement-free writing. The inner critic is quite enough and I can get some words down. And when I do, I feel something in me expand.

 The other day my teenage son asked me, “How do you become confident?” I thought that was an interesting question. I think of confidence as a muscle. One that’s built through seeing things through. By showing up. By committing. Paradoxically, I also think confidence is built by knowing when it’s time to let something go and trusting that you are making the right decision. Sometimes you can’t always see a thing through–a bad job, relationship or substandard housing. Those are situations that actually erode your confidence and tear down your sense of self-regard.

When I make a commitment and show up–even when I don’t want to or when I feel aimless, something magical happens. I develop a deeper trust in myself. A capacity to do hard things. To go deep and hopefully tell a good story along the way.

day 16: Artistic identity

A about a month ago, I learned about the term, “multi-hyphenate” and became curious, really curious. I did some research and felt like I finally found a term that fit me. One that helped me describe myself to ME and to the world. It was a very freeing moment, because there have been times where I felt like I wasn’t succinctly describing myself to people. I would say I was an artist, to which they would respond, “Oh, what kind of artist” and then I would go down the list of my talents and their eyes would kind of glaze over.

Sometimes in the past, I would use interdisciplinary, which I think some understood even less. In some ways interdisciplinary didn’t feel like it fit because I’ve always associated interdisciplinary with theatre and performing arts, although that isn’t necessarily the case.

There have also been times when I tried to force myself to choose between my creative abilities. It almost felt as if I was choosing between two children-it’s virtually impossible. By calling myself a multi-hyphenate creative or artist, somehow I have the freedom and confidence to move easily through these multiple aspects of my creative self, without having to feel like I need to leave any parts of my creative self behind.

One of the benefits of being a multi-hyphenate creative is that I can fulfill many of the needs I may have for different creative projects. As a writer and visual artist, I can illustrate books if I choose to. As a musician, I often produce music for my podcasts and edit my own tracks. As a social worker/therapist, I integrate so many aspects of creativity into my practice, as well as have a lens and the skills to support people in a holistic way.

Some of the other benefits that being a multi-hyphenate has is that we often bring a very unique perspectives to spaces that are highly specialized. As I continued my research, I saw this TED talk about people called “multi-potentialites” and realized, thankfully, that there are other people in the world with similar inclinations and profiles.

It feels good to be able to stand confidently in these multi-expressions of my creative self, recognizing that to have many talents is a gift and not a burden. Some may call me a jack of all trades, but that’s simply because most people don’t know what they are looking at. Many people have been forced to choose against their inspiration and some people just want to do one thing and that’s ok too. So is being a multi-hyph

Day 15: All in

I had intended on writing about creativity and social media, but I was inspired to write something else. This morning I read a question in the book, “ Everyday Gratitude.” The question was, “What gifts do I miss when I am moving too quickly?” This question felt very aligned with what was already on my mind. I had been thinking about how my life would feel if I was all, with whatever it is I am doing, creating or being a part of? My home? My art? My relationships? 

I consider myself a very committed person, but there have been times in my life when I’ve had one foot in and one foot out. Waiting for an opportunity to move on to the next thing and moving on when things got hard. Sometimes moving on is necessary and I have done that as well.  But this is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not giving my art or myself (or others in my life) enough time to season before throwing in the towel. Taking onto too many things at once because I get “easily bored,” and when I am not all in, I can be careless. I am not giving 100% of what I have. But most importantly, I leave a trail of unfinished business. And as one of my cards says, “unfinished business takes up psychic space.”

I don’t know what it is that has inspired this revisiting theme in my life—maybe it’s age, maturity or the desire to become “seasoned.” Whatever it was, I’m grateful for the invitation to get grounded, rooted, and more committed. Giving 100% of myself to the life I have and all the gift is offers me.