Finding a balance between push and release
Guest Post by Jennifer Hofmann, Inspired Home Office

September 2nd, 2009

In order to drive a nail into a board, there's the obvious downswing that pushes in the nail. Equally important is the back swing in which you prepare for the next push.

If you're driving a car, pressing the accelerator is only half of the "getting there" equation. You also have to decelerate at the appropriate time, or your car will be in a world of hurt.

To accomplish just about anything, what's needed is a balance between push and release.

Like most of the creative people I know, I have a frustrating tendency to focus on the push. In fact, as I write this, I'm in the process of trying to convince myself that I don't want release at all (even though I need it). Instead, I should actually be pushing harder. Frustrating.

Push is not a resting state

When you're in a period of intense creating, you lose the ability to contrast it with your resting state. The creative state begins to feel like normal, the baseline, when it isn't.

The trouble is, that pushing harder and forcing work out of ourselves turns off the creative flow. Inspiration goes from a gushing torrent - to a trickle - to a dry river bed.

Pausing is vital to the creative process. Taking a break, releasing the pressure, is what fills us back up again. Once we're replenished, you can create again without struggle.

But it's hard.

If you live in the States, you're probably unaware of how much drive is a part of our culture. Productivity. Proving our worth. It's a silent message, but ingrained and ever-present.

Because of this, slowing down to replenish is counter-culture. Pausing is like swimming against a powerful stream. I often find myself feeling guilty and apologizing for taking time to nourish my spirit. Sometimes I just ignore my need to stop because it's so hard to claim it.

Lately, I've been on an earnest search to discover what replenishes me. Recently, I was surprised to find that I was trying to concoct an "inspiration pill" which would allow me to quickly find my center and begin working again.

It's laughable, isn't it? Hurry up and slow down! In truth, pausing takes as long as it needs to and, by nature, can't be hurried.

What I do to find inspiration

Interestingly, the word "inspire" means to breathe in. So oxygen is a good start. I also like to breathe in quiet - whether that comes from actual silence or my noise-canceling headphones. Removing sound helps me hear the important messages that come from inside.

In my heart of hearts, the thing that nourishes me most is singing old hymns from my days as a music minister. It's been years since I sang at Mass on Sundays, but I get out my guitar and a big binder of sheet music and play until my fingertips are throbbing.

Something about the lyrics reminds me that I'm just a tiny star in the human constellation... and this is a good thing. These hymns remind me that it's God/Universe who's making the stars turn, not me. That it's safe to let go and trust. I don't have to control everything (even though my ego wants to).

After a session like this, I have happy tears and a deep feeling of release. Suddenly there's room in my life again for all the things I love. Things come back into balance again.

It took me a long time to figure out that this is what works for me. And it will probably take the rest of my life to find ways to not resist doing it. I'm okay with that. Like everything in life, it's a process, not a destination.

What works for you? How do you pause and replenish?

Bio: Jennifer Hofmann was not born organized. In fact, her creativity and ADD meant she started projects she never finished, was surrounded by clutter, and struggled to keep up with everyday tasks. Today, Jennifer still isn't the poster child for House Beautiful, but she understands people who struggle with clutter and overwhelm and offers unique solutions that help small businesses grow and thrive.

If you've tried to get organized in the past and failed, you're not alone. Jennifer's approach helps small business owners discover their natural strengths and how to integrate them so that organizing becomes easy and enjoyable. Based in Salem, Oregon, Jennifer teaches teleclasses and coaches entrepreneurs – please visit her at

14 Responses

Singing hymns makes sense. Like chanting or humming, it creates an internal vibration. And there is certainly ample evidence supporting a connection between positive vibration (aka, not dissonant or chaotic) and health.

And I get the same thing from dancing, as I create vibration by reacting to the music via my body. Tap dancing is a new obsession! :)

Lovely, the downswing, the inbreath, the outbreath, the calm between the notes. Thanks.

My husband was just saying how inspire means to breathe in. What a lovely reminder to take time for what nourishes us rather than pushing against!

oh i love the “pause”, i actually pause more than i push and am working on being more active and motivated right now. my life is filled with pauses – daily meditation, regular spa days, trips to the beach, napping, long bubble baths, reading, knitting…

Yesterday, I signed on for Creative Every Day 2009. I was so moved by this web,and I thought how wonderful to have a assignment monthly, to get the juices flowing.
I thought about the September’s-inspiration-challage all thoughout the day. I even look up the word, and went to bed thinking about it. Thank you for reminding me to pull rather then push.

I am learning meditation and I have really struggled to slow down enough to take the time to do it. Our lives are insane and if we make this dedicated effort to pause, our lives will become more meaningful.

Mari, welcome to CED!

How beautiful and inspiring!!

That was a very INSPIRING post, actually. Thanks! I am one of the people who feel too guilty to intentionally slow down and release, though I have been taking more time to meditate each day. I do know that my inspiration comes from having these regular meditation sessions, even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes a day. What is the first thing I do when I sit down to meditate? I take at least 10 deep breaths. There are days when I have difficulty shutting down my busy mind chatter, but I am getting better. Yesterday I sat outside in the sun to meditate and write, and though I could hear traffic noise, I was able to shut that out, and open to allow the words to flow in from spirit. Ahhhh – so nice that way!

I recommend that people who are so inclined visit They have a podcast that is amazing, and effective. Even when I’m manic it helps to calm the chemical beast within.

Thanks, Jennifer, for your enlightening and inspiring comments.

[...] just wrote an awesome guest post on Leah Piken Kolidas’ Creative Every Day blog about the importance of rest between periods [...]

[...] An intriguing article on the push and release of the creative [...]

I am fortunate enough to be looking forward to a week of “rest” away from the usual influences of the everday push. This is one week each year that I get to do my own thing at my own pace. I have no one to answer to but me. So I will read in the quiet hours, light my prayer candles and meditate, take more walks and more nature time. Listen to my own music…the kind on cd’s and the music inside of me…

[...] just wrote an awesome guest post on Leah Piken Kolidas’ Creative Every Day blog about the importance of rest between periods [...]

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