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 www.inspiredhomeoffice.com.