Stop [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 5]

Stop what doesn't work for you #quest2015

Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and prompts that are sent out for people to respond to 12 times during the month of December. Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt Five

The fifth prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Charlie Gilkey.

We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things.
What do you need to STOP doing in 2015?
And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

One of the benefits of starting this process late is that I have had a chance to see many other people’s responses to this prompt. I have seen people talk about actively stopping doing things and have seen people commit to stopping pussyfooting around or playing small.

It is time for me to stop getting in my own way.

I need to stop feeling confined to my desk. I need to stop letting the fact that I work from home become a force of distraction. I need to stop doing housework during work hours and work during home hours. I need to set alarms and reminders on my phone to keep me on track. I need to check in with my accountability buddy and practice what I preach.

And, I need to stop discounting my body wisdom which tells me that a 30-minute walk by Lake Ontario most days is an essential part of my creative productivity. The photo project I mentioned last week is part of claiming that truth for myself. I have started the photo selection process.

It is a beginning.

According to his bio, Charlie Gilkey is a champion of and catalyst for Creative Giants – talented Renaissance souls with a compassion-fueled bias towards action. He’s the brain and heart behind Productive Flourishing, best-selling author of The Small Business Life Cycle, Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, and a former Army Logistics Officer. He’s driven to figure out how to help Creative Giants be their best selves in the world. – See more at:



Finished a Project and Crashing? That’s Normal

Rest is part of the creative process.

Rest is part of the creative process.

After a creative project ends, there is a moment of being emotionally lost, without a stable footing; the ground of life feels less real. The energy that was supporting the creation dissipates and takes some time to gravitate to a new project. Sometimes, this creative dissipation is short-lived. After a particularly long project comes to an end, it can take a long time to refuel.

But, the pause is normal. It is a natural part of the creative cycle.

Some people like to avoid the feeling of being lost by always having anther project to jump to. Others focus on one project at a time and get used to the incubation period between projects as part of the creative process. And then, there are people who fall in the middle, people like me.

I am in the middle of many projects at the moment: the acting classes I am teaching at Durham Improv are in full session and I spend time each week preparing the next lesson, I am in rehearsal for a staged reading of a new play written by a friend of mine, I have a new writing circle that is supporting me in the current revision of The Red Oak; and I am putting together some new online classes on overcoming writer’s block and public speaking.

In the midst of all of this, I made time to audition for my dream role yesterday. I have the misfortune of mostly falling in love with and wanting to play male characters. Every now and then, a director considers cross-gender casting. In this case, I was eligible to audition for the role of Prospero in The Tempest. I have a hard time picking my favourite Shakespeare play, but I have no difficulty saying that Prospero is the character I want most to play.

For this audition, I managed to do something that I have never done before. I manged to completely let go of my desire to get the part and simply relished being able to perform the role during the audition. By treating the audition as a performance and not as a job interview, I brought the fullest expression of my 3+ decades of training to the moment and was able to truly inhabit the character for the moments of my reading. And, if I never get to perform Prospero’s monologue about setting aside his magic again, I know that I have lived that moment.

The truth is still that I would love the part, but I prepared for the audition like it was my one opportunity to perform it, and my creative energy responded to that intention by driving forward until the performance/audition was over, providing a congratulatory high, and then becoming diffuse, searching for the next project and leaving me with a sense of loss.

I still have all the other projects on my plate, but before I could dive into any one of them, I have to allow a period of emptiness, to realign myself to life without this audition in the future.

How do I do it? I dance, naturally and spontaneously, letting my body embrace and embody my state of indecision. I nap. And I let it just be okay to feel a little unsteady as I move forward anyway. I know from experience that the energy will shift and I will feel confident in my creativity soon enough.

How do you manage the uncertainty that emerges after you finish a creative project?


Rest: Giving A Body A Break

For those of you who missed my regular post on Monday, I apologize. I have been doing something important since Saturday.

I have been resting.

After months of not only burning the candle at both ends, but also looking for extra wicks to burn that same candle more brightly, my body has been saying “enough, slow down,” for the last two weeks.

I haven’t been listening.

And, so, on Saturday, my body took control. Without plan or forethought on my part, I napped. In that “I lay down to read a book and woke up several hours later” way, I napped. And, I napped on and off for the next four days.

My ‘to do’ list is too long, my commitments are more than my time available. Something has to give.

These naps have been my wake-up call.

If I won’t take care of my body, my body will take care of me.

Sometimes You Just Have To Hang

I need a nap.

Seriously, I need to balance the movement patterns in my body and a drowsy nap during which I drift in and out of sleep would be perfect.

The Four Movement Patterns

Betsy Wetzig has developed ways of working with four basic movement patterns that reflect underlying neuromuscular tensions in our bodies. The four patterns are Hang, Shape, Swing, and Thrust.

Just hanging out

  • Hang: This is the go with the flow pattern, the hang out and see what is going on approach. Psychologically, hangers look for experiential understanding from within and take in a gestalt impression rather than specific details. To experience the Hang movement pattern, try some smooth and slow movements and follow the impulses of your body.
  • Shape: This is the organizer pattern. Hatha yoga postures are classic shaping movements.
  • Swing: Swing is about ebb and flow, back and forth, finding balance in movement. Psychologically, swinging is collaborative, taking turns.
  • Thrust: The driving pattern: pushing forward, goal oriented. Kicking and throwing are thrusting movements.

Each of us can use all the movement patterns, but we tend to get into body grooves, habitual approaches. The warm-up for almost every InterPlay event uses gentle practices to encourage us to play with all the patterns. These practices enable us to stretch ourselves in a safe, easy environment, and, eventually, to break our habits by choice at times.

Playing with the patterns regularly also helps us attune our body awareness so we can sense when we are out of balance and know what our body needs to get into balance.

A Body Out of Balance

For example, as I am preparing my house for sale now, I am using three of the movement patterns heavily.

  • Swing: Collaboration with my husband and my kids is an ongoing process, heightened now by the stress of changing our environment.
  • Shape: My husband and I are busy shaping our house, clearing clutter and boxing things up to create the image we want to present to potential buyers. Moving furniture, folding laundry, and putting toys where they belong are all shaping activities.
  • Thrust: All of the activity associated with preparing the house for sale is goal-oriented. Forward motion must be maintained.

There is a distinct lack of time for chilling, hanging out, seeing what’s going on, and responding to an impulse in the moment.

As my body craves the opportunity to Hang, I am reminded of The Complete Wisdom of Hangers from Susan Main, Leslie Warren, and Randy Newswanger.

  1. Being is enough.
  2. You don’t have to accomplish anything.
  3. You probably won’t change.
  4. Let Thrusters have their way.
  5. Whatever.
  6. Speed in overrated.
  7. Transformation is overrated.
  8. Alarm clocks are an evil tool of the Military-Industrial complex.
  9. A day without a nap is a wasted day.
  10. You can’t understand easy focus until you’ve tried no focus at all.
  11. Eat chocolate daily.
  12. Walk….Stop….Lie down.

I need more Hang in my life. Is there one of these movement patterns that you could play with in your life that might bring you more balance?