Sunday, August 06, 2006
In Praise of Refilling the Well
For those of you who are completely new to the Playground blog, I'll let you in on a little secret. Okay, it isn't a closely guarded secret, but I'd like to think it isn't completely obvious. Wishful thinking, I know.
Here it is… I don't handle stress well.
And… just about everything stresses me out. Realizing I'm stressed out stresses me out.
Now, the laughing I hear from the Playfriends just isn't nice.
I like to believe that my acknowledgement of this problem is a step in the right direction. That I'm learning to work with this particular personality flaw, rather than spending all my energy wondering why I can't take things in stride like my way-too-laid-back husband.
The fact is, I am the way I am, whether by nature, nurture, or some mysterious combination of the two. Why spend my life paralyzed by the desire to be different? Just learn to cope with my own needs and flaws. (Easier said than done, but we're talking about baby steps here.)
This personal problem was aggravated last week by Conference Brain Drain and settling Drama Queen in a new school. I planned ahead and gave myself the week off from everything but my paying jobs, because I knew my introvert self would be exhausted after six days amidst 2000 other writers (see last week's post).
Still, I felt surges of guilt about not writing and spending the unexpected free hours reading some great books. I spent time just cuddling with my kids on the couch while they watched television. I took several naps. On Saturday, I made a spontaneous decision to see a movie and do some window shopping, which is all I can afford after traveling so much in July. As I ambled slowly through the crowded mall, I had one of those lovely AHA moments. I realized I was refilling my well.
We've talked about this before on the blog, about those things we do to rejuvenate our creativity, like read, watch movies, take baths, garden, etc. I knew all that stuff-in my head. But not in my gut. It took a week for me to realize what I was doing and how good it was for me, for my family, and for my writing. But refilling your well isn't just about the writing, it's about you as a person. Deep down inside, I believe we all have a well, a depth of living water that provides our souls with sustenance. This is the energy we use to cook, clean, listen, cope, nurture, write, lend a helping hand, and perform dozens of other day-to-day activities. When the well runs dry, we get grumpy, tired, impatient, and depressed. In short, we need to refill this well to be good writers AND healthy, happy people.
That's a nice thought, you may say, but I don't have a whole week to recuperate like you. I know. I normally don't either. And it has been a goal of mine for quite a while to build small spaces into my day that rejuvenate and revitalize me (not to mention CALM ME DOWN). I'm not great at it… yet. But one day I hope it will be as natural to me as breathing.
Here are a few things I've tried to incorporate:
*5 minutes of deep breathing
*5-10 minutes of mentally imagining myself in a happy, peaceful place
*8-10 minutes of self-guided meditation (there are also some great meditation CDs out there, if I have more time I like to do one of these)
*browsing through catalogs
*cleaning out a drawer or shelf (I'm kind of amazed at how good this feels)
*having a 5-10 minute conversation with someone I love, a REAL conversation
*taking a nap
Now, obviously some of these take longer than others. I rarely have enough uninterrupted time to take a nap, except on the weekends when my husband is home to run interference with the kids. But I often have time to stop and just breath. The problem is, I don't remember to do it. I wish I had an alarm that would go off to remind me, instead of waiting until I'm wound tighter than a rubber band and everything and everyone is getting on my nerves.
So my question for you today is: How do you remember? How do you recognize that need to refill your well?
Here's wishing you a few minutes to breath and time out to enjoy something relaxing today.
PS I just noticed that this is post # 300!!! Awesome!