Day Five: What do you need?
What do you have, what do you need, and what is your most valuable asset?
Ok so far you’ve worked through four days of this course and three steps of the GOBRADIME design process. You’ve:
- Assessed your daily habits and patterns
- Established some SMART goals
- Observed your patterns and looked for opportunities to make time for your practice
- Claimed, cleared, and committed to a physical space
Now, brainstorm some answers to these questions:
- What resources do you have or need, to support what you want to do?
- Do you need supplies, technology, access to land?
- Do you need to learn more skills?
Look for places of resistance.
- What are the barriers and potential barriers to your practice, and how can you address those as design challenges?
- Do you need to change your space, your job, your relationships?
- Do you need to move, to go back to school, to go to therapy?
- What’s it gonna take to get you on that path that is right for you?
And, for balance, also ask yourself:
- How can you do more with less?
- How can you replace consumption with creativity?
- Do you want to go and buy a studio full of art supplies from the mall, or would you consider becoming a found-objects artist, perhaps making mosaics from tiny tile scraps gathered on a beach?
As you assess your resources, try to think outside the box. You can’t shop your way to creative fulfillment. You have to imagine your way there.
it all boils down to physical energy, in your body, because that’s how you can ingenue supplies, instruction, and all sorts of other stuff without spending a lot of money. When you are inspired, fired up, and physically healthy, you’ll be able to come up with ideas, craft solutions, and so on. But if you’re stuck, struggling, or out of touch with your body, then everything else will seem so much more challenging. And this is why I firmly believe that….
Your body is your most valuable asset and your most powerful resource.
In order for your body to best support your creative practice, it needs to be nourished. Protein, water, a good balance of nutrients and live foods, not too many toxins and intoxicants…there are so many layers to this, and it’s up to you to determine how thoroughly you want to investigate what sort of nutrition pattern works best for you.
But I do want to emphasize that I believe your diet to be a central and essential part of your daily practice, and to be directly connected to your creative output.
That being said, I believe that most of us already know exactly what we should or shouldn’t be eating, drinking, smoking…but we choose to do otherwise.
As you embrace the notion of making a fearless, fierce commitment to a daily practice, consider building your dietary choices right into that design.
Here’s a printable poster I made with a bunch of great tips for sticking to your dietary choices.
Hang it on your fridge!
Move it or lose it.
Healthy bodies need exercise.I know you might not want to hear it, but I strongly encourage you to include at least twenty minutes of movement in your daily practice.
Does it make you angry when I say that? Good. Use that anger, it’s fuel for your art. Do your art. Tell your story. You still need to exercise.
If you’re already super active, then perhaps your challenge will be to integrate more writing, contemplation, and creative projects into your practice. But as a writer and a woman who isn’t getting any younger, I find that most of my peers need to engage more deeply with their bodies. They need to move.
Here’s why I am so adamant about having a daily movement practice:
If you already have some other daily exercise routine, such as running, don’t start skimming like you think you know what I’m about to say! Speaking of running, are you familiar with Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running? See if you can find a copy. It’s a wonderful, powerful book.
The main point he makes is this- when we spend our lives being artists, activists, dancers, empaths, helpers, healers, then it is basically our job to take what is broken, damaged, and hideous, and turn it into something whole and beautiful. We are adept at this. We thrive on this transformation.
But every time we succeed, the shadows of those horrible things leave a smudge on us. And those smudges can accumulate to create a sort of residue that, over time, overwhelms us and makes it impossible for us to work (or sometimes live) anymore.
Exercise cleans out the residue.
It’s as simple as that.
Booze and drugs and meaningless sex might seem to do the trick as well, and I am sure some of you know exactly what I mean! There is certainly no shortage of brooding drunken helper-healer-artist-activists in the world. One could dare say that the stereotype has definitely. Been. Done. And that crap is toxic.
I have seen this “residue” build up and kill people (or, more precisely, I have seen it cause them to kill themselves). I have seen it all over myself, turning my heart so black I didn’t care about anything or anyone. And I have seen a daily movement practice, after just a few weeks’ time, clean it out.
Four Simple (and free) ways to integrate more movement into your daily life:
Even a short walk can do wonders for your frame of mind and make creative blocks melt away. Speed it up, get your heart pumping, and reap the added benefits of cardio.
Yoga works. “I wish I had never done all that yoga” said no one, ever. Here’s a link to my “yoga for beginners of all shapes” playlist on YouTube. You might be surprised to see that it doesn’t matter what kind of body you have–there is a type of yoga that can work for you!
There are so many reasons to be a gardener, and exercise is one of the best. It’s hard work! Plus, you get snacks.
The other day, I mentioned spazzing out your body to release tension. This takes it a step further.
Here’s a video of me doing the daily somatic dance that, after about three months, provoked the serious breakthrough that allowed me to finally win a 40-year battle with depression and PTSD. Invent your own version. Shake it all out! Slap yourself! Hump the air! This stuff seriously works, folks.
I do have a loose choreography, and you’ll be able to follow me, in general, if you watch it through a few times. I start at the top and work my way down, then try to make sure that every part of my body has either moved, been slapped, or both. Often I slap my whole body systematically rather than just slapping my head and spazzing out on random slaps.
But mostly I am just trying to send my body in whatever direction I can find, and to purge any pent-up energy, memories, or emotional pain that might be lodged in there.
Fight or flight
Ok now, specifically if you’re a runner, or a cyclist, or a boxer, or do any other exercise that’s really fast and intense, you want to avoid depression, burnout, and other symptoms of trauma, right? Please be sure to take a sivasana of some sort after every exercise session. Because your lizard-brain doesn’t fully understand the fact that you’re not being chased. And those fight-or-flight chemicals will age you and cause disease if they over-accumulate.
What’s sivasana, you say?
Sivasana is when you lay down on the ground with your entire body relaxed, close your eyes, and just BE for five or ten minutes. You can count twenty breaths, practice any range of breathing exercises, or just simply lay there.
Sivasana allows your body to calm itself, and to assimilate and rejuvenate after exercising. Your muscles let go of the fight or flight juices, your lizard brain catches up with what’s going on, and all is right in the world. Sivasana is your chance to experience, if only for a moment, what it feels like to be completely safe.
Take some time to practice, relax, and tune into yourself before continuing with today’s class.
Today’s assignment is to log your intakes and outputs.
On day one, I asked you to create an inventory of how you spend your day. Now your challenge is to actually document what you do and what you consume, in real time.
Here’s a template you can use. See if you can keep this going for the next couple of days. It will help you find the time, space, and conviction to commit to your new practice.
And, while you’re keeping track, see if you can notice opportunities to integrate more movement into your daily life:
- Can you stand up at your desk?
- Walk or bike to work instead of driving?
- Can you start a garden or spend more time in the garden you already have?
- How can you be more active?
- Here’s a damn good article about why you should quit sugar…
- But this one will seal the deal. It’s long, filled with research, and really, REALLY convincing (plus tons of solid nutritional advice here)
- Letting Go of Sunk Costs: How to escape the past
- How Writing 1000 Words a Day can change your life
So far we’ve been exploring, assessing, investigating. Tomorrow we’re getting serious! We’ll analyze your goals, observations, boundaries, and resources, and assemble the components of your daily practice design!