Note to my loyal readers: This posted was originally posted more than 2 years ago but is still relevant today. Please enjoy it again.
In the 1980s when my children were young, I was executing a life plan of sorts, without realizing it. It wasn’t a formal, written-in-ink, kind of plan. It was simply the way I chose to live. I was a stay-at-home mom with a daughter and a son, six years apart in age. Like most parents, I was continually in flux moving from toddler adventures to early grade curiosities; elementary lessons to junior high hormonal changes, high-school independence surges to college age know-it-all stages. I’d switch my focus spontaneously from making Play-Doh figures to helping the other one learn lines in a play; from practicing the math “Times Table” to memorizing the chemistry Table of Elements; from cheering for karate school accomplishments to monitoring teen parties.
I loved every minute of it. It was the most memorable and most creative time of my life. Not only was I shaping the lives of my children and enriching mine, I was being creative and involved for their sake. Planning wild and vibrant birthday parties with new games and unique hand made decorations; teaching my Brownie Troop to make dioramas, making cross-stitch plaques for teacher gifts; making my daughter’s clothing til she was 6, helping my son create his ‘Indiana Jones’ costume, and teaching them how simple, homemade games can be as much fun as video games.
My creativity even spilled over into working within the household budget, cooking, entertaining friends, decorating my home. Everyone’s life holds creative opportunity and there are ways to tap into that creative juice at the moment you need it. Everyday I emptied my creative bucket and felt satisfied. While mind and body slept, I was replenished and proceeded to empty all my creativity, love and passions onto my family and crafts again the next day.
I recently read a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog by Todd Henry, author of Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. In his post, Why I Hope to Die Empty, he writes about emptying himself on a daily basis of all that he has to give, rather than dying one day having unfulfilled dreams.
This is his belief, “My only job—each and every day—is to empty myself, to do my daily work, and to try as much as possible to leave nothing unspoken, uncreated, unwritten.
I made a commitment that if any given day were my last, I wanted to die empty, having completely divested myself of whatever insight or work was in me to share on that day. As I began to apply this principle to relationships, art and work, I felt a measure of peace even in the midst of busy times. Once I realized that I only have influence over the work that’s in front of me, I stopped trying to control things that were beyond my grasp.
I still have long-term goals, and I think they’re essential. (I just checked one off my list by publishing my first book!) But long-term goals can become paralyzing if we fail to realize that we accomplish them one day at a time, or more precisely one decision at a time, as we choose to engage in the work in front of us. Novels, businesses, and masterpieces are nothing more than a collection of choices someone made to empty themselves each and every day. The creative process is a daily assault on the beachhead of apathy.”
I believe this is the way to live also, though it takes time to develop the habit of remembering to let it all go…release the feeling you must control everything in your power and allow yourself to just give of yourself. These days I give all I can to my grandchildren and children, I take the time to write and empty all my ideas onto the page, I show my husband just how I appreciate him and how I enjoy the time we carve out for each other.
If I were to die today, it would be with peace of mind knowing that, at the end of the day-the end of my life, I have emptied myself upon my loved ones and my craft. I find that living in a creative way gives me a feeling of fulfillment and purpose. It’s sweet freedom from the anxiety of living with an endless to-do list that can make me feel as if I failed at the end of the day, since I couldn’t complete every task.
Oh, I still abide by my Life List and my daily goals, but living to “Die Empty”, or my version-‘Empty the Bucket Before You Kick It’, is an alternative to the self-inflicted pressure that having those lists can create. It will open the door to becoming my own image of creative genius.
Have you been living this way, maybe without thinking about it in these terms?
Or maybe you have been running in circles trying to get to a point where you feel you can just breathe?
How would you enrich your creative pursuits?
Are you able to access your creativity when you need it?
Please do leave a comment. I love it when you tell me what you think!