Posts filed under creativity & rest

do what you must :: when it's more than a rash.

This past month has been one of the most stressful I've experienced in a long time. A few days ago, on a Story Sessions call discussing Rilke and the importance of artistic rhythms, I had a moment of clarity I decided to turn into a mini-series on the blog about doing what you must. This is the first post. 

The rash started on my knee. 

At first, I thought it was a heat rash. (Hello, Texas summer) When it didn't go away like other heat rashes, I thought maybe a cut was healing.

And then I woke up one morning clawing at my neck. When I looked in the mirror to see what could be going on, I found tiny red splashes of irritated skin staring back at me.

Hello, stress. How are you? So nice of you to visit. 

I did what I normally do: complain, try not to scratch, and use an inordinate amount of cortisone cream. One morning I kicked my sheets off of my legs and started scratching feverishly, watching as tiny bumps formed underneath the red streaks left behind by my fingernails.

Nothing was working outside of an insane lathering of aloe vera, and well, that just got sticky.

After a few days, the spots on my neck faded and my legs were calming down considerably. And then? It was everywhere. My legs. My stomach. My arms. My neck. My chest. 

The redi-clinic couldn't help me, saying it was eczema and for me to use lotion. When I finally connected a new laundry detergent appearing shortly after the rash, I decided to throw that one out and get an old stand-by we'd used before.

It wasn't until a sleepless night had me googling allergic reactions to every single thing I'd used in the past month that I connected the culprit: arnica. 

A magical little gel-like substance that solves any muscular aches, it also can provide horrific reactions to those allergic to ragweed (raises hand). I felt simultaneously hopeful and frustrated. 

Especially because I had even taken the pills. 

This was more than just your standard allergic reaction. 

After a trip to the dermatologist and a hefty dose of steroids, I started noticing a slight improvement. 

But this story is not about a rash.

.::.

For the past week, I've had to keep my skin as hydrated as possible. This meant stopping what I was doing throughout the day to rub lotion onto my legs, my arms, my stomach, my chest. 

Talk about forcing embodiment. 

Every day, I took a handful of lotion and in circular motions, massaged these pieces of me that normally don't receive so much attention. After a few times, I started talking to them. Letting them know that I see them, and I notice the rash, and I love them anyway.

It was a profound moment of mothering myself. 

Rashes are a thing for me. I don't do well when there's something going on with my body in which I have no control. I would say you could blame my past for that, but it's also a healthy dose of fear of the unknown and my need to have things in a certain order. 

I've gotten better over time, but there's nothing that will send my anxiety spinning then seeing something I can't stop. Itchy skin is up there on the list of triggers. 

I used to think I'd be a horrible mom because of this. Kids get rashes. They just do. I know this—as a teacher I saw plenty of funky skin conditions. 

But I also had the lysol spray handy.

I had friends tell me that it would be different when I was a mother, that it wouldn't matter because this was my kid and he or she was uncomfortable and that would be my priority, but I knew myself. I knew the way my mind played tricks on me. I wasn't so sure I would hold so much grace. 

So it's fitting that my first round of mothering was meant for me—for my skin and knees and arms and neck that were red and angry with a reaction coming from within. 

It was the only way I could calm down. Sit on my bed and breathe. Pull out the lotion and breathe again. Use my thumbs and fingers and work out the tired muscles tense from stress and worry. Whisper safety and healing and love. 

Only then could I begin to see connections between stress and how my body was reacting. Only then could I begin to understand that maybe the allergic reaction was yet another way of my body reminding me that I needed release.

And that's when I remembered it'd been weeks since I cried.

Posted on July 23, 2014 and filed under creativity & rest, desire map.

blurting.

The following comes from the 30 days of prompts I use for my Finding Your Arc eCourse. I couldn't help but share. There's something about blurting—about getting everything out—that gets me to just breathe and remember.

Close your eyes.

No really. Close them. For at least five minutes. I'll wait.

What is it you hear? Write it down. All of it. No really. I'll wait again. 

The first time I did this, I was scared as hell to begin. It's a little bit Natalie Goldberg, a little bit Julia Cameron, but a whole lot of you. My mentor calls them soul-blurts. When we stop to listen to what's really being whispered in those deep spaces of our hearts. And if you're anything like me, thinking of listening to those voices inside, even if you know they're true, can be earth-shattering in the best way possible.

Think of your dream. Where you feel led, what lights you up, what makes you come alive? When you think of this, what words immediately come to mind? What phrases burn against your skin? This isn't time for editing. Don't worry about perfection here. You're wanting the grit—the core—the never been seen stuff. 

My soul blurts? 

I'm tired. I'm learning that the exhaustion is a season just like any other and that it's the pause that causes me to breathe—to remember the natural ways our bodies get us to stop and focus and wait...

...and I could go on, but then it wouldn't really be soul blurts because the most important piece of venting those inside spaces? 

Keeping them for you.

This is no inspirational-hope-you-post-it-to-your-blog type of stuff. This is your guts. Your innards. The messy bits. And while eventually there may be time and space to wade through them and pick the words to share later, now these words are for you. 


So go ahead. In your journal, write furiously the words that come to you as they appear. No editing. No erasing. Dig deep. This is more than morning pages. This is your soul in between the lines. Write it all—the messy, the hopeful, the distraught. Get it out so you can come back to it later.

Posted on November 14, 2013 and filed under creativity & rest.

embracing the expectant silence

Do you hear it? The hush of the season - it's here.

I started feeling it last week, in the middle of finishing those 50,000 words, I felt - no - craved an embrace with this expectant silence. And then, my dear friend Mandy introduced her new eBook, an advent companion ::

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and I knew what I would be doing during the month of December.

I've spent the better part of two and a half years learning what it means to wait. With adoption, and quitting my job, and publishing my novel, it's been day-after-day of hurry up and wait but now...here...I pause.

I'm not sure how many times I'll post here during the next 31 days. Most of my time will be spent reading (I have a stack of books - no really, a stack of words waiting for me) and diving in and learning what it means to process through paint.

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But most of all, I am returning to what I know to be true for me: waiting until the words fall hot to spill them here.

Will you wait with me?

Posted on December 1, 2012 and filed under creativity & rest.

what i quit.

530226_10152113369030004_141235060_n A week ago, I released Come Alive.

The next day, I boarded a plane to one of my favorite cities in the world. I was there for STORY, a conference for the creative class. And while I never anticipated going to market my book, during the first session I suddenly found myself strapped with worry.

What if sales decrease? (they did.)

What if I have no time to publicize? (this is laughable, really.)

These questions and so many others began to pulse through my brain and then Bob Goff mentioned something about it being Thursday and that meant I needed to quit something and so right there, in the middle of the darkened auditorium, I quit my control.

At that moment, I decided to check out of "release" mode and check in to the speakers and people around me who, can I just say, filled me more than I ever imagined.

As best I could, I practiced staying present - and it worked. Last time I was at Story, I couldn't keep up with the twitter feed. This time, I couldn't tear myself away from the speakers. I retweeted a few things, thanked All Sons and Daughters for incredible worship and did the token instagramming. But overall, I listened. Now, I'm full to the brim with encouragement and challenges and ideas. And while this isn't as much of an update post like most have written, know I'm still sitting with a lot of the information given. It may take me awhile but I promise to share with you what I've learned.

Before the novel even released, my agent told me "Elora, this won't be a sprint. It will be a marathon." And when I looked at him in Chicago and told him my decision to not do anything over the course of the weekend, he repeated the phrase.

So I rest in this even now. In the moments where my life seems a little out of control and I'm wondering how everyone else does it, I remember all of the speakers challenging us not to compare ourselves to others. I remember the moment of feeling precisely what I needed to do and the freedom of letting go, if just for a little bit, the need to push.

Posted on September 25, 2012 and filed under creativity & rest.

a question of boundaries.

sometimes i feel my creativity may be seeping through the cracks. a few weeks ago, i mentioned my need for boundaries with work. i'd been putting in way too many late nights and early mornings and so i {respectfully} drew the line in what i would expect myself to do outside of normal work-hours.

then, after a few days of experiencing b l i s s f u l l separation, my boundaries exploded in my face. because of situations out of my control, i'm now leaving early again and staying later than planned.

this morning, i thought about the past week. i've written very little. this past weekend, i received the final proofs for come alive and i have yet to be able to write the author bio needed to move forward.

and then there's the adoption.

at moments, it feels like my life is going at break-neck speed and it's all i can do to take a breath and move forward. i know i need to rest. i know i need to carve space out for myself.

but how in the world do you accomplish this with everything around you demanding attention?

{no really. this is a question for you to answer.}

help this introvert out, please.

Posted on March 6, 2012 and filed under creativity & rest.