The Stir : First Edition


Down the hallway and around the corner is, what feels like, a mountain of laundry mocking me from within our bedroom closet.  With the same volume, the items on my to-do list beg for my attention.  I had the most sincere intentions of packing my gym bag, filling mason jars with overnight oats, and getting ready for bed at this hour.  In the middle of it all, the need to create took over as top priority.

About this time last month, there was a theme that continued to rise to the surface everywhere I cast my gaze.  I know I am not alone when I say that there are often things that are “stirring” in me.

During the LifePlan Process, I pause momentarily with my clients to make a list of obsessions.  Obsessions are most often regarded as being dark or unhealthy, but in many instances, obsessions are the things we are unable to get off our mind; the thought patterns and ideas we just can’t shake.  In the context of LifePlanning, obsessions are not typically characterized as thoughts that come and go.  They remain afloat through the changing of seasons and over the course of major life change.  Like a feather in the wind, obsessions might appear to be losing altitude, only to be picked up again by a passing breeze.

However, I also believe that there are times when obsessions take a main stage, even if only for a brief moment.  They may not be ambitious missions or lofty goals.  What might start as a passing thought or idea might gain traction and grow until it can no longer be ignored.  Everywhere you look, there is an overlay of this idea on the world around you.

While I consider most of my writing to be thematic, this is the first of a series of posts devoted to what is stirring in me.  Welcome to The Stir.

Creativity in the kitchen happens in the moments when I fail to add an important ingredient to my grocery list or I blissfully gloss over a step in the recipe.  Creativity in the kitchen has never been in the scrubbing of the metallic bouquet of utensils, pans, and dishes that fills the sink basin.  It never seemed to lie in the aftermath of dinner. . . until recently.

Similar to the work required to bring order and restore beauty to the creative space of my kitchen, I am rarely overcome with a burning desire to start a new draft, take a seat before the row of black and white piano keys, or unpack my set of brushes and painting easel.  While listening to Seth Godin’s new audiobook, Leap First, I was inspired by his commentary on the tension we feel as artists.  Without going into great detail (listen to it for yourself!), there is value in the nail biting, in the thoughts that wander, in the excuses we make, in the hesitation we have. . . to do work.

Note: Before excluding yourself from the “artist” category, I echo Mr. Godin’s challenge to consider what you do with your life and recognize that anything that is not the repetitious reproduction of one thing is the work of an artist.  The work you do is unique.

I shared my excitement with the Hubs while we were out for a date Friday night.  I could see in his eyes the spark of lightbulbs illuminating as he connected with what I was saying.  His response resonated perfectly with what I was feeling:  What we consider to be writers’ block, the struggle to create, is a necessary part of mastery.  Each time we experience a breakthrough in our art, we are sure to be faced with another moment when the words are sparse, the melodies have gone missing, and the vision is dim.  And yet, with each breakthrough, we become more refined, more established, and more well-versed.  With increased clarity, speed, and scope, we build on our past work.  Our writers’ blocks, are really our building blocks.

With so much stirring in me as it relates to creativity, the most important lesson I am learning is that our work requires us to do just that – to work.  It is my hope that we leave the days of “I don’t really feel like it” in the wake of a future that is built on our refusal to wait for a brighter tomorrow.  May the labor of our days be marked by our commitment to be masters of our art.