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Supporting Yourself- some Lifestyle thoughts for Creative (or any curious) People

My last blog offered advice for people looking to start to share their creative work publicly. A lot has happened recently for my art career, being accepted to the National Association of Women Artists in New York was a big one, which came as a surprise, and great happiness, as I now have access to a lot of opportunities that I did not have before. So I've been digesting this progression amidst what has been a roller coaster ride, as an artist, and personally, the past ten years.

This has had me thinking too about my path, and one's path creatively, which I have written about on this blog the past few years. Also having gone through a lot of growth and challenge , I've gotten better at recognizing both what is constructive, and maybe destructive, in supporting oneself creatively. So here I'll offer some of my personal. and very unscientific observations.

1. Get to know, and accept, yourself

So to begin with I'm assuming we're all doing this. However, doing things by default and making a conscious effort, are two different things. Creative people and original thinkers have a tendency to be quirky. Observe yourself. Observe how you work, how you work well, and poorly. People can have very diverse working styles. I see all kinds of advice out there- at this point its fair to say advice out there is pure chaos. One thing I see a lot is "work everyday (creatively)". I for one don't work that way. I generate ideas, sit and stew with them, then work. I work until completion or saturation, and take breaks. Learn to see what works best for you, and then, work with that. Try different things if needed, it is not a one size fits all scenario.

2. Be, and learn to be, your own best friend

So the way we talk to ourselves is paramount here. Do you do negative self talk? Just spend an hour or two trying to observe in your mind, how you respond to things, honestly. Keep doing this until you can identify what you are doing. If needed, seek professional help from a therapist- sometimes this can be caused by all sorts of issues, trauma, hormones, genetic tendencies. But ultimately, we have agency and can make our own choices. You can stop bringing yourself down, in general, and as a creative person. If you are not on board with you, how can you expect anyone else to be?

3. Take care of your overall health

Respect your whole self. You may not have good financial resources but we are all able to make choices, every day. You are a physical being so you need to be active. That doesn't mean you have to join a gym but there are many ways to move around. The older you get this is only going to be more critical. Eat better and you'll feel better. Your mental health is just as important, which is part of what I'm writing about overall.

4. Manage and curate your information intake

Studies are now showing that human beings' attention span is dramatically on the decrease, is it any surprise why? While I do think we are entering radical times in technology as well as environmentally (we are totally wired and climate change is going to get increasingly serious with each passing day), we still can manage our use of technology. Not only time of use, but what you let in your head. Make sure it is positive, inspirational, informational, or has some actual function, and not draining, negative, or life-sucking. Are you visually overloaded with whatever you are interested in? Take breaks. Is what you are looking at triggering you? Observe and manage. Meantime sometimes animal videos, playing games, or people doing very stupid things will make you laugh and ease up a lot of tension- that's constructive, up to a point. But hours reading troll commentary is just a burn of your precious life time, you will never get it back.

5. Identify when you're out of balance and take strategic steps to get back

Again this is partly related to observing yourself. Spaced out, adrenal fatigue, not excited about what your doing, dull, stressed, etc..? It's time to tune out and ground yourself. There are many ways to do this, as simple as taking a walk, meditating, going out to a park, nature, the beach, etc... Look up "grounding yourself".

6. Understand the challenges of sharing yourself and your work.

So you were brave enough to do something creatively and you shared it, I am proud of you, that takes courage. Some people liked it, some people are very supportive, you feel affirmed...but then something else happened maybe? People distance themselves from you once you talk about something controversial. People start acting differently around you and you have NO IDEA WHY? These are all things that happen. Most are not blatant. Set up your mind for what happens when you share yourself, it's not all accolades. To begin with, you can't please everyone, our life purpose is not to make everyone else feel good. Expressing yourself is taking a stand.

7. Strive to be open, but protect yourself, and be willing to walk away from things that aren't working

This is a continuation of what I just wrote. I've talked about the fact before, that to some people, expressing yourself publicly, can appear narcissistic and weird. Writing, dancing, singing, whatever you do, to someone who doesn't do this stuff, they may not understand, and this can be painful. Different is beautiful but also alienating. If you are in an environment where you feel that whatever you are doing is being judged unfairly, you need to remember both that it comes with the territory, and that you may be better off moving on. The sensitivity that supports being creative can make you more vulnerable than normal to your environment, and so protecting yourself, boundary wise, will be necessary at times. Find supportive environments that allow you to nurture your talents and gifts, and be the best advocate you can, for you.


7. Engage with others, share and connect

Even if you're an introvert, we are social beings, we need other people. Find ways to connect to people, ANYTHING. Join a book club. Volunteer! I have met some of the nicest people in the world, volunteering. If one thing doesn't work, don't give up (NEVER give up), keep trying. Life is ebb and flow. Connection is so important now more than ever where you can just disappear virtually, to some extent. Art and creative work is a great way to meet other people. Engaging is so very important. Again, if it is so painful for you, get help. You will eventually be very enriched, the more you engage.

Thanks for reading, I welcome feedback, janel@janelhouton.com

Suggestions for supporting yourself- some thoughts for creative (or curious) people
2018