Listening to your “self”

I often write “Notes to Self” down in my planner/journal instead of Tasks, or To Do’s, or Intentions. There’s something about the phrase that resonates with me. Notes. To. Self.

I’ve often started a bit of brainstorming, or mind spilling, or morning pages. with the thought of future me looking back and either wondering how brilliant and productive I was, or how silly and unproductive I was. But those things aren’t necessarily bad things, or good things, they just are. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea, but that doesn’t mean I’m productive. And sometimes I am silly and quite productive. When I listen to my inner voice, my “self,” or as some people like to say, the “higher self,” or your intuition, I find that I can be brilliant, productive, and silly. I can play and have fun, be creative, and quite productive, which is brilliant if you ask me.

I’ve been researching ways that I can use my ADHD to my advantage, as well as ways I can bring more clarity, mindfulness, focus, and productivity into my creative practice. The days of procrastinating, or avoiding–the whole flight or freeze dilemma when it comes to ADHD, stress, and anxiety is one that I know all too well.

On Monday, we lost power for four or five, maybe even six hours. I was in the middle of saving a coffee chat video for Patreon in iMovie when the power went out. The next morning when I rebooted my iMac it was acting wonky. iMovie did not work and kept giving me errors. The little bouncing colorful ball was going crazy, so I clicked “restart,” thinking maybe… to no avail, that did not work, it just made things worse as there was an update waiting for my beautiful link to the creative content and creative world–my iMac. It froze while updating. I researched the issue and found that there are times when updates take HOURS, so I managed to film a short video Tuesday evening with my iPad Air, a one take wonder, and posted it to let my Patrons know what was going on. It brought me back to my start on YouTube when I had no idea of what editing a video was much less how to do it. Note to self: find videos on Skillshare or YouTube and learn how to use iMovie on the iPad. Of all the things that could wrong during this Mercury Retrograde, and all the planets aligning in Aquarius (7 planets I think), my iMac losing its shit was not what I expected.

By Wednesday Morning, after I’d done all the things I could do, within reason, to help “unfreeze” my iMac, which I call Apple, like that star named her child, (and my Windows computer is named Windy), I found myself researching local computer repair shops. I looked at reviews, called my husband (Mr. Rockstar), to find out which one he recommended. I called. Took it in. And now I’ve found out that Apple needs a new hard drive. And by the way, the battery light in Mr. Rockstar’s car keeps coming on and going off.. yes, there’s corrosion on a post, which he needs to clean and we’re hoping that fixes it, but if not then we’ll be buying yet another vehicle battery. We just got one for my car last month, and then turned around and bought ourselves a new to us 4Runner. In our defense, my car is 21 years old and a convertible, she’s glorious but needs a bit of work. So it’s been one thing after another, after another…

And yet, as I sit here typing this post on Windy, who needs some maintenance and an upgrade himself, I am thankful that I have the ole’ boy, he’s like a Timex. But that’s not what this post is about…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep Windy once I moved my creative studio out of the house and into the barn studio. The tower is huge, it’s one of those gaming one’s with the fancy blue lights and the fans, and stuff. It’s slow as molasses now, it wasn’t in its hayday, but now–well, let’s just say my thought was that I’d get it worked on and upgraded tax time, and it would be the computer I use for writing, as well as Mr. Rockstar’s. He’s not on the computer much. He has a smart phone and a tablet, all Samsung products, but he’d have it for when he needed it. Note to self: Make sure to get Windy to the shop when you get the iMac fixed.

When you have ADHD, it’s recommended that when you’re using your planner, which is highly recommended, to write down you main focus areas/priorities–the areas you need to focus on first, instead of a “to do” list. And it is also suggested that you keep a “parking lot” list. A parking lot is a “productivity technique for effectively dealing with distracting but important non-agenda items that arise during the course of your day/week/month/quarter. Those non-agenda items always seem to find their way into the brain, so it’s important to honor and recognize their existence, but without interrupting the focus and goals.. The “parking lot” involves recording these incidental issues down on paper, that way you will remember them and can address them later on–this way they don’t interrupt the flow of your focus.

A Parking Lot list, is a different way of having a Notes to Self list. I like Notes to Self better, but that’s just me. One of the things I’ve found, as an avid stationery enthusiast, I often need a notebook to jot down those Notes to Self–the “non-agenda items are in my brain one minute and out the next, if I don’t write them down. And then later on, sometimes after I’ve forgotten what I thought was an incidental thing, it turns out it was actually an important thing, but I forgot to write it down, and that’s why it was in that loop, playing over and over in my brain, and I kept ignoring it, for fear of interrupting my flow, or someone’s conversation. Now, I write that shit down.

Many of us keep journals, use planners, in a variety of ways. Some of us use multiple journals, and planners. Some of us have a bit of a hybrid system. Some use one notebook (to rule them all) where they journal, create, plan. Other’s use one planner and one journal. I’ve been letting my selection of planners and journals grow organically this year, especially after the year we had in 2020. This year hasn’t been much different so far, lots of chaos, uncertainty, and confusion, intermingled with once in a lifetime astrological stuff going on (Jupiter and Saturn, etc). My word of the year for this year is “Cultivate,” and this month I’ve been cultivating some kind of routine, which was working well enough, on and off, but has been shot to hell the past few days. I’ve also been trying to cultivate a better than decent practice of Self-Care. As I’ve been working on cultivating a creative practice that works for me, finding a routine that works for me, one that includes self-care, I’ve found that some of what I’ve been using has been working, and some of the things have not been working. So I’m taking the time to reflect on the what’s and why’s, not just my what or my why, but overall.

So I’m changing a few things up. What? Again? Yes! It’s my prerogative, to do what I wanna do… (okay, how many of you hear Bobby Brown singing in your head now? Sorry, not sorry.) It really is my prerogative to do what I need to do to make things work for me, or to enjoy doing what I’m doing. Part of all of the journaling and planning is for creativity, part is for organization, part is a stress and anxiety reducer, and part is just because it’s enjoyable, so if it’s not enjoyable, not working, and it’s stressing me out–I’m not going to keep doing it. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what trends are out there. What this group is using, or this person is using, or how aesthetically pleasing it might be, if it doesn’t work for me it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t bring me joy then I’m not going to stick with it. Note to Self: Get rid of the socks with holes in the toes, they’re annoying. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss those bras that the wire is coming out of, those are annoying as hell.

I’ve been keeping a journal of some kind since I was about seven years old, that’s about forty-six years. I’ve journaled and planned in composition notebooks, agendas, binders, spiral bound notebooks, fancy leather bound notebooks and planners… and for me, it’s all about 1. the paper and 2. the size. Sometimes, when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed I use the smaller sized notebooks/planners, other times when I’m feeling really creative and have a lot I want to do I use something like an A5. And sometimes it’s something in between, like a B6, but my overall way of journaling and planning, at least the core system, is pretty much the same. I change things, improve things, let go of what isn’t working, but what I’ve found is that if the journal or planner doesn’t make me feel at home in the pages, I will not stick with it. So I’m off to work on my sketchbook. I have a few things I’d like to experiment with for some doodles I’m creating for my Patrons, and for my new YouTube Membership launch for March 1st. Lots of good stuff happening, and since Apple will be back the end of next week all new and improved, I want to be ready for all the stuff I’ve got going on.

Hope you have a great one! And remember… Do your own thing. “To thine own self be true.”

Creative Life During a Pandemic

From the middle of March until about two weeks ago my anxiety and stress levels were crazy high thanks to COVID-19…the Pandemic—there’s nothing like a Pandemic to really make you question your life, your life goals, your creativity and your creative life, as well as your purpose. Not that I need a Pandemic to make me questions things, but when all of your squirrels are screaming “Pandemic” it’s hard to think much less focus on your creativity. SO while many of the people who were forced to stay at home were feeling immense creative urges, I wasn’t feeling off kilter—I work from home so it felt like it should have been no big deal.

Oh, but it was a BIG deal. There’s a difference between wanting to be home and being forced to be at home. Not to mention the fact that so many people were on the Web that it made uploading my videos take longer. It also overwhelmed YouTube, which was having issues—going Live on YT became problematic the end of March and the beginning of April. It’s not an issue anymore, but for a few weeks it was a major issue. I create videos for Patreon, but I’ve found that I really enjoy going Live on YouTube.

A few weeks ago, I finally got my shit together enough to get back on YouTube on a (mostly) consistent basis. Whew! It felt good to be back. I’d felt my creativity coming back slowly but surely thanks to being on Patreon and my Patrons, who are so supportive that they make me feel like I have something important to offer others—inspiration and motivation. There are a lot of great artist’s and writer’s out there. Numerous people who create videos about journaling and planning. Many of whom create absolutely wonderful videos about those topics. But the one thing you don’t see a whole lot of are pictures that aren’t curated, videos that aren’t majorly curated. I am not a “curated” kind of person.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an aesthetically pleasing video and/or picture. I watch a lot of people who curate their videos on YouTube. I also follow a lot of people on Instagram who curate their images. I’m not saying that I don’t clean off part of my desk or craft table so that my videos look decent. Or that I don’t try to take a halfway decent photo when I do post to IG. But I prefer to capture the creative chaos that often ensues when I am creative, or to capture the outright mess on my desk, or the process—which is often times messy. Do I get watercolor all over me sometimes? I sure do. Do I sometimes get paint on my pretty white desk? Yes, and there have been times when I’ve had to get up from my desk and go to the kitchen to get the cleaner so I can clean my desk in the middle of a creative session. Gotta love when that happens.

Earlier today I went live on YouTube to show how to add “art” to your journal pages if you’re not someone who feels comfortable drawing, or you’re a beginner when it comes to drawing or doodling. I also tried out a new art supply—M. Graham Gouache, which is fantastic by the way. I love watercolor, but gouache is fun to experiment with (for now), and I’m hoping that the more I play with gouache the better I’ll get at it. It’s similar to watercolor but different.

Here is the link to my video: Journal Doodles with Me

Despite how much I’ve wanted to get back to blogging, I’ve been remiss. No, that’s the wrong word… I love blogging, but I guess I felt blocked, or maybe I’d been away from it for such a long while that it was easier to procrastinate than it was to just sit down and write a damn blog post. So I finally said “just do it.” So here I am, just doing it! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thank you, especially if you’ve made it this far.

Creative Journaling

As a Content Creator I need to create, almost everyday, something that will inspire others. And if I’m not creating something, then I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, or that I didn’t accomplish anything important. Creative is at it’s core problem solving, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. We’re creative all the time, we just don’t often realize we’re being creative. But being a “Creative” usually means that we’re intentionally creative. We take things a step further.

Most of the people I know are creative, and many of them would tell you that creativity takes practice, and patience. However, practicing creativity can be difficult. Sometimes, we’re expected to be creative and yet we are given very little time to actually practice. This is where having a journal just for creativity comes in especially handy. Since I’ve been keeping a record of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, especially in regard to my creativity, I have found that I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks, I’m also more creative in general, and I am able to take notice of patterns in regards to my creativity–I tend to be more creative in the evenings or at night, for example. And I’ve also found that the more I interact with my creativity in my journal the more motivated I am to be creative.

Journaling

Journals are a great place to write down, work through, and expand upon your ideas and questions. I write ideas for videos, projects, books, and household DIY projects, as well as things I might want to try, things I need to practice, products I want to try out, classes I want to take, books I want to read, and anything else that comes to mind–like how to re-organize my craft and art supplies. One of the best reasons I’ve found for using a creative journal is that it helps me to hone, develop and refine not only my art and writing skills, but my critical and creative thinking skills as well. I’m much more organized, focused, and productive now because of journaling.

However, creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, especially some days, it takes a lot of practice to maintain my creative momentum. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, an artist, a crafter, a scrapbooker, planner, or any other kind of creative, there is always a new technique to learn and or a skill to practice. Writing your ideas down (a brain dump or a mind spill), mind-mapping your thoughts, and/or practicing your drawing techniques all help you continue to develop essential skills (and believe me, I need all the help I can get). Skills like refining ideas, organizing and/or expressing your thoughts, which have been part of my goals lately, and much more.

Creative Journal

If you’re anything like me, and you tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity, especially since much of my creativity is on some form or other of social media, then perfectionism could be holding you back. When you tend to focus on the result, rather than the process that inner critic we often call self doubt, kills creativity. A creative journal can help you silence your self-doubt. In my Creative Journal I try to make sure that the feeling have is that I’m drawing or writing for myself, even though I might be using my ideas and doodles for my work, but I’m less likely to be caught up in the perfectionism if I keep the feeling of this is just for myself. If I can focus on the process when I’m working in my creative journal instead of the result then I’m much more creative and the perfectionism and self-doubt don’t bother me (as much).

Since there aren’t any rules when it comes to journaling, especially creative journaling, there’s no wrong way to journal, so whatever you write, or draw, or plan, or create in your journal is “all good.” It’s a safe space where your creativity can progress without having to worry about your work being judged or ridiculed. If you haven’t picked up a journal and been a bit creative today, then now is the time to do it. In the next post we’ll talk about supplies… what kind of journals are out there, pens, etc… but for now all you really need to be creative in your journal is a journal and a pen or pencil. Have fun creating.