From the Archives

Today I’m just sharing a little something from the archives of my creativity collection.  This is something I wrote as part of the Jump Start Your Creative Spark course.  I found the activity itself to be so incredibly valuable (I hope to revisit this activity throughout my creative life!) and the product actually turned into something I feel is worth sharing so here you go:

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Dear 17 Year Old Me,

Stop and breath.  Smile.  Give yourself a hug.  You aren’t perfect and you won’t ever be.  Stop trying so hard for the unattainable.  Release some of those crazy expectations that you hold so close to that tender heart.  You don’t even really know where those expectations came from or why you are holding on to them.  They won’t comfort you or keep you warm at night.  They will never love you.  They only destroy: your heart, your mind, your body, your soul.

You got rejected.  You look at this rejection as a defeat.  You think that because an admissions director decided you weren’t smart enough or experienced enough or whatever crazy criteria he used to to make his decision you are not enough.  But rejection is not the end of the world.  You can’t measure yourself based on someone else’s standards.  You don’t even know this admissions direct.  Instead of focusing on telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, pick up those pieces and make yourself enough.  Rejection is not the end of the story; it is the beginning of a new one.

You will have the good fortune of continuing to face rejection and heartbreak.  You will cry and scream in frustration and self loathing.  You will doubt yourself because of these experiences and then you will rise up from the ashes of rejection and self destruction.  Remember that the flaws are what make you unique.  The imperfections are what make you beautiful.  The uneven surfaces make people stare in wonder.

Keep taking chances.  Stop being afraid of rejection.  Falling flat on your face is just a beginning.  you don’t need to always know exactly where you are headed.  The best laid plans never work out.  Give up control and focus on your existence.  You exist and that is such a beautiful wonder.  Stop comparing yourself to other fabulous (and even not so fabulous) people.  Even though it feels like it sometimes, life is not a competition.  You don’t have to win anything.  Just be.  That’s really all you need.

Remember that you live a charmed, privileged life full to the brim with promise, potential, and possibility.  Make the most of that by acting.  Stop living inside your head and overthinking everything.  Get messy.  Take chances.  Fall hard.  Get up.  Repeat.

You’re in the dark place right now.  It’s scary and it hurts but it doesn’t really get any worse.  Come back into the light and see how much better it is after you survived the fall.

Love,

Your 25 year old slightly wiser self.

Hit Reset

I had a good thing going here for a while.  I was posting regularly.  Fresh off the high of a retreat, the August break, and the promise of a new school year, I got ambitious.  I let my head get a little too big and I let myself fall into that world of believing that I could in fact balance it all.  I felt larger than life.  I felt like I was a goddess.

And then reality caught up with me.  Despite my healthier lifestyle of three runs a week, yoga, daily probiotics, green smoothies, and all around healthier food choices, I got sick.  No matter how healthy you are, when you’re surrounded by sick teenagers on a retreat, you’re going to get sick.

Being sick wasn’t the end of the world.  I’m a trooper when it comes to getting sick.  I came from a home where you didn’t miss school unless you were dying so I put on my game face and I tried to keep up appearances.  But slowly but surely I was falling behind.  The work was piling up.  Even though I had my creativity collection and I had completed an editorial calendar for the month of September, I wasn’t finding the time to actually write said posts and get them edited in time to actually post them.  All I had energy for was getting myself to school and then back in bed as soon as I got home.  I even took one day off after coming home with a hoarse voice and a fever.

And so what had seemed like a somewhat manageable balancing act quickly exploded into an insurmountable pile of backlogged work.  And I’ve been wading through that and watching my streak of daily writing and blogging turn into the exact opposite: a streak of creative silence.  I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t blogging, and I wasn’t reading blogs.  My online presence went from progressively emerging into an essential nonentity.

According to Habit List, an app I’m using to keep track of my Happiness Project goals and my Creative Spark goals, I haven’t blogged in 11 days.  Granted I have been trying to do some writing.  I have done my morning free wright on at least a couple of those 11 days.  I’ve also been taking the journaling thing a lot more seriously since I am enrolled in Susannah Conway’s Journal Your Life e-course.  But I’ve fallen pretty far behind on that too.  I just wrapped up Week 2 while she is rolling out lessons for Week 4 right now.

The problem is that I am still letting myself fee guilt for the things I haven’t done.  I know that blogging or writing or creating will make me feel good.  I know that I need this outlet and yet I feel guilty about putting off the grading or planning for another day.  I know that I need to sleep and exercise and rest in order to stay healthy, but I feel guilty when I sacrifice productivity for something like sleeping.  I don’t always let myself do what I want to do because I feel guilty about not doing what I think I should be doing.  And then this back and forth game of guilt really just leads to me making poorer decisions  or focusing on something that I can’t really do well because my mind or heart is somewhere else.

So today I hit the reset button.  I cleaned out my feedly list which was impressively backlogged into the thousands.  I got through a couple stacks of papers at work.  I sat down and forced myself to write this mostly imperfect post.  I went to yoga.  I crafted a new to do list that put my tasks into order by priority.  I started throwing out the stuff that I have finally realized I won’t get to.  I can’t make up the time I lost.  But I can move forward from where I am now.

I’m back.  I’m going to be redrafting the editorial calendar for the remainder of the month (and a new one for next month) that helps me get back on track with writing on here.  I still have that Creative Spark I wrote about in my last post.  I’m not going to let a slump or a negative streak completely derail me.  The best way to make something stick as a habit is to pick yourself right back up NOW.  Always start today.

Jump Starting my Creative Spark

Disclaimer: this is a completely unsolicited overview of my experience working my way through Melanie Biehle‘s Jump Start Your Creative Spark course.

I signed up for Melanie Biehle’Jump-Start Your Creative Spark writing course back in September 2013.  When the e-mails came rolling into my inbox I was overwhelmed with school and didn’t really prioritize the jump I was trying to make into my own creativity.  I skimmed the e-mails and then filed them away without really jumping into the activities and assignments outlined in each e-mail.

This summer as I dived into fostering more enduring creative habits (thanks in large part to the inspiring help of Crystal Moody’s Year of Creative Habits!), I decided to finally revisit the program that I had paid a whopping $15 for.  The results have been surprising.

The course is made up of weekly tasks.  The goal is simple: establish habits and routines that help to stir up the juicy flow of creativity.  Biehle’s course outlines everything from having a free writing practice to cultivating a creativity collection to keep your moments of inspiration and to help you find inspiration when it seems to have gone missing.  The ultimate benefit of the course for me was the mixture of actually creating things with prompts for introspective reflection.  What ended up happening is I would write something and then reflect on how that project made me feel.  This extra step illuminated a lot of the fears and anxieties that had been holding me back from writing.  Ultimately, through the reflections and continued assignments, I walked away feeling like I had cultivated long-term practices that have me feeling more capable to write more frequently with better quality.

If you find yourself feeling stuck creatively, I highly recommend this course as a way to help get you out of your rut (after of course identifying what is causing said rut).  You ultimately have the keys to tackle any creative project you desire, you sometimes just need to be reminded how to use those keys!

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Armed with all my writing supplies!

Now that my creative juices are flowing I’m organizing and utilizing my creativity collection to be more efficient with my writing.  At the end of the course, I set the following goals for myself.  I know that posting them on here will help keep me more accountable so here you go:

 

  • Free writing daily.  I set the modest goal of a minimum of fifteen minutes of free writing.  This fits the best into my schedule and will help jump start creativity in my morning routine.
  • Review and outline ideas in my creativity collection.  I use Evernote to maintain notebooks of inspiration for both my creative writing and my blog.  These notebooks can easily get jam packed with stuff that goes forgotten.  I need to make sure to do at least a monthly review of the items and turn that inspiration into content!
  • Complete pieces of work ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it.  I’m going to work on crafting a review system of my creativity collection that moves pieces of inspiration from simple ideas into outlined ideas into drafts into finished pieces for some form of publication.  This process MUST include setting deadlines so that I take finishing work more seriously.
  • Take a photo everyday.  The August break has shown me the benefits of challenging myself to see the everyday beauty and inspiration around me through the lens of my  iPhone.  As I veer into photography even more I hope to eventually get a real camera but for now the iPhone is serving me just fine.
  • Blog at least five days a week.  This will help keep me on track with the publication portion of my goals. Creating is great but I need to take that leap of getting my work out there to readers!
  • Write a mission statement for the blog.  I am also jumping into Melanie Biehle’s Blog with Purpose workbook.  I’m sure I’ll be posting insights and successful inspirations from that soon!
  • Successfully complete NaNoWriMo.  I think I’ve unofficially failed at NaNoWriMo for four or five years.  I’m ready for a success story!  With all of these creative juices flowing, how can I NOT finish a novel in the month of November?
  • Journal daily.  One of the biggest walk aways from this course was the importance of introspective reflection.  A huge layer of meaningful creativity comes from being in touch with myself.  Luckily I’ve signed up for Susannah Conway’s Journal Your Life e-course to help me get more intimate with my journaling experiences.
  • Continue education: sign up for more writing (and creativity) related classes and workshops.  Any suggestions on this front?
  • And last but not least: collaborate!  I’m still in search of a mentor to guide me and I’ve actually started reaching out to a few people.  But I’m not just looking for a mentor.  I know all about the importance of collaboration in any process and would love to open myself to more collaborations in all creative spheres.  If you have any ideas about us possibly collaborating in some way please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail!

 

Do any of my creative goals resonate with you?  How do you get yourself out of a rut (creatively or otherwise)?  Are there any habit building tips you’d like to share?  Any success stories?  I’m all ears!

August Break Reflections

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I love photography.  I love photos.  I love sharing photos.  I love organizing photos.  I love scrapbooking.  I love capturing all those memories that I never want to forget.

And yet, the simple act of taking a photo every day seemed so difficult to me.  I’ve tried Project 365 multiple times and failed miserably after about a week.  How am I supposed to find something beautiful, something spectacular, in the middle of my every day life?  What if I snap a picture of someone who doesn’t really want to be photographed?  What if I look through the simple pictures that I’ve snapped and realized I don’t like what I captured?

For so long, I’ve been so critical of my own photos.  At first, I thought since I was only capturing photos through my iPhone camera that my photos wouldn’t be high quality.  And yet, I’ve shied away from buying an expensive camera because I worry about my staying power with the hobby.  But my grandfather was a photographer and there will always be a side of me that wants to connect to him through this wonderful form of art.

The August Break provided me with so many interesting prompts.  I took so many more picture than I normally do because I was constantly on the hunt.  I was on the hunt for new ways to explore the prompt.  I was on the hunt for beauty.  I was on the hunt for simplicity.  Most days didn’t require anything glamorous or extraordinary.  Instead, the prompts simply asked me to look at my surroundings with a more keen photographer’s eye.  And while I don’t love every single picture that I took in August, I do love the experience of challenging myself to just capture pictures more willingly without thinking about sharing them or developing them into anything spectacular.  I took chances and tried to capture things from different perspectives.

I chose to share at least one photo every day to keep me accountable but there are so many more that I took and decided not to share.  These photos will help me remember the crazy month of August with more clarity.  And when I scroll through my photos, I get a big grin thinking of all the good memories that came out of this wonderful month: Dustin staying with us, my birthday, starting another school year (just to name a few).

I’m now a lot more hellbent on capturing moments big and small.  Any time I stop and think to myself, this is a good moment, I take a breath and then pull my phone out to try and capture something about that moment.  I’ve been taking a picture every day of something.  Sometimes, it’s just my desk or my table.  Other times I snap a picture of Zuko or Brian.  And I still indulge in the occasional selfie because I’m going through all these amazing phases of change in my life right now and I want to remember feeling more confident in how I look.  I’ll always be keen on taking photos.  That’s why I love this blog and why I’ve become a lot more active on Instagram.

I guess if anything, the August break reminded me that I don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap beautiful pictures.  I’ve also reawakened my desire to learn more about photography and I’m putting a new fancy camera at the top of my Christmas wish list this year!

What’s your relationship with photography?  Have you taken part in a Project 365 or August Break style photography challenge?  How did that make you feel?  Any ongoing projects or classes that you think I might enjoy with my newfound perspectives?

My Life Right Now: Six Things about September So Far

It’s Saturday and somehow we’re already six days into September!  So here are six things going on with me right now:

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  1. I spent the first three days of September on retreat.  Getting away seemed hectic but away in the mountains I was able to let go and just reflect on where my life is right now.  I’m still recovering from the work that I missed while away on retreat but I don’t regret going.  I feel that going on retreat at the beginning of the school year actually strengthens and clarifies my purpose for the school year.  The senior students on the retreat with me just remind me why I felt called to become a teacher in the first place.  Their reflections, reactions, and genuine kindness and support for me and each other are so incredibly inspiring.
  2. I’m in a bit of a slump.  I’ve just been struggling to keep up with all the conflicting demands; the general overwhelm has been paralyzing.  I haven’t been completing my morning pages (if you follow me on Instragram I bet you’re missing those morning snapshots of my notebook and breakfast!).  Since I woke up today feeling slightly under the weather, I decided to give myself one final day off.  I slept most of the day away so that tomorrow I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for early morning writing and a run!
  3. Speaking of running, I’ve been slacking a little bit there too.  I somehow hurt my hip and so I cut back on my yoga and running practices.  Miraculously, the hip is starting to feel better so tomorrow, I’m venturing into a morning practice followed by a run.  Hopefully all is well again.
  4. I’ve been actually reading a lot thanks to Audible.  My commute affords me a lot more time for listening to books that I thought it did!  Last week I finished listening to The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.  I loved both!  I’m still working my way through The Cuckoo’s Calling and I can finally see that the end is near!  I’m hoping to finish that bad boy tonight.  The suspense is finally getting to me and forcing me to just sit down and finish the thing!
  5. I enrolled myself in Susannah Conway’s e-course Journal Your Life.  I’m barely a week in but I’m already enjoying the lessons a lot.  I had been journaling before this but I love her additional prompts and lessons that have already helped me reconsider how I approach and think about journaling.  Plus, she’s helping me formulate ideas for a creative dream journal which will allow me to do more visualization of my desires something that will work nicely as I work my way through Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map.  So many good things going on inside of me as I work through these two simultaneously.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing periodically!
  6. I finally have some concrete brainstormed ideas about the direction for my blog redesign.  I’m excited about moving forward but progress has been slow as I discover how many skills I lack.  Still, now that I have the ideas and a clearer sense of purpose, I’m excited to move forward.  I also look forward to finding more readers and hopefully from that more relationships that spark from the amazing conversations we can have on here!

I hope you are all having a fantastic start to September.  I know many of you are starting to say goodbye to summer and preparing to settle into fall.  I’d love to hear about how that’s going for you!  Please leave some comment love below.

Who Am I?


Justice Jennifer is ....

[Aspiring Writer. Avid Reader. Amateur Gamer. Ardent feminist. Beginning Teacher. Borderline Obsessive. Music lover. Wannabe Photographer. Fashionista. Runner in training. Yogi.]

... Trying to figure it all out.

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