Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Stress and Chaos Nearly Killed My Creativity

If you've been following my blog, then you know that my life has been chaotic for the past six months. In early April when we made the decision to put our house for sale, I had my suspicions about what we were getting into. We have moved several times now, and I had a pretty good idea of what it would take to do it again. I even went so far as to warn my husband of the repercussions moving would have on my mental state.

So you would think that when in the midst of prepping the house to sell, selling the house, packing up the house, moving to a rental, searching for a new house, buying a house, moving from the rental into the new house, and unpacking that I would feel less--I don't know maybe "guilty" about mentally crashing a bit.

But it's still difficult. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I know all about worry. I certainly am no stranger to stress. And thankfully I know myself well enough that if chaos, anxiety, worry, and stress combine into one big superstorm then I'm likely to get depressed. Good grief! Who wouldn't?

But I was still caught off guard by how quickly my creativity came to a grinding halt.

First I blamed it on having to keep my scrapbook room clean all the time to show the house.

Then I blamed it on having to pack everything up for the big move.

Then I thought, "Well maybe it's because I don't dare unpack in this month-to-month rental situation."

And then I figured I didn't really have much free time with all the house searching we were doing.

And I certainly could excuse myself while my scrapbook room underwent new flooring that took almost a month to complete.

But when I started moving boxes and furniture and supplies into my office, it hit me:

I just didn't want to be creative any more.

What in the world happened?

How did a place I loved so much go from sweet refuge to stress prison?

I was heartbroken. And worried! Scrapbooking and paper crafting are a vital part of my job description after all. How in the world was I going to work if I couldn't even stand the thought of opening a box which contained paper I had once cherished?

I'll admit it. It freaked me out!

For the first few weeks, I felt concerned.

After the first month, I started to worry.

And then by month two, I began to wonder if my creativity would ever return.

How does one go about jumpstarting their creativity once lost? And can it ever be recovered?

I worried long and hard about both of these concerns, but I gave myself permission to simply do what I felt I could. I put in my full-time hours at work leaving the creative part of my job for those rare times when I found I could make something that I didn't want to hurl across the room.

I also gave myself an out. I didn't spend much time in my space after my normal work hours. I rediscovered my love of reading. I found Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I just didn't spend any more time being creative than I wanted to. I felt it was really important to my creative recovery to step away as much as possible.

And bit by bit I started to unpack, put things away, and rediscover products I had been holding onto until the "new house." I didn't let myself feel obligated to create. I just did a few little things at a time.

And while I appeared calm on the surface, I was still very worried in my head.

Then came the little moments of triumph.

I created my first layout, and I didn't completely hate it.

I filmed a video and it didn't kill me.

I read an old scrapbooking magazine, and I liked it.

I took a peek at the latest products in my favorite online stores.

And little by little I felt my mojo start to return. It wasn't easy. Sometimes it was beyond discouraging. Sometimes I even cried about it. I just couldn't help but feel discouraged. But I'm finding that the enjoyment is outweighing the frustration. And frankly, I'll take it.

I'm looking forward to more days of creativity. I look forward to wanting to crop with other scrapbookers. I look forward to renewing my monthly craft budget. I look forward to making things that I love and that make me happy.

And I'm happy to learn that I didn't kill my creativity. I just temporarily scared it away. Here's to it finding its way back home again!

29 comments:

  1. Great post Jen! Thank you for sharing! I'm glad your mojo is coming back!!!

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  2. I am glad you shared this because I think we all under-estimate how much stress affects us in SO many different ways. I am glad you are getting your creative "mojo" back because you definitely create beauty in the world the rest of us enjoy!!

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  3. Jen, I am so happy that you are in a happy creative place right now. I totally understand that effects that anxiety and stress can cause a person. Good for you for giving yourself time to get better. Thank you for sharing, it's not always easy to put our feeling out there for the world to see. I'm glad you did, I will think of you next time I feel this way. :)
    Hugs!
    Mel

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  4. We just moved too and I felt exactly like you. All the reasons you name, not being able to have a mess because you have to show the house, packing the supplies, having them in storage while you're in a rental, having to unpack and rearrange and and and…that's just the logistic part of it, the other part is that you're stressed, anxious, TIRED!! DONE! I mean, really, who is it even possible to create in this situation? It is Not! And I assure you, I went exactly down your path. And at some point I event thought, out with theses scrapbooking boxes, lets just not open them and get rid of them. I was that low! But like you, it is slowly coming back and I'm sure both of us will fully recover. It just takes time, and a lot of sleep! :) Hang in there Jen! :)

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    1. You've been going through so many of the same things I have. I'm glad you're finding your creativity too, Marie!

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  5. Welcome back! I need your creative ideas, hahaha. Sometimes we all just need a break and it is ok to take it.

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    1. Thanks, Gela! You made me smile. :)

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  6. Yay! So glad you are back!

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  7. When scrapbooking is supposed to be fun, therapeutic and joyful it's so stressful when doesn't feel that way. You almost feel guilty for not enjoying it. But the truth is that with deadlines and expectations comes the possibility of it being work rather than play, drudgery rather than fun. Having gone through a brief bit of no scrapping, I know for me I feel like my creativity is boosted by the break so that helps me feel like it's not so bad to go scrap-free every once in a while! I know it's very different for you since your job is scrapping and your break was caused in part by a move (or two or three), but I hope for you that feeling of satisfaction in your current projects that comes from having new eyes for your work.
    Thanks for all you share!

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    1. I need to take more "scrap-free" moments like you Ruth. It would probably help. :)

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  8. I'm glad that you are feeling more creative but I totally get it. It must be doubly hard because you work in the industry but I've gone through spurts where I took 6 months off because I didn't feel like it.

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    1. Melissa, It's good you recognize that taking time off is healthy.

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  9. Artist dear, that things in life are not its privileges. I have lived this for some time now. Would have you know, that what has helped me, are your works, your projects, I redo all the time. I believe anyone who does not have, at least here in Brazil, we have so much work done as I have done. Many who are already lost count. I ask you, have courage, for you to help me and this muito.Deus always on our side. Kisses and hugs








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  10. This post hit so close to home. I no longer feel alone in my "in the box and okay with it world." I too have been worried I will not feel creative again. I keep wondering what happened to those rushes of adrenaline I felt when I sat at my craft desk. It is good to know just letting myself not create for a while may just bring me back to what I love. Thank you for the "insite."

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    1. I hope you do feel creative again, Dana! It's so frustrating when you don't.

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  11. I'm glad to hear you had a good crafty day. You're not alone--Moving & having other things to get done always kill my mojo. Don't stress though. I'm guessing worrying about a filling up a blog makes it even harder, but we'll all still be here whenever it returns full time. On a side note, I just finished rewatching the Gilmore Girls series too. ;)

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    1. Thank you Mendi! And the Gilmore Girls is even better than I remembered. :)

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  12. Hello again dearest
    If we want to be honest will all say that our ceativity pass by a very slow time fromtime to time....
    And its persons like you who will give us tjat puch to continu...
    So dearest welcome back......
    And whenyou feel down please do think about all thepersons who wait for your beautiful creations to be inspire!!!! And sometimes when we slow downits not so bad: maybe we do need a break for a new start, no??? Lots of kisses to you

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  13. I also felt guilty for not feeling creative in the years I didn't scrapbook, for having spent all the money and what not and it just sat there untouched. I did do a few things creative like some birthday decorations or Christmas gifts, but overall I was at a creative low. I also felt guilty because my youngest wasn't in any scrapbooks.
    Then one day out of the blue, I got an urge to check out some blogs that I used to frequent which led me back to 2peas (right before it closed) and then feeling sad that that was going away, felt the spark and creative itch coming back. And by visiting you and others and seeing projects and all of the ideas I had missed in that time, got be moving again, albeit slowly! I know I'll be back in a groove again, but it will take some time.
    I know it's got to be tougher since it's your job, but you'll find your way back, creative people always do, one way/form or another, it just takes time. Thank you for sharing Jen :)

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    1. You are so sweet, Carolyn! I'm glad you found your way back. :)

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  14. Jen, thanks for sharing your post. Sorry you got whammed by the stress. Glad you are letting your creativity find the way back naturally. Enjoy your new space and the future it holds! Take care.

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  15. Thank you for writing this. I am going through a situation very similar right now. I want to want to sit down and participate in the hobby I loved so much but I can't even bear the thought of it. Your words at least inspire me that things could change. Thank you for sharing.

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