Week 10: counteracting busyness by letting go

Hi folks! Through this newsletter I have been sharing my progress with The Artist’s Way, a self-help book for creative recovery by Julia Cameron. You can read recaps of past weeks here.

What are the ways in which you block your own creative flow? There are lots of possible ways—food, alcohol, drugs, sex, media—but one of the most common blocks is busyness or workaholism.

I will admit it: I am addicted to being busy. Something about seeing a full calendar makes me feel important, special, even if last weekend I had three holiday parties in one day and I was disintegrating from the stress. Though I don’t think I am overworked at my day job, I have grown accustomed to juggling multiple side projects and responsibilities outside of work.

In creative recovery, it is far easier to get people to do the extra work of the morning pages than it is to get them to do the assigned play of an artist date. Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary.

Cameron’s quote above describes how I’ve been feeling the past ten weeks. I was quite easily able to be a stickler about writing three morning pages every single day, yet many of the artist dates have been half-assed, a few twenty minutes snuck away here and there. It often felt like I was doing the date wrong, especially when I was alone. Fun feels scary because I think I will still be tested—that I will be required to gain some inspiration in some precise, measured way or that I need to gain some skill or feel x amount of joy.

My addiction to busyness is not a new realization. The biggest lesson I learned this year was that I cannot keep adding onto my plate without compromising on other things. For many years I have told myself I can simultaneously grow in all the different areas that I want to if I just learn the skill of balance; finally I am pressing the stop button, giving myself some relief from the pressure.

Letting Go

I announced this week that I will be stepping down from leading the Cosmos Book Club, a book club for Asian women that I created in 2018. I had made this decision a few months prior and have been working on the transition plan, throwing one last community event, and writing this article on our history and how you can start your own book club.

It feels very bittersweet and weird to quit something that, to be honest, fed my ego a lot and made me happy that I was bringing people together and inspiring conversation, but didn’t feel fully aligned with my purpose to help others overcome mental blocks and create meaningful work. Of course I couldn’t verbalize any of this until I had defined what my purpose was, so it just sat as a wishy-washy feeling percolating in my gut for over a year.

It’s funny, once you decide to let go of a responsibility, many other things will immediately swoop in to command your attention and time. Letting go of the book club itself does not solve my attachment to busyness; I am still admittedly too busy for my liking. But today I want to be proud that I lovingly said goodbye to something that I created and poured my energy into.

Making Gift Wrap

For my artist date this week, I went to a CreativeMornings field trip to make gift wrap paper for the holidays. The workshop was led by the artist Hayden Davis and we gathered in the CreativeMornings office space to cut potato stamps and use paint markers to decorate brown kraft paper. Potato stamps are so fun, I thought I was in kindergarten again! I also can’t remember the last time I wrapped a gift (lol) so it’s been special to be able to wrap my gifts this year with something handmade.

Discoveries of the week:

Learn how to take energizing breaks with the help of this work/break matrix.

100 books that defined the decade.

Loving these illustrations.

Yearly Compass, a free booklet to help you recap 2019 and plan for 2020.