Last weekend I had a major moment of clarity. I’ve been pushing myself in my business… hard… for over a year. One thing after another started to go “wrong” and it got to the point I felt I couldn’t handle it anymore. I even told my team, my husband and frankly anyone who would listen, “That’s it, I QUIT!”
Physically I’ve never felt better. I’ve been working with a personal trainer, eating uber clean and stepping it up in karate. So I actually believed my mind could keep up with my body (when in the past with chronic illness, my body couldn’t keep up with my mind). I didn’t even recognize the slow creeping sense of burnout I was experiencing… because I had physical energy so why not just keep pushing?
Then I had a string of small breakdowns… OK small might not be what my husband called them, but compared to how I used to “react,” they were… relatively… small. And the clarity? In the middle of one of these breakdowns I said out loud, “What else could go wrong today?”
That’s a very important question… because the last time I had a breakdown I set an intention that if I asked that question it would trigger my mind to see what was really happening. And as soon as I said it, I stopped. Shortened my breath… broke down and cried.
I’d reached the tipping point. The point I couldn’t go on any longer. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. And I desperately needed a break.
So I did something I normally do… I went shopping. Only this time Tony and I went to Michael’s and picked up a bunch of fun art supplies. (Not that we don’t already have enough supplies in The PlaySpace, but there were a few things I wanted for a project I’ve had in mind to do for over two years. (If you’re beating yourself up for not starting that idea you had way back when… STOP IT! It’s NEVER too late! Read on…)
Then something MAGICAL happened.
As I dove fingers-first into gilding, paint, toys and a LOT of glitter, my mindset changed. I immediately felt lighter. My creative-brain self has been starving for the past couple years as I’ve barely satisfied it once in a while with a LEGO set here and there… which honestly is more an analytic-brain activity (following steps) than creative.
My brain was so hungry it wanted more… and more… and of course, me, being the ninja that does everything in series, started a series of mixed-media toy-inspired steampunk art pieces. Having never done mixed media before (but always admired it), I was a little nervous sharing my work… and my mess… with the world.
But the fact is there’s NOTHING more freeing than making a mess and covering your world in glitter. 🙂
What I discovered was the power of recalibration. My mind knew exactly where it wanted to be, it just needed permission to go there. And what I thought for sure would take me months to recover from (I’ve burned out before and it took 6 months to “find myself” again) only took a few minutes. WOW!
I thought I’d do a Facebook Live video to share my mess with my friends… and since the technology on my phone wouldn’t work right, I figured I’d just do a regular video instead. I uploaded it to my Writing with Kristen Joy Facebook page, and thought I’d share more of the behind-the-scenes story here on my blog.
I hope it inspires and encourages you that if you’re facing burnout, or headed toward overwhelm, or not sure what to do or where to turn next… the answer could lie in something as simple as “feeding your soul” (another phrase I never understood before this moment of clarity…) and satisfying your inner child with permission to be creative.
Enjoy the video… and check out the photos below of my first couple art pieces.
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Photos of my first creation…
Photos of my first in the toy-inspired steampunk series… “Ivy”
Art often has hidden meaning to the artist… and these pieces definitely have that. But I’m interested in what YOU see… How do these speak to you? And how do you unplug from daily life and work and be creative? Comment below… I want to hear from you! 🙂
johnAugust 7, 2018
what a wonderful bubbly inspirational person you are
been a real hard 3 months
dad died ,daughter in law has terminal cancer and im having severe arthritis
I watched the vid and hey im kinda super cool
hey im becoming American lol
Teri EvensonMarch 3, 2017
So Cool, Kristen! Your canvas’ are very creating. your Colors, backgrounds and the mix of styles and mediums is wonderful. I’ve never done collages. I do sometimes break away from writing to unwind by painting. I will keep watching you and your blog.
Beverly ColemanMarch 3, 2017
Kristen, Thank you for sharing your ‘solution’ to your ‘burn out’. I didn’t realize, until I heard your describing it, that I must have been in my own burn out – for almost a year. I’m usually and naturally ‘creative’ being a musician/singer, graphic artist. But, without warning, It seemed I’d lost my incentive, drive, interest to ‘create.’ Tony’s and your webinars started the juices flowing again – at least partially. Seeing you with your ‘solution’ was another good nudge in the right (brain) creative direction. It feels as if the ‘flow’ is starting again and that, as you know, is a most wonderful feeling. It feels good to be ‘myself’. Also feels good and FUN to see your play space!
JackieMarch 3, 2017
You have been racing in your things-to-do list every day. Racing along almost every day is going to increase the likelihood of Crashing! Racing along seems to show that you feel you absolutely must get this or that done. When you don’t get it done when you want or how you want then we take on a good load of pressure to ramp up our efforts even more so we don’t look like we can’t do it. I agree that what results shows that we are out of balance.
Spiritual. Mental. Physical. Social. These 4 components making up a human being “in the likeness” of God (yes! the likeness of God) have to be in balance to be at our personal best operating condition. One or more areas out of whack leads to pressure building up to the point of “crashing” or at least a real need to reset – i.e. “I quit!” And then the need to go out shopping for materials to play with to get yourself righted and back to your own “normal”.
We all do this and I bet we all think about you, Kristen, and kind of marvel at your high-energy output taking on all the things you do. I can share in it bigtime like others commenting here can too. Putting it out here for all to see is good for the soul (spiritual and social) just like digging into your artwork gets your creativity rolling (physical and mental).
I think you are taking time out to “smell the roses” in your own way with your creative mind activation which will fix you up and I also think that is Super Great!! 🙂
Fred fichmanMarch 3, 2017
Beautiful work and creative to the max. Sometimes, Kristen you have to just unplug and let your mind explore. Most of my time during the day is spent marketing my books, not fun for me. What is fun is writing the books I market, especially my fiction. I explore new worlds with new characters I create in impossible and fantastic situations. I escape and sometimes you have to allow yourself that luxury. I think losing yourself in creativity is essential for existence on this mortal coil. While we are all here we better make the best and most of it. Life will be much easier and much more pleasurable that way. It shouldn’t be any other way. Have fun, smell the fresh air, feel the warm sun on your face, and be at peace.
MahevashMarch 3, 2017
These are lovely! <3
I just open my sketch book and use wax crayons to draw whatever I feel like. It's this spontaneity that relaxes me 🙂
Mahevash recently posted…Nobody Saw This Coming! (Part Two)
Letitia hansfordMarch 3, 2017
Let’s hear it for arts and crafts. They’re so cute. Everyone should do it to relieve anxiety and complenent the analytical side. I try to dismiss “projects” for important stuff, but i need it.
Richard CarterMarch 3, 2017
I’m so happy to see your joy coming out and very pleased to share it! Thank you!I pray when I get my book out I can share more of me! That’s enough for now and you are in my prayers!
Natasha PapousekMarch 3, 2017
Your pieces are super fun! Isn’t art a wonderful catharsis! (Unless, of course, you are an artist and have a looming deadline, then it’s work…) I am so glad that you had your epiphany and gave yourself the permission to have fun and explore mixed media. I know I need to practice music to recharge and if I go without for too long, I get cranky and unbalanced. It’s not about performing at a certain level; it’s about letting go and being transformed by something that’s not your usual gig… getting out of the regular routine and experiencing the joy of the process of creating something different.
Judy LawnMarch 3, 2017
What wonderful creativity! Was very taken with all your art works – loved the secret doors! Certainly underlines ‘going that extra mile!’
This is often what I do when that awful feeling of ‘overload’ swoops down and threatens to bring creativity to a halt – go do something! (think I might have posted an article about that in my blog)
I have always loved ‘making things’. One of the first things I recall making were shell ashtrays – back in the days when nearly everyone smoked! I made them out of plaster-of-Paris, inset a large shell into the wet plaster, and small shells surrounding the centerpiece. Then I painted the white plaster – purple or green – and finished by varnishing the whole ashtray. I remember selling them for one and sixpence at the local store, not far from where I lived as a child. The thrills when they sold to summer visitors!
So glad you are feeling better!
Stephen ShermanMarch 2, 2017
I’ve been where you were/are numerous times in my former life because I was in positions where I had a lot of responsibility for a lot of people (ranging from 200 to 6,000 depending on the project I was on). And, when I say responsibility, I mean we were dealing with the deadliest substances known to man; and daily, whether those people went home at the end of the day without taking a side trip to the hospital or the mortuary was my responsibility. Plus, for over 20 years I was on 24/7/365 call. Plus, additionally I had to deal with a lot of personal “Oh shit, what now” situations involving other people. The last of those situations lasted 5 years, screwed up my financial world massively, literally killed my career though no fault of my own (long story), and literally left me completely drained mentally, emotionally, and physically. So I can fully relate to your burn-out.
To recover, it has taken over a year of being patient with myself and giving myself permission to relax and take care of me. Now, I’m ready to get back to being productive and carving out new sources of income. Your courses and Tony’s courses are helping me a lot.
Your expression through creative art is doing the same for you. Personally, I find your art interesting and expressive. Keep going for it. Perhaps you’ll discover your art may open an entirely new path for you and you’ll end up having your own exhibitions in well-known galleries. Hey, if Grandma Mosses can do it with primitive paintings, what’s to say your art won’t end up as popular and recognized as well.
It is smart to let your subconscious creative mind loose to play. And, it appears to be healing you. From what you have created so far, and the current progression of expression, I, who love art, think you are showing considerable raw talent that will continue to grow and mature as you go along. It’s a gift, embrace it.
Vicky FordMarch 2, 2017
Such an awesome post and a great reminder. It truly is all about balance in all things. When we are immersed in work sometimes we forget to play until the mind folds its arms, stomps its feet and shouts “NO!! I want to play!” lol Then off we go to buy glitter. And the steampunk art is great.
Susan SlackMarch 2, 2017
This really speaks to me!! I love the colors you’ve chosen. The antique golds and greens speak of the past; the butterflies, flowers, and leaves show a love of nature; the gears and keys of what the future may hold; and the door hides the parts of oneself that only when allowed to be opened shows hidden passions and desires.
I’ve always been drawn to art. I love painting on canvas, old saws, cans, rocks, and even walls. When my children were little, we did the “paste the noodles on the paper” thing and we all had so much fun. In school we did the collages. But the one thing I never tried was what you’ve done here, Kristen. I will be doing this soon!
Schyler DazeMarch 2, 2017
The creative mind is beautifully re-created in your works of art. When an artist talks about hidden meaning it can cause the uninformed mind to go a bit crazy looking for hints and then discovering all the magical details that you have spilled forth for us. I loved going crazy over this. Thank you!! <3
EvelynMarch 2, 2017
Isn’t art a wonderful gift? I love the times I bury myself within its creative grasp…
I also love your first photos of your “toy-inspired steampunk” – reminds me of Mary Howitt’s poem, “The Spider and the Fly”:
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the spider to the fly;
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you may spy.
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little fly; “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
Love it, Kristen – thanks for sharing, and for reminding us of the creativity and downright fun of play.
Catherine FranzMarch 2, 2017
Thank you Kristen for the video’s. I am not experiencing writer’s block…at least I don’t think I am…I’m still writing; yet, in bits and spurts all day long. Anywhere from a few paragraphs to almost two pages. My mind interrupts me all day long with the next sentence or the next short story summary. I am jumping around. When I sit down during my “focus” scheduled time it takes a while to refocus on my current writing project.
Well anyway, I enjoyed the video. I used to have a creative play area, similar to yours. I cleaned it up a few years ago. I’m very inspired now to mess it up again with lots of fun things (and I have a few boxes stored away of those I just couldn’t part with and now I know why).
Wishing you many blessings and happiness!
Virginia ReevesMarch 2, 2017
Kristen – interesting choices. While I haven’t tried this I know I’d go for bright colors because that’s what surrounds me and lifts my energy. Being an avid reader I’ve not put my creative powers into arts and crafts – writing is my joy. I may try it though just to see what I come up with. Dare and Magic are good words to keep in mind.
SaundraMarch 2, 2017
Wow! This is such a timely discover. When I read your “unplugged” and then went to your blog, I found the crack in the door start to open. I have been having my own personal crisis and had no clue what was going on. Brief rundown – I am a teacher and want to quit. I cannot make it without a paycheck – very minimal savings, living in government subsidized housing. I write books for my elementary students to help them where there seems to be a lack in aids. I decided I wanted to try the publishing bit. I found an ad that led me to Jay Boyer. I watched, it sounded like just what I needed, I spent my savings on joining and that led me to an avalanche of this and that – places and people who could help me; a zillion two hundred and fifty webinars, e-mails up the ying yang, sacrificing to send money to join one more something that could “help” me get where I wanted to go. An example of my progress: I tried the mugs with Rachel Roff and my computer would not allow me to do the final page. Support could not help me; I paint (and craft) – I stare at the canvas and have no motivation; I am at a major standstill with my book. I don’t know what to do next – am in the process of getting my grandson to illustrate it (tried Fevrr[?] ( grandson extremely talented – feel he may be my answer to an illustrator) – Fevrr was not a good solution at all. I have been inundated with offers for this and the “get this now”- it is what you need. Am in major overload. I finally decided I needed to weed out and zero in. Tony and Kristen were the names of the ones who seemed to have the personality and characteristics (personally) of who I wanted to work with and the right ingredients for where I wanted to focus. Still – working through this fog that I seem to be in that has handicapped me. When I saw the word “unplugged” it was like a drop of moisture hitting parched ground. The light lit up and I went to your video. I don’t know if that is my problem but feeling “plugged up” certainly seemed to resonate through my whole being. I am not certain that is the problem but you have given me an avenue to explore and a possible answer to what seems to be keeping me in zombie mode. (Big difference is I have tears flowing – a lot.) Thank you for sharing what may be my own answer. I appreciate your willingness to share your personal experiences that have led you to your personal discovery. It has had a great impact on me – personally. 🙂 Thanks.
Ceci TognottiMarch 2, 2017
Thank you, Kristen! I enjoyed your insightful and fun remedy for recovering creativity and the positive aspects that energize our lives on so many levels:)
I’ve been putting off a redesign on my website and this was just the kind of right brain activity for needed inspiration!
Botanical Beauties & BeastiesMarch 2, 2017
But the fact is there’s NOTHING more freeing than making a mess and covering your world in glitter.- OH I SO AGREE! And it reminds me that I ought to be doing a sketch a day – and playing with them in apps or some of my many art supplies, which is very freeing and relaxing. Thanks for the reminder- as I am running of overload and close to a bending point too!
LaniMarch 2, 2017
Wonderful works of art! They are truly beautiful and I am glad you shared them with us.
Glad you are recovered.
Happiness to you and the joy of creation.
lizMarch 2, 2017
What awesome creations! I love the creativity and the just playing without an end point in mind. 🙂 Certainly a great way to unplug from the everyday routines. Thanks. Liz
Nancy heimstraMarch 2, 2017
Beautiful work!!!! Lots of fun.