The Importance of a Physical Practice

Originally posted on Artist Soapbox on 26 March 2018.

Greetings, Soapboxers!

I have really been enjoying talking to you about clearing space and bringing in nourishment to our lives. I like to think of it as the things we *get* to do for ourselves, rather than the things we *have* to do.

Today, let’s dive into another important resource for us creative types (psst: that’s all of us). In podcast episode 016, actor, singer, and director Dana Marks answered this question: “What’s something every artist should learn or practice regularly?” Her answer? “A physical practice.” Amen, Dana. I’m right there with you. Let’s get out of our heads and into our bodies.

A physical practice can take so many forms. We all enjoy different things, so find something that speaks to you, something you’ll enjoy that is realistic for you to keep up with. Personally, I fell bass-ackwards into a love of running about four years ago and it changed my life. That along with swimming and daily walks with my dogs are the cornerstones of my physical practice.

A physical practice can also encompass more than what we traditionally think of as “exercise.” About two years ago, I started practicing what I call “The Self-Care Power Half-Hour.” This routine consists of:

Meditation: 20 minutes

Yoga: 5 minutes

Breathing: 5 minutes

This practice has absolutely made a difference for me — me, the person whose picture appears next to “Monkey Mind” in the dictionary. If I can do it, so can you. The yoga series and the breathing technique I use are both said to “build internal fire” and, man, that’s what I’m looking for. After 10 minutes, I am ready to kick ass. But, like, in a zen way.

“But Mara,” you’re saying. “I hate running and 30 minutes of anything is more than I can do right now.” I hear you! Any amount of time — seriously, one minute — is a great place to start. Every morning while my bread toasts I use that 3 minutes to do some push-ups. Let me tell you why I do that specific exercise.

“Boundaries” is a new concept for me. Most of my life until very recently has been centered on other people’s needs, often to the detriment of my physical and emotional health. My therapist specifically recommended I do push-ups to have the physical, felt sensation of pushing back against something. My body needs to absorb this physicality so that it can advise my people-pleasing brain when it needs to push back.

Similarly, my other physical practices have helped me remember my body’s inherent wisdom. I spent many years disconnected from it and reconnecting has been a process. Running has helped me gain perspective on the Making Pots philosophy — it’s about practice and the process,  not the outcome. Not every run is going to be my fastest, just like not every piece of art I create is going to be a masterpiece. But I keep going and I keep learning and that’s what matters.

Soapboxers, we want to hear from you! What physical practices keep you buoyed despite creative or emotional or literal storms? Leave a comment or drop us a line at artistsoapbox@gmail.com and tell us how it’s going.

‘Til next time,

MT

Nourish Your Creative Self

Originally posted on Artist Soapbox on 26 February 2018

Howdy, Soapboxers!

When we last chatted, I talked about cleaning and tidying as being a first step toward making space for your creativity. I even challenged you to make a change in your space. How did that go?

If we think of our spaces as being a reflection of ourselves, it’s only to our benefit to stay on the tidy train as often as we can. We are going to do big work in these spaces. Work that requires a lot from us, demands that we push past our fears, wrestle with our insecurities and ultimately produce something that previously never existed. I’m reaching for the vacuum just thinking about it!

However, to thrive, our creative selves need other things too. We need inspiration. We need to be cared for. Sometimes we need beauty for the sake of beauty. Pleasure for the sake of pleasure. That’s why I started having fresh flowers in my home at all times. They make me smile on a daily basis. And if chores are a life-long given, why not add some pleasure to the experience if we can? I’ll say it: I go all-out on the $3.99 good-smelling dish soap. You wanna come at me? You’re gonna have to fight your way through this glorious honeysuckle halo that surrounds me. Sorry not sorry.

“But Mara,” I hear you saying, “when did you become a lifestyle blogger? I thought this was a series about creativity.” I’m getting there, I promise. The flowers, the dish soap — these small gestures of self-care nourish me. And when I feel nourished, I am in a better space to create, to allow myself to take risks and to be less judgmental toward myself. It’s important to me to be in that better space as often as possible, and thus I am always seeking out little ways to add more nourishment to my home and my life.

This week, bring something beautiful into your space to give your creative selves a lift.Drop us a line at artistsoapbox@gmail.com. I want to hear all about it!

Special Note: Our first ASBX Creative Accountability Group is nearly full, and the deadline is approaching. If you are considering joining us, register now!

‘Til next time,

MT

Cleaning House

Originally published on Artist Soapbox on 1/29/2018.

Greetings, fellow Soapboxers!

I closed my last blog post of 2017 by promising to shift from creativity obstructions to creativity resources. Ready? Let’s clean house.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to create when my space is busy and messy and uninspiring. I’ll admit it: I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I did. And you know what? It ushered in some big changes in my life. So, whatever you feel about the book, I think there can be a lot of value for us in confronting the things in our space that really and truly need to go to make room for other things* that reflect beauty and joy and make us feel good.  (*sometimes empty space qualifies as an “other thing”)

I spent last Saturday night cleaning out the cabinet below my kitchen sink. Who said blogging isn’t glamorous?! While the sad under-the-sink situation never rose to “To-Do List” level importance, I gotta say — it bummed me out every single time I reached for the dish soap. Like a paper cut on my domestic soul. Last Saturday night, though, I’d had enough. I took out all the products, threw away what I didn’t need, wiped it all down, and reorganized that mother. This thing that had bummed me out for years took less than 15 minutes to rectify. Now, my clean kitchen cabinet gives me a little boost rather than dragging me down.

This is where I, much like young Ralph Macchio, realize that I haven’t been toiling pointlessly for a taskmaster who isn’t going to come through with the karate lessons. I’ve actually been learning karate THIS WHOLE TIME.  Wax on, wax off, Soapboxers. Tidying makes me feel good. Clearing space makes me feel good. It’s easier to make art — perhaps especially, difficult art — when I’m feeling good.

Take a look around your space, Soapboxers. Do you like what you see? Does it inspire you? Does it give your brain a chance to roam free or are you looking at piles of junk mail and unfolded laundry and dirty dishes and that spot on the window sill where the paint is chipped and you just. can’t. let. it. go?

This week, find a small change you can make in your space and then challenge yourself to do it. Fix that squeaky hinge. Get rid of that lamp you’ve always hated. Thin out your t-shirt drawer (MT’s note: Physician, heal thyself). Whatever it might be for you. We’re all in this together. Drop us a line at artistsoapbox@gmail.com and let us know what you did and how it made you feel.

‘Til next time!

MT

Artist Soapbox: Farewell, Creativity Obstructions. Hello, Creativity Resources!

Originally published on Artist Soapbox on 12/29/2017.

**Last post of 2017!**

Happy New Year, Soapboxers!

How does that salutation sit with you? How does it feel to be looking ahead to a fresh calendar? Hopeful? Scary? Exciting? Full of dread? Are you taking stock of 2017 or lighting a match and throwing it over your shoulder as you Auld Lang Syne your way into 2018?

I’ll be honest, this month I didn’t show up for my creativity as much as I would have liked. Can I get a show of hands from all the folks who have been running around ragged this month? Holiday parties, traveling, work and/or family obligations… December is NON STOP. While I treasure time spent with friends and loved ones, I can feel my creativity squeaking out a quiet “Remember me?” in the background.

I hear you, creativity, and I haven’t forgotten you. You are important and you will not be ignored.

Is your creativity talking to you? What is it saying? What does it most need from you in 2018?

So far in this blog series, Tamara and I have discussed different obstructions that present themselves when you’re on your creative path.

  1. Imposter Syndrome: Who do I think I am? Why even try?
  2. Perfectionism: I’m so afraid that my creation will not be perfect that I never actually do it.
  3. Comparison: I’ll never be as good as that person. I should probably quit.
  4. Distraction: I’ve convinced myself that all these other things have priority over my creativity.

This framework has helped me when I’m struggling creatively. I can remember that these feelings are part of the process. They are normal but that doesn’t mean they’re true or that I need to indulge them.

Right now I am definitely guilty of #4. But you know what? I’ve made progress on the others. They don’t have the hold on me that they did even one year ago. Change is possible, friends! But here’s the fine print: it took work. It took facing down fears and doing it anyway. It took getting out of my own way. It took hours at the keyboard doing the actual work of writing a script. It took hours of self-resourcing to help me navigate re-writes and self-doubt and the excitement and stress of seeing the work come to life.

In 2018, I would like to share with you and learn from you the things we do for ourselves that resource us. That give us confidence. That align us with our hopes and dreams for ourselves. That give us a boost, whether that’s emotionally, physically or creatively. Because I gotta tell you — creativity can be scary. It can be vulnerable. Performing in front of people, sharing your words with others, displaying your paintings or drawings — these are courageous acts. I truly believe that we must unapologetically care for ourselves to be able to share these parts of ourselves with others and maintain our emotional, physical and creative health. Let’s talk about how to make this happen for ourselves and our creative community.

What do you think, Soapboxers? We’re all in this together. Thank you for supporting the Artist Soapbox endeavors this year. It has been a pleasure to share with you and especially to hear from you! Please leave a comment or write us at artistsoapbox@gmail.com .

‘Til next time!
-MT