Do you rely on a community? I have found over the course of 2019 this has been a secret weapon for my creativity. The group that has made the most impact for me is the one I have affectionately dubbed “My Creativity Group.” In reality, it is a book club group for The Artisit’s Way that met for the 12 weeks of the creative recovery program. We talked about morning pages we wrote every day, the artist dates we went on and the ones we chose to ignore, and the life changes and goals we felt suppoort to do. It is powerful ife changing stuff.
We like each other so well that we have continued to chat daily in the Slack channel and then the leader of the group Sam Kimberle began an energy challenge. Based on the book The Third Door we focused on three questions each day in November.
1. What energized me today?
2. What depleted me of energy?
3. What did I learn about myself today?
We all were tasked with a specific notebook just for this challenge. I chose a dotted notebook that I was drawn to because of the pretty blue cover. It was a nice size and seemed intuitively the write one. I ordered new fountain pens for the month of November so those were the pen choices. I did not choose a particular pen for this task.
Halfway we met as a group and talked about our progress on a video Zoom call. We met again December 1st to talk about the results.
This has been a task I have ventured onto on my own based on my own readings and listening habits. The author Alex Banayan is not the first person to bring the thought of what energizes me and what drains me to my journal. Emily P. Freeman who wrote The Next Right Thing is someone who has been talking about this for quite awhile and I have paid attention. When you hear someone talk about energy on a podcast, read their blog, and read their book it tends to stick. If you would like to hear more of my reflections you can sign up for my newsletter here.
I did learn there is power in doing this challenge with a group. We knew there were people around the world that were recording the same items as we were. We also knew we would have accountability in the Slack channel and on the calls. As friends and fellow creatives we call each other out when one person is not sharing anything. It isn’t always public either. In Slack you have the ability to send a private message as well. We know each other well enough to know which type of message to send to whom.
The First 15
The first 15 days brought to light how I do not like to relinquish control. If there are changes to be made, I like to make them. It can often set me into a tail spin. This can be something as simple as a meeting agenda changing at the last minute or the traffic being terrible and adding 30 minutes to my commute.
The first 15 days seemed to be more about awareness for me. To notice what really have me energy and what drained me. It was recommended to use by Sam Kimberle to just write our statements and then not look back. The first time I consciously looked for a pattern was on the day we met for the Zoom call.
I like to escape when things get tough as well. I use exercise, sleep, alcohol or just turning my emotions off to cope. I had not realized I was doing this as often as I was until this challenge. You learn a lot about your reactions with these three seemingly simple questions.
Writing and learning something new were always energy givers. Walks and being outside in nature was also one that became a pattern.
I like certain routines in my life as well. I must start my day with my coffee ritual or my attitude is not pleasant.
The Second 15
The second half of the challenge I deployed more action to combat the negative. I consciously did not allow negative things that drained me to completely ruin my day. I believe the hyper focus of the exercise helped me achieve this feat. It is something I have not been able to combat in the past. If something throws me off I usually have a hard time getting back on track. This idea of intention was surprising to me in a way because one of my favorite questions to ask is “What did you notice?” I ask this of myself and of the teachers I work with professionally. Like all humans, unless I force myself to look at what is uncomfortable to me, I cannot change it. I knew I was getting frustrated often and continually but couldn’t pin point why. I was blaming it on bigger out of control life situations and it really was rooted in simple things of every day life.
The last 15 days allowed me to deal with the energy drains a lot differently. I started to do the things I knew would make me feel better.
I started taking walks among the trees.
I started running again.
I made sure I wrote every day.
I noticed when the laughter was a large part of the day and how that made me feel.
I noticed the days that podcasts were full of inspiration.
Due to the reflection component of the exercise I came to find my word for 202. I want more from my life, not less. I was tired of the drains taking over my days and I knew that I had to change. This challenge inspired this piece of writing:The Year of MoreAn Intention for now and 2020medium.com
For 2019 my word was connect. I have connected with the Medium community and several other writing communities but not as much with my education people. I knew I had only a few more weeks of the year so decided to start my own challenge for teachers based on this exercise. After a Zoom call a fellow group member declared she had ideas for everyone in the group after being inspired by Tony Robbins. Her idea for me was connecting teachers together. Susie Taylor was the inspiration for me!An Education Mastermind OpportunityA Challenge About Connection and Being a Better Teachermedium.com
On the 16th I logged I wanted to start my short story club again. This has been a group I have lead with students and adults. I love to analyze and pick apart short stories to learn about them and to help me be a better writer so I asked 2 other writers I know to do this practice with me. It has not taken much time at all and has been incredibly rewarding. I am learning more about them as writers and readers too. It just makes me better. I would not have had the motivation to pose the question if not for this challenge. The end result was richness added to my writing life.