For eight glorious days, Jason and I went on vacation to the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, to celebrate the paying off of our debt this year.
During our trip I did my absolute best to stay off of technology (hence the lack of newsletter), knowing that I wanted to give myself fully to the present moment during our trip.
I’ll be honest with you guys, this trip could not have come at a better time. I could feel myself approaching that familiar feeling of burn out right before we left.
I don’t know if it was just the creative hangover from pouring so much of my heart into Color Your Soul (which is unfolding beautifully, but still takes a lot of energy to produce!) or if it was just the changing of the seasons and a natural lull that hits occasionally for all of us creatives.
Either way, I was itching to take a step back and really sift through my life, business and creativity to see what was lighting me up and what wasn't.
Before I left, I found myself entertaining a never-ending deluge of uncertain thoughts:
Should I pour more effort into promoting Color Your Soul, or keep letting it grow organically?
Should I keep up my Abstract Affirmations Daily project even though I feel it’s no longer serving my creativity?
Should I stop doing monthly classes and instead move to live-only classes?
Should I pack up and just move to Tahiti permanently? ;)
A should-ton of shoulds, don’t you think?
To take back some semblance of control from my should-spiral, I tried approaching these big sweeping questions rationally. I tried thinking my way through it by putting my big girl business pants on. I thought about time vs. money and profitability and all that very adult, reasonable stuff.
But that approach just didn’t feel quite right. My business pants have always played second fiddle to my core-truth/intuition pants and that’s the way I keep myself aligned to a path that feels most vibrant. (Note to self: Intuition Pants = future business idea.)
Finally, after a few days of relaxation and SPACE and not forcing myself to “figure things out” on our vacation, I picked up Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map on my Kindle. I knew of the basic core desired feelings philosophy from reading her other work, but I’d never really gone through the process of laying out my own in concrete terms.
This framework -- one that was actionable and concrete but still very soulful and heart-centered -- was exactly the catalyst I needed to work through this block of mine.
I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of how this philosophy is helping point me forward in the future, but for this week, I wanted to share one very simple exercise that actually helped me get my grasp back on what was working for me on a daily basis and what wasn’t. What was leading to my core desired feelings and what wasn’t.
One major feeling that I immediately identified as essential to how I want to feel on a daily basis was FREE.
Freedom to me represents doing what my core feels pulled to do rather than what I feel I have to do or should do. Freedom to me feels light, energetic, satisfying, unencumbered, and fluid.
So, half-way through the book, I I took out my one notebook I brought with me on my trip and I made two lists: MORE and LESS.
What did I want more of in my daily life and what did I want less of?
What things light me up that I can pump up the volume on and what things dim my light that I can start to remove?
What makes me feel more vibrant and what makes me feel more gray?
Two lists. It’s that simple.
Here are some examples from my lists:
- Connecting with other soulful creatives
- Long walks with my favorite podcasts
- Morning meditations
- Lazy weekends
- Checking in with myself regularly
- Panting when I want to
- Trusting my instincts
- Viewing experimentation as productive
- Obsessive notification checking
- Morning email checking
- Using weekends to “get ahead”
- Pushing myself to burn out before I check in with myself
- Painting because I “have to”
- Consuming the work of other artists/business owners
- Viewing experimentation as failure
Writing these things down in these very specific terms and differentiating what made me feel free versus what made me feel constricted was key to getting back to my core self. It was like my compass had been gathering dust and with this one exercises I was able to see which way was North again.
Now even this long list can start to feel overwhelming pretty fast, like you have to make all these trades and swaps RIGHT THIS MOMENT. But that’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve come off of these breaks before and tried diving back in head-first, which only leads me right back to where I started: burned out.
So instead I’ve just chosen two swaps to try: morning mediations instead of email checking; and cutting back on my inspiration sources so I can reconnect with my own instincts.
Next Monday I put 5 minutes on my calendar to revisit this list and check in with how I’m feeling. (Okay, I guess that fits under “more checking in with myself regularly.” Huzzah! One more on the list!)
My challenge to you this week is to do the same. Take 5 minutes and write down your own more/less list.
Then, if you’re feeling frisky, head over to Instagram and share in the comments one swap that you intend to make this week to follow what lights you up instead of what dims your light.
My hope is that we can all encourage one another there and, by sharing, we can all remind ourselves that this journey to becoming vibrant is a DAILY journey, one that takes constant calibration.
One HUGE clarifying thought that came to me on this trip is the reminder that this flux of flow and doubt, of growing and then re-assessing, is at the heart of the creative journey. It does not stop. This is not something to “figure out” or a puzzle to finally solve; it is something to constantly come back to and tend to.
Just remember, you don’t need to take a week or fly to a distant land to reconnect to yourself. You can make that space anywhere, anytime if you choose it.
Wishing you a week of more light, less stress.