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Creative Life


Death to the Stuck Whiner - Life to the Creator!

Dear "It's Good Friday, I'm Dying and Can't Seem to Get it Together to Even Create a Good Death" Self,

You always think that you have to do something dramatic to signal a new track in your life: move houses, acquire a new mode of transportation (boat, scooter), do a big physical cleanse, set yourself a series of goals in a fresh, new journal. Death to the old and life to the new. But by now you are starting to get the idea, at the ripe old age of 38, that the big changes are always little ones.

I moved houses 3 times this winter, into two different house sits and back to my little cabin in between. Each time it was like a fresh start, a “wow, look at this beautiful space I can be in and think of all the work I can get done!” kind of feeling. But I’m still me. I’m messy, leave unfinished projects everywhere, don’t pick up after myself til company’s coming, indulge in TV and wine and distractions as soon as work is somewhat accomplished (or whenever I can justify it). And then I tire of the place, or feel trapped by it, and I need a change again. Death before life.

So, big moves don’t usually signal a deep change, they just make me feel better for a time.

However, some significant changes have taken place over the last few months, and I did get into an actual routine of working. But it wasn’t the moves or the new space or access to internet that suddenly changed me from being a whining, stuck creative, to an actually working creative.

You know what's changed in the last few months? I began to be grateful, I began to see opportunities instead only obstacles, and I started laying track for The Work. When I was complaining, whining, crying and using distractions to cover my fears that I couldn’t bring my ideas to reality, I just didn't see any way forward. It seemed impossible. As I focused on my own inability, I was choking out the creative process. And without creativity and imagination, nothing will ever get done.

Creativity requires room to breathe: it needs hope like humans require air. When I became grateful and saw opportunities, I began to have hope. When I have hope, I stop panicking and can see the next step ahead of me. I started to see what I could do, right here and right now.

Creativity requires a track to run on. I finally gave it an outlet into The Work, instead of being imaginative and creative with all the ways I was avoiding work. When my creativity is stifled, I find it expressing itself in all kinds of random ways in my life. It goes berserk and runs in other directions, sometimes harmful ones. 

Like, hmmm... I become a little obsessed with posting details of my precious life on Facebook. Or I put my imagination to work imagining what my ex is doing with his new girlfriend, and what their relationship looks like. Or I start having great and wonderful ideas about all my friends' businesses, and start blabbing about how I could help them achieve what they want to. I spend time reorganizing things and making grand plans. All because I'm not directing that creative energy to my own work. 

So when I look back at it, the three biggest changes in my life have been small ones. I write down something beautiful that happened that day in a gratitude journal every night. I stopped saying 'yes' to everyone else, and said no to some significant jobs that I knew would cost me time in my own work. And I look for chances get some traction on my ideas, rather than opportunities to avoid The Work.

Another little trick I've recently discovered is that tackling things I’ve procrastinated on for months, or even years, can also unblock the creative side. For some reason, my little task-oriented brain is compulsively running over a list of things I have to do, and when I finally do one of them, it frees up some harddrive space for creative work. Isn’t that weird?

Tobi with chickies.jpg

And then of course, the more track you lay, the more you get done. As I wrote yesterday, the more I get done the more I want to get done. 

It’s refreshing to realize that I don’t need to overhaul my life to get on track. I just need to start with something small, right now.

Death to procrastinating and whining, life to hope and creative track-making.

Right now.


Love from, Your Newly-Hatched Baby Chickie Creative Self



Relax? Me? Never.

To my Dear Overly Stressed-Out Ball of Perfectionistic Imperfections, 

The beach in front of the cabin I have lived in for 4 years, and which I completely missed "seeing" yesterday as I walked the dog right by it on my way to doing MORE IMPORTANT THINGS. 

The beach in front of the cabin I have lived in for 4 years, and which I completely missed "seeing" yesterday as I walked the dog right by it on my way to doing MORE IMPORTANT THINGS. 

I had one of those days yesterday when everything seemed off-kilter. Just could not seem to do the right thing at the right time, no decision seemed the right one, I was impatient with myself and the dog, was racing around Gabriola again trying to "get things done" on a beautiful Sunday morning that was meant to be savoured, not stressed over. Just one of those days.

What do you do? I can't seem to breathe deep enough - the next breath is always shallow again. I can't turn my brain off - it just chatters away endlessly about all the things we need to do and that I need to stress about. I can't seem to enjoy this beautiful paradise that I live in - because my internal structure is screaming for release and I can't let myself just relax into the environment. 

Wait, can't? Or won't? What's the lie here? What will happen if I just relax? 

I don't know. I've rarely attempted it.

These are the moments that I wish I were just a dumb beast. A horse or a dog that has me as their exemplary, perfectly attentive owner and caretaker, of course. OK so neither of those are dumb, but they are not equipped for fussing about the details they can't control. Neither do they get to make decisions about where they go, and what they do, and how long they do it for. The dog in my care basically just decides when she wants to go outside, and come back in, and eat. The rest is up to me. My horses decide how fast they eat, how much space they give up or take from the other horse, how they relate to me and how impatiently they wait at the gate to be let out. That's about it. I choose the rest for them. 

Here are Honour and Kiana, impatiently waiting at the gate for something to happen, hoping I will take them out to pasture. They only wish they could choose to do this for themselves!

Here are Honour and Kiana, impatiently waiting at the gate for something to happen, hoping I will take them out to pasture. They only wish they could choose to do this for themselves!

This week is one of those weeks when I wish someone would choose all the details of my life. The choices are so great and so many that I get befuddled and worried that I'm doing the wrong thing. I have too many damn options! Isn't that what people want? I have created a life of only options, and very much complexity results. I thought that was what I wanted.

But apparently, I cannot seem to relax because there is too much work to be done, and too many good things to savour, and too much pressure to "get it right" and not waste time. What is that pressure? Where does it come from and why does it rule my life? 

I can't seem figure it out for now, and so yesterday I did the only thing I could think to do when I'm spinning out like that. I had a beer or three, sat in the hot tub, read a book, and just ignored the list. "I will be productive tomorrow."

"List, you're just going to have to wait, because this anxious, uptight little mare needs a break from herself."

And you know what? Other than feeling physically a bit crappy because I've been on a cleanse and my body doesn't like beer much anymore, that was a good decision. 

Unhook. Unwind. Unspool. Release. 

Sometimes that's all I can achieve in a day. 

Bisous, ma chere amie! You're gonna make it. Today is a new day.




New Canvas to Play On

Dear Budding Artist,

This is one of my very first shots - I won't torture you with the out-of-focus ones) with my new (used) Nikon D7000. 

This is one of my very first shots - I won't torture you with the out-of-focus ones) with my new (used) Nikon D7000. 

It's been 3 years since I've had a working stills camera. My Nikon D70 served me well as a student in Montreal and functioned fairly well for the next few years for taking production stills, but I never considered myself a proper photographer or went to any great lengths to hone my skills. But as I became more focussed on documentary work I ignored photography in favour of moving images, and then the D70 stopped working and I dropped shooting stills altogether. 

Something prompted me to get another camera before my next trip to Brazil. Yesterday I finally took the plunge, travelled to Victoria to look at a used one, and with a very patient 11-month old German Shepherd in tow, explored and played on Fisherman's Wharf, using Winnie as my non-stop action subject. (I had to bribe her with wieners.)

And the results, while not stunning, are OK. The lens is a Tamron 17-55 mm, it's not great, but functional for now. What I am enthused about is to have a camera to play with, to feel the heft and weight of a Nikon in my hands again, to hear the glorious click of that shutter (ok I know it's digital but it still sounds very satisfying!) and feel like I can start taking real pictures again. 

Here are some of the less horrible ones: 

Winnie-morning light

Here's to expanding my photographic horizons and really allowing my eyes and heart to see the beauty in this world again. We only live once. Let's live with eyes wide open.

Much Love, Tobi