Good morning, creatives. Ready to embrace the day ahead of you? Welcome to Tuesday Tea!
Whom do I have in heaven but you? And with you, I lack nothing on earth. My mind and body may fail; but God is the rock for my mind and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26 CJB
It’s the first day of March 2016. That’s right, ladies and gents, we are only a few short weeks away from the end of Q1, 60 days into 2016, enough time for you to have begun at least 2 new habits to propel you into the future you desire for yourself.
How are you doing on that grand scheme for 2016 that you wrote-drew-collaged-Pinned for yourself?
It’s time to reevaluate your goals, and your performance thus far: Are you closer to your end goals for this quarter? What adjustments do you need to make to your routine, your meal plan, your spiritual pursuits, your finances, your editorial calendar? Have you started to write your blog, put your business together, solidify that project, drop that mixtape?
What do you want to spend your time doing?
For me, the very first day of a month (and of the week, and the initial hours of my day) I devote to God. I may meditate on some Scripture, sit in quiet, and allow Him to speak to my heart, journal, and otherwise dedicate to this introspective close examination of everything.
My major goal is to be growing, to be in alignment with His mind, will, and heart concerning thoughts, plans, relationships, business and everything else. It’s in pursuing that intimate connection with my Savior and the Holy Spirit that He empowers me to accomplish whatever needs to be done and for His glory, not my own. I know that I am maturing in my faith when it gets stretched, when I can count the trials for joy.
A brief recap of February for me:
- Doors suddenly swung open: In the past couple of months, I was presented with a number of different opportunities, and met some people who’d become my tribe. (Shoutout to #TakeOver2016–y’all the real MVPs). I had to ask the Lord for help to discern who was truly for me, and who was here to ride the wave as I progressed.
- It was possibly the most lit Black History Month ever. Blackish and #JusticeForFlint during the Oscars sealed the deal.
- I launched my first newsletter series ever, the Happy Place Project. I have a newfound respect for every single copy writer I have ever encountered; I don’t think I have had to work so hard on a few paragraphs a day! Whew! I’ve got a few takeaways on that whole mission:
- The bigger the scope of your project, the more intricately detailed your strategy needs to be–with failsafes included. I made a number of mistakes in the beginning that wound up creating more work for me, and draining good creative energy.
- The bigger the scope of your project, the more likely you will need to ask for help.
Honestly, even women in labor have nurses and doulas. You don’t have to agonize over the details alone. Get some pointers instead of spinning all the plates; otherwise, you’re bound to drop some. Thanks to advice from my mastermind, HPP was broken up into more manageable phases. (Phase 2 coming this week.)
- The bigger the scope of your project, the easier it is to fall behind the 8 ball–especially when you wing it.
3a. Schedule everything that is worth mentioning–every single thing. Parties, events, meal times, classes, commute and work, other projects, church, down time, outings with friends, Bible study, meditation, tea time, all of it gotta go on a calendar.
How do you know if there will arise a major crisis that averts your attention from your passion project? How do you know if your computer has to get rebooted in the middle of saving to the cloud? You don’t. Schedule when your posts publish way in advance so you don’t flip out over deadlines, so things go more smoothly, and you look more professional. (Learn your CRM system early.)3b. Make a checklist for all that the launch/webpage/product is supposed to include.
Are your images clean and consistent? Do your links work? Did you save that template? How does it look in plain-HTML? Does it read coherently, close to how cool it sounded in your head? Are you more vague than you would like to be?
- The bigger the scope of your project, the easier it is to lose objectivity. You are managing your own project and so it seems it cannot happen, but it can and does. It’s like when you’re painting for
a couple of several hours without breaks and you really need to step back and see with fresh eyes. You will critique yourself into a great big mess overanalyzing every little detail, and worrying over the correct spelling of grey.
Tedium stifles creativity; tedious criticism breeds fear, doubt and unbelief.
Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the significance of what you are creating unless it motivates you to keep pushing forward.
Take the focused break.
Simplify as much as you can.
- The bigger the scope of the project, the more you will learn about yourself and your purpose.
Ironically enough, I needed the very concept (the “happy place”) I was offering to my readers! All roads lead to more transparency and authenticity. A week before the launch, I was met with tragic news: the apparent suicide of activist MarShawn McCarrell, and then the sudden death of my childhood friend Marcel. Loss fueled my passion for this concept to become more than a nebulous idea sparked by a discussion on creating content. I wanted to continue to connect more of us, to engage discourse around creative expression, communicating difficult feelings, active listening, mental health and wellness and what that looks like. I didn’t want to just pedal some cool sounding eBook I pulled together; I want to address some real-time struggles that I see pop up around artists, poets, writers, but also small business owners, STEM folk, religious and philosophical leaders, social entrepeneurs, activists…
I got more in touch with why and whom I aim to serve through whatever platforms God gives me.
I realized I am not “some expert”, but I am a thought leader, an influencer, an orator. I am a community oriented supportive person, a confidant, and friend. I realized just how much I would need to refine and narrow the focus of this ongoing thing, that I would need to link with others who share this mission of empowering others through creative expression and helping them heal their broken places.
I also realized that us empaths, ambiverts, and healers have to retreat, too. We must go recharge, by any constructive means necessary—else, we really are no good to anyone, including ourselves. That’s just a toxic dynamic, and it’s counterintuitive. You cannot pour out of an empty cup.
As Elisabeth Gilbert put in her TED talk last year,
“Somehow we’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.
And the question that I want to ask everybody here today is are you guys all cool with that idea? Are you comfortable with that? Because you look at it even from an inch away and, you know — I’m not at all comfortable with that assumption. I think it’s odious. And I also think it’s dangerous, and I don’t want to see it perpetuated into the next century. I think it’s better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.”
So, if this indoctrination into the martyred starving artist, #TeamNoSleep running off fumes and aspirations, bootstrapping android ideal sounds familiar to you, I want you to drop it like a bad habit (which it is.)
Assess where you are spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Give yourself enough margins for error, and for rest.
Get yourself a therapy session if you need to.
Pull away from your “I have to”, and take a quick jog in some fresh air.
Visit your favorite constructive places to unwind, like coffeeshops, restaurants, bookstores or museums, arcades or skating rinks, or church, parks or the beach, or IKEA (no judgment)…Go somewhere, people watch and unplug.
Cop a Bible study app and peruse some devotionals. Read a book, a magazine, an article in Entrepreneur or Inc. Listen to a podcast, or watch a TED talk, or soak up some jazz (or classical or whatevs).
Eat apples, blueberries, almonds, dates, oatmeal, fish, rainbow carrots, fresh juice, ginger, citrus, walnuts–these foods help you get out the midday slump.