5 Ways To Get Rid Of Inertia In Your Life

 

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

*Knocking on microphone* Hello? Anyone there?

I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while. Quite a while. I haven’t touched my WIP for almost 4 months. I’ve lost my way. I could blame it on a lot of legitimate reasons. Continue reading

Unexpected Joy In Ordinary Places

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons on blog kristin nador writes anywhere

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

In the spring of 2011 Artist Daughter and I were trying out hairdos for her upcoming nuptials.

A.D. wanted to take a trial run at the local cosmetology school and experiment with ringlets before she committed to anything for her big day. She encouraged me to try some curls, too, so we could ‘match’. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Continue reading

Moving Forward When Life Goes Sideways

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

I had a plan. I really did.

It was a great plan.

A calendar filled with my writing plans, blog posts, and craft book study for 2014. It was going to be a great year. I was going to be productive, prolific, and positive.

That lasted about one month.

Then life happened.

Unemployment, urgent money issues, health and pain issues, surgeries.

In the midst of all that, Artist Daughter and Saint Nick, along with Poet Son moved to the mountains of Montana. Although I am happy for their adventure, my home and my mother’s heart is a little emptier.

I feel the specters of anxiety and depression tapping at the window, hoping I’ll throw up the sash and let them stay a while.

And just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, they got better.

(You thought I was going to go on whining, didn’t you?)

As it seems to happen, grace flows in the midst of struggle, and a job opportunity presented itself. Now Keeper Hubby and I will also be traveling a new path, discovering a new adventure.

We’ll be leaving behind the purple sunsets of Oklahoma that we’ve grown to love for seventeen years for the bluegrass of Lexington, Kentucky.

So as surgeries heal and health improves, we are busy with packing, selling our house, and trying to figure out how to move four cats 725 miles (!)

And why tell you all this?

Because maybe you had a plan, too.

And life got all stuck and smeared in the teeth of your plans, like a piece of black licorice that reveals itself every time you smile.

Learn to ebb and flow with the things we can’t control by corralling the things we can control.

Be gentle with yourself.

Find your peace on the inside.

Flow around obstacles like water.

When the chaos slows down, you can easily readjust to being productive, prolific, and positive.

That’s my plan, anyway. 😉

I apologize for the huge silence on this blog for the last month, and I may be posting less often until the dust settles, but I hope you’ll stick it out with me.

I’m still going to work that writing and blog post plan going forward, and now some opportunities for new Write Anywhere venues seem likely.

Have you had any chaotic life situations that have thwarted your writing plans? How did you handle it?

Mental Health Series: Emerging From The Panic Room of Anxiety Disorders

image by Victor Bezrukov

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

His skin crawls.

She tries to slow her shallow breath while her heart races.

He’s dizzy, and moves in slow motion, feeling strangely robotic.

Her clammy hands reach for the door and her fingers go numb.

His legs shake and turn to rubber.

She feels pinpricks all over her body. Where can she run and hide?

Is it a horror movie?

Only to the one experiencing it.

This is how many people experience a panic attack. Anxiety is normal in many everyday situations if you’re doing something unfamiliar or intimidating such as speaking in front of a group. But if you are anxious, nervous, fearful or panicked about ordinary daily activity on a regular basis you may be dealing with an anxiety or panic disorder.

There are different types of anxiety disorders from generalized anxiety to panic disorder to agoraphobia. Some may be rooted in childhood experiences, severe grief or loss, a traumatic experience or the overactivity of the natural fight-or-flight response controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.

How can you keep your creative flow from being paralyzed when panic rears its ugly head?

First, get a professional assessment, don’t assume you have an anxiety disorder, there may be other issues at play. Talk with a counselor, therapist or health professional. If it is determined you have an anxiety or panic disorder, follow your doctor’s advice. I am not a doctor, and the suggestions in this post should not be considered medical advice. Your medical professional will be able to give you a specific plan that will work for you. It’s possible you may need cognitive therapy, behavior therapy or medication for a time until you can determine your stressors.

Don’t suffer in silence. Come out of your panic closet. A big part of the power of panic or agoraphobia is the fear that you will have an attack in front of others or in a public place. The fear that you will be thought of as ‘crazy’ holds a powerful sway. Take away its power by sharing your struggle with those around you. Educate them on what anxiety or panic attacks look like. It takes away another layer of pressure that can push the panic to the surface. This is what celebrities Emma Stone, Kim Basinger and Nicole Kidman, who all suffer from panic attacks, have done.

Is there anything you can do to stop panic attacks?

Most of the time you can’t stop a panic attack, but here are seven ideas for making it through an attack without ending up in an emergency room. These ideas aren’t for stopping panic but minimizing what your body is trying to maximize:

Figure your triggers

  • Take the time to understand what may trigger your panic. Then you can avoid them or work with a health professional on desensitizing yourself.

Search for your zen

  • Participate in calming activities on a regular basis such as working in your garden, taking a long shower, or enjoying a walk in the woods.

Burn that nervous energy

  • Aim for completing some type of cardio-type exercise daily: walking, running, jogging, or dancing to release any anxious energy build-up.

Write a script

  • Study the symptoms your body experiences during an attack, then write yourself a script or reminder so you can hang onto logic when an attack happens and be pro-active instead of reactive. Example: “If my hands start twitching it means an attack is starting. I will attempt to stay calm and breathe through the attack. I will pass through the attack and it will end.”

Reduce or eliminate caffeine and sugar

  • These substances can put you on edge which can trigger an attack.

Progressive muscle relaxation

  • Tensing a specific muscle or set of muscles and releasing the muscle can give a general feeling of relaxation and help you work through the symptoms of a panic attack.

Rhythm breathing

  • Some people believe taking deep breaths can help the smothering effect some sufferers feel during an attack. It might lead to hyperventilating, which only makes things worse. Try measured, rhythmic breathing instead. Focusing on slow shallow measured breaths may lessen many symptoms.

Bonus: Journal it out. Keep a journal. You may be able to understand triggers better, release stress, and learn about patterns your body follows.

The most important thing you can do is to do it afraid. Don’t let anxiety and panic stop you from moving forward in life. I can speak to this from personal experience. I have a panic disorder diagnosis and at one time was afraid to leave the house. Little by little I decided to take my life back. About ten years ago, I began to speak before small groups. It was scary but I did it afraid. About six years ago I worked with a ministry where I visited families weekly in their homes. It was scarier; I was in a situation I had no control over, but I did it afraid. Last year I spoke in front of approximately forty writers.

Even with a possibility of a panic attack, I decided I wanted to move forward more than I was afraid of a public attack and did it afraid. It went well, and now I have a precedent to point to when my psyche tries to tell me I can’t do it. Step by step you can live your best creative life if you decide to do it afraid.

Want to learn more about creatives dealing with anxiety and panic disorders? Check out these links:

My Panic Attacks, Anxiety and PTSD by Life and Art-Ms. Mackey

The Anxious Artist: Transform Your Anxiety Into Creativity from poetrynprogress

Related posts:

Question: Have you ever had a panic or anxiety attack?

Mental Health Series: How To Harness Your Creative Temperament and Stay Sane, Married and Sober

image courtesy crosa, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Do your emotions stop you dead in your writing tracks?

Do you find the intense emotions you experience daily make for messy relationships, messy productivity, messy life?

This post is the first in an 8-part series over the next two months on creatives and mental health. I don’t write this as one with all the answers but one who is on the journey. I experienced a severe chemical depression in 2004 that resulted in medical treatment. I also have an ongoing diagnosis of panic disorder, so I have been in the trenches. I want to get a discourse going. Bring this subject out of the shadows and into the light of day.

Realizing the connection between your emotions, mental health and your creative temperment may help your productivity and your daily life. So we’re going to go there.

Stories of famous creatives who struggled with issues like depression, bipolar, panic disorder, etc. abound: Michelangelo, Hemingway, Styron, Piaf, Plath, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Woolf, Kerouac, Dickinson, Asimov, and Streisand, just to name a few.

Part of this may be explained by DNA. Scientists have discovered in the brain scans of creatives and mental patients a similar brain activity. In both groups there is a flood of uncensored information because of a lack of a certain kind of receptor in the thalamus. So we really do see things differently than other people.

Creativity is known to be associated with increased risk of depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.  People who have mental illness in their family have a greater chance of having high creativity. You might have to give your ‘crazy’ Aunt Edna some credit in your next book dedication. There has also been a long-standing cultural mythology of the eccentric creative as a bit mentally unhinged that artistic personalities have to overcome.

Researcher Mihaly Csikczentmihalyi says:

“If I had to express in one word what makes their (creatives) personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an “individual,” each of them is a “multitude. Like the color white that includes all colors, they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. Creativity allows for paradox, light, shadow, inconsistency, even chaos –and creative people experience both extremes with equal intensity.”

No wonder in that extreme intensity come intense emotions

Creatives are pre-wired to experience circumstances more intensely. We process these intense feelings through our art, our creativity, our innovation. Our highs are higher, our lows are lower. The elevator from high to low feelings can drop dramatically or explode out of the ceiling like an emotional Wonka-vator. Our anger outward becomes rage, our anger inward becomes spiraling depression.

Some of the mental health issues we’ll talk about in this blog series are: depression, anxiety and panic disorders, addictive behaviors, OCD, ADHD, hypersensitivity, boundary issues, internalization, PTSD, and artistic paranoid jealousy. Disorder has a very negative connotation, but it is dis-order, out of place, not out of mind.

I believe that mental health challenges are not any different than physical health challenges. Understanding, compassion, and access to treatment should be the same as any health issue. I also believe at times emotional struggles may boil down to Resistance.

Resistance can come from outside forces, but most often is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Julia Cameron addresses this in The Artist’s Way:

“Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control. This is frightening, and we resist it. Our resistance to our creativity is a form of self- destruction. We throw up roadblocks on our own path. Why do we do this? In order to maintain an illusion of control. Depression, like anger and anxiety, is resistance, and it creates dis-ease. This manifests itself as sluggishness, confusion, “I don’t know…” The truth is , we do know and we know that we know.” 

Steven Pressfield in Do The Work refers to Resistance this way:

“Resistance cannot be seen, heard, touched or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is insidious. Resistance will tell you anyting to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.” 

Whether it’s Resistance or a medical situation, creatives may have more tendency to emotional turbulence and mental health issues, but it doesn’t mean we have to accept the unpleasant consequences. We can admit we need assistance, and take care of ourselves.

When we live out the best life we can, our creativity is less hindered and we can create our best art. It’s okay to have emotions, but don’t let emotions have you and steal your best life.

Question: Do you think mental health struggles are strictly biochemical or does Resistance play a part?

Subscribe to kristin nador writes anywhere by email or RSS feed to stay up to date on the latest posts. Thanks for your support!

Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: Get Serious By Relaxing

image courtesy Creative Commons

This month we’ve focused on sharpening blogging habits for the new year. There’s been a lot of good discussion, and if you haven’t been with us until this point, please check out the other posts in this series:

Part 1 –  Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 4 Ways To Define Your Audience

Part 2 –  Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 7 Keys To Blogging On A Consistent Basis

Part 3 –  Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: 14 Actions To Take To Amplify Your Blog’s Voice

Part 4 –  Sharpen Your Blogging Habits: The Golden Rule For Bloggers

Here’s a confession: I’m kind of a serious person. I have a hard time going with the flow. Kicking back is not natural for me. I have to work hard to find the positive and the humor in life. It’s part life experience, part medical condition, and part DNA. I used to think I was just organized, hard-working, good at list-making, focused. I am all those things, but sometimes those are code words for anxious, sweating the small stuff and too serious.

Here’s an example. Artist Daughter had a friend visit. We decided to order pizza. We discussed all the menu options, then I called in my order. When I got off the phone, Artist Daughter chuckled. I asked her why. “That’s the calmest pizza order I’ve ever heard you give, Mom.” That was a pivotal moment of realization that I take life much too seriously.

Blog Habit #5: Relax

If you’re blogging as a hobby you can probably skip this post. If you’re blogging because you want to make your voice heard on a specific subject,  you’re a writer and you’re building that all important social media platform or you have a product or idea and you’re trying to reach the masses, you may have some issues with taking yourself and your blog too seriously.

Wait a minute, Kristin, you’ve been telling us all month how to do all this stuff to make our blogs awesome, magnificent islands of intelligent communication in a noisy sea of internet flotsam, and now you’re saying don’t take it seriously?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take our passion or career seriously, but sometimes we can get so consumed with doing what everyone says we should do to be successful we are not enjoying the journey. Here are 4 diagnoses you may be too serious about your blogging, and a possible cure for each.

Diagnosis: Lawbreaker Phobia – If you’re spending the majority of your blogging time trying to implement every ‘rule’ that you hear mentioned on any expert blogs and you’re afraid if you don’t follow all the rules your little blog will shrivel into oblivion, you need to relax. It’s helpful to learn techniques for better blogging, but don’t become enslaved by them.

Cure: Don’t be afraid to break the ‘rules’. You have the opportunity to give your blog your unique signature, and the creative aspect makes it fun.

"They're more like guidelines than actual rules..."

Diagnosis: Blank Screen Syndrome – Your agent/boss/mentor/critique group said you needed to start building that ‘social media platform’ so you jumped into blogging with both feet, ready to conquer. You made it past the newbie hump and stuck with it, but now the spectre of trying to come up with blog post ideas and content day after day or week after week has become a teeth-pulling, stressful burden. It’s not just a few down days, you know it’s infecting your entire attitude. Get ready, I’m going to wave my magic wand.

Cure: Maybe blogging is not for you. AND THAT”S OKAY. Deep breaths, see that wasn’t so bad. If blogging is not something you enjoy, you aren’t going to stick with it over the long haul. Try microblogging instead. You can still build relationships and a following with Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, where there’s less time investment and writing involved. Movements.org  covers the basics of microblogging on How To Microblog.

"Just click your heels together and say 'It's okay to microblog'."

Diagnosis: Blog Hot Mess Fever – You’ve been blogging for a while. You were enjoying yourself, getting good feedback. But somewhere along the way you lost your focus. You got enamored with widgets and crammed them everywhere on your blog. You started posting on unrelated subjects. Your feedback went down. Months have gone by in between posts. The passion that got you blogging in the first place seems to have dissipated.

Cure: Maybe you should consider a reboot. Start from scratch? After all that work? Sometimes the energy we get from starting something new gives us the motivation to continue. Jeff Goins gives some good advice with When To Quit Your Blog and Start A New One.

"You think I should start over?"

Diagnosis: Personality Flu – You’re knocking it out of the park with informative posts. Good design. Bullet points. Good links. Well-researched. But something’s missing. Somehow you’re not connecting with your readers. There’s not a lot of interaction on your blog.

Cure: Loosen up and have some fun. Look for the humor in your subject. Share a funny anecdote once in a while. Relax and be yourself. When your personality shines through your blog, it will help you nurture reader relationships and make blogging fun. Claire Legrand says “Forget the stress, forget the expectations, the daily slog through statistics. It’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to blog yourself.”

Read Claire’s entire post ‘It’s Okay To Blog Yourself’.

Take your blog to the next level by relaxing. You’re going to do great. Seriously.

Question: What’s the funniest/silliest/snarkiest post you ever made on your blog? Let’s start off the week with a laugh and leave a link in the comments.

Is Unforgiveness Blocking Your Creativity?

image, Pockets23, Creative Commons

Have you ever had something jolt a memory in your brain? It may be a song that sets it off. Possibly a smell or a television program. A passage of a book. A phone call you let go to the answering machine. Old photos or letters you find in the back of your closet. The dented fender of your car. A conversation your mother brings up. Again.

For me it’s Ding Dongs. Those little chocolate cakes with the fluffy white filling. Without going into all the gory details, Ding Dongs symbolize for me betrayal, manipulation, abandonment, regret and years of working towards emotional freedom.

We all have stuff. Baggage. Issues. If you’ve been on this planet longer than a minute, it’s the one thing all people have in common.

Part of being healthy is dealing with your emotional baggage. Forgiveness is at the top of the list of difficult things to do when emptying your emotional suitcase. It’s not a natural reaction. It’s something we must choose to do.

Why should we forgive? We’re not the ones who did anything – it was them!

“When we are angry or depressed in our creativity, we have misplaced our power. We have allowed someone else to determine our worth, and then we are angry at being undervalued.” – Julia Cameron

Benefits of forgiveness:

  • Lessens stress
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Lessens depression and anxiety
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Better relationships
  • Energizes creativity

In the book Boundaries Drs. Cloud and Townsend state:

“To forgive someone means to let him off the hook, or to cancel a debt he owes you. When you refuse to forgive someone, you still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that you want, it keeps you tied to him forever.”

The conundrum is when we hold on to hurts, we shackle ourselves to the person or event that hurt us. Our bitterness and anger have no effect on those who have offended us, but only drag us down and hold us back from living our best life.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you approve of the behavior or renew the relationship. You release yourself from its control over you. Easier said than done. Some days you have to forgive minute by minute. Forgiveness is a decision, but the healing is a process.

I believe forgiveness has not only been able to release me from anger and depression, but has released the writing that has been waiting to flow out of me for many years.

Get healthy through forgiveness with these resources:

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Forgiveness: Letting Go Of Grudges and Bitterness from Mayo Clinic

How To Let Go And Forgive from Zen Habits 

Question: Has anger and bitterness ever blocked your creativity? Have you been able to channel anger into productive writing?