Mini Series: Inviting Grace
A creative life isn’t dictated by the hours you spend creating. It is the intention with which you engage with the world and the way you process the world around you.
In today’s society it is a mark of honour to be burnt out, to be busy; I do this myself. We value productivity, the idea of productivity, over our own well being and mental health. The hustle culture and burnout are pervasive and frankly, invasive in our lives. And when we are trying to lead fulfilling, creative, intentional lives it can become a bombardment of contrary ideas that force guilt and shame to overshadow our careful cultivation.
Everywhere we turn, self help books, web articles, social media ads, news outlets, everyone is trying to promote their own brand of productivity. Some claim there are ways to escape hustle culture and still maintain productivity, others suggest that burnout is inevitable, but combatable, while still others try to entice us to start a third side hustle, but all have the intention of shaming those who are not productive every moment of every day.
Even the mindful, self care guides that are saturating the self help world are promoting their own brand of productivity in the sense of steps to become ‘un-busy’ or the top five ways to unplug and reconnect with nature. No one sanctions doing nothing. This is where we need to invite grace to be with us in our lives, and especially in our creative practice.
I am guilty of sitting with my laptop open for hours, struggling to write a single sentence of my novel while I watch Criminal Minds ‘in the background’ and talk to my precious kittens. All I want to do is take a break, to sit and consume content solely for entertainment, but I feel the need to justify my actions by being productive to earn the right to sit and ‘do nothing’.
I am not opening myself to grace in these moments.
Yes there are times when creating has to be done, even when we are not inspired, even when it’s work, even when we just don’t want to. However, to intentionally step away from creating to become absorbed in the moments of rest, the moments of life that are happening all around us is to allow ourselves the grace of understanding.
We can also invite grace into our practice when we do show up on those difficult days and don’t create the idealized version we envisioned. Give yourself the space to do what you can and not push for more than you can give. If you fail to live up to your expectations for yourself, listen to the why. It is not failure; invite grace in your attitude towards your creations and remember that even the masters make shitty art. But, to create is to have something to work with; you cannot edit a blank page, you cannot re-work a blank canvas and you cannot fix something that doesn't yet exist.
Grace isn’t about excuses, it is about acknowledging our short comings and allowing ourselves to grow through them. Grace isn’t a get out of jail free card to ignore your creative calling, but it is an understanding that we cannot do everything all the time to the best of our ability every time.
Give grace to yourself and grace to your art, whatever that might be. Make space for grace so you can take up space in the world with your creativity and your life of abundance.