Between the stress of holiday shopping, the exhausting self-improvement messages of the approaching New Year, beautiful-but-oh-so-triggering-family-time, and the deep tumult of the divided world, I pause to wonder:
Where is grace?
I failed at my most important goal in 2016, but that failure has turned into a small but mighty challenge in early 2017 to start the year with a surge of creative energy and, hopefully, make space for some much-needed grace. I'm deeply excited about this and I hope you will join us.
But first, the failure:
Last year at this time, I set a goal to create a habit of non-results-oriented creative exploration every week.
The only rules were to show up, turn off all devices, and let curiosity guide me. My goal - albeit an ambitious one - was to log 240 hours total for the year.
As a results-obsessed human, to say that I was going to let myself wonder and wander without knowing I would have something to show for myself was radical. Yet I knew I needed to rebuild trust with my Inner Creative (who was in hiding while the Tiny Terrorist Who Likes to Control Things was running the show).
While I pushed hard to accomplish all of my other goals (especially the ones I felt would be "more impressive" to other people) the explorative creative time continued to get put off - I was secretly terrified - and the few times I actually managed to show up, the Tiny Terrorist demanded that whatever I was writing or making better be tremendous and immediately astonishing.
Intimidated and defeated, I would instead go check Facebook and compare myself to other people's sparkly (filtered) lives.
The total number of hours I actually logged totaled 7.
7 hours! Out of 240!
Wow. KIMBALL. You're supposed to be good at this. What happened???
Even though I had a deep intuition that realigning with curiosity and inspiration was like, maybe the secret to everything, since I couldn't guarantee a result, I decided that this goal was much less important than all of the other external demands.
(Does this ever happen to you? The things that you value the most get the least amount of time in your schedule? Or don't get scheduled at all?)
Furthermore, I also believed that I wasn't far along enough and hadn't yet proved enough to myself to deserve this kind of freedom and space.
(There's the rub. When a goal is out of alignment with a belief, we have little hope of achieving it.)
5 things I learned from this failure and other happenings this year:
1. Make a non-negotiable commitment to your own creative voice.
You will devote yourself to others' agendas until you make a non-negotiable commitment to your own. Not that others' agendas don't matter! Everyone is a special snowflake and they matter very much! But you will serve them more authentically when you don't cut yourself out of the equation; making time to follow your ideas, notions and the voice inside of you will strengthen your ability to show up for others.
2. Trying to control a thing before it's a thing deadens the thing.
Thing = project, idea, relationship, moment, anything you are creating. We cannot accesses our deepest creative magic when we are obsessed with the outcome. While the Tiny Terrorist wants to believe otherwise, letting go of the grip is the secret to unlocking your greatest gifts and the most rewarding outcomes.
3. Make space for grace.
Grace and joy are your birthright. You are never not far enough along to deserve them. Furthermore, while paradoxical, depriving ourselves of moments of grace by jamming our lives with lots of doing and multi-tasking does not get us there any faster. In 2017, I am testing out a theory that slowing down and creating the conditions for grace and joy to occur actually accelerates success. I'll keep you updated...
4. Unplugging = the pathway to wonderwork.
If you don't make a committment to periodically unplugging from the noise - both digital and the critical voices inside of your head - you will die with your song still left in you AND STILL HAVE an inbox full of unanswered email. You have wonderwork hidden inside of you - marvelous and miraculous acts, ideas and works - but you need time for uninterrupted presence in order to bring them forth. We don't yet know what's possible for you when you make boundaries with the pings and apps and internal crtics in your life, reclaim creative flow, and unleash your gifts.
5. Start small to go big.
Even though there is a part of me that wants to believe otherwise, any kind of upleveling and lasting change I've created in my life has always happened incrementally by making small, 1% shifts at the start (Meditating and spiritual practice, career transitions, physical activity, reprogramming mental habits, etc...).
As I started planning for the new year, I began to get curious about what would happen if I recommitted to creative exploration, but as a micro-shift, like, for 15 minutes a day.
And then I thought how I've heard from so many of you about your desire for a more regular creative practice, especially at this time of year, so what would happen if we all did this together?
If a whole group of us committed to creative flow for 15 minutes a day could we shift our own energy just a bit? Could we shift our energy collectively? Could we find grace?
Are you curious?
The #Creative15 is a 15 day experience to ignite your life with creative power, presence, and practice, beginning January 3rd, 2017.
The heart of the #Creative15 is to commit to at least 15 minutes a day of any form of creative expression, for 15 days.
The simple (but not easy) goal will be to show up, turn off the digital distractions, invite the critical voices in your head to take a sabbatical, let your curiosity guide you, and free yourself from the pressure of results.
You can do this wherever you are and you can do anything you are called to do. You can write, paint, sing, work on the script you've been dreaming about, make an interpretive dance. Doing your favorite creative activity from childhood would be a great place to start.
The hypothesis is that this kind of small and daily practice will not only renew us, but also the communities in which we operate.
By spending any 15 minutes of the day being present to our intuition, my hope is that we can renew and fortify ourselves to show up powerfully in the wild times of right now.
Not a replacement for any kind of political action, but, rather, a companion and grounding tool so give us the strength to keep fighting for what matters most.
And maybe - just maybe - there will be grace.
I do hope you'll join me. Like Little Red in Into the Woods, I am excited AND scared. Which, I've learned, means I must keep heading in this direction.
Sending you grace, joy, and wonder, wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate,
I believe in you
A little book of inspiration, frameworks, and guidance for your next creative project.