Reframing your creative energy: are you building or flowing?•
Posted on June 03 2022
Do you ever beat yourself up about your productivity or what you “should” be doing? I was pondering why as of late, everything seems to take a lot of conscious energy, but I don’t seem to be getting anything done.
Many people participate in the crafting community for stress relief, anxiety management or as a way to experience purpose. Even in the activities we do that are meant to bring us joy and contentment, our mental health can suffer if we have unreasonable expectations. This is definitely true outside of hobbies and crafting, but I want to offer a different mental framework: are you struggling to flow in your optimized environment, or are you working on building infrastructure instead?
As many of you know, we finally moved into our new house last month. It’s been a 3-year-long saga that began in Spring of 2019 when we bought the plot of land. Now that the house is built, it feels like we have to build back up a lot of things in our life around it from scratch. We lived in our previous house for almost 7 years, so it’s safe to say we had a rhythm to our life.
Through all of the changes in our lives – work, kids and beyond – the house basically stayed the same. We had everything well established, so we were able to flow through our days and activities. We definitely outgrew the space as a family and as a location for a small business, but it was deeply familiar. I could walk around with my eyes closed, make a full meal while holding an intense conversation, and clean in a specific pattern to get it done as efficiently as possible. We all moved through the house in a state of ease.
While we’re in love with our new house (of course we are, we designed it and chose every. single. detail.), it’s taking some getting used to. I don’t know if it’s so much a trope as a truism of moving that you’ll still be unpacking boxes a year later, but I do know that after a month, this is definitely the case. This new house is a different size and shape as the old one, so we have had to address a lot of furniture changes, décor reassessment and small space organization (have you ever tried to use a silverware drawer without an organizing tray?).
There is some flow we’ve had to fast-track out of necessity like getting the kids ready for school in the morning, or driving to our usual haunts, but a lot of our usual activities require conscious thought. I can’t make a meal without bruising myself on the oven handle, and I keep forgetting to put my bath towel within reach of the shower because the rack is farther away from the shower than I’m used to.
All of these little micro-decisions and actively remembering details about our house for sure mean we’re building our infrastructure rather than flowing through and with it in synergy. And this is totally okay and normal for the season and situation we’re in! Nobody would expect a brand new house to be a well-oiled machine in a few weeks.
A perfect metaphor for building: outside, we literally have to build everything from the ground up, including the ground. As of this moment, we have had several truckloads of dirt dumped around the house, and that is all. I won’t go into the details of the work it will take to get our yard to the way we want it, but it’s nothing but building! We won’t be winning any garden of the month awards (I have no idea if that’s a real thing).
I will say, as an antidote to there being no structure to anything outside, I’ve been chilling on the porch or retreating to the woods a lot to forage and generally explore. We live in the middle of 5 acres of woods, and the forest has its own flow built right in. It’s nice to get lost in my head looking at the different plants as if I were strolling around my old back yard watching bees fly around the wildflowers.
While my previous space to work in was very much not big enough (or even just for my work!), I was very used to it. Even though I had to get all of my work equipment out, do my work, and put it back away before anyone was bothered by it, it was my status quo.
Transitioning to the new house, I am over the moon excited about all of the actual square footage that is MINE for MY BUSINESS! I actually have an office, and I actually have a designated space for my dye studio. While the work will be the same, I have so much more space to use to its full potential. And I don’t even have to put everything away when I’m done – I can just pick up and carry on the next time. However, my spaces are far from set up to run smoothly!
Luckily, I’m used to working in Macgyvered spaces and being creative with tool substitutions, so I’m actually able to flow more than I thought. It’s nice just to have the dedicated space to do my thing. I would definitely still categorize my work life in a state of building because I literally am building furniture & equipment daily, but there are welcome elements of flow like losing myself at my sewing machine, knowing that my mess won’t be in anybody’s way.
When we have systems in our lives that are established and built, we can flow. We’re on autopilot. We’ve entered that highway hypnosis frame of mind where we don’t have to consciously think about what we’re doing. Any big or small upheaval in your life can suck up your energy because you have transitioned from flow to building. Everything requires conscious thought. The energy is different. It’s good to recognize which phase this season of your life is. Energy is finite, and building systems and infrastructure is the balance to productivity and ease in a flow state.
Things require maintenance, refurbishing, and rebuilding. If you’re frustrated about feeling stuck or stagnant, in your job, your home life, your mindset, or your hobbies, take a minute to assess if you’re actually in a state of building infrastructure that will lead to a future of ease and flow.
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