The first few days after my surgery was tough in some ways, but in one way, I was sort of enjoying it. It was a forced rest. I couldn’t do very basic things that were staples in my line of work…typing, writing, painting, holding a camera. The things that felt safe, normal, and routine were temporarily not options. I rested in that for the first couple of weeks, a part of me accepting the permission to sit and binge-watch old seasons of Survivor all day. A part of me was thankful that I could ignore my inbox and excuse myself from posting on my blog and social media regularly.
A couple of weeks out, I started feeling better and set the expectation for myself to jump back into the everyday tasks. Writing posts and e-mails with dictation was unexpectedly frustrating and I struggled to compose posts verbally instead of letting the words flowing through my fingers onto the screen. I stopped listening to podcasts and reading books about creativity and business. I read magazines and decorating books, but my official “daily input” and daily journaling fell off a cliff.
At first, I was disappointed and impatient at my limitations, but I maintained perspective and gratitude knowing this was temporary and not terminal. This is a season and it will pass, but I would hit snags and roadblocks repeatedly each day as I was trying to keep business humming as usual.
And then, something beautiful happened. In the time of quiet and stillness, in the pause of the routine, I had time to think. I had time to soak in inspiration for no particular purpose. It wasn’t research or a line item on my planning sheet that needed to be crossed off. I just wanted to look at beautiful photos and read. I wanted to soak in ideas, textures, palettes, designs, and motifs, just for the pure delight of it. Just as I used to before all of this became a business.
I realized that God orchestrated this time of rest and recovery not only for my shoulder, but for my creative mind and heart. I had been tiptoeing on the edge of burnout for so long that I wasn’t even acknowledging it. My work/life balance has been much better in the past couple of years, but I didn’t have the same consistent joy in my work that I have in the past. It felt more like work more often, which was a stark contrast to the days when I was bubbling with excitement at every turn.
I think a part of it is the way the landscape of blogging has changed. The work is now diffused and scattered over many platforms…Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and it’s not just about posting and engaging on my blog. The world of blogging has become more professional and more competitive. Content is being run through a finer filter. And, even at the not-so-old age of 41, I feel like I’m “over-the-hill” in the world of influencers.
And ten years of experience has made me more aware of my audience…not in an individual sense, but in a collective sense. The internet will turn on you with one small misstep, one rub the wrong way. Negativity is like a wall of water waiting behind a door. If that door is cracked just a little bit, it all will come rushing in. My awareness of that and firsthand experience with it has made me guarded and maybe even a bit cynical, causing me to over-edit myself. If you’ve ever done it, you know that overediting and walking on eggshells gets tiring.
But this time of forced rest has been a white knight. It’s not only given me a clearer perspective, but it has shown me that I love this work. I have desperately missed writing in all forms and taking pictures. I’ve missed sharing and connecting. I’ve missed making tutorials and working on projects. I’ve missed all of the bits and pieces that make up this delightfully strange, unconventional career.
In tomorrow’s episode of the TCe podcast, Shaunna and I talk about Creative Frontier. When it was my turn to share what was frontier to me; what awaits me just out of view over the horizon, my answer was something like this… I want to do all of the things I’m doing, but do them with more openness, joy, and bravery. I want to go back to the days when I wasn’t so self-conscious about every little thing…every word, every angle of my face on camera, every way that something can be misunderstood. I want to stop over-editing and overanalyzing. I want to walk the delicate tightrope of creating wholly for myself and generously for others.
(If you want to listen to that episode, the finale of season one, it will be available Tuesday, November 26, HERE.)
That is territory that needs to be claimed. It feels unknown and even a little scary. I don’t know what it looks like and I can’t chart it out because it’s unexplored for me, but I know it’s the direction I need to head.
Stop trying to live up to assumptions and perceived expectations that may or may not be rooted in reality and just start doing things out of a whole and honest place. Be that. Do that. Share that.
Here’s to frontiers – to pioneers and explorers. Let’s all be in that group. However, wherever and whenever we’re called to it. Let’s be brave.
What is Creative Frontier to you?