Midwinter’s Muse: Reflections on the Season and the New Year

Finding Inspiration

During this time of year, with demands of family and holiday events, it can seem hard to find time to continue a creative practice. There is also the environmental factors that make it hard to focus – short days, long nights, and cold that gets in one’s bones.

Not only am I a person who struggles with winter blues (days without sunshine are such a challenge!) but I also sometimes lack the willingness and discipline to create, yet I have the passion do so, and sometimes feel I must. It’s a multiple factor challenge that can leave me in a bit of a muddle.

The eagerness to create doesn’t come from without, but within. Before any action, there is intention. And if I can’t focus on the intention in my mind, I generally put off creating. Right now I am on deadline for a project, which brings a different tension.

While I can lack the intent to get started, I miss creating. If I don’t have a quiet focused time (quiet meaning without interruption/conversation/tasks/running about, but not without music!), I feel cranky and “out of sorts.” I guess it would be analogous to being a regular exerciser and then not having the ability to get in your morning walk or workout in the gym.

So often, so often, I don’t feel inspired, but I try to get started nonetheless. I get some paint on my brush and doodle around. Those times often do not lead to finished work, but they loosen up the creative muscle so to speak! I am of the belief that whatever artwork or exploration gets done, it all matters. It all feeds into the practice of creativity. On one hand, finished work is important as well, and on the other hand, time with friends and family, rest and recharging times, are equally important to the practice of creativity. After a rest, a walk or break away, I am more inspired, more filled with ideas, and committed to continuing my practice – whatever it may be.

New Year, New Words

My two focus words for 2024 are “Dare” and “Breathe.” To me, they represent both sides of the coin – the work and the mindfulness to come back to oneself through breath. I love things that are dualistic and balanced.

“Dare” means to me that I chose to step forward, be more dedicated, and do things that are outside my comfort zone, things that cause me to reach a little, and things that may result in growth.

To come back the exercise analogy, athletes don’t wake up and run a marathon one day. There are days and days of training and struggle, prior to the 26-mile race. Often runners don’t “feel” like running and get out on the road (or into the gym) anyway. In my opinion, creative pursuits are much the same, there needs to be consistent dedication. I need to stretch myself to be consistent and dedicated, essentially “dare” to be committed.

“Breathe” means to me to slow down and be in the moment, focus on the breath and center myself. There is so much value to taking a pause and recharging. One cannot push too hard because the brain and body do need rest. As we enter a new calendar year, I am usually optimistic, but who knows what lies ahead! Focusing on “breathe” is a good intention for the year.

So as we head toward the winter solstice (December 21 or 22 each year), where the days incrementally get longer, I pledge to mindfully make the most use out of these still short, dark and cold feeling days both creating and recharging to seek balance in life and creative life.

Keep creating!


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