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meditation: a balm for the imagination


to imagine is one of life's greatest wonders. i've been writing fiction since I was a very young kid, and stories always seemed to simply flow like water. i could write as fast and as much as i could imagine - and that was a lot. i was raised on imagination, and because of that i am able to create the worlds i've created and write the stories i've written.

you may be bobbing your head in a nod right about now, your own craft or creative medium coming to mind as you recall all the things that helped spawn your own wild imagination.

however, i think that as writers, creators, and highly imaginative souls, we often face...well, what seems sometimes to be a lack of capacity to "shut off" our imaginations. whether it's feelings of anxiousness, imagining negative scenarios, or simply being unable to quiet our minds enough to sleep. (*overhead finger-pointing to self on all of these*) there's an old saying "your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness" and i think that's highly applicable here.

having imagination is precious, and i cannot stress that enough. i feel such sadness in my heart these days when i see so many young kids on ipads and phones instead of running around outside, or inventing games, or naming trees, or pretending to be dryads, or sword fighting with their siblings. these things shaped me growing up; helped to create the person who is me. i feel blessed to have been born before this age of screens and disconnect, because it fostered the wildfire in my head that blazes still and ever stronger.

but when it comes to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, or fear, i've come to realize that the imagination can be either a great hindrance, only adding to the inner turbulence, or, as i've been learning over the course of my entire life & recently, a great ally; a friend to remind you to fix your eyes on the steady horizon instead of the storm.

now let me get this out of the way real quick: i'm still learning, i'm a student of life, i do not have it all together. every day is a new opportunity to grow and learn and get back up, and that's what i try my level best to do; and that's exactly what this post is and nothing more. these are trail notes: these are the places i have dusted the dirt off my knees and tried again. i hope maybe it encourages you to do the same. 

i actually almost wrote this post last week and i'm glad i ended up not doing that because within the past week i've learned so much more.

over the past month and a half, i've made meditating a daily practice. and it's changing my life.

meditating was something i had dabbled in for a short period of time a couple of summers ago. i downloaded the app headspace on my phone and would typically punch in for a three to five minute guided meditation before or after a yoga practice. i found it extremely difficult to quiet my mind and sit still.

but recently, spurred by this video, and this video, i decided to give meditating another go. 

i began by once again using the headspace app. i downloaded it to my phone (again) and started meditating for ten to fifteen minutes every morning before starting my work day (typically creative writing). i'd brew some coffee, take a few sips while i settled in, and then, when i was completely comfortable, i would try my best to focus on my breath and let go of everything else: what happened yesterday, what i had to do today, and most importantly any and all self criticism.

i began to unfold this idea that the folks at headspace really like to hammer home: you are not the thoughts going through your head - and you can create distance between yourself and the thoughts passing through your mind by simply observing them as one observes cars passing from a sidewalk. we merely stand and watch. we are not the cars. and we certainly do not need to jump out into the street and chase after any of the cars either. 

there's a definite weight that gradually begins to lift when we realize that we are not thoughts. we are the observer. 

and that may sound a bit lofty and zen, but when you think about it, it makes so much sense, and brings with it this feeling of stillness that's hard to describe. i don't achieve it every single time i meditate, but i've found that the more often and longer i do meditate, the easier it becomes to reach that peaceful state of clarity and stillness.

as a creative, i began to find this practice addictive. it was such a stark difference from starting my day with fevered, anxious energy - dwelling on all the things i needed to get done, how many hours i had, and just how i was going to accomplish it all. instead i was starting my day from the ground up. literally.


for the past month and a half, i've been starting my day on the floor. i fold my yoga mat in half, cover it with a cozy falsa blanket, and settle down in a comfortable seated position.

i began to expand my practice to include some guided meditations, as well as meditating on my own. so far i've found that i like the variety of changing it up, sometimes meditating with headspace or another guided meditation on youtube, or meditating in stillness on other occasions. 

but above all i've found that there is no right or wrong to meditating. it's about finding peace and stillness in a way that works for you, whether that be by sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing, or by envisioning yourself in a particular location, or by focusing on a positive, self-loving affirmation. whether it's meditating for a few minutes, a half an hour, or an hour. it's a spiritual and very personal practice and it should be something that you explore and play with and develop on your own. 

for me, meditation is an adventure. it's about arriving on my mat and being there for myself; providing myself with healing breath, and the sacred space i need to simply be...and to relish in that. it's about letting go of everything that is no longer serving me, and allowing my imagination to envision the good, the positive, and that which i want to manifest in my life.

and if none of that language resonates, meditation can simply be a really nice opportunity to find stillness and breathe. it helps relieve stress and improve posture and lung capacity. all good things. this article delves into the science-based benefits in greater detail. 

through this daily practice, i've found that I feel much more centered and peaceful. my mornings are relaxing and generally free from any stressful energy i would have otherwise brought to my creative writing and the rest of my day. i feel a far greater sense of clarity and connect. beyond that, it's acted as a reminder that the imagination can be directed...that we have the power to step back from our thoughts and to realize that we are the observers. we don't have to let our minds drag us around, giving us whiplash. we are empowered as observers to guide our minds and create a mental environment for healthy, positive, self-loving, and inspired thoughts. i personally believe that as creators this is essential. (and by creators i mean literally everyone because we are all creators.) we live in our heads a looooot. but that's okay...as long as we make sure our heads are good, positive, uplifting places to live.

so that's where i'm at in this journey at the moment. it's helped me a lot and i hope that perhaps it inspires you to take a little time for yourself; to remind your soul that it is a creator, not a machine. that you are beautiful, loved, and filled with limitless potential. 

if this post sprinkled you with inspiration to perhaps try meditating yourself, but you're not sure where to start, here's a few guided meditations videos + music channels i enjoy:


have a rest-filled weekend and a beautiful week ahead, sweet soul. be kind to yourself. you are awesome.

stay stoked.
kate



you don't have to make anything

 

it's okay to not make anything. that sounds funny coming from a creative writer and an entrepreneur, doesn't it? i write books, make films and videos, and other stuff - that's what i do, right?

exactly. it's what i do.

if we were writers, artists, painters, musicians, dancers, and film makers then it might be a problem if we didn't make anything today. because if don't produce whatever it is that we identify ourselves as that means that we've actually lost our identity.

how can we be writers if we don't write? how can we be painters if we haven't produced any paintings in a while?

thankfully we can all breathe a sigh of relief right now, because we are not any of those things.

we aren't writers.
or painters.
or musicians.

we're not artists,
or bloggers,
or speakers
or filmmakers.

see, writing and painting and making music, etc, they're all verbs. verbs, lovely, lovely verbs - and yes, each of which deserve to be celebrated and treasured! But they are not nouns. They are not definitions of who we are.

if you're used to introducing yourself by stating your profession or what it is that you do, it may have just felt a bit uncomfortable for you to read that last paragraph. that's completely normal...just embrace that for now and stick with me. ♥

when we begin to uncurl our fists and let go of these verbs that we use to describe ourselves, we begin to land in a new place - a new point of view. we begin to see ourselves and our art differently.

let me explain.

on days when i am a writer, i can physically feel a low grade anxiety bubbling on the backburner of my mind as i sit down to write. as i sit down at my laptop, i can't help but find myself wondering "will i be able to write today? and if not...will i be able to feel happy and fulfilled for the rest of the day? how will i be able to be happy if i can't write?"


as a writer, my identity, and thus happiness, is wrapped up in my ability, or lack thereof, to produce writing. when i can't write i feel burned out, frustrated, and unfulfilled.

on the flipside of that coin...

on days when i am a living, breathing, unique being (which btw is every day, even if sometimes i forget to be aware of it), my mind is typically much calmer as i sit down to write. i feel relaxed and i don't really care that much about whether or not i'll be able to write. if i do, great! if i don't, great! either way, i find that i am happy, whole, and fulfilled, because ultimately...

i am not a writer. 

i write.
it is an action,
is a gift,
a passion, a pleasure, and a delight - yes.
but it is not an identity. 

i am. 
without action, or creation, or production of any kind,
i still am exactly who i am.

the most freeing feeling lies in the revelation of your own value apart from anything your could ever produce with your own effort. sitting in stillness with the sun on your face, without moving a muscle, you are worth more than the most immense treasure. you are invaluable.

and so it is okay when you do just that: when you make nothing. on days when the inspiration may not be present, or when you may need to or want to do other things, don't ever feel guilty - be empowered as a unique and beautiful creator. respect and enjoy exactly who you are today, without needing to make anything. making something is beautiful but it isn't necessary. whether you write or draw or make content you will still be who you are.


and you will be you beautifully. you are great at being. you were made for it, in fact. so roll your shoulders back, stretch, yawn - take a deep breath, smile. feel your lungs fill and expand with air, feel the energy flowing throughout your body. Rub your thumbs slowly over the pads of your fingers. Closing your eyes, gently whisper: thank you.

thank you for these hands. mmm, these sweet, creative hands. they can make so many beautiful things. they can bring dreams into reality. i love these hands. but these hands are still beautiful even when they are not making a single thing. 

this mind is beautiful even when it's not thinking about anything more than the birdsongs.
this body is beautiful even when it's not working out, or dressed up, or working hard, or rushing around.
this mouth is beautiful even when it's not speaking any wise or grand words.

i am beautiful because I simply am.



stay stoked,
kate





structured vs. rigid


if you've been following my blog for awhile now, you've probably noticed that i usually post every saturday. well, yesterday came and went - it's sunday now and a blog post didn't go up yesterday. i could have crammed it in, made it work, and gotten it out there. but there was no reason for that, and that's actually what i want to talk about on this sleepy, drizzly vermont sunday.

in much of today's culture, the 'hustle' is glorified and productivity is widely talked about on the internet, in articles, and even in courses you can purchase to make your daily schedule more so. i do want to start this off by saying that i fully believe that's it's vitally important to find a purpose(s) work hard, and find fulfillment in what we do - however, like anything else, we can overdo, and actually misinterpret what this actually means.

yesterday, instead of checking off tasks at my desk, i spent the day out with my mom and sister. we went to the mall, ate sushi, and had loads of good conversation and lots of fun. it was a great reminder that, though my creative work is a massive part of my universe, and something that has helped to shape me, it's not the defining factor of who i am as a being and it's not the source from which i derive all my happiness.

i talked about this once in a video, but it can be so easy to fall into the trap of 'when i can do this, then i'll be happy.' even now, i sometimes catch myself relying on my own efforts to produce happiness.

"If I write what I want to write today, then I'll be happy..." 

but science shows that happiness really needs to come first - and i've experienced this first hand in my own life.

“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.” – Shawn Achor

we create well from a happy heart. we don't create well from a burned out point of departure where we are desperately clinging to our work, hoping it will bring us happiness. then if/when it doesn't, we find ourselves even deeper in despair - and somewhat angry at our art for not fixing everything. (haha)

see to me, my art and everything else i do is structure. structure is great. like the literal meaning of the word, structure helps give us a foundation to build, to create, and to give ourselves a healthy, beautiful space where we can live and work and play every day. It means that we're pursuing goals and dreams, and actively working on our things whenever we can. and yes, we are finding fulfillment from doing this, but we're not relying upon it alone to provide us with happiness.


things like rising early, meditating, scheduling or planning, doing yoga or some other form of relaxing exercise, creating a morning or daily routine, are all great indicators that you've created a structure of some kind to help you live and work more creatively.

but...i think in today's world of 'hustle' it can be easy to mistake structure for rigidity.

being rigid means you lack the ability to move and bend with the ebb and flow of life. it means you have a structure and you've worked hard to build it, but if a high wind hits? look out below. if you find yourself saying 'no' to all else but things strictly related to work, it might be a sign that you've surpassed having a healthy structure, and you've become rigid.

life isn't just about work, even creative work. if you have work that you love - awesome. me too. but it's so, so important not to get so tied up in what we do that we more closely associate with what we put out than with what already dwells inside of us.

sometimes we need to skip a blog post and go eat sushi with people we love.

if you find yourself saying 'no' too often to things that actually fill your heart and bring your happiness? that's going to hurt your creativity in the long run. happiness must come first...and from there we can create what our heart desires. it's just like carb-loading before a run, or filling your car with gas before a road trip: you need fuel. you can't run on empty.

create structure, but build it so that it can bend with the wind, move with the ebb and flow of life. if you enjoy planning and scheduling and working on your projects every day? power to you! keep doing what you're doing. but as you continue to build and grow, make sure your schedule is flexible enough to include happiness, hope, joy, and the things and people who make your heart hum - who actually inspire you to create.

i'll keep this one shorter today, sweet friend. ♥ i hope you have a beautiful rest of your week, and a lovely 4th of July if you're in the usa. keep creating, keep dreaming...

and stay stoked!
kate

dear mind


dear mind,

it's been awhile. it's hard to get a message through to you; you're so busy all the time, and you speak so freely and boldly. but there are a few things we need to talk about - some things we often seem to disagree on.

i know you like to constantly be going, going, going, but sometimes i feel like you think of me as a machine. i'm not. not at all. no, i'm arms and legs and a torso - a face with lips, eyes, a nose, freckles. i can see and hear and touch and feel. i can taste. i can embrace someone. i can tell them that i love them - that i'm there for them. yes, i'm okay with getting things done, in fact i love the sense of accomplishment i feel when we're working together...but i don't always need to be doing. going. hustling.

yes, i am the voice that facilitates those beautiful words: i can, but it doesn't mean i always need to be doing something. sometimes it's okay to just be.

i've also noticed that you like to push the goalpost out even farther as soon as we reach it. that bothers me. i worked hard to get there. why can't we just stop...and enjoy it? see, you do a lot of thinking, but i'm the one who is actually down here turning your ideas and goals and dreams into tangible realities, and to be honest, i'm proud of all the work i've done.

we've been through a lot, you and i. we've seen and done so much, we make a great team. but sometimes it seems like you're constantly rearing to be off - off to the next thing, and the next. you miss how beautiful it is right here, how good it feels to have accomplished all that we have. please slow down...keep dreaming, but be here too. let's soak in the sunshine and laugh and run barefoot on the beach. let's be proud of the work we've done - that we passed that test, or that we've learned this much of a new language, or that we've been promoted. it doesn't always have to be something else or something more.

oh, and mind? this is a serious one...

please stop talking down to me.

i really don't appreciate it; in fact it hurts.

whenever you call me clumsy or awkward or stupid - it hurts. i thought i was your best friend. i thought i was the one who carried you and held you up and worked as hard as i could to make your dreams come true. i give you taste and touch and sound and sight. i've given you hands that can reach and grasp and hold on to someone you love.

please stop saying mean things. stop picking me apart piece by piece when you look in the mirror - i am a work of art, and i am your best friend.

stop comparing me to other bodies, other faces, thighs, arms, hair. i love the way i look - i love what i can do: grasping, holding, lifting, walking, running, hugging, kissing - and a million more. i am designed for greatness. and you are too, but only when we're working together. only when we're dancing in harmony.

mind, we're going to do wonderful things together. just take a deep breath and calm down. i've got your back. we're gonna make it. we're going to push through. but along the way...let's just be. let's enjoy. lets celebrate how far we've come, how much we've accomplished, and this beautiful life we're living!

mind, i love you. maybe you should start thinking that more too, when you look in the mirror. when we mess up, or misspeak, or don't do all the things...maybe instead of taking it out on me, maybe we just take a deep breath and accept that we've worked hard, given it our best, and that is enough. you are enough. i am enough.

we are enough.

when you look at me in the mirror, tell me i am enough. and that you love me.
even when we're not making anything. even if we don't feel our best. even if we made a mistake.

you are enough.
i love you.

sincerely and affectionately,
your body





let's all try to be nice to ourselves today. <3 
stay stoked,
kate