The Compassionate Creative Blog

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

In 2011, I made the questionable decision to train and run the Chicago Marathon. Now when you distance run, it is recommended that you cross train. This can be walking, weights, yoga, whatever floats your boat. The idea being that it balances out all the running you're doing by strengthening your non-running muscles while your running muscles get a nice spa day to max relax. Dear Reader, this is the part where I admit to you that NO I did not cross train whilst training to run a marathon for the first time. Pretty sure I was too busy crushing vodka sodas to hit the yoga mat. I bet by now you can guess what happened? Yes, I got hurt. I did my 18 mile training run and woke up the next day to a knee that felt like someone had taken a hammer to it.

I zip zap zopped on down to the nearest physical therapist who told me that I had Runner’s Knee, which was due to what? WEAK MUSCLES. Now, did I give up? OF COURSE NOT HAVE YOU MET ME!? Also, I hadn’t yet heard of sunk cost fallacy so I just laid off it for a week or so and then did my final long run, a quick and jaunty 20 miles, trying not to cry from the pain. Race day came and I took a handful of ibuprofen and made it through with a very shitty time.

Runner's Knee taped up within an inch of it's life.

Years later I ran the Miami Half-Marathon and guess what I did? Yoga every week. And guess what happened? YOU ARE SO SMART! Yes, I PR’d. (aka set a personal record) That race was the fastest I’d ever run and I believe it was from all that got damn yoga. Because, as it turns out, cross training works. Who knew?

Now, let’s look at creativity through the cross training lens. Say you have a project in front of you, maybe even a deadline with stacks of cash involved. Do you bury yourself in the project until it is done? Do you say no to any and all fun which includes but is not limited to: anything that does not make money, socializing with friends, going for a walk, dancing, learning something new? Do you find yourself sitting in front of the computer screen/guitar/easel feeling frustrated and exhausted because you just can’t seem to figure it out? And finally, instead of opting to take a break you just stay there and tell yourself what a talent less piece of shit you are?

Then let me introduce you to Play as Cross Training! According to author and researcher Dr. Stuart Brown, Play is any kind of purposeless all-consuming restorative activity. Read that again. Did you prickle at the word purposeless? I know, that's capitalism. It’ll fade in time. But here’s the deal with Play: when we engage in it we relax AND we create new neural pathways. Guess what relaxed bodies and new neural pathways are susceptible too? Yup, NEW IDEAS!!! HOLY SHIT!!!! Creativity loves new ideas! It thrives off of it! Ayeeeee!

Back to that project. What if, instead of grinding harder when you feel stuck, you got up out of your chair and made a mess with some paint or threw on a tune and danced like your Aunt Linda after one too many sangrias? What if you tried something new just for the fuck of it with zero intention of monetizing it and with the sole intention of having a good ass time? Do you think it would help your process? Do you think you would have more fun and therefore your work might even get easier and better? YES IT WILL. How do I know? Because science. But also, I actually got blocked writing this lil blog post so I took a break, bedazzled a face mask just for the hell of it, came back and wrote this ending like a gentle lake breeze. That is why Play is the Cross Training of Creativity .

A couple of gemstones later and this blog was DONE.

If you’d like to test my theory join me Saturday, August 1st at 11:00 am central for Creative Power Hour-An Online Creative Salon Where There Are No Mistakes. THIS IS YOUR YOGA CLASS BB! Except, you don’t have to wear pants if you don’t want to and it’s free. Sign up here if you want to make some major gains!

And, if you like this blog post, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. It’s the compassionate creative thing to do!

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Earlier this week I posted a lil meme that seemed to resonate with many of you.

This statement of course, arises from personal experience. Some of the absolute worst mistakes I have made were when I was trying to be for everyone. Punching down in my jokes as a young comedian desperate for laughs and acceptance. Ignoring my needs when I was with a man I wanted to like me. Taking jobs simply because they were offered and I wanted the person offering to what? Like me. “Please like me” was the unconscious mantra of a large portion of my adult life. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Your thoughts create your life.”? Well that thought does not create a very chill life at all.

Being seen, heard, and accepted is a basic human need. But for many of us, especially Creatives, this need can feel overwhelming. All consuming. You need me to drive an hour and a half to Valparaiso, Indiana to improvise for two hours while wearing fishnets and speaking in a Mid-Atlantic accent for $75? WHERE DO I SIGN UP!?!?! Somewhere along the line Creatives got the message that if you don’t do it for pencil shavings, someone else will. And they will get famous for it. Real famous, like Julia Roberts FAMOUS. So ya know, grab your garter belt and don’t dilly dally.

Yet, after we do that five, six, seventy times, what do we find? The Three Ds: Depleted, Demoralized, and Devoid of creativity. Because when we try to be for everyone, we end up abandoning ourselves. So how do we prevent slipping down this shitastic slope? Glad you asked because the Type A part of me made a list!

How To Stop Abandoning Yourself in Four Fairly Challenging Steps!

aka RITA

  1. Recognize: First off, recognize that not everyone is FOR you either. That business owner who says you are so great great great but can you do it for free in exchange for exposure? They are not FOR YOU bb. You know what people who get stuck in the cold die of? EXPOSURE.

  2. Identify: Ask yourself: What am I about? What are my values? What is my mission? Identifying what matters to you can help you sort through the bullshit. When a request comes through the gmail account you can ask yourself: Does this align with me, my values, and my mission?

  3. Transform: Start to tell yourself a different story. At the root of people pleasing behavior is the Negative Core Belief: I am not enough. But here’s the real deal: We are all enough. We are all enough because we are here. Because we exist. Our worth is inherent and untouchable by no one or thing. Start telling yourself that. Write it down in your journal. Post it in your space. Say it out loud in the mirror. Who cares if it feels silly. Life is fucking silly. Enjoy it.

  4. Avoid Resentment: Know that when you try to be for everyone you will do things from a place of resentment. Which Nelson Mandela perfectly stated, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” If you say yes to a job and don’t ask for a contract and then feel ragey about it when it all goes to shit, guess who has to lay their head down at night with that feeling? It won’t be your client bb.

Are there other things you can do? Absolutely. And we’ll be addressing those in the Fall session of Forward, my online coaching group for creatives and freelancers. We start August 11th and meet online every other week for a total of 8 sessions. We also have a lot of fun while we grow. You can learn more and register here. Got questions? Schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me here.

And, if you like this blog post, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. It’s the compassionate creative thing to do!

*RITA is not a quick fix. She’s a gal that takes time and practice. Try your best and be kind to yourself if you slip down that shittastic slope a few more times. It’s OK. You’re doing your best and that is enough.

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Have you ever had that friend that when you leave their presence you feel like someone stuck a straw in your foot and sucked all of your energy out? SAME. There’s a reason this happens: That friend is a Chaos Chef.

Nom nom nom! I love cooking up fresh hot chaos!

When I first start working with clients many of them realize they have people in their lives that aren’t on their team. They discover folks who are unsupportive, unkind, and sow seeds of discord in their life. I call these people Chaos Chefs. Because chaos is the only thing they know how to make. These peeps make growth, change, and creation very very hard. Why? Because they need you to stay exactly where you are in order to feel good about themselves. For example, years ago I was applying for a job. I made the mistake of telling a Chaos Chef the rate I was asking for, to which they bluntly replied, “You won’t get that.” Now regardless of whether that was true or not, that’s a shitty thing to tell someone who is trying to better their life and ask for what they were worth. That's the result of someone who doesn't want me to earn the rate I am worth because it will make them feel bad. That is the language of a Chaos Chef.

Many times clients hold the Negative Core Belief that if they start to grow and change they will lose these Chaos Chefs and will never be able to replace them. Thus becoming lonely and friendless Sad Saddersons. To which I say: I have more loving, supportive, and kind friends now than I have ever had in my entire life. Most of which I have made since I started actively working to become more aligned in my life.

Are Chaos Chefs bad people? I don't know. I’m not in the business of judging who is good or bad. I am in the business of guiding folks towards what and who feels aligned and loving. When you make the choice to become more of who you are, things that seemed OK before somehow feel terrible now. It can be the same with people too. Oftentimes I ask clients the question: What does an ideal friendship look and feel like to you? It’s interesting that many of us have never asked that question before. Romantic relationships seem to get that treatment. Now more and more of us staying single and redefining structures like family and marriage, so it’s time we turn our attention to ALL of our intimate relationships. Not just the sexy time ones. In order to support distancing yourself from the Chaos Chefs in your life, here are three types of friends to be on the look out for and make as you take on the challenge to become more you:

The Troubleshooter Connector

This is the person who is like, “You need a job? I got six friends that are hiring, here’s their emails! And if that doesn't work call me!" Troubleshooter Connectors want everyone in their lives to live and feel at the top of their game. You will begin meeting them, or awakening to the existing Troubleshooter Connectors in your life, when you start following your own desires. They are generous, self-motivated, and kind. Be sure to mirror their energy back to them once you receive it.

The Cheerleader

I know cheerleaders get a bad rap in pop culture but think about it for a second: cheerleaders are major energy shifters. You know how much power that has? To be able to see the good in things? To yell about it? Share it with others? You can feel like a sorry sack of rotten potatoes, go hang out for fifteen minutes with a Cheerleader, and walk away feeling like you just attended Beychella. Pass the pom poms, I love a goddamn cheerleader.

The Brave

These are the people that are gonna lovingly tell you when you are fucking up. Listen to them. Brave friends can also hold space for you when you’re having a hard time instead of telling you, “Everything happens for a reason.” or “It’s not that big of a deal.” They can do this because they have done the work of sitting with their own discomfort. Your negative feelings don’t scare them because they are BFFs with their own. These people will not fix you but they will walk with you as you fix your life.

Now that you know what to look for, start paying closer attention to the people around you. I bet some of these folks already exist in your life right now. Nurture your relationship to them. Ask them to zoom. Invite them for a walk. Send them a thank you card. Give them what they give you. Do this with the knowing that what we pay attention to grows. You pay attention to Chaos Chefs, you’re gonna get more chefs. You pay attention to kind, brave, supportive people, guess what you’ll get? I think you know.

I wanna hear how it goes! Tell me about it in the comments. And if you like this blog post, please be sure to like, share, and subscribe. It’s the compassionate creative thing to do!

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© 2020 Shanna Shrum