The Compassionate Creative Blog

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

I spent the majority of my adulthood thinking I was lazy. Spoiler Alert: I'm not. Lazy people don't win Employee of the Year, work several weeks in a row without a day off (DO NOT RECOMMEND), hold multiple jobs at a time. Dudes, I once worked at Ruby Tuesday's AND TGI Friday's at the same time! (AGAIN DO NOT RECOMMEND) Lazy people don't journal for a decade or keep a daily meditation practice for two and a half years. I finally realized that believing the Negative Core Belief I was lazy, was actually a cop out. A way to stay small. Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. says, "Core beliefs capture our fundamental view of the world, other people, and ourselves. They're what we believe to be true on the deepest level."

My Negative Core Belief said I was lazy but in reality, it was one, or possibly even a combination of three things: Fear, Misaligned Action, or Exhaustion. Let’s discuss...

I am def v obsessed with this sloth. HOW CUTE IS HE!?!

Fear

Say you’re a writer and OMG you love love love to write and desperately deeply want to write a novel but every time you start or try you can’t keep it up. Is it because you’re a lazy worthless no good piece of shit? NO. You’re scared honey bunny! It’s scary to put yourself and your art out into a world that may or may not like it. Cause let’s be real, both possibilities are terrifying! If someone doesn’t like it they might say shitty things on the internet and that would HURT and feel like failure. And if people do like it and it sells a bajillion copies then you will be SEEN by So. Many. People. I once had a therapist tell me our deepest fear was to never be seen and known and to also be seen and known. She wasn’t lying.


Misaligned Action

You never seem to finish a project or follow through with something. OK. I want you to sit down and ask yourself: Did I fucking love what I was doing? Like Love.com it? Or was I simply trying it and it was sorta cool but not cool enough to hold my interest? Or maybe someone suggested I try it and said I should like it and I should be successful at it but really doing that job sucked my soul right out of my body so I stopped trying hard because I just didn’t enjoy the work. If you’re like “Yeah that’s me, how did she get inside my brain?”, you were moving from Misaligned Action aka You haven’t found what truly interests you, or the right combination of interests, that make your soul sing. Yet.


Exhaustion

OK, so you’ve just spent multiple days on your feet moving and creating for hours and hours on end and oh my god you still have so much shit to do but are so tired. Do you call this desire for inaction lazy? Welp, you’re wrong. It’s called rest bb and every single body needs and is entitled to it. In fact, if you don’t rest you could work yourself so hard that you become sick and then guess what? You can’t work at all.


If you’ve called yourself lazy in the past but recognized yourself in any of these scenarios and are now wondering what the hell you should do, here’s my professional opinion: Become curious and kind. When you want to drop the L word on yourself or someone else use it as a cue to ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?” Check in with your body. She/He/They know what’s up. If your body is Tight and Tense = You’re Scared. Indifferent = Misaligned. Can’t Keep Your Eyes Open = Exhausted. Now that you’ve been curious, see if you can become kind. Tell yourself it’s OK to feel however you’re feeling. It’s a part of being human. Our feelings aren’t facts but they are a handy dandy road map. Take your kindness deeper by accepting them and giving yourself what you truly need by journaling through your fear, meditating on your misalignment, or taking a goddamn nap and a few days off without judgement. Any of these actions will move you forward faster and more efficiently than calling yourself lazy ever will. I promise.


Let me know where Curious and Kind leads you! Comment below!


Updated: Sep 16, 2020

Can we normalize fucking up? One of my goals as a creative and coach is to do just that. The fear of failure paralyzes many of us out of creating and doing what we really want. So let me spend a few paragraphs normalizing failure by telling you about the most epic and eviscerating creative fail I have ever experienced. Buckle up!


As alluded to in a previous post, I was kicked out of an improv group in the late aughts. The funny thing about being kicked out of this particular group is that they actually forgot to tell me. (I swear I am not making this up.) I was hanging out at a Chicago improv theater bothering a pal who was bartending when I mentioned I hadn’t heard from any members of the group for a while. This was very odd indeed, because one of the group’s members happened to be a close personal friend. The Bartender’s face changed. “They should have told you.” TOLD ME WHAT?!?! My body seized the way it does when you know you’re about to receive some really shitty shame filled news. My limbs went cold, my stomach dropped. I braced myself for impact. “They kicked you out of the group.”, she said. My head began to spin. I wish I hadn’t had that third mandarin vodka and soda. “Are you sure?”, I asked. The Bartender texted another comedy kid to confirm. Who responded with: “Yeah, they kicked her out and submitted to the Del Close Marathon without her.”


What. The. Fuck? Everyone KNEW but ME. I was stunned. I had been ghosted by an improv troupe!!!! And that improv troupe submitted a video of us performing to one of the biggest improv festivals in the world. The kicker? We-I mean THEY, got in.


That improv troupe most definitely did not want to keep me.


I ordered another mandarin and soda. I literally had no other coping skills at the time so alcohol was the best I could do to numb the massive shame wave that was threatening to drown me. I got drunker and started making calls on the sidewalk because that seemed like a really good idea. I called my best friend at the time, and hold onto your butts guys, cause guess what? She knew too. I KNOW! My horror grew. I started calling the other members. I don’t remember much of the conversations. I’m five foot two so four vodka sodas really makes things happen for me. But I do remember how the calls felt. I remember how alone I felt talking to each of them. How my identity as a performer felt obliterated and fraudulent. How worthless it made me feel that no one, not even my closest friend, was brave enough to sit me down and tell me the truth. I cried. A lot. What’s nice about that though, is that after a huge cry I become dead calm. Think Norman Bates calm. Once I was calm (and sober) I started to take action, and that action led me to making my way through The Artist’s Way.


By doing The Artist’s Way I realized my deepest desire wasn’t to be on an improv team. My deepest desire was to write and perform a one woman show. Which I did. *hair flip* After several months of typing on the train to and from work, Skinny Dipping-Not Your Mama’s One Woman Show! was born. I then produced and performed a Chicago run, which created the momentum I needed to leave my truly terrible career in Commercial Property Management and live a life that felt more honest and aligned. A life I wouldn’t have enjoyed had I not failed so fucking miserably and been booted from that group.


At the time I thought I would never get over the shame of that failure. I truly believed I would carry the embarrassment with me forever. The reality is, I go several months, maybe even a year without thinking about it. And when I do, I don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. I laugh. I mean, I was ghosted by an improv troupe you guys. The comedy literally writes itself. Yeah they went on and performed without me at The Del Close Marathon, but that was probably the last time they performed together before disbanding. Turns out I was on a sinking ship. They just chucked me overboard a little early.



And now? I’m grateful it happened. What felt so colossally awful at the time became the inciting incident for me to tap into who I was, what I really wanted, and then give it to myself. Now this isn't a "everything has been pumpkin spice latte perfect ever since" story. I have failed many MANY times since. And each time feels fucking TERRIBLE. Yet, each time I learn something new. So much so that I feel confident in calling myself an expert at failing. I’m so good at it that once I finish my failure sob and become Norman Bates Calm, I start looking for the lesson or new path failing inevitably provides. Now, failure feels normal. It's to be expected. And I like it that way.

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. But in case anyone hasn’t heard: Black Lives Matter and White people must do the inner and outer work that is necessary to dismantle the inhumanity that is White Supremacy.


To those out there fighting for justice there is a practice that can support you. I came upon it at the beginning of the pandemic while reading When Things Fall Apart by Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron. In it, Chodron describes the Buddhist meditation practice of Tonglen. Once I heard about Tonglen, I could not stop hearing about Tonglen. I listened to Sugar Calling where Alice Walker was talking about it. Then musician Devandra Barnhardt spoke of it on an episode of On Being. Tonglen seemed to be everywhere. I’m no dummy. I know a sign when I get smacked in the face with one. So I started to do it and have found it to be very helpful indeed. In her book, Pema Chodron describes Tonglen as, “Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine.” And well, we got a shit load of poison flying around right now and barely a drop of medicine in sight. So let's pahty:


Tonglen can be a helpful practice for anyone. But to the White people reading, I want to make clear that it is not meant to take the place of anti-racist action. It is meant to aid and support all who practice it. Tonglen is a way to transform pain and shift into a healing state. A state our world deeply needs. I also appreciate how accessible it is. If you find yourself overwhelmed by a feeling you can use it as a cue to practice Tonglen.


I also want to acknowledge that I am highlighting a white woman in this post at a time when amplifying Black voices is imperative. As a counter to that please check out and support Zen Priest Reverend angel Kyodo williams. She is a leading voice in anti-racist spiritual teachings and is the second Black woman recognized as a teacher in the Japanese Zen lineage. I am currently reading and highly recommend her book Radical Dharma. You can listen to her speak here.


Sending medicine in the form of love and strength to you all.

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© 2020 Shanna Shrum