Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pattern Overwhelm

I often say I'm overwhelmed.  I wrote about overwhelm before.  Then I kind of forgot about it until a friend was saying I'm overwhelmed.......I once had an insight about that so I went to find my writing about it.....this has lead me into writing this new post about overwhelm.

In the last 2 months I've been doing this brain dance.  And by gosh it has helped me begin to see a pattern.   More dancing is required to fully unmake it and remake a new habit.  As a consequence of doing this wacky flailing of arms dance I see a little more clearly my overwhelm pattern.  It is so weird that this dance works. (more about that in future posts)

I say I'm overwhelmed, and it's usually on a day when I feel I need to answer emails, plan dinner, drive 50 miles to do the main grocery shopping, pay bills, and there are a million little care of the home tasks like scooping out the litter box and watering the basil.........

What I'm discovering is that it isn't all that, pardon my wording, *crap* that has me overwhelmed.   It is that on some level I've reached a point where I've been avoiding my one big thing.   Back when I wrote about overwhelm before - I did not put in any links in my post.  Nor did I put in the links to the blogs that originally gave me a clue to this insight.  So here is the link love to those bloggers....... Third Hands Works mentioned it and she was referring to Mona Grayson's post about it.  

But more about my Big Thing......
 I'm a creative dawdler.   Living a creative existence is what I feel is my Big Thing.  Creative dawdling isn't just the name of  my blog - it's what I call all my juicy soul nourishing creative activities......In my years of being a creative dawdler I have developed some habits that maybe are not so useful such as procrastination, drifting, exploring all things creative instead of focusing on just one or two.   These habits lead me to a pattern of overwhelm.

Sometimes when I am avoiding/drifiting from my creative life or when there is a lot of external responsibilities happening that I feel the time monsters shouting   -No Time!  No Time for creative! -  I start to go into a frenzy of chores and to dos and say I'm overwhelmed.   But really it's a clue that my overwhelm pattern loop is happening.  The way out is to go back to my creative dawdling.  Even a small step is enough to lessen overwhelm. 

Sometimes my creative dawdling has me overwhelmed because I love to do soooooooo many things........just a quick list includes, clay, SoulCollage®, journaling, photography, crochet, astrology, rituals, space arrangement, writing for personal pleasure, writing my blog, assemblage art, beading, reading about any of these topics........there's more....but my point is that when I say I'm overwhelmed in regards to my creative dawdling then it is usually because I'm thinking about all of these and more in a monkey mind jumping around in the studio tree's way.  I haven't actually taken a concrete tangible action on a one of them. 

The way to disrupt the pattern loop is to just pick something within my Big Thing Domain of Creative Dawdling and act on it.  Or finish something that is part way done.    In this instance, when I'm overwhelmed in my creative dawdling I have to make myself sit down and take an action.  Ignore the mind, tell the critic to go take a break(more about that in a future post) and do one creative thing.  I do not even have to worry about what that thing is as long as it is a tangible action and not more thinking about it.   I also don't have to worry about the quality of the creative act.....only doing - doing badly, ugly,or beautifully but DOING.

This is where Jen Louden's Conditions of Enoughness comes in handy.     This process helps you pick a simple action, do it in a measurable way, making sure it is dependent only on you to do, and when you are done you declare yourself satisfied - even if you do not feel satisfied.    

Here is a part of my overwhelm pattern I've noticed.....
When I'm in overwhelm I'm very bad a choosing a simple action.  As soon as I try to set a simple condition of enoughness (COE for short) I get more overwhelmed.   That is because choosing a COE while in that mind boogling moment of overwhelm doesn't work for me.  It is too much thinking and not yet an action.   So for me, I have to do a preview action before setting a COE.  I have to do something creative and not worry about what it is so I might draw -or scribble -or doodle -or list words.  I might crochet.  I like to use my hands.   That action calms me down.   Dance of Shiva (brain dance) also gets me out of thinking and breaks the pattern loop.   

Once I've calmed down then I can come up with some COE's that help me further along on my creative dawdling path.  They help me lessen overwhelm.    The COE's help me move forward with quantity.  The brain dance helps me notice the pattern. 

It isn't that overwhelm is never going to happen.....but it's nice to have a little clue as to what will shift the pattern and what will help move me out of drifting and procrastination.......

Are you overwhelmed?  Ever thought it's not the to do list pressing on you but your one big thing saying attend to me?  Whatever, your thing is, I wish you creative blessings.....
The bunnies around here love comments......please feed them.


  1. Here my little carrot for the bunnies to nibble on...though I must warn...I don't feel particularly brilliant today...

    This is bringing up all kinds of things for me--and as I read it, I had a bit of a epiphany, too. In my own moments of overwhelm, more often than not, I too am avoiding that one big thing. It calls to me--and you know how I answer? I add MORE STUFF to my to-do list...and then justify it by telling myself that I'm already overwhelmed, so why not just make this a day of overwhelm-ment, and add everything else that's on my weekly to-do list, to this day's to-do list, and just get it all done in one miserable day.

    Want to know what happens next?

    Complete and utter breakdown.

    Five days on the couch with tea and murder mysteries, trying to recover.

    Oh thank you, Kara--thank you for sharing your pattern and helping me figure out my pattern. This probably should have been a blog post (it practically IS a blog post).

    Aren't we just fantastic?! We're figuring stuff out!! We're being kind!! Woo-hoo!!!

  2. This is a great post for me. I have been away from writing since the summer. I have been dormant creatively concerning my own personal work. Most of my creative energy has been in regard to teaching my daughter.

    I painted for the first time since July this past Sunday, for the first time in a very long time I have felt peace in my "overwhelm" world. Strange how this happens.

    I believe the dormant state as well as the busyness has been here to teach me something. I'm engaging the process to learn!

    Thank you for this spectacular post!

  3. Karen - yes you have illuminated another piece of the pattern for me too - I tend to add stuff to my to-do or want to do list when I'm in a state of overwhelm. Sure enough then I end up giving up on everything or maybe if I get anything done it is with a very unpleasant attitude while slaving away at the chores with the pity party going on in my head.
    I guess that is why when I can just take one simple action and not worry about the bigger picture I can calm down and return to creative dawdling.
    The bunnies thank you for the comment food.

  4. Jennifer thank you for feeding the bunnies...hee, hee....they are jumping over in joy!
    Seriously, sometimes I get discouraged and this comment you left me really helps me soothe that part of me. It's good encouragement. (smiling)

    I've very glad you liked this post. I like reading that you painted and felt peace in your overwhelm world.....seriously that is *IT* in a short pithy nutshell.
    And I'm learning too about my patterns of dormancy and busyness.....glad to meet another gal engaged in that process.
    I've looked at your blog a few times and saw you were taking a break....but I'll go over and have another look.

  5. I've left a few nibbles for the bunnies hither and yon as I've caught up on all your previous posts here this morning. In addition, I made a few comments in Notepad along the way intended to share in one fell swoop when I worked my way back to the beginning ... so here goes:

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts about returning to Taos.

    LOVED the photo of you holding the blue 'Creative Dawdling Heart and think it could be a nifty LOGO for your sidebar especially if you add the URL to the image.

    Fun to see the rough draft of your labyrinth and to read of your 're-entry' after Taos. I missed everyone too ... still do actually!

    Your 'thunyness' post and Karen's response captured the essence of 'withdrawal' for me. Like Karen I wrote my way through the feelings then got myself busy listening to the Successful Author Secrets series Jen provided the link for ... and that led me to one exciting thing after another so I don't have as much TIME to miss everyone now (though I still do).

    Getting your REAL letter was very kewl and writing one in return helped keep the connection alive. I've also talked with Sharon on the phone ... and, of course, Jan as well. I've tried to use Facebook but only a few people seem to see and respond to those posts ... probably because things disappear from the feed so quickly because so many people post there.

    Ah ... reading about your process of S L O W I N G down and remembering your marvelous Soul Collage Cards (together with Karen's wise response) brings the two of you closer right now ... and I'm reminded how I need to create time in my day to visit BOTH of your blogs to stay in touch because I'm sure that would help keep ME centered admid the cRaZy-MaKiNg BuSyNeSs of my life right now!

    LOVED the pizza photo series though it made me hungry for pizza right now at 9am ... sigh!

    Marvelous gratitude series ... beautiful and delicious ;-)

    As for this final piece ... recognizing our patterns can help ... and as we learned in Taos, the Dance of Shiva encourages us release old patterns in favor of new ones ... helping us move into new ways of seeing and being. I'm delighted to catch up here today and have bookmarked the URL so I can find you more easily the next time. Sending light, love, and energy for your continued creative dawdling!
    Hugs and blessings,

  6. Dearest Kara -

    Thank you for these words of insight. *Especially* about needing not to be in the midst of Overwhelm when setting COE's.

    Some days, I fear that I must have taken nothing away from Taos except the sense that there *is* a better way to deal with the world than I currently am. In fact, with as tiny as I set my COE's upon leaving the retreat, I find that they are now far beyond what I am able to accomplish, being who I am on any given day.

    So perhaps I will try being creative in a small way, instead of trying to organize my world in such a way as to find time to be creative. (And I'm wondering if the hemming repairs to the school choir robes would count as creative sewing :-) Mmmm...probably not.)

    My thanks to Virginia for pointing the way here on Facebook. I'm rarely on FB anymore, (what with my 2.5 jobs) but I'm grateful that this is where I landed today.

    Blessings and a big hug to you.

  7. Virginia thank you for visiting and spending so much time reading through and noting. You do have a good idea about the blue heart......I may get there eventually. Small steps each day.
    I'm finding I'm slow. I just go slower than other things on the internet and especially social media these days.
    I loved the way you wrote this "cRaZy-MaKiNg BuSyNeSs" It reminds me of your writings.
    Thank you for visiting and for the hugs and blessings.

  8. Kristen! What a delight to find your visit here. Thank you for leaving a comment and helping to feed the bunnies.
    You made me think of another piece of the pattern. I feel I add things to my to do list....AND some of the things I add to the to do list is to re-organize my life so I can find the time to do the Big Thing. Which only makes me more overwhelmed.
    Thank you for helping me see this because I was doing just that two days ago when I started to get overwhelmed....I started to get in a frenzy of my routines need to be overhauled.....
    *SIGH* this is the place I tell myself gentle with yourself Kara.
    I don't have any answers but you've helped me see the pattern a little more so I think I will just go back tangibling dawdling with my hands creating.....even for 5 minutes of touching in to how good that feels.....
    Hugs back to you!