Today is Halloween. We are entering the darkest time of the year, when the days are cold and the nights are long.
Four days before the US election, as coronavirus cases rise and rise, we feel the gathering darkness, the rising uncertainty, the suspense over what waits in the wings. Will darkness wash over the land? Will winter bring death and despair?
What do we do as artists and creative people during this time?
In this moment, I’m guided to share some guidance–of both the practical and visionary kind.
- Be religious about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional state.
- Take action.
- Take heart.
Your body, mind, and emotions
With a tumbling economy and falling temperatures, the rising tension of the news headlines, and the rising drumbeat of coronavirus cases, it’s ESSENTIAL to take care of your body, mind, and emotions.
For your body, focus on sleep, food, water, movement.
For me, this means cutting off evening activities to go to bed early. Doing yoga in the morning and taking a walk outside every day. Drinking at least a gallon of water and 48 oz of organic vegetable juice each day. Eating food that’s delicious and incredibly healthy.
You know what your body really needs to feel vibrant and alive. Choose one or two very specific things and DO THEM.
Or, if you’re the type of person who does best by going BIG, choose four big things to do for your body. Eight hours of sleep. Four servings of vegetables, and no sugar. A gallon of water. An hour of exercise.
Choose what’s right for you–and what will WORK for you. Then commit to it and treat it like your new religion. (If structure is helpful for you, a program like #75hard can be useful.)
Treat those things as if they’re as essential as breathing–because they are. (Not literally, of course… but on the energetic level these things are as crucial as oxygen.) To stay in flow during these times–instead of being a hot mess of stress–you must care for your body as the everyday foundation of your life.
Taking care of your body will get you 75% of the way there with your mind and your emotions. For the last 25%, focus on action and vision.
(Yes, there are much deeper processes we can and must take to handle trauma, deep-rooted resistance, and big systemic problems–but this piece is about what you can do to make an immediate difference, right now, especially for the next few days or weeks.)
Beyond taking care of your physical state, the best way to shift your emotions and mind into a positive state is through action.
Action is the antidote to hopelessness, cynicism, and fear.
Commit to a specific amount of creative work, and do it.
Volunteer to get out the vote for the election.
Get involved with a cause or organization you believe in.
Yes, we’re all under extra pressure and stress because of the pandemic and election. And, we are bigger and more powerful than we realize. We can be compassionate and real about what’s happening in our lives and call ourselves to take action for our bigger vision and goals.
For me, taking action means getting up at 5 or 5:30 am to write and do kundalini yoga before it’s time to get the kids ready for school. (This is obviously connected to why I’m going to bed early!) It means serving clients or working on my business during the one day my kids are both in school–or during my kids’ Zoom calls or windows where my husband or our babysitter can cover things.
It means sharing articles that inform people and squeezing in a session of text banking when I can–or donating money to campaigns when I have more money than time.
What will taking action be for you? You know the big creative vision you’re working towards, and you know your life situation and goals.
Look at what will move you forward most effectively–and what you can do–and choose the actions you’ll take.
Choose small actions or big ones.
Many tiny actions lead to a big result. A few sentences (or minutes) a day become a novel over time. Small actions from many people can change the course of a nation.
Big actions can lead to a sudden breakthrough.
Whether your actions are small or big, they both lead to this important result: momentum.
Once you have momentum, everything becomes easier. The power of your own energy and enthusiasm carry you forward.
Last but not least, hold the vision.
Even in these dark and uncertain times, we have come together to make a better world. Doctors, nurses, medical researchers, public health officials, and essential workers have stepped up, saved lives, and kept us fed and alive in the middle of this pandemic.
Thousands of artists and craftspeople have created masks for people to wear. Jazz musicians are holding concerts in the streets, people are shooting short films and videos on their phones, and writers are holding readings over Zoom.
Incredible progressive movements have sprung up–from everyday citizens who made calls and went to protests, to high schoolers who turned trauma and pain into a nationwide movement, to women who spoke up about #metoo moments, to legions of people who massed in the streets despite a pandemic to demand justice, to a new generation of climate activists, to new politicians stepping forward and speaking up. People have come out to vote in historic numbers.
Yes, it is a cold time of year, a dark time of year, a dark time in history.
And, we have the power of heart and hope. In every moment of fear, pain, or uncertainty, people have held the vision of a better world.
We can continue to hold that vision.
Let us move forward–with love and action and heart.
Let us create work that makes a difference–and create the world we desire.
P.S. If you want support so you can do your art regularly and easily–even during these tough and uncertain times–email me and ask about the Artist in Action program.