thoughts on “Big Magic” & getting your creativity back

big magic

Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic, launched last week and I inhaled it.

Maybe it’s a little dose of big magic but this book release felt timely for me, personally, just as I was starting to ask the universe where the heck my creativity ran off to. When I was in 5th grade I wrote derivatives of R.L. Stines Goosebumps books and illustrated pictures to go with them. One in particular that comes to mind is of a skeleton who circled suburban cul-de-sacs on roller blades terrorizing the children of the neighborhood. You did not want to live in that cul-de-sac.

It was ridiculous, terrible, and amazing; I’d kill for that creativity today.

As we grow older and life happens, it’s so easy to throw yourself whole heartedly into your work or your career and if that work or career doesn’t happen to be innately creative or feed your soul, finding a creative outlet becomes work on top of your already all consuming work-life balances and you’ll find your once creative self describing your new self has not all that creative.

Well, that’s what happened to me. I’ve actually said the words over the last few years; “Im not all that creative.” I think my rollerblading skeleton would disagree.

Within the first few pages of reading “Big Magic”, I felt this gravitational pull to grab my notebook and start writing before all of the thoughts left my head. I began scribbling memories that I must have locked away somehow — a memory of being published in my high school literary magazine and submitting my poetry to poetry websites. I had no inhibitions, confidence that I’d kill for today, and simply put? Creativity.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s book demystifies creativity and that’s a beautiful thing. Why? because demystifying it, makes it accessible and it should be accessible because we all have our own version of it – even if it’s just locked away somewhere.

and the magical way to access it?

Is to put in the work. Inspiration can certainly hit you in a magical way but taking inspiration, following through, and turning it into something that fills you up creatively (whatever that may be) will always require you to be disciplined, sit down, and do. the. work.

If you want to feel inspired to create something (anything!) I recommend reading Big Magic.

It certainly got me writing again.

Thanks for reading!

Amy K Hall

my top 3 tips for getting out of overwhelm

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 9.24.43 PM

Yesterday was the first day of spring and here in New York, it snowed.

Despite the snow, there was still something about the start of spring that got me really excited and motivated for a change.

I’ve been hibernating all winter and in true hibernation form, i’ve been very resistant to exercising, eating nutritiously, and well, just any kind of movement at all. It’s also time to spruce up my spring wardrobe and I’ll need to do some shopping. Now that Im thinking about it, it’s probably time to give my apt some love; i’ll need to clean, get some plants, new throw pillows, some fun new decor. The start of spring is also a good time to revisit my goals… There becomes so much to do that I don’t even know where to begin so I…

don’t. do. anything.

I know I can’t be alone on this one so I’m sharing my 3 uber simple strategies for getting out of my obnoxious overwhelm, and getting sh*t done.

TIP #1

Make your bed. Seriously. Stop everything you’re doing right now, make your bed, and continue to make your bed every morning. Let it be the first thing you do each day. Making your bed every morning will give you the same satisfaction as crossing something off of your list. What better way to start your day than feeling accomplished. I know it seems small but trust me, it is the little things that matter in this life. Also, if you haven’t seen this Navy SEAL’s commencement speech to the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas, watch it. He sums up the importance of making your bed every day much more beautifully than I ever could.

“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

– U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven

TIP #2

Empty your brain. Ok, full disclosure? I actually call this exercise a “brain dump” but there has to be a more eloquent name for it, right? Suggestions welcomed!

Supplies needed:

  1. You
  2. Something to write with (This something that you choose should allow you to write freely, easily, and quickly!)
  3. Something to write on (This something that you choose should be roomy enough to fit all of the thoughts in your brain right now.)

How to do it:

First, just start writing. Write everything that comes to your mind that you feel is something you have to do. I mean everything. Even if it’s something you don’t think you don’t need to do for another 10 years, if it popped into your mind, it must leave your mind so, write. it. down. When I do this, I usually fill a few pages of a journal and it sounds a little something like this:

eat healthy. cook more. grocery shopping. plan my wedding. buy a house. plan trip to thailand. finish tip sheet for work. email grandma back. drink more water. sign up for a new yoga studio. boot shopping. pack up winter clothes. order book from amazon. make my bed. wash dishes. laundry. make eye doctor appointment.

and the writing goes on and on until I feel like Ive squeezed every possible to do off of my list, big or small, near or far.

Then, I pick 2-3 things that I can do right now (ex: make my bed, schedule eye doctor appointment) and I do it and cross it off my list.

Lastly, I mostly just stare at it all completely humored at the ridiculous many things that pop into my mind, contribute to my feeling overwhelmed, and prevent me from getting many amazing things done. If I’m still feeling overwhelmed, I prioritize the list and start crossing some other things off but usually, just writing it all down is a weight lifted for me.

TIP #3

Minimize your activation energy. Activation energy is a chemistry term. According to dictionary.com it’s defined as “n. the least amount of energy required to activate atoms or molecules to a state in which they can undergo a chemical reaction.”

For the sake of getting out of overwhelm, we will define activation energy as the energy it takes for you to initiate an action and therefore, get some serious stuff done. cool? 

So, think about what is creating so much overwhelm and strategize a way to decrease the activation energy to get whatever it is you need to get done, done.

For example: If I want to start running in the mornings. I know that waking up in the morning, struggling to find clothes in the darkness of my room, deciding what pre-running snack I will have to fuel me, and locating some H20 are all things that will ultimately, prevent me from even bothering with the run in the first place.

to decrease my activation energy, on Sundays, I can lay out my running outfits for the entire week, ensure that I have water bottles filled, and refrigerated and even pack a breakfast snack for each morning that I plan to run. Boom. I’m way more likely actually go for my morning run.

What tips do you guys have for getting out of overwhelm? Id love to hear. Share them in the comments below! 

Thanks for reading

Amy K Hall

what i’m reading: march 2015

what im reading

I’m notorious for starting multiple books at once and (gulp) not finishing them – that was hard to type. However, posting what I’m reading every month to the blogosphere as really held me accountable to finishing all of the goodness that I’ve started. I’m a big reader, but I have never read so much or been so happy – so, thank you for unknowingly making me do it!

Below, you can check out what I am reading in March (it’s an ambitious month for me!), and HERE on GoodReads, you can read any reviews posted from my February reading list.

Drumroll please…

  • Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle; This one has been on my bookshelf for quite some time and I am so excited to be digging in. After reading A New Earth and the Power of Now, I know that this book will only strengthen my pro-stillness stand.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hr Bookstore by Robin Sloan; Next up on my fiction reads is this little gem about a mysterious 24- hr bookstore. #booksaboutbooks
  • Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson; This one is exactly what it sounds like and you can rest assured that I will bring everything I learn to my regularly scheduled posts.
  • Thrive by Arianna Huffington; another one that has been on my list since last year. I saw Arianna Huffinton speak at ABC Carpet and Home when this book launched. In the book, she introduces work life balance as a metric to success. It’s something that not a lot of round the clock working new yorkers talk about and I’m really glad she brought it up. Plus, she’ll be speaking at my office this month. I hope to have some good questions for her!
  • E-cubed: 9 More Experiments That Prove Manifesting Magic and Miracles is Your Full-Time Gig by Pam Grout; Yep! I’m at in again. If this book looks familiar it’s because I read E-Squared in February. I will repeat, I manifested yellow butterflies in the middle of new york winter. I am excited to see what these 9 more experiences will bring.
  • Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders; A recommendation from a friend and colleague. It’s title made it an easy purchase. After reading goodreads descriptions, It’s still hard to figure out quite what it’s about but this quote got me really excited.
    • “In short, you become one of those amazing, outstanding people to whom everyone turns, who leads rather than follows, who never runs out of ideas, contacts, or friendship.”

What are you reading this month?

Thanks for reading! (pun intended.)

let’s warm this winter up

photo

I have to be honest with you, I’m more than a little tired of hearing myself complain about how cold it is outside, how rough this winter’s been, and how much I want to sarcastically comment “well, aren’t you lucky?” on every tropical picture floating around social media.

A day hasn’t passed that I haven’t woken up and obsessively checked the weather forecast and when that stupid groundhog announced 6 more weeks of winter, I contemplated abandoning all that I know and love by hopping on a plane to Mexico with no date to be returned.

Call it want you want but i’ve been in a winter RUT — and I just know I can’t be alone on this one?!

There’s a quote from a book that I love:

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor E. Frankl, Mans Search for Meaning

If you’re not familiar with Viktor E. Frankl, he was a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. Whenever I re-read this book or hear this quote, it’s all I need to keep me grounded.

He survived the holocaust and throughout still managed to find peace within in himself by accepting what he could not change and i’m whining about my winter?

talk about perspective, people. 

A situation I can’t control? I’d say the weather is high on that list.

Since winter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I’ve created a 7 day winter warm up to challenge and change my perspective. I’m hoping an assignment a day will keep these winter blues away — Contact me here to be added to the list for email updates!  OR you can play along here

And tell me in the comments… what are you doing this winter to keep your mind, body, and spirit warm? 

Thanks for reading!

Amy K Hall

choose wisely

choose-wisely

I had a tarot card reading* last week and received some very well timed and beautifully simple guidance; choose wisely.

I have a lot of interests and just like everyone else in the world, I have a lot of distractions that I allow to steal time right away from me.

I’m not sure about you but when I realize I’ve let these distractions get the best of me, I come down really hard on myself and you know what?

Feeling sorry for yourself is the biggest time suck of all. Just forgive yourself, and move on!

So, people, my message for you (and me) today is simple.

Choose wisely!

Choose wisely how you spend your time, who you spend it with, and most importantly, how you treat yourself because our time in this life is limited, It’s precious, and you’re worth it.

Thanks for reading!

Amy K Hall

*tarot reading was done by the lovely Danielle Mercurio