Tuesday, February 25, 2014

There's More To Life Than This

Sometimes working at home, on a computer, I get stuck like some poor underwater creature in a tide-pool when the tide goes out. My mind goes completely blank, my thoughts a tangle of disparate threads that won't tie into each other. I can sit like that for hours. Just staring at the task without an original thought in my head.

Thankfully for my deadlines and employers and kind souls who've asked for my words, I've learned that there are a couple of ways out of such messes. First: go outside. I know that for myself, the hardest thing about interrupting even an unproductive workflow, is feeling guilty about not working.

Screw that.

Once outside, my brain starts up again in a big way. Whether it's because of the exercise, the change in surroundings, or the fresh air, as my blood flow increases, so does the amount ideas in my mind. Sometimes I go for a bike ride and when I get back home I discover I've untangled my thoughts, or solved a problem, that just a half an hour ago, seemed unsurmountable.

The second trick to increased creative flow, or I guess thought-work of any kind, is to engage in another, entirely different activity for a while. And by this I don't mean perusing facecrack.

Sometimes simply walking around, observing your surroundings is enough, picking up pieces of driftwood, or interesting rocks, like new thoughts. At others, I find that a another creative project can really help me with my work. I imagine that creativity resides in a certain part of our brains and stimulating it in different ways nourishes it on the whole.

Today, I snuck down to one of my favorite beaches, with my new tripod (birthday gift) and took pictures for a special little project, the writing of which is one of the things giving me trouble right now. Looking at the world from a different point of view, images instead of words, horizons and headlands instead of that infernal little blinking cursor, was just what I needed to feel inspired again.

It's still completely magical to me that I live in such a beautiful place, something that's all too easy to forget in the daily bustle and humdrum of living. Just a little while on the beach, watching the gulls, looking for treasure, warming my cheeks in the sun, I felt completely recharged, suddenly at peace again, full of ideas, relaxed.

On the way back I took my time, poking around on the side of the road, watching the Redwing Blackbirds sitting in the reeds. I ran into a friend, I stalked a small black and white kitten, I watched the horses and cows and admired the Olympic Mountains, so clear across the water…

When I got home, I discovered that there's plenty of treasure here too and got right back to work.

Hope your week is fruitful too...


  1. I love and miss Washington and the Pacific Northwest in general, it's a magical corner of the world. I only recently discovered your blog and am really enjoying your musings and photography! (Hope this is not a double comment, I wasn't sure whether it went through and typed it again.)

  2. You do live in such a gorgeous place!

  3. Wait a minute... so perusing facecrack is not conducive to productivity? I'm screwed :( I find that my most productive moments are the first few hours after waking, and then I progressively lose momentum throughout the day. At night, I'm grade-A mush. I'd love to know what you are working on. Is it a book? If you wrote a book I'd love to read it. You have a pleasant way with words and thoughts, and a keen ability to synthesize rather large ideas into pithy little phrases. And hello, btw :)

  4. Yes, sweetie, nature does have a way of renewing our minds and our souls. Best of luck to you in all your projects.

  5. I want to live the way you live and be able to go outside and see what you photograph everyday. Amazing. It takes my breath away.

  6. Right on. Oof...now how to quit Facecrack!!?

  7. i'm loving your pictures. *facecrack!!!* i think i just fell in love with you. again.
    i have a similar sort of brain, i think. earlier today, when trying to write a poem, i continuously found myself just staring at the wall, or the curtains, or my fingernails. i got up, hooped a bit and played with my son, and then was able to finish. :)

  8. Spending two hours on Pinterest probably doesn't count either, ha ha.

    Indeed, getting outside can reboot your brain. I use walking as a refresher and ultimately, as a spiritual practice as well. Sometimes I will be gone for hours and not even realize it. I return with a clearer, cleaner sense of purpose.

  9. Milla, you are so right. I was at home translating all day, and your post was my window into Nature and fresh air. Sometimes I miss the Ocean so much that it hurts... This picture of you looking out at the mountains on the horizon brings instant peace to my mind. Thank you for sharing it.

    But on Sunday I put everything aside for a long hike on the snow-covered Mont-Royal, so I am a full day late in my translation schedule - and oh was it worth it !

    (I hope I can post a little something about this next week-end, so you'll have a better view of my hidden place :o)

    1. Thank you for sharing all of this, is what I meant :o)


  10. Oh Milla, I can so completely relate to this I feel as if your words are my own. (It helps that your images also look like home to me.) The analogy about being stuck in a tide-pool is so spot on - ha! I decided a while ago that on days when I'm working from home I allow myself - and sometimes have to force myself - an hour break outdoors. No guilt. I go to the beach, or walk, ride my bike or split some firewood. When I come back in I feel like the cobwebs have been swept out of my mind, I feel refreshed and have a new perspective. I think like our bodies, our spirit needs to be fed, and taking time for that is essential.

  11. Milla, I can see why going outside makes everything better for you! Geez, girl; you are living in a dream world up there! That kind of beauty surrounding you is like medicine for the soul and mind. And even though I don't live in a place 1/100th as beautiful as yours, I agree that going outside and breathing fresh air makes everything better.

  12. I so enjoy wandering around shoreside with you!
    Distracting yourself from writers block by exploring and breathing the great outdoors, it's the perfect, the PERFECT way to clear your head and find your way back again.
    I loved it when you said...screw it.
    You're my hero today, Milla!

  13. These images remind me so much of my time on Vancouver Island, where it was so much easier to just step outside and go somewhere beautiful and inspiring. The beach, the woods, the hills. I did feel guilty for not working if I went exploring during the week, but that might be because I did it a bit too often, haha. Back home in the Netherlands I really have to remind myself to step outside when I'm in a rut, which is basically every other day at some point. But it really helps, every time!

  14. Ugh, that guilt from not working... I'm experiencing it right now in a big way. I think I'll take your advice and get some damn fresh air.

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