by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I recently felt frustrated by my efforts to practice social distancing and isolation to keep others safe when I looked around to see that many aren’t taking these same precautions.
Our community and country are divided on the issue of wearing face masks as a way to protect others from the risk of getting Covid-19.
There has been a striking difference between those who continue social distancing versus those opting for family holiday gatherings. There are dramatically differing political views and varied approaches to protecting others that stem from completely opposing perspectives. I noticed how this prompted my aggravation and how this could easily lead to becoming angry and stressed.
A friend pointed out that anger toward those who don’t take the pandemic seriously is a righteous kind of anger because it’s about justice and equal care for all. I agree.
But I also sometimes feel my anger toward those with opposing opinions about the pandemic risk treads a fine line toward my becoming disparaging and judgmental. This kind of negative thinking can harm your well-being because it causes stress. Stress causes mental and physical anguish.
As I continue praying about this during my daily Buddhist chanting routine, I’m awakened to the importance of forging respect for the life of every living being regardless of opposing ideologies. I work to steer my thoughts away from a ‘them versus us’ mentality.
As I let go of anything I have no control over, I release negative energy from my heart. I focus instead on what I can do; continue social distancing to protect my elder mother, myself, and others. I focus on how I can positively contribute to the situation. This change of heart helps me cope with my stress.
And it leads me to keep looking for a silver lining in pandemic life.
When I refocus my energy toward the positive within any situation, I become more capable of enduring difficulties with a more cheerful spirit. Doing this inner work is meaningful for me because when I feel better, I treat others better. When I can treat others better, we all feel better.
This long year of social distance and isolation has motivated my practice of gratitude. During this incredibly challenging year, I have learned to develop my sense of appreciation no matter what. I find that actively seeking things, people, and circumstances to appreciate is good for my mood and significantly impacts my day.
If we had gone through this pandemic crisis 20 years ago, the impact of our isolation would have been so much worse. I’m thankful this pandemic didn’t happen until 2020 because now we have the fortune of technology as a way to connect.
Fuel For Deeper Spiritual Practice
Another thing about this quarantine life that I am grateful for is that the stress of this situation has fueled my Buddhist practice of daily chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I’ve begun using my spiritual practice to go inward for deeper work, reflection, and rejuvenation.
Whether you use prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, or a combination of these, carving out spiritual time for yourself has a positive impact. Self-care effort is an antidote to the frenzied habit of being constantly busy. It also counters the negative aspects of our excessive social media activities.
Center Yourself On Positivity
Speaking of gratitude, another thing that helps me navigate the challenges of pandemic life is to list three things I appreciate each morning and again each evening. This practice helps me center myself on positivity, regardless of what’s happening around me or in the world. It also raises my life state no matter what my obstacles may be.
Use Restrictions As Creative Fuel
I’m learning to put a favorable twist on social restrictions, too. Limitations push me to look for a new way to do things outside my typical habits or routine. These challenges provide an opportunity to spark innovative thinking, which research proves is good for mind, body, and spirit.
We can’t visit our elders or family members because we don’t want to risk getting or spreading the Covid-19 virus. This constraint has prompted us to find other ways to connect, like visiting elder relatives through the window while using a phone call to speak. When I took Mom to visit my nearly 90-year-old aunt, we stood outside her window singing Merry Christmas via a phone call to my cousin, who was inside with my aunt.
The quarantine has also prompted us to use FaceTime and Zoom for family holiday activities, write holiday cards and letters, and send old-fashioned thank you cards. The calm of writing holiday cards and thank-you letters and the joy we send through these messages bring us a boost in our mood, too.
Transform Old Traditions With A New Approach
These social barriers have provided us with new ways to revisit nostalgic traditions like driving separately to see holiday light decorations while social distancing to protect those at risk. Or parking in front of holiday light displays while chatting with loved ones by phone or FaceTime to share the moment.
Since our family opted for a family Zoom instead of a face-to-face gathering on Christmas, I created videos and photos of my elder Mom’s gift-receiving process. I posted these photos and videos on Google drive for the rest of my family to enjoy. You could do the same or upload the videos and photos onto another cloud service like Amazon, YouTube, or Vimeo! This frees us to focus on heart-to-heart connections during our family Zoom without the distraction of opening holiday gifts.
Online videos and photos can become treasured collections, along with recording legacy stories by your elders for future preservation. Create a digital movie that may be shared online with a simple link (and stored on an external hard drive for use during a future event once the pandemic is behind us).
More Nature Connection
Pandemic 2020 has motivated my nature connection. Nature immersion has become an even more meaningful treasure as well as spiritual and physical replenishment. Plus, it’s free!
My nature walks always inspire my creativity. I often take nature photos and create my products from these, along with positive affirmation statements. I've also written a photo essay series featuring my nature photos here. My nature visits have inspired me to create nature calendars. You can find these and many more of my nature-inspired products here. Nature inspires me to write poetry, blogs, and even dabble in a bit of painting and seasonal projects like leaf art!
Boredom Propels Movement!
The lack of structure from quarantine life has brought boredom, but this has sparked a greater interest in getting more exercise. Exercise outdoors in secluded parks and neighborhoods and even online for changing it up on rainy, snowy, cold days has broken up the boredom of seeing the same walls through work and personal life.
The benefits of exercise decrease stress and regulate hormonal balance. Exercise lowers stress hormone production and boosts physical, mental, and creative energy. So, thank you, Pandemic 2020, for the motivation to get up and move!
Games For Staying Sharp & Quality Downtime
Another perk of pandemic life has been finding new things to keep us both social and cognitively sharp. Game playing has become a way for more quality-based social connection for my elder Mom and myself during this shutdown. As an online business owner, games have also forced me to take much-needed technology and social media breaks and get some quality downtime.
Learning new games pushes us to develop our cognitive skills and grow new neurological pathways. Isn't this way better than becoming a useless couch potato?
I hope these ideas have given you something to appreciate in this challenging year. Leave a comment letting me know. Explore and offer your answers to these questions:
What has the pandemic caused you to appreciate?
What advice do you have for someone to see the silver lining in the pandemic?
How can you use the difficulty of pandemic life as fuel for creativity, gratitude, or connection?
What ideas do you have to improve your quarantine brain?
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How To Live A Life of Joyful Creativity Part 2 | YourCreativeChord Podcast
How To Live A Life of Joyful Creativity: An Interview with Ryan Hargrove On Creative Process Part 1 | YourCreativeChord Podcast
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Set Your Positive Intent & Inspire Yourself
MY NATURE-INSPIRED PHOTO ESSAY SERIES:
Keep Looking For Moments Like These To Celebrate & Appreciate
How To Use Difficulties To Inspire Appreciation & Creativity
What Kind Of Intent Is In Our Heart?
How To Use Nature To Reinvigorate Your Spirit
How To Nurture Yourself For A Positive Impact On Your World
How To Open Your Heart To Find Beauty Within Suffering & Loss
How Do You Find Hope To Create Positive Value?
Belief In Your Own Creative Vision
How To Connect To Ignite Positive Power
Even When We're Derailed
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
As a new online course creator, blogger and podcaster finishing two short nonfiction ebooks for piano learners, while caregiving for my 80-year Mom, I'm learning to juggle a lot.
Most of it's new to me.
My journey as a creator is a struggle to overcome life-long patterns of anxiety, challenge the new, balance my family responsibilities, and keep my creative fires burning.
Can you relate?
My goal is to launch my first online course for new or returning piano learners on how to practice piano effectively in April 2020. I've announced this goal originally for January and February—and missed my target dates. Wish you could see my face.
I'm disappointed in myself for that.
I didn't want to share that with anyone, either.
Why Sharing Our Vulnerability And Failures Is Important
But I decided this is actually a great lesson for practicing authenticity and developing self-compassion.
By being honest and transparent here, I'm showing myself and you how important it is that we share our vulnerability, our seeming failures—and still keep going no matter what.
The truth is we're all human. We all experience failures and setbacks. Hiding those away is antithetical to creative living. It's also counter to the reality that success often comes directly from failure.
Holding myself accountable publicly is a way to show myself that I can get back up on the horse. Even if I've fallen into the slop, and am covered in it, I can still get back up and try again.
There's a short video flying around social media of a little girl trying to mount a pony. The video shows her jumping up, falling down, grasping the pony's mane, slipping off, lunging forward, in multiple attempts to get on that pony. Over and over again, she fails.
It's remarkable to watch this child's attitude. She doesn't waver once. She just keeps trying. And she finally succeeds. Wow, the look on her face when she makes that glorious break-through is a monumental statement for having the never-give-up attitude!
Plans In The Works For Nurturing Creativity And Inspiration
I muster that little girl in myself to refresh my resolve. I'm determined to have my first online course and books for new and returning piano learners all rolling by early spring.
I'm also planning a course offering how to use nature and self-care based on spiritual optimism for overcoming blocks, and nurturing creativity and inspiration with a variety of activities.
I have another course on overcoming that negative inner critic planned next. And still another course about nontraditional memorial planning.
I also have an idea percolating about creating a community for those interested in nurturing creativity and inspiration, but that's after my products, books and courses are established...
I'm now editing podcasts featuring interviews with wonderful artists of all kinds. Those are phenomenal sources of inspiration, as these wonderful creators share their creative practices and personal stories.
I've designed some beautiful new products, featuring nature immersion and self-care affirmations! From notecards, journals, posters, pillows, puzzles, playing cards, coffee and tea mugs, T-shirts, kitchen and bath towels, these products are a splash of nature's energy with inspirational messages. I think you'll love everything! (See photo and video on this page for a sneak peak of a few notecards.) Click here to explore my new products designed for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
Creativity Integrates Many Moving Parts
The balance between my creative output while learning and doing the technical and administrative parts of launching my online business as a new creativepreneur is an ongoing, steep climb.
Some days I want to hurl my computer out the window!
But I'm getting better at it!
All my upcoming products, books and courses are completely in sync with how I roll as a creator and in line with how YourCreativeChord harmonizes many moving parts. Like an ocean contains many kinds of waves. Peaceful, subtle, flowing, roaring, crashing, stormy. It’s all part of the same beautiful ocean.
I juggle multiple ideas and skills constantly. I think this is how most people function. But sometimes we forget how varied our creative outlets may be! We also forget how these diverse interests and skills function to replenish our creative juices!
You may have noticed my focus is on piano right now. That's because my current priorities are to get my course and both books for piano learners on Amazon.
I want to empower those interested in expanding their creative flow through piano playing! I have so much piano experience, I can help many people embark on a joyful journey of piano progress!
Once that's underway, I'll be tackling the other courses, with books, and of course, regular blogs and podcasts, too.
ACHIEVING VICTORY OVER--SCRATCH THAT--BECAUSE OF OBSTACLES
You'll always get new content each Tuesday (and sometimes Thursdays). I've spent this year getting weekly blogs and podcasts to you while building systems to launch my upcoming products, books and courses.
I'm packing in as much value for you as possible, whether it's a blog, podcast, a short video, my upcoming new books, products or course!
I'm sharing this with you because everything I do as a blogger, composer, writer, poet, visual designer, nature photographer, creator-with-a-capital-C embodies what YourCreativeChord offers:
My mission as an artist is to lead, by example, through my creative strategies, achieving victory over obstacles and fulfilling my life's greatest potential.
Even if I get derailed, or slowed down, by life's difficulties, or tackling new stuff as an entrepreneur, I will never give up. I will deepen my determination to show victory as an artist for peace.
That’s what creativity is about:
I recently listened to the audiobook, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It was perfect timing for me to recognize that a new challenge, problem or obstacle is not just something to "overcome."
Rather, I learned through this wonderful book that it is precisely because of difficulties that I'm able to tap capability, ingenuity, determination, resilience and wisdom that would otherwise lie dormant. The obstacles we each face become the way to greater creative flow, stronger conviction, and more committed action!
EXPANDING COMMUNITY & COLLABORATION
By the way, I've just updated my website HOME and ABOUT pages with a call-to-action for any bloggers or podcasters to interview me or collaborate. If you know of anyone interested in creativity, piano, personal development, wellness, or caregiving, please share this with them!
I'm on a mission to expand my community and collaborate with more creative and inspirational people!
You can definitely support me by sharing this with your social media or forwarding to a friend by email!
Thanks for keeping me accountable!
Join the conversation by sharing a comment with me below, or connect with me on social media using the icons below! ^_^
COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.