Actually, I just had a vacation, but my vacation was Jazz Camp West, which always leaves me utterly wiped out and longing for a week of lounging about on a beach somewhere, doing nothing but catching up on reading and sleep.
Never happens, but hell, a girl can dream, right?
Just to be clear, my week at JCW absolutely energized, nourished and refreshed me creatively, emotionally and spiritually. It’s just physically that I feel like a washcloth that’s been wrung out and left to dry.
Thankfully, after five years of JCW, plus seven years of other music camps, I know to expect this. It’s part of the process, part of the rhythm of camp: a week of intensity, creative epiphanies, emotional peaks and spiritual transformations, followed by a bit of a crash (sometimes the post-camp let-down is pretty severe), and several days to recuperate.
Not to mention catch up on my email. I think I spent six solid hours hacking away at my inbox yesterday, which, to be honest, was not the wisest way to transition back to “normal life.” Just sayin’. Note to self.
My goal for the day after camp was to write a blog post, make some art, and take lots of naps. In fact, I did none of those things. (Though I did at least sleep in.)
Getting away for a creative immersion is profound and transformative. But that’s the “easy” part.
The challenging part is holding on to all that creative energy, drive and passion after you’re plunked back into “regular life.”
It’s just as challenging for me as for anybody else, as witnessed by yesterday’s email extravaganza. Did I really have to spend a full day in front of my computer dealing with my backlog of 600+ emails? Surely some of them could have waited for a day or two.
Honestly, I went into a bit of a panic spiral when I thought my vacation auto-responder had not been working. The fear of losing business kicked me into gear.
But even after I discovered that in fact the vacation notice had gone out as planned, I kept my butt firmly in my computer chair and obsessively worked through that email pile until it cried mercy.
And guess what: I felt just as cranky and annoyed as on any other day of overwork and underplay. As if my blissful, amazing, transformative week at Jazz Camp had never happened.
Something is wrong with this picture.
Has this ever happened to you? Somehow I doubt I’m the only person who’s fallen into this trap. So what to do?
Here’s something you might not expect: Instead of beating myself up, or cursing my overloaded inbox, I’m actually feeling quite grateful right now.
If you’ve ever made a commitment to something – maybe you’ve gone on a diet, or started an exercise regime, or a do-something-creative-every-day challenge – and “blown it,” you know how sucky that feels.
But here’s the beautiful thing: the very fact that it feels sucky is a brilliant reminder that the thing you “blew,” the thing you didn’t do, is something you really, really want.
Am I making sense here?
You commit to exercising every day. You miss a day. You feel sucky. All understood. But right here is where you have an opportunity. Which path will you take?
Path number 1: You can beat yourself up, feel really badly about yourself, maybe so badly that you give up altogether on that dream that got you going in the first place. “Ah shit, I’m such a failure, why bother trying?” is the thinking.
Or path number 2: You can notice how sucky it feels to not do the thing you want. You can use that awareness to remind yourself of how much better you feel when you do do the thing you want. You can acknowledge that you’re human, give yourself a break, make a mental note of how you want to do things differently going forward, and re-commit to the thing that’s important to you.
You can use your “bad day,” your “mistake,” your tumble off the wagon to punish yourself, or you can use it to re-energize yourself. You can turn sucky into sweet.
So today, I prioritized writing this post. Now I’m headed out for a walk by the Bay with my sweetie, and when we get back, I’m making art.
How about you?