Sunday, April 8, 2012

What I Learned From Overdoing It

(imported from my former photo blog)
OR:  How to kill your inspiration.

For those of you who do (or did) work a day job that was different from your passion, you can probably relate to this.
Last year in December I took on some extra work, two more days a week.  Seemed like a great idea at the time and more money is always appealing.

I don't always know what's best for me, but I try to stay intuitive and balanced.
I'm going to share something personal with you.  About a year ago I discovered I was a Highly Sensitive Person, this shed a whole new light on my life;  my past, my present, and gave me tools to move into the future.  With this, comes a lot of responsibility to take extra care of myself.  Minimize stress, structure my responsibilities, get plenty of rest and down time, and pay attention to how I feel.  I call the latter my emotional barometer.  I'm still learning how to use it.

Even though I only added two days to my four day work week, I became completely unbalanced.  Apparently I need more down time than I realized. 
Everything was off; my energy, my digestion, my sleep.  I thought I had lost my mind!  More importantly, I had lost my inspiration.

Before all this I had just finished a six week course in marketing and was ready to apply it to several of my endeavors.  I reorganized my office and creative space, got my files in order, calendar and project list ready.

Besides photography as art, I also make things from recycled fabrics, an idea I formulated last summer out of  another project I called my Mission Quest (I'll write about that in another post).  That project inspired the idea to take white cotton thrifted t-shirts and make circular scarves from the bottom half - hand dyed in various colors.
I was able to get about 30 made, some sold right away, some were gifts and the remaining are consigned in a local boutique.  (See my page New Pioneer Style here .)

So obviously I was on a roll, fired up and inspired.
When I took on the extra work I basically just pulled the plug on my inspiration.  I had two personal traumas and some bad weather during this time to add to it.  While I had no control over those, I realized that I did have control over my day job.
I read a great book during this time:  Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person by Barrie Jaeger PhD.  Not only did I learn how to balance work, but how to recognize what kind of work I was doing - or rather, what it was doing to me.

I do not have the luxury of being a full time photographer, or artist, and I am my sole supporter.  I'm OK with that, I like a little challenge and am proud to be independent.  But I have learned a very valuable lesson about savoring inspiration.  It's a gift and should be treasured.  If you're creative you know what I mean.  It can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day.  Inspiration makes you feel good, and wonderful things come out of it!

So obviously once I came to my senses and realized I had upset the delicate balance of my life, I let the extra job go.  But that took four months.

Soon I will be back to my former schedule which was working for me for the most part (one step at a time!).  After some healing I hope my inspiration returns - if it's not too offended at how I treated it.  For what?  Money?  Money isn't always the answer.  Sometimes it's the quality of life that is the most fulfilling.

Have you had a similar experience?


  1. I love this post, Jeni! I love how you really tell it like it was--no extraneous details, just an honest portrayal of the situation. Yes, I've definitely been there. As a highly sensitive person myself, I did it over and over again. Learning more about the needs of my nervous system helped a lot. Then I was able to see the patterns that over the years had drained me of my creative juices. And then they came back--what a relief. Now, like you, I really try to nurture my inspiration when it comes by paying attention to it and DOING something with it. Thanks again for a beautiful post! :-) Jennifer

    1. Jennifer, as always your comments are treasured. I appreciate your honesty and openness as well. I am so glad to count you among my few friends.
      Perhaps we can be of service to others who struggle with these same issues - as a support system.
      Thanks again for being here!!! :)


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