With a new year, I seem to want to run all different directions and start seven billion new projects. I don’t know … maybe it’s like seeing a fresh patch of snow and wanting to run through and leave your footprints. A new year, all that time, all that space … evidently I need to fill it up with more things than I could ever manage. The problem with this is that running around metaphorically in my head leaves me grasping for straws when it comes to writing. It means I lack clarity and focus.
And then I found this quote in, interestingly, my very clever day-planner calender (yes, an object is evidently more clever than me).
“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.” – Anonymous
Let it soak in for a moment as I did. And then realize how foolish it is to think you can’t focus because of the internal chaos and noise. What was I waiting for? Silence? If my brain was completely silent, completely still, I’d be dead.
Besides which, serenity is internal. It’s as self-created as the chaos is. WE decide when and how we will feel and experience serenity. WE create it in our minds, by hollowing out a quiet part, or learning to push all the rest of the obnoxious chatter aside. And as we sit down to create – whether that’s writing or some other kind of art – we reach for that inner serenity, and we control and utilize it at will.
Sounds “easy,” right?
In a lot of ways, it is. The ideally timed quote stopped me in the tracks and made me realize how much I was running myself in circles. But there are other ways we can find serenity. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:
- Create something with your hands that occupies you physically, but requires little mental focus. The act of that creation – and the small amount of thought that requires – quiets the noise in your head, thus freeing you to think more calmly with the rhythm of the activity. For me, crocheting and spinning are both extremely calming because I’m using my hands and my mind, but the rhythm of the activity lets my thoughts quietly cascade and I can consider a problem from all angles without stress.
- Take a walk (or a run, if that’s more your style). Lift your head up and experience the present of the moment you’re in. Let your footsteps guide the pace of your thoughts and calm you. Either that, or burn off excess stress-energy with something more vigorous.
- Write it down. I am perhaps the least consistent of journalists, but when something is distracting me, writing it down – every annoying thought that keeps distracting you or keeping you awake at night, and then physically and intentionally setting it aside does seem to help. Nope, you don’t even need a fancy book – type it on your laptop, or scribble on a scrap of paper. It’s just about getting it out of you and somewhere else.
- Take a bath or shower. I don’t have the patience for sitting around in a tub of water (yes, this may be a symptom of not being very good at relaxing either). However, I find hot water, steam, and privacy help me think – it’s where I often come up with my best ideas and solutions. It seems to have something to do with the water, so swimming or perhaps spending time near a lake or ocean might work, too.
- Quietly experience nature. I’m fortunate enough to live outside a city and near a lake, though I don’t often walk down there. Just going into the backyard, listening to the bees and other critters, smelling the flowers, etc. It sounds like a cliche, but it is calming in the way so much happens in nature all the time, and yet it’s never “stressed” – it just is.
- If all else fails, find somewhere to scream your frustration aloud … and accidentally be witnessed by someone like a small child, who looks at you like you’re an idiot, and you realize you might be. If nothing else, it usually makes you smile.
So, how do you find serenity? Is it a place inside of you, or out? Or is serenity the last thing you want? Love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!