Are you feeling overwhelmed, stuck, burnt out or simply fed up with life? Are you tired, uninspired and lacking energy for your creative projects?
Join me in this episode as I explore what place joy has in the creative process and how can joy solve issues like burnout and creative block. I’ll be sharing my story about how chasing joy has become a daily practice for me that has helped me recover from burnout, rebuild my non-existent personal creative practice, revolutionised my life and how you can do the same.
To find out how to work with me visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower
For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Welcome to Creative Power, a podcast designed to help you claim the full spectrum of your creative potential. I’m Camilla, Fellas Arnold, and I’m passionate about discussing how we change the face of both the creative industries, and how we interact with creativity itself, so that it nourishes our soul, and helps us express ourselves with alignment, flow and authenticity. Let’s get started.
Welcome to episode three of Creative Power. And today we’re talking about joy. What’s that got to do with creativity might wonder? Besides everything! Well, listen in and find out.
It’s very easy to get hung up on creativity having a tangible outcome, like I talked about in episode two, when I was talking about redefining creativity. And by tangible outcome, most people will think a piece of art, or even that what we create needs to bring in a tangible income. But creativity for creativities sake, that creating just for fun, has no place in our lives, because we have limited time, need to earn a living, etc, etc. We’ve got all these other responsibilities so that there’s no place in our lives for creating and just having fun.
The truth is, it needs to be, in my opinion, the most important thing in all of our lives, because of the limited time because of needing to earn a living, because we don’t practice enough self-care or set ourselves good boundaries. Fun and creativity go hand in hand, and often overlooked as a priority in our lives.
Think about children for a minute. Most children up until a certain age where they pick up those pesky labels will all engage in creative activities. They’ll paint, draw, make play, read, imagine, they laugh, they smile. They have fun, they live joyfully.
Now think about yourself for a minute. When was the last time you smiled? The last time you laughed so hard, you cried and gave yourself stomachache? When was the last time you felt carefree? Joyful? Happy? For many of us, we can’t find the answer, or it’s way too long ago.
And what happens if I asked you to think about the last time you were creative? Remember, this doesn’t have to be conventionally artistic creativity. But think back even if it feels like a long time ago, even if that means going back to when you were a child, and you were finger painting, for example. How did you feel? Quite often, those things spark joy in us, we have fun, we make something that makes us smile or feel accomplished. Time disappears because we’re enjoying ourselves.
And that joy is something sorely missing for many of us. And often we don’t know how to get it back. Because we are so focused on earning a living keeping a roof over our heads simply surviving, particularly during these times of the pandemic. But I ask you, is that really living?
Now I know this topic can be tough. But honestly, diving into the link between creativity and joy, has had a knock-on effect to the rest of my life. And today I am inviting you to do the same. This topic of creative joy… it’s quite a fresh one for me. Because joy is how I solved my burnout and restarted my creative practice after many years of having zero outlet for my creativity in a personal way. I mean, I was still creating but only if I was paid. So for me, restarting my creative practice, just for fun, was massive. It’s been really important to me. So let me rewind back a little bit and recap on my story.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with creativity for many years, I’ve been through phases of flow and joy in the process. But as time went on, and the need to earn a living became the priority. Having fun creatively kind of went over window. As a teen, through college university in my early 20s, I had plenty of outlets for my personal creativity, they didn’t go anywhere, other than just bringing me joy. The biggest one was photography.
And over time, the rest of my personal practice, you know, creating blends and blinkies, etc. They fell away in favour of freelance jobs that earned money. But I did still find joy in taking photos. However, that eventually fell away too. I became very focused on work, very focused on trying to be successful.
And then I started to feel overwhelmed all the time, by the tiniest of things. And I feel it’s partly because I had no outlet for my creativity, no way of channelling or processing my thoughts and feelings or how I saw the world, then COVID a whole new level of stress and survival along with it. And what it also brought to the forefront was a focus on mental health and self-care, which has been wonderful to see.
I spent time like many people, I’m sure, evaluating what was important to me how I really wanted to spend my time, what really lit me up. That when you’re stuck at home, and all you’re doing is working all day, or not. If you’re on furlough, it really does make you evaluate your life. And that was when I suddenly realised that the one thing that was absent for me was a fun, creative outlet.
You know how sometimes you think about the future? And if you had all the time, the money, the resources, you know, you won the lottery and your business was perfect overnight? You had all the things that you needed to live the life you wanted. And you sometimes think about the things that if that happened, you woke up tomorrow as a million/billion/trillionaire. What you would do with your time?
Well, I don’t know if you think about that. But I certainly do or have done. And in those moments, a lot of things that I thought I would do in my free time… were fun. They were creative pursuits. They weren’t things to make money. They were just things that nourished me, either creatively or just nourishing self-care, having fun, just living life. There had to be something in it. But I wasn’t quite sure what.
And then I got to August 2021. This year, I had been doing my coaching hours, working on building resources for my business. And I’d started to get to the point where I knew who I really wanted to help what I really wanted to do. It was the middle of summer, the world had started to open up again this year, you know, you could go anywhere, you could even go on holidays. And I found myself exhausted, completely and utterly exhausted.
I was struggling to do work, could not concentrate. Everything seemed to be taking three times longer than it normally would. And I didn’t even care about what I was doing. Like I genuinely could not muster up the energy to even care about who I wanted to help or building my business. It was it was really bad.
Everything kind of came to a head sometime in August, mid August, I think there was three nights in a row where I burst into tears randomly. I just sat there watching TV and just started crying my eyes out. I’m not much of a crier so my husband at first he was very surprised. Next night, he was curious. And then by night three, he was genuinely concerned and sat me down for a chat.
And so we had this talk, and he suggests is it might be burnout I was experiencing. And as soon as he named it, I felt like I wasn’t going mad. I felt like I had been seen and understood. He had named what I simply couldn’t or didn’t want to see or know.
So I took several days off. Now I know that can be hard. But I basically did the bare minimum, so replied to the urgent emails and said you know what, I’m out of the office for a few days. I’ll get back to you. Anything that wasn’t urgent, I just left it. And at first, I slept quite a lot, a whole lot, let’s be honest.
And then when I had a little bit more energy, I started to think, how could I solve this? Searching the internet for the answers brings up a lot of self-care articles, which is sort of fine. In my opinion, self-care is an ongoing necessity that we need to have in our lives anyway because we all need to find a way to make time to do things that recharge and nourish us. You know, that old adage is really true. You cannot pour from an empty cup. We know how it goes, it does not end well.
Okay, so if self care isn’t going to solve my burnout, what is? I really had no idea. And when I got back to my desk, after a few days, I could feel everything rising up in me again, the despair, the overwhelm the stress, the exhaustion, the melancholy, the indifference. I have so many tasks to do, and I wasn’t interested in a single one of them. But I knew I had to do something.
So what what could I get myself to do? How could I get myself to do anything? And then, out of nowhere, this game changing question arrived in my head. Where is the joy for me today? I looked at my to do list. And to be honest, there wasn’t much joy to be found in about 99% of it, except for this one little project that I did for charity involving Shetland Sheepdogs. And as an aside, if you need to know anything about me is that I love my dogs, especially Shelties Shetland Sheepdogs, I love them.
So I thought to myself, what’s the harm in just putting everything else on the back burner and working on this book, filled with cute dogs just for a little while today? I thought, you know, if it just gets me back in action, why not? So I did two weeks of working on this project. And I’m sure everyone around me wondered what the heck I was doing and was starting to get a bit sick of hearing about this book about dogs. It morphed into a beast of 126 pages of stories and photos of Shetland sheepdogs. And it’s amazing. I love it.
But what I what it did for me is what was the most important thing, because my exhaustion just evaporated. People started to comment on how great I looked considering that I told them a few weeks ago, I’d been suffering from burnout. And I was happy. You know, I was getting up every single day and I was excited for the day, you know that dread had just disappeared.
So then the challenge came when the project was over. It had given me a boost, yes, but how can I apply this to my business? I started to really take stock of what I was doing. All those tasks, big and small, everything went under the microscope. And as a business owner or entrepreneur, we have to wear a lot of hats. Not all of them fit. Some of them we don’t like others we have outgrown, but a lot of them in those beginning stages… We can’t pass those hats on.
However, it is important to identify what elements of your life of your business of anything bring you joy or don’t. And for the things that don’t, can they be delegated? Can they be outsourced? Can you let go of them entirely? And that’s where I found myself this year looking at my business.
I found there was a lot of things that weren’t bringing me joy. And it could be because I was not good at them. They weren’t in my zone of genius or they were simply tasks that were a time suck that didn’t actually bring me anything in return. Social media, looking at you.
I also realised during this time, I was tired. Tired of all the strategies being sold to me as the fix all tired of trying to be all things to all people looking for joy in my life forced me to streamline. It forced me to make my business leaner and play to my strengths.
To be honest, it’s been pretty revolutionary for me and it’s led to me creating this podcast because I figured I could kill a lot of birds with that metaphorical stone. I could reach an impact a much wider audience rather than mug myself about trying to post on every single social media channel five times a day, I could share my knowledge, I can connect and engage with my audience, old and new in a way that works for me.
You see, although I’m a visual person, recording my videos, that’s not my idea of a fun time. However, if anyone knows me, you know that, when I’m passionate about something, I can’t stop talking. So if I take away the video and just focus on the audio, I could just talk for forever, basically, so then creating a podcast was perfect, it was the perfect outlet. It allowed me to talk and talk and talk about the things I love, and the things I know about how we can help people in a way that isn’t stressful.
And then, after streamlining all of my business, and looking at all my tasks, and seeing what I can drop, and change, and delegate, and outsource, and even just knowing that at some point, these are the tasks I will outsource, if I can’t outsource them right now, at some point, I’m going to give them to someone else. Even that makes me feel better.
But I wasn’t content with just finding joy in my business. I’ve kind of become obsessed. It’s got to be everywhere in my life. If it isn’t bringing me joy, not doing it. Or I’m going to find the quickest and easiest way possible to do it.
I’ve learned to habit stack, prioritise and streamline everything to give me time and space for the really important joyful things. And I’ll admit, it’s definitely an ongoing process for me. But whenever I wake up with that feeling of dread, you know, like on a Monday morning and I think I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go to work today. If I feel like that, when I wake up, I ask myself, well, how can I find joy in this? Where is the joy for me today?
And I know that there are some things that we have to do, we simply can’t get out of them. But again, I asked myself, how can I find joy in this? Even if is just the thought of the relief at the end of getting it done. Being able to celebrate taking that stupid task off my to do list and never having to think about it again. That is the joy that I’m aiming for.
I’ve been doing and continue to search for the joy in everything. And honestly, it has energised me in a way I’ve never seen before. It’ll show me where the gaps are too, which is really important. And like I said earlier, and one of those was rebuilding my personal creative practice, because I spent so long creating only when I’m getting paid for or to further my business, like in the case of social media, graphics, works, workbooks, etc, that I lost my creative outlets that were just for fun.
So the final step for me in this ongoing process is it’s to start making something anything just because I can. And recently that has looked like starting to write poetry again, for the first time in about 24 years. I haven’t shared it anywhere. That’s not really the point. The point is, I am doing it for me. It’s been cathartic, healing. It’s been fun. In fact, doing that with no intention of sharing it, no intention of making money from it. It’s boosted my creativity and my joy in other areas of my life too.
So it’s had this knock on effect that I was talking about earlier. Sitting down to write is a part of my day that I really look forward to. And this morning, I was a bit late getting up so I didn’t have as much time to sit there and write and I really missed it that I was I felt rushed. And that didn’t feel good. Because it’s now become a part of my practice a part of my day that I really look forward to. And like I said, the joy and the creativity, they’re bleeding through into other areas of my life. It feeds and builds off each other in this amazing way.
And although you know there’s been times where from the outside, it probably looks like I haven’t been doing too much. But there’s been this, particularly this year there’s been this major internal transformation in my field of vision by simply filtering myself to look for joy in absolutely everything. I’ve even had peers get inspired by my story and they’ve been trying it for themselves. They ask, where is the joy for me today? And it’s having some incredible results for them, too.
And so this is where I hand over to you. Where is the joy in your life? How can you bring more joy into your life?
We are so tired. So busy, stressed. Joy can feel like a nice idea for you know, in another life, or at a later date when you have more time and money. But like I said at the beginning of the episode, we’re not really living if we put joy as a low priority.
Yes, it can take some adjusting for yourself. And for the people around you. I’ve certainly found that not everyone sticks along for this journey. When you put your own happiness and having fun as priority in your life. But the quality of people who have stayed, and the support that they offer, that’s second to none. And the personal satisfaction, knowing that I’m chasing my own happiness, that you might find knowing you’re chasing your own happiness. That’s priceless.
For me, it’s already boosted my energy and my creativity, who knows what other positive benefits, opportunities and experiences I will find as I continue to chase joy, and I will probably update you on them as they arise.
So as we finish this episode, I invite you, if you feel stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out, uninspired or simply just fed up with life. Try to find some joy today.
Start simple cook your favourite meal, write wrote about your happiest memory, look at some old photos. Get messy with some finger paints with your children, anything, everything, start somewhere, start anywhere, because… here’s the truth bomb. No one is going to chase your joy for you. You have to do it for yourself.
So what can you do today that will bring you one step closer to joy? Go out on a limb and have some fun, enjoy it! Life is for living. So do what makes you happy.
And I would really love to hear from you about how you are going to go out and find some joy today. So don’t forget to connect with me. Send me a message on social media and let me know what you’re up to. I hope my story has inspired you to find the joy in your life and see what a difference it can make for you. Because I know it’s made a huge difference for me. And I just want to see everyone be able to do that. Because it’s fun.
I wake up in the mornings with a spring in my step. I’m more creative, more inspired more energised. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? If we just spend our entire lives just doing that nine to five slog and not finding any joy, any happiness in the process, then we’re not really living. So go out and find some joy today. Have fun. Thank you for listening, and I will see you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening to Creative Power today. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and consider leaving a review. To find out more ways you can connect or work with me, please visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower