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Winding Up and Winding Down

Hi everyone!  I'm back from vacation and finally feel like I'm back in the right time zone.  I'm always amazed at how much a two hour time difference can mess with my body clock.  But here I am, mostly rested and back to normal and filled with some thoughts to share.

I've been trying to avoid something recently, but I went to the grocery store last night and had to face up to it.  The holidays are coming.

I'm still annoyed by seeing Christmas things alongside of the Halloween candy, but my irritation over the mixed holidays doesn't mean they aren't coming.  And if they're coming, it must be time to get ready.

This post is going to be a little bit of a mishmash of things that can help you get ready for the long, long winter holiday season.  But before you start shopping and cooking and wrapping and hiding (you hide presents, don't you?), you should put one other really important thing on your schedule--you.

The holidays can be a lot of fun if we turn things down a few notches and let ourselves kick back and enjoy our family, good food, and long, cozy nights.  If you get caught up in spending too much money, cooking too much, eating too much, scheduling too much and generally letting yourself get frazzled by the whole experience, you risk sidelining your creativity well beyond the end of the holidays.

I've had years where I've started January exhausted, angsty and grumpy.  I've had some version of "make more time for creative work" on my resolution list a couple of times, too (thank goodness I've stopped doing resolutions!).  I know I'm not the only creative who lets my personal projects slip away during this time of year, but I also know that it's important to not let your creative work take a back seat during the holidays.

Your creativity is a major part of who you are.  It's important and deserves attention even during busy times.  It's also really easy to push it aside when "more important" things crop up.  But if you let your creative self languish for months while you do holiday stuff, it's going to be really hard getting back into the flow come January.  Plus, you're probably not going to feel as happy and calm and festive as you would if you keep taking care of yourself during the holidays.  In the long run, you are going to be happier and feel better if you make some time for your creative work even when life is hectic.

Okay, we get it.  We acknowledge that we need to keep feeding our Muses even during the busy holiday season.  How can we make sure that happens? I have a couple of ideas.

I'm going to start with my favorite.  I love to take classes to help me stay in the creative flow.  Here are a few that are either ongoing or getting ready to start up soon.  They could possibly help you carve out some regular time for yourself during the next few months.

Those are just a few on my list of things I have taken and liked or want to take.  There are literally hundreds of online and in person workshops and classes you could take to help you and your Muse stay connected.  Check your local parks and recreation listings and your local community colleges for some in-person options.

If you would love to dive into something new but don't want to take an ongoing class, consider a one-time workshop either online or in person.  Or take a look at some instructional videos.  Interweave Press has videos available--some as downloads as well as DVDs-- in most of their creative categories. (I really want to try several of the mixed media videos and maybe a couple of the knitting ones, too.)  If you want something short and quick, check YouTube by searching for your favorite art category (for example, art journaling).

You can also go the practical route and choose to make some or all of your gifts.  If you're going to do this as a means to keep connected to your creativity, though, I strongly recommend making things that you would want to make as art or craft projects even if you didn't need a gift to give away.  If you need some inspiration for gift projects, check out these publications:

You can also get creative with your wrapping and decorating, but again, don't take on creative projects just to kill two birds with one stone.  Make sure the things you're choosing really do feed your creativity.

If none of these appeal, but you want to make sure to get in some good creative time during the holidays, call up some crafty friends and schedule some creative parties to work on art journals or other projects together.  Just make sure you feed your Muse and come January she'll be sure to return the love.