Cycles Are Your Superpower

Cycles Are Your Superpower

Every single Christmas when I was a kid I would get sick.

My family would drive 7 hours to visit my cousins in Atlanta, whom I love dearly, and within the first day of arriving, I would come down with a bug of some kind and end up on the couch for the whole vacation, with my head in my cousin’s lap. I cursed this phenomenon. “Why me?? At Christmas?!” But my mother had some sage knowledge. “You work yourself too hard during the school year, you never give yourself a break to rest. Your body is taking that rest for you.”

She wasn’t wrong. It would take decades for me to learn how to rest. I still feel guilty most of the time for sitting on the couch and watching a show. I am terrified of being considered lazy, even if the only person judging me is me. 

But you see, everything in nature comes in cycles. Winter, spring, summer, fall. Waxing, full, waning, crescent, new. And of course, the grandest cycle: birth, life, death, rebirth.

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

As humans, we tend to forget these cycles and instead believe in the binary; black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. So for creatives, we feel like we are either creating or not creating. Which makes us either a “good artist” or a “bad artist”. And maybe even a “successful artist” or not. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a writer friend say “I haven’t been writing lately, I really should be writing more…”, before they drift off into a pile of shame and self-loathing.

If this sounds familiar (and painful), I invite you to instead think about the cycles of your creative work like the cycles of nature. Mother Earth doesn’t berate herself for being in the growth stage of her given cycle. Or even the death stage, for that matter. She lives fully and beautifully in each stage, trusting that the next stage will come when the time is right.

Growing branches with nature in the garden.

So let’s talk about utilizing cycles to our best advantage. 

First, become aware of what the stages are in your particular creative cycle. If you’re diving into a new creation, your stages might look something like: brainstorm → outline → free flow → edit → share → rest. Yes, I said rest. Do not skip that part.

Next, identify what stage of the cycle you are currently in. And embrace the shit out of that stage. Live it out fully. Dance with it so hard. Squeeze out every drop that stage has to offer. When you’re brainstorming, don’t you dare try to edit yourself. Or even share your progress. Just brainstorm the crap out of that chapter. 

Then, when the stage appears complete, when all the breath has been exhaled, inhale the new stage and repeat. This ‘moving on’ can and should happen without effort. You will feel the urge, just like you feel the urge to inhale at the bottom of your breath. Inhale and love that new stage even harder. 
Finally, remember that every cycle has a period of rest. (I see you in the back there, trying to sneak around this stage). Rest is a very anti-capitalistic notion (and therefore quite possibly un-American) but a period of rest is vital to the creative process.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This is the time to let everything go. Revitalize your body and mind. If you are resting, really and truly rest. Sit in nature and be. Rejuvenate your spirit. Do nothing (::gasp::). You will inherently reflect on what you have created so far, but that is not your job. You simply must rest.

This is part of the preparation for the next cycle of creating. You rest now so you can create later. You invest in your future vitality. Release all ideas about where you should be, and trust where you are. 

When Los Angeles has a very rainy January, we know that there will be a lush and green springtime ahead of us. We trust. We have faith that the next phase of the cycle will come, and it will reap so many benefits. So trust. Lean in. Surrender to whatever phase you are in. 

And by all means, be the writer who says “I’m in a resting phase right now.”

If you don’t, you’ll just end up on the couch for all of Christmas. 

//

Become aware. Identify. Embrace. Release. Rest. 

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