Some days it's difficult to know where to start.
We've all been there: You have a little window of time that you can use however you like and you've decided you want to make something: a poem, a bracelet, a painting. You sit down, ready to begin. Nothing specific comes to mind.
Or maybe you've just finished reading the news (or your Facebook or Twitter feed) and find that your only thoughts are negative ones. You just want to crawl back into bed and pull all the covers over your head. How can you make anything in this state of mind?
Start With Something You Love
Start with something you love. A thing, not a person or a vague feeling. What is a thing you adore? Something you like? Something that causes your voice to quicken in a burst of enthusiasm when you mention it to a friend? Something that you might describe as dear or darling?
I find it helpful to make a quick list. Jot down a few numbers and put something next to each one:
4. radio shows
Work quickly and try not to censor yourself. I find that if I ponder too much at this stage, I start worrying about what others might think and that is a sure way to crush your creativity. You don't have to show this list to anyone. (I know that for myself even jotting down the items that came first to my mind makes me feel a little vulnerable. I desperately want to delete them and replace them with something amazing that would make me look smart and sophisticated to you, dear reader. Oh well!)
Look At Your Love List
Once you've made this list, then you can bring people, emotions, and memories in to the picture. Sometimes I like to be more specific at this stage. For example, looking at the word mountains on my list reminds me of Rocky National Park, snowshoeing in the winter and seeing elk grazing in the fall. I remember in the summer driving through the canyon on the way to the park and seeing people fly fishing in the river. Once we stopped along the highway to see a mountain goat perched on an impossibly high cliff.
Other times you'll want to think more broadly. That's how my National Parks keychain came to be. I started thinking about U.S. national parks in general and how glad I am that these beautiful lands are currently protected by law for now. It makes my heart catch in my throat to think that won't always be the case.
Another option: Instead of being literal, I could think metaphorically. What in my life feels like climbing a mountain right now? Do I feel like I have the right tools and stamina to continue? Who are the "mountain climbers" that I admire?
Until Next Time ...
I often make new lists, as I find that while some things pop up repeatedly (psychologists would probably label these my "obsessions"), other items come and go depending upon what is going on in my life. Sometimes things simmer so far below the surface that I don't even realize they existed until they pop up on my list.
Once I've written a love list, I have a pile of ideas, more than I can use in a single session. I choose the ideas that resonate the strongest and leave the others for later. My lists are my safety net, my assurance that I always have some place to begin again.
Begin with love.