Brain 180

Collection of blue arts and crafts supplies
Photo by Shopify Partners from Burst

Overcoming the need to constantly achieve perfection is difficult. Remembering to take a time out and allow the brain and body to reset is crucial to our general well-being (and sanity – though that’s overrated). I’m the first to admit that I continue to struggle with both on a daily basis. However, I’ve found an outlet that’s set me on the right path:

Creativity.

Now, I could cheat and say that my speculative fiction fills that creative outlet, but that’s an outright lie. Writing is writing, no matter how your dress it up. Sure, I have complete creative freedom with my own writing (though, to be honest, I have pretty loose reins with most of my freelance work). It’s still work, though. I demand nothing short of perfection from myself. Watching me edit makes a deranged serial killer look like an angel. I’m ruthless. I hack and slash with the best horror movie monster. Even the writing process is terrifying; no character is safe. (Not even main characters – no one gets my sympathy!)

No, when I say you need a creative outlet to escape to, I mean something outside of your wheelhouse. Something you maybe aren’t good at but enjoy. (Don’t torture yourself – that’s bad for your anxiety and depression) Something that engages the other half of your brain, taking pressure off your overworked synapses. An art form that sparks your imagination and gets you excited in a different way than your usual goals.

A break that isn’t a break.

Sneaky, right? You’re still actively participating in SOMETHING, but you’re not driving yourself crazy with work. You step away from assignments and a need for perfection (that’s a cardinal rule, by the way), and you just PLAY. It’s not a complete reset, which appeals to those of us who struggle with the need to STOP, but it gives your brain breathing room.

The kicker is finding something creative you WON’T stress over. You have to relinquish the reins of perfection and be willing to create a mess. Remember, this isn’t something you’re pursuing as a goal. This isn’t a lifelong dream. This is just a creative outlet. Something that catches your interest. A 180 from your usual interests and work pursuits. Something you’re willing to complete suck at. (No one else has to see the results except you)

I have a couple of creative retreats. I have a scrapbook I’m slowly moving my old pictures into. Is it Pinterest worthy? Not by a long shot. Am I proud of it? Of course I am! I love all of the papers, stickers, and various scissors. Looking through the old pictures relaxes my brain, flares old memories, and drops my shoulders back where they belong.

I sketch and draw. Are any of the pictures going to sell on Etsy? Not even for a penny. But I like them. The movement of the pencils across the page does something to my body. I feel my blood pressure come down, synapses quiet, and my lips curve into a smile. The sound blends with the music I listen, soothing the thoughts in my head until there’s nothing troubling me.

I’m trying to learn to crochet. I have the chain down, but I haven’t figured out any further. The feeling of the yarn under my fingers is soothing, even if the hook and I aren’t sympatico. (Not to mention that fending off cats from the yarn gets annoying after a while) And, while it sounds crazy, knowing that I’m struggling with something my sister is a sheer genius at (she even creates her own patterns!) calms my brain. I SUCK at something! It’s humbling.

Simple, uncomplicated, and WORTH it!

When everything starts overwhelming me, I go to my creative outlets and resettle. When I feel like I can’t take time out (guilt’s a terrible thing, by the way), doing SOMETHING eases the feeling. It’s a break, don’t get me wrong, but it’s an active break. My brain still gets the chance to reset some of the circuit breakers, and I get to wake up some of the breakers that were asleep. It’s a win-win, of sorts. And I’m creating SOMETHING! I’m using my hands to create something of my own that has meaning to me.

Find a creative outlet that works for you. You won’t regret it. And your brain will thank you.

No Introduction Needed

Girl lying down in the center of a maze

There is never a question in our minds as to who our personal heroes are – we can name them without having to think about it. When the world goes haywire, no matter how large that disaster may be, we also know who to list as heroes. Those lists are second nature to us, and it takes nothing for us to tip our hates or extend our hearts to those people.

Why?

Because those people are selfless. They do their jobs without a second thought, without hesitation, without complaint. They embody the definition of the word, “hero.” Most importantly, they never once ask us to call them heroes, because they don’t think of themselves as being worthy of the title. They’re doing what they’ve wanted to do, what they’ve dreamed of doing, and they expect nothing in return. We embrace them for that goodness of spirit, and it makes it easy for us to idolize them, to wish thanks and bestow praise upon them. After all, how can you not embrace such an ideal? They are the living personification of our fictional ideals.

But that love and adoration breeds a second group.

This second group does everything in its power to make sure you KNOW what they’re doing…constantly…every moment of every day. They complain about everything they have to do. They WHINE about their tasks. They make martyrs of themselves and expect the same adulation and praise. They want the same title of “hero,” the same praise and cheering. They actually believe they’re ENTITLED to it, and they throw it in your face with every breath and stand there, expecting you to turn around and shower them with your worship.

They have completely and utterly failed at every definition of a hero.

They are pretenders to a crown they are unworthy to touch.

We all know some of these people, and we’ve all been subjected to their rallying cries for a personal parade they don’t deserve. They put on airs, expecting us to fall at their feet in wonder. They enact dramatic retellings of their exploits, expecting us to hang on their every word. They bitch about every inconvenience, expecting an outpouring of sympathy.

Meanwhile, the genuine heroes are going about their day without a single complaint, without a need to say a single word, without asking a single person to hear of their pain. They smile through pain, they work through tears, and they wake every day to repeat the process over again. They work in conditions that are sub-optimal and struggle through to the best of their abilities – they don’t sit back and whine. They might beg and plead for help, but they don’t stand by and laugh or gossip about how lucky they are that they don’t have to have clients in the lobby anymore.

What’s the difference?

True heroes don’t have to be labeled as such – they are defined by their actions. Just as fake martyrs are defined by theirs.

And the world can tell the difference between the two.