Sleepless nights with my muse

We all experience sleepless nights.

I’m not talking about having a baby cry every other hour in the next room or a roommate who insists he doesn’t snore. I’m talking about the buzzing brain that won’t quiet until it can create.

Some people personify their creativity as a muse. I don’t always do this, but sometimes I imagine my muse as a little character in my head, a lot like Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out.

Sometimes I neglect my muse and she tugs at ideas in my brain.

She knocks over the old-timey color-coded drawers and flings the individual ideas out of them, one page at a time. Each idea floats from the top of my brain to its floor, falling on top of one another and piling up in a discombobulated mess. My muse picks up various ideas and reads them off to me, shouting. When I turn over in bed, she tosses that idea and grabs another idea to shout at me. On and on until I get out of bed with a quiet huff.

I can be exhausted, but still, my muse makes a mess of things in my brain. She tells me I haven’t let her out in a while like an unruly puppy. I can’t ignore a puppy. I must feed, water, and exercise it at least daily.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my muse usually acts up when I skipped my workout that day. *gasp* I don’t mean a rest day, but instead an “I was lazy and slept in like a bum” day.

My needs to create and move are intertwined!

I’m not exactly sure how my creativity and fitness are linked, but I know when I fuel both of those needs – mind and body – both my muse and my desire to move stay happy in their respective corners in my brain. But when I neglect one or even both, my mind turns my body against me. My brain buzzes with obnoxious activity and my legs literally ache. I’m forced to either go for a run or write in a notebook until my brain is satisfied and calms down, allowing me to finally get some sleep.

Take it from my experience: don’t ignore your muse.

Ignoring my muse’s shouting only fuels her frustration, and the ideas pile so high in my head that I continue to toss and turn for hours. When I get out of bed, grab my notebook, and pour out all of those pesky ideas onto the page, I feel a sense of relief. My muse curls up in her corner of my brain and we both are able to fall asleep.

My challenge for you this week is to think about your muse. Does she nag you when you’re trying to sleep? Does she choose your days of activity or inactivity to bother you the most? How does your muse relate to your health and fitness? Let me know in the comments and then do something to make your muse happy.

For extra credit, listen to “My Muse” by Sarah Jarosz at (I just really love her music.)

Run with it – part 2

Last week, I talked about running with your circumstances to improve your life. This week, I want to dig a little deeper on this topic. You can read part 1 here.

Wallowing in rejection, failure, or betrayal makes you feel exhausted and zapped of all creative juices, but running gets those juices flowing. Running toward something and with something helps you adapt to changes, in life and in your body.

Adaptability is necessary in life.

I know this is a painful topic. I hate change, especially when it’s someone else making the call. But the more I learn about life, the more I realize that constant change is a good thing, even when it’s difficult.

I know not every change is good, but wallowing in the pain won’t turn a bad situation ripe again. It will only make you more sour.

According to, adaptability means “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.” Merriam-Webster says adapt means “to make fit (as for a new use), often by modification.” On the flip side, to be stagnant, according to Merriam-Webster, means “not advancing or developing.” adds “inactive, sluggish, or dull.”

Do you want to be inactive, sluggish, and dull? Do you want to be lazy?

No! You want to pursue your dreams. You want to publish a book, run a race, or snag your dream job. Maybe you want to do all three of these things – I sure do. This means you need to grow, change, and adapt. This means you need to run with whatever life throws at you. It means you need to run toward your goals instead of away from your failure. Let me repeat that.

You need to run toward your goals instead of away from your failure.

That’s what the most successful people do. They don’t cower when faced with scary circumstances or give up the moment they’re rejected. No! They keep on running through this maze of life because they have dreams they want to turn into reality. They map out the directions to achieving their goals and take that route. If they hit a roadblock or are forced to make a detour, they recalculate, adapt, and keep on running.

So here’s my challenge for you this week, no matter where you are at in this journey we call life: Ask yourself the following questions and really think deeply about them. They can change the direction you’re running.

  • What are you running toward?
  • Do you need to stop running from something and change your direction to something?
  • What can you run with today to turn your dreams into reality?

Happy running!

Run with it – part 1

Rejection. Failure. Betrayal. We all experience these things in life in various forms, whether it’s for a career, in relationships, or while chasing your dreams. As a writer, these things happen daily, or so it seems.

Just run with it.

I’m going to be painfully real with you for a moment: wallowing in self-pity, eating your feelings, or giving up isn’t going to get you any closer to achieving your goals.

While on my fitness journey, I’ve been told by many trainers that the moment you want to give up is the make-it-or-break-it point. If you want to skip a workout because you rather sleep in, don’t. That workout will be your best workout yet. Unless you seriously need a rest day.

Listen to your body, not your laziness.

If you really want nachos even though you are in a healthy food challenge, don’t. You’ll be stronger and healthier if you follow through with the entire challenge. You can have nachos later on when you’ve learned how to say “no” to them.

So, run with it:

  1. Literally, go for a run. This helps me clear my head and put things into perspective. Plus, all those endorphins make you feel better, no matter how far you run or for how long. Even running one mile can overhaul your entire mindset and turn your focus to your burning legs. If you hate running, then try getting your cardio on in another way. Your heart – and mind – will thank you.
  2. Take that rejection, failure, or betrayal and learn from it. How can you improve your writing? Do you need to learn something new? Do you need to try something new? Do you need to expand or hone your career search? Do you need to rethink a relationship for your own mental health and well being?
  3. Allow anger, sadness, or frustration to fuel the creativity fire. Wipe away your tears and get back on the proverbial horse. Apply for more jobs, write a short story, cut toxic people from your life, and pursue your dreams. Someday you’ll be living them.

All of these things can be physically or mentally painful, but you will be stronger and feel better afterward.

So here’s my challenge for you this week: Go for a run. It can be literal or metaphoric, but make an effort to run with something this week. I can’t guarantee it will fix anything, but I do promise it will make you feel better.

Happy running!

Wedding advice for life and creativity

When I first started planning my wedding, I continued writing. I told myself I could do it. I could juggle two jobs, plan a wedding, workout, and nurture a slowly budding writing career, right?

Fast forward one year during our two-year engagement and I realized I couldn’t do it all and sleep. Solid wedding advice crept to the surface. A wise coworker told me:

“Choose three things that matter to you the most. Focus on those three things and only those three things. Then assign everything else to someone else or don’t worry about it.”

At the time her words echoed in my head during a chaotic day at work, I had two of three big things set in stone for my wedding. But in my life? I was trying to run on nearly dead batteries. So I decided to choose three things to focus on in life—writing was not one of them, and that’s okay.

If you’ve never planned a wedding before, you’re probably horrified that I would give up on my creative outlet for a year. The thing is, I didn’t. One of my jobs is in communications, so I still wrote and edited daily. Plus, I continued to read and attend my monthly writing group.

Here’s what I chose to focus on for that year, but your list may be different:

  1. My jobs. During this time, I changed jobs and got a promotion. This was vital to my career and financial health. I never wanted to be a starving artist.
  2. Working out. This was (and still is) my stress reliever and creativity inducer. Being physically healthier made me mentally healthier. Plus, I wanted to look good in my dress on my wedding day. There’s no shame in that.
  3. Wedding plan. Duh. I couldn’t afford a wedding planner (see 1) and who else but my fiancé and I could plan our own wedding, anyway?

Now that we have said our vows, the cake has been eaten, and my name is legally changed, I’m glad I focused on three things during our second year of engagement. Wedding planning is like another job. And now that that third job is done and our lives are back to normal (whatever that is), I can replace number 3 on my list to “Write, edit, repeat until published.”

Don’t fret if your creative time is nonexistent or negligible.

It’s just like working out or planning a wedding—you have to carve out time from your busy schedule to be creative. Maybe you’re charging your creative batteries right now, and that’s okay. Sometimes life does get in the way. But don’t let life stay that way. Your babies will grow. Your classes will end. Your body will heal. Take your creative life back when the time is right. For me, that time is now.

Happy creating (or charging)!