Finding the Calm

Finding the Calm  |  The Fresh Exchange

We live in a world full of distractions and craziness. Even out here in the country there is so much coming at us from our phones, tv shows, emails, friends, family, all of it and it really begins to wear on you. In the last few years I have learned that I am an introvert…not a hermit, but someone who needs to a break from people, at times. I value my time alone, music jamming, glass of wine, blank pages of notebook, and no one to disrupt my inner thoughts. During this time I won’t answer my phone and if you text me, forget it. Those moments sitting in that calm and quiet place are not just vital to my mental health but they are also vital to me doing my work well.

As an introvert these moments are easy for me to find compared to probably most people. I am more likely to be excited about staying in on a Friday night than I would be to go out till 2 AM at the bar with friends. Those that know me well know that when I don’t get these quiet moments alone I become a pretty awful person to be around. For instance I love going to conferences but at the same time they are also my worst nightmare. It typically takes me 2-3 days to fully recover from all the interaction. It is who I am and it may sound funny but I am thankful for this part of me. This introvertedness allows me the opportunity to explore the introspective parts of myself that I might otherwise miss.

For a long time I felt like such a weirdo for spending hours and hours with my feet dirty in the garden content with just the sound of the wind, bugs, and birds as I worked away. As I have grown older I have realized these moments an important part in my creative process. They help me develop ideas and mull over big decisions.

Although everyone is not an introvert, I do think it is important for any creative entrepreneur to find the calm and quiet within themselves. That deep silence is where we wrestle with new ideas and we can best hear our natural creative instincts speak. The world does a really good job of making us feel as if we have to run a sprint and if we are not sprinting or at least jogging toward greatness than we are not going to win the race. I have found this to be 100% untrue. We must take time to stop, slow down, be quiet, and listen to ourselves. If we don’t, we lose steam and never realize our potential. At least 25% of my day when I am awake is spent not working on some level. Yeah, I spent an hour watching Girls and then I slowly cooked dinner and enjoyed it on the porch with my favorite wine, does that mean I am falling behind? No, not in my book. The time in the garden weeding and harvesting and then making a fresh salad from what I brought in… a waste of time? No, some of the best ideas and clearest decisions I have ever made have been out in that garden.

Instead I think working is more like interval training (if we stick with the exercise analogy), you go really hard for a while and really work your ass off, then you take a break and find time to reflect and pull yourself back together. Creating is hard work, both emotionally and physically. Late nights, pulling new innovative ideas, and solving problems visually…it all takes its toll.

In a world where many are trying to place the creative entrepreneur in the same category as many other vocations, we do not hear often that it is okay to take care of ourselves and in fact it is the most important thing to what we do. We should be encouraged to find the moments to be quiet and to be introspective. If you are not taking these moments you might be feelingĀ creative blocked, lost, or worrying if you are doing it all right. I have been there! It was a hard lesson to learn and a big leap of faith to think that time away could be the real clarity of inspiration you need. In fact those are the moments Mike and I develop our best ideas. This does not mean we sit there with a pen and paper and try to force the idea out, instead it is quite opposite. Sometimes it goes something like this, I could be in the shower after a work out and Mike could be shaving and I could be like “So I just thought of something…..” I try to rarely force things out of myself creatively and the more I relax and allow myself to engage with my natural creative instincts, even during busy times, the better my work turns out.

So if you haven’tĀ been taking time to repair yourself, try and find some time this week to be quiet and calm. This may be a walk with the dog, a cup of tea on the back patio with a book, a nap in a hammock or sitting at your desk with the computer off and just a notebook for doodles while a record plays. Whatever gets you engaged with your instinctual creativity is what you need to do.

Happy Monday my friends I hope you begin to find a calm place and that it allows you the rest you need to be the best creative you can.

Leave a Comment

  1. Alanna

    Hey Megan,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences as a creative, introvert, AND small business owner. In conjunction with reading your blog and following your instagram, it’s so refreshing to read about the way others function as introverts with out locking themselves away from the world. As a fellow introvert, I understand that “recovery period.” As an artist AND introvert, I find it easiest to stay in a drawing cave with my own thoughts. Thanks, yet again, for inspiring us all to get out there, find adventures, look for inspiration all around, but ultimately take care of ourselves too. Keep doing what you do!

  2. Artsy Forager

    Another introvert checking in! The down times are so needed and I’m thankful for a husband that pulls me out of “me” and helps me disconnect. Even just a shower or a walk can yield more & better results than an hour of brainstorming at the computer. So lovely to hear your thoughts and what you’ve found to be true about balancing work, creativity and life.

  3. Alex

    thanks so much for sharing this! I just wrote a post on friday about how I am seeking more stillness in my life, more time with my thoughts so I can focus more clearly on my goals and ultimately be a better, stronger creative!

  4. Laura

    Per usual, your writing is spot-on, Megan. As a creative introvert myself, I relish that quiet time for myself when I can be alone with my thoughts and ideas. I think a big misconception about introverted people is that they never like being social or talking to anyone, when really it just means that to recharge and inspire, they look inward. You are so right that everyone could benefit from taking a pause from time to time, instead of perpetuating a never-ending, work-work-work mode. Thanks for sharing – introverts unite!

  5. hasenklein

    This is so true for working as a researcher as well. Sometimes I feel like I should be out there networking with people a lot more, working a lot harder. But then I ultimately realize that I do my best work not when forcing it, but when letting things go. Thank you for putting that into words so neatly!

  6. Brittany

    I understand this so, so well. I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, but it has only been over the past couple of years that I have stopped fighting it and accepted it as part of who I am (and a good part of who I am at that!). Recognizing my need for quiet and alone time has worked wonders for me, mentally, emotionally, and creatively. Thanks for the reminder to be intentional about taking some quiet, unstructured time for myself. I need it more than I think sometimes!

  7. megan / petitely

    This echoes so deeply with me and I’m so glad you posted this. There is definitely a need to be still and calm, distraction-less. I’ve also been discovering a lot about my introverted self lately through reading Quiet by Susan Cain [totally recommend it!]. Thanks for being you & putting it out there into the webiverse.

  8. Taylor Carlson

    Thank you so much for sharing this… you are so right!

  9. Kasey

    Great post, thank you for sharing! I’m not an introvert, but I can definitely relate to the feeling of having to be everywhere, all the time, and feeling like it’s hard to just have some quiet time. Even when I try to find some peace and quiet, I find myself constantly being distracted by my phone. This post is a great reminder that investing in yourself is invaluable. Thank you!

  10. Jacki

    Hooray for introverts. It has actually come to the point where I have to tell my boyfriend “I need to just be quiet and not interact for a while” because if I don’t recharge after the grueling work (not for myself … breaking my back for someone else) days, I will become a really awful person to be around. With a 4 yr old at home it’s hard to find a moment of silence but without it I can’t function the way I want to. Thanks for posting this … it’s always good to realize that others “get it”!

  11. Tricia

    Hi Megan, I just was introduced to your blog over the weekend and this monday post could not be a more perfect start to my week. I resonate so deeply with the struggle of introverted needs and desires paired by a creative excitement to share and connect. I’ve recently become aware and embraced this balanced, necessity to be ALONE. and better yet, I’ve grown to love this fact about me. I came across an article today that I thought you might like. http://elibishop.com/2011/07/27/10-myths-about-introverts/ embrace your true self, and keep the creativity flowing. happy monday!

  12. Megan Gilger

    So true! I could easily just get stuck at home for days and never realize it….may explain what happened to me this weekend ;)

  13. Megan Gilger

    Such important time when developing new ideas. The more you progress in your carrier the harder those things are to find sometimes too…

  14. Megan Gilger

    High-fives for introverts. It’s so true! We just need time away for recharging. I love people, but need my time without them as much as I need time with them.

  15. Megan Gilger

    You are so welcome!!! I needed that reminder as well!

  16. Megan Gilger

    Awww Thanks Megan!!! I am going to check out the book!!! Thank you!!!

  17. Megan Gilger

    Thanks Kasey!!! The phone is my total downfall as well. Lately I have been leaving it silent in another room so I don’t even see the light turn on it. The more time I spend away I find I like it less than I thought I did…haha.

  18. Megan Gilger

    You are not alone! My husband and I working together all day struggle to find that time as well. I sometimes just go to the grocery store alone so I can have that alone time in the car and zoned out shopping for that week’s food. I think it is good to know when you need to be alone and communicate it to those you love. Sometimes they will even see it before you do, which is good.

  19. Megan Gilger

    So glad you found me and thanks for the link!!!

  20. mary beth

    Ah…you are the best, Megan. I have been learning these very same things about myself in my early/mid-twenties. I need alone time to process my thoughts, to allow the creative juices to flow, to dream new dreams for the future. Some of my best epiphany moments have happened while I’m washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, or taking a shower. My husband hears, “I have an idea!” and he knows it’ll be a long conversation. :)

  21. Amber

    Well written – I feel exactly the same way sometimes – especially after being at work in a busy city all day, shuffling through the throngs of people. Thank you for this post – I’m glad to know there are more out there like me!

  22. Lisa | Happy By

    These words of yours are so valuable Megan, especially when we are encouraged to feel busy all the time in order to be productive.
    If you don’t slow down, you can’t get to know yourself. And how can you do your work if you don’t know yourself? How can you interact with others? How can you live, really? It takes patience and focus, but it is a lifetime worth of doing it, like you get more in pace and inner calm. I regret not going through this process before I was 20, but still better than never :)

  23. Che

    Thanks for this post Megan :) I too am an introvert and I can 100% relate to what you are saying! I crave what I call ‘Che time’ and the space that I need to disconnect, reflect and gather my thoughts. A cup of tea on the back patio with a book sounds like a splendid idea! I might just treat myself to that tomorrow :) x

  24. Amanda

    I so needed to hear this right now. I’m a total introvert, and I’m just starting to fully realize this about myself. The world moves too fast for me and I have to remember it’s ok not to feel the need to keep pace with it or even catch up. Thank you for sharing :)

  25. Maryn

    I agree 100 percent. It’s like you’re describing me! I always felt the pressure to be more extroverted and crazy (I think it has a lot to do with growing up in LA/America where entertainment rules), but as I get older, I realize there are so many wonderful introverts doing wonderful things and it has allowed me to be more confident in who I am.

    Let’s gooooo introverts!

  26. shawnee

    oh my gosh yes! this post is perfection. i am always telling my mom how i need to ‘recover’ whenever i spend a lot of time with people, with no quiet time for myself. it is most definitely okay to take time to relax/rejuvanate so we can be ready for the next thing. anyway, yes. xo

  27. Emma

    This is so true! I’m glad other people do this, because nobody else I know does, but I love to just sit there and do absolutely nothing, just letting my mind wander. It is so important just to allow your brain to relax sometimes I think :)

  28. em

    i totally hear you. as a scientist-artist the world often feels like it is moving far to fast but indeed, when i stop and relax a bit, i find my most creative self

  29. Cari

    Thank you, Thank you for writing this! It touched my heart and gave me that ‘ah-hah!’ moment. This is me to a tee, even though I am in my mid-twenties. I love my time alone with music, a glass of wine, something to read or cook/bake– It’s one of my moments that make me feel most alive!

  30. CC

    Great post. I am not necessarily an introvert but I am learning to love more and more me time.

  31. Thelma

    I can so relate, and I’m going through a tough time right now when it was so comforting to read these words. Thank you.

  32. Elysabeth Ratto

    I love this post! I, too, am an introvert, and the biggest lesson was exactly what you said: “Yeah, I spent an hour watching Girls and then I slowly cooked dinner and enjoyed it on the porch with my favorite wine, does that mean I am falling behind? No, not in my book…No, some of the best ideas and clearest decisions I have ever made have been out in that garden.”

    As a writer and a wife starting her own business with her husband, it’s important to understand the importance of interval training-style work. Without rest and introspection, my creativity gets stunted…fast.

    I’m curious, have you ever watched Tony Schwartz’s “The Myths of the Overworked Creative”? He talks about the need for rest and then, doing short sprints of intense, working-your-butt-off productivity. It’s great. I recommend it.

    Thanks for such an insightful post. I really feel like you took the words straight out of my mind! :)

  33. Megan Gilger

    No I have not but that sounds like an awesome read!!! I am going to look in to it!! So glad you loved the post :)

  34. Tiffany @ Savor Home

    This beautifully written post describes me PERFECTLY!! So glad to know that I am not alone in my feelings.

  35. Amy

    I’m an introvert too. Have you read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain? It came highly recommended and I’m looking forward to finding some “quiet time” to read it.

  36. Lorie

    This is my first time on your page and I have to say that this is so helpful and inspiring. As a creative person I often find myself drained after working. I kept thinking perhaps it was laziness that keeps me in bed for days at a time, but I’m now realizing creativity is hard work which requires rest. I am also an introvert and completely understand how interacting with people can leave you. Thank you for sharing with us!

  37. Sarah @ Art of Wellness

    Beautifully said! Self-care is important and we need to take moments for ourselves in order to heal and invigorate ourselves.

  38. Ivey

    “The world does a really good job of making us feel as if we have to run a sprint and if we are not sprinting or at least jogging toward greatness than we are not going to win the race.”

    I found strength in that statement. So often I spend my time trying to run just as hard as the person next to me–if I’m not, then it must mean that I’m not doing it right, or playing hard enough.

    Then, I remember: I work my best when I’m taking care of me. The creativity flows smoothly, without all the extra stuff (insecurity, fear, jealousy, etc.) flowing out, too.

    Thanks for the share. It came right on time for me.

  39. Miya @ Design Indulgences

    I found this via Savor Home blog and I loved this piece. I’m an introvert, semi shy…tho I love people watching and being out and about, still enjoy occasional bar hopping or chilling at my cousins with drinks by the fire pit….I still love peace and quiet. I love taking walks and being in nature by the lake and the little things like birds, clouds, the smell of cut grass makes me happy. It makes me slow down and appreciate life’s small pleasures.

  40. paige

    Thank you! I’m just starting out and I feel that I am always trying to rush myself; I’ve found that the results are much better when I slow down and give myself time. It’s great to hear another perspective.

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